Low Carb Kitchen
Carb Solution: Arches Alternative
By Dennis Linden
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the affect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].
Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
A Quickie Glycemic Primer:
Since this month’s Guest Chef Blog features a recipe using Melissa’s Steamed Lentils as the main ingredient, I challenged myself to come up with more tasty ways to prepare this convenient product in the other two recipe blogs that I write for this site. After spending some time perusing the ‘net reading interesting lentil recipes I put together this tasty “burger” that turned out to be a very reasonable facsimile to the real thing…only without the “toasted sesame bun” or its empty calories, as the commercial jingle promises, plus more fiber and protein than anything coming out of a drive-thru. Admittedly, the concept of a lentil burger has always been avoided in my own kitchen; there is no doubt that I had subconsciously bought into the negative reputation of this dish by traditional culinary cynics as being an example of an “extreme health food”. So I approached this recipe with blatant bias and prejudice, which was forgotten in one bite!
- The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
- The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Sometimes I just crave a good burger…cheese burger…double cheeseburger. Sometimes I just want to chuck all this eating healthy stuff by ordering a double cheeseburger, fries and a coke! So if it helps your fortitude to admit that craving out loud, then scream it if you must. And for those of you with extremely high powers of the will, go ahead--order that double cheese TO GO, then toss both buns in the nearest receptacle on your way out--all while just ignoring that wonderful, tantalizing smell of deep-frying fries! For the rest of us culinary weaklings, it’s yell out loud then figure out how best to cook up a tasty alternative at home without all the temptations.
What attracted me to this particular lentil burger formula was its ingredient list consisting of almost entirely fresh produce with the exception of a half-cup of rolled oats, which helps to both bind and strengthen the structure of the burger. I also appreciated the lack of some traditional flavor additives that many mock burger recipes incorporate, like Worcestershire, steak sauce or balsamic vinegar. I find that while those strong flavors serve as accents to real meat burgers, they overpower a mock burger – turning, for instance, a lentil burger into a “balsamic burger”!
Instead the lentils meld more naturally with the simple and basic flavors of onion, celery, garlic and, for this recipe, the deep richness of crimini mushrooms. BTW, both crimini and portobello mushrooms have a very similar dark brown color, smooth cap and deeply rich flavor – because they ARE the same variety! Despite the difference in size, the real difference between these two brown mushrooms is age. Portobello mushrooms are simply the mature version of crimini mushrooms that were not harvested until fully grown. So if you are going to slice up the mushroom, not stuff it, save bucks and purchase crimini mushrooms, which have the same great flavor for about half the price of the portobello!
For two other delicious ways to use Melissa’s Steamed Lentils -- see this month’s GUEST CHEF and COOKIN’ with the KIDS blogs.
Makes 4-6 patties
1 cup red onion, diced
3 cups mushrooms, sliced - any variety
½ cup celery, diced
1 TBS garlic, minced
1 green onion, diced
1 pkg. Melissa’s Steamed Lentils
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup Melissa’s chia seeds
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
Salt & black pepper, to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes and then add the red onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a splash of water when they start to stick or look dry. Add the mushrooms, celery, garlic and green onion and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture from your skillet into your food processor, along with the cooked lentils and rolled oats. Pulse 10-15 times, until the mixture is coarsely mixed.
Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a large mixing bowl and add the chia seeds, parsley, black pepper, and salt. Stir the mixture until well combined.
Form into equal-sized patties and place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 375°F and then flip and bake for another 15 minutes on the other side.
On a bed of green leaf lettuce, layer a tomato slice, red onion round, lentil patty, slice of cheese, second lentil patty, second cheese slice -- topped with more onion and tomato, then generously drizzled with a dressing of choice.