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Gretchen’s Green Goddess and Carrot Ginger Dressings {Gluten-free, Low-carb}

Gretchen’s Green Goddess and Carrot Ginger Dressings {Gluten-free, Low-carb}
Green Goddess and Fresh Cucumbers

Green Goddess and Fresh Cucumbers

Making your own dressings is a much simpler endeavor than many people realize.You not only have absolute control over your ingredients which assures that there won’t be any allergens or unwanted additives, it’s also 100% better tasting and you can tweak it to your own personal tastes! Most will last a week in the fridge, and if you eat as many salads and veggies as we do, you’ll get through it in plenty of time!

GREEN GODDESS: Traditional Green Goddess dressing is actually not made with avocados, but when you have something as green, creamy and full of nutritional goodness as an avocado is, why not include it! This dressing is pretty zingy from the green onion and garlic, so if you prefer something a little calmer, just use less. My son is a huge fan of ranch dressing, and he LOVES this one. I used fresh parsley as the herb because that’s what I had on hand, but when my herb garden is flourishing this summer, I would also add tarragon, chives, or perhaps even make a version with Basil, as the Barefoot Contessa has done here, though I would still add my beloved avocado 😉 And speaking of ingredients, I’ve discovered that not all sour cream is created equally (or healthfully!) Many have a long list of ingredients which include additives. The commercial brand I buy is Daisy, which contains only Grade A cultured cream. Yay, Daisy!! They get an A+ from me, and they get my business!!

Gretchen’s Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 C chopped green onions (white and light green parts)
  • 1/2 C chopped fresh parsley (or blend of herbs such as tarragon, basil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C half and half if needed for consistency

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Store in refrigerator in airtight container up to one week. Makes about 2 cups. (10g net carb per batch, 1.25g net carb per 1/4C)

Green Goddess, Carrot Ginger and Simple Salad

Green Goddess, Carrot Ginger and Simple Salad

CARROT GINGER: Most of us who have been to sushi or hibachi restaurants have tried their simple iceberg salad with a Carrot Ginger dressing (most likely eaten with chopsticks!). I’ve always enjoyed the color and spirited flavors, and decided to give this one a try as well. I did steam the carrots slightly to make them easier to blend in my Ninja, but if your machine is powerful enough, you could just use them raw. I don’t think this is an exact replica of the dressing, but we sure enjoyed it last night on a simple salad to accompany a Broccoli Beef stir fry! I use light olive oil in this recipe because extra virgin olive oil has a much stronger taste that I do not prefer with the other flavors. Of course, use whichever olive oil you like. I prefer to get the flavor from a little bit of sesame oil… just be aware, sesame oil has a very strong flavor, and a little goes a long ways!

Carrot Ginger Dressing

  • 3/4 C chopped carrot, lightly steamed
  • 1/2 C onion, diced
  • 2 Tb fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 light olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 5Tb rice vinegar
  • 1Tb tamari
  • 1/2 tsp sweetener (optional, I used Truvia)
  • 2Tb lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to one week. Makes about 1.5 cups. (22g net carb for batch, about 1g net carb per Tb.) 

Carrot Ginger Dressing

Carrot Ginger Dressing

 

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Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken with Asian Inspired Shirataki Noodle Salad

 

Either you like crispy chicken skin, or you don’t… we DO! Mmmmm! It’s such a wonderful combination of texture and taste, and a good source of healthy fats. So, for the crispy-skin-lovers out there, I hope you enjoy this simple chicken recipe!

Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken with Asian Inspired Salad

Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken with Asian Inspired Salad

Most of the recipes I post here are for foods that traditionally contain wheat or high carbohydrate content, and that have been modified to fit into a grain-free, low-carb way of eating. This tends to include lots of baked goods… not because we eat lots of goodies (we don’t) but because that seems to be the hardest thing for people to convert within a new lifestyle.

This is a recipe that is just plain yummy, and it’s something I would have made in the pre-wheat-free days as well. If you enjoy a crispy skin on tender chicken, this recipe is a great base which can modified in numerous ways to fit the seasonings that you prefer or have on hand.

In this case, I was using Tamari, which is the gluten-free version of soy sauce, and it inspired me to season further with ginger, garlic powder, some fresh tarragon (because I had it on hand) and my homemade Gomasio. (If I’d had some green onion, I would have used it in place of the tarragon, but the tarragon was great!) Take note in the recipe that I pulled the skin back on the chicken to get the herbs and seasonings underneath. This helps to infuse the meat with wonderful flavor, and the skin to become nice and crispy, mmm. Don’t be afraid to mix up the flavors if you prefer lemon/garlic, blackened/cajun or any other combination you enjoy!

Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki Noodles

To accompany the chicken, I made a simple chopped salad of romaine lettuce, fresh avocado, cubed cucumber, shirataki noodles, slivered almonds and Gomasio, topped with a dressing I threw together that my husband ended up being crazy about. It’s very fresh tasting and was also an experiment in using the shirataki noodles in this way. Shirataki noodles are still a new ingredient to me, though I have been hearing about them for quite some time. They are in the refrigerated specialty section in some larger groceries, though they don’t carry them in my small town, so I picked some up when I was in a neighboring Kroger the other day. They are gluten-free and grain-free, and made of tofu, though I wouldn’t say that they have a tofu taste or texture. I quite liked them in this salad, and I also added some to a nice hot bowl of miso soup the other day, and enjoyed that as well!

Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken quarters (thigh/leg)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup tamari
  • 2Tb each fresh tarragon and parsley, finely chopped
  • garlic powder to taste
  • powdered ginger to taste
  • gomasio to taste
Seasoning under the skin

Seasoning under the skin

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Gently separate the chicken skin from the meat (leaving it attached at the sides) and brush under the skin with the tamari, season with the herbs and spices as desired (except gomasio). Pull the skin back into place and brush the chicken on both sides with tamari, season with herbs, spices and tamari. Bake for 45 minutes at 375, rotating the pan partway through cooking. Raise temp to 425 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165. Serves 4.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Asian Inspired Salad with Shirataki Noodles

Chopped Salad

Chopped Salad

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 2 cups chopped romaine hearts
  • 1 avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 C slivered almonds
  • 1 bag shirataki noodles, rinsed and drained
  • gomasio to taste

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 2-3 TB tamari
  • juice of one lime
  • 2TB honey/ginger balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 TB sour cream
  • 1 tsp honey or sweetener to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1TB fresh tarragon, finely chopped

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl, set aside. Combine all dressing ingredients, and use as desired on salad.

 

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Thick Chops Roasted with Pesto Balsamic Marinade and Tomatoes

Pesto Balsamic Chops

Pesto Balsamic Chops

I just posted about making my annual pesto for the freezer, so that I can carry a bit of late summer with me in the kitchen all year long! Here is a recipe that I made with the pesto, just to show you how versatile it is as a seasoning. This is a very simple marinade because most of the work is already done by using the pesto, which contains basil, garlic, olive oil, nuts and Parmesan cheese. It’s also great on chicken or as a marinade for grilled meats and seafood (awesome on grilled shrimp!)

Thick Chops Roasted with
Pesto Balsamic Marinade and Tomatoes

  • Chops and tomatoes, ready for the oven.

    Chops and tomatoes, ready for the oven.

    3 large boneless pork loin chops
    (these were about 1 1/4″ thick or slightly more)

  • 1/2C fresh pesto (or frozen, thawed or jarred)
  • 1/4C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes, roughly diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spread the tomatoes in a casserole dish and set aside.
  3. Combine pesto and balsamic vinegar; spread evenly over both sides of chops as well as the sides.
  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until meat reaches 165-170 using a meat thermometer (or to desired doneness.) Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes prior to serving. (Also great on the grill.) Serve topped with the roasted tomatoes.

I served this with a side of sauteed veggies including broccoli, purple cabbage and brussel sprouts. I’m sorry for not getting a better photo of this all plated up, but it was eaten too quickly! Very juicy and tender, and incredibly easy. Great for a busy weeknight when you don’t have a lot of time to spend on preparation!

Tender and delicious, Pesto Balsamic Roasted Chops

Tender and delicious, Pesto Balsamic Roasted Chops

 

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Basilicious! Fresh Pesto and Sundried-Tomato, Olive Tapenade… Now and Later!

Basil from my garden in early September

Basil from my garden in early September!

Pesto cubes.

Pesto cubes.

One of my favorite herbs to grow each year is BASIL! I just love it… the scent and flavor is so distinctive and comforting. When I have a good crop ready in early September, I look forward to making a nice big batch of pesto! The wonderful thing about pesto, is that it stores fresh in the fridge for a decent amount of time (perhaps a week or two with a film of olive oil over the top), but that it’s also very convenient to make extra and freeze it for the off-season. I use spare ice cube trays, as I think that it’s very easy to store this way, and grabbing a cube or two is a perfect serving size to add to marinara or even to cream cheese to make a spread. I use it to make a simple dressing or marinade for pork or chicken by adding balsamic vinegar.

If you search, you will find many recipes for pesto, with the ingredients remaining more or less constant, and the proportions of each changing slightly for different tastes and preferences. This is how I make mine, but by all means, feel free to adjust to your liking! I changed it up just a little this year… I usually use only pine nuts, but this time I also added some walnuts to make up for not having as many pine nuts as I would have liked. Different olive oils will result in stronger or milder flavors, and it will depend, as well, on the strength of your garlic! While I used Parmesan cheese, you could also use some asiago, romano or a hard Swiss for variety.

Tapenade with cream cheese on Rosemary Focaccia bread.

Tapenade with cream cheese on Rosemary Focaccia bread.

 

This year I also made a tapenade with one batch of the pesto. I had some lovely sun-dried tomatoes to add, and then my creativity kicked in and I added a few more ingredients that resulted in a delicious concoction! If you don’t make your pesto from scratch, you can still buy pesto at the store and then “enhance” it with the remaining ingredients to have something really special. We enjoyed it with some cream cheese and Rosemary Focaccia bread by Dr. Davis, author of Wheat Belly. It was an amazing treat!

Just starting my next batch of pesto! You can see the previous batch as well as a bowl of grated Parmesan.

Just starting my next batch of pesto! You can see the previous batch (upper left) as well as a bowl of grated Parmesan.

Basil Pesto

  • 4C fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic (or to taste)
  • !/4C pine nuts
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • 1C good olive oil
  • 2/3C finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Either finely dice the garlic by hand, or pulse in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Add basil a bit at a time, and process until finely chopped.
  3. Add nuts and process.
  4. Add oil a little at a time, allowing the basil mixture to incorporate the oil before adding more.
  5. Add grates cheese and process to combine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pesto in an ice cube tray for freezing.

Pesto in an ice cube tray for freezing.

 

When storing pesto in the refrigerator, I prefer a glass jar, and will pour a thin film of olive oil over the surface of the pesto to prevent air from getting in and oxidizing it, causing it darken in color. It can also be frozen in ice cube trays and then stored in ziploc bags to use in the off-season.

 

Sun-dried Tomato, Olive Tapenade with Capers

  • Tapenade

    Tapenade

    1 batch of Basil Pesto (above recipe)

  • 1 can black olives, drained and chopped medium-fine
  • 1/4C diced green olives
  • 1/2 C sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 4 Tb capers
  • olive oil as needed to make a spread
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine first four ingredients.
  2. Add olive oil by the tablespoon to get the tapenade to a spreading consistency.
  3. Season as desired.

Serve as is, or combine with cream cheese to make a savory cheese spread. Tapenade can also be stored the same way as pesto, both in the refrigerator and the freezer. 

 

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My Favorite Guacamole!

My Favorite Guacamole

My Favorite Guacamole! Avocados are an abundant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, and folate, along with vitamins A, C, E, K and B6. The many different anti-oxidants found in avocados help prevent inflammation.

Guacamole burgers with Muenster cheese and Low-carb buns

Baby Guacamole burgers with Muenster cheese and Low-carb buns

This is a guacamole recipe that I tweaked years ago, and I am often asked for the recipe when I take it to parties to share with friends. It’s naturally grain-free, gluten-free, Wheat Belly and primal friendly.

Tonight I’ve made a 1/2 batch to serve on grilled burgers with melted muenster cheese and grain-free, low-carb buns. Mmmmmm! It’s also great as a dip for veggies, low-carb cheese crackers and even pork rinds 😉 Low-Carb and lovin’ it!

The Low-carb bun recipe isn’t mine; it was posted by a fellow WB cook on the Wheat Belly Recipe Central page if you’d like to have a look! Check the “posts by others.”

My Favorite Guacamole

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 medium vidalia or white onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 vine-ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 canned roasted chipotle pepper, seeded and diced (or use fresh hot pepper to taste)
  • 1 big handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together to gently mix.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn’t brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

 

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Spicy Mussels with Cilantro, Fennel, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Chilis {Grain-free, Low-carb, Primal}

Healthy, low-carb and flavorful!

Spicy Mussels

Spicy Mussels in broth.

Some dishes are naturally grain-free and low-carb. Mussles is one of those, though in the old days, I would have sopped this up with crusty bread. For the most part, we aren’t big on eating breads anymore (even the grain-free ones) but if you are, by all means, enjoy it with this broth!!

This is one of those thrown-together recipes that just sort of happens and is dependent on what I have on hand. We had a bag of mussels to use, so I decided to saute some diced vegetables in coconut oil, add some chicken broth and chopped cilantro, and use the broth to steam mussels.

Again, not so much of a recipe as a list of ingredients that can change depending on what you like and what you have on hand. This had a nice spiciness to it without being too hot, and the ginger, garlic and cilantro add balance. The sun-dried tomatoes are slightly tangy and sweet, softened in the broth, and the fennel adds a slight hint of sweetness as well.

Spicy Mussels

  • coconut oil
  • a few cloves of garlic, diced
  • tablespoon or so of chopped fresh ginger
  • several sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4- 1/2C fennel, chopped
  • 1 hot salsa pepper, chopped

Saute all above ingredients together until they begin to soften.

Sauteing chopped vegetables to soften.

Sauteing chopped vegetables to soften.

  • 4C chicken broth
  • 1/2C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt, pepper and spices to taste

Add broth, cilantro and seasonings and bring to a boil.

With broth, cilantro ans spices added in, brought to a boil.

With broth, cilantro ans spices added in, brought to a boil.

 

Add mussels, toss, and steam, covered for several minutes or until mussels open. (Discard any mussels that do not open.)

Mussels steaming in broth.

Mussels steaming in broth.

 

Delicious bowl of mussels in spicy broth!

Delicious bowl of mussels in spicy broth!

 

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“Candy Onion” French Onion Soup and {Grain Free} Flaxseed Meal Croutons

One of the things that we’ve always done, but that we enjoy even more now that we are low carb, is our Saturday morning trip to the Farmer’s Market in our small rural Michigan town. There are always such wonderful choices and sometimes there will be unexpected things to try among the fresh red tomatoes, green cukes, purple cabbages and farm fresh eggs. This week I bought a giant “Candy” onion. These things are just HUGE!! Seriously, it was *bigger* than a softball (unfortunately I forgot to take a pic first, but I did find one online at Jungseed.com just to show you the size. You can order seeds if you would like to grow your own!) It was so beautiful that paying $1.50 for one didn’t seem outrageous. From the second I hefted it into a bag, I knew that it was destined to become French onion soup, mmmm!

Since you all know that we are grain free, you may be wondering how I’ll pull off a REAL and indulgent French onion soup without including toasted French bread or croutons to hold up all that gooey cheese. Well, I wondered too! So, I decided to make a bread from ground flax seeds. It’s sort of foccacia style, more flat than a regular loaf of bread. After baking it up, I cubed some of it, spread it out onto a baking sheet with a little olive oil and garlic salt and toasted it up some into faux-croutons. I knew that it would make a bowl of soup even more filling than usual, but the flax meal (and coconut oil) in the bread are such healthy alternatives that I was excited to give it a try.

I am including the recipe for the soup I made as well as the flax bread. There are so many varieties of onion soup out there, and I have tried a lot of them… that I now just go with what I have on hand to determine the types of onion and whether I use red wine (I used Chuck’s Hard Cider instead today.) I usually include at least one variety of sweet onion, such as a Vidalia, and also sometimes use red onions or even jarred cocktail onions to mix things up a bit. This time I used just the Candy onion along with a hefty dose of garlic for flavor and all the wonderful health benefits. I hope that you are able to find a Candy Onion so you can try this version, but I think that most of the French Onion Soup recipes out there are naturally grain-free except for a few that might include some flour, which can easily be omitted. The choice of cheese is up to you, but we have used provolone as well as Swiss…. however, this time it was yogurt cheese that we purchase at the local bulk food store, which was very mild.

“Candy Onion” French Onion Soup

  • 4 Tb butter
  • 1 giant candy onion sliced into 1/4″ rings (or 4 medium onions)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 Tb Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 Tb Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C Chuck’s Hard Cider (or red wine)
  • 1 Tb dried parsley
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme, tied
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Croutons and cheese if desired

In a stock pan over medium/low heat, melt the butter and slowly cook the onions, garlic and salt until tender and almost gooey. This is best done slowly, stirring frequently, for 30-40 minutes.

Add the broth, worchestershire, cider and herbs and simmer another 20 minutes or so. Add the vinegar and remove thyme and bay leaves. Serve in bowls with croutons and top with sliced cheese, melted under the broiler.

Candy Onion Soup

Flax Seed Bread (For Croutons)

  • 2 C ground flax seed
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tb erythritol (or sweetener of choice)
  • 5 eggs, well-beaten
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/3 C coconut oil
  • 1 Tb dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ground pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and combine well using a whisk. Add eggs, water and oil, combining completely. Stir in seasonings. Let sit for a couple minutes to thicken slightly. Grease a baking pan with butter (I used a 9″ by 9″ stone baking dish.) Spread batter evenly and bake for about 20 minutes.

To make croutons: Cut bread into 1/2″ cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray and add seasoning if desired (I used garlic salt.) Bake at 275 for another 20 minutes, stirring the pan occasionally to dry them more evenly. Because the egg content is so high, these will not be the dried out and hard croutons that you might be used to, but they will work well for holding up the cheese on the French Onion soup.

 

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