Roasted Spaghetti Squash


Spaghetti squash 1

Spaghetti squash has become a fall / winter staple for me, especially when I’m craving noodles.  You can treat the roasted spaghetti squash like you would noodles- toss it in sauce, bake it into a casserole, stir fry it with veggies, top it with butter and Parmesan, etc.  I even used it to make a Pad Thai style dish!  The roasted squash also stays well in the fridge once you “spaghetti” it, so it’s convenient if you want a quick dinner.

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Butterscotch Pretzel Crunch


Butterscotch Caramel Crunch 1

Sweet, salty, nutty, crunchy, chewy… a constellation of different flavors and textures packed into one tiny bite makes these treats incredibly addictive!  The savory pecan and pretzel provides a nice balance for the sweet chocolate and butterscotch.  Honestly, the hardest part is finding the mini pretzels and chocolate covered butterscotch (see picture below for what I use).  If you can’t find the chocolate covered butterscotch, you can use chocolate covered caramels.

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Candy Cane Oreo Truffles


Candy Cane Truffle

I made 100 of these minty, chocolaty truffles last year for a holiday party, and they disappeared in minutes!  They aren’t true truffles since the inside is more like a moist cake than a silky ganache, making it have an unexpected texture inside.  For the relatively few ingredients and simplicity, they make a great festive treat! If you are running short on time, roll it in cocoa powder instead of giving it a dark chocolate coating.  However, if you do a dark chocolate coating, you can decorate them!  Some decoration ideas are: crushed candy cane, edible glitter, a pinch of the cookie crumbs, chocolate drizzle, mint leaves, etc.

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Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Pots


Chocolate Pot

I LOVE this dessert- it is so rich and velvety and indulgent.   These chocolate pots are a staple because they only require 5 ingredients, which I usually have at home.  As an added bonus, it’s easy to adapt the chocolate pots to suit the season or occasion (see variations below the recipe).  The most important thing is to make sure you use really good chocolate.  Since the recipe is so few ingredients, the chocolate really stands out.  The recipe I have below is for two servings (making more is dangerous for me!), but just scale up the recipe if you need more.

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Cherry Ice Cream (eggless)


Cherry Ice Cream

It’s surprisingly hard to find cherry ice cream without eggs, colors, stabilizers, and artificial flavors in the grocery store.  I like the recipe below because you still get a pretty pink color, but you aren’t adding any artificial things to the ice cream.  If you are lucky enough to get cherries in a light syrup, you can use that to replace the cherry juice and sugar (I use Trader Joe’s Morello cherries in light syrup).

Variation:  In Step 5, when you add the cherries, also add toasted almond slivers and grated dark chocolate.

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Sparkling Candied Cranberries


Sparkling Cranberries

These cranberries are sweet, tart, crunchy, and unbelievably addictive- a perfect autumn snack!  In addition to just snacking on them, I think they pair really well with cheese boards.  They are also a fun alternative to cranberry sauce for a Thanksgiving spread.  You have to plan a bit in advance since the cranberries sit in simple syrup overnight, but the actual cooking time is short.

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Garlicy Roasted Mushrooms


Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

One of the few things from Costco that I don’t need help going through is their 1.5 lb box of cremini mushrooms.  Roasting the mushrooms seems to concentrate the flavors and make them extra satisfying.  I like this recipe because its easy and uses ingredients I usually have in the house.  A pound and a half of mushrooms sounds like a lot, but they seem to disappear quickly!  There are so many ways to use these garlicy roasted mushrooms (e.g., as a side dish, with mashed potatoes, chopped up in wraps or a pasta dish, tossed in omelettes, plain, etc.)

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Pineapple-Ginger-Thyme Shrub


Pineapple Ginger Shrub

This is my year for playing with shrubs (fruity vinegar concentrate that can be mixed with water / sparkling water / alcohol to make a super refreshing drink).  I love this shrub since it uses something you normally throw away- pineapple core!  You can also use the pineapple chunks if you don’t have the core.  There is a difference if you use pineapple chunks vs pineapple core- the chunks yield a more pronounced pineapple flavors, whereas the core yields a more pronounced ginger flavor with a hint of pineapple.  I like the sweet, spicy, herby combo either way, which tastes even more fun when you dilute it with sparkling water.

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Garlic Spread


Garlic Sauce

Velvety and versatile.  I’m totally addicted to this spread- it’s so simple and adds an interesting dimension to dishes when you use it.  Although the ingredients look basic, the end result it truly greater than the sum of the parts, with no one flavor standing out.  Trader Joe’s sells a similar spread, but they use canola oil, so I wanted to make a healthier version.  I used avocado oil since I’ve been trying to incorporate more of it in my diet, but you could use any neutral tasting oil.  Note:  This spread does not heat well since it is mostly oil.

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Strawberry-Pepper Shrub


Strawberry Shrub

If you haven’t had a shrub before, it’s basically a fruity vinegar concentrate that can be mixed with water / sparkling water / alcohol to make a super refreshing drink.  I have also used this strawberry shrub to make a light vinaigrette dressing for a strawberry-baby spinach-candied pecan salad.  I’m sure there is a proper way of making it, but I like the method below because it is easy. You can let it sit longer or shorter in the fridge prior to straining depending on how strong you want the flavors to be. I wait until the strawberries look washed out and have lost some of their color.

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Baked Sriracha Lime Tofu


sriracha-baked-tofuI tried Trader Joe’s Baked Sriracha Tofu a few weeks ago and loved it!  It’s so versatile and totally changes the flavor of salads, sandwiches, stir fry, etc.  Some days, I just end up snacking on it straight.  However, I found myself adding a little more spice and sesame oil to the dishes I used it in… so why not make my own version at home?!  The recipe below has become a staple in my fridge since it’s so easy to prepare in a big batch and use throughout the week.  As an aside, I use the marinade left over from this recipe to make a stir fry sauce by dissolving 1/2 tsp of cornstarch in it and then cooking it on medium heat until it thickens and doesn’t have the whitish color from uncooked cornstarch.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Spread


choc-hazelnut-butter

As a kid, Nutella used to be one of my favorite spreads- on toast, on crackers, on cookies, in a spoon…  But I’m far more conscious about ingredients and nutrition now, and the fact that Nutella is so loaded with sugar and palm oil somehow makes it less appetizing.   On my quest to find a healthier chocolate hazelnut spread to satisfy my Nutella craving, the options seem to fall short.  “Sugar-free” appears synonymous with “sugar substitute added” (and I don’t like the aftertastes).  Raw and organic options were gritty instead of creamy.  Some options had too many extraneous ingredients…  Eventually, I figured I should just try making it at home to suit my preferences.  Four ingredients and 3 batches later… I settled on a recipe that I love!

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Tiger nut milk


tiger-nuts
Tiger nuts, tiger nut milk, and tiger nut flour- YUM!  Years ago, when I was visiting Spain, I tried these tiny little snacks called tiger nuts.  They were sweet and nutty, and so addictive!  Many of the places I visited also sold tiger nut milk, which tasted like dessert.  I was so surprised when I learned that they are actually root vegetables, and not nuts!   Anyhow, I saw some in the store and had to pick them up.   I started munching on them the minute I checked out at the cashier.  In addition to just snacking on them, I made tiger nut milk (soooo good when chilled). Since I couldn’t bear to waste any of the tiger nuts, I turned the fibrous pulp into “flour” and now have a new flour to play with in the kitchen.  I’ll post recipes using the flour as I work on them.

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Marinated Hearts of Palm


hearts-of-palm

I know you can buy marinated hearts of palm in a jar, ready to eat, but I just don’t like the flavor as much as marinating them myself at home (sans preservatives!).  The recipe below takes about 5 minutes, and is totally worth the effort.  I make the marinade so that I can use it as a salad dressing.  A quick lunch idea is to chop up romaine, add a handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds and these marinated hearts of palm (without draining them).

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Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake


 

keto-pumpkin-cheesecake

This has been my breakfast for the last week- and I’ve loved every bite! It’s perfect for the season, and all the spices and flavors totally make up for not adding sugar.  I really dislike the idea of using synthetic sugar substitutes, and I don’t enjoy the aftertaste of the ones I tried. That’s why I am always trying to come up with sweet recipes that don’t require sugar at all.  The flavors and textures in this cheesecake, combined with the natural sweetness from the pumpkin and dairy, make this satisfying enough that I don’t miss the sugar.  If want to add sugar, I’d go with a little maple syrup or brown sugar.

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Pumpkin “Hummus”


pumpkin-hummus

It’s pumpkin season!!!  This is a quick, easy recipe for pumpkin “hummus.”  I’m calling this hummus even though there are no chickpeas because the texture resembles hummus. The milder bean allows the pumpkin and spices to shine. I may be partial, but I think the Indian flavors complement pumpkin well to make a warm, autumny dip/spread.  I served the pumpkin hummus at party this weekend with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup Crackers. It seemed to vanish, so I’m not fussing with the recipe any more! =)  You can make this a day or two ahead of time, and it will actually be better since the extra time will allow the flavors to meld better.

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Chocolate Avocado “Mousse”


avocado-chocolate-mousse

I’ve been really craving a chocolate dessert lately.  I was walking around town, and none of the restaurants had chocolate desserts that were sugar-free (including no sugar substitutes) and gluten-free.  So… I decided to play around with making one at home.   Based on what was in my pantry, I came up with this super-easy “mousse.”  I poured the mousse into these Hazelnut Coconut crusts.  The final product is a rich, decadent, thick filling in a thin, nutty crust.  As you can see in the photo, it sliced beautifully.  I added a small amount of vanilla whipped cream before serving to lighten it up.  As a result, one small slice was so incredibly satisfying =)

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Hazelnut Coconut Pie Crust


nut-coconut-crust

This is a quick and simple crust that I use as the base for tarts/pies.  I love the texture because you can press it thin, and when it’s finished,  it still holds together, but is crumbly and easy to cut with you fork/spoon.  It’s also neutral (no sugar, pinch of salt), so it can be used for both sweet and savory tarts.  You can also add flavors to the crust if you want (cocoa powder, Italian seasoning, etc.).  The recipe below makes a thin crust for 2 4-inch tart tins or a medium thick crust for 1 6-inch tart tin.  You can scale up as needed for bigger tarts.

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Nut crackers (vegan, gluten free)


nut-crackers

One of the biggest challenges to a high-fat low carb diet is not having the bread and crackers to snack on, use to dip, or round out a meal.  Sometimes veggie sticks and cabbage leaves just don’t cut it!  I love these crackers because they at fairly easy to make, full of good fats, filling, and last for a while in an air tight container (the ones in the photo are 2 weeks old).   I have been using them to make open faces sandwiches, appetizers with flavored cream cheeses and herbs,  croutons for salad and soup, and just plain as a quick snack when I get hungry.  If you want variety, you can add spices to the mix.

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Zucchini Noodles in Light Cream Sauce


zucchini-noodles-in-light-cream-sauceThanks to my vegetable spiralizer, this whole dish took less than 10 minutes! Spiralized zucchini is an awesome substitute for spaghetti. I like it in light sauces that don’t weigh down the zucchini. The best part of this dish is that it is so versatile.  I used basil to add flavor since it’s growing on my balcony, but mint, oregano, rosemary, etc would also taste great. You can also add chopped nuts (pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc) if you want more flavor and texture.

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Coconut Butter


coconut-butter

I feel silly even posting this recipe since it’s only one ingredient, but the end product is so amazing, it’s worth it just to have people try it!  I was very thankful to have my Vitamix for this recipe since it really works the motor.  I imagine it would work in a blender or food processor, but may just take longer or be grittier.  Also, I made it unflavored so it can be more versatile, but feel free to add vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, sea salt, etc. to make whatever flavor you want.

Side note: I couldn’t bear the idea of cleaning out and wasting the coconut butter stuck to the sides of the blender container, so I made this Almond Milk right after the coconut butter in the same blender.  The residual coconut butter resulted in a slightly thicker and sweeter almond milk- delicious!

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Grilled Peach Gazpacho


Peach GazpachoAugust = peaches!!! Nothing beats fresh, ripe peaches in late summer.  I got 4 peaches, a few tomatoes, and basil in my Hungry Harvest box this week.  Instead of eating them straight or making a sweet dish, I decided to make a savory one.  The 100 degree weather has really put me in the mood for a nice, chilled gazpacho.  I wanted to add a little more flavor to the gazpacho without adding too many ingredients, so I grilled the peaches before adding them.  I also had this Mango White Balsamic Vinegar, which added the tart and sweet flavors without being too punchy or overpowering the other ingredients.  I listed the topping as optional since some people prefer smooth gazpacho, while I prefer the texture variation that the finely minced topping provides.

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Quinoa-Tofu Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


Stuffed Cabbage RollsMy Hungry Harvest box this week contained a gigantic, healthy head of cabbage. I couldn’t bear the idea of shredding it, so I decided to try making cabbage rolls. In my ongoing quest to avoid carbs, the giant cabbage leaves made a perfect wrapper for one of my favorite quinoa fillings.  The recipe below looks labor-intensive (and it it is!), but it’s also easily modifiable to make a quick weekday dinner.  I’d consider the recipe below more of a technique than a hard-and-fast recipe.  You can use your favorite tomato sauce instead of making the one below.  You can also stuff the cabbage rolls with leftovers!

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Karela (bitter gourd) in Coconut-Tamarind Gravy


KarelaEvery now and then (especially after I get back from traveling), I just don’t have the produce I need to make a full meal.  Luckily, I keep an assortment of sauces, stocks, and gravies in my freezer for these occasions!  I normally make karela with onions, garlic, and tomatoes.  But, since I had none of these in my kitchen, I decided to use a Coconut-Tamarind Gravy instead (it has onions, garlic, tomatoes and much more!).

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Coconut-Tamarind Gravy


This recipe is one of my staples.  I love the tartness of the tamarind, the creaminess of the cashews, and the tropical feel of the coconut.  I’m posting this as it’s own recipe because it really is worth making a double batch and keeping it on hand for a quick meal.  You can add this gravy to fully cooked veggies and it makes them so much more satisfying!  I like to go on the drier side when i use it in dishes, but you can thin it out with a little water when you add it to veggies to make it more saucy.

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Fennel Vodka


Fennel vodka

A few weeks ago, I made this Apple, Fennel, Manchego Salad.  I used the fennel bulb in the salad, but was left with a whole cup of fronds.  I couldn’t bear the idea of throwing them away, so I thought I’d stick them in vodka and see what happens.  It’s delicious!  It has a light, fresh taste and the pale green is so summery- it’s perfect for this weather!  Today, I added a spoonful to sparkling water and it was really refreshing.  Next, I plan on playing with a fennel-cucumber drink… stay tuned!

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Grilled Squash Protein Bowl


Grilled squash and nutrela

I was traveling for work the last few weeks and totally in withdrawal from not being able to cook.  Luckily, my Hungry Harvest box this week had some awesome fresh ingredients like yellow squash, tomatoes, cilantro, and green bell peppers.  They looked so tender and colorful, that I wanted to use them as soon as possible.  To make the dish more balanced and filling, I added edamame and soya flour chunks (Nutrela).

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Kiwi Basil Sorbet


Kiwi SorbetIn this unbelievably hot weather, we were in the mood for something tart and refreshing.  Homemade sorbets are amazing because you can taste the freshness.  As a bonus, you can also control the sweetness (I often find store sorbet too sweet).   This kiwi basil sorbet really hit the spot in 90+ degree weather!   I left the seeds in for the crunch and because it looks pretty, but if you want a smooth sorbet, you can strain them out.

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Baked Savory Zucchini Cakes


Savory Zucchini CakesLast week’s Hungry Harvest box contained a ton of zucchini.  After using some to make a Veggie Lentil Loaf, I still had two zucchini left to use, so I made these cute savory zucchini cakes.  They are so simple to make, and the best part is that they freeze well so it makes the perfect after work snack!  Being a Marylander, I couldn’t resist using Old Bay to flavor them. You can also pan fry them, but I bake to keep things healthier.

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