Low-Carb Loaded Cauliflower Soup

When you think about summer meals, I bet you don’t always include soup on your menu. Soup can actually be the perfect meal for when there are cooling patterns in the temperature that leave us hungry for a warm and comforting meal. This is what the week of 4th of July looks like here in the San Francisco Bay area.  

I love cauliflower soup because cauliflower paired with bacon is the perfect blend of comforting and fresh. They’re a dynamic duo that’ll leave you wanting more, but also feeling good about yourself - and your waistband!

I am a huge advocate for the ‘all foods fit’ mentality towards eating, but as a Registered Dietitian, some clients, especially those with glucose intolerance, need to watch their glycemic index closely. Many studies show that low-carb diets can be beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes, particularly those suffering from blood sugar dysregulation and insulin resistance.    

Incorporating low carb/high healthy fat meals into your diet can also greatly increase satisfaction.  Where some people go wrong with high fat diets is that they forget to include nutrient dense foods like vegetables. Cauliflower is the perfect way to add some extra nutrients without sacrificing flavor.  

Cauliflower is also a great vegetable because it is high in fiber, antioxidants, and choline. Choline is mostly made in the liver, but many Americans lack the extra choline needed from diet to help healthy brain development, muscle movement, and liver function.  

Throw this together for your next summer dinner, and you won’t be disappointed. If you’re not ‘low carbing’ it up, try pairing with a side of crusty bread.  The best is day old sourdough. YUM! 

Low Carb Loaded Cauliflower Soup

Time: 40 Minutes
Serves 4


Ingredients

10 slices thick-cut bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
2 large heads cauliflower, cored, cut into ½-inch florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 small bunch chives, roughly chopped


 
Directions

In a large unheated skillet, lay out half of the bacon slices without overcrowding too much. Cook bacon slowly over medium-low heat, flipping the bacon occasionally to allow browning on all sides. Pan-fry until crispy, about 8-12 minutes, and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining bacon. Allow to cool, and then chop into ¼-inch pieces.
 
In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir butter until melted. Add cauliflower florets and pour over broth. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Allow soup to cool slightly and then add whipping cream.
 
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to reach your desired consistency, from very smooth to slightly chunky. Stir in ¾ of the bacon pieces and 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese. Adjust seasonings to taste.
 
Garnish soup with remaining bacon, cheese, and top with chives. Serve immediately!
 


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Hearts of Palm Pasta with Sausage Ragu

I've often thought that a convincing low-carb pasta was almost impossible. In theory, I thought that maybe a food scientist would someday concoct something made from wonky processed food ingredients that could be believable. But pasta made out of real food that is low-carb? No way.

Palmini pasta was kind enough to send me a couple cans of their hearts of palm pasta. At only 90 calories, 18g of carbs, and 12g of fiber per can, I was skeptical. How could it be so healthy, but taste so similar to pasta?

I figured I could at least give one can of Palmini a whirl with a basic sausage ragu. To say I was impressed with the result would be an understatement.

When I opened my first can, I started snacking on the pasta right away. Luckily I didn't eat too much, so I didn't have to open up a second can to complete the recipe! I can't wait to cook up my next can soon!

Whether or not you're cooking with Palmini, this ragu is amazing and will be great with regular pasta too. Or if one person at your dinner table is living a low-carb or keto lifestyle, but you need your wheat noodles, why not make pasta two ways? Yep, now everyone's palates can be pleased!

Hearts of Palm Pasta with Sausage Ragu

Time: 35 Minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 bratwurst sausages (about 1 lb), casings removed
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 medium carrot, grated
2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if desired)
1/4 cup Ruby port wine
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 can Palmini pasta, rinsed and drained
2/3 cups parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

Ingredients
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add bratwurst and fennel seeds and cook until the sausage starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add grated carrot and cook until sausage is completely cooked through, about 5 more minutes. 

Add an additional tablespoon of oil to the skillet and stir in garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in port and bring to a boil and cook until the wine almost evaporates, about 1-2 minutes. Add the whole peeled tomatoes and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, until the flavors combine. Discard bay leaves.

Add Palmini pasta to the ragu and stir in parmesan and parsley until combined, about 3 minutes. Serve on plates and garnish with additional parsley and parmesan if desired.


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Szechuan Beef Lettuce Wraps

Feeling a little carbo-loaded after the weekend? Try this delicious recipe for Sichuan Beef Lettuce Wraps! They are finger-licking good! I like rice just as much as anyone else, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from excessive carbing for a meal or two. Plus that means you get to eat a little more of the filling, guilt-free. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Szechuan Beef Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking
Time: 40 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
1.5 lb ribeye beef fillets
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large red chillies, finely sliced
1 tbsp finely diced ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tsp Sichuan pepper & salt
1 cup finely sliced spring onions
Pinch Sichuan pepper & salt, extra
1 large head iceberg lettuce, leaves separated

Directions
Wrap beef fillets in plastic cling wrap. Place on a tray in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until slightly firm, so they are easy to slice finely without tearing. Remove plastic cling wrap and, using a sharp knife, cut beef fillets into 1/4 inch strips. Mince if desired.

Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add half the beef and stir-fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent beef sticking together. Remove from wok with a slotted spoon, drain well on kitchen paper and set aside. Repeat process with remaining beef. Remove excess oil from wok and wipe clean.

Heat extra oil in the same hot wok. Stir in chili, ginger and garlic and cook on a medium heat for 30 seconds, stirring constantly to ensure garlic doesn’t burn. Return beef to the wok with hoisin sauce and stir-fry for a further 30 seconds. Add Sichuan pepper & salt and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Lastly, stir through spring onions.

Divide beef and arrange over four large lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with extra Sichuan pepper & salt.