Easy Breakfast Sausage and Sausage-Sweet Potato Hash

One of my favorite meals, at any time of the day, is sausage and eggs.  However I don’t like all the preservatives and such that come in most store-bought sausage (and bacon) or the price of the healthier choices.  So… I decided to try my hand at making them myself.  The bacon is still a work in progress, I haven’t tried a recipe I really liked yet, but I’ve engineered a quick and easy recipe for breakfast sausage that I really enjoy, my base for this recipe is Alton Brown’s Country Sausage but I’ve tweaked it to make it easier and I’ve cut out the sugar.  For any non-US readers, country sausage, AKA breakfast sausage here in the States, is a loose sausage.  Usually pork or turkey, but it can be made with any ground meat.  Although some places do make it into cased links it’s also served as patties or cooked and crumbled for use with other ingredients, like the hash recipe below.  Oh yeah this recipe and the has recipe are both Paleo diet friendly!

Sausage Seasoning and Ground Turkey

Sausage Seasoning and Ground Turkey

Sausage Crumbles

Sausage Crumbles

EASY BREAKFAST SAUSAGE
Print Recipe

(Recipe below seasons 10 lbs of ground meat.)

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp smoked kosher salt (use plain Kosher salt if smoked not available but the smoked salt really adds to the flavor.)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp dried sage
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes

BASIC NUTRITION INFO (per 4 oz serving, made with lean ground turkey)

Calories: 170
Carbohydrates: 0 grams
Fat: 8 grams
Protein: 21 grams
Fiber: 0 grams

If you choose to use  ground pork with an 80/20 lean/fat ratio this would have 280 calories per serving with 21 grams total fat and 20 grams protein.

Directions

Put everything in a spice grinder or break out a mortar and pestle and grind together.  Once ground, use 1 1/2 Tbsp per Lb of ground meat, I’ve made this with pork and turkey and it works great with both.  Mix it into the meat and it’s ready, flavor is improved if you refrigerate for about an hour after mixing and this will keep in the fridge for a few days.  Spice mixture will keep for quite a while in a sealed container.

Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash

Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash

SAUSAGE AND SWEET POTATO HASH

  • 4 oz breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato, diced and boiled or steamed
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • OPTIONAL: Diced bell pepper, sliced jalapeño, sliced mushrooms

Directions

This one is super easy to prepare.  Add a bit of oil to a hot pan (medium heat) and sauté the onion for a few minutes, add the sausage and cook until browned.  Now add the sweet potatoes and any other ingredients you like and cook until done to your preference, you can cook just until heated however I like to let the sweet potatoes caramelize a bit first.  Plate and serve, this is excellent topped with a fried egg.

BASIC NUTRITION INFO

Calories: 222
Carbohydrates: 14 grams
Fat: 8 grams
Protein: 24 grams
Fiber: 2 grams

Topped with 2 large eggs:

Calories: 362
Carbohydrates: 14 grams
Fat: 18 grams
Protein: 36 grams
Fiber: 2 grams

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Deconstructed Pork Tamales

Delicious Pork “Tamales”

Sometimes recipes just kind of come together.  I wasn’t sure what to cook one night and after rummaging through my fridge and pantry I had a pork roast,  some black beans and a roll of polenta – this is what came of it.  It’s not my lowest calorie meal but at 426 calories per serving still pretty low cal, and a lot better than having a couple “real” tamales.  Serving this with some steamed cauliflower and/or a salad and you’ve got a full meal for about 550 calories.

Although the polenta delivers a good dose of carbs it is a complex carbohydrate and therefore has a low glycemic index, it is also gluten free for those avoiding gluten.  Polenta is high in Vitamins A & C as well as potassium, phosphorous and magnesium and contains small amounts of iron, zinc, thiamin and niacin.  You get a good serving of fiber and protein from the black beans and lots of protein from the pork roast.  One thing I love about this meal is that it feels like it’s cheating, you get to eat spicy/meaty “Mexican” food but not destroy your fat and calories for the day.

DECONSTRUCTED PORK TAMALES

Serves 4

Click here to view/print this recipe from Google Docs.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean pork tenderloin roast, shredded
  • 1 lb prepared polenta cut into 12 slices
  • 2 cups black beans
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 4 Tbsp low fat sour cream
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and garlic to taste.
  • Hot sauce

Preparation

Trim any visible fat from pork roast and season as desired.  You can marinate it if you choose or use a dry rub of ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Simply coat the roast with spices and allow to rest in refrigerator overnight.  Roast can be slow smoked, cooked in a crock pot or in the oven.  Cook to an internal temperature of 160F for medium doneness or 170F for well done.  Make sure to cook the roast slowly and keep it moist, you want it to be very tender and easily shredded when done.

When the roast is almost done heat 1 can of black beans and grill the polenta.  Season each side of the polenta with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat (can use grill pan or regular skillet) until heated through.

Arrange three slices of polenta on each plate and top with 4 oz of the shredded pork and ½ cup of black beans.  Top with sour scream, hot sauce, salsa, diced onions and/or jalapenos as you choose.

BASIC NUTRITION INFO (per serving : ¼ recipe)

  • Calories: 426 per serving
  • Carbohydrates: 44 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Protein: 44 grams

Scallops Fra Diavolo – Low calorie, low carb, packed with protein.

One of my local stores sells a take-and-bake version of this dish.  They use bread crumbs and butter in there’s and I wanted to see if I could tweak it to low the carbs and calories a bit.  Many other Scallops Fra Diavolo recipes have a spicy tomato sauce.   By making this dish without a sauce it eliminates the need to serve it over pasta, and you still get the spicy tomato flavor.  If you want this a bit more saucy you can use canned diced tomatoes instead of the fresh tomato, just drain off any excess juice first.

Scallops Fra Diavolo

Serves 2

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz bay scallops, raw
  • ⅛ cup almond meal
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced & seeded
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil spray


Directions

Start by combining almond meal, parsley, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a bowl.  Once combined add scallops then stir to coat in the seasoned almond meal.  Add tomatoes, onion and garlic and stir gently to combine all ingredients.

Spray a shallow pan with non-stick cooking spray and add scallops to pan, spray top of scallops lightly with olive oil.  Scallops should fit in pan in a single layer  Bake in preheated 400° oven for approximately 20 minutes until scallops are firm.  Plate and serve, topping each serving with ½ of the grated Paremsan.

Basic Nutrition Info (per serving)

  • 183 calories
  • 14 grams carbs
  • 6 grams fat
  • 20 grams protein


Approximate Cost = $4.00/serving ($8.00/recipe)
At about $9.00/lb the only major cost here is the scallops.  Almond meal is about $14.00/lb but you only use a small amount.  Add a side salad to this meal and you can feed 2 people for about $10.00.

Shrimp Scampi with Shirataki Fettuccine

I was shopping at Trader Joe’s recently and one of the associates suggested I try Argentine Red shrimp.  He said although it was a bit of a stretch they compared the taste and texture to lobster.  I like shrimp so I decided to pick up a bag.  I sure wasn’t expecting lobster but I have to say these shrimp were excellent, they have a sweeter taste than other shrimp and the texture (amazingly) did remind me of lobster.  If you have a Trader Joe’s around I definitely recommend trying these shrimp.

I added some to a simple stir fry one night and then decided to try some scampi.  I’m trying to avoid pasta so I used shirataki noodles.  My local grocer has House brand (tofu noodle) so that’s what I use but there is also a Miracle Noodle brand that others say is very good.  The Miracle brand contains no soy and is instead made with a soluble fiber.  The House brand noodles have 20 calories per 4 oz serving and the Miracle Noodle claims 0 calories per serving.

If you try shirataki expecting it to be exactly like other pasta you’ll be disappointed.  These noodles are slightly springy in texture with a firmness similar to al dente pasta.  They soak up the flavors of whatever they are cooked in so make sure to add them to any sauces or broths a few minutes ahead of time to get some flavor in them, they are rather bland by themselves.  You’ll also see a warning on the package about the “natural aroma” of the noodles, it’s definitely noticeable and has a mild fish fragrance.  Simply rinse the noodles for a few minutes in hot water and this aroma will disappear.  I’m sure after reading this description the noodles don’t sound appealing at all but definitely give them a try before passing final judgment.

Enough rambling, on to the recipe.

Shrimp Scampi with Shirataki Fettuccine

Click here to view/print this recipe in Google Docs.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz shrimp (I used Argentine Reds)
  • 8 oz shirataki noodles
  • 1 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste, I use a lot of garlic in mine)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Preparation

Add the butter and oil to a pan over medium heat then add the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook until done, I saute mine a couple minutes then put a lid on the pot and let it sit for 3-5 minutes more.  Add the mushrooms, oregano, salt and pepper and continue cooking for a couple minutes until mushrooms are done.  Prepare the shirataki by emptying them into a strainer and rinsing under hot tap water for 1-2 minutes, drain excess water and add to the pan.  Cook for a couple minutes stirring frequently to coat the noodles with the sauce and allow them to soak up the flavors.   Sprinkle with the Parmesan and if desired more ground oregano.  This recipe makes 2 generous servings.

Basic Nutrition Info
(per serving, 2 servings per recipe)

  • 250 calories
  • 7 grams carbs
  • 13 grams fat
  • 28 grams protein

What’s Healthy and What’s Not?

I originally posted this on a discussion forum but thought it was a pretty good topic to post here as well.

OK, nutritional wisdom confuses the hell out of me. I’m sure I can’t be the only one.

I’m 40 years old so I was raised in the era of the traditional food pyramid and “3 squares a day”. Beef was good for you, so was Wonder bread and white rice. Anyone else remember the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon “Beans & Rice is nice.”? Eggs and pork were OK… and milk, lots and lots of milk – it does a body good. And Juice! I just remembered that one, fruit juice was good for you, too. You had to eat breakfast as it was the most important meal of the day. And don’t eat too much sugar or fat.

Then we were told eggs were bad… too much cholesterol. Movie theaters quit using coconut oil in their popcorn because it was deemed too unhealthy. And fruit juice is no better for you than soda. Wonder Bread and white rice are no-no’s, and you have to limit your beef and pork. Eggs are good again, I think so anyhow, not sure the official word this week. And if you ask a Keto fan you can eat all the fat you want. I’m not even sure what the hell the Paleo diet is about but I do know I’m not sure about a diet based on people whose average life expectancy was 33.

Personally I just try to eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, lean meats and some healthy carbs. I just can’t get behind a ketogenic diet, it just seems wrong to me, all that fat can’t be good for you – at least not based on everything I was taught for 35 or so years. I’m not trying to argue keto here, I know you people are like a cult when it comes to defending a ketogenic diet. (I kid, I kid… sort of.) I’m just saying to me it doesn’t feel right. My body doesn’t feel right when I eat that much fat and anyone starting a ketogenic diet usually goes through a sickness. I realize a body can get used to a new diet but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you long term. I know reports are mixed, even among the “professionals”, but there are definitely pros and cons to a keto diet that people need to be aware of.   I realize also that for a lot of people it’s helped them find a diet they can stick to and lose weight, I just wish think there should be more consensus on the long-term benefits of the diet before it’s preached as gospel.

However I see where trying to eat healthy can be very confusing for some people because the rules keep changing. Also, you see people losing weight on a diet like keto or Paleo and they start preaching it like gospel, like they are nutritional experts. I saw a post on another forum where someone said they were trying to watch their fat intake and someone replied that they didn’t need to do that because fat was good and they didn’t need to watch it. The original person said, “Oh, OK… I didn’t know that.” They had nowhere near enough information to base their decision on but they just said OK. In another discussion a person was told not to eat breakfast as that wasn’t important but in another discussion someone was told to eat 5X or more a day, even waking up at night to have a shake to keep the metabolism going.

I could go on and on about the points that confuse me, but I’ve pretty much made my point.  I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks about this.