Browsing Category: salads & dressings

Sugar-free, gluten-free food gifts

Paleo food gifts - sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free

I love making food gifts for Christmas! For years, that meant a box of cookies and/or candy. I loved doing it, but I can no longer give sugar-laden treats and feel good about it. 🙁

However, it’s still possible to make delicious treats that everyone will love, even when living with diabetes or Celiac; living by sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free or full Paleo rules. Whether to accommodate the needs of the recipient, or to just give gifts that square with your own nutritional conscience, here are some treats you can feel good about giving!

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7 quick easy lunches; no cooking required!

No-Cook-Lunches-veggies-in-deli-wrap

I recently made a new friend via Instagram: Jess — all the way from Australia! — who blogs about food and faith at Faith, Food and Fitness. We’re very much on the same page regarding our approach to health and nutrition, so we’ve decided to trade guest posts now and then. Here’s one of her recent posts that’s pertinent to our current weather here in the midwest U.S: no-cook lunch ideas.

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7 No-Cook Lunch Ideas

No Cook Lunches (8)1. Tuna and Mayo on Cucumber Slices with Walnuts.

No Cook Lunches (11)Or have them on apple slices.

No Cook Lunches (5)2. Deli Tuna Salad (tuna, mayo, sliced dill pickle, squeeze lime juice, 1/4 red onion diced, chopped parsley, 1 diced stalk of celery) served on Shredded Lettuce.

No Cook Lunches (3)Or wrap the deli salad in a lettuce leaf.

No Cook Lunches (10)3. Nori Sheets make the best wraps and they are so nutritious! Tuna, mashed avocado as the ‘stickiness’ of the nori roll, then add any other veg you like – shredded kale, cauliflower or broccoli rice, cucumber, capsicum, snow peas…it’s endless.  I serve mine with coconut aminos (because I like the taste).

No Cook Lunches (6)4. Avocado and grated veggies of your choice, wrapped in a few slices of deli chicken or turkey.

No Cook Lunches (9)5. If you have leftovers turkey or chicken burgers from the night before, they make a great cold lunch the next day.  Wrap it in a lettuce leaf…yum!!

No Cook Lunches (1)6. Egg Salad. All you need is cold boiled eggs, avocado, tomatoes, and bacon (leave the bacon out if you wish).  I boil a dozen eggs at the start of every week, because they come in handy for quick no-cook lunches and snacks during the week.

No Cook Lunches (4)7. And of course a good old fashioned salad! If you don’t have leftover cooked protein (like slow cooked meats), then leave it out.

You’ll notice tuna mentioned a lot; that’s because we keep our cupboard stocked with it, which makes it easy to just pull some out and make a quick lunch, I also substitute tuna with sardines from time to time.

Yours in Health and Happiness

Jess xx

– See more at: http://www.paleojess.com/

P.S. If you need a good sugar-free Paleo mayo, check out my recipe for 4-ingredient mayonnaise. – Jana

Antipasto salad

antipasto salad

quick easy lunch; 5-minute antipasto salad

Some of my favorite dishes come about as a result of being short on options. This antipasto salad that I had for lunch a couple days ago was one of those — a super quick, easy lunch!

It starts with me standing in front of the open fridge, thinking – Let’s see, what’s on hand? Mixed greens, Genoa salami, mini peppers, a block of Parm. Hmm, I could make an Italian salad out of that. Cut the salami in quarters, slice the peppers very thin, toss that together in a bowl. Shave in some Parmesan, using a vegetable peeler.

This Creamy Italian Dressing would have been nice, but since I didn’t have it on hand, I put 1 T. of red wine vinegar, 2 T. of olive oil, and a tiny squirt of dijon mustard in a baby food jar, and shook that up. Then decided some salt and pepper would be good, too, so added a few dashes of each, and shook it again. Instant vinaigrette!

instant vinaigrette for quick easy salad

Poured that over the salad, and tossed in some pine nuts. These add a bit of crunch and a little bit of sweetness. (If you like olives and have some on hand, that would be a good addition, too.)

Bonus: it’s Paleo-friendly, Whole30 compliant (without the Parm), sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb!

Pretty quick, easy lunch — and doggone good for five minutes and on-the-fly! So good, in fact, it will be showing up as a side dish at dinner tonight. 🙂

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quick, easy lunch; 5-minute antipasto salad

Bacon-ranch cucumbers

quick easy paleo snack: bacon ranch cucumbers

quick easy paleo snack: bacon ranch cucumbers

 

Talk about a quick, easy Paleo snack: Three ingredients, and NO cooking of any kind!

On top of which, two of the ingredients are BACON! and this fabulous, easy, Paleo Ranch dressing. Which — trust me — once you try it, you are gonna wanna keep in your fridge at all times!

If you don’t like Ranch, homemade mayo would work well, too.

Already-cooked, chopped bacon is another thing that — IMHO — should always be on hand in the fridge. Especially since the best, easiest way to cook bacon means cooking a whole big batch up at a time is no more trouble than cooking a few pieces.

So, if you have those two things on hand, and you have a cucumber, you can whip this bad boy up in no time flat! Perfect for a snack, appetizer — or maybe just lunch! You could package the three ingredients separately, and pack them with an ice pack for a work lunch, school lunch, or picnic.

Oh you wanna go a little fancier? Sure, add some finely diced tomato, or some snipped chives or dill. Pump up the protein with a little smoked turkey or chopped hard boiled egg.

But for instant gratification, those three ingredients will do just fine!

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Dairy-free Ranch Dressing (Dump Ranch)

Dairy-free Ranch dressing - dump ranch

If you’re not avoiding dairy, my Buttermilk Ranch Dressing recipe is a delicious option. If, however, you have a milk allergy, living the Paleo diet, or doing a Whole30, this Dairy-free Ranch Dressing is a fantastic alternative. And in fact, I think I might just like it better than the traditional recipe!

This was inspired by and is a slight variation on what the blogging duo Whole Sisters call “Dump Ranch.” As in, you just dump it all in a blender and mix!

Made with the lesser amount of coconut milk, it makes an addictive veggie dip…

veggie tray with dairy-free ranch dressing

 

I’ve added it to one of my variations on tuna salad

tuna salad with ranch dressing

 

It’s also great drizzled over fresh summer tomatoes, sprinkled with bacon!

paleo-dinner-bacon-pork-chop-asparagus-tomatoes-600x430

 

And schmeared on a burger!

burger with ranch dressing

 

I don’t have a pic but it’s aMAZing drizzled over hot broccoli! It melts quickly, blending the flavors into every tiny crevice. Yum!

I’m sure it’ll be great on salad, too; just haven’t got to that yet!

Here’s my spin on it…

Dairy-free Ranch Dressing or Dip

(aka, “Dump Ranch”)

• 1 & 1/4 c. mayonnaise

— (OR 1 c. light olive oil, 1 egg, 1 T. lemon juice and 1/4 t. salt)

• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or other light-colored vinegar)

• 1 teaspoon black pepper

• 1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

• 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, or other milk of your choice (1/4 c. for dip)

• 1 handful fresh or frozen parsley, coarsely chopped

• from 1 pinch up to 1/8 t.  dill, fresh or dried (adjust according to your love for dill)

• optional: snipped fresh chives and or fresh basil to taste

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Note: Do NOT use less vinegar. I tried that once, and the mixture did not emulsify.

If you have a stick blender / immersion blender, just blend everything together in the carafe till well mixed. (Chop the basil coarsely before adding. I use one large leaf.)

I use this stick blender and the carafe that came with it, and this works great. I don’t bother to bring the egg to room temperature.

If you don’t have a blender, use already-made mayo, mince the herbs fine, then just whisk everything till well blended.

Refrigerate for one hour at least, if possible. Four is better. Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.

Makes about 16 oz of dressing, or 14 oz of dip. Lasts in fridge up to one week. (But it’ll probably be long gone before then!)

(Stick blender link goes to my Amazon store; I get 4% – which doesn’t affect your price at all. I only list products that I actually use and love.)

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Dairy-free Ranch dressing - dump ranch

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Very veggie tuna salad

easy lunch; tuna salad with tomato, avocado + peppers

Making healthy food more convenient is the way to kick the convenience food habit! But I can’t deal with the kind of meal prep that requires having 12 different casseroles in the freezer to drop in the slow cooker. What works for me is having a lot of different ingredients and meal components chopped and/or cooked, so they’re ready to be thrown together at a moment’s notice, for quick, easy meals — not just dinner, but also super easy lunches, since I work from home.

Lately, I’ve been on a tuna salad kick. It’s a perfect lunch for summer – no cooking needed! I do sometimes do the super-simple version of throwing a packet of tuna, a bit of homemade mayo, and some lemon pepper together and eating it on romaine hearts. Might even throw in some chopped celery and/or pickle, if I feel like a little something extra. But lately, I’ve been doing variations on a tuna salad dressed with oil and vinegar, rather than mayo. And this is a great way to work in lots of veggies, too!

This would work great for a lunch to pack for work, school, or a picnic, too.

The core recipe is:

1  2-to-3 oz. package of tuna

about 1/2 c. of diced onion (but you can eyeball* it)

1 T. of lemon juice or rice vinegar

2 to 3 T. of olive oil (use 2 if the tuna is packed in oil; 3 if it’s packed in water)

1/4 c. chopped parsley – again; just eyeball* it

1/4 to 1/2 avocado

1/2 t. kosher salt (or 1/4 t. regular salt)

1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper – or more to taste

a pinch or two of dill – optional

*”Eyeball it” = just throw in an amount that looks to you like it would fill a measuring cup of that particular measurement. If you’re not comfortable doing that straight away, measure it out and pay attention to what that looks like, and remember it for next time. This saves you the few seconds of getting out a measuring cup. (And saves some space in the dishwasher.)

This is where my meal prep comes in handy. I always keep a container of already-diced yellow onion in the fridge, and a container of already-chopped parsley in the freezer. I squeeze fresh lemons every few days and keep a bottle of that in the fridge. If you’re cool with the pre-squeezed stuff that comes in a bottle, I won’t judge! I also keep tuna packets in the fridge, so the tuna is already cold when I add it to the other salad stuff. When I buy a bunch of parsley, I chop it all and put it in a baggie in the fridge. It stays a nice green and is super easy to grab what you need and toss it into any dish.

Avocado is something that’s best cut up at the last minute, but thanks to the acid in the dressing, the avocado won’t turn too brown if you need to hold this for a few hours.

Then add the other veggies of your choice, and stir it all together gently. It’s best if you can let it chill for a couple hours or so, but I rarely think ahead that far! Whenever you’re ready to eat it, taste it first and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add more salt if it’s just overall bland; more lemon/vinegar and/or pepper if it needs more zing!

Here are some of my variations…

easy lunch; tuna salad with tomato, avocado + peppers

This has been my standby combo for years: to the basic core recipe, I add some chopped bell pepper — also something I keep ready in the fridge — and some chopped tomato. (Tomatoes should always be kept at room temp for best flavor, so those can’t be stashed in the fridge.) Measurements aren’t important; just add it till it looks like an amount you’ll like.

Lately, I’ve been trying to live without nightshades — a family of plants including potatoes, tomatoes, and all peppers except black pepper. (Not because these veggies are bad for you! But some people have a sensitivity to them, and I’m experimenting to see if they have any impact on how I feel.) So here are a few nightshade-free tuna salad variations.

nightshade-free tuna salad

Here, I used diced cucumber to replace the crispy texture of the bell pepper, and pine nuts to fill the role of the sweetness of the tomatoes. It turned out quite nice!

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tuna salad with ranch dressing

And here’s another slight variation on that: still with cucumbers, but I’ve also got some diced celery, chopped celery leaves, and homemade paleo Ranch dressing added to the mix. Oh, and half a hard-boiled egg — another thing to keep on hand, if you like them.

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mayo-free tuna salad variation

Another alternative for those avoiding tomatoes: blueberries! I know, it sounds weird, right? But don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! The blubes have a sweet-slightly-tart flavor that makes an excellent sub for tomatoes.

Pretty easy lunches, huh? I hope this gives you some inspiration: with some of your favorite pre-diced veggies in your fridge and a couple other staples on hand, you can mix up any number of variations of your own favorite salad, and it really just takes a few minutes.

These could serve two people for a light lunch; especially if you serve something else with it. I must confess, though, that most days, I polish it all off on my own!

easy lunch - all gone!

 

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Strawberry poppy seed dressing (sugar-free)

poppy-seed-dressing-salad-cu-600x330

 

I’ve always loved poppy seed dressing, but once I went sugar free, it had to be a very occasional treat. It takes a lot of sugar to balance the onion, and I tried making sugar-free poppy seed dressing, but I found that substituting Splenda ruined the dressing’s ability to cling to the greens. (Back when I ate Splenda.)

Then a few weeks ago, I saw a photo of strawberry poppy seed dressing and it hit me: use the sweetness of strawberries, and you won’t need sugar at all!

sugar-free poppy seed dressing - strawberries make it sweet! #paleo #whole30

This dressing is so easy to make, it’s no trouble for everyday. And it’s so pretty, it can be a star player on a brunch or luncheon table. Especially perfect for a bridal shower, Mother’s Day — or any spring or summer party, really.

I left the onions out of the dressing; with onions in the salad, and with the strawberries bringing the flavor and body to the dressing, they’re not so needed in the dressing.

And yes, this salad is Paleo and Whole30 compliant! Let’s just talk about all the healthiness packed into the salad: spinach, strawberries, olive oil, oranges, pecans – super foods, all! If I weren’t avoiding dairy, I would totally throw some feta cheese in there, too. (Or goat cheese, if you like. Which I don’t.)

sugar-free strawberry poppy seed dressing on spinach salad #paleo #whole30

Sugar-free poppy seed dressing and spinach salad

makes enough for 4 – 6 salads

 

1/2 c. chopped strawberries

2 T. light olive oil, or other light-flavored oil

1 T. mayo (homemade, if ya got it)

1 to 2 T. white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

pinch salt

1 t. poppy seeds

 

Strawberries may be fresh or frozen. If using frozen, chop and measure while still partially frozen, but allow to thaw before blending.

sugar-free poppy seed dressing; paleo, whole30Combine all ingredients except for poppy seeds in a blender container, using only 1 T. of vinegar to start with. Blend till smooth. Taste, and add 1 t. of vinegar at a time until it’s as tangy as you want it. (Remember, being spread out on the spinach will make it a bit milder.)

Pour into a jar for storage, then add poppy seeds and stir.

Chill till ready to use. Can be served immediately, but tastes best the next day.

for four salads:
6 – 8 oz. baby spinach
1/4 small red onion
2 navel oranges or cara cara oranges
chopped pecans, to taste

Tear the spinach into bite-size pieces, and cut the onion into thin, short slices.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges, then slice the peel and pith off of them. (To see what I mean, watch 0:20 – 1:30 of this video: how to peel an orange.) Then tear the sections apart, and cut into pieces that will fit neatly on a fork.

Aren’t they pretty in the sunlight?

orange segments for spinach salad

Assemble the salads ahead of time, or let guests build their own. If making ahead of time, the spinach and onions may be stored together in the same bowl. The acid from the oranges and the salt in the dressing would begin to break the spinach down, so don’t store them together. Pecans might get soggy, so keep them separate as well.

spinach salad with sugar free poppy seed dressing #paleo #whole30

 

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sugar-free poppy seed dressing, sweetened with strawberries, on spinach salad. Paleo, whole30

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Foolproof, easy, 4-ingredient mayo

breadless-blt-27s-cu-400
homemade mayonnaise: paleo/whole30 mayo ingredients
I’ve been meaning to try to make my own mayonnaise for ages, because it seems impossible to find a mayo that’s both sugar-free and not made with canola. Most, if not all, canola is genetically modified. And sugar in mayonnaise?! Yeah, you’d be surprised. Read labels next time you go to the store.

But I thought homemade mayo surely had to be tricky. Perfect temperatures and/or timing, danger of the emulsion breaking, that sort of thing. Turns out… nope! I tried this recipe and method from The Healthy Foodie, and it’s so easy it’s ridiculous! Worked the first time, and every time since then. All that’s necessary is a stick blender, and a jar that’s the right size. It might also be just as doable in a normal blender, but I haven’t tested that.And, yes, for those who care: this is Paleo, and Whole30 compliant.

Perfect for my gluten-free, grain-free “BLT’s without bread“! A super-easy, low-carb Paleo snack or meal. Quick, too, if you have already-cooked bacon on hand — and you should!

I go crazy for these when good tomatoes are in season! But they’re still pretty tasty when the only decent tomatoes available around here (<sarcasm> yay, winter in Kansas! </sarcasm>) are grape tomatoes.

Plain ol’ mayo needs no herbs, but if you want to bump up the flavor a bit, add a pinch or two of your favorites. I’ve included my suggestion in the ingredients list….

Easy homemade mayo recipe

  • 1 large egg, taken straight out of the fridge (no need to bring to room temp)
  • 1 cup very-light-tasting olive oil (NOT virgin), or other flavorless oil of your choice
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons lemon juice, rice vinegar, or other pale vinegar of your choice
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon salt (start small; mix; taste; adjust if necessary)
  • Optional bonus: flavor it with a pinch of dill and a few pinches of fresh chives – YUM!

Put it all in your carafe or jar, blend holding the stick still till the mayo-in-the-making reaches almost to the top of the oil, then move up and down a few times till all oil is incorporated. Yeah, it’s that easy.

Here’s the original mayo recipe, with detailed instructions. This works great in the beaker/carafe that came with my blender (below), but if you’re just using a glass jar, the size of the jar matters, so I recommend looking that up in the original recipe.
Note: when freshly made, it tastes kinda oily. If you’re going to immediately blend it into a salad dressing or slaw mix, that won’t be a problem. But if it’s going to be a star player, a chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight will be a good thing.
P.S. My old Braun stick blender (also called an immersion blender or hand blender) went kaput this week, so I just ordered a new one from Amazon – Cuisinart this time. I consider it an absolute essential in the kitchen! The price goes up and down on Amazon, so if you want one and it’s currently over $45 — and you’re not in a hurry — put it in your cart and leave it there. They’ll send you an email if the price goes down!

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Thinking of going Paleo?

Check out my 20-Day Countdown to a New Way of Eating!

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