Friday, August 4, 2017

Food, Glorious Food

Hello Darlings...

My last blog post (Just Lose It) seems to be popular and several have asked or messaged me for recipes so I thought I would share them here...

Basically I am eating "clean" and indulging in carbs but only low-glycemic ones.  I don't use much dairy and not everything here is perfectly unprocessed (one recipe uses soup and salad dressing package mix).

Remember I am not a chef or dietician so none of these recipes is perfect.  I rarely measure so these are mostly approximations.  Adjust to your taste.

If you don't like spicy things skip the jalapenos in these dishes.  And if you hate cilantro just leave it out...

Some staples I keep on hand:

sweet onions
olive oil
agave nectar
Knorr chicken soup base (in a jar but can use cubes)
spaghetti squash
black beans (both canned and dried)
jalapenos (fresh)

I try and bake spaghetti squash and make a large batch of farro each week so I can use them in place of rice or pasta.  I add the farro to salads for a little "bulk".  I like to keep a batch of black beans (or a can I have "dressed up") to add to dishes as a good source of protein.

Let's start with those basics:


I make a large batch of farro once a week and I use it to put into my salads, serve beans over it, make salad with it, or use in place of rice.

2 cups farro (washed and tends to be “dusty’)
6-7 cups water
Place farro and water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 20-25 minutes until desired doneness.  Drain well.  I put it back into the pot so it can dry out a bit.  Fluff with a fork.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Buy the smaller spaghetti squash---they are easier to cut into.  I look for ones that are no longer than 10 inches or less.

Carefully slice a bit off of each end so you remove the stem end and have a flat bottom. Very carefully slice lengthwise into two halves.  Scoop out pulp and seeds.  Very lightly spray or drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put into a 450 degree oven for 1 hour (might need a few more minutes depending on the size of the squash).  Once cooked and cooled a bit use a fork to separate the “strands”.

Black Beans (from dry beans)

1 package black beans
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, sliced (seeds and ribs removed if you don’t like spicy)
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
Handful cilantro
2 cubes Knorr chicken stock
2 TBS agave nectar
Ground cumin

Rinse beans and place in pot or crockpot and cover with water. Soak 4 hours to overnight or bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes and turn off heat and cover and let soak 2 hours. Once beans have softened by soaking add in onion, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, chicken cubes, and agave and bring to a boil then cut back to a simmer and simmer 2-4 hours (or cook on high in crockpot one hour and reduce to low for 6-8).  Once beans are cooked season to taste. You might need to add water as they cook...for “soupy” beans add more water...for “creamy” beans use less but watch carefully. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Serve with a dollop of mexican crema (or sour cream) and more cilantro.  Delicious over farro, used in salads, or added to veggies for a stuffed pepper.

Dressed Up Canned Black Beans

1 large can of black beans, do not drain or rinse
1 small (or ½ large) onion, small dice
1 jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and ribs if you don’t like spicy)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 TBS ground cumin
Handful cilantro
1 TBS agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste

Soften onion and jalapeno in a bit of olive oil in a saucepan or small pot.  When almost totally soft add in garlic and ground cumin and make sure it doesn’t burn and allow it to soften and become fragrant. Add in canned beans and heat through and add agave.  Adjust seasonings. Add in cilantro and let cook for a few more minutes.  I keep a jar of Knorr chicken base and use it in place of salt---or just season with salt and pepper.

Now that we have those ready let's put them to work in some easy healthy recipes:

Mushroom, Onion and Spaghetti Squash Saute

1 spaghetti squash, baked and shredded
1 pgk sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms (or if you slice your own---about 2 cups)
1 onion, small dice
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Red pepper (if you like spicy)

In a large skillet, lightly saute the onion in olive oil until softened.  Add in mushrooms and cook until soft.  Add in the cooked spaghetti squash.  Season with salt and pepper and red pepper if desired.

Mediterranean Farro Salad

2-3 cups cooked farro (cooled)
1 small red onion, fine dice
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
½-1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Other add ins: olives, diced red pepper, diced sun dried tomato, green onion...add in whatever sounds good
Vinaigrette dressing of choice (Greek, Italian, Balsamic...or just a simple oil and vinegar)
Optional: grilled shrimp or chicken

Toss together with vinaigrette...that’s it...just toss it together...leave out the protein for a side dish

Mexican Farro Salad

1 cup farro, rinsed thoroughly
3 cups water seasoned with one cube Knorr chicken stock (or TBS from jar)
1 small red onion, finely minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
Large handful cilantro
½ - 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
½ cup black beans
½ cup corn (can be raw...corn is not low glycemic...just be aware)
3-5 green onions, sliced thin, whites and greens
½ cup crumbled cotija cheese
Dressing: 1 TBS olive oil, 2 TBS lime juice, few dashes of cumin and 1 dash tabasco

Bring farro and seasoned water to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook 25 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.  Cool.  Add in onion, jalapeno, cilantro tomatoes, beans, corn (if using), green onions and cotija.  Dress with dressing...adjust seasonings as desired.

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

I prefer to use red, yellow or orange bell peppers as they are sweeter but green work just fine. For this recipe I just use whatever veggies I have on hand...I’ve even added in additional leftover roast veggies. Feel free to add whatever you like…

4 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers---tops removed and diced
1 large onion, fine dice
1 jalapeno, finely minced (seeds and ribs removed if desired)
3-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 TBS ground cumin
1 cup cooked black beans
1-2 cups cooked farro
Handful cilantro

Remove tops from peppers and dice and set aside.  Scoop out ribs from peppers and trim bottom of peppers so they stand upright if needed.

In a large skillet soften pepper tops, onion, and jalapeno in a bit of olive oil. Add in garlic, cumin and mushrooms and cook until “done”. Add in black beans and farro and cilantro. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Stuff peppers with veggie mixture and place in a covered oven proof pot.  Add in ½ inch of water to bottom of pot and cover and bake 30-45 minutes until peppers are soft. You can top them with a bit of crumbled cotija cheese (but then they aren’t vegan)

I use the leftovers of the veggie mixture in a lettuce wrap or add to a salad...

Now for some easy crockpot dishes...the first one is based on the infamous Mississippi Roast but I prefer it with chicken...

Mississippi Crockpot Chicken

1 pkg chicken thighs and/or breasts (boneless and skinless)
1 pkg Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 pkg Ranch dressing mix (dry)
⅓ jar of pepperoncini and their juice
⅓-½ stick unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped

Place chopped onion in crockpot. Add in chicken---I like to sear mine first but you can skip this step.  Add in soup mix, ranch mix, pepperoncini and juice and butter.  Cover and cook on low 6 hours.  Serve over farro or spaghetti squash or in a corn tortilla taco.

NOTE: I usually use a family size package of thighs---about 8 of them.  If you use breast meat I think the “tenders” cook up a bit juicier.  If using breasts use a ½ stick butter so they aren’t dry. This recipe can be doubled but if so i would double the soup, ranch, and peppers and chicken but still use less than a stick of butter.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

1 package boneless chicken thighs and/or breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 cup of BBQ sauce
½ cup pepperoncini and their liquid or 2 TBS apple cider vinegar

Place chopped onion in the crockpot. Add in chicken (I brown mine first but you can skip this step). Top with BBQ sauce and pepperoncini or vinegar (this cuts the sweetness).  Cook on low 6 hours.  Serve over farro or spaghetti squash or in a slider.

Here's my favorite summer's not cheap to make because I use organic grape tomatoes but boy is it good!

Grape Tomato Soup

I will fully admit that this soup is not cheap to make...but it is sooooo good!  If you want to use large tomatoes you can do that too but I would remove the seeds…

I prefer to use my stick blender for this because I like the texture but if you don’t have a stick blender you can carefully transfer the tomato mixture into your regular blender.

4-8 cups grape tomatoes
1 large sweet onion, fine dice
Agave nectar
Olive oil
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Cilantro or basil

In a large pot soften the onion in olive oil...add in washed grape tomatoes and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to “pop”.  Once they are “popping” open, lightly mash them with a potato masher.  Cook an additional 5 minutes.  Blend until mostly smooth.  Add in 1 TBS agave nectar, 1 TBS cilantro or basil (your choice), 1-2 TBS worcestershire. Blend well and taste.  Add more agave if you want to bring out the sweetness (I find I need more in winter) and add additional salt and some pepper if you wish. I like to add a few dashes of Tabasco for flavor (doesn’t make it spicy) but if you want a spicy soup add in more tabasco or some cayenne.

And here are two great main dish recipes...they are "teenage boy approved" and make a regular appearance on our dinner table...

Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps

2 packages lean ground chicken
2 carrots, minced
1 onion, fine dice
1 jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and ribs if you don’t care for spicy)
2 cups farro, cooked
4-5 green onions, whites and green, sliced thin
Handful chopped cilantro

½ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 “squirt” sriracha (optional)
2 TBS agave nectar
1 TBS grated fresh ginger (I use the stuff in the tube)

Lettuce leaves for serving

Soften the onion, jalapeno and carrots in a bit of olive oil in a large skillet.  Once veggies are soft add in the ground chicken and cook until done---break up the meat with a potato masher.  Add in farro, green onions, cilantro and sauce and cook until the sauce is absorbed---about 3 minutes or so over medium high heat.

NOTE: you can replace the farro with cauliflower rice but cook and drain it first so it doesn’t make the chicken mixture “watery”.

Also when my son is not eating it I like to add some water chestnuts for crunch...

and now for my healthier version of's not authentic and it's not totally without a bit of vice but it is so good my son does not miss the beef and pork and extra butter...

Turkey Bolognese

3 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
2 medium onions, finely diced
6 carrots, finely diced
4 ribs celery, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 ounces diced pancetta
3 lbs lean ground turkey
1 4 oz tube of tomato paste plus ½ of an additional tube
1 ¼ cup 1% or 2%  milk
1 ¼ cup  dry white wine
You have to start with the hard part...chopping the veggies. DO NOT USE A FOOD PROCESSOR! If you don’t feel like playing Iron Chef, there are some handly little choppers that are about $15 that do a square dice and can easily be found online. What you want is a nice square dice that is about ¼”.  Heat the oil and butter in the pan and add in the veggies. Add in the minced garlic (you can also grate it in if you prefer). Cook until the veggies begin to soften and the onion begins to get translucent but not browned.  This will take 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir frequently!

Once the veggies have started to soften,add in the meats. I start with the pancetta and, once it is mixed into the veggies, I add in the ground turkey while making sure I break up the chunks. Brown on high heat, stirring frequently, until the meat has cooked through. Make a small “pool” in the center and squirt in the tomato paste then stir it into the meat and continue to cook until the sauce turns a brick red color (about 2-3 min).

Add the milk and cook until almost reduced (about 4 min), then add in the wine and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let it slowly simmer for 3-5 hours. Be sure your heat is low and it is a very low simmer or your hard work may end up being for not!. Season with salt and serve over pasta with a little freshly grated parmesan.

The ragu will keep up to a week in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.

I usually add in an additional lb of the turkey.  When I do I add in a few more carrots and celery and a bit more tomato paste and up the milk and wine to 1.5 cups.

You can skip the pancetta...if you do I suggest 1 strip of bacon, finely chopped or skip it altogether and make 1 lb of the turkey a little less lean.

Serve this over pasta but my favorite way is to serve it over roasted spaghetti squash.

Now for some fish recipes...let's start with salmon


You will need:
4 oz salmon filets (as many as you need)

Teriyaki Marinade:
¼ cup soy sauce (can be light)
¼ cup brown sugar (packed)
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 tbs honey
1 Tbs cornstarch

Sriracha Crema:
½ cup Mexican style crema *
1-3 tbs sriracha
2 -3 tbs agave nectar

*Mexican crema can be found at most grocery is like a slightly saltier and thinner version of sour a pinch you can substitute regular sour cream with a little added salt and thinned with half and half but I truly recommend the crema.

In a small bowl or jar mix 1 tbs cornstarch with ¼ cup water.  Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, honey, and 3/4 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the cornstarch and stir until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Let it cool to room temperature and then place in a zip top bag or covered dish and add the fish (be sure to lightly rinse in cool water and pat your fish dry before adding to the marinade).  Marinate for 1-24 hours.  

For the crema all you do is put the crema in a bowl and add the sriracha and agave to will be a pale salmon color and will be a slightly sweet and spicy sauce.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a pan with cooking spray or use non-stick foil.  Place filets in the pan with a little of the marinade.  Bake for 15-17 min until pink and flaky but not oozing the white fat.  

Serve over rice or my favorite way is to serve it along with a nice green salad...pour the sriracha crema on top of the salmon and dig in…


Per person:

1  6 oz salmon filet (skin removed)
1-2 TBS pesto
5-6 grape tomatoes sliced
8-10 thin asparagus spears

Note: I just use store-bought prepared pesto for this.  I think Whole Foods makes a delicious one and their Jalapeno Cilantro pesto is especially delicious with this recipe. You can also make this with fresh trimmed green beans but they must be par-cooked for 3 minutes in salted boiling water. Either way you have a meal in a packet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut a 12 inch length of aluminum foil for each salmon filet. Season each filet with salt and pepper. Place trimmed asparagus (or green beans) on foil and season with salt and pepper.  Place salmon filet on top of asparagus. Top the filet with enough pesto to cover. Top pesto with sliced grape tomatoes. Seal the ends of the foil loosely so that you have a nice packet that lets the heat circulate. Bake for 18-24 minutes depending on preferred doneness and thickness of the filet. I prefer my salmon to be medium so I cook a 1 inch thick filet for 18 minutes

Another easy to prepare fish is tilapia.  It is light and mild.  I am also a big fan of snapper, redfish and my favorite---black drum.  If you aren’t familiar with black drum, it is a light flaky fish that is “cousin” to the redfish but to me it is milder and has a better flavor.  There is a “blood line” that runs through it that turns dark with cooking that you simply remove after cooking if you don’t care for the taste.  This next recipe will work well for any of those fish.


fresh tilapia, snapper, black drum or redfish filets
garlic powder
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil

Optional for a sauce: lemon, white wine, scallions, capers or an asian viniagrette

wash and pat the fish dry.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Heat up a large cast iron skillet or flat bottomed pan (note: a non-stick pan won’t give you the same sear as a cast iron or aluminium pan but will work just fine).  When it is very hot add in 2 TBS of olive oil and 2 TBS butter.  Place fish in pan and sear for a few minutes.  Carefully flip the fish and sear the other side and then turn down the heat and cook a few more minutes.  This is where you will need to watch your fish carefully so that it doesn’t burn but each fish cooks differently so just cook it until it is opaque and flakes.  

For an easy sauce just pour some asian style vinaigrette over it or make a sauce by draining off the grease and deglazing the pan with a cup of white wine...let it reduce by half and then add in the juice of one lemon (and maybe a little zest) and at the last minute stir in a TBS of butter...add capers, parsley, or sliced shallots if you wish. It is delicious served over a bed of fresh sauteed corn with avocado and cilantro.  


Note: for this recipe any flaky white fish will do. I prefer black drum but red snapper and redfish and tilapia are all good substitutes if you can’t find the drum. Whole Foods does carry drum at most of their stores.  

Per person:
1 filet of black drum, snapper, tilapia or redfish
10 peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
Salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne if you like a little heat
Olive oil

For the sauce:
Sliced grape tomatoes
White wine

Season the filets with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne if desired. Set aside shrimp.

Heat a skillet to high and add in a TBS of olive oil and TBS of butter per filet. Sear one side of the fish for about 3 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 3 minutes and then turn heat down to medium to finish cooking the fish. Once fish is cooked set aside. Saute the grape tomatoes in the pan drippings (I use about 10-12 tomatoes per person). Once the tomatoes have softened and are starting to char use a micro grater to grate in some garlic (as desired). Turn the heat off and add in about a cup and half of white wine per person and then turn heat back on to high to deglaze the pan. When the wine is reduced by about half add in the shrimp and cook until done which may only take a minute or so. Place shrimp over fish and continue to reduce the sauce a bit more if desired. Pour sauce over fish and serve.  I like to serve my fish and shrimp over brown rice or farro or a bed of arugula.

So there you have it...this is basically what I eat...

I also eat a lot of salads, avocado toast for breakfast and lots of roasted veggies.

Sorry there are no pictures but I just threw this together and pics...

Enjoy my friends...and let me know how you like the recipes...

Inspiration Song: "Food Glorious Food" from the musical "Oliver!"...because it was perfect...

Bye Darlings...I promise the next blog will be something more interesting than diet tips and recipes...I know you are missing me whining about my cancer lol...

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