Low Carb Kitchen
Carb Solution: Sunday Brunch Dish
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:
I recently found myself faced with a buffet Brunch Menu scavenger hunt: Scones, Belgian Waffles, Streusel, Pasta in Cheesy Egg Sauce, Biscuits ‘n Sausage Gravy, French Toast and a Bagel with Lox & Cream Cheese, were just some of my choices. The scavenger part of this hunt was finding anything this carb-counting, glycemic sensitive writer could eat! There was one dish that did have some potential with an ingredient swap; it was an asparagus and rice dish with a poached egg over the top. Of course, the rice also disqualified this dish from my plate that day but it got my culinary imagination going…
- 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.
If one simply substituted Melissa’s Steamed Lentils for the rice and tossed the two main components in a tasty vinaigrette, it could be transformed into a glycemicly friendly dish appropriate for brunch! So that’s what I did in my own kitchen soon after. Brunch has always been one of my favorite types of meals, especially in my carefree, pre-diagnosed days. Back then it was so many dishes, so little time and only those damned small plates to work with! It’s springtime, a.k.a. brunch season with both Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day Brunch being time-honored traditions. Try this recipe to assure that there is something edible for other fellow carb-counters.
Not a whole lot to this recipe, except its exceptional flavor. Roasting or broiling the asparagus adds that extra grilling flavor and is the best way to cook this tasty veggie. Since asparagus is high in Vitamin B and Vitamin C, which are both water soluble, boiling this veggie will lose 34% of those nutrients. If you still choose to boil, then at least save the greenish water for sauces or I use veggie water on my house plants with absolutely no scientific basis for doing so—just seems such a waste of green water!
Melissa’s Steamed Lentils are ready to serve right out of the box with a quick heat up that works perfectly for this 3-layer dish of ingredients. I simply zapped this convenient product in the microwave for a few minutes for one of those layers; no boiling, straining, etc.
The flavor multiplier for this recipe is a Dijon Mustard Dressing. While this dressing is a very simple mix of vinegars, mustard and thyme it absolutely makes this dish! In fact, I brought the dish to a potluck event and had a little culinary fun watching people’s reaction to its taste. Since there is no visible hint that the asparagus and lentils had been tossed in a tasty dressing, the burst of flavor was an unexpected, eye-widening experience for most! I borrowed this dressing from a kale salad recipe, so it is versatile as it is delish!
It has become a foodie fad to top dishes with a sunny-side-up egg on most everything these days, so there was some hesitation here. My excuse is that I was trying to replicate my version of that original brunch dish. In this case the yolk from the poached egg created a velvety sauce over the roasted asparagus and lentils that is hard to describe – simply scrumptious. So that’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it. Enjoy.
Asparagus & Lentils with Poached Egg
1 lb. pencil thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed
2 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper
2½ TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped thyme
A dash of white vinegar
1 package Melissa’s Steamed Lentils
4 large eggs
Toss asparagus with 1 TBS oil, arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer, season with salt and pepper. Roast @ 350° until tender, about 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl combine the red wine vinegar, Dijon, thyme, and the remaining TBS of oil; whisk until an emulsified dressing. Add lentils, stir to combine, then set aside to allow the lentils to absorb the dressing.
To poach the eggs, fill a large saucepan with water, about 1 1/2 inches deep. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add white vinegar. One at a time crack the eggs into a ramekin and tip egg into water. Cook 3 minutes. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb water.
Plating: Divide asparagus on 4 plates, top with dressed lentils. Place one egg on top of each, seasoned with pepper.