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My daughter sent me a palella (pi-a-yah) pan along with the saffron and preferred rice from Spain many years ago, and if you want to make splash of company dinner, few things look more dramatic in the dinner realm than a huge pan of paella.  But you don’t need the paella pan, or rice, to enjoy this simple, easy-to-make, and gosh-darn-it healthy meal.

Here is a link to to authentic paella: http://www.food.com/recipe/authentic-spanish-paella-148172

My quick and easy version is less a recipe and more casual:

Ingredients: Shrimp, scallops, mussels, firm white fish like cod, boneless chicken, saffron, salt & pepper.

I begin by sautéing boneless chicken thighs or breast meat, cut into chunks; simmer until done (in a skillet or other shallow pan). If there is not enough liquid, add some chicken broth, but you don’t want it soupy. Then add the seafood you like, and cook until done. Add a pinch of saffron, salt, pepper to taste. Amounts depend on numbers eating. I use roughly 1 lb assorted seafood, 2 chicken thighs for two big servings. The saffron imparts the beautiful golden color, and subtle flavor.

You can serve with cauluflower saffron rice, or true wild rice.

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Banana Nut Bread (small loaf)

I’ve tried a few different gluten free bread recipes, mostly with less than sterling results, but I really like this banana nut bread. Flavors are as good or better than any I ever had, and nicely moist. I don’t do too many recipes with almond meal since it is calorically dense, and can be hard on the lower tract, but this recipe is a keeper, and one to have for guests. My grandkids, always my best judges of taste, liked it, so that gives the recipe two thumbs up in my rating system. Even better with a little smear of good butter.

1 med banana, mashed (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) very ripe is best
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup almond meal flour
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed meal
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Blend wet ingredients, add to dry; pour into a well-oiled small 4×6 inch ( mine is from Fat Daddio) loaf pan. You could make into muffins, just bake for about 20 minutes.
350F for 35 minutes, or until center done.
Let cool before removing from pan. Makes 8-10 slices. Refrigerate; keeps well for a few days. Should freeze well.

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Balsamic Strawberry Salad

I was an adult for a long time before I had a salad with anything besides tomato, celery, cuke, etc., but modern creative cooking has really enhanced what used to be a fairly ordinary dish. Be creative with salad, and you can whip up an attractive meal or side dish with very little effort.

This is really a light and lovely salad, and truly delicious! Easy to make, and raspberries, blueberries, blackberries are good additions as well, though I like the texture of strawberries not yet at peak ripeness best in salads.

Assemble from mixed salad greens, leaf or butter lettuce, rocket, baby spinach as the best choices.

Toss salad greens in a large bowl with your favorite balsamic vinegar & oil dressing (just enough to coat), Salt & pepper to taste. Plate the dressed greens: add quartered strawberries, some crumbled feta or blue cheese, and top with sliced or blanched almonds, or walnuts.

Non-cooks can impress with this colorful, tasty, and healthy, salad. Grilled chicken or salmon along side makes the meal.

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My Top 5 Recipe Cheats

I love to cook, but I’m not always going to have all the fresh and most desirable of ingredients on hand, so I rely on a few cheats you might find worthwhile. These are heresy to the Culinary Institute grads, but I’m not one. Home cooking is still best, so we might as well find ways to make it good and easy.

#1- I rarely use fresh garlic. I can’t stand the smell on my hands or the mess of chopping it; and I may not have any on hand. I usually only buy fresh garlic for making roasted garlic appetizers or soup. My cheat is to keep jars of minced garlic on hand. I find there is very little difference in flavor, and a lot less effort. I also use garlic powder in lots of soups, and stews, just because I like the milder flavor.

#2- I keep dried/dehydrated minced onion on hand for quick use when I don’t feel like chopping up an onion. or don’t have one in the pantry. Very good in soups, stews, casseroles. Sometimes I use dried with fresh, just for the flavor depth.

#3- Canned tomatoes are best in most cooked dishes in my opinion. Fresh is nice, but a lot of work to get to the same point.

#4-Egg whites in a carton. I buy local pastured eggs, but for a few things where you need a lot of egg white, I just buy a carton of them. They keep a long time in the refrigerator.

#5-Dried herbs are good to have on hand. I grow herbs in the summer, but half the year I don’t tend to have fresh herbs at the ready. Some things, like dill and cilantro are good only when fresh, but most herbs are fine dried, and a little rehydration works wonders.

I’ll add to the list as I think of others. If you have any good cheats, let us know.

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Moussaka My Way

I hadn’t made moussaka for years, but a pound of ground lamb and a cold snowy day was enough to make it happen.

You can find many versions of this classic Greek dish, and mine borrowed from several. You can make it spicy or not, and a bit more of one spice or another makes the dish have greater or lesser depth of flavor. So don’t hesitate to make your own tweeks to this recipe. The photo is of Bobby Flay’s version. Mine looked just like it!

Serves 6

1 pound of ground lamb ( or beef, turkey, pork)

1 small onion

2 Tbs coconut oil &/or bacon fat

salt & pepper

1-2 cloves garlic (or 1-2 tsp minced)

1/2 tsp dried chili pepper flakes

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice or nutmeg or mace

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp oregano

4 Tbs tomato paste

15 oz can chopped tomatoes

Optional: 1 T raisins or dried currants (they add a lot of flavor)

1 medium eggplant, sliced or diced. I soaked the 1/4 inch slices in salt water for a couple hours. Then dried and oiled the slices and roasted at 375F for 25 minutes.)You could just toss the eggplant in with the meat mixture for a quicker version.

Saute the meat in the oil/fat, add diced onions and after they have softened, add the remaining ingredients. Layer eggplant and meat in a 9×9 inch or similar casserole dish.

Make the Béchamel Sauce: (This makes a nice 1/2 inch thick topping on the meat that is both attractive, and delicious.)

4 T butter (I used salted)

1 cup of 1/2 &1/2, or my choice: half cream, half coconut milk (or use water with cream)

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup goat cheese (crumbled feta works well)

1/2 cup grated parmesan chees

Opt: 1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp Thickener of choice like guar gum or glucomannan or Thickitup

Melt the butter and add the cream mixture (medium high heat), then add in the beaten egg yolk, whisking well; add in the remaining ingredients, and continue to whisk well until begins to thicken a bit. Allow the mixture to cool a few minutes, remove bay leaf, then pour over the meat-eggplant mixture. Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.  Cool a bit before serving.

Just writing this recipe makes me want to go to the kitchen and make it again!

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Nut Butter Cookies

I had a jar of peanut butter in the back of my pantry for a long time, and decided to use it, though I generally avoid peanuts. My spouse raved about them, so worth the lectins for a rare treat.

1 cup Organic Peanut Butter or almond butter, Crunchy
1 large egg
10 drops liquid stevia
2 level tablespoon Psyllium Husk Powder

Soften the nut butter, add egg, stevia, and psyllium powder. Use a cookie scoop, or drop by the teaspoon, onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet to make about 14 cookies. Press down with a fork. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes–watch to not over cook. Move to a rack, and allow to cool completely.

Calories per cookie 113
Calories from Fat 80.4
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8.93g
Sodium 38.93mg
Total Carbohydrate 4.79g, net carbs 3.7
Dietary Fiber 2.1g
Protein 5g

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Scallop and Shrimp Chowder

Winter is soup and stew weather. This scallop & shrimp chowder is delicious and warming, plus studies indicate that scallops help reduce weight, probably due to the extra taurine.

1 tbsp Bacon Grease drippings
3 tbsp Butter
1 cup Heavy Cream
1-2 cups water or chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Pepper, White
8 oz Bay Scallops-raw
6 oz shrimp
1 slices Uncured Bacon
1 stalk scallion(s)
1/2 tbsp Parsley, fresh or dried

Fry bacon until crisp in a stew pot; remove bacon; add butter. Sauté celery for a minute or two in the fat, then add scallops and shrimp (I use frozen tails on shrimp), pepper, salt, (plus 1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning if you can get it), and add broth. Reduce heat to simmer, then add cream. Heat through, then add parsley. Top serving with chopped scallions and crumbled bacon.

2 servings

Calories 481
Calories from Fat 322.9
Total Fat 35.88g
Sodium 463.19mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.74g
Dietary Fiber 0.62g
Protein 36.38g

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Green Chicken Chili

This chili is my new favorite:

1 lb Ground Chicken/turkey/pork
1/2 cup Green Chili Enchilada Sauce
3 tbs Diced Green Chilis
1/2 cup chopped red and/or green Bell Pepper
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp Dried Onion Flakes or 1/4 cup chopped fresh onion
4 tbsp Cream Cheese
2 tbsp Grated Cheese, Parmesan
1 tbsp Coconut Oil &/or 1 tbsp Bacon Grease drippings

Sauté the ground meat in the coconut oil-dripping fat, add remaining ingredients, plus chicken broth or water to desired consistency. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or more.

Opt: Top with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh cilantro.

4 servings
Calories per serving: 276
8 g fat
3 g net carb

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Wrap Recipe

Sometimes you want a wrap but to avoid gluten, starches, and sugars, you have to make them yourself or pay far too much for acceptable versions. Here is one I found that is easy, and does the job. Credit goes to: http://sherigraham.com/trim-healthy-mama-homemade-gluten-free-low-carb-wrap


2.5 tablespoons golden flax meal
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of onion powder
pinch of garlic salt
3 tablespoons egg whites
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon butter

Mix all ingredients well. Pour into a greased glass pie plate and microwave for 3 minutes on High OR bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 13 minutes.

Remove from pan onto paper towel to cool.


Nutritional Information:

Calories: 100

Fat: 6.6 grams

Protein: 6.75 grams

Carbs: 5 grams

Dietary Fiber: 5 grams

That means 0 net carbs!

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G-Coffee for Extra Protein

I was finding that many days I was not getting enough protein, in part due to having to keep my over-all calories in check, but I also do weight training to gain more muscle mass, so it is important to get enough protein to maintain or gain more muscle. To make sure I was meeting the general guidelines of .7-1g of protein per pound of lean mass (1.5-2.2g per kg). I found a simple way to get that protein: my morning coffee which is my breakfast.

I already make my own version of the famous Bulletproof coffee, which I call protein coffee, using coconut milk, a little mct oil, and protein powder well blended with hot coffee. To that I now add a tablespoon of plain gelatin powder (I like the Now brand beef gelatin), to the 10-14oz of hot coffee and blend well. The gelatin has no taste so your coffee will taste no different. You really do need to use the blender, since the gelatin wants to settle, so you can get a mass of undissolved gelatin at the bottom of the cup by only stirring. It makes a little bit of a foamy top when used only with the coconut milk or cream, a bit like a cappuccino.

Some days this is also my lunch or dinner, if I’m busy.

Protein is very satiating, and often when people go on sugar-free and/or low carbohydrate eating plans, they may not get enough protein, and feel hungry; then some people over eat meat get way too much. The word is “adequate”; we need enough protein to feed our bodies, so how much we get matters. In general, women need at least 45g per day, and men 55g; but if you lead a busy, active life, and also do exercise, you may need more. Another reason why it is good to log food intake occasionally, or regularly for those trying to lose weight who don’t lose easily.

Here’s a useful link for more information of protein needs: http://www.acaloriecounter.com/diet/how-much-protein-per-day/

Nutrition Information:
Beef Gelatin Powder (Now Foods)
1 tablespoon (10 g)
35g calories
0g fat
0g carb
9g protein
0g fiber

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