Tag Archives: dairy-free

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!

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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Want your dessert — and your sugar-free life, too?

strawberry lemonade ice cream

I gotcha covered!

I’ve put together some of my favorite and my readers’ favorite sugar-free desserts in one handy e-cookbook. Bonus: they’re all grain-free and gluten-free, too!

Here’s a little inside peek: click this image to see a full-size list of all the recipes and the ingredients they feature…

Recipe ingredient chart

That list includes exclusive new Paleo recipes you won’t find anywhere else:

exclusive sugar-free desserts

Know what’s even better? It’s under 10 bucks! Now under 4 bucks!

Get all the details on my Guilt-Free Treats page

 

15 Top Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Desserts!

 

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

.

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.)

Pin it!

Dairy-free Ranch dressing - dump ranch

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Sugar-free, dairy-free coffee ice cream

sugar-free ice cream - coffee ice cream

One of my husband’s favorite desserts is coffee ice cream. And for two back-to-back rounds of Whole30, he went without desserts completely. Afterwards, he decided to stick with Paleo permanently — which means there’s room for the occasional, nature-sweetened dessert. So I wondered, could I make a sugar-free ice cream recipe that was also dairy-free, — and stacked up to his favorite brand?

Yes, I can!

I tried one version that included egg yolks, with the whole simmering-and-tempering thing, (and if you want to add some protein, healthy fats, and vitamins to your ice cream, you could certainly go that route). He liked it just fine. But my second time around, I decided to see if I could simplify the process — no cooking required! — and still keep the yum factor.

The verdict: He liked the second version better. Even said, “This beats Marble Slab!” WIN!

This is the brand of coconut milk I like to use. (Link to my Amazon store, but you can get this locally.) And no, you don’t taste coconut in the finished recipe.

Dairy-free sugar-free coffee ice cream recipe

1 c. steaming hot water

2 T. ground coffee; mild or mellow flavor (decaf, if you like)

16 pitted deglet noor dates

1 can coconut milk (read below on how to prepare it*)

1 t. vanilla

Optional: additional sweetener of your choice (I like maple syrup)

sugar free ice cream instructions

Steep the coffee in the hot water for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, check the dates and trim off any stems still attached. Cut each date in half, the short way. Remove any pits you find. Place the chopped dates in a bowl or measuring cup large enough to hold two cups.

Once the coffee is steeped, pour it through a fine sieve over the dates. Leave the fine grounds behind; don’t even try to pour them through.

sugar free ice cream instructions

Let this sit at room temp for one or two hours.

Add the coffee and dates to a blender or food processor and blend till smooth; then add the coconut milk and vanilla and blend again. There will still be some “freckles” of dates in the mixture, but there shouldn’t be any large bits.

sugar free coffee ice cream in the blender

Taste, and add more vanilla or other sweetening if necessary. If your sweet tooth is adjusted to a sugar-free life, it should be plenty sweet as is. Other people may want it sweeter. Feel free to make it your way!

Refrigerate till completely cold – at least a couple hours – then freeze according to your ice cream freezer instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream freezer, you can pour it into a shallow dish or pan and place it in the freezer of your fridge, scraping and stirring it every 20 – 30 minutes till you get the desired texture.

sugar free coffee ice cream in the freezer

The hubs likes it straight-up; I like a few pecans sprinkled on top. I love the contrasting texture, and the slight buttery flavor they add.

sugar free ice cream - coffee with pecans

 

I’m pretty confident this recipe would fool most people: you’d never guess it was sugar free ice cream!

*If you’ve never used canned coconut milk, here’s how to make it as lump-free as possible: Have the can at room temp, not chilled, when you open it. Shake the can well, and open from the bottom. Pour the contents out, then use a spatula to scrape the last bit of coconut cream from the unopened end of the can. There will still be a few lumps, but the blender should get the rest of them.

Want more recipes like this? or looking for Paleo recipes? Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

Meatballs with marinara & Italian roasted cauliflower

meatballs, marinara, zoodles, + roasted cauliflower

With some easy advance prep, this is a Whole 30 compliant / Paleo meal that comes together quickly. The cast:

One yummy, tasty, Whole30 dinner!

For the side dish: Roasted cauliflower from Simply Recipes  – to make it Whole30 compliant, skip the Parm but sprinkle the cauliflower with garlic salt and Italian seasoning mix.

Make sure the seasoning mix is sugar free, corn free, etc. Better yet, make your own. You can find plenty of recipes, but in a pinch, just throw together some dried basil and oregano in generous portions, some garlic powder, and then a little rosemary, thyme, and/or marjoram, if you’ve got ’em.

How to make this an easy, throw-together weeknight meal: Make up a whole batch (or two) of the nom nom meatballs on your day off, and keep them in the freezer in serving-size packs. Four per person works nicely in our house. Make up a batch (or two) of that easy marinara sauce, and freeze it in one- or two-cup units. Cut up the cauliflower the night before, if you want to save that time. Then everything comes together quickly at the last minute!

And — did I mention — yummy?

paleo meatballs, marinara, and cauliflower

New to eating gluten-free? Or thinking of going Paleo?

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

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Herb-crusted salmon and pumpkin soup

paleo dinner: herbed salmon + pumpkin soup
paleo dinner: herbed salmon + pumpkin soup
I try to serve salmon at least once a week — gotta get those omega-3’s! I love that it cooks quickly, and there are so many ways to top it, encrust it, or otherwise embellish it. I’ve found, though, that it’s not as satisfying as red meat. We usually find ourselves hungry a couple hours later.
When I started making bone broth several month ago, I found that it is super satisfying. My theory is that it sticks with you because it’s providing a lot of minerals, gelatin, and other good, healing things your body is craving. So my strategy now is to always serve a bone broth-based soup on the nights I serve salmon.
A few nights ago, I made my herb-crusted salmon along with cream of pumpkin soup, using homemade chicken bone broth. My husband said, “I like this soup. It’s comforting, kinda like coffee.” (He is sorely missing his coffee with cream and sugar in the morning!)
Cream of pumpkin soup is easy to make Whole30 compliant by making it dairy-free: just swap out the cream for full-fat coconut milk. This recipe from AllRecipes is the one I use (minus the croutons): Cream of Pumpkin Soup.
This dinner is easy enough for a weeknight (especially if you make the pumpkin soup the night before, up until adding the cream), but special enough for a Fall or Winter dinner party, I think.
This pairing will go in our regular Whole30 rotation! I’m working toward publishing a four-week meal plan. Hopefully coming soon!