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BALSAMIC DIJON CHUCK ROAST

Who doesn’t love food that gives you a hug from the inside on these cooler nights? Or ONE POT MEALS? Are you tight for time? Don’t feel like standing in the kitchen long? Use a slow cooker or if you don’t have one, a dutch oven! Okay, this recipe is one of your answers of all possible options. It’s a nice rendition on a standard slow cooked chuck roast and I’m sure you’ll love it. So, if you’re going to be gone all day and want to walk in the door with dinner ready then, go the slow cooker method on low for 8hrs. Otherwise, you can do all the same quick prep work, put it in a dutch oven, and walk away for about 3 hours. Either way, you can’t mess this up!

If you plan on having guests over, this is a great way to have great food. You’ll be able to spend more time with your guests and focus on any of the other food items you plan to prepare. Personally, I’m a sucker for anything made in big batches because I love the convenience of leftovers. I love having days where I can dive deep into all the things I need and want to do where having something I can reheat quickly doesn’t take a lot of my time. Before you tackle this greatness make sure you use a decent quality balsamic vinegar. It doesn’t have to be super expensive but select your cooking balsamic like you would select your red wine. If you can’t imagine enjoying a particular balsamic vinegar in a dressing then you won’t enjoy cooking with it. If you don’t know what to select, my favorite go-to is Gran Reserva Balsamic Vinegar of Modena by Lucini.

Because this dish is very meat centric, you can keep this fairly low carb with a few baby golden potatoes and carrots. Also, feel free to add your own flare to this. Some times I like slicing a bunch of fresh garlic cloves in half and tossing it in the pot. Add more spices or other favorite veggies if you want. When it comes to one pot meals like this, you can add in anything you like. One of my favorites is rough chopped fennel. But when it comes to leftovers, you can totally slice the meat up super fine like shown in the images, make a beef sandwich, add Italian sweet cherry peppers, dip it into the au jus, and slather some damn good horseradish. You see what I’m saying? Okay good! Happy eatings!

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BALSAMIC DIJON CHUCK ROAST
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Rub both sides of the meat with salt. Drizzle a large pan with olive oil over high heat and sear each side of the chuck roast for about 3 minutes to get a nice crust.
  2. Place the chuck roast in a slow cooker or dutch oven.
  3. Saute the onions with garlic powder in the drippings over medium-high heat in the same large pan that you seared the meat in. After two minutes, add the balsamic vinegar. Let simmer and stir frequently until it becomes syrupy.
  4. Turn heat off and stir in the Dijon mustard. Add this balsamic Dijon mixture in with the meat. Throw in the thyme sprigs, baby potatoes, whole carrots, salt, pepper, and the beef broth.
  5. Cover and let it cook on low for 8 hours in a slow cooker. Or about 3 hours on 300 F degrees in the oven.
  6. Add the sliced mushrooms an hour before done.

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.

LOW CARB 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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LOW CARB 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.

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.

LOW CARB BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

Anyone can enjoy muffins health-fully now. I’m still amazed by the idea that we can take nuts, grind them up to a fine powder, and use it as a flour substitute. If you’ve never heard of this, I swear this is true. And it tastes amazing. Almonds have a lot of healthy fats so when used as a flour it yields a very moist muffin. So, no oils needed in this recipe. I’m sure this can be made using regular flour but I’m so not interested. These are super low carb, high protein, flavorful, diabetic friendly, and surprisingly filling.

Recently I discovered One Minute Muffins (OMM) which is basically a single serving of a muffin made in a coffee mug in the microwave; mostly prepared as a low-carb, high protein breakfast or dessert alternative. Sounds kinda weird but it’s incredible. I took the idea of a basic recipe, created my own version, and multiplied the ingredients for a half-dozen recipe to make in the oven to last through the week. They’re moist and they hold so well!

You can split this recipe in thirds and make just two muffins in ramekins. All you have to do is cook them in the microwave for about a minute to a minute and a half depending on your microwave. The amount of blueberries doesn’t have to be exact, it will if anything affect your cooking time, and you don’t have to spray the ramekins with cooking spray. All you’re looking for is a solid rise. Use a toothpick to poke down the center. If it comes out clean, they’re ready!

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LOW CARB BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
RECIPE FOR 2 MUFFINS
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
RECIPE FOR 2 MUFFINS
Instructions
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven at 375 F degrees.
  2. In a large bowl add the almond flour, ground flax seed, sugar and brown sugar substitute, and baking powder. Whisk everything together. Then, add the melted unsalted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract into the dry mixture. Mix everything together.
  3. Spray 6 of the muffin reservoirs of a muffin tray with cooking spray and add the muffin batter about 3/4 of the way.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes give or take. Edges should be golden, peaks stiff, and toothpick through the center should come out clean.
  5. Let them cool before removing. They're very moist, using a butter knife or spoon may help to scoop them out.
Recipe Notes

Feel free to use muffin liners instead of cooking spray.