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Archive for the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

If you’re a pasta lover like me, transitioning to a low-carb or ketogenic diet can feel like you’re being forced to give up your favorite foods. While I stand firmly in my position that I CAN eat whatever I want, but I CHOOSE to eat foods that are better for my body, it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss some of those “naughty” foods.

Luckily I’ve found a product that makes me feel like I’m eating pasta without all the negative effects of all those carbs: konjac noodles!

Konjac is a Japanese plant with a root that is extremely high in fiber and can be used to create noodles that have a strong resemblance to al dente pasta. Pretty much every gram of carbohydrate in konjac is fiber, resulting in a zero net carb food that also supplies lots of fiber and serves as an excellent carrier for my favorite pasta sauce – Alfredo!

skinny pasta

Skinny Pasta with Alfredo sauce, kale sauteed in bacon grease and smoked wild salmon.

I’ve tried several different brands of konjac noodle and so far my favorite is the Skinny Pasta brand. It doesn’t have the “off” aroma that I’ve gotten from some other brands and the preparation is super fast – much quicker than traditional pasta. Simply open the bag, rinse under running water for 1 minute, then heat in a pan for 2-3 minutes. Boom. Pasta.

Konjac noodles have a firm but squishy consistency, a bit like squid or octopus. There’s no real flavor to them on their own, so make sure whatever sauce you serve them with is flavorful.

Pros:

  • Has the consistency of and can be used just like pasta.

  • Holds on well to sauces.

  • Fast and easy to make.

  • Zero net carb, extremely low calorie and high in fiber.

  • Fairly long shelf life.

  • Comes in a variety of shapes including fettuccine, spaghetti and rice shape.

Cons:

  • Price. It is fairly expensive, which can make it costly to make to serve a whole family. The most consistent price I’ve found so far for the Skinny Pasta brand is here for the six-bag variety pack. At the current price this works out to $4 per 9.52 oz bag. Vitacost sometimes has them on sale and you can pick them up individually at a good price. Currently Vitacost has it for $3.43 per bag which is pretty darn good and I plan to stock up. If you use Rakuten and shop at Vitacost you can get money back, too! (Note: you may see the Vitacost brand konjac/shirataki noodle and it is much less expensive. Please feel free to try it, but I found the aroma a little off-putting and am happy to pay a little bit more for Skinny Pasta.)

  • Konjac noodles are not easy to cut like wheat pasta. If you don’t like the noodle length, I recommend cutting it with scissors prior to plating.

  • Some people have a strong reaction to the type of fiber in konjac. A friend of mine described the experience as turning his “colon in to a fire hose.” I have eaten a whole package myself in one sitting with no ill effects, but to test this on yourself you might try eating half a package and see how your body responds.

skinnypasta

Summary

As far as keto “look-alikes” for high carb foods go, Skinny Pasta is pretty impressive. Assuming you don’t have the “fire hose” experience it’s a fantastic substitute. The first time I tried it I was pretty apprehensive because I knew it wasn’t “real” pasta and it made it hard to enjoy purely because of my mindset. But as my commitment to a keto lifestyle has strengthened, I’ve truly come to appreciate all it is. I use Skinny Pasta about once a month to get my Italian on!

I no longer feel pasta deprived with Skinny Pasta. No, it does not produce the “carb high” of regular pasta – and that’s a GREAT thing. You can feel like you are indulging without the inflammation, weight gain or low energy consequences.

Hi-yah!

 

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ppatties
Ah, yes, the commercials tell you eating these will make you think you’re skiing in the Alps, it’s brisk, it’s clean, it’s…corn syrup. Yeah. The ingredients of a York Peppermint Patty according to the Hershey’s website are: SUGAR; CORN SYRUP; SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE ( CHOCOLATE; SUGAR; COCOA; MILK FAT; COCOA BUTTER; SOY LECITHIN; PGPR, EMULSIFIER; VANILLIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR) ; INVERT SUGAR; EGG WHITES; OIL OF PEPPERMINT; MI LK

There are worse things, but I’ll pass. Good thing they are easy to make at home!

Hats off to This Chick Cooks for her peppermint patty recipe. Find it here.I followed her recipe to the letter and these are delicious. Only technique I changed a bit was that after putting the chocolate on the top and sides, I stuck them back in the freezer for a few minutes, flipped them and applied the chocolate to the bottom.

These treats are easy, delicious, and filled with the great health benefits of coconut oil. Get the facts here!

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Eggplant Unrolled. Note the stylish 40 year old Corelle!

Well, it happened again. I set out to follow a recipe and end up doing my own thing. I may never know how an original recipe actually tastes.

Inspired by an Eggplant Roll recipe and this marinara recipe, I came up with the following Eggplant lasagna, or non- rollatini. Rolls would have been cool, but I felt my eggplant slices were too small and it would make it more work than it was worth. The resulting bake (I hate to use the word casserole) was absolutely delicious. Not to toot my own horn, but I seriously felt it was restaurant quality. This makes a HUGE amount, so this would be a good dish to make for a crowd.

KKF Eggplant: Unrolled!

For the unrolls:
3 large eggplant, sliced ¼ inch to 3/8 inch thick
1 head of garlic, smashed and removed from skins
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cups of yogurt cheese (yogurt that has had most of the whey strained out. If you don’t have or don’t want this, you can use ricotta and have the same impact.)
1 cup of cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1 ½ cups grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella plus some for topping the dish
A handful of minced fresh basil
1 pound ground pork
1 t salt
1 T Italian seasoning
Black pepper to taste

For the marinara:
3 T olive oil
6 cloves of the garlic used in the eggplant marinade, minced
26 oz canned diced tomatoes
16 oz can tomato sauce
7 oz can tomato paste
½ c diced mushrooms
¾ cup red wine
1 t salt
Pepper to taste

Steps:

Roasted eggplant slices

1. Toss eggplant rounds with smashed garlic cloves and the olive oil. Marinate for two hours, tossing half way through.
2. Cook the ground pork with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cool to room temperature.
3. Place eggplant rounds in a single layer on baking sheets and put in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
4. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil until the garlic starts to brown. Add all the other marinara ingredients and let simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, mix the cheeses, basil and seasoned ground pork.
6. Take a large casserole dish (I used a 9 x 11, deep dish) or two smaller dishes and put together the layers thusly: cover the bottom of the dish with marinara, then do a layer of eggplant. It’s ok if it doesn’t cover the whole bottom. Put a big dallop of the cheese/pork mix on top of each round, then press another eggplant round on top (not too hard, just flatten it out a bit). Repeat until you run out of rounds, with the cheese mix being the top layer.

Building the layers

7. Pour the rest of the marinara sauce all over the stacks of eggplant and top with the rest of the mozzarella.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly throughout.

Hot, bubbly and delicious!

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I have a confession to make. Even though I’m a real foodie to the core….I have a dirty secret. I love Shin Ramyun Hot n’ Spicy. This is no ordinary ramen noodle processed food product. It’s shameful deliciousness. It’s Korea’s favorite ramen, and mine too. In fact, the only ramen I would even eat. And hey, I was making it with homemade chicken stock and adding good stuf like free range chicken. That redeems something, right?

My desire to make this addiction more tolerable has led to me to try to reproduce it at home without the gluten, soy, MSG, etc., and whatever other nasty crap is in it. So I found this recipe and ofcourse, modified in true KKF style.

This recipe comes darn close to a reasonable replication of my beloved Shin Ramyun

Spicy Noodle Not Ramyun!

KKF Spicy Korean Noodle Soup

3/4 cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted

2 T soy sauce

2 T Ponzu sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 t coconut oil

1 T red chili flakes

4 cups poultry stock (I used smoked turkey stock I made from the bird I smoked on the Green Egg)

6 oz diced chicken (I plan to try tuna, pork and shrimp in the future)

1 T gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste)

1 egg, beaten (optional – I didn’t find it brough much to the dish except for extra protien, which is reason enough to add it.)

6 oz Asian vermicelli (rice or bean thread noodles/celophane noodles)

1 t salt

Cook noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water and cut into more manageable pieces if they are really long.

Melt coconut oil and saute garlic for a few minutes, then add the red pepper flakes, soy sauce and mushrooms with the liquid you reconstituted them in. Boil for a few minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, add gochujang, salt and Ponzu sauce. Add chicken, bring back to a simmer and whisk in the beaten egg, if using.

Simmer for 10 minutes, add the noodles and simmer for another 4-5 minutes until everything is heated through. Grab yourself some chop sticks and dig in!

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Salmon Patties with Lemon-Thyme Cream on Wilted Swiss Chard

I recently got in on a bulk wild salmon purchase from Lummi Island which included some ground salmon. (You even got a free hat with purchase. Gotta love the freebies.)

On nights that I have classes at the gym I need something quick AND I’m a sucker for anything fried in butter, so tonight I tried my hand at some salmon burgers – turned out delicious!

KKF Salmon Patties with Lemon-Thyme Cream

1 lb. ground salmon

2 eggs

1 T Old Bay seasoning

2-3 T butter

For the cream:

1/2 c sour cream

1/2 T lemon juice

1/2 t lemon zest

6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme

Mix together the ingredients for the cream and set aside. Mix up the ground salmon, Old Bay, and eggs. Melt butter in a cast iron frying pan. Shape salmon into balls (as many or few as you’d like, I made 6). They will be loose and not really hold their shape at this point. When the butter is melted and hot, place the salmon balls in the pan and press down lightly to form patties. Flip after a few minutes of frying. When patties feel firm, they are done. Serve hot with lemon thyme cream.

Hint: if you used unsalted butter, you may want to add 1/4 tsp or so of salt to your salmon mix, or try adding it to the cream.

This was VERY fast. I got home from yoga, made this and wilted some swiss chard in bacon fat (heck yeah) and was done eating within an hour. Easy and delish, as a KKF fast food should be!

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We just got back from vacation. As usual, I am starving for nourishing foods when I got home. Vacation food is delicious, but not always nutritious! I looked around the kitchen and this is what I came up with. Apparently it was good because Test Subject Bill devoured it!

KKF Creamy Winter Squash Soup

2 medium sized winter squashes, peeled and chopped into cubes

1 large onion, diced

3 T butter

6 cups chicken stock

1 can coconut milk

1 T garlic powder

1 T dried marjoram

1 1/2 T ground sage

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in butter until soft. Add cubed squash and stock. Simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes. Stir in seasonings and simmer covered for another 10 minutes. Cool for a bit, then puree in food processor, blender or using a stick blender. Return to heat, stir in coconut milk and adjust seasonings. I like lots of pepper. Enjoy!

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Happy Salad

Just in time for your holiday weekend (if you’re in the US) a quick and delicious salad to accompany your burgers, steaks, etc. This is a great way to use leftover roast chicken and/or another use for that package of bacon you’re opening for bacon cheeseburgers this weekend. If your spouse permits, adding shallots, onions, or green onions would probably be a tasty addition to this salad. Everyone have a fun, safe and delicious weekend!

KKF Memorial Day Chicken Bacon Salad

4 oz cooked chicken

5 slices bacon (home made recommended)

1 avocado, cut into chunks

1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli

6-8 lettuce leaves (romaine or other leafy lettuce – not iceberg), cut into bite-size pieces

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise (home made if you got it!)

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Cut your bacon up into little chunks and fry until crisp. Whisk together the mayo and the red wine vinegar to make the dressing. Combine chicken, bacon, avocado, broccoli, lettuce and garlic and pour dressing over mixture. Mix thoroughly and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes two large or four small servings.

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