4 Delicious Low-Carb Dinner Ideas

4 Delicious Low-Carb Dinner Ideas

Over the past few years I’ve transitioned to a lower-carb diet. It’s what seems to work best for me, to maintain my ideal weight and maximize my energy. In the past, I would do short stints of low-carb eating, especially after my trip to South America when I gained some weight, but then I would bring the carbs back in.  We’ve also experimented with going full Keto (high fat, very low carb) and my partner is currently experimenting with Carnivore. What I’ve settled into is what I like to call a lower-carb diet, which just means that I keep carbs fairly low, without depriving myself of the occasional taco night, or roasted yams, or even the occasional sandwich. 

The five dinner ideas below are perfect if you’re trying to minimize carbs. 

I should also mention, the Metabolic Makeover from Univera has been a huge support for me in optimizing my metabolism, increasing energy, reducing cravings, and so much more. 

 

#1 Lettuce wrapped burger with crispy turnips & cauliflower hot wings

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You’ll need:

  • Ground meat of choice: lean beef, lamb, bison, chicken, turkey (preferably free range/grass fed/organic)
  • Head of cauliflower
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Mushrooms (I love sliced portobella mushrooms!)
  • Frank’s hot sauce
  • spices/seasonings
  • 1 avocado
  • 1-2 medium sized turnips
  • Your favourite burger toppings that are low/no sugar – mustard is usually okay

Form your burger patties from your chosen protein. I like to season my burgers with some combination of the following: fresh or dried herbs like parsley or oregano, minced garlic, minced shallots, salt and pepper, a teaspoon of horseradish or dash of chili flakes. Make sure to check labels on any spices or sauces you use as many contain sugar!

Wash, peel and thinly slice the turnips (a mandolin works well if you have one). Wash and chop the cauliflower into small florets. Spread slices of turnip on one baking sheet and cauliflower florets on the other; drizzle both with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes, flip slices of turnips and cauliflower florets and continue baking for about 10 minutes until the turnips are golden brown and slightly crispy and the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned. Toss the cauliflower ‘wings’ in Frank’s Hot Sauce, or serve with a small dipping bowl of hot sauce.

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While veggies are roasting, cook burgers and mushrooms. You can either grill the portobella mushrooms or saute chopped mushrooms instead.

Build your burgers with several lettuce leaves forming a ‘bun,’ top with a thin spread of grainy mustard, a couple slices of avocado, and crispy turnips. Serve with a side of cauliflower ‘hot wings’ and green salad. Enjoy!

 

#2 Cauliflower Shepard’s Pie

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Serves 2-4 people. Serve with a green salad.

You’ll need:

  • Ground meat of choice: lean beef, lamb, bison, chicken, turkey
  • Head of cauliflower
  • A couple sticks of celery, chopped
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas (rather than the carrots pictured above, you can also use leeks)
  • Onion, diced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Sage, rosemary, thyme – great with chicken, turkey, lamb
  • Chili powder, cumin,  – great with beef or bison
  • ½ cup of chicken broth or a ¼ cup of tomato paste

Wash and chop the cauliflower into chunks and place in a large pot covered in water. Bring to a boil and cook until the cauliflower is fork-tender. Meanwhile, cook the ground meat in a cast iron pan on the stove; after cooking, drain excess fat/liquid and add seasonings. This is where you can experiment with flavours. I like to use diced garlic and onion (add these while the meat is cooking), a sprinkle of chopped sage, rosemary and/or thyme, or a blend of chili powder, cumin and a small sprinkle of cayenne, salt and pepper. After draining excess fat, add about ½ -⅔ cup of chicken broth, or a small amount of tomato paste to the meat mixture. Add frozen peas, mix, and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

Drain the cauliflower and transfer to a high powered blender or food processor, add a couple tablespoons of butter/coconut oil/olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

Spread the mashed cauliflower on top of the meat mixture and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for about 20 mins. Cool slightly and serve.

 

#3 Raw Zoodles with Pesto & Chicken

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Serves 2 people. 

You’ll need:

  • One large zucchini or two small ones
  • Pesto (check labels for sneaky sweeteners)
  • Handful of mushrooms of your choice
  • Swiss chard or brocollini
  • Tbs Olive oil
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Sprouts
  • Hemp hearts
  • Chicken breast or thigh

Use a spiralizer (my second favourite kitchen tool after the vitamix!) to turn the zucchini into zoodles. Leave zoodles on a bed of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Cook the mushrooms and other veggies of your choice in a pan with olive oil and the minced garlic; set aside. Pan fry bite size chunks of chicken breast or thigh. (Pictured here is organic tofu, which is a nice vegetarian option, but higher in carbs.)

Toss the zoodles in pesto and top with the cooked mushrooms and chicken. Garnish with sprouts and/or a sprinkle of hemp hearts if desired.

 

#4 Taco Salad / Lettuce tacos

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In the version pictured above I used some sour cream, but I normally make these without dairy. If you are friends with dairy feel free to add some shredded cheese or sour cream. 

This is two meals in one recipe! Very similar food prep can be served two different ways.

You’ll need:

  • Lean protein of your choice: ground beef, pan fried fish, or chicken
  • Seasonings: cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne
  • Leaf lettuce, washed
  • Red or green onion, thinly sliced
  • Thinly sliced cabbage
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Cilantro, washed, trimmed and chopped roughly
  • Lime wedges
  • Frank’s hot sauce

 

Cook meat as desired. Wash and prepare veggies as listed.

Assemble Lettuce Tacos by selecting large leaves and filling with cooked meat, sliced onion, avocado, cilantro, sliced cabbage and a drizzle of hot sauce. Squeeze some lime juice on top and enjoy!

Or

Create Taco Salad with chopped or ripped lettuce, cabbage, red onion, avocado, cilantro, and top with meat of choice (usually ground beef).  

VARIATION

You can also mash the avocado with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper, cumin, and a dash of chili flakes to make a tasty guacamole.

A little bit of fresh salsa is also very delicious on either the tacos or salad. 

5 delicious and easy breakfasts that are actually good for you

5 delicious and easy breakfasts that are actually good for you

Breakfast… my favourite meal of the day!

Who am I kidding?!? All meals are my favourite. I love to eat. But breakfast is especially important to me because after a whole night of fasting (aka sleeping) I usually wake up with a roaring dragon in my belly (aka hunger).

 

I’ve developed a habit of starting my day with warm lemon water (which hydrates and creates an alkaline environment in the body). This is followed soon after by my pure aloe vera concentrate and then by a smoothie packed with greens, fruit, healthy fats and protein.

 

Starting with the non-negotiable smoothie, these are my top 5 favourite healthy breakfasts.

#1 Smoothie

Our morning smoothie is such an important part of the day that our weekly grocery shop revolves around stocking up on necessary smoothie making ingredients. Check out one of my favourite recipes including a list of the smoothie staples in our house.  Smoothie’s are #1 on my list of healthy breakfasts because they are easy to make and packed with easily accessible nutrients; I almost never leave home without one.

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#2 Eggs n’ greens

There are a zillion different potential combos under this breaky category and this is our 2nd most common breakfast (after smoothies). We eat gluten free at home and we also try to minimize carbs from processed flours, therefore you won’t find bread in any of these breakfasts. Once in a while a breakfast sandwich makes an appearance in our house and it is usually cause for celebration. (I do love bread; you can read about how I broke up with bread in my food journey post). We also aim to eat a ton of veggies so the eggs n’ greens tends to be the go-to breakfast. Farm fresh, free run, happy, local eggs are the absolute best and I personally judge the quality of the eggs by the richness of the colour of the yolk.

eggs n greens

 

Instructions:

  • warm a cast iron pan and add some coconut oil, olive oil, or butter
  • lightly chop or rip up your greens (or veggies of choice) and toss in the pan
  • briefly saute/steam until the greens soften up
  • while veggies are cooking, cook the eggs to your liking – I love poached, over medium, or scrambled eggs (in which case I scramble them right up with the greens) 

Scoop into a bowl and top with avocado, goat cheese, fresh herbs and/or hot sauce for a healthy breakfast that tastes amazing.

  • optional bonus: add a dollop of sauerkraut or kimchi to the dish for all the probiotic and flavour goodness

 

#3 Steel cut oatmeal

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This is the healthiest type of oatmeal because it is less processed and therefore slower to metabolize and provides longer lasting fuel. Decrease cooking time by soaking the oats overnight in water (thanks mom!) or try making slow cooker overnight oats! This recipe has worked out well for me. For a fun and tasty experience, add raisins to the slow cooker and see what happens, I dare ya!

My favourite oatmeal toppings include: chia seeds, plain yogurt, butter, cinnamon, nuts or seeds, raisins, fruit, and a small drizzle of maple syrup or honey.

 

#4 Granola with yogurt and fruit

breakfastGranola is practically a dirty word around our house. True story: when one of us buys granola we usually come home with a big grin on our face and say something like ‘I brought home a treat!’

Why? Because we love it so much. We eat it any time of the day, and it is usually gone in a couple days… Perhaps you have a healthier relationship with granola and can actually keep it in the house; if so, it does make a really quick, easy and healthy breakfast IF you choose a low sugar kind (read your labels) or make it yourself. The key is making or finding a granola that has lots of healthy nuts and seeds in it, and not very much sugar. Here’s my granola recipe.

I usually eat it with almond milk, yogurt and berries or fruit on top. 

 

#5 Oatmeal protein pancakes

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I love making pancakes and almost never follow a recipe; I usually invent a recipe based on what I have on hand. This time I did actually jot down what I was using and they turned out pretty well, so here goes:

Combine in a Vitamix or food processor:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of water or milk of choice

 Then add:

  • 2 tbs of melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup oats (large flake oats)
  • 1 large scoop of protein powder (I use a vanilla flavoured blend of whey, non-gmo soy and pea protein)
  • 1 cup of gluten free pancake mix (or gf flour of choice plus 1 tsp of baking powder)

Blend again until nice and smooth.

Heat a cast iron pan and add some butter or coconut oil. Pour batter into pan, allow it to cook until bubbles form, flip and cook another minute or so. Top with fresh or cooked fruit, coconut shavings, maple syrup, yogurt, peanut butter or whatever you fancy!

You can add some blueberries right in to the batter as they are cooking if you’re into that sort of thing, too.

 

So there you have it – 5 breakfasts that provide protein, fiber, nutrients, and a burst of flavour. I hope this makes you wonder how you ever considered skipping breakfast!

 

Do you have any favourite recipes for breakfast? Please share in the comments <3

 

13 Ingredients for epic smoothies, 3 of them might surprise you!

13 Ingredients for epic smoothies, 3 of them might surprise you!

Smoothies are one of my favourite things. In the world.

IMG_9185The only time I’ve ever gotten sick of smoothies was when I had my wisdom teeth out and couldn’t eat solid food for a week.

I find it funny when people say, oh yeah.. I gotta start making smoothies in the morning – like it’s a hard thing to do?! I wouldn’t want to start my day any other way. But we’re each on our journey; here’s hoping you’ll hop on the smoothie bandwagon with me! 

I’m not that big on recipes, except maybe for baking… but here are my…

top ten smoothie ingredients


  1. berries
    (usually frozen) – full of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients and of course, delicious
  2. banana – for that smooth texture, sweetness, and potassium
  3. protein powder – so you can actually go do some stuff before you need to eat again
  4. hemp hearts – also protein packed and containing beneficial fatty acids
  5. greens powder – spirulina, and so much more (check out my fav brand)
  6. spinach and/or kale (although I recently learned that eating too much raw kale can mess with your thyroid, oops!)
  7. cucumber – why not? you can’t even taste it
  8. avocado – creaminess galore and healthy fats
  9. almond milk and/or yogurt
  10. superfood concentrate (Xtra)

3 ingredients you probably aren’t putting in your smoothies, but should be!

  1. cayenne: I’ve got several friends who are studying or have studied chinese medicine. Green veggies are cooling, but adding cayenne to your smoothie has a warming effect.  AND it tastes epic. A couple sprinkles usually does the trick.
  2. peanut butter: its delicious and a good source of protein if you run out of protein powder (imagine this: chocolate protein powder, almond milk, frozen banana, peanut butter… drool)
  3. pure aloe vera juice: if you aren’t familiar with drinking aloe, check out this post. I LOVE to drink my Aloe straight up – however, some folks prefer to toss it in the blender with the rest of your smoothie goodies.

If I had to give you my current favourite smoothie recipe, this is it, but a smoothie is a glorious thing, you can throw almost any combination of fruit, protein powder, and greens in the blender and as long as you have some key ingredients, it will taste delicious (although slightly diff

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What are those key ingredients?

For smooth, creamy texture make sure you have at least one of the following: avocado, banana, or good quality protein powder.

For yummy flavour, make sure you have about 1 cup of fruit (berries, pear, apple, are good choices) and/or banana  (frozen fruit gives the smoothie its smoothie character, but you can also use raw fruit. I almost never put ice in my smoothie.)

For nutrition, pack in spinach, kale, cucumber, and a good quality greens powder will really take your smoothie to the next level of awesome.

For satiety, use at least one source of protein; protein powder, hemp hearts, greek yogurt, peanut butter

For optimal health, use whatever super foods you have on hand, for example a good quality greens powder with spirulina, wheatgrass etc, a pure aloe vera juice concentrate, cayenne powder

 

Pear & Spinach Morning Glory Smoothie

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. 

Makes enough to fill 2 500 ml mason jars. One for you and one for your sweetie, or one for you now and one for you later!

  • handful of spinach (washed and preferably organic)
  • 1 cup of frozen fruit (today’s recipe includes frozen pears and apples from my backyard)
  • chunk of cucumber (about 3 inches long)
  • 1 banana
  • ½ of a large avocado (or 1 whole small avocado)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup of organic plain yogurt
  • 1-2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of greens powder
  • 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 2 ounces of botanical concentrate Xtra
  • 2 ounces of pure aloe vera juice

Enjoy!

Here’s where I source my high quality superfoods, aloe veragreens, and protein powder.

 

Bragging Rights: Make your own Almond Milk

Bragging Rights: Make your own Almond Milk

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on store-bought almond milk? Its not just almonds… oh, no!  There’s usually sugar and a whole lot of other not very appealing ingredients. But luckily, its super easy to make! You’ll know exactly what’s in it, and be able to impress your friends. About three years ago I cut back on dairy and switched to almond milk for smoothies, granola, and my chai tea. I feel great! I’m not completely dairy free but I’ve read and seen enough to know that I don’t want to be consuming a lot of dairy on a daily basis (I’ll save my dairy consumption for one of my favourite things on the planet: cheese).

Did you know that almonds are packed with nutritional benefits? Yes. Of course you do. Just in case you need a refresher, here are a few of them (borrowed from the well-researched book, The Metabolic Makeover by Stephen Cherniske and Dr Natalie Kather):

Almonds

  • stabilize blood sugar
  • lower cholesterol
  • source of magnesium (most people are deficient)
  • source of protein
  • contain essential fats
  • contain Vitamin E and vitamin B12 (riboflavin)

This recipe is adapted from the Blissful cookbook, from an awesome little raw food place called Cafe Bliss in Victoria, BC.

Instructions

You will need a blender and a cheese cloth or “nut milk bag” (very fine mesh).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of soaked almonds (soak for 10-12 hours)
  • 4 cups fresh water
  • 2-4 dates, pitted
  • pinch salt
  • splash of pure vanilla extract, or your choice of cinnamon, nutmeg or other seasonings

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth.

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Hold the cheese cloth/nut milk bag over a bowl and pour almond mixture into it. Squeeze liquid through bag so that the almond pulp is all that remains in the bag. Store milk in a 1L glass jar in the fridge (we bought a litre of milk and after using it, we washed the jar and now use it for almond milk). Use the almond pulp in granola, other baked goods, or bliss balls.

Enjoy your delicious fresh almond milk with home-made granola, in your smoothie or just on its own.

 

Delicious and Nutritious: SuperFood Granola

Delicious and Nutritious: SuperFood Granola


Since store-bought granola is usually packed with sugar (remember, every 4 grams of sugar = one teaspoon, it adds up quick), I usually make my own.  I usually have oats and a few types of nuts on hand and almost never follow this recipe exactly. But if you’re doing this for the first time it definitely helps to have a recipe and it is amazing if you have all these ingredients on hand. I like to make sure I have a fair amount of nuts to increase the protein level.

Instructions

GranolaPrep-time: 10 mins  Cook time: 20-30 mins

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F

Combine in a large bowl:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup almond pieces (we like slivers of almond)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • add your choice of spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves etc

Combine and warm:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup oil (grapeseed or coconut oil preferred)

Pour over the oat/nut mixture and mix thoroughly to coat.

Pour mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 5-7 minutes and then stir around. Bake another 5-7 minutes and stir again. Repeat until desired doneness is reached. Let cool, then add: 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit.

Pump it up with superfoods!

  • 2 tbsp maca powder (add to oat mixture before the liquids)
  • ¼-½ cup hemp hearts (add after cooking)

Enjoy with homemade almond milk!