Naked Strawberry Jam

If you are following a low sugar or no sugar diet (diabetics, keto and paleo folks, talkin’ to you here!), satisfying a sweet tooth can be a bit of a challenge. Artificial sweeteners are OK sometimes, but I think they give homemade jam a strange aftertaste. Luckily, strawberries are already sweet. After years of adding sugar to make traditional strawberry jam, I tried making a “naked” batch – no sugar, no artificial sweeteners at all.

Why should you believe me that Naked Strawberry Jam is delicious? Because my little Half-Pint has a sweet tooth that could fill the mouth of a saber-toothed tiger. The child would put honey on top of the maple syrup on his pancakes if I allowed it. I gave him a spoonful of Naked Strawberry Jam and Half-Pint declared it “Delicious!” So there you have it.

Ingredients and Directions: Cut the green tops off of two quarts of strawberries. Cut strawberries in quarters, and add to a large pot. Stir 3 tablespoons of powdered low-sugar pectin into the strawberries and cook over low-medium heat for five minutes, stirring frequently. If you want a smooth jam, use a potato masher to crush the quartered strawberries. Add a dash of cinnamon (optional) if you’re feeling fancy. After five minutes, turn the heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and remains boiling for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Done!

Refrigerate when cool, or store in freezer.

Keto Chocolate Pudding

Whether you are keto, paleo, vegan, gluten free, or just plain looking for a more nutritious way to satisfy your sweet tooth, this chocolate pudding recipe is worth a try. It’s also delicious frozen into popsicles – in fact, popsicles are my favorite way to enjoy this treat. Have fun!

No, the finished chocolate pudding doesn’t taste like avocados. Trust me!

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

2 ripe avocados

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (real coconut milk – not coconut water, and not “light” coconut milk)

1/4 cup stevia powder (or use real sugar if desired)

1/3 cup cocoa powder (100% cocoa)

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

A few dark chocolate chips to garnish (optional)

Directions

In a blender, combine all ingredients in the order listed. Blend until completely smooth. Refrigerate before serving, or freeze in popsicle molds. This really couldn’t be any simpler!

One serving contains approximately 4 net carbs.

White Pumpkin Seeds

White pumpkins are fun to carve for Halloween, and if you’re carving pumpkins of course you have to roast the seeds! Simply separate the seeds from the inner pulp (the “goo” if you’re a kid), rinse well, and spread in on a well greased pan. I prefer to use real butter for this, coating a baking pan with approximately 1 tablespoon of melted butter for each cup of seeds. Then, sprinkle generously with your favorite seasoning. Half-Pint is on a ranch kick, so we used the ranch seasoning mix shown above. Roast in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, flipping seeds with a spatula halfway through. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

Happy Halloween!

Zucchini Pickles Two Ways

Left: Spicy Zucchini Pickles    Right: Garlic Dill Zucchini Pickles

My garden zucchini plants went bonkers this year. I’ve already made zucchini apples (a favorite around here), zucchini boats, and several zucchini-enhanced baked goods. With the last of my garden zucchini – because I am uprooting the plants to make room for a late crop of onions – I’m making Easy Zucchini Pickles.

Crisp and tangy, these pickles will stand up to any cucumber pickle, I promise. Let’s get started!

Ingredients (Makes approximately 4 quarts)

2 large (approximately 16 inch) or 3 medium (approximately 12 inch) zucchini

4 cups water

4 cups white vinegar

3/4 cup salt

1/4 cup white sugar

16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

For garlic dill pickles: 16 heads of fresh dill -or-
For spicy pickles: 12 Thai chili peppers, scored lengthwise

Directions

Step 1) Wash zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Slice Zucchini halves crosswise into 3/4 inch slices, then cut each slice into 2 inch pieces. Set zucchini pieces aside in a large bowl.

Step 2) In a large pot, combine water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and garlic. Bring brine mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to simmer.

Step 3) Pack zucchini pieces into sterilized quart jars, layering a head of dill (or a chili pepper), about 1 cup of zucchini, and about 1/2 cup of brine at a time. Don’t be afraid to really stuff the zucchini into the jar, 1 cup at a time! The back of a tablespoon can be useful for packing zucchini.

Step 4) Leave 1/2 inch head space at the top of each jar (no zucchini should be “poking up” into that last 1/2 inch of space). Make sure zucchini is covered in brine, and tap the jar (or poke with a chopstick) to remove air bubbles.

Step 5) Cover each jar with a sterilized lid and band. For refrigerator pickles, place jars in the fridge. For canning, place jars in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Your zucchini pickles will taste best after one week. Enjoy!

Five Minute Salsa Chicken

IMG_2228Do you have five minutes? Great – because that’s about how long you need to prepare this delicious Salsa Chicken! Two ingredients + one slow cooker = a delicious dinner that you can prep early and forget about for a few hours.

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we Continue reading

Korean Bibimbap

Bibimbap

Korean Bibimbap is a surefire crowd pleaser. The combination of white rice, vegetables, marinated beef, chili pepper paste, and egg is hearty, delicious, and can be tailored to the palate of each of your dinner companions. Love all the veggies and knock-your-socks-off spice? Great! Prefer your food mild and hold the greens? That’s fine, too! Let everyone prepare their own bowl, and everyone will be happy. Let’s get started!

Ingredients (Serves 6)* Continue reading

Chickpea Stew

S1Today’s recipe is an autumn favorite here at Crowded Earth Kitchen. Simple and hearty, Chickpea Stew combines everyday ingredients to capture flavors reminiscent of West African dishes. Chickpea Stew may be served over rice, couscous, or simply enjoyed on its own!  Continue reading

Ratatouille

R2If you search online for “Ratatouille,” you’ll find some pretty fancypants recipes. They look lovely. The thing is, traditional Ratatouille really isn’t fancy. For hundreds of years, Ratatouille was understood to be a vegetable-based French country stew, made from whatever the cook’s garden happened to offer up for harvest that day. In that spirit, today’s Ratatouille recipe is both flexible and delicious! Save the silver and china for another dinner.  😉 Continue reading

Sweet ‘n Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

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If you’ve been a Crowded Earth Kitchen friend for a while, you already know of our love for pumpkin seeds. These tiny little powerhouses of nutrition are a free “bonus” snack after turning pumpkins into all sorts of delightful goodies. What’s not to love about that?  Continue reading

Grilled Carrots

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Perfectly grilled purple carrots

Yes, grilled carrots. We’ve already talked about how healthy carrots truly are, so it’s worth finding fun new ways to enjoy them! Grilling carrots caramelizes a bit of the natural sugar in this root veggie, and the crisp edges are delicious. The trick to perfectly grilled carrots is Continue reading

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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(Soothing voice of a hostage negotiator…) “It’s OK. Just set down that pot of boiling water and back away slowly.”

Seriously. Who thought it would be a good idea to boil Brussels sprouts? If you think you dislike Brussels sprouts but boiled Brussels sprouts are what you really mean, please give them another try. Let them live up to their delicious potential!

In this recipe Continue reading