Tag Archives: Secret Recipe Club

Healthy Gluten Free Slow Cooker Pasta

Healthy Gluten Free Slow Cooker Pasta from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comAs I explained in last month’s Secret Recipe Club post for Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce, making pasta is a bit of an ordeal at my house since I only have two proper burners on my stovetop. So when I saw Robin from Robin Restored’s post on Crockpot Spaghetti, I thought, “This is the recipe I have to make for this month’s Secret Recipe Club challenge!”

Robin explains that Crockpot Spaghetti is her mom’s go-to recipe for family parties and people complain if she doesn’t make it. Robin’s version is sure to please, but I wanted to health it up a bit and make it gluten free. So here’s how I changed it:

  • I used the leanest ground beef I could find instead of ground chuck. Buy the leanest you can find at your local store. If you read labels, you’ll notice that it has less fat than ground turkey. Feel free to use ground venison or buffalo, too. If you can find and afford organic or “natural” (grass fed with no antibiotics used) beef or buffalo, go for it!
  • I used fresh ingredients like onions and garlic instead of powders and fresh mushrooms instead of canned.
  • Instead of pepperoni slices, I decided to try it with chicken Italian sausage from Trader Joe’s. Their sausage is precooked, so I was able to cut it into chunks before placing it in the slow cooker. If the sausage you use isn’t precooked and you’re worried about it falling apart during cooking, place it whole into the crock. Then slice it up before serving.
  • I used V8 instead of plain tomato juice since we had a bottle in the pantry. Any veggie and tomato juice blend will do!
  • I also added some additional veggies – two yellow squashes. You could also use zucchini, eggplant or cauliflower. Slow cooking practically dissolved the squash and mushrooms, so their presence remained hidden from picky people in my family who claim not to like vegetables. (That’s my daughter, Lucie, who only eats carrots and cauliflower these days.)
  • Finally, since I'm a Community Leader at Udi's Gluten Free, I'm always interested in making gluten free recipes, especially for the slow cooker. So I used brown rice penne pasta, and my family never noticed! Feel free to use whole wheat pasta instead if you don’t eat gluten free.

Slow Cooker Pasta from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

All in all, good reviews from the family and super easy and quick to make. The leftovers heat up well in the microwave without the pasta getting too mushy.

Healthy Gluten Free Slow Cooker Pasta from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Healthy Slow Cooker Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 1/2 fresh oregano, minced)
  • 1 (15 ounces) can tomato sauce
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (cut large mushrooms into halves or quarters)
  • 3 1/2 cups V8 juice
  • 1 package Italian flavored chicken sausage, sliced into bite sized chunks
  • 2 yellow squash, cut into a large dice
  • 1 (16 ounce) package brown rice penne pasta

Directions

  1. Over medium heat, place ground beef, onion and garlic into a large skillet. Cook until meat has browned. Drain well.
  2. Place browned meat into a large (6 to 8 quart) slow cooker.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, except pasta. Stir well.
  4. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or high for 3 1/2 hours.
  5. Add pasta and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until pasta is done.
  6. Turn off slow cooker. Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Hours 30 Minutes
Total Time: 9 Hours
Servings: Serves 8 with lots of leftovers
  • Serving size: 1/8 of recipe

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Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Making pasta is a bit of an ordeal of my house, since I have to make regular whole wheat pasta as well as gluten free pasta. It’s made even more difficult because I have a 20-year-old Jenn Air range with only two working electric burners and two grill-like burners that take forever to heat up. This means I have to make the pasta first, then put it aside while I make the sauce. Then I have to reheat the pasta before serving. Needless to say, I can’t wait until we have enough money saved to do our kitchen remodel.

Even so, this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment was enticing enough to deal with the inconvenience. I chose Melissa from Smell’s Like Brownies’ recipe for Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce for several reasons. First, it’s a terrific Meatless Monday dish, even if my husband thought I should have added some sausage to it. (Not a bad idea, frankly.) And second, because my daughter, Lucie, loves cauliflower.

Changes  to the recipe and cooking tips

Changes: I didn’t change up too much in this dish, except for the way I cooked it. For example, I minded and left it in the pan instead of crushing the cloves and removing them later. I also partially cooked the cauliflower  then added the onion and cooking both together instead of cooking them separately.

How to cut cauliflower: I don’t like tossing the cauliflower stems and just using the florets as it seems such a waste. Instead, I slice the cauliflower head into 1 inch slices, then break them apart with my hands into bite sized pieces. Yes, there’s a mixture of pretty and not-so-pretty pieces of cauliflower, but it all tastes good to me!

About the type of cheese: Any freshly grated Romano style cheese is perfect with this dish. I used a Romano-Pecorino cheese from Trader Joe’s that’s very tasty, so feel free to experiment!

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

The convenience of Gourmet Garden herbs: Instead of fresh parsley, I used Gourmet Garden parsley instead. I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with Gourmet Garden’s products, and love the convenience of squeezing out just enough for a recipe without having to buy a whole bunch of herbs. There’s nothing worse than throwing rotten parsley into the compost bin because you didn’t have another use for it before it went bad. If you wish, use the same amount of fresh parsley instead.

Serving the sauce: Since I made two kinds of pasta, I served the sauce on top of it instead of dumping all the pasta into the sauce pot. This also is a better way to do things if you plan to have leftovers as the sauce will soften the pasta, so by the time you reheat it, it’s sort of mushy.

Salt your water: Finally, don’t forget to liberally salt your pasta cooking water. In my opinion, this practically eliminates the need to add extra salt to your pasta sauce.

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Spaghetti with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

Adapted from Smells Like Brownies adaption of the recipe from The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 pound whole wheat or gluten free spaghetti
  • 1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Romano-Pecorino cheese

Directions

  1. Start cooking the pasta according to package directions while you make the sauce. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet.
  3. Add the cauliflower and minced garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the sliced onion to the pan and cook until golden brown – about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and red pepper to the onion and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Then stir in the parsley and 1/4 cup of the grated cheese.
  7. Place one serving of pasta in a bowl or plate and liberally top with sauce. Serve immediately with extra cheese and crushed red pepper.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe

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Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Gourmet Garden provided me with samples of their products to try out in my cooking. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken

Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comAfter taking a break for the holidays, I’m once again participating in the Secret Recipe Club. This month’s assigned blog was Secrets of the Cookie Princess. While Colleen, the Cookie Princess, is obsessed with cookie baking, she also likes to cook up other dishes like Chicken Enchilada Soup and Crispy Quinoa Bites, which are two recipes to I’ve placed on my “To Cook” list.

I decided to make her Crockpot Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken as an excuse to use the whole organic chicken that had been sitting in my freezer for the past few months. I also chose this recipe since it uses items I always have on hand like fresh rosemary from the garden and garlic. Plus it’s based on this recipe from my friend, Stephanie O’Dea. I urge you to read Stephanie’s recipe as it’s quite funny. Her tale about “scaring the cats bald” had me cracking up.

Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Good, not great

My Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken was a disappointment. Even though the chicken was sitting in its own juices, the breast meat tasted dry. The lemon and rosemary were overpowering and gave the chicken an almost astringent taste. Also, I could barely taste the garlic, which was unbelievable considering how much I used. However, the baby potatoes were delicious and perfectly cooked!

Ideas for improvement: Next time I attempt to make this dish, I would only use one lemon and one sprig of fresh rosemary. I’d also add something sweet, like maybe slices from one orange and 1/4 cup of maple syrup, sorghum, honey, or agave nectar poured over the top before cooking. Also, I’d keep the skin on to add moisture to the breast meat. Finally, I’d check the chicken after three hours. I cooked the chicken for five hours and it was falling off the bone, which made for a lousy presentation. (This explains why I had to photograph it in the crock rather than on a pretty platter.)

Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken ingredients at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken

Based on this recipe from Secrets of the Cookie Princess, which is based on this recipe from Stephanie O’Dea

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 to 4) pound whole chicken, thawed and skinned
  • 1 head of garlic – cloves separated and peeled
  • 2 lemons, washed and sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary or 2-3 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 pound baby potatoes
  • Sea salt and pepper as desired

Directions

  1. Rinse chicken, then remove skin and pat dry.
  2. Rub salt and pepper in and outside of chicken.
  3. Place chicken in a 4-5 quart slow cooker.
  4. Place half of the peeled cloves into the cavity of the chicken.
  5. Place half the lemon slices inside the chicken.
  6. Place the remaining garlic and lemon slices on top of the chicken.
  7. Place baby potatoes around the sides of the chicken.
  8. Place rosemary over top of chicken and potatoes.
  9. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.
  10. When finished cooking, remove lemon slices and rosemary, and discard.
  11. Cut up chicken and serve.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 4 Hours
Total Time: 4 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1/4 to 1/6 of recipe

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Healthy fall dinners: Okra Soup #secretrecipeclub

Okra Soup

I loved okra even before we moved to the south. So when I saw a recipe for Okra Soup on Close to Home, my assigned Secret Recipe Club blog, I knew this would be a perfect fall time soup.  I’ve taken Maria’s version that is based on this recipe at Saveur.com and made some changes like using pancetta instead of bacon and fresh thyme from the garden instead of dried.

To save time, I used fire roasted diced tomatoes instead of whole, peeled tomatoes so I wouldn’t have to crush them by hand. I also used pre-diced pancetta (mostly because it was on sale, but bacon would be OK, too). However, the real time saving trick was to use frozen, diced okra. Since fresh okra costs twice as much as frozen, it’s also a way to cut costs. Finally, you don’t want to boil the okra into a mush. I like the okra to be cooked through, but still have a crunch to it.

I made a double batch so we’d have lots left over for lunches. (You can freeze half, too.) I’ve been heating a batch up in the microwave each morning for my son, Nathan to take to school. He says it’s the best soup I’ve ever made.

Okra Soup

Okra Soup

Based on a recipe from Saveur.com via Maria at Close to Home

Double batch – serves 12-16

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 12  cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 pounds frozen, sliced okra
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 4 – 14.5 ounce cans fire roasted, diced tomatoes

Directions:

  1. In a large soup pot, heat oil and bacon over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until fat renders, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add thyme, garlic, onion, celery, and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add okra, chicken stock, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, until okra is slightly tender but not mushy, about 20-30 minutes.

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Zucchini Bread Pancakes

Dairy Free and Gluten Free Zucchini Bread Pancakes at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Today’s Secret Recipe Club recipe should be perfect for anyone with too much zucchini in the garden and too much zucchini bread in the freezer. That was the case with Andrea of Adventures in All Things Food when she created her recipe for My Zucchini Troubles Turned Zucchini Bread Pancakes.

Since we had no garden this year, I went and bought a zucchini. In case you have to do the same, one smallish zucchini makes about 2 cups of shredded zucchini. So much for eyeballing it because I bought three! Oh well, another excuse to make more zucchini pancakes!

I made a few substitutions to make the zucchini pancakes gluten free and dairy free, but feel free to use Andrea’s original recipe. My kids ate theirs covered in flavored applesauce. I used tofu sour cream on mine. Delish!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed zucchini, shredded and patted dry
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup tofu sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten free all purpose flour mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 lemon, zested

Directions

  1. Grate your zucchini first, pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and set aside.
  2. Preheat your pancake skillet. Coat with cooking spray when heated.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the eggs, oil, agave, tofu sour cream, and vanilla extract. Whisk well.
  4. Stir in the shredded zucchini.
  5. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients, minus the lemon zest.
  6. Add the wet mix to the dry mix. Add the zest and fold everything in till all ingredients are moistened.
  7. Pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter in your preheated skillet.
  8. Cook until golden on one side and bubbles start to form on the top.
  9. Flip and wait till the other side turns golden brown.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes
Servings: Makes about 9 to 10 pancakes
  • Serving size: 1 pancake

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Healthier Lemon Pasta

Healthier Lemon Pasta at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

It’s not often that I try a new recipe and have my husband, Paul, tell me, “Hun, this is one of my favorite things you make.” So needless to stay, this month’s Secret Recipe Club dish from Jen at Jen’s Journey will be a dinner time staple at our house from now on. He loved. I loved it. The kids thought it was OK, but it disappeared off their plates. So I bet they loved it, too.

Making Lemon Pasta dairy free and gluten free

Jen’s recipe for Lemon Pasta is based on a Baked Lemon Pasta recipe from the Pioneer Woman. I’ve further modified it by substituting a tofu sour cream for the regular sour cream since I can’t eat dairy products, with the exception of cheese, because of my whey food sensitivity. (My recipe Tofu Sour Cream is based on this recipe from the Vegan Epicurean. Here's my version of the Tofu Sour Cream recipe.) If you need to avoid cheese, you can use vegan Parmesan sprinkles or skip the Parmesan altogether.

If you can have dairy, you can health up the Lemon Pasta by using a low fat sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt. I also cooked this with a buttery spread to further lower the saturated fat. I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light, but Earth’s Balance spreads are very good and vegan to boot. I like both brands and go back and forth depending on where I’m shopping and what’s on sale. (Note: ICBINB is not vegan as it contains a little bit of milk.)

As for pasta, I used whole wheat, but gluten free brown rice pasta would work well, too. Variation wise, I’m wondering if capers would be good in this, since capers and lemon work well together in dishes like Chicken Piccata. Or maybe some sliced black olives. Hmmmm, maybe next time!

Healthier Lemon Pasta at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Healthier Lemon Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 box spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons buttery spread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 cups sour cream, vegan sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped – to taste for garnish, plus extra for serving

Directions

  1. Cook spaghetti al dente in salted water. Drain, rinse, and place spaghetti back in pot. Place lid on pot to keep spaghetti warm and set aside.
  2. Juice one lemon into a bowl. Strain to remove pulp and seeds.
  3. In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium low heat. When butter is melted, add minced garlic and lemon juice. Turn off heat.
  4. Add your sour cream (or sour cream substitute) to the butter and oil mixture. Add lemon zest and salt. Stir everything together and taste. Add more salt if necessary.
  5. Pour sour cream mixture over drained spaghetti and toss. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water or milk.
  6. Place spaghetti in a large serving bowl and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.
  7. Serve with extra grated cheese and parsley on the side.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe

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Homemade Queso Fresco #secretrecipeclub

queso-frescoWhen we moved to Georgia, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have access to Mexican foodstuffs like locally made corn tortillas or Mexican cheese. How wrong I was! There’s a large Hispanic population here in Athens, GA and you can find all types of Hispanic food – including special cuts of meat like carne picada – right at WalMart, Krogers and Publix. So even though I’ve moved to the South I can still enjoy the dishes I  loved when I was growing up in Southern California like carne asada and Fish Veracruz since it’s easy to find all the ingredients like Queso Fresco, the Mexican version of feta.

However, when I saw Andrea Kruse of Adventures in All Things Food’s recipe for Queso Fresco for my Secret Recipe Club post, I had a light bulb moment. I didn’t have to go to the store – I could make my own at home! My family and I have made mozzarella before, which is easy. But making Queso Fresco is even easier – all you need is milk, kosher salt, vinegar and some cheese cloth.

Let’s talk about milk

The nice thing about making cheese at home is that you can choose the type of milk that you want – organic, non-organic, sourced from a local dairy, or just the regular stuff from the store. Traditionally, Queso Fresco is made from raw cow’s milk. Here in the US, it’s made from pasteurized milk. I used pasteurized organic whole milk, but you can use whatever you like.However, you do want to avoid ultra pasteurized milk, which will not curdle during the cheese making process.

Also, I had wondered about using low fat or skim milk. Since all the recipes I’ve looked up use whole milk, I stuck with that.

What kind of salt and vinegar?

Most recipes I see on the internet for Queso Fresco use kosher salt. However, the types of vinegar vary. Some use white distilled vinegar, others use red wine vinegar or cider vinegar. Others use rennet or lemon juice to curdle the milk. I used white distilled vinegar since I felt it wouldn’t add any negative flavors to the cheese.

Draining and pressing the cheese

I used a double layer of cheese cloth when I made my Queso Fresco. However, the cheese stuck to the cloth and some was left behind when I peeled it away from the cheese. Next time I make this, I’ll use thin muslin tea towels instead.

As far as pressing the cheese, the easiest thing to do is to gather the sides of your cheese cloth and make your Queso Fresco into a mound or disc shape. Another option is to use a large can to make a cheese press like this one.

Also, you’ll end up with around 2 1/2 cups of whey. You can use it in smoothies or instead of water in soups, bread dough, or savory dishes.

Curds and whey draining the cheese

Queso Fresco

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart whole cow’s milk
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

Directions:

  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the milk over medium heat. Add in the kosher salt.
  2. Bring the milk up to just barely a simmer, when it will start to foam up (around 190 degrees F). Make sure that the milk doesn’t burn by stirring frequently and keeping an eye on it. When it has a steady simmer and threatens to boil over, remove the pan from the burner.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and stir. The milk should curdle and separate immediately. If not, add another tablespoon of vinegar. Stir gently so you don’t break the curds.
  4. Line a colander with doubled cheese cloth or a thin dish towel. Place colander in the sink or in a large pan. Drain off the cheese.
  5. Take up the corners of your cloth and gently squeeze out the whey. For a drier cheese, you can place a weighted plate on top of the cheese cloth and press out excess moisture. (I tried to remove as much whey as possible since I have a food sensitivity to it.)
  6. Cheese will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Enjoy it sliced or crumbled on salad, fish or vegetables or Mexican inspired dishes.

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Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa  from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I cannot believe we’re moving to Athens, Georgia in less than two weeks! We’re trying to cut down on the amount of stuff to pack, so the kids and I are in the process of consuming all the foodstuffs we can. That’s why I discovered one last package of venison in the freezer. Surprisingly it was stew meat, which was perfect to make Crock-Pot Hungarian Goulash from Heather of Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment!

Yes, another slow cooker recipe for the Secret Recipe Club post. This is the third in a row after last month’s Healthy Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John and March’s Healthy Slow Cooker Pumpkin and Bean Chili. Hope you don’t mind, but when you have a small kitchen like I do in my temporary Boulder apartment, a slow cooker comes in handy!

I only made a few changes to Heather’s recipe. To make it gluten free, I used starch instead of flour and served it on quinoa instead of egg noodles. I also used coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar, sea salt instead of regular table salt, and smoked paprika instead of regular paprika. Feel free to use whatever substitutes you wish depending on your food sensitivities and what you have on hand.

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa  from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean stew meat (beef or venison), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon corn or rice starch
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Directions

  1. Place the meat in a 5 quart slow cooker and cover with the sliced onion.
  2. Combine the garlic, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, coconut palm sugar, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and dry mustard. Stir in the water and mix well. Then pour mixture over the meat in the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. If mixture gets dry, add more water (1/2 cup at a time).
  4. Just before serving, remove a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the slow cooker and put into a small bowl. Add corn or rice starch and stir until dissolved. Pour starch mixture into the slow cooker and stir until goulash thickens.
  5. Spoon goulash over quinoa and serve.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Total Time: 6 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6
  • Calories: 412
  • Calories from Fat: 46
  • Total Fat: 5.1g
  • Saturated fat: 5g
  • Unsaturated fat: .1g
  • Sodium: 681mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 46.7g
  • Sugar: 8.5g
  • Fiber: 4.5g
  • Protein: 41.7g

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Healthy Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John #secretrecipeclub

Healthy Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John

I want to thank my regular readers for their patience the past few weeks as I haven’t been posting as many recipes as I’d normally would. It’s been a time when the personal gets in the way of the professional due to selling our home in February, moving to temporary quarters in Boulder in March, and traveling to Athens, Georgia to house hunt. (I was also on a trip to Honolulu to do some food writing for the folks at Sea Cuisine – more on that soon!)

While I was in Athens, I indulged in local Southern cuisine from barbecue to grits (smothered and chopped – thank you very much!) While I was there I discovered pickled and fried okra, pickled watermelon rinds, and a dish called Hoppin’ John. It’s a combination of two staples of Southern food – black eyed peas and collard greens.

Both foods are packed with nutrition. According to Self Nutrition Data, black eyed peas are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and a good source of fiber, protein, folate, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. (The one drawback is that they’re very high in calories.) Collard greens are low in saturated fat, very low in cholesterol, and a good source of fiber, protein, and many vitamins and minerals.

Healthing up Southern cooking

I’m looking forward to our move to Georgia and sharing healthy versions of Southern recipes with my readers. That’s why I was so excited to find a recipe for Hoppin John Vegetarian Black Eyed Peas done in a slow cooker at Kristi Arnold’s blog Veggie Converter, my assigned blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club post.

Kristi’s recipe is very healthy already, but since I’m not a vegetarian, I decided to add smoked turkey sausage to her recipe after consulting Kristi’s original sources. (Traditionally, smoked ham hocks are used.) I kept the sausage whole instead of chopping them up, so you can decide how much sausage you want to eat and can keep a better eye on portion size. Also, I used canned black eyed peas instead of dried to make the recipe even more convenient for busy folks. I served it on quinoa, but feel free to use rice – brown, of course – which is more traditional.

And the Bacon Salt that Kristi recommends? Awesome stuff! I love how it added bacon flavor – and no calories and saturated fat – to the recipe.

Healthy Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John

Healthy Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John

Healthy Crockpot Hoppin' John

Note: you can health up this recipe even more by using vegetable broth, cutting back on the sea salt, and adding more tomatoes, onions and collard greens. While I loved the addition of quinoa, it can be eliminated, too, if you're watching your calorie count. And the sausage? Feed it to your skinny friends or the dog!

Ingredients

  • 4 (15.5 ounce) cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) package smoked turkey sausage, keep whole
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced petite tomatoes and diced green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 bunch collard greens, rinsed chopped and ribbed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bacon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Directions

  1. Empty the cans of black eyed peas into a colander place in the sink. Drain and rinse until the water runs clear.
  2. Place black eyed peas, chicken broth and turkey sausage in the six quart slow cooker.
  3. Stir in tomatoes with chilies, chopped onion, and collard greens.
  4. Add sea salt, Bacon salt and black pepper. Stir thoroughly.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours until sausage is cooked through.
  6. Serve over quinoa.
Servings: 10
  • Calories: 646
  • Calories from Fat: 56
  • Total Fat: 6.2g
  • Saturated fat: 1.3g
  • Unsaturated fat: 4.9g
  • Sodium: 1115mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 136.6g
  • Sugar: 8.4g
  • Fiber: 51.2g
  • Protein: 56.4g
  • Cholesterol: 27mg

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