Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Zucchini "Pasta" Primavera

This "pasta" dish is not pasta at all!  It is a delicious, creamy primavera with pancetta over zucchini noodles.  Using a spiral slicer, mandolin or box grater (shred lengthwise), it is easy to create vegetable noodles (see my earlier post to learn how).  Using vegetable noodles (by themselves or mixed with a little gluten free pasta) is one of my greatest carb-lowering tricks.  My pasta-lovin' non-diabetic husband was completely satisfied with this amazing meal and didn't miss the carbs, at all.  I think you'll agree and, like me, return to this healthy recipe again and again.

Zucchini "Pasta" Primavera
(Makes 4 servings)

1/2 TB olive oil
2 large zucchini, made into noodles (about 6 cups)
3 oz. pancetta, diced (omit for meat free version)
1-1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1-1/2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 TB dried)
1-1/2 cups almond milk
2 TB gluten free flour
1/3 cup sour cream (for a dairy free version, use Tofutti)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (for dairy free, use finely crushed macadamias)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TB shredded Parmesan cheese (optional topping)

1.  This dish comes together quickly, so have all the vegetables cut up and ready. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add zucchini noodles, season with salt and pepper, cover and allow to steam until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally.  When noodles are just beginning to soften, remove from heat, drain and set aside.

2.  While the zucchini noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce in another skillet.  In a large skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat until fat is rendered and beginning to crisp.  (If not using pancetta, heat 2 TB olive oil.) Add asparagus and broccoli, sauté briefly and cover for a few minutes until vegetables are bright green and tender-crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, remove vegetables and pancetta to a medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Add garlic and oregano; sauté until fragrant.  Add gluten free flour and stir constantly until beginning to brown.  Remove from heat and add almond milk while stirring constantly, stir until smooth.  Return to heat and continue cooking and stirring until sauce boils and thickens.  Return vegetables and pancetta to pan.  Add the tomatoes, sour cream, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Stir until well combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Add the drained zucchini noodles to the skillet and stir until well coated with the sauce.  Serve immediately topped with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving: 228 calories, 17 g carbohydrate (4.7 g dietary fiber, 7.2 g sugar), 13.4 g total fat (5.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 28 mg cholesterol, 781 mg sodium, 346 mg calcium, 780 mg potassium, 13.2 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Saucy Stroganoff

This is a hubby favorite that goes way back!  When we were first married (over 30 years ago), I was an adventurous new cook and sometimes enjoyed trying challenging recipes.  Once for a special occasion, I made classic Beef Stroganoff and, it was such a hit, that it soon became a favorite.  In this more casual, weekday version, instead of using sliced steak, I use ground beef.  Because of the lower price tag, I can make it more often and I don't hear my husband complaining about that!  For an added health benefit, I suggest using grass-fed ground beef which has a healthier combination of fats than commercially processed beef, plus it gives this dish a richer flavor.  Ground turkey can be substituted, if you prefer.  This is a quick and easy recipe that I'm sure will become a favorite of your family, too.

Saucy Stroganoff
(Makes 4 servings)

2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 TB coconut or grape seed oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef or ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups beef stock
2 TB gluten free flour mix or cornstarch
1 TB gluten free Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1/2 cup sour cream (or Tofutti, for a dairy free version)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a dry skillet heated to medium, sweat the sliced mushrooms until the moisture has evaporated.  Spoon mushrooms into a bowl; set aside.

2.  Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove onions to the bowl with the mushrooms; set aside.

3.  Heat skillet to medium-high and add ground beef.  Sauté until no longer pink and the meat has begun to brown.  Meanwhile, while the meat is cooking, in a small bowl stir together the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and GF flour or cornstarch until lumps no longer remain; set aside.  

4.  Add the minced garlic, thyme, sage, onion and mushrooms to the meat and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Stir the beef stock mixture well before adding it to the pan and then stir constantly until it reaches a boil.  When the mixture boils, turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.

5.  Remove skillet from heat and stir in the sour cream until well combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve immediately.  Optional: Serve over brown rice, gluten free noodles or vegetable noodles.  (Pictured here with oven roasted carrot ribbons, based on this recipe by Sally Cameron: http://afoodcentriclife.com/roasted-carrots-with-thyme/)

Nutritional Information per serving (not including rice or noodles): 333 calories, 11 carbohydrates (1.6 g dietary fiber, 4.3 g sugar), 15 g total fat (7.7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 114 mg cholesterol, 468 mg sodium, 68.4 mg calcium, 778 mg potassium, 37.2 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Candy Balls

When I was a child, one of the favorite treats I might find in my Easter basket was a Russell Stover Chocolate Coconut Nest!  I loved the combination of creamy chocolate and the chewy texture of the coconut.  The company has changed their recipe over the years and, to me, it no longer satisfies my memories from childhood -- not to mention that as a diabetic I really shouldn't be eating candy bars anymore!  This recipe has all the flavor of the original candy, but its so much better!  It's reduced in sugar and uses coconut oil as a base, which has many healthful benefits.  If you're looking for a fun and easy holiday treat, give these a try!

Chocolate Coconut Candy Balls
Makes about 8-10 candies

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon 100% stevia powder (or stevia drops to taste)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, stir the dry ingredients until well combined.  Add the coconut oil, honey and extract and mix thoroughly, until all dry ingredients have been moistened.  Using a tablespoon (or very small cookie scoop), spoon a tablespoon of coconut mixture into your hand and gently roll and press until it forms into a ball.  Place on a cookie sheet and press down slightly to flatten the bottom of the candy.  Repeat with the remaining coconut mixture.  Bake in a preheated 190-degree oven for 50-60 minutes.  (The point is to slowly dehydrate the candies, not actually bake them.)  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the cookie sheet before removing to an airtight container.

Nutritional Information per candy: 79 calories, 5.3 g carbohydrate (1.2 g dietary fiber, 3.2 g sugar), 6.9 g total fat (5.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 26 mg sodium, 6.2 mg calcium, 14 mg potassium, 1 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014