Browsing Category: appetizers

Easy-peasy appetizer: salami & mango

paleo or whole30 appetizer: salami & mango

This is a super-easy appetizer, perfect for any casual get-together. And you don’t have to be doing Paleo or Whole30 to love it!

We have some great friends we’ve known for ages, and we have a collective birthday dinner every April. We’ve done this every year, starting before we all had kids — more than 24 years ago!

Usually we go out, but sometimes we pull together a collective gourmet meal, and with the hubs and I doing Whole30 this month, eating at home is always easier than eating out, so we invited everyone over.

We all chipped in on some pricey but oh-so-amazing steaks from Whole Foods, which my hubs grilled up to absolute perfection. I made a spinach salad with strawberry poppy seed dressing. Joni brought a dish of baked asparagus with tomatoes and sundried tomatoes — sprinkled with Parmesan for the rest of them, served without for us Whole30-ers. And I didn’t miss the cheese at all; it was delish! Cindy brought a tasty selection of fresh fruit for dessert; I made some banana ice cream to go with it. (The Kitchn has a recipe that just uses bananas, but I added some coconut milk and a splash of vanilla. Toasted pecans were a nice topper, too.)

For the appetizer, I threw together this incredibly simple dish. It sounds like a weird combo, I know — I got a skeptical look from at least one person when I described them — but the combination of the salty salami and the sweet mango just works! 

Here’s how you do it.

First, cut the cheeks off a mango. I find the kind with yellow skin is usually smoother than the red/green skinned kind. They’re sometimes called “champagne mangos.” Whatever.

This video shows how to cut a mango; you just need to watch from 0:39 to 1:14 –

Then, leaving the skin on, cut very thin slices diagonally, not cutting through the skin, as shown in the video. He used a spoon to scoop them out; I use a knife.

paleo appetizer: slicing the mango

You want your slices really thin; about 1/16″ of an inch. 1/8″ will be too thick, because it’ll be harder to get the salami to stay folded.

Then taking one salami slice at a time, add a couple slices of mango, put a small smear of guacamole or smashed avocado next to it — this is the glue the holds it together — then fold it over.

paleo appetizer: salami assembly

Repeat with the remaining slices. You should be able to get about a dozen pieces out of one mango, maybe more.

Alternatively, you can just lay out slices of salami and mango and let people assemble their own, skipping the guacamole, if you want. Easier yet!

To make sure this is Whole30 compliant, look for sugar-free salami if possible, with minimal processing and chemicals.

It makes a beautiful plate, and the contrast of flavors is quite happy! It would also be at home on a brunch or luncheon table. And it’s so super-simple, I sometimes have it for an afternoon snack. Try it; I think you’ll be hooked, too!

paleo or whole30 appetizer: salami & mango

Paleo snack attack: Salami & Avocado

paleo/whole30 snack: salami + avocado
paleo snack: salami + avocado; also Whole30 compliant

These were born out of mid-afternoon Paleo snack desperation! Two hours to dinner and I’m starting to get low-blood-sugar-stupid. So I rummaged around in the fridge, and this is what I came up with: a bit of ripe, creamy avocado spread over some organic salami and folded over into a mini “taco”. Yeah, it’s a bit of a cultural mish-mash, but if the salami is sugar-free, you’ve got a Whole30 compliant, Paleo-friendly, super-quick snack!

If I were to pretty these up, I might leave the salami flat and sprinkle some minced red onion or chives on top of the avocado, but — as I said — this plate was born of desperation! (And later inspired another easy Paleo snack or appetizer: salami with mango.)

Grain-free, sugar-free granola

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Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola, from Cook Eat Paleo

I cannot believe I’ve never posted a link to this recipe for Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola from Cook Eat Paleo! I discovered it more than a year ago, and it’s one of my favorite low-sugar, grain-free treats. I’m not doing the whole pure paleo thing, but there are components of the diet that line up with my nutrition philosophy, so I find paleo food blogs a great source for recipes.

I’ve made my own variation of the original Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola version (notes below). I haven’t made the Cinnamon Raisin Spice Paleo Granola, but it sounds incredibly tasty, too!

This would make a great sugar-free Christmas goody giveaway. (I’ve also put together a list of 12 Homemade Christmas Treats That Aren’t Sweets.) It has no processed sugar, and is sweetened with a small amount of maple syrup, making it vegan-friendly, too.

And here’s my version…

Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola Recipe

I have halved and tweaked the original recipe. This fits nicely on a 10 x 15″ cookie sheet; and the 4-cup measuring cup works perfectly for a mix-and-pour bowl.

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds without hulls)
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut – larger flakes are better
1/8 teaspoon table salt (or 1/4 t. sea salt or kosher salt)
1 Tblsp coconut oil, melted
1.5 Tblsp maple syrup
1/2 cup dried cranberries and/or other dried fruit; I like to use these pre-chopped prune bits called “Amazins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper, or lining it with foil that’s oiled or sprayed.

Combine nuts, pepitas, and coconut in mixing bowl, or a 4-cup measuring cup. Mix together coconut oil and maple syrup until well combined, and stir into nut mix.

Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared cookie sheet. Optional: sprinkle with 1/4 t. kosher  or sea salt.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until coconut is just lightly browned. (Your oven may vary.)

Remove from oven, add the dried cranberries and/or Amazins, and toss to combine. Cool completely before serving.
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Disclosure: “Amazin” links go through my Amazon affiliation, but you can find them at your local grocery.

Quick, easy buffalo chicken quesadillas with avocado

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image and recipe inspiration from halfhourmeals.com

This is one of my go-to recipes when I realize too late in the day that I haven’t planned dinner. (AND it’s one my husband calls restaurant-worthy!) I love it because it’s a few simple things you can throw together and have dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less. Also, there’s very little measuring involved.

I pick up some grilled chicken from the grocery store deli, grab an avocado and some appropriate cheese if I don’t already have some at home. Tortillas and hot sauce are usually in my fridge. Butter: always!

For the chicken, you can use any already-cooked chicken you have on hand or can easily obtain. Grilled, roasted, whatever! Tear it apart with your hands; this lets you find and dispose of any parts that are overdone and chewy. It also creates a nice, uneven surface for the sauce to cling to. Or you can use already shredded chicken, if that’s what you have on hand.

Quick easy buffalo chicken quesadillas

two small chicken breasts and one thigh, already cooked
1 T. butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
3-4 T. hot sauce (I like Cholula Chipotle)
1/2 avocado
4 flour tortillas, fajita size (6 to 7″)
4-5 oz. queso fresco or Monterrey Jack, shredded

Put the 1 T. butter and the hot sauce in a small skillet over medium-low heat. While it melts, tear the chicken apart and slice the half avocado thinly. Once the butter is melted, stir it around to mix in the hot sauce, then add the chicken to the pan and toss lightly to coat. If you still need to finish your prep, turn the heat under the chicken mixture a little lower.

Put a large skillet on another burner, and turn the heat to just-under-medium. Let this heat up while you assemble the quesadilla.

Lay one tortilla on a cutting board or edgeless cookie sheet. Sprinkle about one fourth of the cheese on it; top with half of the avocado slices (1/4 of the avocado), then scatter half of the chicken on top of that. Sprinkle over this another fourth of the cheese, and top with a second tortilla. Press it down lightly, and if any chicken bits fall out, tuck them back in.

Lightly coat the large skillet with butter — just enough for the size tortilla you’re using. Carefully slide the quesadilla onto the hot skillet, and cook for a few minutes, till the color on the underside is GBD. (Golden brown and delicious!) Turn it over and heat the second side likewise.

Remove to a cutting board, and repeat the process for the other half of the ingredients.

When both quesadillas are done, slice them into sixths. (A rolling pizza cutter works nicely.) Serve with sour cream (and/or plain yogurt) and salsa on the side.

Serves 3 to 4.

Here are the nutrition facts, based on 3 servings per recipe, via myfitnesspal.com:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 3.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 455
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 23 g 35 %
Saturated Fat 11 g 56 %
Monounsaturated Fat 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 89 mg 30 %
Sodium 871 mg 36 %
Potassium 294 mg 8 %
Total Carbohydrate 27 g 9 %
Dietary Fiber 19 g 75 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 36 g 71 %

Based on this recipe from HalfHourMeals.

Quick and easy avocado salad

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This is a repost, but it’s worth it. This is the recipe I turn to every summer when tomatoes are ripe, and I need a quick, easy side dish. Also, my version has evolved, both in ingredients and method, so I’m including my up-to-date version in this post.

Looking for a quick, easy dish to take to a Fourth of July party today? This is it! You can whip it up in about 10 minutes, and although it might taste better if it sits for a bit, you can serve it right away. And because it has no mayo, you don’t need to worry about it sitting at room temp for a few hours. Perfect for a potluck, barbeque or picnic! Plus, it’s just chock full of healthy stuff, and has no sugar in the dressing! Just a minimal bit of honey — which you could leave out, if you want.
The original recipe is from Ina Garten, although she calls it “Guacamole Salad”.
I do make a few minor tweaks. Being the spice wimp I am, I leave out the jalapeno and cut back on the cayenne. But I also add in some chopped cilantro, and as I said, I’ve altered the method.

Avocado Salad

    2 limes
    1/2 t. honey
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    1/4 cup good olive oil
    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or 1 lb. large tomatoes, chopped*)
    1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/4-inch diced
    1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1/2 cup diced red onion  
    2 (or more) ripe Hass avocados,  diced at the last minute
    chopped cilantro, to taste
    additional salt and pepper, to taste, if needed

Grate the zest of the two limes (just the green part!) into the large bowl you’ll be using for your salad; set aside. 

Juice the limes and measure 1/4 cup of the juice. In a small bowl, whisk together the measured lime juice, honey, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper; then add the olive oil and set aside.

Place the tomatoes*, yellow pepper, black beans, and red onion into the large bowl with the lime zest. Re-whisk the dressing and pour it over the vegetables. Toss well, and store till ready to serve. Keep at room temp if you will be serving within an hour or so; refrigerate for longer storage. If refrigerating, remove about 30 minutes before serving time.

Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, dice the avocados and chop the cilantro, and fold them both into the salad. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

*If using large tomatoes rather than grape tomatoes, don’t include them at the beginning; add them with the avocado. You may chop the tomatoes ahead of time and store at room temperature.

Recipe Roundup: 12 Things to Do With Avocado

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Just rounding up a few avocado recipes. Because they’re so good for you!
Here are a few of my own, followed by others by trusted sources.
Ina Garten’s Guacamole Salad, with my variations. 
(Note: it’s not the texture of guacamole; just the ingredients.)
Turkey-Bacon-Avocado Sandwich. The photo is from Pioneer Woman, and her recipe includes some fancyin’-up, like pesto, but really, I think a simple sandwich of turkey, bacon, avocado, Swiss or provolone cheese, tomato if you like, and a bit of mayo on some crusty whole-wheat toast doesn’t need a recipe — and is just the best sandwich ever! 
Hint: When eating at Jason’s Deli, order the California Club on whole wheat toast (instead of the standard croissant). Order it with steamed veggies on the side, and that is one guilt-free lunch!
And here are some others I’ve found around the web…
Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Chopped Salad (Can you tell I love avocado with bacon?) This looks so amazing! And inspired by a dish from a Salina, KS restaurant — Go, Kansas!
Avocado-Tomato-Mango Salsa, from AllRecipes: 5 stars and almost 700 reviews! This sounds like it would be great on fish, pork — or chips!
Kiwi Salsa from Simply Recipes
The top-rated Avocado Smoothie from AllRecipes.
Avocado Ranch Dressing, also via AllRecipes. (I like that site because you’re getting the opinion of not just one person, but hundreds.)
Avocado Egg Salad, from Pioneer Woman. (I’ve been meaning to try this forever. Gotta make it happen soon.)
And to finish off our avocado buffet: Chocolate (Avocado) Pudding, anyone? from HowSweetEats.

Ten (or so) Healthier Superbowl Foods – 2013

MeatballSubCasserole
Looking for the perfect superbowl food? Here are 10 that sound totally yummy! And for bonus points, some of them are low carb, paleo, and/or reduced sugar!
Meatball Sub Casserole from AllRecipes. (I’m not making any “good for you” claims on this one!)
Hot Shrimp Scampi Dip from Go Bold With Butter. (Or this one!)
Healthier Superbowl Foods - shrimp cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail with Low-Sugar Cocktail Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen (Kalyn always has great low-carb recipes)

Healthier Superbowl Foods - zucchini lasagna

Grilled Zucchini “Lasagna” with Italian Sausage, also from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder from Lulu the Baker. Doesn’t this sound scrumptious on a cold day?

Healthier Superbowl Foods - sausage and peppers - Paleo friendly!

Sausage and Peppers from Proud Italian Cook. We made this for Christmas brunch last year and it was a big hit! Easy to make ahead, and cheap and easy way to feed a crowd.Grilled the sausages the day before. (Chill them before slicing. Makes slicing easier and retains more juiciness.)

Healthier Superbowl Foods - avocado bacon deviled eggs - Paleo friendly

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Bacon from Caveman Gourmet. Intriguing!

Healthier Superbowl Foods - squash with sausage and cheese appetizer

Summer Squash (or Zucchini) Topped with Sausage and Cheese from yours truly! These can be mostly-made ahead, then baked or reheated at the last minute.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas (with Avocado) from Half Hour Meals

No-bake Energy Bites from Smashed Peas and Carrots. Use the syrupy sweetener of your choice: honey, maple or agave. And experiment with mix-ins: chocolate, craisins, cashews…

12 homemade Christmas treats that aren’t sweets

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If you LOVE to make homemade food gifts, but have some giftees who are diabetic, gone paleo, eating low carb, or just not sweet lovers, here are some DIY food options for them:

treats that aren't sweets - sugar-free dry rub
A sugar-free dry rub for rotisserie-style chicken — highly rated on AllRecipes.com.
Garlic hummus (from yours truly). I suggest gifting this with some homemade seasoned pita chips.
My buttermilk ranch dressing: No nasty chemicals, no sugar, made with yogurt.
Personalized coffee blend, from Martha Stewart. This page includes a downloadable printable for the label. Of course!
I’m not a fan of olives (so don’t make this for me), but for those who do like them: olives with fennel seeds and orange, from Martha Stewart.
Fajita marinade for steak or chicken, using Pioneer Woman’s “Beef Fajita Nachos” recipe.
Giada’s marinara. Gift it with a package of cheese tortellini and/or homemade garlic bread. (Not low carb or paleo, I know. But better than store-bought!)

Pickled red onions. These make a beautiful jarred gift. They’re a delicious addition to salads and sandwiches. Fancy-up your green beans or sweet peas instantly. Some folks like them atop a hamburger or roast.
And when the onions are gone, you’re left with a lovely pink vinegar to use in slaw or salad dressings.
Feel free to improvise on the sugar and spices. I’d use half this much sugar, and just a few generous pinches of thyme and some fresh-ground black pepper.
(A note to diabetics and low-carb-ers: This is one recipe where I’d go with sugar, honey or maple syrup over artificial sweeteners. Splenda doesn’t always work well with vinegar, and if you’re using these as a condiment, the amount of sugar actually ingested is very minimal.)

Homemade taco seasoning. No sugar, no MSG, no gluten, no cornmeal filler.
And for a baker’s dozen, the last item is a sweet, but it’s sugar-free, and not very sweet-tasting: sugar-free chocolate bark with your choice of toppings.