7/20/15

Jalapeno Date Turkey Burgers {Low Carb Skinny Burgers}



These lean and healthy turkey burgers (aka "Skinny Burgers") are the perfect blend of heat and sweet! Fresh ingredients like raw jalapeño and dates up your turkey game, while the addition of healthy fats like coconut oil, help to keep the lean ground turkey from drying out on the grill.

These patties can be prepped in advance and stored covered in the fridge overnight, making them easy to pop on the grill for a weeknight meal or anytime. Your taste buds (and waistline) will thank you. Give 'em a whirl and let me know what you think.

Jalapeno Date Turkey Burgers
makes 4 patties
heat grill to medium high

1 lb. lean ground turkey breast
1 large raw jalapeño with seeds - small dice 3/4 of the jalapeño, reserve 1/4 to slice thin for garnish
2 raw dates, pitted and diced small
3-4 raw green onions, chopped small (whites and greens)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp *coconut oil (or olive oil), *liquid or melted coconut oil (use refined coconut oil for no coconut taste/aroma, see note below about liquid vs. melted coconut oil)
4 slices pepper jack cheese (optional)

Ingredients ready to mix in with the ground turkey breast

Mix all ingredients (except the reserved 1/4 of jalapeño) together in a bowl and form into 4 equal patties.

*Note: Liquid vs. Melted Coconut Oil - I used liquid coconut oil, which doesn't harden. You may also use melted coconut oil, but it may take a little more effort to get it evenly distributed with the cold ground turkey, since the temperature of the meat will make the melted oil start to solidify again. To help, you may mix all of the ingredients, except the turkey, first so the oil adheres to the little veggie and date bits, then mix that into your ground turkey for more even distribution.

Turkey burgers read for the grill!

Grill patties on medium high grill approximately 3-4 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook.

I served these topped with melted pepper jack cheese (optional) garnished with a fresh, thinly sliced jalapeño atop a bed of fresh raw spinach with raw carrot chips and charred brussels sprouts (check out the recipe for the brussels here) for a healthy, low carb meal. They would be awesome on a soft bun with some yummy mayo, too!!

Yum!
Serving Suggestion:

How about an ice cold Omission (gluten free) Beer to go with that awesome meal?
Gluten Free Omission Beers (photo credit: www.OmissionBeer.com)


3/25/15

Seared Blood Orange Scallops with Rustic Pea Hummus

Seared Blood Orange Scallops with Rustic Pea Hummus
This elegant meal, which is equally suitable for a special occasion or a weeknight dinner, comes together in a matter of minutes. The scallops get a quick dousing of fresh squeezed juices, garlic powder and salt & pepper, then are seared to perfection in about 4 minutes. The pea hummus can be made beforehand and so can the salad (which is quite simply 3 ingredients: mixed greens, walnuts and blood oranges topped with a squeeze of fresh blood orange - no dressing needed).

All told you can have this dinner for four on the table in under 20 minutes. Oh, and it's perfectly Paleo, too.

1) Prep your salad and place on the plates, then get to work on the Pea Hummus. For the Pea Hummus, I used this recipe from the Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook:

Rustic Pea Hummus
adapted from Le Pain Quotidian
makes 1 cup, enough for 4 smears (double recipe for a heartier portion)

1 cup frozen organic peas, at room temperature (soft)
2 Tbsp organic tahini
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or by using a hand blender. I left mine chunky for a more rustic feel but you could blend to a smooth puree if desired.

-----------------------

2) Add your smears to the plates with salad already on them. Now you're ready to make your scallops.

Seared Blood Orange Scallops
serves 4

16-20 wild caught sea scallops, 10-20 per pound size (4-5 scallops per person)
1 blood orange, juiced and zest reserved for garnish (zest first, then juice)
1/2 lemon, juiced
garlic powder
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp salted butter for cooking (Kerrygold is my favorite)

Heat large skillet to medium high and add butter. Squeeze blood orange and lemon over the scallops, then sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Mix to coat and season once more with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Place in hot pan (you should hear it sizzle when you add the scallops), cook for about 2 minutes on each side.

3) Remove and place evenly atop the Pea Hummus smear on each plate, 4 to 5 scallops per plate. Top with the blood orange zest and serve immediately.
Beautiful and delicious!
Boom, done.

3/21/15

Weekends are for Breakfast: Bacon, Eggs and Salad


Weekends are for a lot of things but for sure, they're for breakfast. During the week, you're all frantic trying to get out the door to work or school or wherever and there's no time to cook a decent meal, much less sit down to enjoy it. But weekends...on weekends you can sleep in and still have time to cook the most ridiculously awesome meal...and on weekends you can totally savor every single bite.

So this is pretty much how weekend breakfasts go around here. I'll switch up the fruit based on what's in season, and I'll throw whatever veggies are hanging out in the fridge into the eggs, but the staples are always: Bacon, Eggs and Salad (a perfectly Paleo meal, I might add).
Applegate Sunday Bacon, Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Organic Eggs w/organic bell peppers and organic cilantro, and sliced organic tomatoes
Fresh organic baby spinach, organic sliced strawberries and organic blueberries
I'm pretty sure everyone already knows how to make bacon, eggs and salad but I just have to tell you how great Applegate Sunday Bacon is, especially when it's baked in the oven to the perfect crispness. It's salty, savory and out of this world good.

How to Make Perfect Applegate Sunday Bacon:
  • Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
  • Lay slices of bacon side by side on a baking sheet without overlapping. I line my pan with non-stick foil for less mess but it's not necessary.
  • Place baking sheet in oven and cook for approximately 18 minutes. Check it at around 16 minutes to be sure it's not overcooked. Conversely, you may need to leave it in for an extra minute or two to get the perfect crispness.
  • Upon taking the pan of bacon from the oven, immediately remove the bacon from the grease that has accumulated and place on a paper-lined plate. Don't let the bacon sit in the grease or it won't be crisp.
And a word about salad with breakfast:
It's not crazy (I know what you were thinking!). Raw baby spinach topped with fresh fruit that's in season is fabulous. Sweet, tart, crunchy and healthy. No dressing needed.

Lastly, if I could just leave you with this one thought...


3/20/15

Easy Scratch Caesar Salad

Easy Scratch Caesar Salad
Recently, we had the pleasure of joining family who had rented a vacation home in beautiful Tucson, AZ for a long weekend. We enjoyed some amazing sunset meals out at the local Bob's Steak and Chop House overlooking Tucson National Golf Course.

Sunset from the patio at Bob's Steak and Chop House in Tucson, AZ
One of my favorite dinners, though, was at home and included an incredibly tasty homemade Caesar salad. My sister in law Sunny is an amazing cook and I especially admire her ability to entertain large groups with ease. She whipped up this incredible Caesar salad dressing from scratch, and while I usually pass on salad dressings, I couldn't resist. I'm glad I didn't resist. It was fabulous and clean. I snapped this pic of the paper recipe she uses:
Sunny's recipe for Caesar Dressing adapted from Epicurious
And then I quickly made it again as soon as we returned home - yum! It was super easy and quick to make. Just throw a few ingredients in a bowl, stir and toss with romaine. I halved her recipe and it was plenty to dress a large salad for 3-4 people as a side.

Just throw a few ingredients in a bowl, stir and toss with romaine - so easy for such goodness

Easy Scratch Caesar Salad
Adapted from Sunny Hirschfeld and Epicurious

Serves 3-4 as a side

1 organic garlic clove, mashed with a pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Worscestershire sauce
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 large stalks of organic hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

In a medium mixing bowl add all ingredients except lettuce, salt and pepper, and mix with a fork until blended.

Toss with lettuce and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sprinkling, or a few shaves, of Parmigiano Reggiano if desired.

Note: For a Paleo-friendly version, you can make your own Paleo mayo or do as I did and use Sir Kensington's Mayo.

Bon appétit!

3/10/15

Beefsteak Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

Organic Beefsteak Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad
Juicy beefsteak tomatoes, silky buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil topped with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil - the perfect accompaniment to grass fed beef tenderloin steaks hot off the grill. Tonight's meal was about simplicity. Two classics joined together in harmony on one Paleo plate.

Buf Creamery Buffalo Mozzarella
Dairy can be a bit of a gray area when it comes to the Paleo diet, but I find that a small amount of dairy in my diet, especially non-cow dairy, doesn't impact me negatively. The mozzarella I used was by Buf Creamery, made from grass fed buffalo. It's really awesome and they're even working on getting certified organic.


The other stars in this classic were O Olive Oil Port Balsamic Vinegar and McEvoy Ranch Organic EVOO.

Beefsteak Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

Serves 4 generously

2 organic beefsteak tomatoes, sliced thick
1 container Buf Creamery buffalo mozzarella, sliced thick
fresh organic basil leaves
O Olive Oil Port Balsamic Vinegar
McEvoy Ranch Organic EVOO
fresh cracked black pepper
sea salt

Layer sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves on a plate. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and EVOO. Top with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt.


8/5/12

Vegetable Frittata


If you ask me, the perfect vegetable frittata is airy and fluffy on the inside with a crispy, browned cheesy top, and bursts of flavor from the charred veggies in every delicious bite. Frittatas are surprisingly easy and quick to make and you can vary the veggies and cheeses you select, as almost any will do.

Today I used onions and sun-dried tomatoes because that's what I had on hand; and my beloved Parmigiano Reggiano, because you can never go wrong with that. If I'd pre-planned, I would have also added thick sliced fresh mushrooms, chunks of garden-ripe tomatoes, and perhaps some sliced zucchini, too. Oh, and creamy goat cheese would have been amazing, also!

Anyhoo, I used what I had on hand and it worked out juuuuust fine. I also leaned on this Alton Brown recipe for general guidance because it had been a strangely long while since the last time I had made a frittata. I will not make that mistake again. Frittata Friday anyone?

Vegetable Frittata
serves 4
ready in about 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 medium-sized onion, sliced or thick chopped
6 eggs
3 teaspoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
large pinch of fresh chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Set oven to broil.

Heat a 10-inch non-stick oven safe skillet on stovetop to medium-high.  Add butter and onion and saute for about 3 minutes.


While onions are cooking, beat eggs, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper in a bowl with a fork until blended (as you would for scrambled eggs). Set aside.

Add sun-dried tomatoes to skillet with onions and saute for about 1-2 minutes.


Pour egg mixture into skillet and stir with spatula, then cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until bottom is cooked but top is still very wet. Sprinkle fresh parsley and shredded Parmigiano Reggiano on top and place in oven under broiler.


Broil for approximately 2 1/2 - 3 minutes until eggs have puffed up and browned on top.


Slide from pan onto plate, slice and serve.

Excellent served any time of day alongside a mixed green salad dressed lightly with a lemony vinaigrette.

I also really enjoyed spreading a little wedge of Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese to the top. It added a rich, creamy decadence for only a few more calories (+35 calories per wedge).


Frittatas are super easy and quick to make and look incredibly impressive when done - all puffed up and browned. Your guests will be amazed and wonder how you did it so effortlessly!

7/29/12

Mexican Beef and Bulgur Salad


Bulgur is a healthy whole wheat grain that's low in fat and a great source of fiber and protein. The quick-cooking variety cooks in 12-14 minutes and reminds me of the mild flavor and hearty texture of steel cut oats. It's filling and can be easily transformed to take on the nuances of whatever dish it's used in.

Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Bulgur
Net 23 grams carbs per serving (1/4 cup dry), a very filling serving

In this easy and quick recipe, I used RO*TEL Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies plus some additional Mexican seasonings to produce a delicious and hearty one-dish meal in under 30 minutes.

RO*TEL, fresh chopped onions and garlic

Mexican Beef and Bulgur Salad
Serves 4
Ready in Under 30 Minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Bulgur, prepared according to package directions PLUS add 3/4 teaspoon salt to water before cooking
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 medium-size onion, chopped
3 to 4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (leave out if you dislike cilantro)
1 small head iceberg lettuce, rough chopped

Optional Garnish:
low fat Mexican four cheese blend
low fat sour cream
salsa

While bulgur is cooking according to package directions, heat a large non-stick skillet to medium high and add ground beef.   Brown ground beef breaking it up as you go for about 8-10 minutes or until almost fully cooked.

Add onions, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Continue cooking over medium high heat, stirring occasionally and allowing onions and garlic to soften and become fragrant, about 3 more minutes.

Add entire can of RO*TEL and fresh cilantro to beef mixture, stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium.

By this time your bulgur should be ready (water fully absorbed).

cooked bulgur

Add bulgur to skillet with beef mixture and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt or pepper if needed.

Remove from heat and serve individually over beds of lettuce. Top with cheese, sour cream, and salsa as desired.



NOTES:
  • This mixture is excellent as a leftover and reheated the next day.
  • It's also amazing as a burrito filling. Just place in a warm, low carb tortilla, add desired garnishes, wrap and eat. Fat-free refried beans make an excellent additional filling.


5/20/12

Easy Lean Shredded Pork Tacos



Shredded pork tacos often involve cooking a fatty, large pork shoulder or butt roast, which can be intimidating and difficult to maneuver. For an easy and lean version, try using a lean pork tenderloin. Seasoned with a packet of your favorite taco seasoning and cooked in your slow cooker yields flavorful and beautiful tacos with little effort. I also used low carb tortillas making this even healthier.

Easy Lean Shredded Pork Tacos

Serves 3-4, 2 tacos per person

Special Equipment:  Slow Cooker

Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 3 1/2 hours on low

1 pound lean pork tenderloin
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 packet taco seasoning mix, divided
1/2 cup chicken broth
8 low carb tortillas, regular size (I used La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Original Tortillas)
Optional garnishes: chopped cilantro, chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream/Greek yogurt

Heat a large cast iron or regular skillet on stove over high heat.

Remove pork tenderloin from wrapper and rub with olive oil first,  then rub half of taco seasoning packet to coat well and set aside. Reserve remaining half of taco seasoning.

unwrap pork tenderloin and rub olive oil all over to coat
use half of taco seasoning packet and rub all over to coat

In slow cooker set to low, add chicken broth and remaining half of taco seasoning and stir till well mixed. Set aside.

With tongs, carefully place coated tenderloin in hot skillet, sear for approximately 45 seconds - 1 minute per side.

carefully place coated tenderloin in hot skillet
quickly sear on each side, this is a little too brown

Using tongs, remove from skillet and place whole seared tenderloin in mixture inside slow cooker set to low and place lid.



Cook for approximately 3 1/2 hours, until tenderloin easily shreds with a fork. Be careful not to leave cooking too much longer since most of the liquid will be absorbed by this time. You may add additional chicken broth if needed to keep moist.

Using two forks, shred pork tenderloin and mix well.

shred with two forks
Turn slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.

Warm low carb (or your favorite) tortillas, top with shredded pork and your favorite garnishes like: cilantro, onions, cheese, sour cream.  And depending on your mood - pop the top on an ice cold Pacifico beer and enjoy with lots of fresh squeezed lime.

so yummy

4/26/12

Low Carb Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Julian Bakery's Smart Carb #2 Bread


Who ever heard of low carb bread? I mean, isn't bread by virtue of the fact that it's, well, bread the ultimate carb-laden food??


Made with healthy, all-natural whole and sprouted grains - each thick and hearty slice comes in at a whopping 14 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber, only 1 gram of fat, no sugar, and  2 net grams of carbs - wow!  Check it out:


Lately, in between my protein shakes and low carb pasta dishes, I've been enjoying this delicious, guilt-free treat made with Truvia instead of sugar. I also like to use Brummel & Brown's yogurt spread in place of regular butter.  All in all, I think this might just be the healthiest cinnamon raisin toast ever. And it tastes fantastic!


  • Toast a slice of Julian Bakery's Cinnamon Raisin Bread
  • Lightly spread your favorite healthy butter-like spread
  • Sprinkle cinnamon atop
  • Sprinkle a small amount of Truvia atop (or your favorite zero calorie sweetener; Truvia is my hands-down favorite, it's made from Stevia and looks and tastes just like sugar)
  • Enjoy

PS - I buy Julian Bakery breads at Mother's Market in Southern California. You can use the Bread Locator on Julian Bakery's website to find a list of other stores that carry their products, as well as order online.

3/24/12

Low Carb Pasta with Wilted Mache



Al Dente's Carba-Nada Fettuccini has quickly become my favorite go-to pasta. It's all natural, high in fiber and protein, and low in fat and carbs. I like the roasted garlic variety and order it by the case via Amazon. A case has 6 bags (5 servings per bag), costs about $23/case, and I get free 2-day shipping through my Amazon Prime membership, so it's very reasonable, especially for such a unique and wonderful product.

The pasta only takes about 5 minutes to cook and since I tossed it with fresh mache, this dish couldn't be easier or quicker to fix - about 10 minutes in total. Mache is an ancient wild green originating from France, but Epic Roots grows it domestically in beautiful Northern California. The taste is mildly earthy and "green". I loved it tossed with the pasta and accented with the tang of sun-dried tomatoes and bite of fresh garlic.

Mache is a salad green that tastes mildly earthy and green.

Pasta with Wilted Mache (using Al Dente's Low Carb Pasta)

Serves 4-6
10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 10-ounce bag Al Dente Carba-Nada Roasted Garlic Fettuccini, prepared according to package
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
4 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1  3.5 ounce container of fresh mache (or about 2 1/2 cups)
sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Stir and cook until garlic is fragrant and beginning to lightly brown, about 1-2 minutes.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water. Add pasta directly to skillet with tomatoes and garlic, toss and remove skillet from heat. Next add fresh mache and about half of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, add the Parmigiano Reggiano and toss gently to coat. If too dry, add more of the pasta water. The mache will slightly wilt from the heat of the pasta. Serve immediately with more Parmigiano Reggiano.


Low Carb Pasta with Wilted Mache - fresh and yummy!


Another low carb pasta dish you may enjoy is Perfect Pasta - it's full of flavor with spicy Italian sausage, fresh asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes.