FIRST RUN: Cauliflower Pizza Crust

The purpose of this post is not to share an incredible recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust but as a guide to start with to create your own. I will be perfecting this in the future so a more definitive recipe will come later.

Hot out of the oven.
A friend was talking about pizza recently and I mentioned I had only eaten it once in the last three months because of my new "avoid carbs if possible" eating habits. I realized then that my lack of pizza was creating a dark culinary cloud in my kitchen. The wheels started turning, and later that night I did some research.

Cauliflower pizza crust stood out to me as the low-carb alternative for me to try because I had been working with cauliflower quite frequently over the last three months. I knew that it's mild flavor would be a nice canvass for the sauce and cheese of a basic pizza at the very least.

When it was all said and done, I really enjoyed the taste. The crust wasn't as stiff as I would have liked but it really was like eating pizza, and I enjoyed the process of making it. It's a bit more work than anything I would want to make three or four nights a week, but it was perfect for a Saturday afternoon when time was not of the essence.

Delicious cold leftovers.
The basic ingredient guidelines I used:
3 C of riced cauliflower,
(Use 1/2 to 3/4 of a head; remove as much stem as possible, then blitz into a grainy texture in a food processor)
1 C Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 egg

The key
Cook the processed cauliflower through, let cool and squeeze out as much moisture as possible before mixing everything together.

The crust
Mix cooked and drained cauliflower with other ingredients until well incorporated, then spread into the shape of a pizza crust (12 to 14 inches round, 1/4 inch thick) on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 400° to solidify and turn edges golden brown.

The Pizza
Top the baked crust with pizza toppings and bake 10 minutes more. Let cool slightly, slice and serve.

The Takeaway
There are many options to play with here. Not just toppings, but the crust also.

I cooked the cauliflower with sauteed onion for added flavor and I used a lot, which made it very prominent in the overall finished pizza. Next time, I am going to leave out the onion and add a fresh herb instead, either rosemary or thyme, just to perfume the crust with a traditional Italian flavor.

I cooked the cauliflower in a skillet on the stove. In the future, I want to try and spread it out in a pan and roast it to see if I can evaporate more of the liquid through the roasting process rather than trying to squeeze as much as I can out after it's cooked.

I think this would work as a tortilla for tacos or even a wrap. What I made was very pliable and had to cool completely before it was stiff enough to hold like a normal slice of pizza. That may have to do with the moisture in the cauliflower, I don't know though. I will find out more when I make it again - In the very-near future!

Eat well, cook often ...

Microwave Spaghetti Squash

This is a visual guide to making spaghetti squash in the microwave.

Spaghetti squash can be used as a delicious replacement to spaghetti pasta and is a low-carb, gluten-free and keto-friendly ingredient! It has a mild taste and acts as as a great canvass to any flavors that are added to it.

This recipe image is designed for a tablet or phone screen and is meant to serve as a guide while it is being prepared. If you know someone who might need a guide like this, or someone you want to turn onto the magic of spaghetti squash, alert them - share the love!

Eat well, cook often ...

Makes 4 servings, 30 minutes
1. Poke holes, soften
With a sharp knife poke several holes into squash lengthwise. (Creates a line the will be the mark for cutting in half.) Microwave on High 5 minutes to soften squash.

2. Cut in half, scoop out seeds
Handle with caution, squash may by hot. Along line of holes, cut squash completely in half. With a spoon, scoop out seeds. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cut-side down, microwave
Place squash half (or halves) in a microwave-safe dish cut-side down. Pour half inch of water in dish. Microwave 15 on high, or until flesh is soft. (Cook times may vary with different microwaves.)

4. Let cool slightly, remove squash
Once squash is cooked through, remove from dish and let cool a little. Carefully scrape strands of squash out of shell with fork and serve.

Low-carb Munchies

Diced ham, cheese and almonds will tame the strongest snack cravings.

I stayed true to my "avoid-carbs-if-possible-diet" and purchased what amounts to a protein snack Saturday night.

Meat, cheese and nuts.

The almonds were "smokehouse" flavored and the ham was processed which made this high in sodium but it still helped keep the carb count down for the day, so I'll take what I can get. To wash it down I went with diet tea — 0 carbs.

I wolfed down my protein snack while watching an episode of Law & Order, and it occurred to me that this tasty treat would be a hit at any big-game party or movie watching gathering.

Among the millions of pounds of unhealthy food that lines miles and miles of grocery store shelves there are some alternatives – even for a guy like me that craves man-cave food. These snacks may not be as healthy as celery and carrots, but at least it's not something my body will turn into a mound of sugar that will eventually be stored on my belly, under my chin or across my ass.

Eat well, cook often ...

Smoked ham, cubed
Smokehouse almonds
Munster cheese with jalapeno, cubed

Dump and eat!

Low-carb Chips and Dip

Two sliced cucumbers and your favorite dip! That's all for this recipe!

Ok. They're not really potato chips. They're sliced cucumbers. Once you dip them in this sauce though, the chip won't matter!

I went to a friend's house for a dinner party a couple days ago and decided to take a tray of sliced cucumber and some Sweet Pickle Ranch sauce to dip them in. It was my low-carb chips and dip contribution to a carb-heavy spread of delicious party food.

In truth, I was worried that none of it would get eaten, but the tray went over well and there were just a hand full of cucumber chips left by the end of the night. The best reviews came mostly from the female population at the party, who seemed to like having a healthier option for after-meal grazing as part of the spread. The tray disappeared primarily from people grabbing a slice of cucumber and dredging it in the sauce as they passed by the snack table.

The chips and dip, along with a tray of ham pickle roll-ups (like these) that I made seemed to generate lots of good food conversation throughout the night. I couldn't be happier with how the health-concious snack approach was received.

I'm really starting to enjoy the unique challenge of healthier food in the quest for delicious bites!

Eat well, cook often ...

The Double Turkey Burger Eggplant Stack!

This low-carb mountain consists of sliced eggplant and ground turkey patties  - grilled, stacked and drizzled with my favorite homemade sauce - which for me, in this case, is Sweet Pickle Ranch sauce.

After preparing this breadless-manwhich I realized this could be a featured item at a low-carb Carl's Jr. The only thing missing was a beautiful vixen luring men ages 17 to 34 to buy it.

This is my first attempt at using eggplant in my own kitchen. I have eaten it several times and enjoyed it, but never sought to make it part of a my own recipe collection. I am really pleased with how the eggplant turned out and I am looking forward to experimenting more with it.

I started out thinking the eggplant would work like bread slices and allow me to handle the stack, but cooking it correctly left it too soft to handle and it needed to be eaten with a fork and knife, which was the only thing that slowed this mound of savory yum from entering my belly in record time.

I'm going to refine this for sure - I just thought it was worth sharing.

If you have any great grilled eggplant recipes please send them my way!

Eat well, cook often ...

20 minutes, serves 2
1 Eggplant, medium size, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick discs
1 lb Ground Turkey, pattied
4 slices munster cheese
Favorite burger sauce

Heat grill to medium high. Brush eggplant with olive oil and season to taste. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side or until cooked through and soft, remove let rest. Grill turkey patties 8 minutes or until cooked through, turning once during cooking. After turn, add cheese to patties and let melt. Remove and rest, 5 minutes. On a plate stack eggplant and burgers, drizzle with favorite burger sauce or dressing, then serve.

Grilled Chicken Salad

I love leftover grilled chicken, the smoky grill flavor stays as long as it’s edible and provides an extra layer of flavor to whatever it’s used in.

This recipe features chicken grilled over charcoal the night before as well as pickled banana peppers in a spread for sandwiches or wraps.

I was in a hurry to work one afternoon when I lived outside of Chicago. I stopped at a gas station that had a pizza counter for a quick meal. Under a heat lamp I noticed a couple of burgers wrapped in foil with a yellow starburst sticker that said “Pizza”. I took a chance, grabbed two and was on my way.

The burgers featured a marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and a kicker - banana peppers! The tart and spicy peppers had a great flavor of their own and really gave this burger it’s “pizza or Italian” mojo. This tasty treat became a guilty-pleasure for an occasional lunch until I left the area and moved to Austin — and I have kept a jar banana peppers in my kitchen ever since.

In this recipe the peppers impart a tangy and spicy kick and make for a nice compliment to the smoky-grill flavor of the chicken. The chives provide a hint of onion and there is just enough mayo to bind everything together. As a whole, it's a great filler for a sandwich or could hold up as the star of a bite-size appetizer.

To cut carbs I served the chicken salad on cucumber, which provided a garden-fresh vehicle to deliver the goods and made for a nice replacement to carb-loaded bread slices or a wrap.

Eat well, cook often ...

Makes 4 to 6 sandwiches or a party appetizer; 10 minutes
3 C grilled or fully-cooked Chicken, diced or shredded
1/2 C hot Banana Peppers, diced
3 Tbs Mayonnaise
2 Tbs Chives, diced
4 Cucumbers, peeled, seeded, cut

In a large bowl mix together the chicken, banana peppers, chives and mayo until well incorporated, let rest 20 minutes for flavors to meld. Scoop salad into cucumber boats or serve in a wrap or sandwich.