Tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables/fruits currently increase my inflammation and pain levels so I’m always looking for alternatives. Last week I made an Italian plum based barbecue sauce that tasted surprisingly like tomato based sauces so I decided to experiment. I have an almost endless supply of plums this time of year thanks to my parents trees so I brought home a bucket of them along with onion and celery from their garden.
The sauce turned out much better than I expected. It looks and tastes more like a classic tomato sauce than the beet based sauce I’ve used in the past. My basic recipe is below, but be aware that I canned this sauce so the recipe makes 4-5 quarts. Ingredient amounts were approximated and will likely need to be adjusted based on the sweetness of the plums you’re using. To cut down the sweetness enough to mimic tomato sauce I used salt preserved lemons I made months ago. Lemon zest and additional salt may be used as an alternative. Be aware that excessive consumption of plums in any form can have a laxative effect.
9-10lbs plums, washed and pitted
1/2 cup white or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 large onion, rough chopped
1 preserved lemon, seeds removed
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 Tbs fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1-2 Tbs salt
Combine all ingredients except salt in a large stock pot or slow cooker. Simmer on low until onions and celery are cooked through and plums are broken down, stirring frequently. Puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Add salt and adjust seasoning or acid to suit your taste. Simmer further until the sauce reaches your desired consistency and flavor. Serve over your favorite pasta or pasta alternative and freeze or hot water bath can the remainder of the sauce.
Crustless quiches, aka baked fritattas, are one of my go-to dishes when I want an easy and nutritious meal. This one was inspired by what I had on hand. I made my own beef Italian style sausage by seasoning ground beef, but I would have used pork or turkey Italian sausage if I had it readily available so I wrote the recipe as if using Italian sausage. I used prewashed and cut kale from a bag, but sorted through the pieces and removed the heavy veins and stems for more even cooking and easier eating. If using whole kale leaves, remove the central veins and stems prior to chopping.
1 lb ground Italian sausage or links removed from casings
3-4 cups (6oz) kale leaves, washed & cut
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs milk or water
2 Tbs dried parsley
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a pie pan with cooking spray, I prefer coconut or avocado oil sprays. Saute sausage with olive oil, onion, garlic, and parsley until cooked through. Add balsamic vinegar and kale and cook until the kale is wilted. Add salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pour into prepared pie pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs with water or milk, fennel seeds, basil, thyme, and oregano. Add salt & pepper to season. Add 1/4 cup cheese to the egg mixture and stir well. Pour eggs and cheese mixture over the meat and kale mixture. Gently stir and even out the top. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and the eggs are cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Before I started my low sugar diet cake was only a vehicle for frosting. I remember one birthday where my mom handed me a can of store bought cream cheese frosting and a table knife, my preferred utensil for eating frosting, instead of a slice of cake. I still love frosting, but it’s more of a challenge to find or make a good low sugar one. Lately my default frosting recipe is heavy cream whipped into stiff peaks with a tablespoon or two of sugar free instant pudding powder, usually either cheese cake or vanilla flavor, and additional powdered stevia-erythritol blend for sweetness if necessary. This week for my birthday I wanted a more authentic cream cheese frosting for the strawberry cupcakes I made. My previous go-to cream cheese frosting recipe involved a pound of butter, a pound of powdered sugar, half a pound of cream cheese, and some vanilla. First, I didn’t need that much frosting for my six little cupcakes and second, I wanted something lighter and more fluffy since powdered stevia-erythritol blend doesn’t provide as much structure as powdered sugar. I came up with the recipe below using whipped cream as a base instead of butter. If I had thought far enough in advance, I would have used whipped cream cheese, too. The recipe is easily doubled if you need more frosting. This was the perfect amount for 6 cupcakes.
1 cup heavy cream
4oz cream cheese, softened
3 Tbs powdered stevia-erythritol blend
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl whip heavy cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. In another medium bowl cream together softened cream cheese, stevia-erythritol blend, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until well combined. Add half the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and whisk together gently until evenly combined. Fold the rest of the whipped cream into the cream cheese and whipped cream mixture until well combined. Use immediately or chill until needed.
If you’re familiar with this page then you know I love waffles and often experiment with new waffle recipes looking for a good low carb waffle that is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The addition of unflavored whey protein isolate makes these waffles almost perfect.
I served them with strawberries, homemade low sugar raspberry-blackberry syrup, and goat butter. I haven’t worked on a low carb faux maple syrup recipe, yet.
1 cup super fine almond flour
1/4 cup whey protein isolate powder, unflavored
3 Tbs butter, melted
3 Tbs water
2 tsp stevia-erythritol blend
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract (optional)
Pre-heat waffle iron and spray with avocado or coconut cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, whey protein powder, stevia-erythritol blend, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Add eggs, water, melted butter, and flavoring extract and whisk together. Pour or spoon batter into waffle iron and cook according to manufacture’s instructions. Serve with your favorite waffle toppings.
I use this simple dressing on tacos, salads, coleslaw, and other dishes that pair well with this flavor combination. Coconut milk can be substituted for the kefir yogurt to make it dairy free and other herbs can be used to change the flavor profile; I’ve used parsley, tarragon, basil, and/or fennel. A half cup plain yogurt and a half cup of milk can be used in place of kefir.
1 cup plain kefir yogurt
1 medium ripe avocado, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
juice of one lime
salt & pepper to taste
Combine kefir, avocado, cilantro, and lime juice in a blender cup and puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on Mexican inspired salads or dishes. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
I found some great grain free chewy granola bars a couple of weeks ago, but they were sweetened with honey and maple syrup, which doesn’t fit very well into my eating plan. I decided to make my own based on my multi-seed cracker recipe and using unsweetened apple sauce to add the chewiness created by the honey and maple syrup.
I used the raw nuts and seeds I had on hand: cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pepitas along with unsweetened shredded coconut. I think the bars would have been better if I had lightly toasted the nuts and seeds first. I also didn’t like the pepitas in the bars so removed them from the recipe and increased the coconut. You can use any mix of nuts and seeds you like as long as the proportions stay the same. I plan to use almonds rather than cashews next time. For slightly sweeter, more sugar-like flavor 2-4 tablespoons of stevia-erythritol blend can be added.
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped cashews
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 Tbs ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp stevia extract
1 tsp vanilla extraxt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a quarter sheet baking pan (13″x9″) with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and oil the sides of the pan with coconut oil. In a medium bowl, add all the dry ingredients. Stir until well-combined and all the nuts and seeds are evenly coated in cinnamon. Add apple sauce, egg, stevia extract, and vanilla extract. Stir until well-combined. Turn the nut and seed mixture out on the prepared baking sheet, spreading it evenly with the back of a spoon or off-set spatula. Press down firmly to pack down the nuts and seeds. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 even sized bars. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the bars are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the bars and breaking them apart. Store in an air tight container for up to a week; refrigerate or freeze for a longer shelf life.
This is my second and most successful attempt at making low sugar, dairy free chocolate truffles in the past week. I used Swerve sweetener the first time and didn’t add cocoa butter. They turned out okay, but the erythritol recrystalized upon cooling, giving the chocolate a gritty texture, and the baker’s chocolate was too bitter with just coconut cream and sweetener. The cocoa butter made a huge difference in flavor, making it more like milk chocolate. It also improved the texture, making it as smooth as silk. I probably could have reduced the cocoa butter to 1 ounce and/or the coconut cream to a 1/4 cup; at room temperature the truffles are a little soft, but the flavor is so good I don’t mind.
To sweeten unsweetened chocolate the ratio is 1 tablespoon of sugar per ounce of chocolate. I used the same ratio for cocoa butter. In this recipe I used my favorite brand of stevia-erythritol blend that I powdered in a spice grinder so it didn’t become grainy upon cooling instead of Swerve. Since stevia-erythritol blends are twice as sweet as sugar, I used 3 tablespoons per 6 ounces of chocolate and cocoa butter.
I didn’t temper the chocolate so it doesn’t have that beautiful shine of tempered chocolate. You can find two methods of tempering chocolate at the Ghirardelli website. This recipe has optional macadamia nuts since I had them on hand and I love the combination of macadamia nuts and chocolate; they can be eliminated or substituted with another variety of nut. I plan to make low sugar peanut butter cups with this recipe in the near future. I used an ice cube tray with a silicone bottom sprayed with coconut oil as a mold for these truffles; the chocolate was too soft to roll into balls until it cooled down.
4 oz baker’s chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz cocoa butter, finely chopped
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, optional
1/3 cup coconut cream
3 Tbs stevia-erythritol blend, powdered
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients except nuts in a heat safe bowl or a double boiler. Bring a small pot of water or bottom of a double boiler with 2-3 inches of water in it to a low simmer and place the bowl/pot on top of it; the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir frequently with a silicone or metal spoon until the chocolate and cocoa butter are completely melted and the texture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the nuts. Spoon chocolate mixture into prepared molds. Chill until completely cool before removing from mold. Store in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place.