Crispy Chai Spiced Cookies (paleo, keto)

I am never late for anything. NEVER. If you invite me over for 5:00 pm, I will be there at 4:55. Sharp!

This sometimes drives people crazy. As for me, punctuality is the show of respect: I respect your time and you respect mine.

So for the first time in my life, I am LATE. The season of cookies is clearly behind us – just look at all those shopping carts bursting with collard greens, detox powders, and Beyond-Meat burgers. And yet, here I am, posting a cookie recipe for you in the middle of January. 

Clearly, I am late to the cookie game!

Or am I? Here are my thoughts: 

You and all those people with collard greens in their carts are starting a year with resolutions: to eat less junk, consume less sugar, drink less booze. Yet based on the historical evidence, most New Years’ diets fail miserably. And set you back a few pounds (and drinks). Yes, you start off with great intentions… but only last so long… until you are back on the carb-loading, night-drinking wagon. And that is because your body wants what your body wants, and you can’t fool it. So instead of completely cutting it off from sweets, alcohol, and comfort food, Dr. CuceeSprouts recommends swapping unhealthy deserts for healthy desserts, unhealthy comfort meals for healthy comfort meals, unhealthy drinks for the healthy ones.

And to help you with your first healthy food swap – here is my no-sugar, no-flour cookie recipe for you! Happy New “Rear”!

Do you need more ideas for healthy food or drink swaps?

Food swaps:

  • Kelp noodles for wheat pasta
  • Vegi Rice for regular rice
  • Cauliflower mash for mashed potatoes
  • Oven-baked almond-coated chicken for breaded fried chicken

Drinks swaps:

  • Extra Brut IPA, the Champagne-inspired bone-dry beer, with zero residual sugar for the carby Lager
  • Dry-farmed natural European reds (more on that in another post) for the loaded-with-sugar-and-additives Californian

Crispy Chai Spiced Cookies (paleo, keto)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine, avocado oil, egg, and vanilla
  2. In a separate bowl combine Stevia, almond flour, coconut flour, pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon,) salt, and baking powder
  3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until a dough forms
  4. If you plan to use a cookie-cutter to shape the cookies, chill the dough for 45 minutes. Otherwise, proceed directly to the next step
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper
  6. Shape the cookies.
    – For the cookie-cutter cookies: place the dough ball onto the parchment paper, cover with a layer of saran wrap, roll out, and cut into shapes
    – For thumbprint cookies, separate the dough into many 1-inch balls and flatten each ball with your thumb (my go-to method when in the rush)
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes
  8. Cool cookies on a cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container

Drink pairing

I really enjoy a glass (or two) of a nice dry-farmed red wine. Pre-dinner.

Post-dinner, it is all about tea! Harney & Sons Earl Grey Supreme is my favorite, especially when cookies are involved :)

{ 2 comments }

“Whole-Wheat” Keto Bread

Let’s play a game – last meal on earth, what would yours be? Mine would be a cheesy toast, made with warm home-made crusty bread.

In another life, when my gut was healthy and my kitchen upgraded to include a steam oven, I baked almost daily. And there were nights when freshly baked bread constituted our dinner. And the best dinner it was!

It has been many years of breadless life for me. I’ve baked my way through a lot of recipes but every keto “bread” that I’d pull out of the oven tasted like yet another version of a savory cake. In fact, I have shared one of those recipes with you a few years back and, even though it is delicious, it tastes nothing like real bread.

So I continued experimenting, in the search for a better match. And one of those experimentations landed me with this very recipe. 

This bread tastes JUST. LIKE. BREAD! Real “whole-wheat” bread! With a crusty outside and a soft fluffy inside. 


“Whole-Wheat” Keto Bread

A few notes on psyllium husk powder. There is no substitute for this magic ingredient – it is this psyllium husk powder that acts as gluten in this recipe. You also need to use the powdered form of it, not the flake form. If you accidentally purchase the flakes, grind them until they resemble a fine powder.

You can bake these into buns or a loaf. The world is your oyster – experiment. 

If you want to experiment with textures or flavors, you can substitute water with marinara sauce. Or replace the sesame with poppy seeds, everything-but-the-bagel, or seaweed salt flakes.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Bring the water to a boil
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites and vinegar. Pour them into the dry ingredients and mix to combine
  5. Slowly pour in the boiling water and continue mixing. The dough will start out runny but quickly thicken up as it absorbs the water. The consistency should resemble Play-Doh
  6. Moisten hands with a little olive oil (or wear kitchen gloves, which is what I do) and shape your dough into 6-7 balls for burger-size buns or 9-10 for dinner rolls
  7. Place the balls on a baking tray, lined with parchment paper. Optionally, top with sesame seeds
  8. Bake on the lower rack in the oven for 50–60 minutes, depending on the size of your bread rolls. They’re done when you hear a hollow sound when tapping the bottom of the bun

These buns should be refrigerated after 24 hours. They also freeze well. Toast them in the oven for a few minutes each time you serve them. 

Drinking pairing

Whether you are serving these as an appetizer or with your dinner, I’d recommend going either with one of these natural wines: a rich medium-bodied organic Salcheto Chianti Biskero ($13.99) or a light-bodied Camp Wines Zinfandel ($16.99)

(Join GoodEggs by following this link and get a $25 credit towards your next purchase.)

{ 2 comments }

Cauliflower Hummus (Paleo, Keto, Vegan)

I am going to vent now—my recipes are HARD to photograph! Foods like stews, liver pate, and cooked vegetables often end up looking ghostly or muddy in pictures and really don’t do the recipes justice. This can be super frustrating, as the cook in me really wants to share my creations with you, while the artist in me cringes with each photo taken.

When I first started blogging, I cooked and ate very differently. Vegetarian food is naturally more vibrant and colorful, especially when cooked minimally. So recipes like Strawberries in Minted Honey Syrup and Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango were a lot easier and more fun to photograph than, let’s say, Cauliflower Liver Hash or Salmon with Fire-Roasted Tomato Coconut Sauce. With that being said, I love the food that I make—and I love sharing it with you. And even though I do miss those fun photo opportunities, I feel lucky to still be able to experiment so much with so many dietary limitations and produce really unique, outstanding and super tasty dishes.

Enough about me. Let’s talk Hummus! I thought I have already tried cauliflower-everything: mashed cauliflower, riced, hash, flatbread, pizza crust, souffle, bread, buffalo, steaks, even “oatmeal” (please, don’t ever try that). And to tell you the truth, I was getting a bit tired of this very versatile vegetable. But lo and behold, after some aimless recipe researching for yet another way to use up a head of the farmer’s market Cauliflower, I stumbled upon this Hummus idea.

With a few modifications, I present to you my version:

Cauliflower Hummus

I like my cauli-hummus on a chunky side, almost tuna-salad consistency. However, if you want it more hummus texture, use a bit more water when blending it.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cauliflower florets (from 1 medium size head of cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup Avocado Oil (divided) 
  • 1/2 cup Tahini 
  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced or just chopped into a few pieces) 
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice 
  • 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cumin 
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika 
  • 3-5 tbsp Water

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees 
  2. Toss cauliflower with 2 tbsp oil and roast in a single layer on the baking sheet for 35-45 minutes, until browned and soft
  3. Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a food processor and add lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, remaining oil, tahini, garlic, sea salt, cumin, and paprika
  4. Puree to the desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally
  5. If it’s too thick, thin out with 1-3 more tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time

Wine Pairing

When serving this as an appetizer, along with the Seedy Keto Cucee Crackers and a nice charcuterie board, I pair it with a cold glass of bubbly. One of my favorite ones is Antech Blanquette de Limoux Brut Nature

{ 3 comments }

Mexican Machaca with Eggs

It has been 10 years since the birth of CuceeSprouts. TEN! Ten years of Cucumbers, Brussels Sprouts, and home-made Almond Butter!

Lots have changed in the past 10 years: the food I cook, the recipes I blog, my writing and presentation styles, just to name a few. But what has not changed is my love for cooking, a devotion in helping those with food allergies feel empowered in their kitchens, and a persistent need for creative self-expression.

I learned to cook out of necessity: his name is Jacob and he was such a darn cute baby but also allergic to many of the foods that brought me joy. When I received a firm diagnosis from the doctor, I felt terrified, heartbroken, even mad. It was difficult to comprehend that something I loved so much could turn against my family and become a source of pain.

The stages of grief are universal and I crawled through them, like a turtle, towards the final one – the acceptance. As I rid my kitchen of eggs, milk, cheese, and nuts, I finally made a decision to stop feeling pity and turn a crisis into an opportunity.

Creative people are creative everywhere! And so I embarked on a search for a creative solution to a very complex problem. I researched, experimented, failed, succeeded… until I was finally able to come up with innovative solutions for family meals and social events. I learned to cook with a limited set of ingredients in a way that did not at all feel limiting. My family was happy, I was happy, my friends were happy.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  My friends, those with similar food intolerances and those 100% healthy, who sampled my food at my dinner parties, began cooking my way, demanding that I shared recipes developed for my family. And that is how CuceeSprouts was born. 10 years ago.

The only constant here is change. In the last 10 years CuceeSprouts evolved, CuceeSprouts transformed.  As my son outgrew some of his allergies, I developed a few of my own and my blog turned from whole-grain heavily-vegetarian to high-protein low-carb. And as the next decade rolls in, I can’t predict with certainty what the future holds for CuceeSprouts. But what I can firmly confirm is that my baby blog will continue to evolve and prosper, serving as an inspiration to all of you for years to come.

Mexican Machaca with Eggs

Traditional Machaca is beef that has been dried out, shredded then cooked with peppers, onions, and eggs. My Machaca is slow-cooked rather than dried out, making it an easy weeknight dinner option. Machaca can be made in advanced and reheated for a brown-bag breakfast or lunch.

Ingredients:

Machaca Beef
Can be prepared in advance and refrigerated

Scramble

Directions:

Machaca Beef

  1. Add the beef to the Instapot
  2. Cover with remaining ingredients
  3. Cook on manual setting (High Pressure) for 45 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally
  4. Remove the beef from the pressure cooker and shred with 2 forks or in the food processor, reserving the liquid for something else

Scramble

  1. In a large skillet, sauté onion and peppers in oil until onion is translucent and peppers are cooked through
  2. Add Machaca Beef, give everything a good stir and cook for another 3-5 minutes. You are looking for a somewhat dry mixture
  3. In a medium bowl whisk eggs. Add them to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes or until eggs are cooked thoroughly. Scramble everything together

Drink Pairing

Well, paring something to this recipe really depends on what time of the day you are enjoying it. If this dish caught you in the morning, may I offer you a cup of Bulletproof Coffee? But if Machaca Scramble is your dinner, here is a great bottle of natural red Malbec Inkarri that I often have stocked at home

{ 4 comments }

Palmini Carbonara

Palmini Carbonara

 

The other day, my son asked me, “Mom, what is the ONE food you miss eating the most?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Pasta!”

Pasta! I remember that trip to Italy, back in 1999, when I must have tried every single pasta dish in the city of Milan! And I felt sick every single time! I did not put 2 & 2 together until 10 years ago when I went low-carb. As it turns out, flour-based pasta is just not good for my digestion.

So I created a substitute. A pasta dish that is good for my belly, good for my tastebuds, and is just plain GOOD. Oh, and did I mention that it is also dairy-free?

Palmini Carbonara Palmini CarbonaraPalmini Carbonara Palmini Carbonara

Palmini Carbonara (Paleo)

Ingredients:

Instructions

  1. Cut Bacon or Pepperoni into 1/3 inch-size pieces
  2. In a blender, blend Egg, Egg yolks, Garlic, Salt, Pepper, and Bacon Fat (if using) until nice and creamy
  3. In a large skillet heat the Avocado Oil over medium heat
  4. Add Palmini Pasta and stir-fry for 2 minutes
  5. Turn the heat off, add the egg mix, drizzling and stirring quickly, so it doesn’t scramble. Add Bacon (or Pepperoni) bits and give it a final stir
  6. Serve right away

Palmini CarbonaraPalmini Carbonara

Wine Pairing

I really enjoyed a glass of crisp dry Cava Brut Nature Reserva from Dry Farmed Wines. Low in carbs (less than 1 gram of carbs per bottle), I enjoyed a glass of bubbly with zero guilt bubbling up for me

{ 3 comments }

Seedy Keto Cucee Crackers

Cucee CrackersIt’s Cracker Time!

No wheat, no eggs, no sugar. Seeds, nuts and crunch!

A friend of mine introduced me to these. She is an amazing baker. She can make a dessert from any limited set of ingredients. And it will taste good! The other night, she baked a Berry Tart using almond flour, oil, eggs, coconut milk, stevia, and berries. Nothing else! To die for!

That same night, she served us a bowl of crackers. She whipped them up together with her younger son who confessed they were too salty for his taste. They were not. They were a good balance of salt, crunch, and flavor. I loved them. I got the recipe from her the following day. I made them many times since then. Thank you, Svetlana :)

This recipe is modified. It is a little lower in carbs and a little thinner and crunchier than Svetlana’s. It works for me as I eat these crackers for dessert but if you plan to use them in dips or with cheese, look out for modifications.

Cucee Crackers

Seedy Keto Cucee Crackers

Don’t have pumpkin seeds? You can use sunflower seeds or sliced almonds.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 11×17 baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Reserve an additional piece of paper of the same dimensions
  2. Add the dry ingredients into a bowl and pour oil and boiling water over them
  3. Mix until a gel-like consistency
  4. Place “the dough” on a baking sheet. Cover with the extra piece parchment paper and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough evenly. To make a thin cracker, spread the dough almost to the edges of the baking sheet. To make a thicker cracker, spread it to about 75% of the sheet
  5. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and bake for about 45 minutes, until the edges are golden brown
  6. Turn off the oven and check the crackers. If you rolled them out thin, they should be done! Take them out and leave them out to cool. If you went for the thicker version, check for dryness. If they are not super crisp yet, leave them in the turned-off oven to dry for about 20 mins, checking occasionally
  7. Once dried and cool, break into irregular shards. Store in an airtight container

Cucee Crackers

Drink Pairing


I have been looking for a bottle of Georgian Wine to purchase in the States that is “natural” and low in Residual Sugar. Let me introduce you to Doqi Saperavi. It is $18 and you can pick it up yourself if you live in the Bay Area or get it shipped to anywhere within the US

Cucee Crackers

  Cucee Crackers

{ 0 comments }

Georgian Egg Salad

Georgian Egg Salad

Did you miss me?

I’ve been really busy lately, so busy that I have not had any time to blog. But I do try to at least share photos of my daily food adventures on Instagram, so if you miss me between my posts, just head there.

Today I bring you a new recipe. This recipe will change your life. Period. It will make you question everything, but more importantly, it will send you into the kitchen to boil whole lotta eggs.

Eggs. I never liked them as a kid. I preferred a buttered toast with thinly sliced dry beef salami for breakfast, a Soviet go-to meal. Eggs tasted bland to me. Until about 8 years when I had to ditch my bad carb habits and learn to love animal protein. Including eggs.

But love is a strong word. I experimented with lots of different ways to give eggs “a better taste.” And there were successes. Do you remember that scrumptious Grilled Cheese Egg that some of your kids still ask you to make? Or the Eggplant Sandwich Tacos with that soft-boiled gooiness all over them? I can go on. BUT, what I really want to do is talk about the new egg recipe I just developed for you! And me!

Georgian Egg Salad!

I’ve never been to Georgia (as in Europe, not the USA.) But I plan on going there soon since I am a fan of the food AND the natural wine. Until then, I will be dreaming of Georgia in the mornings, when I indulge in this simple egg salad.

The original recipe has dairy. And walnuts. Both not allowed in my household. So I experimented a bit and came up with something just as good. No, better! Now, go boil those eggs!

Georgian Egg Salad

Azelila (Georgian Egg Salad)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Grade or mash the eggs. To grade, use the big holes on a standard grater
  2. Fold mayo and sriracha into the egg
  3. Crush the almonds. The easiest way is to place the nuts in a heavy-duty freezer bag and smash the bag with a rolling pin. Alternatively, grind them in a food processor for a second or two
  4. Add the almonds, onions, salt, and pepper to the egg mixture
  5. Mix well until the mixture is homogeneous
  6. Serve warm or chilled, in lettuce leaves or as is

 

Georgian Egg Salad

Drink Pairing

 

I really do enjoy a nice hot cup of Earl Grey after the first meal of the day. Harney & Sons Earl Grey Supreme is now my favorite!

{ 2 comments }

Cauliflower Liver Hash

Hash

Once there was a girl. And she loved eating liver. And every time she would ask for one, her mom would cook it. She’d make liver pate toasts, mashed potatoes with fried liver, liver-stuffed piroshki. And the little girl was happy.

The girl got older. She started cooking liver herself. And one day, she made it for her mom. It was Cauliflower Liver Hash. And her mom liked it. And the girl was happy.

The making of hash

 

Putting it all together

Cauliflower Liver Hash

Ingredients


Fried Liver

Roasted Cauliflower

Caramelized Onion

Directions

  1. Cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the cauliflower with the oil, salt, and thyme on a baking sheet. Roast until golden and tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower until small pieces are formed. Transfer to a bowl
  2. Liver: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Add the liver, working in batches if necessary, and fry until browned on both sides. Season with spices, salt, and pepper. Saute for another minute or two. Remove liver from skillet with a slotted spoon. Transfer to a food processor. Pulse until small pieces are formed. Set aside on a plate or bowl
  3. Onion: Add the oil in the same skillet. Add the onions and sauté until translucent and fragrant
  4. Hash: Mix the roasted cauliflower, fried liver, and caramelized onions together. Serve warm or cold

Wine Pairing


Wine and Champagne are allowed on a low carb diet. When picking the sparkling wine, make sure you go for Brut Nature (the lowest in sugar.) I like 
Biutiful Brut Nature

Hash

Hash

 

{ 3 comments }

Hunter-style Chicken Skillet

Hunter-style skillet chicken

The period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is known as the Ten Days of Repentance and I am already in reflections on the year past, planning for the one ahead. What a year it has been! One filled with many unescapable introspections and personal growth opportunities.

5779 marks a fresh start. I get to hit the reset button and “do this life” all over again as if almost from scratch. Consciously. Deliberately. The mistakes and the triumphs from the past guiding me in the direction of the future.

During this special time, I am also planning the changes in the kitchen. Fewer pork products is one of them. Another is lighting Shabbat candles on most Fridays. And the last – a repeat of at least one favorite Cucee recipe, on weekly basis.

Tonight, on Night Three, I am serving one of my all-time favorites – Hunter-style Skillet Chicken – and sharing a recipe with you.

Hunter-style skillet chicken

Hunter-style Skillet chicken

Save the leftover sauce for poaching eggs Shakshuka-style in the morning.

Preparation

  1. Season the chicken legs to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  2. Add oil to a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the chicken legs 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set the chicken aside
  3. Lower the heat, and add more oil to the skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes; cook until soft for 5-7 minutes
  4. Add the garlic powder and basil and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute
  5. Add 1 can of tomatoes, olives, wine, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15  minutes
  6. Add the chard; continue cooking until wine almost evaporated
  7. Add salted chicken to the pan and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered until it is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes
  8. Serve in a bowl with an extra sauce or over Kelp Noodles

Hunter-style skillet chicken

Wine Pairing


The days have been really warm this fall and I cannot recommend anything heavier than a light bubbly beverage. 
Korbel is currently my favorite “table Brut,” especially because you can find it at any local store.

Hunter-style skillet chicken

Hunter-style skillet chicken

{ 2 comments }
Salmon

My son’s buddy, a sweet big-eyed 13-year-old boy, is a frequent visitor at our house. He is there so often that sometimes I feel like I am a mom of three.

This kid loves my cooking! So much, that sometimes he calls me back for a recipe for last night’s dinner. THIS is his most favorite dish!

Salmon

Salmon with Fire-Roasted Tomato Coconut Sauce

This sauce is a base for just about any kind of protein you crave, whether it is chicken, fish, even tofu.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, bell peppers and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 15 minutes
  2. Add fire roasted tomatoes, the broth (or water) and garlic powder. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Process in a food processor if you like a smoother consistency (I do)
  3. Add coconut milk. Simmer for another 5 minutes to allow the flavors to blend
  4. Add salmon and toss lightly to coat with the sauce. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until it is cooked through
  5. Serve over Kelp Noodles, Cauliflower rice or Zoodles

Salmon

Wine Pairing


This Natural Biodynamic wine truly compliments this rich dish. The firm tannins in Meinklang Burgenland refresh the palate after each bite. You can get a bottle of Meinklang Burgenland, as well as other outstanding Natural Wines, at
Dry Farm Wines

Dry Farm Wine

Salmon

Cucee Curry

{ 2 comments }