The Pumpkin Pie Omelette: Take 1: The Test

The sweet omelette is a great treat for holiday mornings.  Everyone is usually carbing out on pancakes, doughnuts and sweet rolls.   What about a pumpkin omelette?  With all the taste of pumpkin pie, the ease of an omelette? And low carb to boot?  Here’s my first try and it’s tasty enough to share the initial recipe. It will only get better — and I will update this through the week as I perfect it!

Holiday Morning Hells

Holiday mornings can be a low-carber’s hell, especially given what’s coming up the rest of the day. Recent discussions in the dirty, lazy keto Facebook group (which I LOVE),  have been revolving around a certain no-crust, low carb pumpkin pie recipe. And I thought, that’s a good deal of trouble to go to when I would likely be the only person eating it.  That got me to thinking.  These ingredients are very similar to a good, sweet omelette recipe.  You wouldn’t have to use as many–and you could definitely get away with losing the Splenda blend if sweetness came from other elements, like, say, fried apples and dried cranberries. 

Warning: This is a NOT QUITE keto, REASONABLY low carb recipe coming in at 25 g of carbohydrates.  This is the first test, with just the ingredients I had in the kitchen (because it was snowing in Northern Virginia. And sleeting.) 

Eggs
Sweetness
& Fat

The Essentials of the Sweet Omelette

Eggs, sweetness and fat are all that make up the sweet omelette. Eggs provide the canvas, the texture and some slightly umami components of taste.  Sweetness (and spice!) can come from many sources.

Pumpkin pie is mostly eggs, pumpkin, heavy cream and sweetening agents. Usually sugar is required in order to create the chemical bonds that keep the pie from becoming a gloppy mess–which is why in the low carb pie recipes, you will see the use of baking blends.  Baking blends are mixtures of sugar with a low-carb sweetener. I like Truvia’s brown sugar and stevia blend, though sometimes you need the Splenda blend to provides the stronger texture. 

In the omelette, eggs, not sugar, provide the structure (and texture) of the dish.   In my deconstruction, I realized that the cream may be redundant.  The pumpkin pie puree may provide the “softening agent” to make sure the omelette version doesn’t get tough. And for sweetener, a teaspoon of Torani vanilla syrup, the kind I sometimes use in my coffee, would probably be ample as both a sweetener — and it would go well with the spice elements.  Ginger is a nice big flavor.  It’s a key ingredient in making for a “wow” pumpkin pie, along with the cinnamon and nutmeg.  (Mace, another beautiful warm spice, would go lovely with this, but I didn’t have any on hand).  Most pumpkin pie spice blends are weak on ginger — it’s one of those flavors that degrades quickly in powder form. 

Finally, fruit would definitely raise this out of the ordinary.  I had a can of apples that needed to get used up (from over a year ago) and also some reduced sugar craisins (cranberry raisins). While they added a carb or so,  (gads, it added far more than I intended!  see nutrition notes at the end.) the apples added some acidity and the craisins, a little more chewy texture. 

The results:  GLORIOUS on the first try!   I had a little trouble with getting it out of the plate as there was a slight “sticking” issues — not quite  enough structure in the omelette to allow it to entirely stay together from the pan to the plate — but the taste was everything I hoped for. My only problem: I made this a two-egg “test” omelette, rather than a 3-egg “meal.”  I definitely wanted more.

The Test Recipe

This is the recipe as I constructed it from what I had on hand.  In the next version, I will be more precise on measurements and I’ll experiment with more usual ingredients (like ordinary vanilla extract) to create look at more options. 

I know the chefs in my family would roll their eyes at my use of ginger paste from a tube, but who in the world has time to prepare fresh ginger?  Ginger powder loses its punch rapidly in the jar. Ginger paste retains it oomph and adds something special to pumpkin recipes, generally.  It’s also easier to measure.

The cooked canned apples were prepared with some sugar by the canner. What would probably be better?  Apples or pear pieces, fresh, fried in butter until slightly soft!)  Raisins or sultanas (golden raisins) would be good substitutes for the craisins. 

Ingredients

  • Two large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree (from a can)
  • 1 tsp Torani sugarfree vanilla syrup 
  • Ginger paste from a tube – 1 scant tsp
  • Cinnamon (two dashes, maybe 1/4 tsp, no more).
  • Nutmeg  (dash) 
  • Reduced sugar craisins (14)
  • 1 ounce (5 pieces) of cooked, canned apples
  • Butter (1 pat, for cooking)
  • Oil oil (2 tbls, for cooking)
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (for the egg whites)

Step 1 – Separate the Eggs

The base recipe for this is the fluffy omelette recipe.

Separating the eggs is pretty important for this recipe. We’ll be adding the yolks to the pumpkin, which makes the mixture a bit heavy. It would be even heavier if I’d used applesauce, so the whole thing would have serious trouble rising and getting nice and fluffeh!

The whites need to be separated out into their own bowl, with no speck of yellow yolk in them.

Now you should have two bowls: a bowl with the yolks in them, and a bowl with the egg whites in them

Step 2 -Prepare the pumpkin base

In a THIRD bowl, add the pumpkin, ginger paste, sugarfree vanilla syrup, and mix with a fork into they’re well combined.

Next, add the cinnamon. Stir. Taste. If you’ve added too much, you have an entire can full of pumpkin puree, so you can start over. 😀

Next, add the nutmeg.  Stir. Taste.  Is it pumpkin pie flavor yet?  A little salt might perk things up.  Adjust seasonings a bit if you need to! 

Step 3 – Prepare the omelette pan.

The omelette pan should be oven safe. Cast iron or stainless steel or whatever, we’re eventually going to put it in the broiler.  But for now, we’ll be working on the stove top.

Heat the omelette pan, adding the olive oil and the pat of butter.  Let that warm up over a medium heat.  Don’t do this until you’re sure you’re ready to do the NEXT steps (4 and 5) are set up and ready to go.  Overheating the pan or underheating the pan are two of the usual mistakes. Be ready to have a hot pan ready to go for step 7! 

Step 4 – Pour the Pumpkin Mixture into the Egg Yolks

Stir until well combined.  This is simple, probably take 10-30 seconds.

Step 5 – Whip the Egg Whites

Use a whisk.  Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites (if you have it–found mine at the back of the cabinet!).  I whipped them for about two-three minutes, until the butter in the omelette pan melted into the olive oil and began to sizzle a little. 

Step 6 – GENTLY fold the whites into the egg yolk and pumpkin mixture. 

Do NOT MIX them well! You want to preserve the light fluffiness of the whites!.   Mix them just a little bit, to get them very lightly combined.

You now have 1 bowl of pumpkin pie omelette mixture.

Step 7 – Pour the Pumpkin Pie Omelette Mixture into the Hot Pan — and Turn on the Broiler

  • Pour the mixture in to the pan
  • Turn on the broiler (about 550 degrees F.)
  • Let the omelette begin to solidify slightly and the bottom to firm up
The apples are a bit sunk into the middle of the mixture. I combined them with the pumpkin mixture which was a bit of  a mistake.  They should’ve been set of the surface of the cooking omelette.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Step 8 – Add the apples and craisins to the omelette

Set the apple pieces around the omelette with an eye to not putting too many in the middle. You’ll see that I failed this step. Spread them out some. 

Dot the craisins around the omelette’s surface as well so that they’re spread out more or less evenly across. 

Cook’s note. I DID NOT add the apples, as I should’ve, on top of the omelette with the craisins. Idiotically, I added them to the pumpkin puree. They glopped into the center of the pan and created a structural weakness in the middle of the omelette.  I noticed this and moved them around a bit while the mixture was still wet in the pan, but you’ll see it did not entirely save the situation. 

Step 9 – Put the omelette pan under the broiler

When the edges of the omelette get dry and the center has begun to get solid, put the omelette pan under the broiler.  This will cook the top of the omelette without burning the bottom.   Let it sit there for no more than 2 minutes or so. It should be very, very slightly browned on top. 

Step 10 – Remove the finished omelette from the pan onto a waiting plate.

I found this to be the perfect sweetness for me, but if you’re really needing a sugar hit, maybe the lightest of dustings with Swerve might be in order.  Another option for this?  Fresh, heavy whipped cream. 

As I slid the omelette out of the pan, some of it was, sadly, left behind.  The failure to PLACE the apples on top (as I did the craisins) led to their settling in the middle and creating a weakness in the structure so that the omelette failed to land completely clean on the plate.   Still delicious though.  Thought you’d learn more from my mistakes! 

AND NOW For the Dirty, Lazy Nutritional Facts

  • Pumpkin puree: 1/4 cup has as many as five carbs, according to the label, 2 g of fiber — which would make this a little less than 3 carbs.  I used slightly less than that but I’m keeping the 3 carbs count anyway. It might be as little as 1.5 carbs.
  • Ocean Spray’s reduced dried cranberries package says 1/4 cup has 33g carbs with 10 grams of fiber.  That’s 23 grams (maximum).  It’s a substantive carb kick, but I know that I used far less than that (14 craisins). I’m saying about an 1/8th of a cup.   That would bring it down to about 12 carbs. Still a heftier punch than I had estimated.
  • Raisins or sultanas would be about 7 net carbs for a tablespoon. So, next time, I plan to use sultanas and only 3 or 4 craisins. I also want to consider fresh cranberries. 
  • Cooked apples:  I used Glory Foods, Sweet Traditions Fried Apples. Not the best choice! 🙂  We don’t always make good choices.  But it was what I had.  1/4 cup would be 10.5 carbs and .5 g of fiber, so 10 carbs it is.
  • In dirty, lazy keto, we’re not worried about the rest.  But that does bring this recipe up to a whopping 25 carbs.   
  • Now before we BOGGLE, I want to point out: most of the carbs came from my yummy additions — and I did NOT have to use the Splenda blend.  1/4 cup of the Splenda blend yields (drum roll please): 46 CARBS.  If you used 1/8th cup, like you would likely have in a slice of that pumpkin pie recipe? You’d be looking at 23 carbs.  So this recipe is pretty comparable to one slice of the crustless pumpkin pie. 

In tomorrow’s test, we’ll slim this puppy down! 

Recipe: Trader Joe’s Chicken Schawarma Thighs

On a busy week-night, I want food fast, easy and with as little fuss as possible.  Trader Joe’s chicken schawarma thighs fill the bill nicely. Schawarma is essentially an olive oil marinade with the essential ingredients of turmeric, onion, paprika and garlic, with some lemon and vinegar for acidity. Trader Joe’s version is not quite as delicious as, say, this NYT recipe, but for something I can throw in the oven for half an hour at 400 degrees F? Hey, this is my go-to meal for tired days. My picky son loves it (though he won’t eat the mushrooms).

Turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory root with a delicate flavor.  Trader Joe’s almond butter and turmeric salad dressing reminds me slightly of Thai peanut sauce — but without the overpowering sweetness. I added it to this recipe to give it a creamy finish.

I pair this with Trader Joe’s reduced carb tortillas, two colors of peppers, onions and mushrooms– and baby spinach — and I have a fast meal that is almost restaurant quality. It’s kind of like a soft taco or a loose “wrap.”   To be honest, my son is no fan of vegetables (especially not mushrooms).  I often make the garnish just for myself, halving the amount of peppers, onion and mushrooms in the recipe below if it’s just him and me.

This recipe makes about five “tacos.”

What You Need:

The Chicken:
1 package of Trader Joe’s chicken schawarma thighs
1 lemon, cut in halves (optional)

The Garnish:
1 red bell pepper
1 orange pepper
1/2 onion
2-4 fresh white mushrooms (optional)
1 pat of butter
2 tablespoons of oil oil
1/4 tsp turmeric (or a good sprinkle)
1/4 tsp paprika (or a good sprinkle)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup (or a good handful) of baby spinach

Trader Joe’s Reduced Carb Tortillas
a spray can of coconut oil  (optional) — You can substitute spray olive oil or other oil as well.

Salad dressing (optional) – My personal preferences are Trader Joe’s “Almond Butter Turmeric” salad dressing or “Gorgonzola Pear Champagne Vinagrette”

The Prep

  1. First I preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. , then I start prepping the ingredients. This isn’t entirely throw the meat in the oven and forget it!

2. I remove the chicken from the package and cut the thighs into similarly sized, smaller pieces.   They come packaged together, with about three large thighs and a couple of smaller thigh pieces.  I cut each large thigh into about four pieces.  The smaller pieces can usually be cut into half and then they’re all mostly the same size — so they will cook in around the same time.

3. I put aluminum foil on a broiler pan and set the pieces on the foil.  I often squeeze half a lemon over all the pieces, to wake up the flavor, before putting it in the oven when the temperature hits the mark.   The thigh pieces will cook in about thirty minutes.

The Garnish

4. While the chicken’s in the oven, put the pat of butter in a saute pan, along with the olive oil. Turn on medium heat, letting the butter melt. Add paprika and turmeric to the oil while its heating.

5. Chop the onion into a small dice (small pieces) and mince the garlic.  Add to the pan. Cook on medium heat and let those onions brown.

6. Chop the red and orange pepper, (and the  mushrooms if using).  Add to the pan.

7. Saute the peppers and mushrooms with the onions and garlic in the oil/butter/spice mixture over medium heat for about five minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.

8. Add the baby spinach. Cook til it just wilts–that takes less than a minute!   Take the saute pan off the heat and set it aside. I keep the garnish in the pan while I work on the tortillas.

Prepare the Tortillas

9. I use a grill pan or a skillet, heating it up to a medium high temperature.

10.  I spray each tortilla on each side with coconut oil and put them on the hot grill pan, about a minute on each side. They should get a nice hot scorch mark on them, but not much!   Set aside.

11. When the chicken comes out, assemble them like tacos:  a spoonful of garnish, three to four pieces of chicken per “taco.”

12. I add a small squeeze of lemon or often, a small spoonful (or “dollop” ) of salad dressing before eating. My favorites are Trader Joe’s pear gorgonzola salad dressing or the the especially lovely almond butter turmeric salad dressing.

The Salad Version

If you’re not a fan of the tortilla idea, you can put all of this on top of fresh greens for a wonderful salad.  I do this with leftovers of this recipe — if there are any (often not!). That takes off a few net carbs.

The Nutritional Info:

Trader Joe’s Chicken Schawarma (from the package):

Serving size 4 oz (112g) | Amount per serving: Calories 160
Total Fat 7g (9% DV), Saturated Fat 1.5g (8% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 100mg (33% DV), Sodium 440mg (19% DV), Total Carbohydrate 3g (1% DV), Dietary Fiber 0g (0% DV), Total Sugars 0g—Includes 0g Added Sugars (0% DV), Protein 21g, Vitamin D 0mcg (0% DV), Calcium 20mg (0% DV), Iron 1.2mg (6% DV), Potassium 290mg (6% DV).

The Trader Joe’s Reduced Carb Tortillas
Serving: 1 tortilla | Calories: 10 | Total Fat: 1.5g | Total Carbs: 10g (7g fiber, 0g sugar) | Protein: 4g

<Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Turmeric Dressing (serving 1 tbsp).

Yes, it has a little cane sugar in it (it’s the fifth ingredient) but the rest of the ingredients are pretty good for you– almond butter, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and lemon juice — 4g of fat, carbohydrates, 4g, fiber 1g,  2g of sugar and 2g of protein in a tablespoon.

Here’s my admittedly rough calculations for my two tacos:
Chicken: 6 g net carbs
Tortillas: 6 g net carbs
Salad dressing: 6 net carbs
Peppers:  about 2.5 g carbs
Onions: about 2 g net carbs
Spinach: 2 g net carbs
Mushrooms: 1 g net carbs

This gives me a total carb accounting for this meal at 25.5 net carbs.