Tag Archives: low carb

12 real-food Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes (some paleo, low carb)

12 low-carb paleo real-food Thanksgiving + Christmas recipes

Here are some of my go-to recipes and preparation tips for Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of them lean toward whole foods; some of them are Paleo, or keto, or adaptable. (I’ve already added an extra, and this list will probably grow as I find new favorites.)

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The stars

green bean casserole

Crock-pot green bean casserole – This recipe, with all the ingredients of the original classic, has two helpful twists: It’s handy when you need to have one less thing in the oven (so, every holiday), and you can make it ahead. (Don’t want to use canned soup? There’s a link to a make-your-own recipe.)

Cream of pumpkin soup – Easy to make ahead; one of my favorites! Just as good with coconut milk as with the original cream.

Low-carb mashed “potatoes” – If you’ve tried mashed cauliflower before and been disappointed, maybe you just didn’t add enough fat! Try this recipe. (My picky husband says I nailed it!)

20 cranberry sauce recipes – Including several refined-sugar-free and a couple Paleo ones.

7 roasted sweet potato recipes – Not a marshmallow in sight!

Quinoa stuffing – I haven’t made this recipe yet, but I plan to soon. I’ve never been a fan of stuffing — too mushy. But combining the savory flavors of stuffing with quinoa? Genius — and gluten-free!

Timetable for roasted vegetables – If you haven’t tried roasting vegetables – or if you have, with disappointing results – check this out! This is one of our all-time favorite ways to eat vegetables, and I put together a list of which veggies need to cook how long. Roasting brings out so much sweetness, with zero added sugar, honey, or anything but olive oil, salt, and pepper.

This is my favorite pan for roasted vegetables, and anything else that can be made on a rimmed cookie sheet: USA Pan Jelly Roll Pan. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PAN!!! Bakes evenly, rinses off like brand-new teflon every time. Everyone in my house has been threatened to not even think of co-opting this for some craft or garage project!(Note: This link is through my Amazon affiliateship, but I truly do love this pan!)

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Sweets

sugar-free gingerbread prune cookies

No-bake sugar-free gingerbread bites – You could also make these with pumpkin pie spice.

One-ingredient gluten-free pie crust – Here’s the simple crust I use to make shot-glass desserts. Add some sugar-free pumpkin mousse or pumpkin cheesecake, and you’ve got a guilt-free substitute for pumpkin pie. (There’s a recipe for that in my Guilt-Free Treats cookbook.) Don’t forget to pile on the whipped cream!

Sugar-free dairy-free coffee ice cream – My husband declared this “better than Marble Slab coffee ice cream” – his favorite!

Blueberry cheesecake fat bombs – Keto-friendly li’l bites of goodness.

Keto snickerdoodles – Enough said!

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Leftovers

turkey pot pie

Turkey pot pie – The traditional, much-anticipated, day-after-Thanksgiving meal in our house. Sub a mashed potato or cauliflower crust for a gluten-free or low-carb version.

Monte Cristo sandwich – If you eat bread or gluten-free bread, here’s my favorite way to use leftover turkey and cranberry sauce. (Much easier than the pot pie.)

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Tips

Thanksgiving and Christmas food prep FAQs – How long to cook turkey or ham?, how much food per person?, and other answers and handy resources.

 Do you have any favorite real-food, Paleo, keto, etc holiday recipes or tips? Comment below!
12 Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes - sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or low-carb
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12 Healthy Christmas Recipes - sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or low-carb

Cinnamon grain-free granola or breakfast cereal

grain-free sugar-free paleo granola

I’ve been making this easy grain-free granola for ages! These days, I’m enjoying it as a low-carb substitute for breakfast cereal. Having it on hand makes it possible again to have a breakfast that’s as simple as pouring two things into a bowl!

It also makes a yummy whole-food snack: perfect for times when I want something portable, crunchy and munchy. (Hello, road trips and movie theaters!) And happily, this recipe also satisfies the requirements for whole food, real food, sugar-free, low-carb, and Paleo diets. Maybe also keto: see notes at the end.

It comes together quickly, and is made on the stove-top, so you don’t even need to heat the oven!

A few things about the ingredients…

The coconut used is large flake and unsweetened. For the best deal, look for it where bulk foods are sold.

grain-free granola, use large-flake coconut

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Sliced almonds will give a more delicate, crispy crunch than slivered — which will be better for cereal. But if slivered is all you’ve got, or you’re just making this for a snack, slivered almonds are fine.

sliced and slivered almonds

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stevia extract

 

 

Stevia extracts vary in sweetness. This is the brand and flavor I use.

 

Feel free to experiment with other brands and flavors, but just remember that it may need adjusting. If you’re unsure, try making a one-third batch first, to zone in on the perfect sweetener level for your taste.

 

Ready for the recipe?

 


Grain-free, sugar-free granola or breakfast cereal

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1.5 Tblsp coconut oil

6 drops liquid stevia extract, plain or flavored*

1.5 cups large, unsweetened, dried coconut flakes

optional: additional 1 teasp coconut oil

1 cup each:

  • sliced (or slivered) almonds
  • large pecan pieces (or small pecans)
  • large English walnut pieces

1/2 to 1 teasp cinnamon

optional: dash salt

*The sweetness level of this recipe as written is slightly sweet to someone who’s used to a sugar-free, sweetener-free life. If your taste runs sweeter, you may want to use more. If you’re unsure, try making a one-third batch first, to zone in on the perfect sweetener level for your taste.

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DIRECTIONS:

For a full batch, your skillet / frying pan should have a 9″ (23 cm) diameter bottom, at least. Larger is fine.

Place pan over medium-low heat. Add the 1.5 tablespoon of coconut oil and the stevia drops. Stir them together, then add the coconut flakes. Turn them over several times — gently, so as not to break too many flakes — so that the oil coats the flakes on both sides.

Then let it sit, but stay near, watching for it to begin turning brown on the bottom. (The first picture below shows it as it begins browning.) As it does, gently turn large spoonfuls over every few/several minutes till many of the pieces are lightly toasted; some will still be mostly white. (Second image below.)

coconut in two stages of toasting, for granola

If the bottom of the pan looks dry at this point,  add another teaspoon of coconut oil.

Add the almonds, pecans, and walnuts, and continue to stir for two or three minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the cinnamon and salt. Stir gently to distribute the cinnamon.

grain-free sugar-free granola, cooling in the pan

You may let it cool in the pan, stirring occasionally. This will probably be 30 minutes, at least. (I sometimes let it sit for several hours as I do other stuff around the house, just stirring it whenever I swing through the kitchen.)

When completely cooled, transfer to an airtight container. Keeps at room temp for a week or more.

For cereal, just top it with your favorite milk. I like coconut.  🙂

grain-free sugar-free granola or breakfast cereal

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Some questions you may have:

Is there a printable? – Sure: here ya go! Grain-free sugar-free granola/cereal recipe.

Can I add other ingredients, like flax seed, chia seed, or hemp hearts? – I wouldn’t add them to the mix, because this isn’t a sticky granola, and they’re so much smaller they’re going to sift quickly to the bottom of the container. But you could certainly sprinkle them on just before eating.

Wow! Isn’t this really high calorie? – Yep. Sure is. I don’t count calories. I find that when I eat all whole foods and keep carbs in check (oh, and address my emotional eating), my daily intake tends to correct itself without any counting.

Is it keto? – It’s certainly low carb, high fat. I haven’t run the macros, but I think you might need to add more coconut oil to make it high enough fat for serious keto. (I don’t have any experience with a keto calculator, but here’s wholesomeyum’s recommendation.)

How much is a serving? – That’s entirely up to you, but I’ll warn you: because it’s so low in carbs (carbs make you hungry) and high in fat (fat makes you full), you’re going to want a lot less of this than you would of cereal. And while I don’t count calories, they do count to some extent, and nuts can quickly get you outside of healthy bounds. To keep snack servings in check, you might want to portion it out into snack baggies or other small containers. I just put a small amount in a very small bowl at home, or in baggies when I’m out.

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grain-free sugar-free granola or cereal

Mashed cauliflower – great low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes

pan-seared salmon on mashed cauliflower

Is there a comfort food more universally loved than mashed potatoes? A classic side for everything from meatloaf to fried chicken to Salisbury steak to Thanksgiving turkey, chances are, if you’re American, this was a regular on your dinner table growing up.

If you’re cutting back on carbs, though, you’ve got to either cut it out or restrict your serving to a tiny amount.

Cauliflower saves the day! I call it “cauli mash” for short. If you’re served this in a fancy-schmancy restaurant, they may call it “cauliflower puree.” Call it what you will, it’s yummy, and a great foil for a number of different dishes.

Besides the traditional ways to serve this dish, I love it under pan-seared salmon, shown in the main pic above. (Have you seen my video on how to make perfectly-done pan-seared salmon? It’s so much easier than it sounds!)

It’s also scrumptious as a side dish for pork chops.

mashed cauliflower side dish

 

And delicious under pulled pork or carnitas, topped with some cheese, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

pulled pork over mashed cauliflower

cauliflower packageThe secret to getting a great texture in your cauli mash is four-fold: it must be cooked till soft, well-drained, mixed with a stick blender (unless you want it chunky), and have lots of added fat! It takes a few steps, but it’s not hard. Plus, this is a versatile side or base that goes with lots of things, and it keeps well in the fridge, so I always make enough for at least a couple meals. The 24-oz. bag is plenty to make at least six servings.

I use packaged fresh cauli already cut into florets, but if you want to save money and spend a little more time on prep, you can buy a whole head and cut it down yourself.cauliflower florets

Here’s my method…

Mashed cauliflower / cauliflower puree recipe

24 oz. of cauliflower florets

(you can include stem pieces, cut to much smaller than the florets)

1/4 cup butter or ghee*

1/4 cup sour cream (or non-dairy substitute)*

2 T. bacon fat*

2 T. cheese, your choice of cheddar or cream cheese (optional)*

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (if using coarse salt, double the amount)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/16 teaspoon dill (optional)

*See step 5, regarding the fats. It’s completely okay to adjust these to your liking.

  1. Cut the florets to somewhat-equal sized pieces, and steam them over simmering water until they can be easily sliced through with a plastic utensil, such as a spoon or spatula. I do a 24-oz. package in three batches. This ensures they steam more evenly, and helps with the next step.
  2. Drain them, press them, then dry them some more. I use the steamer section of my pan as a colander, holding it over the sink with the cooked cauli in it, gently pressing down with a large mixing spoon to force more water out. Don’t press too hard, or it will begin to mash and drip out the bottom.
  3. (Sometimes I skip this step; no big deal.) Then I put that batch in the mixing bowl and kind of spread it out, so more steam can escape. (I use the small mixing bowl from my mom’s vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster. Did your mom or grandma have one of these?)glass-mixing-bowl-300 A little bit before I’m ready to dump the next batch of cooked florets into the bowl, I reach in with a sturdy paper towel over my hand and give the steamed-out cauli a squeeze or two.
  4. Repeat till all the cauli is cooked and drained.
  5. Add the fat! You can tweak the amounts if you want less of one and more of the other, to adjust to your taste or dietary requirements.
  6. Blend well using a stick blender. Start at the top and press down while blending, then release the button and repeat again till it’s all starting to look the same. Then you can add your seasonings and blend everything together well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve immediately, or store in a tightly-closed container in the fridge for several days. Reheats well in the microwave.

Serves 6-8.

Why the food-health connection is so personal for me

my family - why food + health is personal to me

The connection between real food and health is a very personal topic for me.

It began when I was 15, sitting in a pastor’s office with my parents. (I was about that age in the photo above. I’m on the left.) My poor mom and dad were at their wits’ end: they couldn’t figure out why their daughter had turned into Dr. Jekyll and Miss Hyde. I was prone to such angry, violent outbursts that I sometimes frightened my own mom and dad. I could see it in their eyes.

After listening to our story for a bit, the pastor asked my parents a surprising, pivotal question: “Have you had her tested for hypoglycemia?” (low blood sugar).

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The Five-Food Plate: a template for healthy meals

steak salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Since losing more than 30 pounds two years ago, and because I’ve kinda become known as a food guru in my social circles, people often ask me, “So, how do you eat?”

I’ve had a hard time answering that. It took me a long time and much trial and error to arrive at what works for me, and even when I found it, I was too close to it to be able to articulate it for others.

But this week it hit me. It’s just this simple five-part formula:

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Buffalo chicken quesadillas (dairy & grain free)

buffalo chicken quesadillas with avocado - paleo

This chicken quesadilla is one of my all-time favorite pre-Paleo dishes, because as I said in my original post, it’s:

…one of my go-to recipes when I realize too late in the day that I haven’t planned dinner…. I love it because it’s a few simple things I can throw together and have dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less. Also, there’s very little measuring involved.

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BLT Salad with Avocado

Easy BLT salad with avocado - gluten-free, low-carb, paleo

This salad couldn’t be easier, and because it borrows the classic flavors of a BLT sandwich, what’s not to love?! Trust me: you won’t miss the bread. My hubs who’s usually all “meh” over salads even likes it! And because there’s no bread, this salad is gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, low-carb, Paleo, and Whole30 compliant. (Assuming you use compliant mayo and bacon.)

You could also add chopped cooked chicken to this and call it a one-dish meal!

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