Protected: Meal Ideas / Recipes

Tuna Salad

Are you looking for an inexpensive way to get more protein in your day?
Tuna fish is great way to do that. This meal brings me back to my childhood. It was a favorite then and is still today.
This meal is simple, yet satisfying.

– Brooke

Butter Burgers

Burgers don’t have to be boring.  It’s time to try the butter burger.  Back in the Midwest, there are Culver’s ButterBurgers, but the only thing different about them is that the bun is buttered and grilled. 

To me, of course, the bun is an unnecessary vessel.  I’ve never understood why we put all sorts of effort into making a quality burger patty along with fancy toppings, then put it in a cheap, tasteless bun with no nutritional value.  I’ll pass.

To make the thin patties, I used a large Mason jar lid (3 1/2″ diameter) to create uniform patties, then thinned them out by hand to a reduced thickness, resulting in a diameter of 4″ to 4 1/2″. 

I added Pluck Pure organ meat seasoning — entirely optional.  I’m a huge fan of incorporating this seasoning, due to the amazing nutrient density of organ meats.

Scale recipe as appropriate.

– Chris

Chicken Salad

This chicken salad is full of flavor and is a wonderful make-ahead meal as the flavors enrich overnight.
It can be made with either chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or if you are looking for a time saver, a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
This recipe uses a whole pound of chicken — feel free to scale up or down based on how much you anticipate eating.
Note: If you don’t have a food scale at home, I recommend the investment. It’s a great way to monitor the amount of protein you consume. For reference, a large rotisserie chicken is approximately 2 lbs of meat. 

– Brooke

 P.S.  My food photography skills have not improved much since starting the weekly Meal Ideas but don’t let the picture deter you from this delicious snack. 

Tuna Melt Patties

Another guest submission this week, from a good friend, so I trust his endorsement of this recipe. 
Simple ingredients: tuna, eggs, cheese.  Optional to use onions or even onion powder as a substitute.
My friend added mayo (Chosen Foods brand) and pickles as a garnish. 
How good is it?  In his words: “Didn’t last long.”

– Chris

Fish Sticks

My daughter is a big fan of fish sticks. She requests this meal regularly, and it’s fairly simple to make. It reminds me of the fish sticks from my childhood.

This makes enough for a dinner serving for an adult.

 – Brooke

Braised Short Ribs

This preparation takes minimal effort due to the slow cooker. Great for a busy day when you want a savory meal. This preparation can also be used on oxtail and beef shanks.

– Brooke

Kids’ Lunches

The school year is already half over, and thinking of lunches to pack every day can be difficult. Hopefully you can get some new ideas from the list below. While this meal idea is geared toward children, feel free to use some of these ideas for your own lunch, especially if you are on-the-go during the day.

If you are packing for a child, I recommend mixing things up often. I like to use cute toothpicks and colored containers. Some days they like chicken on a skewer, other days it will be loosely packed.

We normally send lunch in a cold pack but also have a few Thermos-style containers for a warm lunch. A good way to keep your food warm is to put boiling water in the container for 10 minutes prior to packing your warm food.

 – Brooke

Caprese

This colorful plate reminds me of times spent in Italy where the buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala) is plentiful. It also reminds me of warmer months, which are on our horizon. This simple meal can be used as an appetizer or as a light dinner.
 – Brooke

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin

This week’s recipe is a special submission from a patient of mine, who delivered a sample of this excellent dish a couple days after I broke my fast.  Though I’ve historically not been a fan of cauliflower, I was quite impressed with how tasty this recipe is.  It’s like a cheesy rice dish, without the carb load.
 – Chris

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Valentine’s Day is still on the mind. Whether you have decided to make your own dinner or otherwise, I recommend this decadent dessert. I normally don’t have a sweet tooth but can’t resist these. While the strawberries are my favorite, you could use other berries. We even dipped a few mandarin orange slices and my kids enjoyed those.

Tips:
– Do not substitute the coconut oil with another oil. Coconut oil aids in creating a chocolate “shell”.
– Look for sugar-free/no-added-sugar chocolate. Lily’s brand is good, as well as the Bake Believe brand, found at Costco.

– Brooke

Seared Scallops

Valentine’s Day is approaching. While there are some that don’t recognize this as a formal holiday, it is one of my favorites. Dining out can be a frustrating experience on this holiday, though, due to crowds and limited menu items.
If you are looking to prepare a wonderful meal at home, these seared scallops are quick, easy, and incredibly savory. You can eat these on their own or pair them with a tenderloin or filet.

– Brooke

Pan-Fried Oysters

I was pleasantly surprised this week by a gift of fresh oysters and clams.  We are blessed in this region to be surrounded by so many opportunities to enjoy shellfish.  Here’s a simple, tasty way to enjoy oysters.

Though I don’t do it nearly enough myself, one can get an annual shellfish license for $17.40, allowing 18 oysters per day, plus 40 clams, plus more . . .  That’s a killer deal.  No need to go hungry around here. 

– Chris

Chicken Fried Steak

This low carb version is great for a weekend brunch or dinner. There are many low carb gravy options available online, but I choose to forgo the gravy and top mine instead with a runny egg.

– Brooke

Baked Cod

After a season of entertaining and indulging, a nice simple meal is a warm welcome. This baked cod takes less than 25 minutes and is packed full of protein.
This dish can be prepared in the oven or on stovetop.  For the oven, I find that glass baking dishes are more non-stick than other materials.
Cod pairs well with green beans or sautéed bell peppers.

– Brooke

It can be a challenge to get kids to eat protein . . . until now. 

Brooke introduced the foundation of this recipe to me, and then I have tinkered with it in Dad’s Diner (read: my kitchen) for the past few months.  My goal was to simplify it while ramping up the protein content and ensuring that it remained tasty and appealing.

Most notably, the original recipe called for almond flour, and I eventually replaced it entirely with protein powder — higher quality protein, no oxalates, and imparts a wonderful vanilla flavor. 

I selected the protein powder (not an affiliate link) very carefully — it has minimal ingredients, no sugar, no artificial sweeteners — basically the purest protein powder I could find.  It’s one that I’ve used regularly for a few years, in fact, because of that.

Our girls love this recipe and ask for it whenever we have bananas lying around.  (Note: this is a much better use for brown/bruised bananas than making banana bread.) They always ask for chunks of bananas in their pancakes, so I save 1 banana to mash by hand into bigger pieces that are mixed in right before cooking.

Leftover pancakes can easily be refrigerated and reheated.

– Chris

 
 

Chili Egg Casserole

This recipe was graciously shared with me by a dear friend, Maria. It has been a tradition in her family, and she shared the original recipe that was documented in the 1950’s.

I have enjoyed making variations of this since she shared it with me, and I make this for my family on occasion. This recipe is decadent and would be perfect for Christmas morning. It is also easy to prepare the night before and bake in the morning.


– Brooke

Rump roast is a tougher cut of meat, so cooking it “low and slow” is the optimal approach. Once the roast is done, it is important to let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes prior to slicing.

Then, when you slice the roast, try to slice as thinly as possible.  Slice the meat against the grain. While this is true for all cuts of meat, it is especially important with these larger/leaner cuts of beef. If you are unfamiliar with this idea of cutting meats against the grain, there are many tutorials and videos online to guide you. 

 

As a reminder, try to season your beef 24-48 hours ahead of cooking time. Once you are ready to cook, let the meat sit out at room temperature for 30-45 minutes prior to heating.

Consider serving with horseradish and your favorite above-ground vegetable.

– Brooke

Simple lunch idea that is always a hit with our kids — they love having toothpicks or mini-forks to share a family-style protein plate. 
This idea also works great for entertaining — an appetizer plate with endless options, combinations, etc.

– Chris

I’ve always been a fan of leftover turkey, and I like to experiment with creative ways to enjoy the leftovers.

Here’s the latest creation from Dad’s Diner, what my daughters call their dining experience when I’m running the kitchen.  [They like to pretend that they’re at a restaurant, from ordering at the counter to “paying” with a pseudo-credit card (a student ID).]  Simple, tasty, and filling. 

– Chris

Thanksgiving is almost here — A time to celebrate with family, friends, and food. 

 

If you are on a weight loss mission, the anticipation of the day can make some nervous. Not to worry, though. 

 

If you are making a turkey, you are already off to a great start as turkey is naturally high in protein and low in fat and carbs. Most other proteins are similar. As long as you don’t have a sugar topping (such as a glazed ham), feel free to load up your plate with the main protein. 

 

There are also plenty of low carb appetizers and side dishes that are sure to satisfy. Below I offer some of my favorite suggestions. You can find multiple recipes for these dishes online. 

 

Whether you are sticking to a low carb, low sugar diet for the day or if you plan to indulge more than usual, I hope you can find some of these suggestions helpful. 

– Brooke

P.S. 

Here is a link to the Pecan Bars referenced below. These are courtesy of one of my favorite low carb bloggers, All Day I Dream About Food. I made these Pecan Bars last year and they were a big hit. My daughter has already requested them again for this year. 

Cucumber Salad

Fajitas
 

This is a quick meal that you can do on the grill, stovetop, or in the oven. Any lean cut of steak works well for this dish, as does chicken breast or chicken thighs. I choose to do a top round steak and chicken tenderloins because my family is currently divided between steak and chicken. I prefer both equally.

We keep a stock of beef and chicken in our freezer and I find that it is easier to chop the meat when it is halfway defrosted.

As with any other meal, season the beef or chicken with salt as much in advance as possible. This allows the salt to soak into the meat to create the best flavor. Seafood does not need this advance treatment, so if you choose shrimp or a flaky fish, feel free to salt immediately prior to cooking. Other seasonings can be added immediately prior to cooking.    

– Brooke


Jambalaya

My version cuts out the heavy rice you would typically find in this southern dish, which makes this recipe better for your blood sugar and waistline. If you like cauliflower rice, you can add that in. Though I think this is tasty enough without.
The recipe below is for the stovetop and should take no longer than 25 minutes, start to finish. If you find that you don’t have the time or effort to cook this stovetop, throw all of the thawed ingredients (minus the shrimp) in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours. For best results, add the shrimp in toward the end of the cooking process.
This is also a perfect recipe to make in bulk and freeze uncooked for an easy-effort meal in your future. Feel free to double or triple this recipe, freeze a portion, and store in your freezer for up to 5 months. Add freshly opened shrimp when ready to cook. When it comes to seafood, wild caught is your best option, if possible.   

– Brooke

Egg Omelet

When you need a break from scrambled eggs or are just cleaning out the fridge, omelets are a great option.
I’m not hung up on categorizing certain foods as “breakfast food”, so I’ll make one any time of day if I’m so inspired.   

– Chris

Bacon-Wrapped Pork (2 versions)


Pork is a budget-friendly lean protein that can be cooked many ways.  [CS: Mentioned because a common claim is that eating ‘healthy’ is expensive.]
I was able to purchase this pork loin (8.91 lb) at $1.99 per pound and  used only a third of it to feed our family of four.

I choose to add bacon to this preparation, which increased the cost, however the price per person for this meal was around $2.00.

 

BLT

Dawn from the office gifted us some delicious homegrown tomatoes, and we had a lot of fun finding different recipes for them. While my kids could eat tomatoes plain, one of their other favorite ways to eat them is in a BLT.
Go ahead and make a big batch of bacon to keep on hand for this meal. Cooked bacon can last 5-7 days in the refrigerator, but it never tends to last that long in my household. You can even freeze cooked bacon for up to a month to make this a low effort meal on a busy day.


– Brooke


Chris:  As noted in the recipe, you can use Chaffles as the “toast” – the vessel.  If you missed it a few weeks ago, here is the Chaffle recipe.

Beef Stew

 

I modified this recipe, away from the traditional potato and carrot based stew I grew up on, but you would never guess, based on the taste.

 

Rutabagas and turnips are root vegetables, similar to potatoes and carrots, however they are lower in calories and carbohydrates. 

 

When prepared in the recipe below, their taste and texture are very similar to a potato. I still eat them sparingly due to their carb content, however they are a wonderful alternative for an occasional hearty stew. 

 

To bulk up the stew, I also add mushrooms. If you are not a fan of mushrooms, try bell peppers, radishes, and/or more celery. 

 

I made this in a Dutch oven but you can use any standard stockpot. You can also dump all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. If you choose to use a slow cooker and have the time, I encourage you to brown the meat and lightly sauté your celery, onion, and garlic ahead of time. You will notice a slight increase in flavor. 

– Brooke

Bone Broth

It’s back to school time which always means a little bit less time in the morning. I like to make a big batch of these to keep in the freezer as they reheat perfectly in a toaster during busy mornings. 

 

These are a great bread substitute and are sturdy enough to use for a cheeseburger bun, sandwich, or pizza base. My kids like to spread some natural peanut butter on top or use them for an egg sandwich. 

 

You can make these savory, sweet, or leave out seasonings. I have even mixed in ground beef for taco chaffles, pepperoni for a pizza chaffle, etc. The possibilities are endless! 

 

There are two different versions below. Let me know which one you prefer. 
 

– Brooke

Chaffles

It’s back to school time which always means a little bit less time in the morning. I like to make a big batch of these to keep in the freezer as they reheat perfectly in a toaster during busy mornings. 

 

These are a great bread substitute and are sturdy enough to use for a cheeseburger bun, sandwich, or pizza base. My kids like to spread some natural peanut butter on top or use them for an egg sandwich. 

 

You can make these savory, sweet, or leave out seasonings. I have even mixed in ground beef for taco chaffles, pepperoni for a pizza chaffle, etc. The possibilities are endless! 

 

There are two different versions below. Let me know which one you prefer. 
 

– Brooke

Breakfast Tacos

This recipe is courtesy of my 6.5 year old daughter. She calls them breakfast tacos. You simply scramble eggs and serve them rolled up in piece of warmed deli ham. I personally add a dash of hot sauce to them. It’s easy, quick, and a good way to mix up your breakfast.

– Brooke

Enchiladas

These low carb enchiladas are great for children and adults alike, appealing to our 5- and 6-year-old daughters, whose food preferences change often. 

I prefer to make homemade bone broth using grass-fed/grass-finished beef bones – an easy venture with a pressure cooker or slow cooker.  Bone broth can be stored frozen to have on-hand for other recipes. 
Note: If you would like some soup bones or neck bones (both excellent for broth), we have a limited quantity available to share from our cow.  Please reply to this email if interested.
 

– Brooke

 

Crispy Tacos

Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines but it’s easy to go overboard at a restaurant with their large portions and endless tortilla chips. Therefore, I like to make my own version of a crispy taco at home. Chris has mentioned that this reminds him of a Taco Bell MexiMelt.

This recipe is quick and perfect for a busy weeknight. It’s also completely customizable, so feel free to add variations of your own.


– Brooke

Liver Pâté

This recipe holds a special memory for me. This was a holiday dish my mother made each New Year’s Day as the family gathered to celebrate. We all enjoyed it and, even as a young child, I looked forward to it every time.

The first time I made this for friends, I was unable to take a photo because they ate it too quickly! I was certain to capture a photo before serving it the next time around.

Feel free to make this for a crowd; it’s too delicious not to share.

– Brooke

Note from Chris:
Liver is a superfood — among the most nutrient-dense foods on earth, loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.  Many people are turned off by the strong taste of liver, but that is not an issue with this recipe.  It is incredibly palatable for even the most squeamish.

Meat over Fire

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci

In the spirit of a beautiful Summer holiday weekend, I bring to you the ultimate in simple meal preparation — Meat + Heat.

– Chris

Antipasto

The Summer season is upon us, which can mean one thing for a lot of people: potlucks! Potlucks are a wonderful summer pastime but can also bring a lot of challenges for those on a weight loss journey. 

 

At Summer gatherings, it can be easy to overindulge in foods that you perhaps wouldn’t eat otherwise, especially if you find that healthy food options are limited. Here are a few ways I like to prepare myself for scenarios like this: 1) getting exercise in the morning, 2) eating a high-protein breakfast, 3) drinking a lot of water, and 4) always preparing a dish to share that I know will fit my own dietary needs.

 

One of my favorite dishes for potlucks is an antipasto salad. The flavors of this salad are rich and savory. This dish is best made a day or two ahead of time, so the flavors have time to marinate. Enjoy! 


– Brooke

Meaty Chili

Are you feeling the June Gloom? Warm up with some meaty chili. I normally make this dish with ground beef but chose to use pot roast this time around. When we receive our yearly cow, roast cuts are plentiful and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. I also used the crockpot which made this a very easy meal for a busy weekday.
– Brooke

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