Good Eats

You like to eat? Good! You should! As do I. Food is a huge pleasure source for me. Don’t tell my guy, but it’s hard for me to decide between cuddling up with him or eating a big, juicy steak. Hmmm … decisions, decisions. I’ll take the steak! Ha! While I am no gourmet chef, my boyfriend (who is a far better cook than me) and I tend to a cook a complete home-made meal 4-5 times per week so I do have dozens of recipes for filling, low-carb, protein-rich, veggie-full meals that I want to share.

This page includes healthy recipes for those amazing wine-and-cheese paired dinners you’ll soon be whipping up as well as (what I call) “food hacks”—little food tricks that help me get the filling feeling (that’s tough to say) I crave without the not-so-healthy intake. Think: eating a bowl of cookie dough with zip, zero guilt. “Holy crap, that’s possible?” You’re darn right it is. Feel free to peruse and use these many healthy recipes or, if you can’t wait for the dough, say:

Take me to the food hacks NOW!

But, let’s start with the recipes! Say: “Get on with some good eats, Callie!” Okay!

recipes

I chose these as both some of my favorites as well as some of the simplest to prepare. Crazy, right? How they can be so good, and good for you, and yet so easy to make. Well, believe it. These are winners. And, I’m no chef, trust me. The first time I tried to cook in my own apartment, I almost blew the kitchen up throwing a block of tofu (because I thought that was the only protein I was allowed—don’t be me; be a much smarter you), which was saturated with water, into a skillet of hot oil. To be so educated, I can be a complete idiot in the kitchen. So, if I can make these, you can make and enjoy these fabulous dishes. If you’re struggling with food, I hope you will go to the store today, get the ingredients for one of these, and start your own wine-and-cheese rescue TODAY. This can work for you. You can make peace, and find freedom, with food. Start with one of these dishes today!

 

taco salad

This is our Tuesday night go-to. “Taco Tuesday!” my guy and I often say. I love the melty cheddar on the beef, the big rich glass of red that I pair it with (often something with spice—a Chianti or Zin). Full recipe here, but it is, again, stupid simple. I buy the lean ground beef to avoid the not-so-good saturated fat heavy in regular ground beef. If your store (Publix often does) carries ground bison or buffalo, even better! Grab a hunk of decadent cheddar cheese, an onion, some romaine, tomatoes, and an avocado, salsa, and you are set! If you’re following this diet, you will already have exorbitant amounts of Greek yogurt on hand, so you’ll have the final ingredient as well. Sweat the onion, brown the beef, make a salad to throw that cheesy/meaty goodness on. This is all super easy, healthy, and satisfying. You can either grab a Guac mix pack to make guacamole with the avocados and (again, our saving grace!) Greek yogurt, or make your own with spices you likely have on hand anyway (or should stock your pantry with them while you’re at it). Then, feast! The marvelous Mexican way! Is it Tuesday yet? ; )

 

Braised short ribs

I mean, this dish starts with like half a pot of red wine. How can you NOT love it? And, this also gives you the added leeway to drink a little while cooking (even five hours in advance of dinner!) because you HAVE to test the goods. It’s just quality assurance! (You’re welcome). Rather than potatoes, I like to pour this over a bed of “riced” cauliflower to reduce the carbs. Just boil cauliflower down, mash the snot out of them, and add greek yogurt, butter, and salt. Nothing to it. And, the short ribs are rather easy, too. Full recipe here. Mainly, you brown them a bit on each side, sweat the onions in the leftover meat juice, put the meat back in and—essentially—drown that goodness in half red wine and half beef broth. Maybe add a little tomato paste and spices. Then you just pop that thing in the oven at 350-degrees for five hours. (Trust me, let it go the full five for fall-off-the-bone goodness; start this dish a little after lunch, then shove it in the oven and forget it).

 

Roasted salmon and asparagus

I mean, my mouth waters just looking at that dish. Doesn’t yours? I looove salmon. And, it’s omega-rich fat is super healthy for your skin, hair, nails, and heart. I love my heart, too! My big tip for this dish is this guy: Chef Paul’s Magic Salmon Seasoning. I’d kiss those big pudgy cheeks of his if I could. This seasoning is a game changer. Rub a little olive oil on your salmon filet, shake a heavy dose of the salmon seasoning on it, then throw the whole delicious mess—your salmon, some asparagus (oiled up with salt, pepper and garlic powder) and some lemons on a foil-covered pan—in the oven at 400-degrees for 20 minutes and voila!

 

Authentic chicken ceaser salad

I can’t explain it, but this chicken Caesar salad—the kind we make at home, as opposed to the kind I tend to see at every restaurant—is just light years beyond. For whatever reason, restaurant chefs decided decades ago that restaurant Caesar salad had to be big, too-bulky-to-eat scraps of Romaine, drenched in a white, goopy mess of dressing, with a little Parmeson on top and super salty croutons too big to eat delicately. That’s restaurant-Caesar. I’m here to convert you to home-made Caesar, which is way mo’ better.

I believe it’s the anchovies. The fishiness gives the dish immense depth and superb salty flavor. The dressing on this salad, also, is not goopy and globby at all. It is wicked fresh. Recipe here, but this is how we do it: Sauté two chicken breasts (four minutes roughly on each side over medium-high heat), prep your Romaine and tomatoes, shred your Parmesan, then the fun part comes—making the dressing. Poke a hole in an egg and boil it for one minute. Crack it open and scoop out the goodies into a big bowl, then start whisking in punched garlic (several cloves), fresh-squeezed lemon, chopped anchovies, olive (and a little anchovy) oil, a little Worcestershire, then salt, pepper, cheese, and start adding in the lettuce and tomatoes unit you have a huge, beautiful consistently coated salad. Cut and serve the chicken breasts on top and “Hallelujah!” is what you’ll say.


ROASTED CHICKEN AND KALE

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This is one of my favorite dishes I have ever made. And, it was one of the first complete dishes that I learned to cook for myself when I was recovering, so it also gives me a warm, fuzzy “here’s looking at you kid” kudos feeling because it played a big role in my healing process. Plus, it’s stupid easy. Basically you throw freshly-rinsed torn-up kale into a big roasting pot or pan, add chopped carrots and red onion, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then lay some chicken thighs (with the skin on) on top, dash a little paprika on them for color, and roast the whole thing at 375-degrees for an hour (30 minutes covered with foil, 20 minutes without). That’s it. You see? Super easy.

When I eat it, I work the skin off of the chicken to eat only the lean meat, and I devour all of the kale. Every single leaf. The fat from the chicken is soaked throughout (and it’s good for you!). Do not be afraid of healthy fat. The skin on the chicken roasts each thigh up like it was swaddled in its own roasting blanket. It’s the easiest dish ever and looks fabulous. You can really impress people with this one. More detailed recipe here. Feel free to add taters if you’d like. Let me know what you think of this one!

 

Food Hacks

Many of these “hacks” helped me through many, many days when I was just starting out in my recovery and struggling with food. I hope they can help you, too. Fear no more: you have found the diet where you can have as much wine and cheese as you desire AND eat cookie dough, too. You see? That’s why I say it’s not a “diet” in the traditional, restrictive (often ineffective) sense. It’s not a fad. These recipes and hacks will give you food freedom if you give them an earnest go. So, hack it up, and let’s get on with the dough!

greek yogurt

There’s really nothing this miracle substance cannot do. On any given day, my fridge has at least two canisters of this creamy goodness. I have swapped every need for sour cream with yogurt with no remorse. I honestly don’t see any difference in the consistency or flavor pallet. Plus, it’s chock full of incredible protein and has very little fat. It is also cheap and keeps for a long time. Win-win! Get hooked on this stuff; trust me. You’ll never look back. Here are the many ways I use Greek yogurt in my daily diet:

  • As an ingredient for any salad dressing. You can mix it with Ranch powder (see below), dill and mustard, Italian seasoning, or any variety of spices, really, add a little almond milk or water to get the right viscosity, and *voila!* you have a healthy, fresh, protein-rich dressing on hand for salads or dipping chopped veggies (my go-to lunch just about every day). I keep a container of Greek-yogurt inspired dressing ready to go in the fridge at all times for everyday eating with fresh, chopped veggies.
  • On its own with a little Truvia or also with fruit in it. You can also add fresh squeezed lemon which is nice, or any fruit of your choice. Blackberries are wonderful in yogurt. Flavored vinegars also add a nice punch without adding sugar or carbs.
  • As a complete sour cream replacement. My typical sour cream dishes seem to fall in the Mexican flavor—in tacos (although I do taco salad) and to make guacamole. I now use Greek Yogurt for both of these dishes with delicious results.
  • In my smoothies as a creamy, natural, protein additive. I am a huge fan of the Nutri-Bullet and love to make brunch/lunch smoothies with frozen fruit or spinach, almond milk, Greek yogurt, some protein powder, and Truvia. Give me one of those and I am out the door ready to conquer the world!
  • To make (my version of) cookie dough! See below! You’re welcome ; ).

Speaking of ways to use Greek yogurt, this is one of my go-tos:

Fat-free, protein-rich salad dressings/dips

You won’t believe it. It tastes JUST like that creamy white goodness that must be crowned the best dressing ever. Seriously, this “hack” kind of blew my mind at first and it is now a staple I keep in my fridge (at all times) and eat probably 6-8 times per week. Not only that, it saves you money as the yogurt, milk, and cheap Ranch packets go much further than a $5 bottle of fat-full ranch will. So, super easy recipe on this. Add some Ranch powder (not much, less is WAY more or it gets too salty) to some yogurt and milk. I like Almond milk; it has far less carbs and calories and tastes great. Mix and enjoy on salads or as dip for cut-up veggies (my everyday go-to for brunch/lunch). I like to make a big batch (a cup or so) and keep in the fridge for easy use and convenient, healthy snacking. Enjoy!

Nutri-bullet smoothies

If I could hug this thing I would. I guess I can. Let me pop over to the kitchen counter and give this little gizmo a snuggle … okay, back. I love this thing. The Nutri-Bullet makes blenders look like that huge phone Zac Morris used to hold to his head—ancient and useless. Seriously, the Nutri-Bullet grinds down and blends things up in a way that will make your at-home smoothies taste (and look and feel) way better than the expensive smoothie shop kind. The one-time expense to pamper yourself with one of these is well worth it. After, you save a ton of money buying the ingredients yourself, and you then have the added benefit of knowing what’s actually in your smoothie. A tip: freeze the fruits or veggies you want to put in your smoothie before blending them. It gives the smoothie a pleasant chill without the crunchy ice.

While you can pretty much put anything you absolutely want in the Nutri-Bullet, I generally put the following in one of my smoothies:

  • Frozen fruit or spinach (I tend to use spinach more because I prefer to eat my fruit fresh, at room temp, often with yogurt or dashes of Truvia on them).
  • A dollop or two of Greek yogurt.
  • A serving or two of protein powder, whatever flavor you would like (I like chocolate or peanut butter (or both!) the best).
  • A shake of Truvia (even though I try to avoid added sugars, I still need certain things to taste sweet for me to enjoy them, that’s where plant-based sweetener substitutes come in the clutch).
  • Almond milk. I don’t measure these things, just add to the point I can tell the consistency will be right—nice and smoothie!
  • Although I personally haven’t experimented with it yet, I would imagine adding flax or chia seeds would be a good addition here, too, for added fiber and gastro health. If any of you have tried it, feel free to pipe up with thoughts or comments!

This is a recipe for magic. I like to make a Nutri-Bullet smoothie and put it over ice (or make it at home and let it chill up in the fridge or freezer) and take with me on a nice lunch walk. Like many of you, I spend many days working at a computer. Making yourself get up and walk as your lunch break is a super reward for your body and mind. Drinking my smoothie while strolling around town (often shopping—fun, fun!) is one of my favorite moments of the day. And, it is also sometimes the only intentional exercise I do for the day. As I mentioned in my My “Diet” page, I learned my lesson on the futility of over-exercising, and I am now perfectly capable of having a complete no-exercise day at least once a week.

Protein powder

“Hold the phone? Powder? Doesn’t that qualify as processed, packaged crap?” Is that what you’re thinking? I used to think so, too. And, I also thought a diet that required (or at least encouraged) protein powder had to be one of those froo-froo tofu and twigs diets that was unrealistic and that I could not possibly follow. Sadly, these were only my thoughts, assumptions, that turned out to be very wrong, a fact I learned well after I had eaten horrifically for years, thinking “at least I’m not one of those froo-froo dieters.” I was an idiot. Don’t be me; be a much better you! While most protein powders do have some crazy chemicals and such, many are completely organic, plant-based. They taste amazing, they’re affordable and easy to keep around, and they do nothing but make your diet amaze balls! Yes, they’re that good.

Protein powder let’s you eat bowls of both cookie dough and peanut butter. You read that right. Keep hacking.

Cookie dough!

That’s right, unleash your inner Cookie Monster! You didn’t think you could have cookie dough on the Wine and Cheese Diet, did you? Silly you! There is a reason I built a whole blog around this diet and have flouted it as the best in the world! You get your wine, your cheese, and your freaking cookie dough, too. Seriously, there is not an inner child in any of us who did not love the days when we got to clean the cookie dough bowl. Raw eggs were somehow not a concern when I was growing up. Beating my brother back from the chocolate chip cookie batter bowl so I could eat all that left-behind dough myself, however, was a HUGE concern. “Get back Bro-Lo! This dough is mine!” Here’s how I make my very own protein-rich, no-bad-fat “cookie dough.” Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  • Dish out about a half-cup of the protein powder flavor of your choice. And, as I mentioned previously, you don’t have to put unknown chemicals in your body to enjoy protein powder. They make plenty of organic versions that are plant-based. They even make chocolate chip cookie dough-flavored protein powder, so you could use that one for this treat. But there is seemingly an endless array of protein powder flavors (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cherry, cappuccino, I could go on). Go nuts! (Literally! I love the peanut butter flavored-protein powder just about the best.)
  • Add a couple tablespoons of Greek Yogurt and some almond milk, water, or butter. There’s no real measuring going on here. You just use (what I call) the “eyeball method” adding the liquids slowly so your “dough” doesn’t get too soupy. You want it to look pretty much like cookie dough—stiff and dough-ey (that’s a word today). You can make this with just water and protein powder if you’d like, the yogurt, milk, and butter just make it more filling and flavorful.
  • Add salt and Truvia to taste. This surprised me, but when I started baking cookies myself (for the BF!) I learned a common ingredient in cookies is salt. Maybe you pro-bakers out there already knew that, but learning that did remind me cookie dough was probably so satisfying because it was so sweet and salty. Shake some of each in and add to taste.
  • Curl up with your bowl of heaven, a good book or movie, and INDUUUULGE. Then tell me what other diet says: “You’re darn right you can sit on the couch and eat cookie dough and look and feel fabulous.” You’re welcome.

Peanut butter

That’s right, on the wine-and-cheese diet, you also get to sit around on occasion and eat peanut butter right out of the jar. You just have to make your own jar. Note: while actual peanut butter is a super-healthy snack and completely embraced on this diet, for me, personally, I can’t be trusted to keep a jar in the house. (Yes, you can laugh at my expense; I am an actual, I-kid-you-not recovering peanut butter addict. Feel free to read all about it.) For me, because peanut butter was such a triggering food for me, I don’t incorporate too much of it in my current diet. A scoop of peanut butter on my tongue gives me such an insane explosion of pleasure, I turn into a fiend. Like a crack addict, I can’t get enough. Peanut butter is my crack. I can’t be trusted to eat the sensible two tablespoon amount.

But, I still love the taste of peanut butter and crave it often. So, when I discovered this particular “hack,” it was a revelation for me. Turns out, on this diet, I can have peanut butter. Even the satisfying cereal bowl size of it if I want to. You can, too! Are you getting giddy? I’m giddy. I’m floating on a peanut-butter high right now. When I started dabbling with protein powder and came up with my cookie dough method, I had a sneaking suspicion I could use the same method to make (a version of) peanut butter. I had to fiddle with the ingredients and consistency, but I finally nailed it. Like the cookie dough, it just needed sugar and salt. This one is even easier than the cookie dough:

  • Pour about a half cup of peanut butter protein powder in a bowl.
  • Add Truvia, salt, and water (very slowly) and mix until you reach peanut butter consistency.
  • Indulge slowly. You’re welcome.