Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Hummus

You know you need something to let people snack on before the big meal, but you don’t want them to be too full to eat the meal you’ve been slaving over for days…

This recipe, from November 2015’s Food & Wine Magazine, takes the edge off but won’t ruin anyone’s dinner! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

How to Make It

In a food processor (I used my Vitamix), combine the chickpeas with the pumpkin, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and 1/3 cup of water and puree until smooth. Season the hummus with salt and pepper and serve with pita chips or crudités.

Make Ahead

The pumpkin hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Meatballs

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Ground chicken breast is one of my favorite ways to build a base for a #Keto meal!  It’s so versatile, mixes well with most of my favorite ingredients, and is easy to meal prep for the week ahead, that it’s become my go-to for creating new #KetoRecipes.  This recipe for #ChickenBaconRanchMeatballs is fun because you can eat them all alone or pop them on a skewer between a piece of lettuce and 1/2 a plum or cherry tomato and drizzle with some ranch dressing for a fun lunch, light dinner, or appetizer.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Chicken Bacon Ranch Meatballs

  • 2 Pounds Ground Chicken Breast
  • 4 Pieces Thick Cut Bacon
  • 3 Pieces Thick Cut Peppered Bacon
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 4 TBLS Ranch Dressing
  • 1/2 Cup Panko
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Lettuce or Arugula (if desired)
  • Cherry or Plum Tomatoes (if desired)
  • More Ranch for drizzling

Spray 2 mini muffin pans (24 holes) lightly with olive oil spray or prepare 2 cookies sheets by lining with foil and spraying the foil lightly with the olive oil spray, then set aside.  Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cut the bacon into 1/4″ to 1/2″ chunks and cook in a skillet over medium heat until browned.  Remove bacon to paper towels to cool.  Remove the bacon grease from the pan and quickly wilt the spinach in the same pan.  Put the cooled bacon and spinach into your chopper or vitamix mini cup and pulse until bacon is chopped into small bits & spinach is roughly chopped.

Using your hands (I wear disposable gloves), combine the ground chicken breast, bacon, spinach, egg, 4 TBLS of Ranch Dressing, and Panko in a medium bowl until well mixed.  Form the mixture into about 40 2″ balls and pot into either the mini muffin pan or space out on the baking sheets.  Lightly spray the tops of the meatballs with the olive oil spray.

Bake in 350° F oven for 18 – 22 minutes, or until the meatballs register 165° F on your meat thermometer.

Remove the balls from the pans and lay on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess olive oil spray.  Serve with ranch dressing on a bed of lettuce and plum or red tomatoes or thread lettuce, meatball and tomato on a small skewer then drizzle with ranch dressing.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Dairy-Free Dole Whip

Extra special thanks to the guys at Epicurious.com for sharing this tasty treat on this extra-hot Sunday!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

DOLE-WHIP--29062017

Homemade “Dole Whip”

  • 4 Cups Frozen Pineapple Chunks
  • 1 Cup Canned, Unsweetened, Coconut Milk
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 4 Fresh Pineapple Wedges (optional)
  1. Process frozen pineapple, coconut milk, banana, and salt in a food processor (I used my Vitamix) until very smooth.
  2. Divide among glasses or cups and garnish with pineapple wedges, if using.

Nutrition Information (Serves 4)

  • 220  Calories
  • 12 g  Fat
  • 27 g Carbohydrates
  • 2 g    Protein

Protein Packed Meatballs

proteinpackedmeatballs

I am guilty of not getting enough protein in my diet and need to take every chance I can to pack extra grams in where I can.  These #KetoFriendly meatballs can be served as an appetizer, between meal snack, light lunch main with a salad or vegetables, or even added to a sauce with zoodles for a perfect #KetoMeal.  Of course, if you aren’t Keto, feel free to add them to any rice, potato, or pasta dish you choose!

Protein Packed Meatballs

Combine everything except the ground beef in the container for your blender, food processor, or Vitamix.  Set your speed to the lowest, or start with a pulse, to begin chopping your spinach up.  Once the spinach is broken down, turn the speed up to medium to make sure your ingredients are combined but not liquified.  It should only take about 15 – 20 seconds.

Put your ground beef into a medium mixing bowl and pour/scrape the blender contents on top.  I put on rubber gloves at this point and use my hands to mix everything thoroughly.

Give the bottom of the basket of your air fryer a very light, quick spritz with olive oil spray.  Roll balls with about 1 TBLS of the meat mixture (doesn’t have to be exact) and set them into your air fryer basket.  Leave a bit of space between them, you want the air to circulate around them so they cook evenly.

When you’ve filled your basket with 12-15 about 1″ meatballs (that’s how many fit in my Dash Deluxe 6 Qt Air Fryer basket), set your timer for 9 minutes at 375° F.

Shake your basket at about 6 minutes to make sure the bottoms release and get browned.  When they’re lightly browned all over, remove them from the basket and cook the rest of the meatballs.  You should end up with about 30.

If desired, serve with your favorite low-carb / sugar free marinara sauce.  Some good ones are Rao’s, Newman’s Own and Yo Mama’s.  You can see all of them (and their nutrition information) at this link#ThisGirlLovesToEat

Nutrition Information (Serving Size 5 Meatballs)

  • 231 Calories
  • 15 g Fat
  • <1 g Carbs
  • 18 g Protein

 

Keto Friendly Anytime Smoothie

AnytimeSmoothieDeciding how you spend your carb allowance, when you are following a #KetoLifestyle, presents you with many options, depending on what stage of Keto you are at.  When you are in your induction and weight loss phase, smoothies are generally not the way to spend your day’s allotted carbohydrates, but this one tops out at 9 Net Carbs so it can be included from day 1.  This light and frothy smoothie a great #PickMeUp for that late afternoon slump plus it gives you a big protein, vitamin and fiber boost without piling on the calories.

Once you’ve hit maintenance phase smoothies packed with a higher berry to spinach ratio are a great way to get your fruits and veggies in with relatively little impact on your carb count.

Keto Friendly Anytime Smoothie

  • 1 Cup Cold Water
  • 1 Cup Halved Strawberries
  • 2 Cups (packed) Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1 Scoop No Carb Protein Powder (I use Isopure Zero Carb Creamy Vanilla)
  • 1 Cup Ice Cubes

Starting with your water, put all of your ingredients, except your ice, into your blender or Vitamix.  If you have a smoothie setting, like I do on my Vitamix, include the ice, switch to that mode and hit start.  Your Vitamix will stop when it’s ready.  Otherwise, start on a low setting until ingredients are combined then turn your machine up to medium high and blend until smooth.  Without turning your machine off, Open your ingredient addition port (hole in top of blender lid) and add in the ice until desired consistency.

Nutrition Information (Serves 1)

  • 162 Calories
  • 0 g Fat
  • 8 g Carbohydrates
  • 28 g Protein

Cheesy Keto Cauli-Grits

I like a big breakfast and thought that living a Keto Lifestyle limited my breakfast choices.  A little experimentation corrected that notion.

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Truth be told, I failed miserably on my first attempt at this recipe.  I envisioned a perfectly browned patty that resembled hash browns on the outside but inside had the creamy deliciousness of cheesy grits.  Not so much.  The ingredients were fine, it was that I thought using a lightly oiled cast iron pan would give me the results I wanted.  Instead I ended up with a burned mess that was impossible to turn.  Strike One!

The second attempt though nailed it!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Cheesy Keto Cauli-Grits

  • 2 Cups Shredded Cauliflower
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt

Tip:  I used my Vitamix to pulse the cauliflower down to rice sized crumbles.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a food processor, blender, or Vitamix, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt & pepper, and cauliflower.  Process until combined but not completely smooth.

Scoop the mixture (about 1/4 cup) into mounds about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.  Lightly press each mound down to about 1/2″ thickness.

Bake in 350° oven for 18-20 minutes, or until tops turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and leave on baking sheet to cool for 5 minutes.

Serve alongside scrambled eggs and bacon for a perfect Keto breakfast, or alongside beef, chicken, or fish for a perfect dinner side dish.

Nutrition Information per Patty (8 Servings)

  • 83.25 Calories
  • 7.2 g Fat
  • 1 g Carbs
  • 3.32 g Protein

Keto Lemon Cheesecake Bars

withberriesA light lemony cheesecake dessert on a buttery shortbread-like crust with a sweet-tart lemon layer covered by creamy cheesecake layer.  You can enjoy this guilt free because #ItsKeto!

Keto Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Preheat oven to 350° F and lightly butter a 13 x 9 Pyrex baking pan.

Using a pastry blender, forks, or your blender/Vitamix, combine the ingredients for your crust until coarse crumbs form.  TIP:  I like to use my Vitamix 750 Pro on the 2 setting, after pulsing to start, so that, instead of coarse crumbs, a light, fluffy dough forms.

  • 1+1/2 Cups Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Swerve Confectioners Sugar Substitute
  • 3/4 Cup Cold Unsalted Butter, Cut into Cubes

Press the crumbs into the bottom of the baking dish.  Bake until golden brown, 18-21 minutes.  Don’t under cook the crust!  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Prepare the lemon layer by combining, in your blender:

  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Xylitol or Erithritol (Sugar Substitutes)
  • 1+1/2 TBLS Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour
  • 2 TBLS Lemon Zest
  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice

Pour lemon mixture onto the baked crust.  Skim off any large bubbles from the surface of the lemon layer.

Prepare the cheesecake layer by combining, in your stand mixer or cleaned blender container:

  • 2 – 8 oz Packages Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Granulated Xylitol or Erithritol
  • 2 Large Eggs

BEWARE:  If you use Xylitol in this recipe, which I prefer because there’s no aftertaste or cool sensation, Xylitol IS NOT PET SAFESo, no sharing with your furry babies.

When well combined, pour and spread over the lemon mixture.  It’s ok if the lemon layer peeks through, the cheesecake layer rises to the top during baking.  Bake until the filling is set about 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool pan on a wire rack before putting into the refrigerator to chill.  Cut into 24 Bars and top with a couple of fresh berries if desired.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Nutrition Information (24 Servings):

  • 131 Calories (Savings of 125 Calories without real sugars & all purpose flour)
  • 1 g  Fat (Savings of 13 g Fat from traditional recipe)
  • 4 g  Carbs  (Savings of 27 g Carbs from traditional recipe)
  • 3 g  Protein