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SAUSAGE & CANNELLINI CIOPPINO

It’s finally starting to cool down and stay cool. Now that Fall is here, I’m ready to plant my face in bowls of all sorts of soup. This Sausage & Cannellini Cioppino is one of my absolute favorites because it’s a fast, easy one pot meal with a whole lot of healthy going on that doesn’t taste necessarily “healthy.” It’s bold flavors are given credit to the Italian sausage of course. I used TURKEY Italian sausage rather than pork to keep the grease level down. You really can not taste a difference whatsoever. They make a chicken Italian sausage too, I’m not a huge fan of it as I believe I CAN taste the difference but by all means, if you want to use it, do so!

For those who aren’t a fan of kale or never tried it, this is one of the best ways to try kale. Baby steps! It literally doesn’t have much of a flavor as it absorbs everything else in the soup but the importance of getting greens is huge. There are different kinds of kale, feel free to use any of them. The curly kale is great and more hearty than lacinto or dino kale but they all taste fairly similar. Swiss chard is also a great option in place of kale.

Also, extremely important! When buying broth, read the ingredients label. You will discover that most broth is hardly much REAL broth and riddled with MSG. The best way to get quality broth is to look at the ones packaged in a box and low-sodium. Pacific is one of my favorite brands. Just make sure it doesn’t have MSG and other additives that don’t sound like REAL FOOD. You can control your salt intake yourself very easily by just adding sea salt if needed.

Sometimes I love throwing in 1/2 pound of shrimp instead of beans or in addition to. Of course you can do whatever you want and make it your own as I always love to encourage that. If you’re new to cooking, it may be easiest for you to follow the recipe to get a feel for it and then next time make it by adding your own flare to it. Regardless, I hope you guys enjoy this cioppino as much as I do. It’s even better when you dunk homemade garlic bread or grilled cheese into it!

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SAUSAGE & CANNELLINI CIOPPINO
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic, onion, sea salt, and pepper. Let cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the basil, thyme, sausage, and use a wood spoon to break the sausage up. Cook for about 5 minutes until almost cooked through.
  3. Add the wine, stir by scrapping up the bits from the bottom of the pan then stir in the tomato paste, vegetable broth, stewed tomatoes, and bay leaf. Bring everything to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while.
  4. Lastly, add the beans and kale. Stir and let cook for another five minutes. Remove the bay leaf, add more salt and pepper to taste.

SHEPHERD’S PIE

Oh man, you guys are gonna love this one! But first let me confess how I’ve been spelling Shepherd’s Pie as “Shepard’s Pie” for a while now and no one ever corrected me! As I got started typing up this food blog entry I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to double check the spelling. Glad I did! I’m kinda hoping I’m not alone in this LOL! Okay, so seriously I’m not exaggerating. You-guys-will-LOVE-this! This makes a big batch and depending on the size of your family, you could have the best tasting leftovers for DAYS.

This is truly a Shepherd’s Pie because I use ground lamb. Trust me, I tried ground beef the first time and it’s not the same as the best Shepherd’s Pie you’ve ever had wherever that may be. It must be lamb. Not half lamb, ALL ground lamb. If you’re hesitant to try lamb because you think it’s funky, let me reassure you that if you’re going to try ground lamb for the first time or give it another chance, this is the absolute way to go. I’m not just saying that, promise. Now that has been established, if you insist using ground beef or any other red meat by all means go for it… I do believe that changes it to a Cottage Pie though. This is important to know in case you do some traveling.

If you’re looking to make this meal low-carb, you just simply replace the mashed potatoes with your favorite cauliflower mashed potatoes recipe. There are tons of different recipes out there you can choose from but personally, I would just make my cauliflower mash the same way I would as my usual Red Skin Mashed Potatoes recipe. Just keep your eye on the amount of liquid when making them to get the right texture you want your cauliflower mash to be. As for using real potatoes, I keep the skin for extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, and all that jazz but feel free to peel them. Keeping the skin saves on time too!

You’ll see that I use quite a bit of Worcestershire sauce than your typical recipe. I have reasons! Any time I’ve used a few dashes or a few teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce to a recipe, I can’t taste it! It does nothing! Hardly at least. I want a big punch of flavor because that’s what comfort food is about. So just a heads up, start off not using salt at all. Maybe use half the amount of Worcestershire sauce to start, do a taste test. You can add more towards the end and also add salt to taste. It’s the only way you’re gonna master what you believe is the best Shepherd’s Pie!

One last thing, you can make this a day ahead. Just put the meat at the bottom of the baking pan, top with the mashed potatoes. When you’re ready to bake it, just pull it out of the fridge, top it with the cheese and bake. Some times I’ve made the meat filling ahead so that all I need to do was make the mashed potatoes or vice versa. It works in all ways.

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SHEPHERD'S PIE
Servings
servings
Ingredients
MEAT FILLING
MASHED POTATOES
Servings
servings
Ingredients
MEAT FILLING
MASHED POTATOES
Instructions
MEAT FILLING
  1. Saute the carrots and onion with the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once the onions start to become softened after a few minutes, add the garlic. If the pan is starting to get dry, add a little more olive oil.
  2. Add the ground lamb, rosemary, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. Using a wooden spoon break up the ground lamb into small pieces letting it brown through.
  3. Once the lamb is nearly cooked through add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, flour, and half of the vegetable stock. Stir every thing really well. Let the stock cook down most of the way and add the rest. Stir frequently, reduce the heat and let everything simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and salt to taste if needed. Turn off heat and set aside.
MASHED POTATOES
  1. Place the cubed potatoes in a large pot, fill with water until it's about an inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil and stir every so often.
  2. Strain the potatoes once they're softened. Turn off the heat. Place the pot back on the stove and add the butter. Pour the strained potatoes on top of the butter, add the pepper, milk, and half of the vegetable stock. Mash the potatoes to your desired consistency.
  3. Add more milk and/or stock as needed to avoid the potatoes from drying. Stir. Add more salt and pepper to taste as well.
ASSEMBLE
  1. Place the meat filling evenly in a 9" x 11" (or 9" x 13") baking dish.
  2. Then, top it with an even layer of the mashed potatoes.
  3. Top the mashed potatoes with an even layer of the shredded sharp white cheddar cheese.
  4. Bake at 400 F degrees for about 15 minutes or until everything is bubbling and the top is golden.

KETO PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES

Lets face it. We all love cupcakes, if not cake. Cupcakes are the perfect dessert to share with minimal mess because you don’t have to cut into it to serve and they’re easy to transport. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never had enough people to help me finish off a dozen cupcakes much less the ability to feel some what healthy-normal eating more than one cupcake with all the sugar. SO! I discovered a basic low-carb, sugar-free blah blah muffin recipe and did all kinds of tweaks to it. Some times you need something simple to give you an inspiration kick-start. Long story short, I came up with this half dozen recipe of technically pumpkin spice muffins BUT it’s instantly an incredible tasty cupcake when you put a vanilla cream cheese frosting on top!

Feel free to omit the cream cheese frosting and enjoy these first thing in the morning as a decent start to your day. It’s loaded in protein and low in carbs to not give you the spike in blood sugar that’s ever so responsible for making people feel tired and more hungry after eating. And if you do need a dozen of these you can simply double up the recipe. One of my favorite things to do after making them is eating it with a big dollop of unsweetened apple sauce on top. Even though you use apple sauce to make them. It’s so yummy as a light breakfast.

And by the way, feel free to use store bought pumpkin spice but a lot of times you will find that the flavors fall weak when baking unless you know of a great brand. I stopped buying it quite a few years ago when I realized I tend to already have the spices in my pantry to make it at home. It always packs an amazing punch of flavor in my opinion. If you’re interested in spending literally two extra minutes making your own check out my Pumpkin Spice Blend recipe. You’ll have to double or triple the recipe to have enough pumpkin spice to make these muffins.

One more thing, make sure your cream cheese frosting is room temperature and the muffins are cooled before you put the frosting on. If the frosting is too cold it will tear the top of your muffin off and crumble. Oh and as far as sugar goes, I like using Stevia In The Raw for baking but feel free to use any sugar substitute that you like. Real sugar should work with this though!

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KETO PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
MUFFINS
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
MUFFINS
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Instructions
MUFFINS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the almond flour, ground flax seed, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and sugar substitute.
  3. Then, add the unsweetened apple sauce, melted unsalted butter, and eggs. Whisk everything together.
  4. Spray only 6 spots of a muffin tray with the cooking spray and evenly add the batter to each one about 3/4 of the way with a spoon.
  5. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until the edges are golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  6. Let cool.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
  1. Place the cream cheese, unsalted butter, sugar substitute, and vanilla extract in a standing mixer. Let it all incorporate over medium speed. Scrape the sides down if needed and continue a few more seconds.

KETO CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These cookies are made with almond flour (blanched, but almond meal works too), and you’ll find that almond flour bakes a little bit darker than your usual all-purpose flour. So, don’t let the dark edges that appear almost burnt turn you away. These are crunchy, crumbly on the outside with a nice caramel flavor with a soft center. And I kid you not they taste even better frozen. Which is the weirdest thing I have ever heard of but it’s no joke. The best part about that is you can make a huge batch of these, keep in the freezer for longer shelf life, eat frozen or let them thaw. And, if you want them to taste like they’re fresh out of the oven you can stick a few in the microwave for 5-10 seconds depending on your microwave.

I’ve been on a mission the last few months to find healthier alternatives to pretty much anything edible without so much sugar and refined carbohydrates. Had I not gone on that mission I would’ve never discovered how amazing going keto with a chocolate chip cookie recipe would be. It’s so amazing that quite frankly, I don’t care to have another regular chocolate chip cookie ever again. For the brown sugar substitute, there are tons of brands with different ingredient options out there that you can choose from. But personally I like the ones that use stevia.

The carb count is ridiculously low at about 40 grams of carbs for the entire batch of approx. 3 dozen cookies should you use chocolate chips sweetened with stevia like Lilly’s Chocolate Chips. Which means just a few carbs per cookie max. Just keep in mind though, while these are much healthier to eat, they still are high calorie so that doesn’t mean you can eat a ton of them and not gain some weight! Lastly, when using a cookie dough scooper to portion out the cookies I like to use a spoon wrapped in plastic wrap to squash them a little for a proper cookie shape. Although, you don’t have to! If you don’t, you’ll want to bake them an extra minute or two so the center gets cooked through.

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KETO CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl mix the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar substitute together in a standing mixer. Then, add the vanilla extra and eggs.
  3. Once everything is mixed well, add the flour in two parts.
  4. Toss in the chocolate chips and use a large spoon to mix them into the dough.
  5. Use a tablespoon cookie dough scooper to evenly portion out the cookies onto a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 375 F degrees for about 11-13 minutes. Let cool before transferring to a plate.

TUNA MELT

Homemade tuna melts taste a heck of a lot better than any restaurant out there. Part of the reason is because you can control what goes in your tuna salad, made with real ingredients, and prevent it from being super greasy. It’s really easy, even more so when you make a big batch of tuna salad to last you a few days ahead. If you’re looking to try a non-traditional version that won’t leave your taste buds hanging you have to try my Tuna Salad recipe. It’s slightly sweet with butter pickles and tangy from pepperoncini’s.

My version of a tuna melt is packed with fiber along with all that protein which is a happy pairing for the digestive system. I love using Alvarado Bakery’s Sprouted Flax Seed Bread because it’s low carb, high protein, and high fiber with just 100 calories for two slices. That leaves you some room to indulge with your favorite cheese for the tuna melt!

If you’re looking to go all out on the homemade end, feel free to try my Homemade Mayonnaise that only requires a few ingredients and a couple minutes to make with a standing mixer. For a healthy mayo it can be expensive so making it at home has its rewards at times. Feel free to use your favorite cheese, personally I love a sharp white cheddar that’s aged 2 years. It goes well with my version of a tuna salad. Enjoy!

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TUNA MELT
Servings
sandwich
Servings
sandwich
Instructions
  1. Spread the mayonnaise on one side of both slices of bread.
  2. Warm a skillet on medium heat.
  3. Place one slice of bread with the mayo side facing down and place a layer of tuna salad on top. Top that with the spinach followed by the grated cheese. Carefully transfer it to the hot skillet and then place the other slice of bread on top with the mayo facing up.
  4. After a couple of minutes gently flip the tuna melt with a spatula and cook for about another two minutes.
  5. Remove from the skillet and slice in half on the diagonal.