My longtime friend and dentist, Gary Hawthorne, casually mentioned he wanted some low-carbohydrate and sugar-free recipes.

I really don’t remember anything else because I was concentrating on the probing going on in my mouth.

It’s probably a smart move to make him happy because I have another appointment in a month, and you don’t want to disappoint your dentist.

In looking online for recipes, all of which I would eat myself, I found a whole new culture in the kitchen.

If you don’t know what a Zoodle grater is, I discovered it’s a spiralizing vegetable slicer.

You’ll need it for this recipe.

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Chicken Zoodles

• 1 tablespoon butter

• 1 1/2 pounds skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into strips

• 4 ounces fresh semi-dried tomato strips in oil, chopped (see Note)

• 3 1/2 ounces jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

• 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, reduced fat or full fat (or half-and-half)

• 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

• Salt to taste

• Dried basil seasoning

• Red chili flakes

• 2 large zucchini (or summer squash), made into zoodles (use a vegetable grater if you don't have a Zoodle grater)

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken strips and sprinkle with salt. Pan fry until the chicken is golden brown on all sides and cooked through.

Add both semi-dried and sun-dried tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil from the jar (optional but adds extra flavor), and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant. (While the chicken is browning, prepare the zoodles with a Zoodle maker or a normal vegetable peeler.)

Lower heat and add the cream and Parmesan cheese. Simmer while stirring until the cheese has melted through. Sprinkle over salt, basil and red chili flakes to taste.

Stir through the zoodles and continue to simmer until the zoodles have softened, about five to eight minutes, and serve.

Makes six servings, each with 394 calories and 9.2 grams carbs.

Note: If you can't find semi-dried tomato strips (usually found in a deli), sub with extra jarred sun-dried tomatoes.

This recipe from lowcarb-ology.com is not just low in carbohydrates, but it’s also gluten-free. You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and bake it up to two days later.

Low-Carb Cheeseburger Casserole

• 1 pound lean ground beef

• Salt and pepper

• 1/4 cup chopped onion

• 6 slices bacon

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1/4 cup chopped dill pickle

• 3 eggs

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise

• 1/2 cup half-and-half

• 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet, brown ground beef with onion, garlic, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp. Break the bacon up into bite-size pieces.

Drain the fat from the ground beef and the bacon. Blot with a paper towel to remove as much fat as possible.

Mix the bacon and pickles into the ground beef. Spoon the mixture into a greased 2 1/2- quart casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine eggs, mayo and half-and-half until well mixed.

Sprinkle cheese over beef mixture in pie pan and pour egg mixture over the whole thing.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until top is browned and set.

Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Makes six servings, each with 536 calories and 2 grams carbs.

I had never heard of cloud bread until I began my search for low-carb recipes. Cloud bread, unlike typical sandwich bread, is practically carb-free and is gluten-free. This easy version is from thebigapplemama.com.

4-Ingredient Cloud Bread

• 3 eggs

• 3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

• Optional: 1 tablespoon honey or some natural sweetener, salt, garlic powder, rosemary

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Separate the eggs. In one bowl, mix together the egg yolks, cream cheese and honey until smooth.

In a second bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder to the egg whites and beat with a hand mixer on high speed until fluffy and form a nice peaks and hold their peaks.

Slowly fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites and mix carefully (you don’t want to break the fluffiness of the egg whites too much).

Quickly spoon the mixture into 10 to 12 even rounds onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary or your favorite spices and place in the oven.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes on the middle rack. Then broil (cook the top) for one minute or until golden brown. Do not burn.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Makes 11 servings, each with 38.5 calories and 1 gram carbohydrate.

Suggestion: Enjoy with a slice of tomato and melted mozzarella on top. Or top with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Or consider mashed avocado and diced tomato. You’re only limited by your imagination.

I saw the following recipe on alldayidreamaboutfood.com, and thought to myself, “What the heck is cauliflower rice?”

People on restricted diets probably know about this stuff, but if you don’t, I’ve included a simple recipe I found on Epicurious. It directly follows.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice Skillet Dinner

• 1 pound ground beef

• 1/4 medium onion, diced

• 1/2 red pepper, diced

• 3 tablespoons taco seasoning

• 1 cup diced tomatoes

• 12 ounces cauliflower rice, fresh (recipe follows) or frozen (Birds Eye is one option)

• 1/2 cup chicken broth

• 1 1/2 cups cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until almost cooked through (just a little pink). Add the onion and pepper and continue to cook until no longer pink. Stir in the taco seasoning. Add the tomatoes and cauliflower rice and stir to combine. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the cauliflower rice begins to soften (eight to 10 minutes for frozen).

Sprinkle the skillet with the cheese and cover. Let cook until the cheese is melted, three or four minutes.

Remove from heat and top with your favorite toppings, like sour cream, avocado and chopped cilantro.

Makes six servings, each with 352 calories and 5.04 carbs.

Cauliflower Rice: Using a grater, cauliflower florets can be cut down into couscous-like granules, creating an excellent low-calorie, gluten-free rice substitute. Place the grated cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl, stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and cook for about three minutes.

Now, for dessert. I’m sure Gary’s wife, Teresa, has discovered many sugar-free desserts by now, but I’ll attempt to add something new to her repertoire.

When I found the following recipe on wholesomeyum.com, I questioned including it because, frankly, I didn’t know what erythritol was.

After Googling a bit, I discovered it’s a common sugar substitute and is available on amazon.com. Now Foods makes a powdered erythritol that’s very popular with reviewers.

You learn something new every day.

At $10.29 a pound, it sounds like a reasonable price to pay for a sugar-free, calorie-free sweetener that doesn’t cause cavities.

A dentist should appreciate that.

Low-Carb, Low-Calorie Cheesecake

Crust:

• 2 cups almond flour

• 1/3 cup butter, melted

• 3 tablespoons powdered erythritol

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

• 32 ounces cream cheese, softened

• 1 1/4 cups powdered erythritol

• 3 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the crust, stir the almond flour, melted butter, erythritol and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until well combined. The dough will be slightly crumbly. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until barely golden. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and powdered sweetener together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Pour the filling into the pan over the crust. Smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, until the center is almost set, but still jiggly.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven. If the edges are stuck to the pan, run a knife around the edge (don't remove the springform edge yet). Cool in the pan on the counter to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least four hours (preferably overnight), until completely set. (Do not try to remove the cake from the pan before chilling.)

Serve with fresh raspberry sauce, if desired.

Makes 16 servings, each with 325 calories, 6 grams carbohydrate and 2 grams sugar.

Raspberry sauce: Simmer 1 cup fresh raspberries with 2 tablespoons water and sweetener to taste for five to 10 minutes, breaking the berries with a spatula. Add additional water to thin out if necessary.

Looking for a recipe? Have one you’d like to share? Write to Potluck, Times Record, P.O. Box 1359, Fort Smith, AR 72902. Email: jharshaw@swtimes.com.