Went a little nutty and got sauced

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Renee's Roasted Cinnamon Candied Nuts

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Reduced-Carb Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Don’t worry: It’s not as wild and crazy as it sounds. I’ve just been playing in the kitchen again. Two days in a row might be a new record. πŸ˜‰

While I was at the grocery store yesterday, I picked up a pork loin because it was on sale and looked like it’d be perfect to make pulled pork.

Unfortunately, pulled pork requires barbecue sauce … and there are no low-carb barbecue sauces left on the market β€” at least not at the store I shopped in.

Lucky for me, I have an extensive collection of low-carb cookbooks left over from my 2003-05 (very successful) stint on Atkins. I knew one of them would have a recipe for barbecue sauce. I even had an idea exactly which one.

Of course, when I found the recipe β€” right where I thought it’d be β€” I didn’t have several of the ingredients. Who keeps blackstrap molasses and liquid smoke on hand? I headed to the store again today to pick up the stuff I was missing.

Then it was kitchen time. The barbecue sauce recipe I found was Reduced-Carb Spicy Barbecue Sauce from Dana Carpender’s “500 Low-Carb Recipes.” Carpender is the low-carb champion behind Hold the Toast, and she’s published several cookbooks.

Some of my favorite recipes come from her books, but I was skeptical of the sauce. How could a bunch of spices, Splenda and tomato paste become barbecue sauce?

Pretty darn easily, it turns out. I followed the recipe almost exactly, skipping the prepared horseradish because I didn’t particularly want spicy-spicy sauce β€” nor did I want to pay through the nose for an ingredient I’d rarely use. (I was amazed that the liquid smoke cost less than $3 for the bottle. I also spent $5 on a medium-sized bottle of molasses.)

It didn’t take all that long to make β€” just time to chop the onions, mince the garlic and simmer the spices, Splenda and water. Even then, I was leery of the end result. The spice mixture smelled pretty good, but slightly strange.

After 20 minutes of simmer-time, I added the tomato paste and liquid smoke, then let it simmer for another 10 minutes. It smelled a lot better, but this was the messy part: Until I put a lid on the pot, bubbles popped and spewed droplets all over the stove.

While the sauce was simmering, I whipped up two batches of Roasted Cinnamon Candied Nuts from George Stella’s Livin’ Low-Carb book. (You might remember Stella from the Food Network. His low-carb cooking show, “Low-Carb and Lovin’ It,” was on several years back β€” around the same time as the “Calorie Commando,” if I remember correctly. Find his website here.)

These nuts (with 2 net carbs per 1 1/2 oz. serving) were one of my favorites last time around. And since I had a bunch of nuts sitting in the pantry that I wanted to use up, I thought “what the hell.”

While I was gathering up the nuts, I stumbled on a pack of Emerald Cocoa-Roast Almonds and decided to add a little cocoa powder to one batch of the nuts. The addition gets my thumbs-up, for sure. They don’t taste exactly like the store-bought version, but because they’re sugar-free, they have a lot fewer carbs.

Stella’sΒ Food Network recipe for cinnamon pecans and almonds hits the same flavors, but cooks up even faster β€” just two minutes, the recipe says. (The ones I made had to bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes.)

Up tomorrow: Crock Pot pulled pork, using some of the barbecue sauce I made today (and stored in an empty almond butter jar. I knew I was keeping that thing for a reason!)

Despite my trepidation, it tasted great by the time it was done. I can’t wait to use it.

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