This Roasted Acorn Squash with Chili Vinaigrette will be a treat you won’t soon forget.
Acorn Squash is one of those shopping items that I like to have on hand for when I have run out of ideas for an easy but substantial side dish. They last a while in kitchen before you have to get to them, so I usually have one around.
Now if I can just remember to get fresh cilantro and a jalepeno I’m in business!
My wife Lisa turned me on to this amazing Acorn Squash recipe from Gourmet a while ago – we have made a few tweaks and have been making this for years and it never gets old. This is lick-the-plate-good so be sure to sop up all that vinaigrette.
Acorn squash are a little higher in carbs than most of my “go-to” keto veggies so I tend to only make this about once a month and on a day when the rest of the meal or even my day was on the lower-carb side.
This is also a great simple recipe to impress guests at your next dinner party. If you are not a winter squash person, this one might convert you. Enjoy!
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove
- 3/4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot red chile or jalepeno, including seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 tsp. honey
- Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 450F.
- Halve squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard stem ends.
- Scoop out seeds and cut squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. (8 slices)
- Toss squash with fresh ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, in a large shallow baking pan.
- Roast squash, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.
- While squash roasts, mince garlic and mash to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Transfer paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, chile (to taste), cilantro, honey, and remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil until combined.
- Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.
These Keto Zucchini Fritters are about as close as I’m ever gonna get to a low-carb version of one of my childhood favs – the potato latke. Sour cream with chives or creme fresh are still in but a little tzatziki can be a nice tweak to switch things up.
This is the perfect side dish in place of potatoes or if you are just cauliflower’d out.
These would also be a great base for a low-carb eggs Benedict on a lazy weekend morning. These Keto Zucchini Fritters are so good the kids will even like them. These will be especially good in summer with local farm fresh zucchinis but you can get good ones all year round.
- 2.5 cups zucchini, grated
- 1/3 cup almond flour or coconut flour or a mix of both
- 2 scallions, chopped fine
- 1/4 small onion, chopped fine
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1.5 tsp. Pepper, fresh ground
- 1 tsp. salt
- Grate the zucchini on a box grater - medium grate.
- Put the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the teaspoon of salt. Mix the zucchini gently to distribute the salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the zucchini out with your hands and place into a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Add the eggs and scallion to the zucchini and mix together.
- In a small bowl, add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir together.
- Add them to the zucchini and mix thoroughly.
- Heat oils in a medium to large pan over medium - high heat.
- Oil should completely cover the bottom surface of the pan.
- When the oil is hot, stir the zucchini mixture one more time and dip a ¼ cup measuring cup into the batter, level off. Dump the batter into the pan and gently push it into a flat pancake shape with the back of a metal spatula.
- Cook for four minutes adjusting the heat up or down as needed, then flip, cooking for another four minutes. Add more oil to the pan if needed to prevent sticking.
- Salt then drain the zucchini fritters on a paper towel before serving.
This Keto Fried Eggplant is my go-to for a substantial side that is almost a meal in and of itself.
What to do with an eggplant? I always come back to beginning, to the core of the issue. When I was a kid, my mother used to prepare fried eggplant and serve it the same way – simple with sauce. As you can see I’ve been on an eggplant kick as of late. Perfecting the perfect lower-carb fried eggplant side dish has been on my to do list for some time, and now, I think I’ve cracked it.
Be sure the rest of your meal is on the lighter side as you may find it hard to stick to one serving of these beauties. At 13 grams of net carbs per serving including the sauce – these are a keeper at my house. The kids even eat them!
- 1 large purple eggplant
- 1/4 cup of almond flour
- 1/4 cup hazelnut flour
- 1/4 cup Romano cheese - grated
- 5 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp half n half
- Fresh ground salt and pepper - to taste
- 1.25 cups jared tomato sauce - Rao's, etc
- Peel large eggplant.
- Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch round slices.
- Lightly salt both sides, lay on paper towel for 20 minutes to remove excess moisture.
- Mix Romano cheese and flours on a small plate. Add salt and pepper.
- Heat large fry pan on medium high.
- Add avocado and coconut oils.
- Mix egg and half n half to make egg wash.
- Coat eggplant slices with egg wash then flour mixture. Shake off excess flour.
- In batches, fry eggplant slices in hot oil - about 4 minutes per side until golden.
- Place fried eggplant on a large plate with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
- Salt eggplant to taste.
- Top with a tbsp of your favorite heated jarred tomato sauce.
- Don't go cheap on the jarred sauce. The better the sauce, the better this dish will taste. I prefer Rao's or Franks but there are many choices between $5 and $8 a jar that are worth every penny.
- Also be sure to check for carbs - not all jarred sauces are created equal.
- Bob's Red Mill makes some great hazelnut and almond flours.
A roasted eggplant caponata that is simple to make and always a crowd pleaser.
I always buy eggplant this time a year as there are so many varieties available especially at local farm stands and markets. Be sure to pick fresh ones that are heavy and solid to the tap. This roasted eggplant caponata recipe really delivers a great flavor that goes well as side dish or an app. You can serve it with cucumbers to keep it really low carb or you can splurge with some lower carb pita chips shown below.
- 1 large eggplant - 3/4 inch diced, skin on
- 1 cup red onion - halved then sliced thin
- 1/2 cup green olives - pitted, sliced in quarters length-wise
- 1 cup fresh fennel bulb - coarse diced
- 1/3 cup capers - rinsed
- 1 cup tomato sauce - good quality jared or substitute with 4 ripe tomatoes - chopped coarse
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley - chopped coarse
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
- 1.5 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Toss eggplant in 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large bowl.
- Arrange eggplant single layer on a baking sheet and roast until browned, flipping halfway through, about 25 minutes. Let cool down.
- Cook fennel in bowling water for 4 minutes, drain and let cool - set aside.
- Heat remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over med-high heat.
- Add onion and cook till just golden about 5 min.
- Add the olives, capers, reserved fennel, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Gently stir in the eggplant, being careful not break up the eggplant.
- Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl or platter and cool.
- Garnish with parsley and serve cold or at room temperature.
- Can be made ahead a few days and gets better with age.
I often have trouble figuring out what to do with all the eggplants I buy. I mean how many eggplant parm-like dishes can one eat? This roasted eggplant caponata appetizer has become a welcome addition to the happy hours at my house and should at yours as well.
Everyone loves a grilled portobello!
Every once in a while you come across a grilled portobello mushroom appetizer that blows you away and you wonder why you can not make one of those at home. There is something special about the texture of a grilled portobello that you just can’t get in any other grilled veggie.
I have been experimenting for years to come up with a simple, summer, week-night side that smacks you upside the head with flavor, to accompany that perfect grilled steak. You could experiment endlessly as a grilled portobello is very forgiving and can take whatever you throw at it. I hope you like my version and try it the next time you are grilling out. Your family and friends will be impressed for sure. Mine always are!
- 2 large portobello mushroom caps
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup of gorgonzola or blue cheese
- 1/8 cup fresh chives chopped.
- Fresh ground salt and pepper
- On a plate cap side down, drizzle olive oil over both mushroom caps.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Fill mushroom cavity with blue cheese.
- Sprinkle with chopped chives.
- Place mushrooms on a medium hot grill cap side down.
- Grill for 10 - 12 minutes until all the cheese is melted and shrooms are tender and browned.
- Serve 1/2 a mushroom cap per person.
- Use good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar for best results.
- Other crumbly cheeses can be used if you prefer.
Who said eating low-carb can’t be fun? BBQ Pulled Pork anyone!
One of the biggest challenges for me, keeping low-carb in the summer, is BBQ sauce. I love ribs, BBQ pulled pork and anything else you can slather that yummy, spicy, sticky sauce on. I have made my own low carb version and may perfect that recipe in the future and share it with you but for now, as my 12 year old daughter says, “Ain’t-nobody-got-time-for-that!”
There are plenty of bottled BBQ sauces on the market but most have way too many carbs to even be considered low-carb some over 20 grams per serving so read those labels carefully. I have recently found an exceptional brand – JB’s Best, that is infused with beer and has the lowest carbs of all bottled BBQ sauces – around *4-6 grams. I use several spicy and not so spicy varieties in the BBQ pulled pork recipe below.
This is not a complicated meal to prepare and it feeds around 10-12 people affordably and heavenly.
The secret is in the spices! I use the southern-style, Penzeys – 33rd and Galena, Chicken and Pork Rub which is mixture of black pepper, paprika, nutmeg, sage, cayenne, red pepper and basil.
Be sure to have all the ingredients on hand to make our coleslaw recipe to go with. This meal would not be the same without it. My wife Lisa claims she wants this to be her “last meal on earth” – no kidding.. she said that – It’s that good!
Now many hard-core BBQ enthusiasts would argue that using a crock pot is not serious BBQ but hey… don’t knock it till you try it! This is one of those quick prep time, set-it-and-forget-it deals so you can go about your day and have an amazing dinner ready 8 hrs later for a small crowd. Either that or you will just have to enjoy the left-overs for days.. and you will as it is just as good the second day. Can I get a Yeeehaa!?
- 5-6 lbs Pork Butt - fat trimmed
- 3 tbsp Pensey's - 33rd and Galena, Chicken and Pork Rub
- Salt and Pepper - fresh ground
- 1.5 tbsp Olive oil
- 3/4 cup JB's Best, Ghost Pepper BBQ Sauce - to cook in
- 3/4 cup JB's Best, Ancho Peach BBQ Sauce - to cook in (alternate - Stubbs Original)
- Extra JB's Best, Blazin Bacon BBQ Sauce - to serve over cooked pork
- 1 cup of water
- Trim fat from pork butt.
- Cut into 4 inch cubes.
- Salt and pepper all sides.
- Dust with Pensey's spice rub on all sides.
- In batches, brown each side of pork in a large dutch oven or similar pot.
- Transfer browned pork to crock pot.
- Add BBQ sauces.
- Add Water.
- Cover and set crock pot on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours depending on what you have to do that day.
- Once done, use several paper towel strips to remove oil that has collected at the top of the pot.
- With 2 forks pull the pork apart and mix in with the juices in the crock pot.
- Serve topped with JB's Best, Blazin Bacon BBQ Sauce
- If you prefer less heat top with JB's Best, Ancho Peach or one of their other less hot varieties.
- Warning - Go easy on the BBQ sauce on top - 2 tbsp have 4-6 grams of carbs. Hopefully you planned ahead and saved your daily carb intake for this meal!
- 1/2 medium cabbage - sliced thin
- 1 large red bell pepper - sliced thin
- 1/2 bulb fresh fennel - sliced thin
- 1 medium onion - sliced thin
- 2 green onions - chopped
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 large lemon - juiced
- 1 1/4 tbsp of fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- In a large bowl add all the veggies sliced very thin - use a mandoline slicer if needed.
- In a smaller bowl wisk together the mayo, lemon juice, and pepper.
- Toss the veggies with the dressing.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
On a side note – Jonathan and crew have hit it out of the park with their Vino De Milo, line of wine-infused salad dressings that have only 1-2 grams of carbs per serving. I have yet to try these but look forward to it as they do look amazing.
As an alternate brand I have found Stubb’s, Original Recipe to have only 5 net grams of carbs per serving and they make some great BBQ sauces as well.
As a suggestion you may want to wait until you have hit a weight loss goal before trying this recipe. It’s hard to eat just 1 serving and the chances that you are gonna get kicked out of ketosis are pretty high. Hopefully you have a short cut in place to get you back on track come Monday morning!
Eggplant Spinach Pizza is so easy, low carb and the variations are endless.
I have always made a simple breaded fried eggplant and topped it with a favorite jarred sauce as a side dish. Very simple and so delicious but loaded with the no-no combination of carbs and fat. I have tried almond flour to cut the carbs a bit but the results are not quite the same. Yet, I still find myself buying that purple veg whenever it looks good then wondering what to do with it that is more keto-friendly.
The perfect storm of ingredients in my fridge prompted this Eggplant Spinach Pizza that will now be a go to edible solution for my purple friend.
There are many possibilities and variations that you can have fun with depending on your favorite pizza toppings. This is a knife and fork situation so don’t worry about picking it up. Load on your creativity and see what you can come up with.
- 1 Large Eggplant - 3/4 inch sliced rounds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup mozzerella cheese - I like the fresh Ciliegine balls
- 1/2 cup parmesan reggiano - grated
- 1.5 cups fresh baby spinach - chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic - finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves - chiffonade
- 3/4 cup fresh cherry tomatoes - sliced
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce - favorite jarred or make your own
- fresh ground salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Salt both sides of eggplant and let rest on paper towels for 25 minutes.
- Wipe off salt.
- Olive oil a 9 x 11 baking pan and place eggplant rounds single layer.
- Bake for 25 minutes until slightly browned.
- In a bowl, toss spinach with garlic and a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Top each eggplant with a teaspoon of sauce.
- Add tomatoes.
- Add spinach mixture.
- Top with both cheeses.
- Top with fresh basil.
- Bake in the oven for another 15 minutes or until cheese turns slightly brown
- Jarred sauce is optional - you can make your own with crushed canned tomatoes or just let the fresh tomatoes be your sauce.
I fell in love with Baby Bok Choi from my first taste. I’ve modeled this recipe after a local asian restaurant’s version that made my first impression of this veggie – a real keeper and a great low carb side dish.
I make this side about once a week when I can find Baby Bok Choi at its freshest. My local Big Y or the Fresh Market are my go-to sources for the most consistent quality. Konnichiwa!
- 1 large clove of garlic - thinly sliced
- 1/2 lb baby bok choi - about 4 small heads
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp EV olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp EV butter
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- fresh ground salt and pepper
- Cut off bottom stem of each baby bok choi head and rinse.
- Saute garlic in olive and sesame oil until golden. Then add butter.
- Add baby bok choi and saute on medium for 8 minutes till tender.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Add chicken stock and reduce by half for about 3 minutes.
- Serve hot.
Use a Magic Wand to make the perfect Cauliflower Mash
There are a lot of great cauliflower mash or puree recipes out there but my version is worth serious consideration. I borrowed some of this technique from my old mashed potato days. I have to say – I don’t miss them at all. This new standby goes well with so many great mains and is the perfect sub for that high-carb mashed bomb of old.
I’ve made these for company and converted many a guest that previously swore, “they did not like cauliflower”!
Try some smoked or flavored salts to shift the taste to your liking. In the summer I add fresh chives from the side of my house. Get creative and there is no end to what this side can be paired with.
- 4 cups of cauliflower - 1 head
- 16 oz. chicken stock
- 3/4 cup leek - chopped
- 3 tbs butter - Kerrygold or some other equivalent
- 1 tbs good extra virgin olive oil - for drizzle
- 1/8 cup of half n half
- fresh ground salt and pepper
- Cut cauliflower into same size pieces - medium florets
- In a large pot add cauliflower and chicken stock and then add water to cover cauliflower.
- Cover and cook on med until fork tender - about 25 minutes
- While cauliflower is cooking in a small sauce pan add chopped leeks, butter and salt and pepper, then simmer on low about 10 min.
- Add half n half and turn off heat.
- Drain cauliflower well then add butter and leek mixture to the larger pot with cauliflower.
- With an immersion blender (magic wand) - puree until smooth.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover until ready to plate.
- Drizzle olive oil over top.
- Chopped onions can be used in place of leeks.
- Light cream can be used in place of half n half.
- Alternatively, a bullet blender could work but be sure not to over puree.
I have been part of the brussel sprout camp for some time now. If you have not yet joined I can understand as they do need to be prepared well – not under cooked…. not overcooked and properly seasoned. I have come to love a roasted brussel sprout so I thought I would venture out of my norm and try some salad variations and this spinach and brussel sprout salad has become a keeper at our house. Hope you enjoy it as well.
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp Fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp sherry vinegar
- 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1/8 tsp honey
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbs water
- 3 tbs EV olive oil
- 1/4 lb Brussel Sprouts
- 3 cups of fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup fresh avocado
- 1 tbs toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbs toasted sliced almonds
- 1/8 cup of fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup Manchego cheese or Parmesean cheese - shaved
- Fresh ground salt and pepper.
- On a wooden cutting board make a paste of the garlic and salt with the edge of a large chef knife.
- In a small bowl add the garlic paste, mustard, vinegar, pepper and wisk.
- Add the lemon juice, honey, lemon zest and wisk again.
- Drizzle olive oil while wisking
- Add water and wisk again.
- Slice the brussel sprouts thin - leave out the bottom stem
- In a large salad bowl add the spinach and brussel sprouts.
- Add seeds, nuts, and blueberries.
- Toss salad with dressing.
- Add fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.
- Add avocado.
- Add cheese.