ExpertExtras Grits Mix Extender
Grits is a southern favorite, a hot cereal made from hominy which is itself a kind of corn. Our Grits Mix is an extender to stretch a little bit of the real thing into a portion large enough to satisfy. Our mix does not contain any grits, you must add your own.
Uh-oh, you say. She's really losing it. Even her grammar is going. And corn! How can that be lowcarb?
First of all, no, that's not a grammatical error. Even though the dictionary may disagree, to serious grits aficionados, grits is a collective noun spoken about in the singular.
You are right about the second point, because corn may be a problem for some lowcarbers. However, because some people (including Barbara) love grits with a passion so strong that doing without is a real trial, that small amount of corn may actually help them stay on their diets.
Of course, for the rest of the lowcarb population who hasn't tried this dish or who reacts with apathy (no one seems to actually hate grits but some people just plain don't care), it's safer to stick with not/Cereal. Anyway, that leaves more for the rest of us.
Our apologies if this seems flip, but it's hard to be serious when talking about one of our favorite foods. Not only is it a pleasure to share it with our friends, but it is also a demonstration of Expert Foods' growth that we are able to produce this rather-specialized product.
So grits-lovers, enjoy!
Please note: this product is for use as a cereal only. It does not harden on cooling, which makes it unsuitable for fried grits. However, it does make a delicious side dish, a la mashed potatoes, especially with cheese. In addition, you can use its stay-soft quality to make it ahead and reheat it when you need it -- particularly nice for our grits casserole recipes. See our directions in our Recipes section.
Our mix does not contain any grits, you must add your own. We developed the recipe using Quaker Quick Grits (not instant) but it works with other types (including instant, if that's what you prefer) and other brands. You will have to adjust the cooking time to whatever your brand's directions call for. You may also adjust the amount of grits -- just keep the carb count in mind.
Some people are sensitive to corn, even when the carb count is low. If corn is a problem for you, not/Cereal may be a better choice for you. It can be made into something that resembles grits somewhat, but contains no grain.
Expert Extras RealCream Dry Dairy Cream
Here's a special treat for coffee-lovers: honest-to-gosh dried dairy cream for your coffee, even when you are away from refrigeration! Now you don't have to do without, or settle for the synthetic stuff!
Dried cream is slightly higher in carbs than liquid heavy cream (cream is basically fat, so it has to be dried on something else -- in this case non-fat milk), but ExpertExtras RealCream dry dairy cream has only one-fourth the carbs of commercial non-dairy creamers (per the USDA database). It also has a somewhat milky flavor, a bit like evaporated milk, which many of us actually prefer to fresh heavy cream.
It also contains very little in the way of additives. While most people consider this to be a good thing, it does affect performance. Unlike the commercial creamers, RealCream contain no whitener (usually titanium dioxide, a chemical also used for whitening paint and paper), so it doesn't lighten your coffee as much. Use it by taste, not color.
RealCream also can't be counted on to dissolve as well as the commercial creamers -- although, just to keep things confusing, sometimes it does. We selected this product (the only one we don't make ourselves) because the test samples dissolved beautifully with just a little stirring. We figured that the vendor added lecithin, which can help cream dissolve, and an anti-caking agent, to make it work so well. However, it turned out that the vendor adds only enough for their drying process and, sometimes, we found to our dismay, that isn't enough to make a completely-dissolving-with-just-stirring product. (Our packages were already labelled before we found this out.)
Therefore, if you use RealCream as a coffee creamer, and just stir it into your cup, you are likely get some little white specks and sometimes even small lumps that don't stir away. They can be noticeable in dark liquids like coffee and cocoa. However, these little specks melt in your mouth and taste wonderful -- after all, they are concentrated cream. So while this product doesn't look as good as the synthetic stuff, RealCream tastes great.
Need less to say, being Expert Foods, we couldn't resist seeing what this product can do in cooking and baking. Some of the uses are obvious, using it instead of liquid cream in making portable mixes for hot cocoa and creamed soups. And some are not so obvious, including flourless crepes and sugar- and flourless butter cookes.
Hot cereal on a lowcarb or no-grain diet? Impossible?
Not at all!
ThickenThin not/Cereal thickener is an unflavored mix gives you the thick, creamy texture of hot cereal, rather like cream of wheat or rice. Just add a "little something" for flavor and enjoy! It is guaranteed to lump -- just enough to give you that nice cereal texture -- you whisk it to control the size, anything from the big lumps of oatmeal to the tiny lumps of cream of wheat.
It has other uses, too, including the ability to impart a starchy feel to recipes, allowing pureed lowcarb vegetables to have the texture of high carb ones. In other words, it can make cauliflower feel much like potatoes, and pumpkin puree feel like mashed sweet potatoes. See our Recipes for these and the other dishes mentioned here.
You can also use it to make incredibly-easy lowcarb croquettes (or pancakes or patties) out of practically anything. It not only binds cakes of diced meat, fish, vegetables, or even hard-cooked eggs, but it also fries up into a crisp-textured coating.
Lastly, its guaranteed-to-lump characteristic makes it perfect for lowcarb tapioca pudding.
Suggestions and Recipes
Note: all versions are fastest with a wire whisk although a fork can be used.
Microwave* Directions--spray or grease sides of bowl to prevent boilovers!:
1. Whisk 1 Tbs. mix into a half cup warm water.
2. Cook approximately 40-60 seconds (varies with oven). Whisk to break up lumps. Repeat as needed until thick (about 1-2 minutes more).
3. Whisk to desired smoothness.
*For stove top preparation: use 3/4 cup water; stir frequently.
Add one or more of the following (amounts are just suggestions):
cinnamon and sweetener
Parmesan or other cheese
chopped nuts, seeds (2-3 Tbs.)
protein powder (1-2 Tbs.)
wheat or oat bran
fruit (if allowed on diet)
salt (1/8 tsp.-- less with cheese)
milk, butter, cream or substitutes per your diet
For those who handle a small amount of grain- based cereal, not/Cereal can stretch it into a bowlful.
For 4g bioavailable carb, add (to Step 1) 1 1/2 Tbs. oatmeal or 1/2 Tbs. quick grits or 1 Tbs. instant grits. Adjust cooking time for the addition (watch carefully-- you may need to add more water for longer cooking times).
Don't forget to count the carbs!
"not/Oatmeal" (cinnamon flavor) increase not/Cereal to 1 1/2 TBS and cook without stirring to form large firm lump of egg, whisk to large particle size, cook until thick. Add cinnamon for flavor and color as well as any other desired additions and salt to taste. (I haven't tried it but a teeny amount of molasses should work instead of cinnamon for those who prefer brown sugar flavor.)
"not/Grits" cook until lump of egg just starts to form, whisk thoroughly to a small particle size, cook until thick. Add something (butter, cream, cheese, cinnamon, etc.) for flavor and salt to taste.
Prepare complete mixes of dry ingredients in your favorite combinations. Not only does it save measuring time in the morning but the other ingredients often reduce the amount of time needed for stirring and whisking. Just spoon some not/Cereal and your favorite amount of other ingredient(s) into a jar (or recycle one of our stand-up pouches) and stir thoroughly.
Pecan not/Cereal: 3 Tbs not/Cereal plus 6 Tbs ground pecans (this amount fits into a Wise CHOice pouch). For each serving, use 3 Tbs mix--and see how easy it is to prepare. Flavor with butter, salt (optional) and, for those of us who remember Maypo fondly, some maple flavoring and sweetener.
Soy protein not/Cereal: 4 Tbs not/Cereal plus 4 Tbs soy protein isolate or other protein powder (fits into a Wise CHOice pouch). For each serving, use 2 Tbs mix to make a thick creamy cereal. (Note: this mix still needs a whisk.) Flavor as you would any bland hot cereal.
ThickenThin not/Starch thickener
ThickenThin not/Starch thickener is the perfect thickener for lowcarb or grain-free diets. It recreates the thick rich textures you want without adding calories, fat, or carbohydrates. It even gives you fiber, all of it the soluble fiber that is so hard to get on a restricted diet. (Note: we follow US nutrition label law which requires reporting 4 calories per gram from soluble fiber, even though the human body cannot digest it.)
ThickenThin not/Starch thickener is easy to use, dissolves directly in hot or cold liquids, and doesn't get lumpy on cooling, even with very thick liquids. In other words, it works for dishes that are served cold, or you can even easily reheat gravy or thick sauces without loss of quality. On the other hand, the fact that it doesn't actually solidify means that it isn't as good as cornstarch for pudding pies or other dishes where you need it to set up firm (see our Wise CHOice Cook-it-up Pudding Mix for the answer to this texture challenge).
Furthermore, we've been discovering that not/Starch has other uses. While using it to give made-from-cauliflower risotto the proper slightly soupy texture (see our Recipes section for recipes mentioned here) is logical, some of the other uses are quite different. For example, we've been using it to make flatbreads or crackers out of nuts and/or seeds. And one of our customers reports using it to improve the texture and melt of her homemade churned ice creams (but it will NOT keep them soft -- nothing available currently does that adequately without adding carbs -- that is why we developed our non-churned Wise CHOice Frozen Dessert Mix).
Directions: Use ThickenThin not/Starch thickener like cornstarch. However, a teaspoon thickens a bit more than one teaspoon of cornstarch, and one tablespoon of not/Starch thickens more like 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch.
ThickenThin not/Sugar thickener is formulated to give the texturizing effect of sugar in beverage and syrup recipes even on lowcarb or other sugar-free diets. not/Sugar is unsweetened to allow you to select the sweeteners of your choice.
Add the sweetener of your choice and recreate the rich mouthfeel of sugar-sweetened beverages--stretch small amounts of fruit and/or dairy into big satisfying shakes. Or add it to your favorite protein shake to add satisfying creaminess -- and fiber.
Yes, this thickener, made from natural vegetable gums, is also a fiber supplement! However, please be assured that, first and foremost, it was designed to be a cooking aid.
To our delight, ThickenThin not/Sugar thickener is also useful in cooking, baking, and candy-making!
It takes only a small stretch of the culinary imagination to see how ThickenThin not/Sugar can help in most "wet" recipes that call for a significant amount of sugar. Not only does it help replace the syrupy thickening of sugar, it also contributes to "mouthfeel" much like sugar does. While we can't say that it will improve everything, so far it has helped every recipe we've tried, except those where the reason for the sugar was to provide browning (caramel syrups, etc.). We especially like using it for fruit spreads (they taste and feel like jam or preserves, but aren't actually preserved without the sugar), cranberry sauce, and for helping marinades cling.
How much to use? That depends on the type of food, but we recommend starting with one eighth the amount of sugar called for in the recipe -- that is two tablepoons per cup -- and see how you like it. (Please don't use more than one tablespoon per serving -- otherwise second helpings could be uncomfortable unless you are accustomed to a lot of fiber.)
"Dry" recipes like baking or candy-making are more variable. As noted above, not/Sugar does not brown, nor does it crystallize (so no pecan pie or topping for creme brulee). On the other hand, it stabilizes meringues without adding sweetness, so it's now possible to make cheese puffs and other savory baked goods.
We recommend that you keep visit our list of recipes for not/Sugar periodically to see our new ones. Also, take a look at the "Lowcarb Recipes Fast and Easy"lowcarb cookbook -- see the Peanut Butter Cookie sample recipe which is one of several that use not/Sugar. (Its author, Belinda Schweinhart, was a professional baker in her pre-lowcarb life -- she clued us in to not/Sugar's usefulness in baking.) If you want to experiment yourself, follow the guidleines above to start with. And, please, tell us about your successes -- we'd be pleased to post your recipe with full credit to its creator.
Wise CHOice Cake-ability Baking Aid
What comes to mind when you think of a cake made entirely from nuts? Luxury? Decadence? Elegance? Not on your diet?
Not necessarily. Nuts are good food -- lowcarb enough for lowcarbers, and full of the good fats that experts are now recommending for everyone. There is little doubt that these natural repositories of vitamins and minerals are far more flavorful than grain. OTOH, baking with nuts is quite a challenge, even for professional bakers, and that's without the challenge of leaving out other typical bulk cake ingredients -- like sugar.
That's where Expert Foods comes in.
We have found a way to turn ground nuts and nut flours into delicious, moist baked goods that taste and feel the way cakes and muffins should, but rarely do. Cakes with character, tea breads with texture, muffins with substance -- real foods that satisfy rather than send your blood sugar reeling. And you make these sumptuous and scrumptious cakes and tea breads without sugar, starch, grain, soy, dairy or odd chemicals -- with just 2g bioavailable carbs per 1 1/2-ounce serving for the basic recipe.
With Wise CHOice Cake-ability Baking Aid, we supply the texture -- and the easy recipes -- and you are the "expert" baker. You create baked goods of your choice, with the ingredients of your choice. Your "from scratch" creations will benefit from the fresh flavors, and you will benefit from using the ingredients right for your diet. Our recipes are easy -- faster and easier than using a regular cake mix -- our cakes don't need all that beating, and you can bake them in a microwave oven. (However, they will be slightly prettier if baked in a regular oven.) Furthermore, it's perfectly safe to remove them from the pan while still hot -- in fact, the crust is better if you do that and let them cool on a rack (unless you don't like a distinct crust -- another place you get to choose).
You can even underbake them -- on purpose, of course (that's what you say) -- to get delicious a creamy center. Just try that with the high-carb kind!, Or overbake them slightly to get something that resembles a high-carb torte (in other words, rather dry). If you overshoot entirely, slice them and rebake them into biscotti. After all, they are just variations for you to choose. (However, the moister the version, the sooner it can spoil, so be sure to keep it refrigerated.)
If you can't find ground nuts or nut flour, it's not hard to grind your own nuts in a food processor. Just combine them with our Baking Aid and other dry ingredients and grind away -- don't worry if it comes out a bit "damp" -- it just makes combining it with the liquid ingredients easier. It's the fineness of the nuts that affects whether you get a tender "fancy" cake (very finely-ground nuts) or a heavy muffin (coarsely-ground -- or add chopped nuts) or anything in between.
Here are the label directions.
1. Mix (or grind) together, breaking up any lumps: 1/2 cup Baking Aid (55g), 1/2 lb ground nuts (225g or about 2 cups), sweetener equal to 1/2 cup sugar (100g) (or add liquid sweetener in Step 3), pinch salt, dry flavoring ingredients.
2. Line baking pan with parchment or foil, or grease and "flour" with mixture from Step 1.
3. Combine liquids: 1 cup water (240ml), 3 eggs, 3 Tbs oil (45ml), other liquid ingredients.
4. Stir liquid and dry ingredients together until thoroughly wet -- no need to beat!
5. Immediately pour into prepared pan and microwave (around 7 minutes) or bake at 350F (175C) -- loaf pans 40-50 minutes, round pans 25-35 minutes, cupcakes/muffins 15-25 minutes -- or until center springs back.
Chocolate Cake: grind nuts very fine. Add 1/2 cup cocoa, plus an extra 1/4 cup sweetener, 2 Tbs water, 4 Tbs oil, 2 tsp vanilla. (For a Torte, skip the extra water and sweetener.) Bake in round pan, preferably springform.
Banana Bread: use loaf pan; only 2 eggs; cinnamon to taste; swirl in 1 oz. (30g or 1/4 cup) chopped walnuts and top with 3 oz thinly-sliced banana (1 small or 1/2 large).
Muffins: use 2 eggs; coarse nut flour or add chopped nuts. Makes 12-16 regular-sized muffins, or six oversize.
More ideas: replace water with coffee, etc. Add extracts, syrups, fruit (diced or pulp), other nuts, seeds, coconut, and/or spices to taste -- and invent away!
Nutrition* per 1/16th of basic recipe (1 1/2 oz) made with pecans and 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (calculated by Mastercook): 140 calories; 13g fat (1.3g sat); 4.2g carb (of which 2.2g is fiber); 3.7g protein, 95mg sodium
* based on no-calorie sweetener
Wise CHOice Cake-ability Baking Aid is available in a 6-ounce package -- enough for three 1 1/2 pound cakes or tea breads -- each recipe requires a half cup -- plus extra for "flouring" the pan if you don't use baker's parchment. It's packaged in our usual stand-up zipper pouch.
Wise CHOice Cook-it-up Pudding Mix
Who doesn't love pudding? Chocolate pudding seems to be an almost universal comfort food. Unfortunately for lowcarbers, even the sugar-free puddings on the market contain 6-8g carbohydrate from the starches in the mix alone, not counting the milk. It's not easy to make a starch-free version of a dish that owes its very existence to starch. But now we've done it!
Be warned, our mix is intended to recreate "semi-old-fashioned" cooked chocolate pudding mix. If instant pudding is your pleasure, you'll probably find this pudding a bit too dense and smooth for your taste -- just as cooked-pudding lovers found instant puddings a bit too light and fluffy for their tastes. If real-old-fashioned homecooked pudding is what you like, add an egg yolk and/or some butter, just the way the old recipes do, to recreate that.
Our basic recipe was developed with Hershey's European-style cocoa for its extra-dark color. Dutch-processed cocoas are also less bitter, requiring less sweetener. The amount of cocoa and sweetener are personal tastes, as is the use of vanilla as opposed to other extracts. Feel free to modify the recipe to your taste or use other extracts like mint, rum, hazelnut, cherry -- anything that's good with chocolate -- but use a light hand at first, as vanilla intensifies chocolate, but too much of other extracts may overwhelm it.
We've also tested our mix with all milk to see if it works like regular sugar-free chocolate cooking pudding, which it does. However, we think ours is at least as good when made with water and enough heavy cream to recreate the proper texture and flavor -- most people find two tablespoons per serving to be the right amount. It's also very good with coconut milk instead of cream (or for a richer version, instead of the water, too), and we've had great reports on replacing the heavy cream with sour cream.
You can use this mix to make non-chocolate puddings by leaving out the cocoa, and increasing the other flavors. The texture of the mix is optimized to work with cocoa, so non-chocolate versions end up somewhat fluffier and less intense, almost like a custard. This can be offset by adding butter and/or egg yolk.
Other variations -- aside from using extracts or sugar-free syrups -- include coffee (just substitute coffee for the water, and leave out the cocoa), mocha (half coffee for water, half the cocoa), raspberry (replace about one quarter of the water with raspberry juice -- this should work with other juices but it has not been tested); peanut butter (soften peanut butter to taste in part of the water, add during cooking -- also good in vanilla pudding.)
Chocolate Pudding for 2 (recipe from package)
1. In quart (liter) bowl, combine 1 Tbs (15ml) mix, 2 Tbs (15-30ml) unsweetened cocoa, 1/8 tsp salt, breaking up all lumps.
2. Whisk in 3/4 cup (180ml) cold water until no lumps left.
3. Microwave until boiling, stirring frequently (or cook on stove top, stirring constantly).
4. Whisk in 1/4 cup (60ml) cream (or sour cream, coconut milk, etc.); flavor and sweeten to taste (start with 1 tsp vanilla plus 2-3 Tbs sugar equivalent, or 2-3 Tbs sugar-free syrup).
5. Serve warm or refrigerate, covered.
Suggestions: add egg yolk and/or butter for richness; replace part or all the water with coffee or fruit juice; add chopped nuts or coconut.
Per serving (using 2 Tbs cocoa and 4 Tbs heavy cream to make 2 servings):
Nutrition* (calculated by Mastercook): 145 calories; 11.7g fat; 6.3g carb (of which 3.5g is fiber); 3.9g protein--also provides 9% of Vit A and 16% of iron Daily Values *based on no-calorie sweetener
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