Low Carb Frico (Parmesan Crackers)

Frico (Parmesan Crackers) & Seeds
I’ve been cooking up lots of frico (parmesan crackers) lately. Mostly to top salads, but I also use them on soups and simple snacking too. These frico with toasted seeds were a big hit at my dinner table recently. So easy to make and low carb too!

How to make Frico w Toasted Seeds
Clockwise (from top left):
1. Sprinkle seeds in heated non-stick pan.
2. Add shredded Parmesan (Manchego is lovely too) and make sure the seeds are covered with cheese bits. Use a spatula to make a tight circle.
3. When the edges turn brown, gently start lifting with a thin spatula.
4. Turn frico (use two spatulas if needed) and cook until browned underneath. Carefully transfer frico to plate and let cool to harden. Break into pieces for salad topping or just EAT as is.

This works with pieces of herbs or leafy greens too. Frico with toasted baby kale here.

More Low Carb Recipes here


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Originally publishes 5/9/2015


Basic Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Looking for a low carb pizza alternative? Then you really should jump on the CAULIFLOWER bandwagon.

I’ve been using cauliflower to make dishes lower carb for a couple of years now. I’ve tried low carb cauli tortillasburger buns, bacon-wrapped grilled cheese, fried rice, and even cauliflower grits. But the one recipe I make most often is cauliflower crust pizza. It’s an absolute staple in my kitchen, especially on #MeatlessMondays.

If you’re new to low carb cooking, and not sure where to start, I highly recommend this SUPER EASY, pizza crust recipe. It’s the perfect vehicle for any topping really. I’ve thrown on fried eggs for breakfast, grilled steak for lunch, even spoonfuls of Thai curry chicken. The texture can be anywhere in between a hard-cooked omelet to a thick (albeit cheesy) crepe. It just depends on how thin (or thick) you cook it.

Low Carb Pizza

The cauliflower crust recipe I use now was adapted from two recipes I tried in the past. I first discovered Recipe Girl’s crust, then incorporated some tips from The Iron You blog.

If  you follow me on instagram or twitter, you’ve probably seen the low carb “provolone and cauliflower crust” pizza I’ve been testing. It’s so, SO good and I’ll have that on the blog VERY soon. I thought it best to start with the basic cauliflower crust first.

PHOTOS (recipe below):

Clean and dry cauliflower florets.

Rice or grate cauliflower.

Cook in microwave (or steam florets before grating).

After cooling, add to towel and squeeze out excess water. This is the tip I got from the Iron You Website:
The secret for the perfect cauli crust lies in squeezing out all the moisture from the cauliflower “flour”.

I divide the cooked cauliflower up into small batches so I can get a better squeeze.

After squeezing out the liquid, it almost looks like a dough, right?
Note: My friend @DJfatal skipped the liquid squeeze by sautéing the cauliflower on a stovetop. He slowly heated the riced cauliflower in a frying pan for about 15 minutes.

Add egg, cheese and seasoning then mix.

Ready to make pizza!

Starting at middle, gently spread the pizza out and shape. Bake for about 15 minutes (until golden) in a preheated 450º oven.

Low Carb Pizza
Add toppings, warm through then cut and enjoy!

Food Processor or Box Grater.

Pizza Pan. I currently use a nonstick deep dish, pizza pan (I actually own two). If you don’t have a non-stick pizza pan, use non-stick foil or parchment paper.

Clean dish towel.

RECIPE (Adapted from RecipeGirl AND The Iron You)

1/2 LARGE head cauliflower (or 2+ cups shredded cauliflower)
1 large egg
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more for topping)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Pinch of pepper
Cooking spray

1/2 cup shredded cheese to start, then whatever you want!

In the photo above I have turkey sausage, peppers, chilies, red onion & scallions.
I’m not a fan of tomato sauce, so I use red pepper sauce or just extra cheese & toppings. More topping ideas here.

Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450º.

2. Shred the florets using a food processor (or box grater). When shredding, you want tiny cauliflower crumbles, about the size of rice. If you live near Trader Joes, just skip this step and buy the cauliflower ALREADY riced. It makes this recipe go so quickly!

3. Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 8 minutes. Do not add any additional liquid. If you don’t have a microwave, you can steam the cauliflower before grating (tip via From Eat, Drink, Smile). Let the cauliflower cool before squeezing out excess liquid.

4. Get your pizza pan ready. If you don’t have a non-stick pizza pan, spray a pan with nonstick spray or use parchment paper and grease with olive oil.

5. After the cooked cauliflower has cooled, use a clean towel to ring out excess water. I do this in small batches (small hands) so I can really squeeze out the extra liquid (in the kitchen sink). There should be about 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower after cooking and removing liquid. Don’t fret if ends up being less then that. Just use more cheese in the “dough”. I’ve done that several times and the pizza comes out perfectly fine.

6. Place dry cauliflower into bowl and add the egg, cheese and seasonings. Mix together then gently place in center of pizza pan. Slowly press the mixture and form into a large circle. It will seem a bit wet but that’s ok. Spray the top with cooking spray so it gets crispy. Bake 450º for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Add more cheese and warm through until melted. You may want to broil for a few minutes if you’ve added something like pepperoni.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 15-18 minutes

When I switched to a non-stick (deep dish) pizza pan recently, I started adding provolone cheese slices around the edge to create a crispier crust. I’ll have step-by-step photos in another blog post soon.


Why I cook #LowCarbJo at home.

More Cauliflower Pizza Photos

List of 40 Low Carb Foods (I keep this list bookmarked)

#LowCarbJo on twitter


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Low Carb "Mac & Cheese"For the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with cauliflower to create filling, delicious low carb meals at home. I think the easiest to make is cauliflower “mac and cheese”. You just swap out the elbow pasta for roasted, bite-size florets, use heavy cream, coconut flour (for sauce) and delicious, ground up pork rinds instead of breadcrumbs.

I’ve tried low carb cauliflower crust pizza, tortillas, burger buns, grilled cheese (bacon-wrapped even!), fried rice, and even cauliflower grits. I’ll be posting favorite recipes with photos on the blog soon, but before that, I think it’s important to share WHY I cook low carb at home.

Basically, I needed to STOP gaining weight.

When I started writing about food and travel back in 2008, I continuously gained weight each month and I needed to make it stop. The fact is, when I started eating mostly low carb at home, I STOPPED gaining weight.

I’m not a fan of desserts, so eating sugar-free was easy. But bacon? I’m never giving up bacon and I CAN eat that on a low carb diet. Stinky, French cheese? That’s okay too. I learned that I could pretty much replace any pasta or rice recipe with spinach (or kale), so it was just about getting creative in my (low carb) kitchen. Here’s a list of low carb foods I keep handy at all times.

Regular exercise helps of course too and my fitbit step counter keeps me motivated. I get at least 10,000 steps per day by going to the gym (usually the treadmill) and walking my dogs. Need some workout inspiration? This 2012 L.A. Times article by Rene Lynch got me started on my daily steps and I’ve STUCK TO IT ever since. I started with an inexpensive pedometer and saved up for the fitbit after a few months. The fitbit app is great because I can challenge my friends and keep detailed tracking each day.

The book Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog (by Grant Petersen) has become my low carb bible. I bought it as a JOKE but after I started reading it, I took it all very, very seriously. From GoodReadsIn Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog, Petersen upends the last 30 years of conventional health wisdom to offer a clear path to weight loss and fitness. In more than 100 short, compelling directives, Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog shows why we should drop the carbs, embrace fat, and hang up our running shoes, with the latest science to back up its claims.

Sure, I still want to lose a couple of sizes, but at 51 years old (52 next month), the fact that I stopped the weight gain is the WIN here. I’m not claiming to be any sort of diet specialist but I do know what works for ME. If you’re thinking of trying a low carb diet, do check with your doctor first.

Full disclosure here, I do allow myself a “cheat day” meal each week and try to save it for eating out, but I can usually work around a restaurant menu and still stay on course. The truth is, at the end of the day, I just FEEL better eating low carb.

If you’re on social media, check out my #LowCarbJo hashtag (on twitter, instagram and Facebook). I post links to recipes I plan on trying and also share photos of my low carb home cooking. Happy eating!


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HoHoHo Food Network!

JoValHolidayEpisodeRedMy husband Peter and I have had so much fun being guests on Valerie Bertinelli’s cooking show, “Valerie’s Home Cooking”. She and her husband Tom are great friends (and neighbors) so we’ve had the privilege of filming several episodes this past year. The show currently airs on Saturday mornings (here in L.A.) on the Food Network.

The holiday “Ho! Ho! Ho! Company’s Coming” episode premiered this morning and it was such a hoot to relive the day. Val’s mom and dad (both hilarious) flew in for the shoot, which included friends Lisa and Dave Dinsmore.

For this holiday segment, Val made lasagna with a deliciously rich béchamel sauce, baked sausage balls, salad and really pretty Neapolitan cookies. Tom is in charge of cocktails and we toasted the holidays with his berry kir royales.

My favorite bite of the night was Val’s scrumptious SAUSAGE BALLS. I love anything spicy and she totally kicked up this updated version. Check out her easy recipe here.

Short intro video clip on my instagram here.

Valerie Bertinelli on Food Network (her main page)

Val aka @WolfiesMom on twitter and on instagram

Valerie Bertinelli FaceBook Page

THANK YOU for the wonderful hair styling Kim Urgel!

Cute picture of my niece Kindal on set. She was also a guest on the “Valerie Gives Back” segment!!

And Joe, you rule.


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Leftovers – Stuffing Frittata

Stuffing Frittata (Thanksgiving leftovers)
This is my favorite “Thanksgiving Leftover” recipe, an easy-to-do frittata for breakfast or brunch.

Cooking spray
2 cups leftover stuffing
1 cup of diced leftover turkey
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground fresh nutmeg
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 400

Coat an ovenproof nonstick skillet with cooking spray.

Place over medium heat (on stovetop).

Mix stuffing and turkey in a bowl, then put mixture in the bottom of pan to warm through.

Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, 1 tablespoon of parsley (save the rest for later), red pepper flakes, and nutmeg.

Add salt and pepper to taste… it depends on how much seasoning was used in the stuffing.

Pour egg mixture over stuffing and cheese to cover stuffing.

Sprinkle Parmesan over top.

Carefully transfer to preheated oven.

Bake until the eggs are set and the sides have puffed up a little bit and cheese is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool before cutting.

Sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley.

This isn’t just for “Thanksgiving Leftovers”. I’ve made it with JUST good old Stovetop stuffing on a lovely Spring day. It’s fun, easy and super tasty.


Originally posted on 11/28/08 @MyLastBite

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