Note: Most of these entrees are Paleo, or nearly so. None of the desserts are, but most can get closer with small tweaks.
Light lunch, light flavors
Want to treat mom to just a little something, perhaps before you head out to tour a local garden — or mall? Serve this easy, make-ahead orange-cranberry chicken salad on lettuce leaves or in soft pita pockets…
…with this elegant, lightly-sweet and super tender almond poppyseed shortbread.
Neither of these dishes will weigh you down, but they will both delight Mom with their flavors!
Classic ladies’ lunch, done low carb (or paleo)
What could be more classic than quiche? If Mom is doing South Beach or some other low-carb diet, you’ll be happy to know that a crustless spinach quiche (here’s a Paleo version) can be just as delicious as one with the traditional but high-carb pastry crust. I added a little Canadian bacon to the original recipe.
Serve a fruit salad on the side. Here, I’ve just drizzled fresh strawberries and blueberries with some sweetened cream. (To make it Paleo, use coconut milk and skip the Splenda.) One cup of heavy cream or half-and-half (or coconut milk), one packet of Splenda, 1/2 t. of vanilla extract. That will be enough for about six servings, and possibly some leftovers. So simple, but elegant and delish!
Oh, and about the quiche… be sure not to overcook it. You want it only just done, or maybe slightly underdone, in the center when you take it out. It will continue to cook a bit as it cools, and you want a creamy, custardy texture, not one like over-done scrambled eggs. A thin knife inserted in the center should come out looking pretty clean.
Finish things off with a vintage-y lemon icebox pie, updated by serving it in a cute little Mason jar! Just use my no-bake lime cheesecake recipe, use lemon instead of lime, freeze them a day or so ahead, and set them out on the counter 45 minutes before serving time.
(Note: I hope to update and Paleo-ize this recipe soon, but for now, you would need to sub out the dairy and Splenda, or skip dessert. Or just go with a little splurge!)
Mother’s Day with a Mexican twist
For something different, serve up my easy but elegant ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema (which is Paleo if you omit the yogurt from the crema)…
and no-bake lime cheesecake mini-desserts. Add a wee bit of triple-sec (if you’re not philosophically opposed), and call it margarita pie.
Elegant and — dare I say? — impressive
If your mom is the fine china and real silverware type — or you just want to treat her so — here’s a sure-fire trio. For the main dish, quick pork tenderloin with seasoned rub.
For a side dish, green beans with pine nuts — which, trust me, is so much more than the sum of its parts, and as delicious as it is simple.
If you’re not low-carbing it, some good bread would round things out nicely, then finish with a flourish by serving individual mini tiramisu cups.
Working from home has its perks and its challenges.
One of the perks is making yourself lunch every day.
One of the challenges is making yourself lunch every day.
For me, answering “What’s for lunch?” usually starts with a peek in the fridge to see what protein options I have on hand. With the weather warming up, I feel like a salad pretty much every day, but it’s got to have some protein.
On this particular day, I had a bit of roasted chicken, but just a small portion; not enough to make even one serving of orange-cranberry chicken salad.
So what else was in there for protein? Some fully-cooked bacon. I’m okay with using bacon as a flavor accent, but it’s not really healthy enough to be the main protein in a meal, IMHO. Hard boiled egg would round things out nicely. Now we’ve got a chicken club salad!
So I grabbed a few eggs and boiled them. It just takes a few minutes, and ever since I got this handy little egg timer, my hard boiled eggs come out perfect every time. The product description says it best:
“ Simply add the egg timer in with your eggs and boil… There’s an easy-to-read scale within the timer. During the course of boiling, the timer changes colors, from red to purple, starting from the outside edge and moving to the center. When the color change reaches your desired spot on the scale, the eggs are cooked accordingly.”
So although I just wanted one egg for my salad, I make a couple extra for deviled eggs, tomorrow’s lunch, or who knows what. While the eggs were boiling, I fried up some of the bacon. Since it’s fully cooked, that’s not really necessary, but I like it crispy.
I chopped up some romaine, and sliced a little red onion very thin. Then, to whip up the dressing.
This is based on a super-simple dressing recipe I learned from a friend…
Dressing option 1:
1 part sugar (or maple syrup or honey)
2 parts balsamic vinegar
3 parts olive oil
You just combine those in a jar and shake them up. Easy-peasy, right?
But there are two things I don’t like about that. First of all, it’s got sugar. And although you can sub another sweetener, I’ve found that sweetener-based dressings don’t cling to the greens like the sugar-based version does.
Also, it tends to separate easily. So here’s my solution:
Dressing option 2:
Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 packets Splenda or 4 t. natural sweetener of your choice; I like maple syrup.
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. mayo
2 T. olive oil
Put the sweetener and the vinegar in a small jar. Swirl it around until the sweetener is mostly dissolved.
Then add in the mayo and shake it up well, until no more white flecks can be seen on the inside of the jar. Then add the olive oil and shake again.
This makes enough for the generous dressing of one good-sized salad, or two smaller ones.
The addition of the mayo helps both with making the dressing cling to the salad, and keeping it from separating.
So, by this time, your eggs should be done. Rinse them with cold water for a minute or so, then shake the pan so the eggs smack against each other, to crack the shells. Then remove the shells, and slice up as many as you want for your salad.
Assembly time: romaine, chicken, egg slices, bacon, sliced onion. I wasn’t in a cheese mood on this particular day, but you could certainly add feta, bleu, Swiss, or shredded cheddar to this. Then drizzle dressing over the top and toss lightly.
There you have it: a fresh, healthy, delicious salad, in less time than it would take you to drive to a bistro and read the menu!
I call that a perk.
I came up with this recipe one day when I was craving curry chicken salad for lunch, but couldn’t find any recipes that didn’t call for chutney. How could I do a quick fake for chutney? I tried onions sauteed till soft, then combined them with orange marmalade. Pretty good!
An alternate and easier approach is to just use green onions, and skip the sauteing step. I’ve tried both, and it’s good both ways.
You can use the nuts of your choice. I prefer the contrast of salty cashews, but since they just disappear in the salad, I decided to use pecans for the photos. Again, both are tasty, and you can use your choice. Sliced or slivered almonds would work nicely, too.
To keep the carbs down, I use a sugar-free marmalade and make sure my mayo has a minimum of sugar and no corn syrup. (Homemade is so easy, and needs no sugar! Here’s my mayo recipe.)
Recipe: Orange-cranberry chicken salad
2 c. cooked, cubed, cold chicken
1/3 c. yellow onion, diced fine (or 5-6 green onions, sliced thin)
1/3 c. mayonnaise (more if your chicken is dry)
2.5 T. sugar-free orange marmalade
1/2 t. hot curry powder
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
dried cranberries & nuts to taste (note: substitute dried currants to avoid added sugar)
hearts of romaine or whole grain crackers, optional
If using yellow onion, saute till translucent. If using green onion, reserve a bit of the green tops for garnish, if you like.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the onion (using the white parts of the green onion), mayo, marmalade and spices; stir till well combined. Add an extra tablespoon or two of mayo if your chicken is on the dry side. Stir in the chicken, and green onions, if using. Add dried cranberries to suit your taste. Don’t add the nuts until just before serving.
You may eat it right away, but the flavor improves if chilled it for an hour at least. It’s also a great dish to make a day ahead.
Just before serving, stir in the nuts. Garnish with green onion and extra cranberries, if desired. Serve with hearts of romaine or whole-grain crackers.
NOTE: To make this Paleo, replace the orange marmalade with 1 clementine or tangerine, cut into bite-size pieces. Use homemade mayo. If you like, replace the dried cranberries (which usually contain sugar) with dried currants or raisins.
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30-second Caesar salad