Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes · Whole30

Just Beet It! Beet Purée

I’ll be honest, for most of my life beets have been a hard limit. No way, no how, they were not going in my mouth. The taste was fine, a little earthy, whatever; but the texture, ugh I could not get over that texture – and so I spent all my life pushing away my grandma’s borscht and every fancy beet salad at nice restaurants.

“What changed?” you ask. For one, taste buds evolve as you get older. There are so many foods that I used to despise as a child that I love now (mushrooms for one). This doesn’t really help if you have a thing with texture though, so let me just get to the beet story: I recently had the extreme pleasure of ordering my Passover Seder plate contents from authentic-Russian/Ukrainian Portland powerhouse Kachka. Let me just say, if you’re in Portland and looking for a place to eat – you will not be disappointed.

One of the components of the Seder plate is commonly a shank bone or lamb chop, but vegetarians often use root vegetables. Kachka’s z’roah was a phenomenal lamb chop with a beetroot purée. Guys, listen to me when I tell you, this was the most amazing vegetable item I had ever put in my mouth. I licked my plate clean… and the container the purée came in, and the Seder plate, and The Boyfriend’s plate. Revelation: I love beets, and have been on a mission to recreate the recipe since this discovery (took me about… four days). Kachka let me know that their recipe uses a bit of honey which I have obviously omitted as it is not a slow carb compliant ingredient, but feel free to add some in on cheat day or if you’re eating paleo!

If you have never worked with beets before, don’t panic! I hadn’t either, but it was very easy!

For this recipe, you will need: 
Clean kitchen gloves (or two pairs disposable gloves)
Large pot with lid
Strainer (optional, but recommended)
Blender or food processor

Ingredients: 
1 bunch red beets (3-4 large beets)
1-2 tsp olive oil
~ 2 tbsp warm water
Salt, to taste

While wearing gloves, remove greens from beets. Leave the beets whole including the roots (the long skinny part) and about 2″ of the stem – this will help keep the red color from going all over the place. Place the beets in a pot, season with salt to taste, and cover with water.

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Cover pot with lid and bring water to a boil. Allow beets to boil until tender, about 40-45 minutes (very large beets may need some more time). Immediately drain beets and rinse them in cold water for 1-2 minutes. While wearing gloves, gently peel the skins off the beets – they should just slip right off along with the root, no peelers needed!

Allow beets to cool on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes. I gently cut the beets into a few large pieces so the insides would cool as well.

Once beets are cool to the touch, add them to the bowl of your blender or food processor with salt, olive oil, and 1 tbsp warm water. Blend until smooth or desired texture. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed – if your purée is very thick, you may need to add a bit more water or oil – and blend again.

Serve as is, or refrigerate and serve cool (I like it cold). Eat within 2-3 days.

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Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Snacks

XXX: Spiced Up Chicken Salad

With the very last of our warm weather, we’ve been using the grill basically every day, and this meal was no different. Since I first came up with this dish, we’ve had it at least three times and it is definitely a new house staple.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1-2 tsp za’atar
1-2 tsp harissa
2 tsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)

For Salad:
1/2 cup sugar-free mayo or to taste
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, drizzle oil over chicken thighs. Add harissa and za’atar and mixed gently until coated well. Grill on medium heat until cooked through (or oven roast at 425*F for about 20 minutes). If you are grilling chicken specifically for this recipe, let the meat cool completely and refrigerate for at least an hour before chopping – you don’t want the onions to soften or the mayo to melt! I specifically made extra so I’d have leftovers to make this spiced up chicken salad for lunch the next day, so I’m working with meat right out of the fridge.

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To a large bowl, add chopped 1/2 of a sweet yellow or Walla Walla onion. I highly recommend chopping the onion quite fine, I don’t think I went small enough and ended up with lots of mayo-covered onion at the bottom of the bowl (though The Boyfriend did not seem to mind this and cleaned out both plates).

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, coarsely chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add to the chopped onion. I have been relying on my squeeze-tube mayo lately, but I am estimating that I used about 3/4 cup. This really comes down to personal preference, so add a little bit at a time, stirring and tasting until you get to your desired consistency and flavor. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon to taste and mix well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Recommend eating within 24-36 hours.

Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Devilish Egg Salad

I really love eggs, like.. a lot. They are the perfect slow carb food: one chicken egg packs 6g of protein, 5g of fat, less than 1g of sugar, as well as vitamins A, D, B-6, and B-12. As you can imagine, we eat a lot of eggs in this house. Duck, quail, chicken, I love ’em all. I also really really love deviled eggs, but rarely have the patience to neatly put them together when it’s just for The Boyfriend and myself. Enter: the deviled egg salad – same ingredients, half the time, and you don’t have to share if you don’t want to. (For the real deal, check out my Top Secret Deviled Eggs).

Appliances/Special Equipment:
1 medium-sized pot
1 medium-large mixing bowl
1 small baking spatula (rubber or silicone)
1 egg slicer or sharp knife

Ingredients: 
5 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 anchovy fillets (canned in oil)
1/2 tsp oil from canned anchovies
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika

Prepare eggs to medium temperature, according to The Perfect Boiled Egg (~5 minutes), and peel immediately. Using a sharp knife or egg slicer, cut the eggs in half, and then again into small pieces. Add chopped eggs to mixing bowl.

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Using two forks, shred anchovies into small pieces; add extra anchovies if you like saltier foods. To the eggs, add 1/4 cup mayonnaise, shredded anchovies, 1/2 tsp of oil from the anchovies, paprika, and white pepper. Gently mix with rubber/silicone spatula, making sure to just coat the egg whites and yolks rather than making a mushy mess – you want this to hold up as a salad, after all.

Transfer egg salad to a serving dish or resealable container – other than looking pretty, this is a good way to make sure everything at the bottom was mixed well without risking it turning into mush.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving (or just dig in if no one’s watching).

Kid-Friendly · Pork · Recipes · Skills/Techniques · Snacks

Render: Maximizing Bacon Fat

While I’m not particularly interested in the fake bacon flavor that seems to be found in everything these days, there are few things better than real, freshly cooked bacon. I love bacon, I really do, and now there’s a way to get some of that savory goodness every day without destroying your kitchen daily: rendering bacon fat. This is obviously not a new concept, I’m sure people have saved bacon grease since bacon was first discovered, but I struggled with the process for a while before I found a system that really works for me. If you have a fat rendering method that you love, more power to you, I’m just here to share my method for those still working on a way to cook with bacon grease on the regular.

Reserved bacon fat is excellent for quick meals like fried eggs or adding some flavor to simple dishes. Remember though, this will have a lower smoke point than other oils so if it’s crispy mushrooms you’re looking for, head for the olive or avocado oils.

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
2 medium-sized heat proof bowls (glass recommended)
1 medium-sized heat proof container with airtight seal (Pyrex recommended)
1 small-medium non-stick pan, at least 2″ deep
1 small fine mesh strainer (3″ – 4″)
1 pair heat-safe tongs (not plastic)

Ingredients: 
5 slices pork bacon, thick-cut (7 slices regular cut)

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Using a sharp knife, slice the bacon into small chunks – I usually keep the strips together when removing from the package and cut them all at once, 6-7 pieces per slice. Separate the pieces so they aren’t all stuck together.

Heat a non-stick pan, at least 2″ deep, over medium heat. Add bacon to pan and fry over medium heat, turning often with tongs, until all pieces are cooked through – the idea here is to render or melt as much fat as possible without burning the meat. I usually cook until the bacon is just slightly crispier than my personal preference (The Boyfriend will eat it all anyway).

Using the tongs, gently “shake off” excess fat from bacon pieces and remove them to heat-safe bowl. Place the mesh strainer over the second bowl and carefully pour the grease from the pan through the strainer into the bowl. Repeat by straining the grease from the bowl through the mesh into the heat-safe container. You should strain your bacon fat at least twice, as described above, but the more times you do it, the “purer” your fat will be – the fat in the photo above was strained three times.

Eat fried bacon pieces within 12 hours. Store rendered fat in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Breakfast · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Snacks · Whole30

The Perfect Boiled Egg

From a distance, boiling an egg seems like the simplest task of all things food. I’m here to tell you this is false. In my years of egg loving and eating, there have been many an overcooked yolk, exploded shells, and deformed whites. Properly boiling an egg is damn near a science, and I’ve finally figured it out.

Whether it’s soft-, medium-, or hard-boiled eggs you’re after, I’ve got the answer for you right here. No matter what I’m making, this is the process I follow and it’s served me well e

Ingredients: 
6 large eggs, preferably a week old (farm fresh if possible)
1/2 tsp baking soda

Equipment: 
1 medium-sized pot

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Sprinkle with coarse salt and dig in!

Place the eggs in the bottom of the pot, coat with 1/2 tsp baking soda, and cover with water at least 2″ over the eggs. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow water to continue boiling for the following times:

Soft-boiled eggs: 3 minutes
Medium-boiled: 5-6 minutes (pictured)
Hard-boiled: 8+ minutes

If you are boiling eggs for something like my Top Secret Deviled Eggs, I usually let them go for about 10 minutes.

Immediately remove pot from heat and place in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs for about two minutes. Alternatively, remove eggs from the pot using a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of cold water and ice (prepare ahead of time).

Peel the eggs – the sooner the better. I do this by lightly tapping them on the edge of the sink or the counter, starting at the top and going down around the whole egg lengthwise. Repeat this process across the width of the egg (horizontal).

Information · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Restaurants · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

The Controversial Carrot: Pureed

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We’re back! I’m back! As I shared in my last post, The Boyfriend and I went off to celebrate his 30th birthday by exploring Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC this past weekend. We had a great time, a lovely experience with airbnb (our first), and ate an insane amount of great food. We only spent one night/day in Seattle, but thankfully got to spend some time at Pike Place Market (and picked up some of the most beautiful produce I’ve ever seen). On Saturday, we ventured out to Gastown in Vancouver for birthday dinner at L’Abbatoir and I tried sweetbreads for the first time! I’m proud to report, they are delicious. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the guts to prepare them myself, but definitely won’t shy away the next time I see it on a menu. (I will post plenty of pictures from our adventure once I have finished sorting through all of them!)

One last thing before we get to the recipe: I need your help! Yes, you! Right there! Saveur Magazine is holding their 5th annual Best Food Blog Awards and it would mean the world to me if you would take a few seconds and help nominate my blog for “Best Special Diets” blog HERE. Note: multiple categories are absolutely permitted, so feel free to click “new blog” and “cooking blog” too if you want. I will love you forever!

Okay, now on to the rebellion! The carrot is absolutely a controversial veggie for slow carb eaters, and should be eaten in moderation (if at all). That said, The Boyfriend and I did just get back from vacation so our fridge is practically empty, and my body is seriously craving some fresh veggies. I rarely use carrots otherwise so I’m going to let this one go and enjoy my vitamin-packed purée. You will need an immersion blender or food processor to complete this recipe, links to my products of choice are below.

So. Many. Carrots.
So. Many. Carrots.

Ingredients: 
5 lbs whole carrots
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 15-oz can butter beans, drained and rinsed
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ghee or grass-fed butter
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)

Seasoning: 
2 tsp salt (for the water)
freshly cracked salt, to taste
freshly cracked white pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Immersion blender (recommended) or food processor

Remove any carrots split down their entire length (they are a pain in the @$$ to peel and I don’t like ’em), remove ends from remaining carrots and discard. Peel carrots and chop into rounds, 1″-2″ in length.

Add chopped carrots to a large stockpot with 2 tsp of salt, cover with water at least 1″ over the carrots and bring to a boil. Allow carrots to simmer for 30 minutes.

After the carrots have been simmering for about 15 minutes, begin the second half of the purée:
In a second, smaller stockpot, combine the butter beans, onion, and garlic with 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tbsp rice vinegar over medium-low heat. Stir often, gently mashing the beans as they begin to soften.

Once the carrots have simmered for 30 minutes and are mashable (you can test this with the back of a wooden spoon), drain and add carrots back to the stockpot. Return pot to stove over medium heat and dump contents from second pot into the carrots (bean mixture). Add 1 tbsp of oil as well as your salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir well.

Using an immersion blender in the pot, or transferring the carrot mixture to a food processor, blend until desired texture is reached – I like it mostly smooth with the occasional chunk of carrot.

Finish with a sprinkle of coarse salt before serving (optional).

Date Night · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Pucker-Up Pickle Pucks

After 21+ years of not eating pickles, I have fallen in love again just in time for Valentine’s Day. These aren’t the greasy fried pickles you’re used to seeing on pub menus, but they’re a great snack or side dish for dinner, and if your person loves pickles as much as The Boyfriend does, they’re the perfect pick for your home-cooked Valentine’s Day meal!

Ingredients: 
2 large whole pickles
3/4 cup chickpea flour
2 cups vegetable or coconut oil

Seasoning: 
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
2-3 tsp Cocky Cajun Seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper

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Pour 2 cups vegetable or coconut oil in a small pot and heat on medium-high to 350*F – the pot doesn’t need to be full, just enough to cover the pickle rings. Note: if you do not have an oil thermometer, which I don’t, a great way to see if your oil is hot enough is by dipping the handle end of a wooden utensil in the oil. If bubbles begin to form around the wood and float up, your oil is hot enough and you’re ready to start frying.

Using a sharp knife, remove end pieces from pickles in a thin slice then cut pickles into rings about 1/2″ thick. In a medium-sized bowl combine the chickpea flour, salt, Cajun seasoning, cayenne, and black pepper; mix well. Toss the pickle rings in the flour mixture and coat evenly on all sides.

Prepare a clean plate with a paper towel. Fry the pickle pucks in batches for 1-2 minutes and remove to the paper towel to drain. Finish with a pinch of salt.

Serve immediately, as is or with sauce of choice (I mixed mayonnaise with 1 tsp of chipotle powder).

ICE · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Snacks

ICE: Chocolate PB Bites

Like the protein pancake recipe I posted last week, this recipe is for emergencies only! ICE (In Case of Emergency) is a new category in the SlowCarbSnacktime world – sweet treats that are technically slow carb, but should not be consumed on a regular basis.

Having said all that, I recently discovered the absolute amazingness that is PB2. If you’ve never seen it before, it is a powdered peanut butter that you can mix with water to create actual peanut butter (I got mine at Fred Meyer, but I’ve seen it at Target too). It is amazing with bananas (for cheat day!), on coconut milk ice cream, and mixed in with dark chocolate for these tasty puppies.

You can use something like a SilPat (or any silicone baking sheet) to recreate a solid chocolate bar, but I used a silicone mini muffin pan for individual servings. They came out super rich so you will only need 1-2 to satisfy even the most ridiculous of cravings.

Ingredients: 
50g (that’s 1.75 oz) dark chocolate, 85% or darker*
3-4 tsp PB2
1-2 tsp coconut oil
Non-stick coconut oil spray

*I use one bar from a 2-pack of the Trader Joe’s 85% cacao “Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar” and get my coconut oil spray from TJ’s as well.

Using a sharp knife, coarsely chop your chocolate bar – this will help the chocolate melt a little faster. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl heat chocolate for about 30 seconds. Stir in 3 tsp of PB2 with a fork (you lose less chocolate this way) and add coconut oil. Continue microwaving in 15-second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is completely melted.

Spray baking sheet or mini muffin pan with coconut oil spray. If using baking sheet, place baking sheet on a cutting board (so you have a solid base), pour all of the chocolate mixture onto the sheet, and spread into a thin layer. If using a mini muffin pan, fill each cup about 1/4 full (seriously, these are really rich, 1/4 is enough I promise). Sprinkle top with additional PB2 for “garnish” (optional). Refrigerate for about 40 minutes and enjoy!

Store any uneaten PB bites in the fridge.

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Edit: This recipe was updated on 11 March 2014.

Breakfast · ICE · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Skills/Techniques · Snacks · Vegetarian

ICE: Pancake Power-Up

You do not need to check your vision, it really says pancakes! I have seen paleo and gluten-free pancake recipes for about as long as I’ve been blogging, without once ever finding a slow carb variation. In case of emergency (ladies, you know what I’m talking about), you can now finally indulge in some guilt-free relatively-fluffy goodness! I repeat – in case of emergency! Slow Carb-ers should not be eating this stuff every day, but it is absolutely a great treat if you really need a sweet boost (or you’ve got a long day of weightlifting ahead of you).

The first time I played with this recipe, I made a huge mess (as I am prone to do), but The Boyfriend got me a pancake pen and I swear it is a gift from the gods. No worries if you’re not using one, but if you have one, load ‘er up! I got about a dozen silver-dollar-sized pancakes, so adjust measurements accordingly. If your batter seems too thick, don’t be afraid to add a bit more milk-of-choice (I’m using unsweetened coconut milk) or coffee.

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Ingredients: 
1 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 cup protein powder (I’m using MP Combat Powder – Cookies & Cream)
1 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
1 jumbo egg (like the biggest you can find)
1/4 tsp psyllium seed husks
1.5 tsp ground flaxseed
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp coffee (optional)
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix well (I found a fork the most useful for this). If using a pancake pen, pour batter into the container and screw lid on tight – I would highly recommend mixing the batter and then pouring it into the pen rather than trying to mix inside because you will end up with giant clumps (per Mama Bear’s advice).

Heat vegetable or coconut oil in a non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. Using a large spoon or your pancake pen, pour batter into the pan to form small pancakes (about the size of the palm of your hand), making sure not to overcrowd the pan – I made them two or three at a time in my little non-stick skillet. Cook until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side.

Note: If you are skilled at making pancakes, feel free to use less oil on your pan/griddle, but this is a new skill for me and I found that adding a bit of oil before every “batch” got the edges to crisp up a bit faster making them easier to flip – a large spatula doesn’t hurt either.

Date Night · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes · Whole30

Date Night Zoodles

I’ve had my little 3-in-1 peeler for months now, and still haven’t toyed with the julienne feature. Recently I discovered a new option for “pasta night” in a slow carb household, simultaneously a perfect recipe for whipping out the “julienner” (not a real word): zoodles! Thin strips of zucchini made with a julienne peeler or spiral slicer, these guys can be eaten raw but cook super fast and make for an excellent pasta replacement either way!

Note: Zucchini does have a decent amount of sugar as far as SCD-friendly vegetables go, so I would not recommend having this be a staple in your diet. It’s really great for kids or for a quick meal, but not an everyday indulgence (if you are following the slow carb diet).

Ingredients: 
2-3 large zucchini
1 tsp minced garlic (optional)
2 tsp olive oil (optional)

Wash two large zucchini under cold water, rinse well. Cut the “butt” end off each squash – I left the tops on so I had something to hold on to. Using your julienne peeler, slice down the length of the courgette, slowly rotating with each slice to get an even cut all around (the first time I did this, I didn’t rotate my zuke and it ended up breaking in half when the middle got too thin). Continue “peeling” zucchini until there is almost nothing left, periodically removing zoodles to a separate bowl.

So far, I’ve come up with three serving options (but if you come up with something else, please share):
* Serve raw as a base (like I did with our Shakshuka yesterday) or side dish.
* Nuke for 2-3 minutes in a microwave safe bowl with a sprinkle of salt and a touch of olive oil – drain water before serving.
* Quickly stir-fry with minced garlic for a crunchy addition to your favorite dish – cooking too long will turn the “noodles” to mush, so pay attention to cooking time.

Honestly, I think if you are serving these with another hot dish, raw is the way to go, but experiment on your own and share what worked best!

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