Cheesy (Tuna) Low Carb Casserole Comfort

21 02 2015

So I haven’t posted much because the 300+ recipes here are enough to survive on for almost a year without repeating a meal! New dishes need to be super fantastic to warrant a new post on my food blog. My food blog is my traveling recipe box… that everyone can enjoy.
I have been making this dish for some time but mentioned it on Facebook and had people ask to post it. We are in the midst of hard-core casserole season made worse by crazy double digit lows. Everyone wants easy comfort food. What is more comforting than a tuna casserole? Traditionally, tuna casserole was a bunch of cans and pasta all thrown together and then popped into the oven or crock pot. Just say no to cream of mushroom soup in any casserole. Chem city and this is just as good.

The other neat thing about this recipe it is super easy IF you are prepared! I make this on a Monday night but prep all the ingredients a couple of days before. I roast the spaghetti squash and saute the veggies-onions-garlic and then just toss it all together and pop it in the oven and walk away. It is as easy as opening cans! You don’t have to add tuna or any other protein, it is good as a veggie meal.

Cheesy (Tuna) Spaghetti Squash Casserole

2 1/2 cups of cooked spaghetti squash (give or take.. dont worry if you dont have enough or too much, it will all work in the end)
1 tbsp FOC (fat of choice)
1 chopped onion
1 clove garlic
* any veggie that is looking sad in your crisper (pepper/beans/broccoli/mushrooms etc)

3/4 cup of cottage cheese, sour cream, ricotta or yogurt (my fav is cottage cheese!)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 cans drained tuna, or any leftover protein from another night OR just keep it veggie
1 cup sharp cheddar (or any cheese you have in your fridge)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (for topping)
Chopped bacon bits for topping (optional)

Slice spaghetti squash lengthwise, scope out the seeds, and pop into a 400 degree oven until the top of the squash yields when you press on it. Put it aside until cool, scrap out the guts and pop it into the fridge.
As the squash is roasting, heat some oil and saute onions, then add garlic and any veggie you want to add to this. Pop the sauted veggies in with the spaghetti squash and store until you are ready to make

Casserole time!
In one large bowl, add veggies and spaghetti squash, throw in sour cream/cottage cheese, spices, cheese and beaten egg and mix it around until everything is a gooey mess. If it feels dry, add a bit more of your cottage cheese/sour cream/yogurt.

Prep a 9 x 13 casserole pan with cooking spray, and scrap the mixture into the dish, sprinkle the top with another 1/4 cup of Parmesan and if you are feeling saucy, some bacon and pop it into a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes until the top browns.

This makes 6 huge squares but alter if the serving size is too large for you. Nuts are based on 2 cans of tuna added and cottage cheese. I love this cold the next day for lunch.
Calories 201, Fat 9g, carbs 6g (Net 5g), Protein 23g, Sugars 2g


Turkey “Pop into my Mouth” Poppers

28 05 2014

I love finger food and anything I can “pop” into my mouth. I also love anything that can be made ahead and eaten warm or cold. Some people don’t “Do” leftovers, I am all about the leftover.
I have been using old recipes on my blog a lot.. in the whole ‘Back to Basics’ mode I am in.. I actually refer to it as “Stop eating like an Asshole” but “Back to Basics” sounds like something I could say to my granny. A lot of my old recipes are solid, and still taste delicious to me five years out.

I presented this recipe at a cooking demo this past weekend and because I have made it numerous times, it should really be posted on my blog. It is officially “PART OF THE ROTATION”.
These little meat snacks can be snacks, an appetizer for a party with a side of tzaziki, hot mustard, peanut sauce or even guacamole, served as an entree with a side or used as a slider. I think these turkey poppers with some thai zucchini noodles may be a really good time. Don’t be surprised if you see that recipe floating into your inbox in the near future.

Turkey/Chicken Poppers

1 lb. ground chicken breast (or pre-ground turkey)
2cups grated zucchini, squeezed after shredding to liberate juice
2-3 green onions, sliced
3-4 Tbsp cilantro, minced
1 egg
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¾ tsp cumin
olive oil, for cooking


Toss turkey/chicken with green onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper (and cumin, if using). Grate Zucchini into a doubled paper towel. Take the corners of the paper towel and make a bag and squeeze the crap out of the grated zucchini over your sink. You aren’t going to believe the moisture coming out of this. Zucchini has a lot of water, and I find this mixture is wet enough without introducing water into it. Add the squished grated zucchini to the bowl and combine.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat and cook until done OR if you prefer, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.
Test the done-ness by opening one of the poppers up. Raw turkey middle = an ER visit.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, or my favourite jalapeno popper dip!

Latte Cubes; Snack of Champions

25 03 2014

People think I am slightly crazed about jello. I eat it maybe 4 times a week. Whether people call it jello or panna cotta, it is all delicious to me. I have always eaten sugarfree jello but recently started to make versions of it for my nephew Sam. sam's birthday

Sammy loves texture in foods, and while he wasnt fussed about cake on his birthday and really preferred the paper plate, we made him tropical juice flavoured gummies for his birthday that he sucked them back. I have since tried a chocolate-banana-almond milk smoothie gummy that was a huge hit, and raspberry-coconut milk gummy. He is teething and so these are one of the only things he eats when his mouth is off.
The last batch of raspberry-coconut milk gummy cubes were fantastic, and Ken and I ate a bunch before I brought them over to my nephews-niece. I said to Ken, “I should make some adult versions of these for snacks.” and so the espresso latte gummy was born.

You could do green tea, or chai or whatever fruit you have in the freezer. My creative wheels are turning. Cool refreshing snacks that have a whack of side benefits.. WIN WIN! I just recently found unflavoured gelatin at Bulk Barn. I have included the measurements for whatever you end up using below.

Gelatin is fantastic for you.. no lie. I grabbed the list below from Wellness Mama. Tell me these aren’t good reasons to eat gelatin especially since a lot of WLS patients experience these things?

Why Gelatin?
– Supports skin, hair and nail growth
– Good for joints and can help joint recovery
– Can help tighten loose skin
– Can improve digestion since it naturally binds to water and helps food move more easily though the digestive track
– Great source of dietary collagen
– Source of protein (though not a spectacular one) but its specific amino acids can help build muscle.”

Gelatin is largely composed of the amino acids glycine and proline, which many people don’t consume in adequate amounts as they are found in the bones, fibrous tissues and organs of animals and as a population, we don’t consume these parts as much anymore. These amino acids are needed not only for proper skin, hair and nail growth, but for optimal immune function and weight regulation!

Glycine, which makes up about 1/3 of the amino acids in gelatin powder is anti-inflammatory and evidence is finding that it can help speed wound healing. Glycine in gelatin can also help improve sleep ease and quality.

PSA for gelatin – over

Latte Gummies

2 cups of strongly brewed coffee (or any hot liquid of choice)
2 packages of KNOX gelatin (or 2 tbsp of bulk gelatin)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup of Splenda

1 can of coconut milk
2 packages of KNOX gelatin (or 2 tbsp of bulk gelatin)
1/4 cup of Splenda OR 8 drops stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract

If you make this with hot coffee or green tea, then you dont have to boil anything! What you do need to start with is a hot liquid. Add the 1/4 cup of splenda to the hot liquid, and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle the gelatin over the hot liquid and really whisk it in. Gelatin likes to sink to the bottom, so really make an effort and give it a good stir for at least a minute. Prep a 8 x 8 pan (or whatever shape you want to make) and wipe a the bottom and sides with a paper towel that has a slosh of oil on it. This will help with the set jello popping out from the pan and not creating a mess.

Pop into the fridge for a couple of hours. Once the first layer is gelled, open the coconut milk, heat it up to almost boiling on the stove, add the Splenda and stire until dissolved, add the stevia, vanilla and unflavoured gelatin and give it a good stir.
jello coffee and milk
The only difference on technique from above is THAT YOU NEED THIS TO COOL TO ROOM TEMPERATURE before you pour it over the set espresso layer. If it is too hot, then it will start to re-melt the bottom layer and you will have mixing. Which isnt really a big deal because it will taste the same going down mixed or unmixed.
Pop back into the fridge for a couple of hours. Once everything is set, run a knife along the outside edges of the pan, and invert on a cutting tray. It should just slip right out of the pan. Mine stuck a little bit in the middle.. which Ken used as an opportunity to say “those are for me. You can’t eat ugly food!” and gobbled them up.
jello flipped out of pan

I got 54 squares out of a batch in an 8 x 8 pan. I calculated a per square nut so you can eat lots or some… up to you. On average, I can squish 6 cubes into a half cup container for work.
Calories 17, Carbs 1g, Fat 1g, Protein 1g
jello finale

HELLO Spring & Easter Lemon Bars

23 03 2014

Winter 2014 – please die!

My head space is into spring, and while the weather doesnt actually reflect Spring, my need to make springtime treats and foods is full on. We have had our first protein salad this past week and I am fixated on Easter treats, like carrot cake and lemony things.

When I am take out my KA food processor, I usually like to use it a couple of times before I wash it, because washing all those components are a DRAG. I decided to whip these up and then wipe out the processor to shred some carrots, daikon radish and cabbage to make a “bitey” coleslaw. I call it a twofer. Best thing about this recipe is that is NO BAKE!!

Paleo Lemon Bars

2 cups raw cashews (pieces are cheaper and whole cashews)
1.5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
8 drops vanilla stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice**(see edit)
2 tbsp lemon zest

**EDIT(May 29th, 2014) My friend Lisi has an aversion to coconut and asked whether you could sub in large flake oatmeal. I tested this out last night and the answer is yes. Add the cup of oatmeal at the beginning as per the instructions. Reserve the 1/2 cup until after all the liquid goes in. IF after you add the last of the oatmeal, the mixture isn’t coming together as a dough, ADD another tbsp of lemon juice

Grab your food processor and throw in all the cashews, 1 cup of the coconut (reserve 1/2 cup for the end), and pulse until it is broken up. Throw in the lemon zest, lemon juice, stevia and maple syrup and whip it up until you start to get a dough forming. Add the last 1/2 cup of coconut flakes and pulse until incorporated.

Line a 8 x 8 pan with wax or parchment paper and press into the pan picking off a bit to pop into your mouth. YUM. Let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours and cut into AT LEAST 16 pieces.
lemon bar

Nuts on this are dependent on how large you cut your tray of spring goodness. I am quoting for 16 squares but ended up cutting my squares in half again.
So for 16 squares:
Calories 149, Carbs 6 (NET 4g), Fat 12g, Protein 5g, Sugar 2g
Suck it winter!

Cabbage Roll Soup & Bulk Barn Addiction

28 02 2014

I can’t be trusted in Bulk Barn. This is a hard place for a recovering sugar addict.. I cruise the aisles looking at all the candy and remembering how it all use to be my best friend. I can’t go into these places without some morale support and wont kid myself to think I can just “pop” in to buy some nuts and be done with it. The memories are too strong in those places, that I need a buddy.
The sobering truth is while I am healthy and almost five years out from my W.L. surgery, I have to be more vigilant about where I came from and how easy it could be to slip back into old ways.

It has been f-ing cold this winter so after my dodging and weaving at the Bulk Barn, I needed some comfort food. Enter Cabbage Roll Soup. It has all the components I love, cabbage, chorizo, and horseradish bitey-ness. I will also add it is pretty darn low in calories and mighty delicious. Ken had two bowls and said “blog worthy” so we make it again. Fart-tastic as well.. your colon loves cruciferous veggies. This is like kimchi in soup form… YUMMO

Cabbage Roll Soup
adapted from Anna Olsen’s recipe

3 strips diced bacon or pkg of PC chorizo
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium carrot, grated
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or pork
1 clove garlic
6 cups diced green or savoy cabbage
1 28oz tins diced tomato
2 cups sodium reduced chicken stock/broth
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 bay leaves
to taste salt and pepper
garnish sour cream

Cook diced bacon or chorizo in heavy bottomed soup pot until crisp and the fat renders out. Add chopped onion and let the onions cook for 5 minutes until they start to get soft. Add celery, carrot and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the ground meat and garlic and let it all brown. Pull off any excess fat coming off the meat (or not) depending on how you are feeling.
pork cabbage
Stir in the cabbage, tomatoes, chicken stock, cider vinegar, horseradish, paprika, and bay leaves.

Bring to a strong simmer and then turn down to low simmer and neglect until the cabbage is yielding. This soup gets better the next day so let it simmer all day or make it the night before and reheat. Garnish with sour cream and serve.

This makes about 10 cups of soup, serving size is 1 cup. Ken, who doesnt believe soup is a meal, ate two bowls and told me he really liked it.
Nuts are as follows made with chorizo and ground pork. This will change with bacon and lean etc.
Calories 217, Carbs 10 (7g NET), Fat 12g, Protein 18g, Sugar 5g

Sweet Potato Pie & Public Television

27 02 2014

While I do get to do cool things at work all the time, and every day is something cool which makes you feel grateful for working at such an interesting place, I sometimes get asked to do SUPER cool things, like be on TV. So a year ago the metals conservator at work asked me to participate in this segment of Fakes and Forgeries on Museum Diaries. She has an Asian Zun metal pot that was a pastiche, meaning it was a Frankensteined piece put together from one excavation site. Back then, they werent as exhaustive about grid-ding up a site as today.
blog pork
So part of the gig was to see if all the parts of this pot that had been shoved together were compositionally the same, or not.
You’ll have to watch the episode to find out whether the Zun pot was real or not!
me on tv

So while we watched the episode, we ate Sweet Potato Pie. How does one deal with leftovers post WLS? It is a reality, because you dont eat the way you use to, and pork shoulder is usually a pretty meaty-large cut. You make a pie out of it!

Sweet Potato Pulled Pork Pie

(say that 10 times fast)

1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed (~1.5 to 2 cups)
Cooking spray
salt and pepper

2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of green onions
2 tbsp oil
2 cups shredded leftover pork or any meat you have going

3 to 4 eggs, scrambled

So I did this in parts because I wanted to hit the gym on my way home leaving Ken to assemble this and pop it into the oven. So the night before I sprayed a pie plate with cooking spray, pre-heated the oven to 375 and molded the mashed sweet potato into the dish like a pie crust. I squirted the pie with some more cooking spray and popped it into the oven for 20 minutes to bake up.

While that was baking in the oven, I heated the oil, and sauted both the onions and mushrooms until they were yielding. Threw in the leftover pork, gave it a good mix and plopped the whole thing into a storage container for the night. Pie crust came out of the oven, I left it to cool, and them saran-ed it and popped in the fridge for the next night. I can make this all in one shot, just read on. No cooling necessary.

The next night, Ken pre-heated the oven to 375, plopped the pork-veggie saute into a bowl, cracked 4 eggs in and mixed it around. Poured that into the sweet potato crust and popped it into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.. just until the eggs set.
sweet potato pie

The interior “Money” shot. Look at all that crispy pork. SO delicious.
sweet potaoe pie 2

This makes 8 servings and would be fabulous for a brunch crowd.
Calories 257, Carbs 15(14g net), Fat 16g. Protein 14, Sugar 4g

A Bit of the South in Your Mouth!

26 02 2014

While some people may think my title is a little “off-colour”, I can assure you it was a thought based solely on a very raunchy band we use to see at Lee’s Palace, called White Cowbell Oklahoma.
I kid you not… these guys were white trash Southerners way before Duck Dynasty and Moonshine Wars.

I have just come back from Tucson, Arizona, and had a fabulous time with my colleagues and may I just brag that the weather was F-ing awesome. After the grim weather this winter in Toronto, I was content to not have to wear socks.. let alone 85F weather every day. I didn’t pack the right clothing but I was not complaining about it AT ALL!
What I do miss when I am away is cooking, my husband, and my cranky cat Kelvin. I am home, and Ken has been eating freezer meals so the fridge is a bit sparse. I admit to getting a bit giddy when I have less stuff to use to make something… it is my own version of Chopped.
“Katherine you have two bananas, a carrot, 4 lbs of frozen pork shoulder and a crock pot, what will you make”… AHHHHH
So I have always wanted to make South Carolina BBQ sauce.. because I love a good mustard and let’s face it, the real southern tomatoe based ones are chock full of sugar. So looking in my fridge I had good ole French’s mustard, low carb ketchup and the wheels started turning.

South Carolina Low Carb BBQ Pulled Pork

1 pork shoulder, fat trimmed, and tied (ours was around 4lbs-no bone)
1 crock pot or large pot that is oven safe

1/2 cup French’s yellow mustard
1 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
1/4 cup of sf maple syrup or honey if you use sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of sf or low carb ketchup *PC has an organic ketchup that is super low in sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 onion, grated into a pulp (so it mixes into the sauce)

SO this recipe is super easy to whip up but it does require some forethought as you need to marinate-neglect the pork coated with sauce in the fridge overnight up to 24 hours.

Rinse and pat dry pork shoulder, mix BBQ ingredients up and plop pork into a ziploc. Pour delicious BBQ sauce over pork and squeeze out all the air in the ziploc and toss it into the fridge overnight up to 24 hrs.

Fast forward to me making coffee the next morning. Grab porky ziploc and dump the entire thing into your crock pot OR (for better results) into a oven safe deep pot.
south pork
I added some slightly withered jalapenos because I figured they would impart flavour. I added about a 3/4 of a cup of water, and left the lid off.
Slip the pot into a 250 degree oven for 8 hours and let it do it’s thing. Pulled pork in the crock pot is dead easy but it lacks the formation of “bark” that crispy outer skin you get when you braise in the oven.
This is bark… that tasty crispy bit. You can also achieve this on the BBQ, but who wants to leave the BBQ on for like 8 hours?
Either way you prepare it, it is delicious.
Let cool, and shred. Mix some of the sauce back into the shredded pork and put some of the South in your MOUTH.
Wait until you see what we did with the leftovers *cue suspenseful music here*
For another blog post!!