Category Archives: Sugar Free

Spinach and Egg Bake

I’ve been a bit “blah” with breakfast lately. My problem is that while I rarely repeat the same thing for dinner, for breakfast I tend to stick with the same thing over and over again until I get sick of it and then search out the next thing to have over and over again until I get sick of it and so on…

For the last MANY months, I have been having my No “Grain”ola with homemade yogurt (easiest thing to make – I will post how I Do it sometime) and some berries or cut up green apples on top. It keeps me full and is tasty but when you eat it every day for months, it gets old. I also like to make almond flour waffles with the boys but that too can get old day in and day out. So, I polled some Facebook friends for some ideas.  Many suggested making a large crustless quiche type dish and eating leftovers throughout the week.  I have one such dish on the blog already but thought I would add this one to the mix.

This recipe is a common one. I originally got it from my mother-in-law who calls it her BSF egg dish because she often would make it for her Bible Study Fellowship gatherings. I just call it my favorite simple egg dish. It’s super easy to toss together, bakes up beautifully every time and can be versatile. You can add meat, other veggies like peppers or grated carrots to it, and it still tastes delicious. I have just the very base recipe below. We had it for ‘brinner’ last night and now I have leftovers for the next few days.

This recipe is also easy double or triple and then to freeze.  Bake it up and then cut into single serving squares.  Freeze the squares in individual bags to take out and microwave or heat in the oven for breakfast another day.

The recipe calls for 1/4 c. flour.  I used an all purpose gluten-free mix but I think that you could easily make it grain free by using 1 -2 Tbsp. coconut flour in it’s place.  It is a pretty flexible dish and not much can mess it up, in my opinion.

P.S. I don’t have a good picture of this one but will work on it!  Trust me though, it is pretty and delicious.  🙂

Spinach and Egg Bake

6 eggs (preferably organic, free range)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. all-purpose gluten free flour (or 1-2 Tbsp. coconut flour)
1/2 c. butter, melted
16 oz. cottage cheese
16 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of liquid
1 tsp. fresh minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
salt/pepper to taste

Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by greasing with butter. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Add flour and onion and mix until flour is no longer lumpy. Add remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined.

Pour egg mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until dish is firm and golden on top. Serve hot!

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Cauli-Fried Rice

After the successful Spanish “Rice” recipe using cauliflower, I decided to tackle using cauliflower as rice again.  This time I did a fried rice.  I have made it a few times but tonight finally hit on the combination we really like!

I have to say, for the skeptics out there, I didn’t tell my husband that I was using cauliflower in lieu of rice.  When he took his first bite, he said it was the best fried rice I have ever made.  After I told him it wasn’t actually rice, he said that he didn’t see why we would ever do actual rice again.  It was that good!

So, needless to say, don’t be afraid to try it like I was.  You really should try making cauli-rice.  (BTW, Terrible picture… I know… sorry! But, really, this is a delicious meal you need to try!!!)

Cauli-Fried Rice

Cauli-Fried Rice

Recipe adapted from http://www.lexiscleankitchen.com

2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 zucchini, halved and sliced
1 c. spinach
5 carrots, sliced
1/2 c. peas
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
1 head cauliflower
3 eggs
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
salt/pepper to taste
1/4 c. chives
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or coconut oil, divided

Place cauliflower in food processor and pulse until rice consistency.

In a large pan, heat 1 Tbsp. oil and 2 cloves garlic.  Add cauliflower and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile in another pan, heat 1 Tbsp. oil and 2 cloves garlic.  Add onion and carrots.  Saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add chicken.  Cook for 5-7 minutes.  Add spinach, peas and zucchini.  Saute until chicken is cooked through.

In cauliflower pan, make a well.  Crack eggs into middle and scramble.  Once eggs are scrambled, add chicken and veggies and remaining ingredients.  Stir and cook until heated through.

Serve immediately.

Husband Rating: 8 out of 10

Food for Thought: Any protein and really any combination of veggies could work in this recipe. This is the combination we liked best.  But, you could use beef, pork, shrimp, or no meat at all.  You could add broccoli, pea pods, etc. for veggies.  The possibilities are endless.

Quick and Easy Summer Squash Skillet

This one-dish supper was light and summery with several tasty veggies. I made a realization that six months ago, I probably would have thought this dish would be best served on pasta. Tonight, however, we just had it as is and it was tasty and satisfying. The kids ate the sausage and the one or two requisite ‘no-thank you’ bites of zucchini but my husband and I both enjoyed it!

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Quick and Easy Summer Squash Skillet

6 links mild Italian sausage (I used an all natural chicken sausage)
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 c. bell pepper, diced (I used a mix of yellow, red, and orange – what was left in the fridge!) 🙂
3 medium zucchinis, halved and sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 c. fresh basil, chopped
salt/pepper

Cook sausage according to package directions. Set aside. Slice.

In a large skillet, heat grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and oregano and sauté about 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and zucchini and sauté another 3-5 minutes.

Add sliced sausage, cherry tomatoes, basil, and salt/pepper. Cook for another minute or two until the tomatoes are just tender. Serve immediately.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10

First Foray into Fermented Foods!!!

“I think I am going back for seconds.”

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Those are words I NEVER thought would come out of my mouth when eating sauerkraut! But, there is a first for everything. Tonight, we had our first meal with my first ever homemade batch of sauerkraut and I am impressed! This version might even get a non-kraut girl like me to eat more of those great fermented foods!

I keep hearing about how great fermented foods are for you… that can include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and of course fermented vegetables. They contain tons of probiotics and are great for a healthy digestive system. Here is a quick article with basic info on it. I love yogurt and kefir and have even enjoyed kombucha a bit. But, I really know nothing about how to make them myself and so just buy the store versions. However, when I realized that the store-bought sauerkraut contained high-fructose corn syrup, I just couldn’t bring myself to but it and serve it to my family (i.e. my kraut-loving husband). So, I made my own!

It is super easy to do, super inexpensive, and so delicious – again, words I NEVER thought would come out of my mouth. I am taking a class on fermented foods in August and I just can’t wait to find out what else I can make at home!!!

We enjoyed our sauerkraut with brats, spicy mustard, and grilled broccoli and cauliflower.

 

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Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

1 head red cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 head green cabbage, finely shredded
2-3 large carrots, shredded
3 tsp. sea salt
half-gallon wide-mouthed mason jar
small pint mason jar

In a large bowl, combine cabbages and carrots. Sprinkle with salt.

Use your hands, not just to mix but to gently crunch the shredded vegetables. Do this until they start to release the liquid (about 5 minutes).

Pack the mixture into a meticulously cleaned half-gallon mason jar. Pack it down tightly, allowing the juices to rise. I had just enough to fill the jar almost to the top.

Fill the small mason jar about 3/4 full of water and place into the mouth of the large jar as a weight to hold the vegetables under the liquid. If, after putting the weight on top, the vegetables are not under water, add a few tablespoons of water until all are under water.

Cover loosely with a towel and leave sitting on the counter. Check daily to make sure the vegetables stay submerged. If small bubbles form on the surface of the liquid, skim it off. Let it ferment for at least 3-5 days before testing the flavor. We tested it after 5 days and then decided to let it sit for another couple of days. The flavor will continue to increase with each day, getting more sour and pungent as you wait.

When the sauerkraut reaches your preferred flavor, put the lid on top of the jar and place in the fridge. Enjoy for the next several months. The fermentation will slow down but not be stopped completely so the flavor will continue to mature with time.

Husband Rating: He didn’t give it a number but said it was mild but good.

Grain-Free Pizza Crust

Last night, I had the pleasure of hearing a speaker, Dr. Natalie Gianforte of Maximized Living in Minnetonka, speak with a small group of women about nutritious eating for our families today.  (I am not at all affiliated with that clinic, just am really impressed with Dr. Natalie as a speaker and nutrition expert!)She shared so many interesting and enlightening facts about the importance of a whole food diet, reducing/eliminating sugars, increasing healthy fats, and focusing on food made by God, not food made by man.  If I wasn’t already before, I now am even more on fire for healthy eating!!!  I went through my pantry again today and tossed a bunch of things that now that I have learned more about and do not plan to cook with again. (This included such items as a bottle of canola oil, some old candy that was hiding in a drawer, brown and powdered sugar, among other things.)  It felt so good to purge!!!  FYI, in that same theme, I am going to be going back through old posts over the next few days and weeding out the ones that are not up to the standard I feel is good for my family now. 

Today’s recipe is one that I actually made a few days ago… I wanted to make pizza. My one recipe for g/f pizza crust requires two eggs… out of eggs. The other crust I love to use is my cauliflower pizza crust… no cauliflower. This is when I love google – I searched out gluten-free egg-free pizza crusts and came up with a great recipe. I added some seasonings to it and loved how it turned out. It was a delightful, flaky, thin-crust pizza. We made a traditional pepperoni pizza (using Applegate Natural pepperoni) for the boys and on the other pizza I added some tomatoes, fresh arugula, and fresh basil to the top. (Add the arugula and basil after baking just before serving.) 

The crust recipe I adapted came from a blog that I have found to have good recipes.  I have used it a few times and from what I have read/cooked from her blog, would recommend it to you.  It is www.realsustenance.com.  Check it out. 

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Grain-Free Pizza Crust

3 c. almond flour (I ran out and substituted about 1 c. of hazelnut flour – works fine as long as it is another nut flour)
7 Tbsp. arrowroot powder (or another starch – tapioca or corn)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 c. flaxseed meal
1 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

In a large bowl, combine flour, arrowroot powder, spices, and baking powder. Mix well.

In a small bowl, mix flaxseed meal, water, and coconut oil. Mix until it starts to thicken. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until well mixed.

Cover two pizza pans with parchment paper. Divide dough into two balls and spread thinly over each pizza pan. Because the dough is a bit sticky, I found that if I used a piece of wax paper on top of the dough and pressed it flat, it didn’t get stuck to me or the spatula. Press until the dough is about 1/16th of an inch thick.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake crusts for 22-25 minutes or until the edges are golden and they are cooked through. Add your favorite toppings. Increase oven heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until toppings are hot.

Food for Thought: This is another pizza recipe where it is easy to make one pizza and freeze the other. Simply bake the crust. Allow it to cool and then wrap it in plastic wrap tightly. Freeze flat. When you are ready to use it, simply unwrap it and place it on the baking sheet. Top and bake at 400 degrees or until everything is hot throughout.

Taco Bake

So, today I am officially done with my sugar detox.  It went better than I thought and I am surprised at how even though I am “free” to eat whatever I choose, I don’t really find myself seeking sugar-containing foods.  I did have grapes today in my chicken salad and a few crackers on the side. I loved having a bit of fruit but really, the crackers were just filler… I didn’t need them and almost wished I hadn’t had them.  I really think I need to take reintroducing “sugar” foods into my diet slowly.  Perhaps stick with just fruit for a while, and even that at a moderate pace.

So, this dinner is also a sugar-free meal.  It was satisfying – at least three of our four ate it and relatively easy to toss together.  There is a great variety of veggies in it, which I like as well.  And, it is one of those meals that you could really add just about any veggies from your fridge that needed using up.  I served it with a side of fresh guacamole.

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Taco Bake

Recipe adapted from  http://www.justenjoyfood.com/taco-bake/

1 lb. ground turkey
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 zucchini, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 c. cauliflower rice (directions for cauliflower rice here)
1/2 each red, yellow, and orange bell pepper, finely diced
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cumin
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
salt/pepper to taste
2 c. diced tomato
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil

Instructions:

In a large skillet, melt coconut oil.  Add turkey and break up.  Once turkey is cooked about halfway though, add onion and bell peppers.  Continue cooking until the turkey is completely cooked through. Add zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, and seasonings.  Continue to cook until carrots begin to turn tender.

Remove from heat and spread in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Top turkey mixture with diced tomatoes and add cheddar cheese to the top of that.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10

Food for thought: I think another tasty addition to this meal would be olives or red onion.  It would also probably be a tasty combination to serve as filling for tacos, rather than a stand alone dish.

I also think this has potential to be a freezer dish – simply assemble and freeze prior to baking.  You could easily make a double batch and then split it into two pans before baking.  For our family, one and a half batches would suffice to make two meals, based on the leftovers we had.

Garlicky Grilled Veggies

I love being able to toss everything from dinner onto the grill – means minimal clean-up in the kitchen!  I needed to branch out a little from the usual peppers, zucchini, red onions, etc…  So, tonight I tried something different.  And, I think that it turned out great!  The veggies were perfectly cooked and with a good flavor.  It’s even better when they get a little charred on the bottom as well!  Yummy!

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Garlicky Grilled Veggies

Recipe adapted from www.civilizedcavemancooking.com

1 head cauliflower
1 bunch broccoli
1 medium tomato
2 Tbsp butter (melted) or olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt/pepper to taste

Chop the cauliflower and broccoli into bite-sized florets.  Dice the tomato.  Combine the veggies with the butter/olive oil, garlic, and seasoning.  Wrap in a tin foil packet.  Place on a hot grill, and cook for about 20 minutes flipping once in the middle.  Enjoy!

Grilled Lime Chicken with Fresh Guacamole

Finally it seems like the warmer weather will stick around.  And so, I feel the need to get grilling again!  Forget all this baking and roasting nonsense… let’s get outside!  I thought this recipe seemed fresh and summery.  We had it with some grilled broccoli and a side salad. I love summer cooking!

P.S. I forgot to take a picture of my meal tonight… but I am sure we will be having this again so I will add the photo in later. 🙂

Chicken Marinade

1 c. lime juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
salt/pepper to taste
4 chicken breasts

Combine first six ingredients and mix well. Place chicken breasts in a shallow bowl and pour marinade over the top. Marinate for at least 3 hours (up to 48 hours). Heat grill to medium heat. Cook chicken about 5-6 minutes per side or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Enjoy!

Guacamole

2-3 ripe avocados
1-2 small tomatoes
splash lime juice
splash olive oil
splash red wine vinegar
salt/pepper to taste
optional: jalapeno, seeded and minced

Remove the pit (and save) the pit from the avocadoes. Mash in a bowl. Add tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper. Replace pits into the guacamole until just before serving to help preserve the green color.

Husband Rating: 8 out of 10

Food for Thought: This would be an easy marinade to make ahead of time.  Combine all the ingredients (including the chicken) and toss in a freezer bag.  Just thaw and cook as directed!

This would also be delicious shredded up and eaten as part of a taco or taco salad.  The flavor was versatile and not spicy, which was good for my kids!

Coconut Thai Stir Fry

I decided to try making a stir fry without soy sauce… nearly EVERY recipe I look at or have made has soy sauce as a base for it and soy sauce is a no-no for this detox.  At first I wasn’t too sure about it but after a few bites really enjoyed the flavor!  I think it would be tasty with some unsweetened coconut flakes on it next time.

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Coconut Thai Stir Fry

Recipe adapted from www.kriscarr.com

Stir Fry Sauce:
1/2 c. coconut milk (full fat, like the kind from the can)
1 1/2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
splash lime juice
pinch each of cayenne and paprika
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. dried ginger or 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely minced
salt to taste
1-2 tsp. arrowroot powder (to thicken)

Stir Fry Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 1 in. pieces
3 c. broccoli florets
3 large carrots, peeled and matchsticked
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
coconut oil to cook with
salt/pepper/paprika to season chicken
1/2 c. almonds, chopped

Combine sauce ingredients (minus the arrowroot powder) and whisk well together. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a wok. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle. Remove and set aside. Add additional coconut oil and vegetables. Stir fry the veggies until tender crisp. Add the chicken back in and the sauce. Continue cooking for another minute or two. If the sauce is too runny, add some arrowroot powder and continue to simmer for another minute or two or until thickened. Top with almonds before serving.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10

Food for Thought: As with any stir fry, any veggies can work in it.  It’s a great way to clean out some of the veggies you have on hand.

Easy Salad Dressings (and a detox update)

Several people have asked me how my sugar detox is going so I thought I would share an update.  I am currently on day 14 of 21. I have had two slip-ups in the last two weeks.  One was enjoying a few bites of a dessert a friend made when we had them over for dinner (a homemade cheesecake and it was sooooo good.)  The other was some Vietnamese food at a baby shower at our neighbors house.  I am pretty sure I had some sugar but not sure as it was all homemade, traditional Vietnamese food and several items were desserts.  I only tried a bite or two of each item offered but of course didn’t want to be rude and not eat at all.  Good relations with our neighbors take precedence over this!  I have decided though to add one day for each slip-up onto the end of the detox in order to really feel like I accomplished the full 21 days.

It hasn’t been as hard as I thought initially it would be.  Because I had already gone gluten-free, many of the “no” items were already out of my diet.  I have missed fruit the most and probably second most would be using soy sauce to make marinades and stir fry.  I definitely don’t miss the grains like I thought I would and really enjoy the fact that I am eating so many veggies throughout the day.  I look at my plate for all meals and if there is nothing green on it, wonder what is wrong!  I think that is amazing.

I had some headaches initially and definitely had some mood swings.  But, those have abated and I am feeling more energetic than I was even a week ago.  I have not lost weight as many do on this detox but that isn’t why I did it so that is neither here nor there for me.  I am amazed at how my taste buds have changed.  Food that I previously would have thought bitter or sour now take on a whole new sweet delicious flavor.  A great example of that for me is plain Greek yogurt.  I thought it was barely palatable, much like eating a bowl of sour cream, when this started.  Now, I find it is a great breakfast – add some nuts, cinnamon, and good quality vanilla extract and I love it!!!

What do I hope to accomplish through this and after this? Well, I see this as a lifestyle change.  I do want to continue having veggies at every meal.  I do want to limit the carbs I eat as well as really any sugar.  I will be adding fruit back into my diet but probably not in the vast quantities that I was eating before.  I don’t want to go back to having that daily chocolate or carb crave that I notice in the mid to late afternoons. I am also very aware of how I am feeding my whole family.  I think that overall cutting sugar from our meals is important – it is often and unnecessary addition.  For example, at dinner now we often will have two veggies for sides rather than a heavy carb.  For lunch, the boys and I focus on our proteins, fruit/veggies, and a bit of dairy.  Overall this has been a good change!

Now, for the recipe that I alluded to in the title.  I have come to the conclusion that I will never buy dressing from the store again.  We always had half or quarter used salad dressings leftover in the fridge that would get thrown away- so wasteful.  And, it is so simple to make and tastes so delicious.  An easy rule of thumb for dressings is two to three parts oil to one part acid (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.).  From there you add your own seasonings to taste.  Here is my current favorite!

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Lemon Basil Salad Dressing

juice of one lemon

6 Tbsp. olive oil

1-2 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped

salt/pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and seal tightly.  Shake well to combine and enjoy. Remember that with this dressing, less is more.  The dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.  Make sure to bring it to room temperature before shaking and using.

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