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Homemade Low Carb Food Gifts

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Everyone seems to be doing the low carb thing & Christmas is coming up & I am scratching my head as to what I can make for these folks.

So far the only thing I can come up with is homemade boursin cheese along with a bag of mini colored sweet peppers to stuff the cheese in & some purchased hard salami.

Other cheese recipes would be great. Maybe a pickled veggie recipe.

Other than the above items, I am clueless, please help.

By the way, I am so saddened to not be able to hand some sweet treats to my friends. Is there anything I can do in that department?

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  1. Jerky
    Spiced nuts
    And for low carb sweets... There is always the fake sweeteners (IMO - ick), but maybe some small, homemade dark chocolate truffles.

    1 Reply
    1. re: firecooked

      Different flavors of jerky (without sugar!) are something we would love to receive!

    2. Picked green beans, beets, onions and turnips are all beautiful.

      1. Although out of season, pickled asparagus with lots of garlic is great. Maybe a thought for next year.

        The Italian pickled veg mix....is it giardiniera?

        Fresh mozzarella, but they'd have to use it up fairly quickly.

        1. Homemade jerky, pickled vegetables or jalapenos (which can be surprisingly hard to find without sugar), spiced nuts and homemade cheese are great ideas. Cheesecake works quite well with artificial sweeteners and no crust. Very dark chocolate truffles with minimal added sugar will work for people who aren't super strict about their carbs. Bacon jam is great, if you use a recipe with no or minimal sugar.

          Don't feel bad about not being able to give your LC friends a sweet treat. If they've been low carbing for a while, they probably don't miss sweets too much anyway. They will definitely appreciate your efforts to make them something that fits into their diet/lifestyle!

          6 Replies
          1. re: biondanonima

            Bacon jam - excellent idea!

            1. re: biondanonima

              Do you have a recipe with no or minimal sugar for the bacon jam? I've had a hard time finding one which is why I haven't made it yet.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Here's mine:

                1.5 pounds thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
                4 cloves garlic, minced
                1 medium onion, diced
                1-2 chipotles en adobo (more if you like heat)
                2 t. chili powder
                1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
                1 T. cocoa powder
                2 cups of brewed coffee
                1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
                1 T. maple syrup or other sweetener (optional)

                Cook the bacon until fat is rendered and the bacon is starting to crisp. Drain most of the fat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute until onion is translucent. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Add the dry spices and saute a minute more.

                Add the chipotle, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and coffee. Simmer on low for approximately two hours, stirring occasionally, until bacon is very tender and the flavors have melded. If jam starts to get dry, add small amounts of water as necessary. Near the end of the cooking time, allow the mixture to become fairly dry.

                Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Place cooled bacon jam into a food processor, and pulse until the jam becomes a coarse paste.

                The maple syrup is definitely optional but I do find that it helps balance the heat/salt. If I want a truly low-carb mixture I just add a little Splenda instead.

                1. re: biondanonima

                  Thanks, look great and hardly any sugar at all. Does that make a cup or so?

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    I'd say it probably makes closer to 1.5-2 cups, depending on how fatty your bacon is and how big your onion is. It keeps a long time in the fridge, though, and freezes perfectly. I usually make a double or triple batch and freeze some.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Thanks so much for this. I have to watch my sugar intake and I wanted to make bacon jam for presents this year too.

            2. Some good ideas are popping up for LC gifts. Looks like I should have been doing some pickling this summer, but hopefully I can find some "quick" pickling recipes.

              Think I will bypass the sweets since so many have their preference for a certain kind of sweetener.

              Jerky sounds great. Wish I had a dehydrator, dried veggie chips might be a good idea, have never tried making them.

              1. Bouquets of dried herbs.
                Garlic braids.
                Herbal tea, loose or in sachets.
                Pesto.
                Salsa.
                Salad dressing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: greygarious

                  Greygarious, great ideas!

                2. Potted meats, potted meats! Confit! Pâté!

                  A little more work, but the payoff is wonderful and creative. I scout out the thrift stores for the right containers. I like the squat glass mason jars too. Of course, you can't mail it, but it is great for personal gift giving. I have a lot of spiced ham going on... And a big fat duck waiting for the end of November :)

                  1. Oh, and I make LC bark too. Like this: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011...

                    Wrapped in cellophane, sugar free, and decorated, is a nice gift.

                    1. Spiced nuts are a great gifts. Lots of different recipes.

                      1. Homemade nut butter.
                        You can flavor with vanilla and cinnamon or add some chili flakes or whatever.
                        Easy to make- i keep mine in the fridge. Basic "recipe" here:
                        http://heathereatsalmondbutter.com/re...

                        Or- Coconut "bacon" uses the low carb paleo darling coconut and its really easy to make (and delicious!!) costco even had the big organic coconut flakes:
                        http://www.fettlevegan.com/4/post/201...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                          Love the homemade nut butter idea!!

                        2. parmesan fricos are lovely wrapped in cellophane bags.

                          def second the rec for salad dressings

                          spice blends

                          flavored oils

                          seasoned/spiced pumpkin seeds

                          kale chips

                          with regards to sweets, are you opposed to using artificial sweeteners? isomalt is another great sugar substitute -- half the calories of sugar and low glycemic index...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Emme

                            Kale chips are so fragile I had not considered them as gifts.

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              i suppose it depends whether these are being shipped or not… i don't believe the OP said shippable items were necessary, but yours is a good point… might end up gifting kale "bread crumbs" instead ;) …which could be a gift in and of itself… great way to crust fish! ;)

                            2. re: Emme

                              On the frico topic .. to make a lot, easily, use a non-stick muffin tin. Heat your oven to 350 and put the shredded cheese into the bottom and heat until golden and bubbly.

                              I used mini muffin tins and the trick is not to fill the bottom with cheese but leave it sort of gappy/airy, I use about a teaspoon of cheese. I also put a little sprinkle of salt on top. Smoked salt would be awesome.

                              Anyway, it's not too long in the oven and you can make a few dozen at a time. :)

                            3. an assortment of organic nut butters,

                              1. I was on a low-carb kick and gifted Spicy Brown Mustard last year... I wanted something I could make ahead of time, keep costs low, and it was perfect! I'm totally stumped on this year and appreciate this thread!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: The Oracle

                                  Can you share the recipe? The last brown mustard I made was so fiery hot I couldn't stand it.

                                  1. re: travelerjjm

                                    I used this as my base:

                                    http://rosemarried.com/2010/12/07/a-h...

                                    And used Firestone's Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout as my beer. I made it about a month ahead of gifting to let it mellow a bit. I also bought organic brown mustard seeds online from Amazon... everything I read about spicy brown mustard was that it mellows as it ages.....

                                    1. re: The Oracle

                                      Thanks, I think I'll try it.

                                2. My mom used to make brandied cheddar for Christmas gifts. She gave it away in small crocks that people could re-use. It also gets better with a little age. It is still a favorite. I think I'll make some myself -- thanks for reminding me.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: travelerjjm

                                    can you share the recipe for brandied cheddar? sounds wonderful!

                                    1. re: GretchenS

                                      Sure. From my mom's recipe.

                                      1lb sharp cheddar, shredded
                                      2T butter
                                      1tsp sugar
                                      1/8 tsp cayenne
                                      1/2 c Brandy

                                      Have cheese and butter at room temp. Add sugar, cayenne and 1/4 cup brandy. Beat with electric mixer till quite smooth. Gradually add remaining 1/4 c brandy.

                                      Store in covered container in fridge. Keeps indefinitely [Ha. It gets eaten far before "indefinitely"!] Bring to room temp before serving as a spread with crackers. Makes 2 cups.

                                      My mom sometimes gave it away in small brandy snifters covered with plastic wrap.

                                      1. re: travelerjjm

                                        Sounds great, agree, it will not need to last indefinitely in any fridge I know of!!

                                        1. re: travelerjjm

                                          That sounds great!

                                          1. re: travelerjjm

                                            I am seeing this brandied cheese along with some marinated olives & hard salami. I would like that as a gift.

                                            Anyone have a recipe for tasty olives?

                                            1. re: cstout

                                              I made these and loved them- i used a mix of pitted olives. The best part was once the olives were eaten i used the marinade they had been in for roasting veggies. Definately use an organic lemon for the zest though.
                                              http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/...

                                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                Marinated olives, sounds delicious. Some other great healthy recipes too - thanks for sharing!

                                      2. Infused vinegars - with herbs, fruits, garlic, etc.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          I love this idea, vinegars and oils would be great.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            Oils can be dangerous. I'd stick to vinegars

                                        2. I made the seasoned salts from the chow site for gifts last year. They were a big hit.

                                          1. Infused olive oil in a pretty container would be a lovely gift! I love seeing those bottles with floating peppers and what not in them.

                                            1. Pickled quail eggs.
                                              Salmon Gravlax
                                              Dry-cured sausage

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: porker

                                                Love the pickled quail eggs idea. Conveniently, CHOW has a recipe for them: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30256-pic...

                                                1. re: porker

                                                  Maybe some homemade summer sausage, I have never made it since I don't have a dehydrator, but found several recipes that don't use one.

                                                  Will have to look up dried cured sausage, don't know what is, but any sausage sounds good to me.

                                                2. vinegar peppers.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    Vinegar peppers, yes that would make a great little addition to put in a gift basket.

                                                  2. +1 on the spice blends idea. I'm making a big batch of garam masala - soooo much better than what you can buy in the store. I found some really cute spice jars from Ball at my hardware store.

                                                    You could do a little basket with an herb salt, an herb blend (Italian, Mexican, etc) and a nice curry blend.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                      The basket of herb blends would make a great gift.

                                                      Unfortunately my 4 LC girlfriends do not cook, so they would just look at them & say, "what do I do with these"?

                                                      Funny you mentioned the Ball spice jars, one of the gals bought some for me as a gift since they knew I love to cook. Of course they were empty when I received them, after all, what would you expect from a non cook? I loved the jars & promptly put them to use!

                                                      Thank you all for posting some neat ideas...never knew there were so many things to make for a LC person.

                                                    2. Some low carb eaters can have a small amount of sugar: meringue cookies and bark made from dark chocolate using nuts and seeds could be good. Also trail mix, fried garbanzo beans, peanut butter balls rolled in sesame seeds, low sugar dips/condiments like harissa and salsa. I saw a reference on CH for salami chips which sound good, but I have not tried them. You can get a big bag of artisan pork rinds and divy them up into smaller bags.

                                                      1. Lentil-soup-in-a-jar, or other bean soup mix? Just adapt it to be lower-carb by leaving stuff like rice out.

                                                        Homemade salad dressing (would have to use fast)?

                                                        Refrigerator Pickles (easier to make, assuming you're not shipping!).

                                                        BBQ meat rubs (assuming your friends aren't also vegetarian).

                                                        Homemade coconut butter, yum! Easy to make and keeps a long time without refrigeration.

                                                        Herb-infused oils or vinegars (not garlic oil: tends to botulism!).

                                                        Lactofermented veggies (needs an airlock)

                                                        Pineapple-infused vodka, yum...! "Cherry Bounce" is also pretty good!

                                                        Spice packets for mulled wine or cider (if you want to be extra nice, also provide the liquid).

                                                        Homemade vanilla extract?

                                                        Provide-their-own-milk sugarfree hot cocoa mix. Here's how I make a big mug -- you'll have to play with it and see how well it would work for a mix:

                                                        Put a splash of milk in the bottom of a large mug. Add one heaping spoonful cocoa and 2 packets of **different** artificial sweeteners (Splenda and NutraSweet, Splenda and Stevia, Nutrasweet and Stevia, whatever you've got on hand).

                                                        Microwave one minute on high (time may vary with wattage of your microwave). Stir very well until the solids are completely dissolved in the milk.

                                                        Top off mug 3/4 full with more milk and microwave 2 1/2 minutes on medium. Stir. Add vanilla extract (you may want to substitute powdered vanilla for the mix), stir again, and drink.

                                                        Top with sugarfree whipped cream if available.

                                                        The mix and suitable mug(s) would be a GREAT gift!

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Chowbird

                                                          flavored vinegars and oils in pretty bottles: go on line for a multitude of great recipes. I make a pomegranate vinegar, a fig vinegar, and a garlic/chile oil but the combinations are endless.

                                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                                            Oils flavored with fresh herbs and fresh garlic, chiles, etc -- anything grown in soil -- present a botulism hazard.

                                                            Vinegars are a better idea.

                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                              thank you, C.Hamster, that's an important point and you are right. I make flavored oils only in small batches (no bigger than 8 ounces) and refrigerate and even then use them in two weeks maximum. I should have thought about that.

                                                          2. re: Chowbird

                                                            Just curious, why do you add 2 different types of sweetener to your cocoa? Is it because you are just trying to use up what's on hand?

                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                              It's because they work synergistically and make the cocoa taste more like sugar. :)

                                                              1. re: Chowbird

                                                                Wow, I had no idea about combining sweeteners - thanks for the informative information.

                                                          3. looking for a tried and true no sugar jerky recipe. Have you got one?

                                                            1. There is a lot of info on the Special Diets board, in case your were unaware.

                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/90