Archive of ‘Main Meals’ category

Healthier Pumpkin Muffins (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free), Fall in Atlanta, and a Quest to Find Good Tasting Stevia!

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The fiery hues of fall have painted the trees of Atlanta, transforming ordinary backyards into magical landscapes!

Fall Leaves in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Why are color changing leaves so enchanting to a 25 year old? They’re a novelty for someone who spent the better part of her youth surrounded by the monochromatic tropical evergreens of Southwest Florida. 

Fall Day in Atlanta, Pt. 2

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Homemade, Healthier Pop Tarts! A sugar-free and scrumptious low carb version of the breakfast treat.

If you haven’t heard yet, the E-Cookbook is up for sale! It’s $5.99 and stuffed full of printable recipes and sugar-free baking tips n’ tricks. To everyone who’s already gotten a copy: Thank you SO much for supporting my experiments in the kitchen! The Kindle and Ipad versions are in the works. You asked, and I shall deliver! Like my Facebook page and follow my Pinterest board for updates.

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Healthier Pop Tarts! Say what?!

It’s the breakfast I used to fantasize about as a little kid, walking hand-in-hand with my mom in the grocery store. She would always lovingly shoo me away from the sugary cereals and snacks, so these pre-packaged frosted hand pies were a rare treat for me.

Until college. Then, anything was game! Ever heard of the freshman 15 30? Yeah, that totally happened to me. Pop Tarts helped make it happen. That’s why I decided to give a Healthy Indulgences make over to Kellogg’s best selling junk food-for-breakfast product. My low carb version of the iconic pastry is gluten-free, no sugar added, and equally yummy!

Sugar-Free Homemade Pop Tarts
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Indulge in Healthier Baked Oatmeal for breakfast! Comfort food that’s low carb and protein-packed.

Baked oatmeal reminds me of college. Those mornings when I had a few minutes to hit up the hippie dippy vegan-friendly eatery on campus for their beloved brunch, I would make beeline for one of their giant portions of aromatic cinnamon-sprinkled carby goodness.

Being home in Florida I no longer have access to those bowls of manna, so I recreated their baked oatmeal with a protein-packed twist. It’s lower in carbs with a creamier, richer mouth feel and an added touch of vanilla to kick up the flavor and make you feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast. Isn’t that why people eat breakfast in the first place?!
With eggs, sliced almonds, and blended up cottage cheese (shh! you’ll never know it’s in there) this meal will stick with you longer than the couple of hours that oats and sugar would take to digest and leave you ravenous before noon. My favorite way to eat this oatmeal is cold, in bar form, driving to class or munching the first few minutes of lecture.
Delicious Sugar-Free Baked Oatmeal
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Secret Recipes Club: Sweet Chili Green Beans with Bacon (A Healthy Low Carb Side Dish!)

I have a new favorite healthy side dish. Not surprisingly, it involves bacon.Sweet chili greens beans, topped with sesame seeds, caramelized onion, and bacon crumbles. Mm-mm good!

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Peggy over at My Fiance Likes It So It Must Be Good (isn’t that a fun blog name?) came up with this gluten-free decadent veggie side dish featuring bacon and onion with an Asian flavor twist. Crisp-tender cooked green beans get their mild heat and sweet flavor from a couple of fresh poblano peppers, minced ginger, and a dash of Thai chili sauce. It’s an addictive fusion of flavors that will have you coming back for more!

Healthy, Homemade Granola Bars (pssst… they’re Sugar-Free!)

Quick announcement: Healthy Indulgences now has a Twitter indulgehealthy (add me, er… follow me?) 

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These are not your typical granola bars. What’s so special about ‘em? Look closely…

Healthy, Homemade Granola Bars

You don’t see any oats, do you? Or sugar. I know you can’t see there’s no sugar, but I promise you it’s not there (okay, so there’s 1 tiny teaspoon of honey in the whole recipe!). Low carbers and gluten-free eaters, take heart. These snack bars are sure to satisfy your craving for this formerly forbidden treat.


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Fluffy, Diner-Style Healthy Pancakes… Low Carb and Gluten-Free!

Going to keep this post short and sweet. It’s been a busy weekend! Summer term is already wrapping up, with only a couple weeks of class left.

Healthy Low Carb Pancakes

This morning, I got a craving for pancakes! I’ve been searching for a healthy low carb version of those fluffy white stacks of carb-fog-inducing bliss ever since I saw my friends chowing down on flapjacks at my favorite breakfast diner, The Golden Griddle. It’s a mandatory stop on our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the end of the school year. Every May, Dukies take over this quaint restaurant for a weekend, and get served by the likes of our super friendly waitress Kathleen, and other purveyors of Southern hospitality. We’ve had Kathleen as our server for two years running, so going to Golden Griddle now feels like a special welcome from the small beach town.

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Healthier Banana Nut Muffins

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Nothin’ like a moist muffin with a pat of Kerrygold butter to start off your day.
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All of my baking supplies are gone. They were taken from the dorm kitchen under the cover of night, either by a prankster or an irritated cleaning lady (I’m assuming the latter). I asked around as to the whereabouts of my cake pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, and Magic Bullet parts, and got no answers. Such is college life! You live and you learn.

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Quick Indulgences: Low Carb Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt with Apples

Low Carb Apples with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled homework to bring you one of those easy snacks you can throw together on a whim. There will be a few of these coming up since play time is limited lately, with classes and homework superseding kitchen experimentation! My skillet and my spatula are my weapons of choice for go-to quick meals–flavored yogurt for breakfast, and stir fries for lunch and dinner. Even using grass-fed beef and organic produce from Whole Foods, it’s much more budget friendly to prepare your meals from scratch instead of subsisting on campus fare. Not to mention the limited availability of gluten-free low carb meals here. Everything is served with a piece of bread!

Back to the topic at hand. You can combine almost anything with plain yogurt and a little vanilla extract to make your own custom flavors, which can get rather addictive once you stock your pantry with extracts and spices. Get creative and add nuts, nut butters, blackstrap molasses, cocoa, toasted coconut flakes, flax meal, coconut oil, lemon juice and zest… whatever you want, ’cause it’ll probably taste good in the rich, full fat yogurt we, as low-carbers, can indulge in without guilt! I’ve been (finally) getting into fall with pumpkin pie yogurt. All you need is a scoop of canned pumpkin, a few drops of vanilla extract, and a big pinch of pumpkin pie spice to enjoy this wonderful holiday dessert for breakfast. I’ll throw it in tupperware and eat my yogurt during morning lecture, garnering more than a few strange looks as I dig into my orange goo!

If you like peanut butter honey sandwiches, or apples and peanut butter, you’re gonna flip for this. We’re revisiting those chayote apples that I used in my apple crisp, this time cooking them up quickly in a skillet with no added spices. Still incredibly apple-y (even if you use lime juice because you’re out of lemon juice like I was for this photo shoot!). The chayote’s texture mimics the apple’s crispness, paired with the perfect level of tartness and sweetness from the citrus juice and stevia. Use as much or as little honey as your needs allow, keeping in mind that honey is 6 grams of carbs per teaspoon. Buy as dark a honey as you can find for the most flavor. I buy local raw honey from the bulk section at Whole Foods, filling the plastic tub with as much or as little of the sticky stuff as I need. One teaspoon is all it takes to satisfy my taste for honey, which goes back to Sunday morning breakfasts consisting of fried eggs (over hard!), Brown n’ Serve sausages, and English muffins slathered in honey that I squeezed greedily from the plastic bear. Yes, you can have honey on a lifestyle that is sugar-free 99% of the time. If honey is a flavor you miss, incorporate a tiny amount into your daily diet and find out if this little bit of real sugar kicks up cravings for sweets.

And peanut butter makes everything better. Now get mixing!

Chayote, before after being turned into sugar-free apple-y goodness!
Low Carb Chayote Apples

“Apples” with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

Makes two servings

Ingredients:
For Chayote “Apples”:
1 chayote, chopped
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract (I use NuNaturals)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For Yogurt:
1 small container Greek yogurt (I like FAGE), or 1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon raw honey (darkest in color you can find)
2 tablespoons all natural peanut butter
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste (I use NuNaturals)

Preparation:
Stir together yogurt, peanut butter, and honey**. Add a pinch of stevia extract and taste for sweetness. Add more stevia if necessary. Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Wash and peel chayote, rinsing off the sap under the faucet. Split down the middle with a knife (cutting through the “crack”), and pry out soft seed. Cut chayote into chunks. Mix together water, lemon juice, and stevia. Once pan is hot, add chopped chayotes and lemon juice mixture, stirring a bit to coat the chayote pieces. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, shaking the skillet around once during cooking to redistribute the chayote pieces. You want to cook it until it is fork tender and the water has just evaporated. Uncover and remove from heat. Let cool and serve with yogurt, or toss in melted butter and cinnamon for fried apples. Can also be pureed for applesauce!

**You can also leave the honey out until serving time and just drizzle it on top for a pretty effect, stirring it in before you eat.

~6-9 grams of net carbs per serving (depending on how much honey you use)

Holding on to Summer: Blueberry Muffins

The leaves are just starting to turn in North Carolina, with a bit of a chill in the air as the sun goes down. Being the Florida girl that I am, I dread the proposition of trading in my flip-flops for actual shoes, my cool button down shirts for unwieldy coats! Mid terms have passed, and school is in full swing. The local Whole Foods market has had berries on sale for the past few weeks, which I have been partaking in as often as possible. Berries are the food that epitomizes summer for me–not too sweet, with a lovely tartness and enough juice to quench your thirst. They are even better straight from the freezer, like miniature natural popsicles. I digress!

Snap up those last few boxes of fresh berries from your local market and toss them into a batch of these light, perfectly moist muffins. Simple ingredients and simple preparation yield a cross between a cupcake and a muffin that is gluten-free, sugar-free, and even dairy-free for all of your lactose- and casein-intolerant folks. The lemon flavor is very faint, just detectable enough to add some intrigue and complement the olive oil. The topping forms a crunchy crust over the tops. Just a word of warning: These are not your average “healthy” muffins, loaded with whole wheat flour (sugar), applesauce (sugar), bran (a processed waste product made of insoluble fiber), bananas (sugar), and other low fat ingredients yielding un-muffiny flavors. Nourish the body and the soul with these flavorful, nutrient-packed muffins, full of protein from the almonds, antioxidants from the berries, and a dash of omega-3s from the flax meal topping.

Take note of the key ingredient–olive oil, as the liquid fat in these muffins. Now don’t wrinkle your nose just yet! The fruitiness of extra virgin olive oil pairs so well with the citrus zest and lemon extract. I am the first person who would balk at the idea of olive oil coming anywhere near a perfectly good sweet treat. I loathe the stuff, and prefer to keep my distance from it 99% of the time. And yet, you really can’t use anything else in this recipe to get the same complexity of flavors. Tasting is believing!

You might notice that the muffins in the photographs have flat tops! Their perfect peaks fell because I piled the batter right up to the brim of my trusty silicone muffins cups, hoping for a massive meal-in-a-muffin. Bad idea! These mammoth muffins didn’t fluff up properly, and remained undercooked on the bottoms. Stick with the 12 dainty muffins the recipe is supposed to yield, and you will have fluffy, attractive breakfast pastries to go with your morning cup of a coffee.


Blueberry Crunch Top Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cage-free organic eggs
1/2 cup erythritol or preferred sugar-free sweetener
1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup lite coconut milk (or half n’ half if you can use dairy)
1 cup blueberries or raspberries
oat flour, for dusting (optional)

For Crunch Topping (optional):
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening or unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons golden flax meal
2 tablespoons erythritol
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mash together the ingredients for the topping with a fork, then stick it in the freezer while you make the muffins. Whisk together wet ingredients plus the erythritol in one bowl. Stir together the dry ingredients in a different bowl. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, whisking until incorporated. Coat berries with a light dusting of oat flour (to keep them from sinking), and gently fold 3/4 of them into the batter. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full, and sprinkle remaining berries over the tops. Pinch off bits of the cold topping, dropping them over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool until lukewarm, then turn muffins out of the silicone muffin cups (if using) so the tops are facing down. After completely cooled, store in baggies or tupperware with paper towels.

~3.5 grams net carbs per muffin (using bluberries)

Turn Up The Heat: Low Carb Chicken Curry

After experimenting with various flavors of Protein Packed Ice Cream, I had a lot of low fat cottage cheese leftover. I’ve been obsessed with pureeing cottage cheese lately. It can sub for anything creamy, sneaking in extra protein to keep you satisfied. It also makes this typical “diet food” more sexy to eat. It’s not that I don’t absolutely love heavy cream and FAGE total and all of the lovely wholesome saturated fat those contain. If you haven’t read Good Calories, Bad Calories yet, pick up it up and prepare to be blown away by what the scientific evidence really shows regarding the relationship between heart health, disease risk, and saturated fats. Hint: It’s not what the processed food-pushing establishment tells you! There are many ways to incorporate healthful natural fats into your diets: Eat grass-fed 85/15 beef and chicken thighs, use cream in your coffee, sauté with butter or coconut oil, and my favorite way–pop a square of extra dark chocolate! There can, however, be too much of a good thing, especially when you’re watching your waistline. Your body won’t tap into your stored fat if there is too much dietary fat coming in. And no, a high-protein diet won’t wear out your kidneys!

Regardless of whether you use full-fat yogurt or pureed cottage cheese, this curry is packed full of flavor and will leave you wanting more. No need to slave over a hot stove since it takes less than a half hour (he-ey, Rachel Ray!) to whip up. If your cabinet isn’t already stocked will all of these lovely spices, don’t hesitate to make the investment. You will want to make this dish over and over. The only ingredients I had to run out for were the ginger root and the garam marsala. Garam marsala, an aromatic blend of spices, is ideal for adding an Indian flair to omelets, stir fries, and other quick n’ dirty meals. The downside of making curry is that the whole house still smells like all of those wonderful spices, reminding me that my dad ate the leftovers. Guess that means I’ll have to make more…

Indian Chicken Curry
Adapted from an AllRecipes recipe

Makes 4 small servings

Ingredients:
1-3 tablespoons of oil, butter, or ghee
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon of garam marsala
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1/8-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 boneless chicken thighs or 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup plain yogurt or pureed cottage cheese (I used Friendship 1%)
3/4 cup coconut milk (lite, if you prefer)
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional–omit if you don’t like spicy foods)

Preparation:

Prep vegetables. Heat fat in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until browned and fragrant. Add garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sweetener, and sea salt, stirring around the pan for 2 minutes. Use a food processor or magic bullet to puree cottage cheese or yogurt with coconut milk and tomato paste. Add chicken and coconut milk mixture to pan. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, squeeze in the lime juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, and stir in the cayenne pepper if you’re using it. Finish with more lime juice to taste, and serve over riced cauliflower.

~6 grams net carbs per serving, using lite coconut milk and pureed cottage cheese

Riced Cauliflower

Makes four small servings

4 cups of fresh grated cauliflower
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
1/2 crumbled organic boullion cube (watch out for MSG!)

Grate cauliflower with a cheese grater. Add butter to a pan over medium heat. Stir fry cauliflower for 2 minutes, crumbling the boullion cube over it during the cooking process. Cook until just tender, and remove from pan.

~3g net carbs per serving

Garnished with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime, mm-mmmm!

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