Low carb and loving it?

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This week’s columns were inspired by two things: time and friendship.

In the last 18 months, there have been numerous Brobdingnagian changes to my life. Pretty much everything that could change, did.

One transformation has been the way I cook and eat.

I went from having the luxury of limitless time to create any meal or food that piqued my interest or palate to working 40, 50, or 60 hours a week and trying to cram something into my gob before I fell asleep into my plate.

So, meals on my working days have to be quick and easy.

Although I’ve occasionally gotten take out or picked up a prepared meal at a grocery store, it’s a rare event; maybe once or twice a month.

Years ago, before I had the skill or interest in feeding my family homemade food, I used a lot of prefab boxes, cans, and frozen food.

But the problems with that stuff are many.

It’s much more expensive. It always cost more to buy things that are already prepared. For an example, go to the produce section. A head of lettuce is way less expensive than chopped, washed and bagged. A head of broccoli costs less than half of what a bag of florets go for. You are paying for the prep work.

It’s usually full of salt, sugar, and unknown and unpronounceable ingredients. From creating a meal completely from scratch, ingesting a bunch of factory fresh chemicals doesn’t make me feel good — mentally or physically.

And friendship.

Forty-three years ago this summer I met a five-foot-nothing dynamo in a brown tank suit. Bo was a loud, funny, unpretentious force of nature. Although she scared the nickels, dimes, and pinball tokens out of me that first day, we have been friends ever since.

Forty-three years have passed, and we are both older, and sometimes wiser. Getting older brings with it a host of door prizes. Our hair has grayed and our skin bears the unforgiving effects of gravity. Age also brings unique health challenges; I have mine, and Bo has hers.

A few years ago, my friend was diagnosed with diabetes.

Everybody knows that diabetics need to limit their sugar, but what many don’t know is that our bodies turn carbohydrates into glucose. This means that folks with diabetes have to be careful.

Bo once asked me to do a column for people who have to severely limit carbs. I did one for her with some carb-light pretend kind of food that were light on carbs, but also uninteresting and unsatisfying.

Purely by chance I noticed that a number of the “fast” foods I have discovered are also very low in carbs.

Three of them are from Trader Joe’s, which also has an added benefit. Most of the items they sell are their own house brand. Which means they are a lot less expensive.

So, Bo, this one’s for you (and for anybody else who likes quick food that’s tasty and made from actual food).

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at dm@bullcity.mom.

Hearts of Palm Pasta

This is a new one. It’s analogous to spaghetti squash, and as such has a fibrous texture and mild flavor. It can be boiled or nuked. I suggest a sauce with a strong flavor. Lemon, garlic, lots of herbs, or a thick clingy marinara.

Cauliflower pancakes

I love these things. At first, Trader Joe’s had these as a seasonal offering; during the Hanukkah season. But due to popular demand, it is available all the time, which makes me very happy. They’re great with scrambled eggs or as a side dish. I cook them in a skillet with butter for about five minutes on each side and then top with sour cream and caramelized onion. If you try nothing else on this list, try these.

Cauliflower Puffs (they also come as Broccoli Puffs)

They’re tator tots but made with cauliflower. Throw them in the oven, flip them halfway through baking, and they’re done. Then eat them alone, or with a quick refrigerator sauce. It’s an easy way to get a large serving of veggies that eat like spuds.

Another way to serve them is to make a loaded cauli tot casserole. Pour the frozen puffs into a casserole dish and cover with shredded cheese. Top with crispy bacon shards and chives or thinly sliced scallions. Bake on 425 for 15-20 minutes and when you take it off the oven, dollop with sour cream.

Cauliflower Gnocchi

Gnocchi is a pillowy dumpling. The best thing to do is to poach them, then cook them in a little butter to give them a buttery crust for another texture.

After you get the outside toasted and caramelized, add the juice of a lemon and then top with a big handful of fresh herbs. Toss with some thawed and warmed frozen peas.

Add some shredded chicken and you have a quick and easy one-pot meal.

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