Browsing Category: whole30 recipes

Super-simple creamy Italian dressing

creamy Italian dressing - sugar-free option

Creamy Italian dressing is one of my husband’s favorite salad dressings. It’s getting harder to find in the grocery store, and the ones that we had tried tasted so fake and sugary — the side effect of making pretty much all your salad dressings from scratch.

Then I found this one! The original recipe is on AllRecipes, but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own; I reduced the sugar and made a few other minor tweaks. Make it without the sugar, and use homemade mayo, and you’ve got a Paleo, Whole30-compliant Italian dressing!

Tried it; loved it; it’s a keeper!

I made it as a spread/dip for homemade submarine sandwiches a couple nights ago. My husband still misses a sub that Pizza Hut used to have on the menu, which had a similar spread on it, and this recipe is a good fit. Then the next day for lunch, I had a sub-sandwich-inspired salad (shown in the photo above). Romaine lettuce with diced ham, pepperoni, and salami; mozzarella cheese, and diced tomatoes. And pickled onions — which are also a great sandwich topper.

It’s really quick and easy to make. Tastes best if you make it a few hours or a day ahead, but I’ve made some notes in the recipe about how to adapt it if you need to serve it right away.

Yay! No more store-bought creamy Italian dressing!

Creamy Italian Dressing (low or no sugar)

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. water
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. granulated onion
1/4 t. white sugar*
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Place the minced garlic and olive oil in a small dish and microwave for 30 seconds.

Combine this and all the other ingredients in a 12 – 16 oz. jar and shake well.

Refrigerate for a few hours; better overnight.

*If you will be storing it 24 hours before use, you might skip the sugar. If you are living sugar-free, you can leave it out or replace it with your favorite sweetener. If you will be serving it right away, you might want to reduce the vinegar slightly and increase the sugar to taste.

 

Quick and easy avocado salad

ina-s-avocado-salad-480


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.

12 homemade Christmas treats that aren’t sweets

allpurpose-spice-rub
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.

BLT’s — without the bread

breadless-blt-s-cu-400

Once locally grown tomatoes are in season in Kansas, I always start craving BLT’s! (Bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, for any poor souls who are unacquainted with this little bite of summer.)

I made some homemade bread last week just for this. Added some smoked turkey to punch up the protein. But to keep my carbs and proteins (sort of) in balance, I limit myself to one piece of bread per meal. After devouring one delicious BLT — ripe, sweet juiciness of the tomato contrasting with the salty crunch of the bacon — I wanted more! Looking hungrily at the remaining tomatoes and bacon, I wondered if the bread were really necessary.

So I took a bit of romaine, smeared it with a little mayo, and topped it with tomato and bacon. Added a slice of avocado to some of them. Oh yeah! It’s all the best flavors and textures of a BLT, without the carbs! Perfect for the gluten free, low carb, Paleo or Whole30 diet.  They’d make a great snack or appetizer, too.

 breadless-blt-s-480
A couple notes to make them healthier: choose nitrate/nitrite-free bacon; look for a mayo that contains no corn syrup. Or make your own! (Here’s my recipe for homemade Paleo mayo. It’s ridiculously easy!)

 

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin

pw-s-roasted-pork-tenderloin

(Plus a recipe for Emergency Herbs de Provence)

It was one of those days when 4:30 was here before I knew it, and I didn’t have dinner planned. I have no good excuse. Not even a lousy one.

What to do? Same as usual, when “the usual” doesn’t sound good… Hit a recipe website I trust and search for “quick.” After a couple other stand-by’s (All Recipes, Simply Recipes), I landed on Pioneer Woman and came up with her Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves. Which sounds and look very elegant, but is super, super simple, and comes together in 30 minutes or less.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce
photo by Pioneer Woman

Basically, you salt and pepper a pork tenderloin, then coat it generously in Herbs de Provence before roasting. Top it off with a simple fruit-preserves-based sauce.

Not having any Herbs de Provence on hand, I googled for a recipe. I came up with several, but ended up using (as a starting point) this one by Emeril. (Yeah, we’re on a first-name basis.)

Herbs de Provence often contains lavender, but I didn’t have any on hand.  :/

Why this one? Well, because all the herbs have the same proportion, and I like simple! From what I understand, Herbs de Provence has some standard ingredients that are almost always in the mix, but the mix has evolved over time and also, every cook has his or her own variation. Which is great, because there were several ingredients I didn’t have on hand. So here’s my variation:

Recipe: (Emergency) Herbs de Provence

for one 1.35 lb. tenderloin; multiply as needed
 

1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. dried ground sage

PW’s original recipe called for 8 tablespoons of H.d.P. That’s half a cup – yikes! She was cooking up two whole tenderloins; I was just fixing one tenderloin, slightly over one pound. So I just used all of the above mix, and I still thought it was plenty potently ‘picy!

A note on cooking pork… Rather than cooking by time, use a meat thermometer. Pull the roast from the oven when the temp hits 140-145 F. Then tent lightly with foil and let rest at room temp, till the internal temp hits about 160. Slice and serve. Mmm… perfectly tender and juicy!

For the sauce, PW recommends fig, peach, plum, or whatever preserves you wish. I used blackberry. It adds a lovely sweetness that mellows the pungent herb crust. Perfect for a quick dinner for just me and the hubs — but impressive and foolproof enough to serve special guests!

Easy roasted chicken breasts

roasted-chicken-plated
make-ahead roasted chicken breasts

One of the best things you can do to make quick, healthy dinners more doable is to have some already-cooked chicken on hand. The stuff you buy ready-cooked at the grocery is loaded with salt, probably has corn syrup in it, and doesn’t taste all that great. Here is the simplest, lowest-hassle, and most delicious method I’ve found for make-ahead roasted chicken breasts.

If you want to be super efficient, make enough to stash for future use, plus enough for dinner tonight, and serve it straight out of the oven — it’s great on its own, too!

Recipe (really, just a method):

Roasted chicken breasts, to use in recipes

Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Olive oil (about 1 teasp. per breast)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray or oil it. Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, in the pan with an inch more more between them. Brush the tops liberally with olive oil, then lightly with salt and pepper, according to your taste. Place a meat thermometer 2″ into the fleshy part of the largest piece, trying not to hit bone. (Which would make the temperature misread.) Here’s my favorite brand of thermometer.

Bake uncovered until the internal temperature hits 165 F. If you don’t have an accurate thermometer, the skin should be a light golden-brown…

…but the juices should also run clear. To clearly see the color of the juices, slip a white dish under the edge of one breast and poke a hole just above it. Let some juice run into the dish, and look at it in good light. This test looked a little pink, so I stuck the chicken back in for about five minutes.

But also be careful not to overcook it! That’s what makes chicken tough and dry. If in doubt, pull it out a little on the underdone side. The outer and smaller parts of the chicken will probably be cooked through, with a little more pinkness in the center. Save the more-done pieces for salads and sandwiches; use the slightly underdone pieces for dishes that will get cooked some more, like soups, casseroles, and enchiladas.

If you’re serving the chicken right away, though, make sure that everything you serve is cooked through.

To store for future use, let chicken sit at room temp or in the fridge till it’s cool enough to handle. Pull off and discard the skin. Pull the chicken meat off the bone. Discard the bones. You can bag the meat and store as is, or cut into bite size pieces, or shred — whatever works for your use. Store in tightly covered containers or plastic bags.

The FDA says that cooked chicken can be kept three to four days in the fridge, or up to four months in the freezer.

Tomorrow I’ll post a round-up of six of my salad recipes that use chicken!

One-ingredient, gluten free pie crust

lime-cheesecake-shooters-horiz-500
Disclaimer: If you’re already familiar with my no-bake lime cheesecake shooters, you’ll recognize that this post is a bit of a rehash, but I think this crust is such a problem-solver it deserves a post of its own. This crazy-simple gluten-free pie crust is made of: pecans! That’s it! No butter needed. So it’s completely gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, pretty low carb, and you can be assured there’s no weird man-made chemicals in it. (Pecan nutrition facts here.)In the photo below, you can see two different blender blades that came with my bullet-style blender (currently my favorite kitchen gadget). The four-bladed piece (top center in the photo) chops things up from coarse to fairly fine, depending on how long you run it. The shorter, two-bladed one (on the left) minces things down to a fine powder or — in the case of nuts — butter.

gluten-free pie crust - secret ingredient!
In the pic below you can see the difference. The left-hand image shows the pecans after running them with the four-blade piece for a few seconds. This would work just fine for crust if this is all you have. But if you have the second kind of blade, you can grind the pecan pieces until they’re so fine they begin to stick together, like in the image on the right, below. This gives you something with the look and consistency of a crust made of graham crackers and butter. Neat, huh?!
 
 

Then you just place a small amount of ground nuts in the bottom of your serving vessel, and tamp it down with the top of a bottle (securely capped and very clean, of course). I use these little shot glasses (actually votive holders form Hobby Lobby), and 1 tablespoon of pecan crumbs works perfectly. 


And you’re done! With the crust, that is. Fill it with your favorite no-bake pie filling, chill, and you’ve got a healthy, easy — not to mention adorable — dessert.

Here are various dishes you could serve such in:

Cheap-o “shot glasses” (votive holders) from Hobby Lobby; you could also find these at Walmart, etc. I’m sure.

4 oz. Mason jars. If you keep the filling short enough, you can cap these for easy, spill-proof portability.

Weck jars. Available in sizes from 3 to 6 oz.
Pricey but adorable individual pie pans. 8 oz; also available in olive.
(Disclosure: Some of these links go to my Amazon store.)

Salmon with fresh tomato-avocado salsa

Salmon with fresh tomato avocado - Paleo, Whole30
(Update, 5/2015: I first posted this recipe in April, 2012, and it’s still in our regular summer menu rotation. The true test of a good recipe! Salmon, avocado, tomato – such a great combination! I’ve updated it now to make it Whole30 compliant and Paleo friendly. All it took was subbing out pine nuts for the sweet corn. Also recommended: use the larger the avocado amount.)
This is so simple, and so yummy, it’s gonna knock your socks off!
The star of this dish is the salsa. It’s so delicious! My husband took leftovers of just the salsa to work for lunch today (I made extra) and when he came home, he said, “If you would make some more of that I’d be very, very happy.”
I had a bit of leftover salmon with the salsa on it for lunch, too; cold — straight out of the fridge. It was still good!
This is based on a recipe from All Recipes, but I prefer butterflying and broiling the salmon, to the nuke-and-serve-cold method in the original recipe. Alternatively, you could grill the salmon; that would be fab, too!
I used white corn because it’s got a little better carb-to-protein ratio, but I think yellow corn makes a prettier dish. NOTE: To make this dish Paleo/Whole30 compliant, just omit the corn, or sub 2 T. pine nuts. (My husband actually preferred this change.) And use the larger amount of avocado.

Recipe: Salmon with fresh tomato-avocado salsa   

Servings: 3-4
1 cup chopped fresh tomato, chopped into about 1/4″ pieces for salsa; 1/2″ or larger for salad
1/4 cup minced red onion (a fine dice, or slivers)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 T. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 to 1 whole Hass avocado, chopped into about 1/4″ pieces for salsa; 1/2″ for salad
1/2 cup corn (OR 2 T. pine nuts, for Whole30/Paleo compliance)
1.25 lbs. salmon fillets
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil for drizzling
Chop up the tomato, avocado, garlic, onion, and cilantro. (Note: If you’re prepping this ahead of time, save the avocado cutting until right before serving.) To dice the avocado, you cut through it like this, leaving the skin intact, then scoop it out with a spoon.
If you want more detail, see Simply Recipes’ walk-through. (I do NOT recommend the pit removal method they show in step 2b; a woman I know cut some tendons in her hand trying that trick.)
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients from tomato through vinegar. (This photo shows the avocado added already, but now I always put it in at the very end, to avoid browning. When using pine nuts rather than corn, I also add them at the last, to keep them crunchy.)
avocado, tomato salsa
Refrigerate at least two hours.
Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

How to butterfly salmon

If your salmon is already a fairly consistent thickness, you don’t need to butterfly it. The purpose of butterflying salmon is to make it all about the same thickness, so that it cooks more evenly. It also cuts down on oven time.
Put your salmon on a cutting board, skin side down. (Mine is already in the baking pan in these pics, but it will be easier to work on a cutting board; you don’t have to maneuver around the rim of the pan.) Start by making a guide mark: in the thickest point of the fillet, use the tip of your knife to mark the spot exactly halfway from top to bottom.
The black line in the pic below shows where your knife edge will enter; the white dashed line shows where you will cut. The cut should run right through your halfway mark.
On the thinnest end of the salmon, slide your knife in parallel to the cutting board, and at the same height as your halfway mark. Continue to cut, keeping your knife parallel to the cutting board. Stop about 3/4″ away from the opposite edge; do NOT cut all the way through.
If you have been working on the cutting board, move your salmon to the foil-lined pan now. Next, open the sliced salmon up like it’s a book, folding the top piece out so it lays former-top-side down.
Repeat with the other fillet(s), season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.
Broil 4-6″ from the heat. Now is the time to dice your avocado and add it (and the pine nuts) to the salsa.
The salmon is done when it flakes easily w/ a fork, about 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. (That is, the thickness after you butterflied it.)
Remove the salmon from the skin; plate in serving-sized pieces. Add the avocado and pine nuts to the salsa and spoon it onto the salmon.
Salmon, avocado, tomato - yum!
Here’s what the Paleo version looks like:
paleo whole30 salmon with avocado salsa

Try it — I think you’ll love it! 🙂