So I was wondering, after seeing someone else do it... how does one FRY goat cheese? Let me assure you, it's a cinch! I didn't bother to look up a recipe for a roasted red pepper balsamic vinaigrette; I just threw one together. I thought of doing a creamy dressing, but then decided that that would be too much dairy in one dish. The vinaigrette is nice! But I may try more of a lemon juice/olive oil and herb option next time.     
     Above are pictured very thinly sliced yellow onions, but I would have preferred green onions... You work with what you got, right? This salad would also have been AWESOME with some bits of bacon.
     You know, the fried goat cheese could be a really cool party appetizer with an interesting dipping sauce... Hmmm... Maybe I'll be inventing that soon!

     Frying tip: I chose not to use (and therefore waste) a lot of oil. When the oil was hot, I tipped the frying pan over so that the oil was about half an inch thick, and I fried two little balls of goat cheese at a time, turning them every 10 seconds or so to fry evenly. Worked fine.


     SPINACH SALAD WITH FRIED GOAT CHEESE 
        AND ROASTED RED PEPPER VINAIGRETTE

2 red bell peppers, roasted
1 large garlic clove, roasted
3-4 oz goat cheese
1 lemon
about 3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 egg
1/3 cup brown rice flour (or panko bread crumbs)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted 
2-3 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
2 green onions, minced
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup oil for frying (I used sunflower oil)


Cut bell peppers in half and seed them. Brush with a small bit of olive oil and bake, along with your clove of garlic (still with its skin) at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the bell peppers' skins begin to rise and blister. Allow to cool and peel off skins.

While peppers are baking, grate the peel of the lemon and combine with parsley and goat cheese. Roll goat cheese into 1/2" to 1" balls and freeze for 20 minutes.

When bell peppers are removed from the oven, turn the oven off, but set walnuts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven on the leftover heat.

Place bell peppers, garlic, thyme, and balsamic vinegar in a food processor and process about 20 seconds... stream in olive oil until smooth.

Whisk egg in a small bowl, dip goat cheese into egg and dredge in rice flour. Fry at medium to medium high heat until light golden brown. If using panko, this will happen more quickly.

Arrange spinach, green onions and walnuts on a plate. Scatter fried goat cheese and drizzle with dressing.

Voila!
 
 
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     In honor of the latest episode of Master Chef, I ventured out into the culinary world and attempted the ever-classy souffle. Oh, Chef Ramsay, how you challenge me as a home cook! 

     Nevertheless, this recipe was a cinch, as I adapted it from one formulated by Jim Tuttle of Mount Historic Inn via Steamy Kitchen. The only change I made to the recipe was the kind of cheese. Instead of cheddar, I chose a gouda made by my favorite raw milk dairy down the road. DELISH!

This recipe is easy - even fool-proof! Enjoy!

--- Jenny

GOUDA SOUFFLE
1 Tbsp. soft butter
4 oz. grated cheddar cheese
7 large eggs
4 oz. sour cream
1/3 c. whole milk
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
generous grating of fresh nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat the bottom and sides of a small souffle dish with the softened butter.  Sprinkle the cheese in the bottom of the dish.
Add remaining ingredients to the bowl of a blender.  Blend for 30 seconds, then pour egg mixture into the souffle dish.  Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the souffle is golden brown and puffy.  (Watch out! The souffle will begin to fall about 45 seconds after taking it from the oven - Bon Apetit!) 


 
 
     I have reached a stage in my new eating... ahem... "lifestyle"(because that's what they're calling it these days. You know, the kind of diet you can never escape. The kind where you admit you can't eat like a twenty year-old anymore? Yeah, that one.) It's the stage in which I hate people who can eat sugar and feel okay about it.
     And bread. And alcohol. Yeesh!
     Two weekends ago, I ate a piece of cheesecake. I would *like* to say that I unabashedly ate that piece of cheesecake. But as I spooned a biteful onto my eager tongue, attempting to savor every calorie and every gram of carbohydrate, I could not help but imagine where those calories and carbohydrates would deposit themselves. It was going to be a complete and utter abandonment for about ten glorious minutes, but it turned into an episode of guilt and shame. Don't get me wrong. It was delicious, and I enjoyed every bite, but I still couldn't shake the thought; "you know you'll have to make up for this, right?"
     Such is my life as of the last five months. Well, almost six. 

     So necessity IS the mother of invention. For two reasons: 1.) If I can't enjoy my sweets, then I'll find a way to enjoy my regular food, dang it. 2.) I had no spinach, no arugula, no salad greens to speak of in the fridge, save for the celery greens. Hmmm... I've thrown those into soups before, and it tastes great. What if I do a salad of celery leaves? YES! The only thing I could do to improve this recipe is to grate a little orange zest over the whole thing. I think that would have really taken it over the top.
     Without further ado, enjoy...

--- Jenny

BAKED FISH, RED QUINOA WITH CILANTRO, & CELERY LEAF SALAD WITH TERIYAKI VINAIGRETTE

Baked Fish:
Choose a white salt-water fish and bake with olive oil and minced garlic and ginger. (Bake at 350 degrees until flaky)

Celery Leaf Salad with Teriyaki Vinaigrette:
Celery leaves
carrot matchsticks, thinly sliced
Shallots, thinly sliced
Red pepper, minced

Vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced ginger

Whisk together and toss salad ingredients. Salt and pepper salad to taste.

Red Quinoa With Cilantro:
Prepare 1/2 cup couscous according to package directions. Let cool. Add any remainder of vinaigrette and toss with 2-3 tablespoons minced cilantro. Top with a poached egg.
 
 
     I cannot hold my excitement! This is arguably my best diet creation yet! 
     Who doesn't like Nutella? But here's the skinny on it: it's full of sugar and palm oil. (For reading on the adverse effects of palm oil, go here: www.livestrong.com/article/122886-adverse-effects-palm-oil)
     There are several from-scratch recipes for this, but none that are healthier than Nutella and diet-friendly, so I adapted!
     This really doesn't require much more of an introduction, so ENJOY!

--- Jenny


DELICIOUS DIET CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SPREAD

2 cups roasted hazelnuts 
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/4 cup powdered xylitol (I powdered mine by processing it in a coffee grinder)
15 drops non-alcohol stevia
2 tablespoons unrefined sunflower seed oil
1 tablespooon coconut oil

In a food processor, liquefy hazelnuts. Yes, liquify them. To do that, process for 4-5 minutes. After they have passed the stage of "nut butter" and have liquified, add cocoa and zylitol a few tablespoons at a time while the processor is running. Add stevia and oils while the processor is running.

Voila!


 
 
Due to popular demand, I present you with my latest diet treat! I posted a picture of this on Facebook and everyone seemed to go crazy over it, so here we are! 

A word of warning: this recipe is still in its perfecting stages. While it is delicious as it is, I'm looking to amp it up this week, so stay tuned!

Baked Garlic Eggplant Fries with Avocado and Herb Dip

1 eggplant
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
sunflower seed oil, coconut oil or olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 green onions, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
ground red pepper

Peel skin from eggplant with a peeler or "skin" it with a knife. Slice ends off and cut in half lengthwise. 
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Cut lengthwise again into 1" sections. Cut each section in to 1" slices.

Arrange slices on a large baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Toss slices to coat, then sprinkle garlic throughout.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then with a metal spatula, flip eggplant and bake another 15 minutes. Bake longer if needed.

Avocado & Herb Dip:

Peel and seed avocado. In a bowl, mash avocado well. Add yogurt, green onion and cilantro. Sprinkle red pepper on top, or mix into dip, if desired.

Bon Apetit!
 
 
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     So I was juicing today, and I got an idea to juice some cantaloupe and mango... then I thought up a vinaigrette. Then it morphed into a pairing with goat cheese, which was good, but I felt something was missing. So I added spinach. Lovely! But for an added crunch, chopped almonds made it PERFECT!   
     Light, summery, and altogether delicious! PLEASE make this guys! Diet-friendly, to be sure!

Seasoned Pork Loin and Spinach Salad with Creamy Cantaloupe & Mango Vinaigrette

1 12-ounce pork loin
olive oil
1 tbsp ground coriander seed
1 tbsp chili powder
fresh spinach
goat cheese
whole almonds, chopped

Dressing:
1/4 large cantaloupe, seeded
1 small mango, sliced and seeded
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set pork loin in baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake 40-60 minutes, until center is no longer pink.

Run cantaloupe and mango through juicer. (If you don't have a juicer, you can put the ingredients in a food processor or blender and add the yogurt and vinegar to taste.)
Whisk fruit juices, yogurt and vinegar in a bowl. Refrigerate until serving.

Serve slices of tenderloin over fresh spinach with goat cheese crumbles and chopped almonds. Spoon dressing over the top.



 
 
     Goodness! It has been a month since I posted the last recipe! I really HAVE to stay creative with my better eating regimen. 

     Well, this one should keep me interested! This was amazingly easy to put together and it has such a simple yet textured taste. I ate six of them and called it lunch!

     As for the ingredients: the crackers are a gluten-free, store-bought cracker made with rice flour and pecans called Pecan Nut Thins. They have a really great crunch!
     The mozzarella came from my grocery store's deli section: a REAL mozzarella not found in the regular cheese section. It is water-packed and so soft, with a very simple and mild flavor.
     The prosciutto I bought came in strips about 2 inches wide by 6 or 7 inches long. I sliced each piece lengthwise and then cut each strip in half. So one strip turned into FOUR and I wrapped each piece around one cracker.

     Some would choose to drizzle a balsamic vinegar over the top, but for a party, this may end up a little messy. It also adds another flavor that you may find will 'compete' with the other simple ones in the dish. I opted for olive oil and a bit of cracked black pepper, and all the ingredients complemented each other!

     Make this a party staple, guys. It's a winner! It's also a great afternoon snack...


CAPRESE & PROSCIUTTO - ITALIAN AMUSE BOUCHE

box of Pecan Nut-Thins or other cracker (about 65 crackers) 
leaves of fresh basil
3-4 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 ounce package mozzarella, sliced into bite-size pieces
6 ounce package prosciutto 
olive oil
cracked black pepper to taste

Arrange crackers for assembling. 
Layer: basil leaf, slice of tomato, slice of mozzarella. 
Wrap with small slice (about 1 inch by 3-4 inches) of prosciutto. Drizzle with olive oil and grind cracked pepper over the top.
 
 
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Sweet 'N Spicy Pico de Gallo
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Traditional Pico de Gallo
     Pico de Gallo. "Bite of the Rooster." Makes sense, doesn't it? Well, on this diet, I am constantly trying to find ways to make my food less boring. Here's one -or two, actually! - of my best remedies for that!
     The first is simply a traditional recipe, and for the second, I added mango and avocado. You can't beat sweet and spicy!

     Knock yourself out!
--- Jenny

TRADITIONAL PICO DE GALLO

3 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2-1 whole jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/4 cup diced white or yellow onion
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt to taste (optional)

Prepare all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate before serving.


SWEET 'N SPICY PICO DE GALLO

1 medium mango, seeded and diced
1 avocado, seeded and diced
Traditional Pico de Gallo recipe

Prepare all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate before serving.


 
 
What a nice summertime treat! On Sundays, for some reason, we never really get around to making dinner. We pretty much just scrounge around in the fridge and graze. 
     Well, yesterday I ventured out into the garden, and to my great surprise, returned to the house with five huge cucumbers! I gave most of them away today, but I've had tzatziki on the brain since I started thinking about cucumbers so I had to save some for myself... I made this for the first time last year and loved it! I'm happy to share this healthy diet snack...
--- Jenny


COOL & TASTY TZATZIKI DIP

1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cucumber, drained WELL
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, grated
2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
black pepper

Grate cucumber and allow to drain. The best way is to set the grated cucumber on cheesecloth or a sturdy paper towel and allow to drain over a bowl. You can steady the cheesecloth over the bowl with a big rubber band. 

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve. Best serve after at least an hour of refrigeration, but if you can't wait, it's still delicious!
 
 
     So pretty, so delicious, and SO on your diet! As a rule, white potatoes are not allowed on a no- or low-carb diet. But sweet potatoes, in moderation, are definitely on the list, so why not make something different with them?
     The ginger gives it a sweet bite, and the homemade mayo just makes it, if you know what I mean. Icing on our proverbial cake.
Perfect for those of us who are diabetic, on a diet, or not!
--- Jenny


SWEET POTATO SALAD

4 cups sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup homemade mayo, see recipe below
4-5 small green onions, diced
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup diced fresh parsley, any variety
2-3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
Salt to taste (optional)

Boil cut potatoes until softened. Set aside to cool completely. Make mayonnaise and refrigerate until potatoes are completely cooled. 

In a large bowl, toss in green onions, red pepper, parsley, ginger and mayo and mix well, making sure mayo is incorporated throughout.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. 

Homemade mayo:
1 egg
1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

Add egg, salt, red pepper and mustard to food processor and blend for 1 minute. Slowly stream oils into mixture as processor continues to blend. Transfer to a bowl or other container and refrigerate 1-2 hours to allow mayo to set.
 

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