Browsing Category: real food recipes

Mashed cauliflower – great low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes

pan-seared salmon on mashed cauliflower

Is there a comfort food more universally loved than mashed potatoes? A classic side for everything from meatloaf to fried chicken to Salisbury steak to Thanksgiving turkey, chances are, if you’re American, this was a regular on your dinner table growing up.

If you’re cutting back on carbs, though, you’ve got to either cut it out or restrict your serving to a tiny amount.

Cauliflower saves the day! I call it “cauli mash” for short. If you’re served this in a fancy-schmancy restaurant, they may call it “cauliflower puree.” Call it what you will, it’s yummy, and a great foil for a number of different dishes.

Besides the traditional ways to serve this dish, I love it under pan-seared salmon (shown in the main pic above), and as a side dish for pork chops.

mashed cauliflower side dish

 

It’s also delicious under pulled pork or carnitas, topped with some cheese, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

pulled pork over mashed cauliflower

(Have you seen my video on how to make perfectly-done pan-seared salmon? It’s so much easier than it sounds!)

cauliflower packageThe secret to getting a great texture in your cauli mash is four-fold: it must be cooked till soft, well-drained, mixed with a stick blender (unless you want it chunky), and have lots of added fat! It takes a few steps, but it’s not hard. Plus, this is a versatile side or base that goes with lots of things, and it keeps well in the fridge, so I always make enough for at least a couple meals. The 24-oz. bag is plenty to make at least six servings.

I use packaged fresh cauli already cut into florets, but if you want to save money and spend a little more time on prep, you can buy a whole head and cut it down yourself.cauliflower florets

Here’s my method…

Mashed cauliflower / cauliflower puree recipe

24 oz. of cauliflower florets

(you can include stem pieces, cut to much smaller than the florets)

1/4 cup butter or ghee

1/4 cup sour cream (or non-dairy substitute)

2 T. bacon fat

2 T. cheese, your choice of cheddar or cream cheese (optional)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (if using coarse salt, double the amount)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/16 teaspoon dill (optional)

  1. Cut the florets to somewhat-equal sized pieces, and steam them over simmering water until they can be easily sliced through with a plastic utensil, such as a spoon or spatula. I do a 24-oz. package in three batches. This ensures they steam more evenly, and helps with the next step.
  2. Drain them, press them, then dry them some more. I use the steamer section of my pan as a colander, holding it over the sink with the cooked cauli in it, gently pressing down with a large mixing spoon to force more water out. Don’t press too hard, or it will begin to mash and drip out the bottom. Then I put that batch in the mixing bowl and kind of spread it out, so more steam can escape. (I use the small mixing bowl from my mom’s vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster. Did your mom or grandma have one of these?)glass-mixing-bowl-300
  3. A little bit before I’m ready to dump the next batch of cooked florets into the bowl, I reach in with a sturdy paper towel over my hand and give the steamed-out cauli a squeeze or two. Repeat till all the cauli is cooked and pressed.
  4. Add the fat! You can tweak the amounts if you want less of one and more of the other, to adjust to your taste or dietary requirements.
  5. Blend well using a stick blender. Start at the top and press down while blending, then release the button and repeat again till it’s all starting to look the same. Then you can add your seasonings and blend everything together well.

Serve immediately, or store in a tightly-closed container in the fridge for several days. Reheats well in the microwave.

Serves 6-8.

 

Keto snickerdoodles!!!

Keto snickerdoodles - gluten-free, almost sugar-free

Some phrases bring together words whose combination blows the mind. Things that just seem impossible, or too good to be true. “Affordable luxury.” “Well-behaved two-year-old.” “Clean kitchen countertops.”

When I heard the words “keto snickerdoodle,” I had that kind of reaction. No! That can’t be done!

But ketosizeme did it. A completely sugar-free, gluten-free snickerdoodle!

When my daughter was home for Thanksgiving, I requested she make that recipe. (I love having this girl in my kitchen!)

DD making sugar-free snickerdoodles

ketosizeme's snickerdoodle recipeThe cookies came out gorgeous!

They look very similar to the traditional cookies, and we loved the texture. There were a few things we didn’t love, though. None of them the fault of the original recipe…

We thought they needed a little more cinnamon on the outside — just a matter of personal preference. Ours came out way too sweet — probably a result of using a different kind of sweetener. (One of my pet peeves with stevia is that there’s so little consistency in sweetness from brand to brand, making it hard to nail someone else’s recipe unless you know what brand they’re using.) And the last thing we wanted to see if we could change was that the cookies left a weird cooling sensation in the mouth. This was probably a result of the erythritol in the Truvia sweetener we used. (Erythritol is a refined sugar alcohol that has little or no effect of blood sugar levels.) I don’t usually use granular stevia, because I haven’t found one that I like that’s free of fillers, but in this case, I thought the cookies really needed a granular sweetener.

So I experimented with the recipe a bit.

I significantly reduced the amount of sweetener used in the cookie, and tweaked the other ingredients to bring the flavor closer to what I think is a classic snickerdoodle taste — more vanilla, for one thing.

Mine didn’t spread as nicely as the original recipe; they came out having more of a bon-bon shape, but they still make a pretty plate of cookies.

plate of keto snickerdoodles

I felt that, because the coating on the outside is the first thing that hits your taste buds, I should use real sugar for that, rather than a sweetener that might leave an aftertaste or weird sensations. But there’s only two teaspoons of sugar in the whole recipe — which works out to 1/10th of a teaspoon or less for each individual cookie — which I consider a very acceptable amount. (If even a tiny amount awakens your sugar dragon, though, you might want to try a granular sweetener instead.)

Also, my husband thought my first version was a little too oily, so I cut back on the butter and added a little coconut milk. (You can use real milk, cream, or half-and-half, if that works for your diet.)

And with that change, we were both like, “Nailed it!”

 


Keto snickerdoodle recipe

Makes about 20, depending on size.

Dough:
2 cups almond flour from blanched almonds
3 Tbsp Truvia sweetener
3 Tblsp butter, softened
1 egg + 1 yolk
1.5 teasp vanilla extract
1 teasp coconut milk (the thick kind for cooking, not the thin kind for drinking)
1/2 teasp baking soda
1/2 teasp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt

Coating:
1 teasp cinnamon
2 to 3 teasp fine sugar, organic if possible (if your sugar is coarse, use 4 to 6 teasp)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the cinnamon sugar coating in a small bowl and set aside. (Use the lesser amount of sugar [2 teasp fine or 4 teasp coarse] if you’re accustomed to little or no sugar in your diet. Use the higher amount [3 teasp fine or 6 teasp coarse] if not.)

Butter should be softened almost to the point of melting. Mix all dough ingredients well in a small mixing bowl, using a mixer if possible. (A small handheld mixer is fine.) The dough will look crumbly, but will stick together well when pressed.

keto snickerdoodle cookie dough

Roll the dough into balls slightly larger than 1 inch, or use a cookie scoop. Coat the balls in the cinnamon sugar, leaving the bottom side uncoated. (This avoids burning the cinnamon sugar, and reduces the amount of sugar you’ll ultimately eat with each cookie.)

cookie-scoop-in-bowl-700x500

cookie dough in cinnamon sugar

 

Place closely spaced on a parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheet. The cookies will spread a little, but not much. Place in the preheated oven on the middle rack.

keto snickerdoodles, ready to bake

Check cookies at 10 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out mostly clean. It’s good for them to be soft in the middle. If they’re not quite done, continue checking every minute or so.

keto snickerdoodles, just baked

Let cool to room temp, then store in an airtight container.

Makes about 20, depending on size.


Don’t have time to make ’em today? Pin it for later!

These very-low-sugar, gluten-free snickerdoodles are crazy close to the real thing!

Almond Hummus (Keto and Paleo)

legume-free hummus recipe - keto, paleo, whole30 compliant

If you haven’t had hummus, I encourage you to get past the weird name (it took me a while) and give it a try. The main ingredient is chickpeas, but they’re really there for substance more than flavor; it’s the seasonings that carry this dish. Hummus is a creamy, garlicky, cumin-blessed mess. This Lebanese dish is usually served as a dip, but can also be used as a sandwich or wrap spread, a topping for grilled chicken, or even salad dressing.

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Taco hash – get your grain-free, dairy-free taco fix!

grain-free dairy-free taco hash

When you’re craving tacos, but you know you feel better if you skip the tortilla and/or the cheese, this Paleo-friendly way to get your taco fix is quick and simple when you’ve got prepped ingredients ready to go.

This isn’t a recipe: it’s an assemblage of several things I keep on hand, thrown together. If you have all the ingredients ready, this will cook up in about 15 minutes, maybe less. It’s super easy! I’ll walk you through it…

diced sweet potato and onion

I’ve always got cooked diced sweet potato and diced onion on hand in the fridge. (Check out my sweet potato post for tips and a how-to video.) On this happy day, I also had cooked, seasoned, crumbled hamburger in the freezer. I don’t always have it on hand, but when I’m cooking hamburger for a recipe or immediate meal, I try to cook extra. It’s cooked with onions and maybe garlic, and seasoned with a little salt and pepper (not too much, since it’s usually added to other things that may already have salt and heat). Then I divide it into single-serving baggies, and stash those in a gallon baggie in the freezer. The small baggies are quick and easy to thaw, making meals like this much quicker.

I rarely cook dishes like this by recipe anymore. But for those who aren’t so comfortable winging it, here’s my guess, per serving:

  • onion – about half a small onion, or a quarter of a large one
  • hamburger – about 4 oz. or 1/2 cup
  • sweet potato – equal to or a little less than the hamburger

On this particular day, I added some diced bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and kale, but those are quite optional. Another no-chop option would be to just stir in some salsa.

Then I add a generous sprinkling of homemade taco seasoning (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon; start small, taste, and add till it suits you), stir it in, and boom! – it’s done!

(Here’s my gluten-free, sugar-free taco seasoning mix recipe.)

Toppings are optional. If I’d had avocado or guacamole on hand, I would’ve used one of those. But I didn’t, so I topped it with dairy-free “sour cream” (coconut milk yogurt with a splash of lemon juice stirred in). You could use real sour cream, if you do dairy.

Yum! Tons of flavor. You won’t miss the taco shells or the cheese at all!

Taco Hash - Ready in 15 minutes, if you have some simple ingredient prep done. Paleo + Whole30 friendly, too!

Paleo pasta alla vodka (no dairy, no pasta, no vodka!)

paleo pasta alla vodka

I remember the first time I had pasta alla vodka: in an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles — La Cucina, I think. (I was traveling and eating on someone else’s dime, which is the best!) I don’t remember what seafood it had in it, but that sauce! It hooked me. All the happy flavors of marinara, plus the extra body that cream brings to the sauce, plus a subtle little tang from the cooked-down vodka. (No, it doesn’t taste alcoholic at all.) The entire rest of my trip, at every restaurant, I tried anything that sounded like that dish, never recreating that first wow! experience.

Genuine alla vodka sauce contains cream and vodka — both no-no’s if you’re eating Paleo, or any version of a dairy-free, alcohol-free diet.  And then there’s the pasta. Non buono if you’re eating gluten-free! So although I loved this dish, and had made it at home before, I thought it was just something I could no longer enjoy except for the occasional splurge. ‘Cause I do believe in food freedom!

And I didn’t really set out to recreate that dish: I was just trying to throw together a quick meal for myself with what I had on hand. Which was some homemade marinara, shrimp (both in the freezer), and some zucchini. Hmm, I thought, I can make zoodles and top them with marinara and shrimp!

CoYo coconut yogurt Then, as that was cooking on the stovetop, I thought how nice a little creaminess would be in that sauce. Then — aha! — I remembered I had some coconut yogurt in the fridge! I stirred a bit into the sauce and tasted it: the yogurt adds not just creaminess, but also that slight bit of tang you get from cooked-down vodka. And it brought back the memory of that first heavenly taste.

(Sure, you could try a different brand. I just haven’t tested any others, so I don’t know how they’d turn out. Or, if you’re not avoiding dairy, you could substitute some full-fat plain Greek yogurt for the coconut yogurt.)

And this dish really goes together quickly.  If your shrimp is already thawed and you have marinara on hand, you’ll be enjoying delicious, MOL (mmm out loud) food in less than 20 minutes!

I highly recommend using homemade marinara. It’s so simple, takes just 30 minutes, and tastes infinitely superior to store-bought. (Check out my homemade marinara recipe.) However, if you don’t have time, you can certainly use jarred marinara. Look for a sugar-free brand, if possible.

If you don’t like shrimp, you could substitute lobster or crab. Or chicken, if you must.

I’ve made a short video showing just how easy it is to make zoodles. Please note: I say that they only need to be cooked a minute or two. It will probably be longer than that, but it depends on the thickness of your noodles, the heat in your dish, and your desired texture. Just taste them every so often; you’ll learn what works for you.

Not avoiding gluten or grains? Sure: use your favorite pasta. Cook it beforehand, and add it when you would add the zoodles. (Did you know that cooking pasta, cooling it in the fridge, then reheating it changes the starch? It reduces its impact on your blood sugar, and the resistant starch is “superfood for your digestive system.” Cool, huh?!)

Whether or not you’ve tried pasta alla vodka before, I think you’ll love this dish!

 


Paleo pasta alla vodka recipe

serves 2

 

2 medium zucchini

10 oz. large raw shrimp (fresh or frozen, peeled and deveined, no tails)

salt and pepper

oil for cooking the shrimp (olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil)

1.5 cups marinara (homemade, if possible. here’s my recipe.)

1/4 cup CoYo brand coconut yogurt, plain flavor*

optional: a couple large leaves of fresh basil

 

*Note: if you’re not avoiding dairy, you may substitute full-fat plain Greek yogurt for the coconut yogurt, reducing amount to 3 tablespoons.

Prepare the zoodles and set aside. Thaw the shrimp. Pat them dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mince or julienne the basil, if using, and set aside.

Heat a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s ready (a few drops of water splashed in the pan should sizzle a bit before evaporating), add a drizzle of oil and let it heat up a minute; then add the shrimp. Let the shrimp cook on one side until you see most of the tails starting to turn pink-white. Turn the shrimp over and cook until most of them are curled into a closed circle. You want them just barely or even a little under-done. They’ll continue to cook after you take them off the heat.

Remove the shrimp to a dish and keep warm. Add the marinara to the pan and heat through; add the yogurt and stir till well mixed.

Add the zoodles and stir to combine. Let them cook in the sauce until they’re done to your liking. Pull out a noodle to taste-test the texture. This should only take a few minutes.

When it’s all heated through and the zoodles are done to your taste, remove the mixture to a serving bowl or individual bowls or plates, and top with the shrimp and basil.

Mangia! Enjoy!

Paleo Pasta Alla Vodka -- without diary, pasta, OR vodka! 20-minute meal -- Whole30 compliant, too!