It is not that many years ago, so my meeting with the diabetes dietician at our local medical clinic is still very sharp in my memory. I had done some research into foods low in carbohydrates after my doctor told me that I had type-2 diabetes, so I was prepared for the dietician.
She began by explaining that carbohydrates included sugar and starches found in common foods and drinks.
Holding up a test tube nearly filled with a white granular powder, she told me, “This is how much sugar is in the average can of a soft drink.”
“I don’t drink many cans of pop,” I responded.
She held up a tube only half full of the powder. “Here is the amount of sugar in an average serving of cake.”
“I like cake, but I don’t eat it very often,” was my answer. Fortunately she did not have a test tube stuffed with sugar from a large slice of cherry pie.
“Things don’t have to taste sweet to have lots of carbohydrates,” she said, ticking off a list on her fingers. “Soda crackers, potato chips, pretzels, bread sticks, Chex mix and tortilla chips all have significant quantities of carbohydrates.”
“I binge on potato chips and dip or tortilla chips and salsa once in a while,” I said, “but not very often.”
I could tell she thought I was exaggerating my will power. “Everybody snacks,” she said, “so what do you snack on?”
“Well, I really like dry-roasted peanuts and mixed nuts and a martini on the rocks while I am reading or watching the news on TV. And I enjoy one or two slices of good lunch meat as a snack. I have been checking out low-carb foods on the web, and these all look pretty good to me,” I answered.
I was feeling smug about my dietary research before she gave me a “gotcha” smile and announced. “You’re right about the carbs, but all those things have lots of calories. Calories lead to weight gain and excess fat.”
She stared pointedly at my rounded front and said, “Fat interferes with the body’s response to insulin. You might want to switch to celery and carrots and cut back on the martinis.”
Rather than taking such drastic steps I began looking for foods that were low in carbohydrates and calories to compensate for my afternoon delights. Here is a dish low in both of the “C’s” that I lucked into long before I began paying attention to such things.
Many years ago when I was still gainfully employed, there was a Chinese restaurant less than a mile from my office in Plymouth, Minnesota. Weekdays at noon they featured a luncheon special that let customers choose from several different menu items. The parking lot was usually nearly full, and there was inevitably a line at the serving counter. One got in the line and pointed to the items that he or she wanted for lunch.
That restaurant got me addicted to Egg Foo Young. I liked their fried rice, egg rolls, beef and mushrooms and stir-fried vegetables too, but it was the Egg Foo Young that kept calling me back to the place. There are many variations of the dish, which is a Chinese omelet made with eggs and other ingredients. The mixture is fried like a relatively thick pancake and served covered with a tangy sauce or gravy.
A generous serving of Egg Foo Young made with this recipe contains only about eleven grams of carbohydrates and fewer than two hundred fifty calories. You could eat all four servings and still be within the recommended carbohydrate intake for a meal. However, as the dietician lectured me, “They do have calories.”
For the omelet:
1 can bean sprouts (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 large clove garlic
1 cup salad shrimp or equivalent
5 large eggs
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. salt
About 2 T canola oil for frying
For the sauce:
1 cup water
1 tsp. instant chicken bouillon or 1 cube
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 T cornstarch dissolved in 1 T cold water
Dashes of white pepper and garlic powder to taste
Make the sauce first. Dissolve the bouillon in a cup of cold water in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Add the sugar, soy sauce and cider vinegar. Dissolve the corn starch in a tablespoon of cold water in a cup.
When the bouillon mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat and whisk in the cornstarch along with a dash each of white pepper and powdered garlic. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and cook for about three minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set the sauce aside while you make the omelets.
Drain the bean sprouts and put them into a colander. Clean and chop the scallions and celery and mince the garlic after removing its outer paper. Add the vegetables and shrimp to the bean sprouts. Let the vegetables and shrimp drain for fifteen minutes. Beat five large eggs in a small bowl until they are lemon colored. Season the eggs with a teaspoon of soy sauce and an eighth teaspoon of salt. and stir them into the vegetables and shrimp.
Heat about two teaspoons of canola oil in a non-stick frying pan over moderate heat and put two or three third-cup scoops of the egg and sprout mixture into the pan. Flatten the scoops slightly with a spoon or spatula. Turn the patties after three to four minutes and fry until both sides are lightly browned. Warm the sauce while you fry the rest of the patties. This recipe makes eight patties, which are enough for four generous servings.
Pass the sauce with the patties at the table.
NOTES: We seldom have salad shrimp in our freezer, so I usually chop larger shrimp into a half-inch dice. Incidentally, you can substitute cooked chopped chicken or pork for the shrimp. Any vegetable oil works fine for frying.
Egg Foo Young is a delicious low-carb addition to the menu. This entire recipe totals only about forty-four grams of carbohydrates. Complement the Egg Foo Young with a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup, LINK and you will be serving a meal with fewer than twenty grams of carbohydrates for each diner.