Green beans and pine nuts; four-part harmony

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Green beans and pine nuts: the ingredients

This is such a simple dish to throw together, but it feels just a bit more elegant than an everyday side dish. There’s something about the mingling of these four simple ingredients that just works. And it goes great with so many main dishes: fish, grilled steak, pork chops, roasted chicken.

And when I say it’s simple to “throw together,” I mean it. You won’t need to dirty a single measuring cup or spoon! I was tempted to give you nothing more than the photo collage, but I thought you might want a little more to go on. Enjoy!

Green Beans and Pine Nuts
Serves 2; scale up as necessary

2 handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans
a splash or two of olive oil
a pat or two of butter
1 handful of pine nuts
a shake or two of salt

If using fresh green beans, snap off the ends and break them into pieces of whatever length you like.

Pour water into a small saucepan, to a depth of about 1″; bring to a boil. Add the green beans. If they’re frozen, stir till the water returns to a boil. Turn the heat down a couple notches and simmer until the beans are done to your liking. Recommended: while they are still bright green, but pleasingly tender when you bite one.

Drain the beans and leave them in the colander for the moment. Return the saucepan to the heat and pour in a bit of olive oil; add the butter and the pine nuts to that. Stir over medium heat, until you can smell the pine nuts, or until they begin to turn toasty brown.

Add the beans back into the pan and stir to coat them with the sauce and the nuts. Add a little salt. Serve immediately.

Send your thank-you’s to: OhThatsTasty.blogspot.com !   🙂

Free printable: “breakfast cuties” recipe cards

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Here’s a little freebie for you! Some cute little cards you can use as recipe cards or note cards. There are four different designs on one page for you to print out and use as you like! (But hey, be nice; don’t sell them or pass them off as your own designs, ‘K?)

Get the file here. (It will look a little fuzzy on screen but it will print out fine.) Click the “Download” button, then open the pdf and print!  🙂

Pumpkin pecan muffins – low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free!

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Crumbly muffins, hot out of the oven, fragrant with cinnamon… These pumpkin pecan muffins are so good, my kids gobbled them up, even when they were at their pickiest stage. Probably because I never mentioned to the munchkins that these muffins are low carb and sugar-free!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Eating Stella Style — Low Carb Recipes for Healthy Living.
(Note/update 2016: I’m working on a Splenda-free, real-food version, but I still think these would be okay as an occasional treat, unless you have known issues with Splenda.)

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
3 cups almond flour
1 can canned pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
2 T. wheat bran (or ground flaxseed, or omit, to make it gluten free)
1 T. pumpkin pie spice*
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
6 large eggs (corrected 5/17/13; previously listed as 3)
1 1/2 c. cup-for-cup Splenda (or sweetener of your choice)
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners, and spray the inside of the liners with no-stick spray.
Stir all the ingredients until well blended. Fill the prepared muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out pretty much clean.
Let muffins cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp. (Warm with butter – YUM!) Refrigerate any leftovers.

If there are any. Which there won’t be!  🙂

* If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice mix on hand, you can use this recipe. But you’ll need to make a little more than the recipe calls for.

Nutrition info, from myfitnesspal.com; great carb-to-protein ratio!…

Nutrition Facts
Servings 12.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 295
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 24 g 36 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 12 %
Monounsaturated Fat 5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 123 mg 41 %
Sodium 375 mg 16 %
Potassium 80 mg 2 %
Total Carbohydrate 14 g 5 %
Dietary Fiber 6 g 23 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 11 g 22 %
Vitamin A 90 %
Vitamin C 1 %
Calcium 15 %
Iron 12 %

Homemade, whole-wheat, and heavenly!

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My husband got me a bread machine for Christmas, but couldn’t wait till then, so he had me open it a week early! (I had remarked one day that even though we’re trying to cut out bad carbs, not all bread is bad. And I mentioned that I’m sure you could make healthy bread at home, but it was such a hassle. Thanks for listening, Honey!)

First, we tried the recipe for whole wheat bread that came with the  machine. It was so dense… ugh! So I hit All Recipes and found this recipe; it was the second one we tried, and we haven’t tried any others — it was a home run! And as toast… yum!

We made it daily for the next four days. (In our defense, the kids were home from college, so it wasn’t just the two of us snarfing it down!)

A few tips:

1. I used the method I found in another recipe there, which is to put the water, honey and yeast in the bread pan first and let the yeast bloom while you put together the dry ingredients. I know, I know — that’s opposite of what the manufacturer and most other recipes recommend, but it worked great. The bread came out with the perfect balance of light fluffiness and having just enough texture to feel satisfyingly healthy.

2. Even though it’s whole wheat, use the “basic” and “light crust” settings on the bread machine.

3. In my machine, I actually had better luck scaling the recipe up to 16 servings. (Which is really easy to do on All Recipes; it does the math for you!)

4. If you like the recipe as much as we did, here’s a time-saving tip: once you have all your ingredients in the machine, make another batch of the dry ingredients (leaving out the yeast) and pack it in a gallon baggie. That way, you only have to dirty those measuring cups once and you’ll save yourself a little time every other time you make it!

Recipe review: Twice-baked cauliflower (low carb!)

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Kalyn's twice-baked cauliflower
photo by Kalyn’s Kitchen

Twice-baked cauliflower? — Yes, this is every bit as delicious as a twice-baked potato!

Whether you’re trying to cut down on carbs, or trying to sneak more healthy veggies into your kids’ meals, or just want to play a trick on someone who says they hate cauliflower (perhaps your own taste buds?), this is your ticket.

In Kalyn’s updated version of this dish, she uses reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream, but me, I use the real stuff. Do as your own conscience allows, though.

Kalyn’s recipe calls for completely mashing the cauliflower — which I think would peg the comfort food scale! — but I wanted a chunkier texture than the mixer would get me, so I used a pastry blender. Worked great!

If you try this dish and fool someone into thinking it’s really potatoes, let me know. I bet you can pull it off!

You might also like:
Roasted Garlic “Mashed Potatoes”
Garlic Herb Cream Cheese Dip
Peanut Butter Pie (low carb)

Recipe review: Salsa Verde Chicken

Mmm… Made this for dinner tonight! The original recipe from simplyrecipes.com is super simple, but I wanted to get some vegetables and fiber in the meal without making a second dish, so I put one 10-oz. can of Rotel with Lime and Cilantro and part of a can of black beans in the pan before putting the chicken breasts in. It worked great! I placed the hot, cheesy chicken on the dinner plate first, then scooped out some of the saucy beans and tomatoes as a side dish. And all from one pan!

Oh, and I only used one 7 oz. can of salsa verde. Yeah, I’m a spice wimp!

Winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing

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This is one of my favorite salads, and it always gets rave reviews. I don’t make it as much now that we’re eating low carb, but you could certainly swap out your sweetener of choice for the sugar. And you could reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener needed by substituting orange juice for the lemon juice. The first time I made this recipe, I was almost out of lemon juice so I used half lemon, half OJ, and it was quite tasty.

Of course, you can swap out pecans or sliced almonds for the cashews, but I think the saltiness adds a nice contrast to the sweetness of the other ingredients. I also like to use smoked Swiss — or smoked Gouda, if I have it — for the plain Swiss. It’s a subtle addition, but I think it adds to the winteriness of the dish.

Make-ahead tip: Mix up the dressing, then chop the apples and pears and toss them with a little dressing. The citric acid in the dressing will keep the apples from turning brown. You can also prep the cheese, craisins and cashews and put them together in a container or baggie. Then when it’s time to serve, just dump the dressing, fruit and topping mixture over your greens and toss. If you dump dressing or anything with salt and sugar in it on the lettuce ahead of time, it will begin to wilt immediately, as these chemicals break down the cell walls of plants.