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


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

Un-Rice Pudding: Raisin Haters Move On

4 11 2013

The week of comfort food continues…
I love rice pudding..but rice no longer loves me. I miss a steaming bowl of warm rice pudding and I use to make it quite often. Probably one of the reasons why I needed

The fondest memory of rice pudding was at the cottage. As kids we use to head up to Crane Lake Resort every year for the last two weeks of summer. Three generations of Dunnells would be up there fishing, water skiing and running around with lighted cat tails (fire and children.. can you tell it was the 70s?)
Every night all 8 of us would head to the lodge and they would cook us a meal. One night they made rice pudding, still warm, and served it to us in cereal sized bowls. I remember after a long day of fishing and running off the dock swimming, that rice pudding was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Can Cauliflower be the new Rice? Yes, yes it can.

I know some of you are highly skeptical of this dessert as it may *seem* like a weird pairing. If you were a hardcore rice pudding fan, like myself, this is a good substitute. This can be made for your morning “oatmeal”, snack, or a dessert. Based on an old weight watchers recipe, this version is way lower carbs, no sugar and uses coconut milk so make it friendly for the lactose intolerant.

Un-Rice Pudding

Adapted from a Simply the Best Weight Watchers cookbook

2 cups of rice cauliflower, uncooked
1 can of coconut milk, full fat
1/4 cup of Splenda, or sweetener of choice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, large, beaten
1/3 cup of water
2 tbsp of arrowroot starch (or potato starch or if you must corn starch)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom (optional)
a splash of rosewater (if you want)


Grab a pot and put it over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the riced cauliflower and stir occasionally. You are in essence steaming the water off the cauliflower. This should take about 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and Splenda and let the mixture come up to a simmer.

On the side in another bowl, mix the eggs, water and starch together. Once the mixture is simmering, add the egg mixture to the hot simmering mixture and stir until the the pudding thickens.

At this point pull it from the heat, mix in spices and raisins. This should make 8 servings or even less if you want to have a big bowl.

I based my nutrition on 8-1/2 cup servings.
Calories 132, Carbs 11g(NET 10), Fat 8g, Protein 2g, Sugars 7g

Cha-Cha-Chia Breakfast Pudding

16 09 2013

So my life right now is full of sickness. Both Ken and I have had a summer colds, and it keeps hanging on. As I type this I feel fine but my left ear is completely clogged and clicking. This cold is a juicy one. I also had a massive skin infection, probably some transfer from dealing with cat pee-poo. We are dealing with a sick cat who is on a downward slide to kitty heaven. Ken and I are cat nurses, administering pills and IV fluids to make her more comfy until it’s time to put her down.
When life presents a “re-occurring theme” I tend to wonder whether someone is trying to tell me something. Maybe Ken and I need to up our game with respect to our healthy lifestyle OR to celebrate the day-to-day given it could be taken from us at any time.

So as I was reading Paleomg I paused on her recipe post about breaking up with her bf and just wanting to eat her sorrows away with chocolate and caffeine. I can relate! So I decided to try her chia-chocolate-coffee pudding and morph it a bit for my rearranged gut. Almost 4and a half years after surgery and still have to start my day with protein. It has and will be my morning go to and I can’t fathom eating cereal or toast. The thought of it makes me a bit queasy. Oh how things have changed!

Protein Chia Pudding
Adapted from Paleomg

1/2 cup of cold coffee
1/2 cup of coconut milk (or whatever milk you use)
2 servings of any sweetener your choose
2 scoops protein – chocolate or vanilla
2 tsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp Chia seeds

Grab two 1 cup containers. Add to each 1/4 cup of coffee and 1/4 cup of milk of choice. Add sweetener and protein and mix thoroughly. Add 2 tbsp of Chia per container, stir and then give it a good shake after you secure the lid. Pop into the fridge overnight.
Consume at will the next morning. Both Ken and I think this stuff really keeps you full for a long time, and the carb-protein mix is really good for him to get him started in the mornings. This tastes incredibly decadent in the morning, which given the BS factor in our lives right now, seems to make things a little easier.

Cuba Snacks: Apple Oatmeal Protein Snacks

23 04 2013

I was asked to post this by one of my WLS friends when she saw it on my food diary.
I sometimes eat these when I am on the go, but because they contain oats, I usually refrain from them. Ken eats them in the morning with coffee because he can pop them into his mouth, and they have a nice carb-protein balance especially for a diabetic. Diabetics coming off of a fast whilst sleeping need some quick energy. He is pretty pokey in the morning so anything I can do to make the morning go smoothly is a good thing for both of us.

I have made a batch to take with us to Cuba … we are snackers, that hasnt changed much, and sometimes with a full day in the sun and swimming, you just need a little something-something to get you to dinner. These are great because they wont melt in the sun, and are sweet; a couple of these and a handful of nuts are a WAY better choice than the lady who is making deep fried churros coated with cinnamon and sugar on the beach. I curse that woman and her donut goodness.

Can I take a minute to just say that I have been walking around the house all weekend doing this

…worrying about if I am too flabby to wear a bikini in a week’s time. I am also coming up to a milestone 4 year anniversary of my surgery and feeling ambivalent about it. More on this in a later blog.. now to the recipe.

Apple Oatmeal Protein Snacks

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
2 tablespoons sf maple syrup
8 drops vanilla stevia
1 1/4 cups uncooked large flaked oatmeal OR protein cereal
1/2 cup of dried apple rings, chopped
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder

Grab your food processor because while you don’t have to bake these, you do need to whirl them up! Drain cashews and throw them into the food processor, pulse until they get sandy. Add maple syrup and stevia and whirl the mixture around until everything is incorporated into a paste.
Add dried apple rings, pre-chopped and cereal of choice (oatmeal or protein cereal) and whirl. It will start to cement together into a dough at this point, but be fairly sticky. Last step is to add the whey protein, which acts like a binder and cements everything together. IF by some chance your mixture is too dry and wont roll into balls, then add a squirt of sf maple syrup and give is a pulse in the processor for a bit. These do firm up in the fridge once they have chilled and last a week or so.

I forgot to take a pic, so this pic is stolen from the internet, but they honestly look exactly like this.
apple protein

makes 12 servings, or 24 balls
82 calories Carbs, 8g (7g NET), Fat 4g, Protein 3g, Sugars 3g

A Chance to Make these HOLES!

24 01 2013

I mean Pumpkin donut holes!

So I dont know why, but my life has been surrounded by Tim Horton’s timbits (aka donut holes for those unfamiliar with Tim Hortons) for the last couple of days. We had a box kicking around work and this morning, in a moment of weakness, I popped one in my mouth. It left a giant oil slick in my mouth and it was stale. I have to say the memories of “comfort” food are much better than the reality. It goes to show you how much my tastebuds have morphed… thank God.
Because I have been plagued by donut holes I decided to make some of my own. I was trying to decide what “special treat” I was going to make for my birthday re-do this Thursday with my coffee girls and guys. I *thought* I had a chocolate cake ball all sorted out when the pumpkin donut hole struck me as a better idea. Switched gears and made a batch up last night before I got called back to work because we had a flood. I curse cold weather, it makes pipes burst.

So while these dont look like donut holes aka timbits, they certainly will not taste nor clog your arteries like timbits either. These are grain free, sugar free goodness that remind me more of a scone than anything. God, how I miss bread.
Enjoy these at your next brunch and shoot the timbits an evil eye.

Pumpkin “Timbits”

1 cup Canned Or Fresh (cooked) Pumpkin
½ cups sf maple syrup
12 drops stevia with vanilla
½ cups Butter Or Coconut Oil, Melted
1 teaspoons Vanilla
3 whole Eggs
2 Tablespoons Buttermilk (or 2 tbsp milk with a dash of white vinegar)

1 cup Almond Flour
1 cup Coconut Flour
½ teaspoons Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice

Spice for rolling in after OR cranberries to top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get your baking sheet out and primed with spray OR parchment paper. Mix all the wet ingredients together (first part of recipe) and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a larger bowl.

pumpkin pre mix

Mix ingredients together until you get a slightly thick batter. This always seems so loose for me but just wait a couple of minutes until the coconut flour starts to thicken things up. I swear that stuff is incredible. If it doesnt feel like the batter is thick enough to roll into balls, then add a *touch* more coconut flour OR use your cookie scoop and work with what you have. I chose the later because I didnt want to monkey around with a good thing.
Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter onto the cookie sheet, and I jammed a dried cranberry in the top. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes and let cool. Nuclear alert, these mothers will burn if you try and consume before cooling.. as well, they tend to be a bit bendy, so wait.If you want, add some glaze or roll in some splenda/cinnamon to create more of a donut feel and brew some coffee!

pumpkin holes

Tada! These made 53 holes.. and the WLS serving is probably two. Nuts are PER hole:
Calories 45, Carbs 3(2g NET), Fat 3g, Protein 1g, Sugar 1g
Dont be an A-HOLE and forget to try these!

When Life Hands Me Lemons…

19 01 2013

When life hands me lemons, I make lemon poppyseed mini-muffins. I really believe that life is only as bad as you perceive it to be and living well with whatever life hands you reaps the greatest return.

So last week’s post felt good and I seem to be back in the groove of things, so I decided to post something I made last night. I think this time of year has me thinking about how when we were kids, would head down to Florida with my grandparents and uncle Butts to play on the beach, hang out while my grandfather worked covering the Blue Jays training camp. My grandfather was a sports writer for one of the largest Cdn newspapers. We have many pictures of us in our bathing suits, splashing around and as I get older those are some of my most favourite memories of childhood. My grandfather Milt had a sweet tooth and I curse my Dunnell genes as I also have “the sugar bug”. When we were down in Fla. I remember him getting all excited over southern pecan rolls (OMG heaven) and the crazy citrus that was in season at this time.

As I become more aware of eating ‘in season’ I bought a whack of lovely looking Meyer lemons from Fla and decided to make something delicious. Ken has put in repeated requests for lemon mini-muffins so I found this recipe from “All Day I Dream About Food” and tweaked it a tad. Carolyn’s recipe was a lemon bundt cake with icing which I thought maybe a bit over the top for breakfast. I have to keep my rep of being a militant paleo food chick and eating cake with icing for breakfast is not good for my street cred.

I will take a moment to give a huge nod to Carolyn, low carb blog goddess, over at All Day I Dream About Food and fellow Canadian. She had gestational diabetes that stuck around and has really mastered the art of low carb baking. If you are diving into this realm and dont know where to start, I highly recommend her blog. Everything tastes delicious and some of her biscotti recipes are favourites in our house.

While this isnt 100% paleo as it has butter in it, one could use ghee IF you want to be super strict about it or grass fed butter and call it a day. If you have dairy issues, use ghee as the buttery taste is one of the first flavours you get after the lemon.

Low Carb Poppyseed Mini-Muffins w/ cranberry topper
from Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food, tweaks by me in bold

3 cups almond flour
1/3 cup unflavoured whey protein powder (*I used vanilla whey)
3 tbsp poppy seeds
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened (room temp is important so things mix well)
½ cup Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol (*Splenda for me)
3 large eggs (*room temp as well, or they dont mix well with the butter-splenda and it looks like a curdled mess, which mine did but everything worked out in the end)
20 drops stevia extract
Zest of 2 lemons
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (*or juice of 1 lemon)
¼ cup almond milk (*unsweetened, because the other stuff is full of sugar)
1 tsp lemon extract
48 dried unsweetened cranberries for toppers
48 mini-muffin paper liners

So if you are making muffins, follow these instructions and not the bundt instructions. The mixing is pretty much the same, the temperature and baking times are WAY different.

SO preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line each muffin tin with a mini-muffin paper liner. As you are doing this, in your KA mixer started creaming your butter, like 2 minutes. Add your splenda and neglect for another 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, making sure the sides are scrapped down. When I added my eggs I didnt get perfect mixing, but dont worry as it will all worked out in the end. Once all the eggs are incorporated, add lemon extract, lemon zest and stevia drops and make sure it all blends together as best as possible.

Grab a big bowl and add almond flour, whey protein, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt and give it a good stir. Add the poppyseeds and give it a good stir making sure everything is distributed with no clumps. Add the wet ingredients into the dry making sure you mix out any clumps from the liquids, before fully mixed add lemon juice and milk and the dough should be a thick muffin consistency.

Grab you super duper cookie scoop (1 tbsp or so) and scoop into mini-muffin liners and add one dried cranberry to the top of each. Pop into the over for 12 minutes or so, just long enough to see the tops of the muffin brown a bit. These wont rise much so no worries about spill over and a hard clean up. Let cool before consuming because that dried cranberry is nuclear hot.

This recipe made 48 mini-muffins for me, so 24 servings. I gave Ken 4 mini-muffins for breakfast so double the WLS serving for people with regular stomachs.

Nuts on these are for two
Calories 145, carbs 4g(2g NET), fat 12g, protein 6g, fibre 2g, Sugars 1g