Easy Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken and Cauliflower Rice (low carb, gluten free, dairy free)

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There is a reason The United States of America is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the earth.

This is because I am FREE. Free to eat whatever cuisine I want on Independence Day. Because America. When your country is a delicious fondue melting pot, there are a lot of ways to be American. Burgers and apple pie notwithstanding.

Like most sentient creatures on earth, takeout food holds a special place in my heart. Sometimes I just wanna eat something kinda greasy and gross. This is a universal experience of the human condition. Probably sociologists talk about it a lot. Probably over some takeout.

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My point here is that I could pretty much bathe in sweet and sour sauce. BUT I can think of more than a few reasons that might not be an excellent habit (…proper hygiene aside). The obscene amount of sodium, for one. Or the fact that one lunch-sized portion of your average sweet and sour chicken with rice contains about as many carbs as a liter of coke.

So that’s one thing. But takeout in and of itself isn’t a crime!! The problem is when everyone is super tired, and overworked, and in a rush, and trying to save money. This is when, justifiably, it’s a whooole lot easier to fall back on delivery, drive-thru, or pick-up for a quick meal that tastes pretty good. After while, takeout isn’t even fun anymore. It’s just dinner.

Ok I just depressed myself so IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON TO MY MAIN POINT HERE. Which is: Chinese takeout is the best and also super easy to make at home, HEALTHY STYLE. Plus, this recipe uses a slow cooker for those who 1) enjoy throwing everything into one pot and running away, and 2) laughing forever about turning on the oven when it’s a million degrees outside.

GOD BLESS ‘MURRICA.

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Easy Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken and Cauliflower Rice (low carb, gluten free, dairy free)

Yields: About 4 servings

Ingredients:

Chicken and sauce:
Around 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
2 ⁄3 cup sugar-free or reduced sugar apricot preserves
3 tbsp gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (I used a low sodium tamari)
2 tbsp reduced sugar ketchup
1 tsp fresh minced ginger OR ¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp liquid stevia OR about 1 tbsp lemon juice

Cauliflower rice:
Around 12 oz (1¼ cup) riced cauliflower (I seriously recommend grabbing a bag from Trader Joe’s if there’s one around you)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Around 8 oz (1 cup) sliced mushroom
½ cup broccoli florets
1 tbsp gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (I used a low sodium tamari)
1-2 tbsp minced garlic, or to taste
¼ tsp ground ginger
Salt & pepper to taste
Diced green onions, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Stir the preserves, tamari, ketchup, ginger and stevia or lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. 

Place chicken breast in the crockpot and top with apricot sauce. Let cook for 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low. After cooking, open crockpot and shred chicken with two forks. Replace lid and let sit.

To make the cauliflower rice, place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic and heat until fragrant. Add mushrooms and sauté until they just begin to soften and release water. Add broccoli florets and cook until bright and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Add riced cauliflower and sautee for a few minutes until more tender.

Add tamari, powdered ginger, black pepper, and salt. Stir to combine.

Serve them up together IN THE LAND OF THE FREE. 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

Nutrition (Calculated with sugar-free preserves, lemon juice, and tamari):
apricot chicken w caulirice nutrition

Super Easy Chicken Ramen; Or, What’s A Shirataki? (Low carb, gluten free, dairy free, vegan adaptable)

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I understand you may be confused by the images you are seeing right now because they do not appear to feature a dessert. Honestly, even I’m confused. That is not a picture of dessert. That is definitely soup. Right? That isn’t a dessert. 

Well, I hope you’re sitting down: all of this was…INTENTIONAL. Yes, not unlike my Buffalo Salmon and Avocado Salad, occasionally I will find myself eating something other than cake. AND HERE LIES THE PROOF.

Part of the inspiration here is how fuh-reezing it’s been lately. To be fair I have been known to define anything under 50° as ‘freezing’, but still. It’s been the perfect kind of crisp, chilly winter air I love to romanticize while actually barricading myself indoors and turning my heated blanket setting up to ‘electrocute’.

Oh, and but of course: making some simmering, savory soup. Yeeesssss.

You really can’t go wrong with ramen. Cheap, easy, and delicious. And here, as is always the promise: healthy, too! Loaded with veggies, protein, and aaall that good stuff.

To make this a low carb dish, I’ve opted to use shirataki noodles over a more traditional noodle. What on earth is shirataki, you say? Why, I’m glad you asked!

Shirataki noodles (or yamflour noodles, konjac noodles, konnyaku noodles, etc) are a thin, transparent Japanese noodle made from the gelatinous fiber of the konjac yam. As an ingredient, they’re very low in carbohydrates and calories, and have little flavor of their own. They’re available in a bunch of different shapes, too – fettucini, angel hair, elbow, etc.

You can usually find them in the refrigerated section next to the tofu – they come packaged in liquid that smells a bit fishy upon opening. A quick rinse and any kind of heating (par-boiling, stir-frying, dry-roasting etc) should clear that up. Other than that, they’re ready right out of the bag! Some kinds of shirataki are made with tofu as well, which adds a minimal amount of calories and carbs, but some people prefer the texture. If you’re watching your carbs, keep an eye out for brands that sneak in various starches and flours.

So they’re a bit of an acquired taste, for sure. But are they healthy? WHAT DO YOU TAKE ME FOR? I’ll let the clever minds behind the Keto Diet Blog summarize:

This study shows that the soluble fibre called glucomannan found in shirataki noodles may help you lose weight and improve health. Below are the main benefits of glucomannan:

  • Soluble fiber is very low in calories and lowers the energy-to-weight ratio of the food that is consumed.
  • It has shown to promote satiety via several mechanisms. Including shirataki noodles will keep you fuller for longer!
  • It slows down digestion which again induces satiety.
  • It inhibits carbohydrate absorption and improves glycemic parameters (lowering blood glucose levels and inhibiting insulin spikes).
  • It reduces fat and protein absorption (only beneficial for excessive calorie consumption).

Sounds good to me. But if shirataki is too far out for you, you’re not out of healthy options! Try the ever-popular zucchini noodles (aka zoodles), kelp noodles, spaghetti squash, cabbage, or just some plain old gluten-free noodles (keeping in mind the carb count would change).

While I used some of my personal favorite veggies for this recipe, feel free to substitute or add in your own favorites! For our vegetarian/vegan friends, try switching in some tofu, seitan, portobello etc. instead of chicken. The possibilities are endless!

So the sooner we get this started, the better – my heated blanket’s power cord isn’t long enough to reach the kitchen.

Super Easy Chicken Ramen (Low carb, gluten free, dairy free, vegan adaptable)

Yields: around 4 servings

Ingredients: 

2-3 packages of shirataki noodles/tofu shirataki (I used plain shirataki)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups sliced mushroom
2 cups baby bok choy, chopped (leaves separated from stalks)
1-2 tbsp minced garlic, or to taste
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt or onion salt
1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
4 cups chicken stock (I used a lower sodium chicken bone broth)
1-2 cups water
4-5 tbsp gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (I used a low sodium tamari)
12 oz. chicken, cooked and cubed
1/4 cup shredded or coined carrots
1/4 cup green onion, diced

Optional, for topping:
Nori (seaweed)
Boiled egg
Sriracha

Directions:

If using shirataki noodles, empty bags into a colander and drain all the liquid. Rinse well under water.

Drain noodles and transfer to a hot pan without any oil, grease, or liquid. Heat on medium-high for 5-10 minutes, or until noodles release steam and shrink slightly (but not too much!). Set aside.

Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic and heat until fragrant. Add mushrooms and bok choy stalks and sauté until they just begin to soften and release water. Add powdered ginger, black pepper, salt, and chili powder. Stir to combine.

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Add in chicken stock/bone broth, water, and tamari. Add in the rest of the bok choy leaves. Bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Add in shirataki noodles and cooked chicken. Simmer for 1-2 minutes more – shirataki noodles are great at absorbing flavors!

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Remove from heat and pour into bowls. Top with diced green onion, carrots, and anything else you’d like! Devour, and then crawl back under your comforter.

 

Nutritional Info (calculated without optional toppings):

ramen nutrition info

14 Healthier Recipes For Your Super Bowl Sunday (Low carb, paleo, vegan, sugar free)

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Being that I am a patriotic, warm-blooded American, it would only follow that of course I love football. I am saying this with a backdrop of the American flag billowing valiantly behind me. There is also a bald eagle.

There may be naysayers who doubt this claim, asking strange questions like “But what about the time you asked who was winning an hour and a half before the game even started?” Ha! Well – “Or what about when you asked how many quarters were in a game?” UHH I CAN EXPLAIN- “Or when you-“

ok FINE YOU CAUGHT ME AND MAYBE I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL. But. I do love the Super Bowl. Wanna guess why? HINT: It starts with ‘f’ and ends with ‘ood’. GIVE UP YET?

Yes, and no one is surprised. The Super Bowl has given rise to some truly fantastic snackage over the years. And the excuse to make and inhale all of them in short order (like I even need an excuse).

It has come to my attention, however, that many are justifiably hesitant to participate in this nationalistic tradition of Super Bowl snacking, since most traditional Super Bowl fare is not exactly the epitome of healthy eating. And that just ain’t right. So here’s a little collection that covers some of our favorites: low carb, gluten free, paleo, vegan – NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND.

Recipe links below! And remember, with a few simple substitutions (vegan cheese products, switching out proteins, using alternative sweeteners) most of these recipes can easily be adapted to dairy free, vegan, or sugar free if not already!

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Buffalo Salmon Avocado Salad here at The M’Academia Nut

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Football Deviled Eggs at Full-Thyme Student

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Mini Bun-less Cheeseburger Bites with Thousand Island Dip from Sugar-Free Mom

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Buffalo Spiced Cocktail Nuts at All Day I Dream About Food

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Zucchini Nacho Chips from Keto Adapted

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Crunchy Cucumber Rolls with Herb Cheeze from Nutrition Stripped 

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Quick and Easy Guacamole from KetoDiet

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Loaded Mexican Nachos – Paleo Style from Primally Inspired 

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Kickin’ Chili from Peace, Love and Low Carb

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Jalapeño Popper Dip from Simply Gourmet (TIP: leave out the cracker crumbs for a lower carb topping!)

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Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding at The M’Academia Nut

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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Truffles from I Breathe I’m Hungry

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Avocado Chocolate Mousse – Two Ways! from Chocolate-Covered Katie

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Cosmopolitan Jello Shots from All Day I Dream About Food 

Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, paleo, vegan)

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Do you see what has been artfully spread on a charming tablecloth in the picture above. 

THAT’S RIGHT.

CHIA SEEDS.

Sara always keeps her promises. (note: Sara is me.)

(addendum to note: this is still not actually the chia seed recipe my sister requested I’M SORRY I’M GONNA GET IT RIGHT EVENTUALLY)

Let me teach you the way of the chia seed. 

These are indeed the very same chia of the ch-ch-ch-chia pet fame. And they’re just fantastic. They’re these tiny (and tiny is a theme here) little powerhouses of nutrition and versatility, and I haven’t even come close to unlocking their full potential yet as an ingredient. In fact: preliminary research hasn’t not shown that eating chia seeds on a regular basis makes you better than everyone else.* 

On their own, chia seeds taste pretty neutral, so they can work in both savory and sweet applications. Throw ’em on a salad, in a smoothie, your cereal, yogurt, even as an egg substitute for vegan-types!

Or you could make pudding with them.

It's a TABLEAU.

It’s a TABLEAU.

Among many other delightful qualities, chia seeds are loaded with fiber. And it’s thanks to this fiber that helps chia seeds absorb any liquid you mix it with and form a pudding-like gel. I learned this from the google and also real-life application, so I’m qualified to speak on this.

This pudding is yet another incredibly low maintenance recipe for all of those out there like myself who enjoy throwing things into a bowl and then walking away. This also isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, so that can also be adjusted according to preference. PLUS the options for different flavor combinations is endless! Throw in some chocolate, nut butters, pumpkin, coconut, whatever. Go wild. I won’t hold you back.

Because I am apparently only capable of making recipes containing cinnamon, vanilla, and almond in some capacity, I went ahead and made some vanilla cinnamon chia seed pudding with almond milk.

Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding

Original recipe from an edible mosaic

Yields: four 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients: 

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)
6 tbsp chia seeds
1-2 packets stevia/choice of sweetener to taste (I use SweetLeaf Stevia)
4-8 drops liquid vanilla stevia, or to taste (…also SweetLeaf no they aren’t paying me BUT THEY SHOULD)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
teeny pinch of salt

Directions:

The lineup.

The lineup.

Add all ingredients into a bowl, and stir to combine.

Action shot!!!!!

Action shot!!!!!

I know. It’s going to seem like the cinnamon will never want to mix in. But you just have to believe. 

~*~BELIEVE~*~

~*~JUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF~*~

Good enough. Then, let the chia seeds work their mysterious and exotic magic and refrigerate until pudding thickens, at least 2 hours or overnight. Feel free to pop in and stir occasionally.

Then, place into fancy dishes (not optional) and be sure to sprinkle various ingredients all over your table so everyone knows that you are better than them for eating chia seeds.*

"I ate this, and I'm better than you" -you

“Statistics don’t not show that I am better than you for eating this ” -you

And enjoy!
*Source: Authority for the Creation of Deceptively Phrased Facts About Chia Seeds

Nutritional Info:

Calculated with stevia. Dat FIBER.
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