Strawberry Barbeque Sauce

You might notice a funny category on this site called “Renal Diet.” One of my dear family members was recently placed on a very restricted due to declining kidney function. Anyone who has less than par kidney function is urged to eat foods that are sodium and potassium free (or at least as low as possible). Have you ever googled potassium foods? It is literally almost in every good and decent food we eat. But I don’t give up that easy. Challenge accepted!

In search of finding some sort of food normalcy and familiarity, this recipe was born. As you may have read in my bio, our family relishes in old southern classics. So I decided to start with something traditional: BBQ sauce. You can smother it on pretty much anything, pair it with a glass of sweet tea and you’re good to go. The only problem is that tomatoes (the main base of barbecue sauce) are LOADED with potassium! For this idea to work, I would have to replace them with something that had a similar feel and texture. Oddly enough, strawberries are very low in potassium and have a very parallel fleshy texture when compared to a tomato. This is now my absolute favorite BBQ sauce. I think I actually prefer it over the tomato version! Put it on everything! You won’t be sorry :)

What you’ll need:

1 pint strawberries, washed and green parts cut off

2 tbsp agave nectar

1 packet stevia

1 tbsp coconut aminos (low sodium alternative to soy sauce…you can only find this online or at a health food store. It is worth it, trust me!)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp espresso powder

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tbsp liquid smoke

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar


Kitchen Equipment:

food processor or Ninja

cutting board

medium saucepan


storage containers



Chop the green tops off of strawberries. Place in food processor.

Blend about 2 minutes or until strawberries have no remaining chunks and have turned into a smooth saucy consistency. Place in saucepan.

Heat saucepan over medium heat. While the sauce is heating, add all remaining ingredients and stir.

Bring sauce to a boil and then turn heat to low. Simmer for about 25 to 30 min or until sauce changes to a deeper red color and has thickened.

Once sauce has changed color and is thick, remove from heat.

Using a funnel, place barbecue sauce in a storage container and cool completely before using.

Once cooled, use on top of anything you can possibly put barbecue sauce on, like this sweet pork potato stack-snack  ;)





White Cheddar Popcorn – Hold the Cheddar!

Once upon a time I couldn’t eat popcorn. I know, for all you popcorn lovers out there…very sad. I really liked popcorn and decided to get a huge bucket to go along with my movie at the theater one night. About an hour or so after the movie, I wasn’t feeling so good. Long story short…it ended up being a looooong night and the following day recovering from food poisoning. You see, movie theaters will reheat their butter, over and over and over and over and over again. This constant reheating changes the composition of the butter, and increases the risk of it going rancid which is ultimately what led to my popcorn demise. For several years, I couldn’t even stand the scent of buttered popcorn cooking. If any smell could bring me back to a particular moment in time, it was that one. I personally didn’t want to relive the nightmare!

It took awhile, but I finally began to enjoy non-buttered popcorn again (which is better for the body anyway so it was a win-win for me lol). I found I really enjoyed different varieties as well, such as salt and pepper, cheese, kettle, etc. I wanted to be able to make this at home, but they don’t sell any convenient “ready to make” popcorn for the microwave without adding some sort of butter flavor in the packaging. So I set out to do some research and found that it is just as fast and easy to make your own stovetop popcorn. There is also apparently a simple way to make it in a brown paper bag as well, but more on that later…

During my “popcorn research” I stumbled upon a little place that makes non-GMO popcorn called Amish Country Popcorn. They make all sorts of cute popcorn varieties, including blue popcorn (which for come reason I am infatuated this variety all because it is blue… go figure lol). I ordered several varieties and when they arrived it felt like Christmas! I’m still not sure why I got so excited over popcorn. Maybe it really is the simple things in life that make me happy :)


What you’ll need:

1/4  cup non-GMO popcorn

2-3 tbsp coconut or safflower oil

2-3 tbsp olive oil (for drizzling)

2 tbsp nutritional yeast (not brewers yeast)

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp  himalayan pink salt (or sea salt)


Kitchen Equipment:

Medium size stockpot

Large bowl lined with a paper towel



Heat oil over medium high heat in saucepan.

Once oil is heated, add one kernel of popcorn into stock pot.

When the kernel pops, you know the oil is ready. Remove this kernel before the next step.

Add the rest of your popcorn to the stockpot.

Place a lid over the popcorn and gently move back and forth over burner. You should hear the kernels start to pop. Cook for about 30 to 45 seconds or until the popping slows down or stops. Place popcorn immediately into a bowl lined with a paper towel so that the popcorn does not burn in the pan.

Let popcorn sit in bowl for about 1 minute. Carefully remove the paper towel, leaving the popcorn in the bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil. Add nutritional yeast, garlic powder,  salt. Toss popcorn to coat well.

Separate into portion sized bowls and enjoy!

This literally take me less than 5 minutes to make plus this is so much better for your body than microwave popcorn! In fact, there are new studies emerging about something called “popcorn lung,” a disease causing scarring in the lungs of people who have inhaled a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical is what is used to add or increase the butter flavor in microwave popcorn. Click here to read more about diacetyl and its effects on the body.

Funny, I did a blind taste test on my popcorn with a friend and she really thought it was a white cheddar popcorn! The nutritional yeast gives you all the cheesy flavor without the fat and dairy. You also get the added benefits of B-vitamins, no sugar or gluten, and lots of protein. In fact, nutritional yeast contains 9 grams or protein in 2 tablespoons. This is right around the same amount of protein found in whey powder without all the added dairy and sugar found in many commercial powders. Who ever thought you could enjoy your popcorn and get your protein in at the same time?! I have one warning…this stuff is addictive! Make extra ;)

Still not convinced? Check out this article Scary Facts about Microwave Popcorn

Renal diet exchange: use Safflower oil instead of coconut and omit salt



P.S. Click here for a link to cooking popcorn in the microwave using a brown paper bag. It sounds really interesting if you hate cooking popcorn on the stove. I am going to check it out soon!


The Skinny Shepherd

My husband and I were very blessed to be able to take a trip to Ireland last year. It is and will always be one of the most amazing places we have ever been. This country has spun out some of the best dishes I have eaten in my entire life. One of my absolute favorites is Shepherd’s Pie. This is my Ireland inspired “skinny” version that is to die for! I cook them in small ramekins so I can grab one and enjoy a nice warm afternoon snack while my mind drifts back to the emerald isle…


What you’ll need:

2 lbs ground free range turkey

1/2 lb (1/2 bag) organic baby carrots

1 cup peas

1 small red onion

2 tsp agave nectar or honey

1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:

1 head cauliflower

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt

3 tbsp olive oil

cracked pepper


Kitchen equipment

food processor or Ninja

medium stockpot

colander or strainer

Large frying pan or Magic green pan ( My favorite pan!)

cutting board

8 lightly greased ramekins placed on a baking sheet



Bring 6 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan. Chop white part of cauliflower into medium sized chunks and place in boiling water.

Boil for 20 min or until cauliflower is tender.

While the cauliflower is cooking, place onion and carrots in a food processor and pulse until minced. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large saucepan heated to medium high heat. Saute carrots and onions for 5 min.

Turn heat off on stove. Add ground turkey, peas, agave nectar, salt and nutmeg and stir to combine mixture. You do not need to cook the turkey.

Divide turkey mixture evenly among 8 ramekins.

Drain cooked cauliflower and place in food processor or ninja. Add nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Top the turkey mixture with cauliflower mixture by dividing it evenly among the 8 ramekins. Top with cracked pepper.

Bake on 350 for 30 min. Turn oven to broil and cook for another 5 min or until tops begin to turn a golden color.

Let cool for at least 10 min before eating. These pies are piping hot on the inside!!!

There is something so comforting about these Skinny Shepherds. I’m not sure if it’s the hint of nutmeg, the fact that they are so good for you, or the warm goodness in your belly after eating them, but I never get enough of this snack. It’s a great way to experience an Irish culinary treasure right in your own backyard.

Renal Diet exchanges: Eliminate all salt from recipe, use fresh or frozen peas (not canned) and do not use honey as an option in the meat mixture (agave nectar only).



Tiffany’s Turkey Meatballs

There really is no good way to satisfy a craving for Italian food without just eating Italian food. For me, I start out in complete bliss, surrounded by the gobs of bread, cheese and oooey warm goodness. I shovel it into my mouth with no regard to how I am going to feel in about 10 minutes. And then…the agony! It’s like an Italian slap in the face and it leaves a mark! Plus I want to be in nap city, so doing anything productive is usually out of the question. I decided to come up with a way satisfy that Italian craving without sacrificing my poor sinuses in the process. And so, Tiffany’s Turkey Meatballs were born. I usually make these in really large batches (3 or 4 times the recipe I posted) and freeze them so we can pull them out whenever. You never know when an attack craving will sneak up on you..

What you will need:

1 pound hormone free/cage free ground turkey (Harvestland is the brand I use)

1 egg

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp cracked pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp olive oil + more for tops

1/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup almond cheese, goat cheese or nutritional yeast (not brewers yeast)


Kitchen equipment

1 large bowl

Cookie sheet lined with greased foil or parchment paper



Heat Oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix thoroughly with hands (yes your hands…after you have washed them :) )

Rinse your hands off, and keeping them slightly moist, roll turkey mixture into 9 meatballs and place on baking sheet.

Brush each meatball with olive oil and place in oven. Bake for 25 – 30 min or until slightly browned and completely cooked through. Try not to over bake as it will make them tough.

Enjoy! These are great by themselves, or with a little organic tomato sauce on top. I freeze them by putting 3 in a small sandwich bag and placing all the sandwiches bags in one large freezer bag. They you can grab one out in the morning for a great little protein packed afternoon snack…or morning snack. I’m not judging :)

Renal Diet replacements: exchange almond flour for rice flour, and dried herbs for 2 tablespoons each fresh basil and parsley.



Zac and Cheese

When you hear the words “Comfort Food” what comes to mind? For me, mac and cheese has to be somewhere at the top of the list. The biggest problem with that is that cheese doesn’t like me all too well. I am very fortunate not to have all the lactose intolerant stomach cramps (and all the other gross stomach issues we won’t go into…), but my sinuses and kleenex will most definitely become best friends after a night of milk binging. What’s a girl to do?! Come up with something better :)

Putting together a list of ingredients for mac and cheese usually looks something like this: milk, wheat noodles, cheese (usually not hormone free), butter, lots of salt, and more cheese. Occasionally people might add something healthy like an onion to it. And that’s only the healthy homemade version! Boxed mac and cheese (depending on the brand) adds sodium tripolyphosphate, disodium phosphate, and or calcium phosphate as a food preservative. You can find many of these preservatives in household cleaners and corrosion inhibitors. Let’s not forget  our friends Yellow number 5 and Yellow number 6, the food colorings that turn mac and cheese a strange fluorescent orange sci-fi color. I don’t even think it even comes close to the color of sharp cheddar which usually is the brightest orange cheese. I once watched a family member consume an entire box of mac and cheese while thinking to myself, “That can’t be good…”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want chemical cleaners or something with a number in my food. Preferably, I’d also like to feel good after eating it as well! This led to my creation of the new and improved “Zac and Cheese”!

What you will need:

For the sauce

2 cups raw cashews

2 cups water

2 cups organic nitrate free chardonnay

2 tbsp nutritional yeast, not brewers yeast

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 lemon


For the “Macaroni”

5 medium zucchini


For the topping

1 cup almond flour

1 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp onion powder (optional, but recommended)


Kitchen equipment

food processor or Ninja

fine sieve strainer

non-stick frying pan or Magic green pan ( My favorite pan!)

cutting board

3 bowls

8 lightly greased ramekins placed on a baking sheet



To begin, blend the 2 cups cashews with 2 cups water until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). I love using my ninja for this because it seems to take less time and purees really nice. Once the mixture is smooth, strain through the strainer into a bowl and throw away the chunky pieces left in the strainer. Set cashew puree aside.

Bring wine to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 12 minutes.

While the Chardonnay is cooking, prep your zucchini. Peel using a vegetable peeler (recommended) or a knife.  If you want the macaroni small, cut zucchini into 3 pieces lengthwise. If you want it a little bigger, cut in half. Next slice along the length if the zucchini in half moons, about a half inch apart. Place zucchini macaroni aside in a large bowl.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Once the wine has reduced by about half, add cashew puree, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook another 2 minutes. Squeeze lemon into sauce and stir.

Pour “cheese” mixture into zucchini noodles and stir well

Divide noodle mix evenly among 8 ramekins.

Place all topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork until small pea sized pieces appear throughout mix. Top zucchini mixture in ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes or until tops are slightly browned. If you are in a hurry, you can turn the oven on broil after 30 min and cook for another 2 min to get the tops browned a little faster.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes because they are extremely hot coming out of the oven (my husband actually burned his mouth!) We enjoyed these as our afternoon snack for the next few days and they were really filling due to the use of almonds and cashew protein added to the recipe. The zucchini worked perfectly as a noodle replacement. The sauce almost resembled a creamy white alfredo cheese. Yum! I also didn’t have a sluggish feeling after eating them so…success! I hope you love them as much as we do!

Renal Diet Exchanges: exchange cashews for 16 oz cream cheese, no salt, exchange almond flour for rice flour, and add 1 tsp garlic powder to both the sauce and topping.





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