Braised Kale with Bacon

Braised Kale with Bacon

Braised Kale with Bacon served in a shallow white bowl resting on a wooden trivel and blue checkered kitchen towel.

Braised Kale with Bacon

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Bacon has its own food group for a reason, it makes people actually want to eat Kale, LOL! At least in my world it does, and autumn is the perfect season to enjoy plenty of robust braised greens. While this recipe has been made with kale, other greens like Swiss chard, beet greens or collards will work very well also. Braised Kale with Bacon is a great side dish with roasted meats, and if by chance you have any leftovers, it’s perfect to add to a frittata, baked pasta or simply topped with a runny egg. The latter being my personal favourite because I’m a firm believer that a runny egg makes the world a tastier place and the bacon is already included, so it’s a win-win scenario.

Ingredients for Braised Kale with Bacon nestled in a shallow white tray.
Sauteed onions in an off white dutch oven in preparation of Braised Kale with Bacon.

Eating kale doesn’t have to mean you’re on a diet. The ratio of bacon and parmesan cheese in this recipe tips the healthy scale a little, but it’s also the reason it’s so tasty. Don’t be skimpy on the cheese my friends. Enjoy!

Can’t eat kale, even with bacon? Here’s a few more veggie sides to choose from.

Cranberry Almond Roasted Broccoli

Garlicky Buttered Beans

Honey Garlic Carrots and Parsnips

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Braised Kale with Bacon

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces kale about 6 ounces trimmed
  • 4 ounces bacon, 3-4 slices, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 medium juice of 1/2 a lemon

Instructions

  • Trim kale of ribs and stems and tear them into bite-size pieces.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until rendered and crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add enough olive oil to the remaining bacon fat to equal 2 tbsp (you may not need it).
  • Add sliced onions and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add sliced garlic and chili flakes and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Toss in trimmed kale and salt and pepper and cook, stirring often until kale is starting to wilt 3-5 minutes.
  • Pour in broth and water, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring once or twice until kale is soft. Remove lid and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked out.
  • Add parmesan cheese and bacon and toss to combine. Add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka ready to serve from a shallow braiser.

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

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Meatless meals can be so darn good! Spinach and Feta Shakshuka is a quick and easy vegetarian meal that has a crazy amount of nutrition packed into it. Eggs on their own are very nutritious, add in spinach, leeks and legumes and you’ve got a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, K and D, not to mention loads of protein and fibre. This lovely dish packs a lot of flavour too, plus it’s prime for serving for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The preparation of ingredients for Spinach and Feta Shakshuka.
Spinach and Feta Shakshuka in a shallow braiser ready to cook the eggs.

There are plenty of green shakshuka variations out there, but I love the classic feta and dill combination of this one. It’s bursting with fresh flavours of dill and lemon, and the spinach is a great pairing with the eggs. I’ve opted to use cannellini beans, however, other legumes such as chickpeas would be great as well. I find the beans round out the dish and make it rustic and very satisfying. I also suggest serving this dish with crusty, toasted bread. You’ll need it to dunk into the perfectly soft eggs and scoop up the saucy greens. Enjoy!

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka ready to serve from a shallow braiser.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Spinach and Feta Shakshuka ready to serve from a shallow braiser.
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Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, well cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 7 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup cooked cannellini beans, see note
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 each lemon
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 each green onions

Instructions

  • Thinly slice the leeks and green onions. Heat oil in a large shallow skillet or braiser. Add leeks and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften. Stir in broth, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Simmer for 4-5 until leels are tender and most of the broth has cooked out.
  • Add spinach and toss gently with leeks until wilted. Stir in beans, dill and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Make 6 large indentations and crack an egg into each. Sprinkle evenly with feta cheese. Cover and cook on medium heat until egg whites are just set and the centers still jiggle, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with sliced green onions and the remaining tbsp of fresh dill. Serve with toasted bread.

Notes

-I used cannellini beans for this recipe and enjoyed them in the dish.   Chickpeas would be another great choice.

Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

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The Keto diet continues to be very popular and I was asked by a friend to whip up a few Keto treats. Although I am familiar with the diet, having done it with my husband about a year and a half ago, we did not eat any sweets. Not only were we not hungry, my husband (who has the sweet tooth) didn’t seem to miss sugar. We were all about the savoury side of the Keto diet, eating meat, avocado, eggs and cheese mostly. So I jumped in with both feet to experiment and learn the world of Keto baking. My Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites are delicious proof that perseverance pays off. They’re rich, chocolatey, not too sweet and the perfect size to treat yourself while staying within the parameters of the Keto Diet.

Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites being prepared in a mini muffin tin on a blue background.

Baking sweets for Keto was new to me as I’d never baked with artificial sweeteners. I started by baking a batch of cookies, and they were dry, bland and had an odd texture. I then moved on to make mini cheesecakes with greater success. Probably the biggest part of why cheesecake is a great Keto treat option is because the texture is as it should be, smooth and creamy.  With other baked items such as cookies, cupcakes and brownies the texture is not necessarily bad, but just a little different than what you would expect. Next came the cupcakes. I experimented with chocolate, chocolate chip and coconut cupcakes. I found a blend of almond flour and coconut flour work well, along with the addition of Xanthan gum which helps give structure to risen products when there is no gluten to fulfill that job.

I quickly learned that artificial sweeteners are not created equal!! If you’re just starting out using sweeteners in baked products, I highly recommend doing some research first. I started by using Splenda because I just happen to have a big bag of it. But several recipes later I learn that Splenda contains dextrose and maltodextrin, both of which are sugars and starches. So while the items made with Splenda were still considered low carb, they were not Keto-friendly.  Because Splenda was a bust, I moved on to using a monk fruit /Erythritol granulated blend, powdered Erythritol and a brown sugar Erythritol. The products worked well, tasted good and are suitable for the Keto diet. The problem with Erythritol is it has the tendency to crystallize when cooled. I found this out the hard way after chilling a batch of chocolate cupcakes. The frosting which was made with powdered Erythritol was smooth and creamy when I piped it but when I tasted a chilled chocolate cupcake from the fridge, the frosting had a gritty feel. Again, with some prior research, I would have known this could happen. I was rather disappointed but left the cupcake to sit a room temperature and tasted it again. Although the icing was not as smooth as when first made and piped, the grittiness was almost non-existent and the cupcake was good to eat. So it is important to bring items to room temperature before eating if you’re using a Erythritol sweetener that is prone to crystallizing. 

Baked Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites displayed on a wooden board with fresh raspberries on a blue background.

I think the biggest issue I have with artificial sweeteners and no added sugar chocolate is the availability and cost. Not all sweetener varieties are available for purchase in my area. I have to travel almost an hour to find some varieties at a health food store or Costco, otherwise, I have to order online. The cost seems to vary but even the best priced Erythritol blend at Costco works out to about $2.25CND per cup of sweetener. The other sweeteners I purchased which included powdered and brown sugar were more expensive yet. No added sugar chocolate is also very expensive and not a convenient item to shop for.

There are many different sweeteners to choose from, each with pros and cons. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read and learn about the varieties. Some can be a 1:1 substitution, some have a cooling sensation and some are better for baking than others. Here’s a good article from The Spruce Eats to help get you started. Happy Keto baking!!

Per one Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bite:

Calories: 85

Fat: 8 grams

Net carbs: 2 grams

Protein: 2 grams

Baked Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites displayed on a wooden board with fresh raspberries and almonds on a blue background.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Baked Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites displayed on a wooden board with fresh raspberries and almonds on a blue background.
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Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 24 mini bites

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
  • 4 tsp granulated sweetener I used monk fruit/Erythritol blend
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder optional
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter

Cheesecake

  • 8 ounces full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sweetener I used monk fruit/Erythritol blend
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 ounces no added sugar semi-sweet or milk chocolate I used Lily's milk chocolate bar
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp no added sugar seedless raspberry jam see note

Instructions

Crust

  • Preheat oven to 300°F spray 24 mini muffin cups with non-stick spray and line with paper liners.
  • Add all the dry crust ingredients to a medium bowl and mix until there are no lumps. Add melted butter and mix until combined.
  • Scoop approximately 1 tsp of crust mixture into each mini muffin liner and press down evenly with your fingers.
  • Bake for 12 minutes, remove and allow to cool slightly while proceeding.

Cheesecake

  • Beat cream cheese until smooth using an electric mixer. Add egg and beat until combined. Add sweetener, cocoa powder, vanilla, espresso powder and salt. Beat until combined and smooth.
  • Finely chop the chocolate and melt in the microwave using 30-second intervals, stirring between each until melted. Add to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.
  • Using a cookie scoop, scoop the mixture generously into prepared cheesecake bases. Smooth out each using a spoon that is moistened with water. They will appear quite full.
  • Warm the raspberry jam slightly in the microwave and drizzle evenly over the cheesecake. Using a toothpick swirl the jam two or three turns.
  • Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 300°F. The centers should be slightly soft but not sloppy. Remove and allow to cool before removing from the mini muffin tin. They will firm up as they cool.

Notes

-I did not use liners for the pictures, however, they were a challenge to remove, so liners are recommended.
-If you can not find seedless no added sugar jam, warm jam and press through a mesh strainer.
-I used a disposable piping bag with no tip (just cut a very small hole) to drizzle the jam. 
-Alternatively, you can drizzle the jam over the baked cheesecake base prior to adding the cheesecake filling, eliminating the need to swirl it.  I've done it both ways and while the jam on the base is easier, they have a nicer appearance with the swirl on the top.
-The cheesecake bites can be kept in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3-4 days or several weeks in the freezer.  It is recommend to allow cheesecakes to come to room temperature before eating.

Low Carb Almond Bread

Low Carb Almond Bread

A stack of Low Carb Almond Bread resting on a wire rack with a fresh parsley garnish.

Low Carb Almond Bread

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It is crazy how cheese can be made into something so bread-like!! Low Carb Almond Bread has a spongy texture and a chewy bread-like feel. It’s sturdy enough for your favourite sandwich and warms nicely in the toaster for your fried egg. This low carb, Keto-friendly bread also tastes great!!

A baked slab of Low Carb Almond Bread cooling on a wire rack.

You can use regular cream cheese, but I like to use flavoured for this recipe for something a little different. I like the garden vegetable for regular sandwiches and the herb and garlic for bread to serve with soup or stew. This great recipe is also super quick, being ready in about half an hour. Serve slightly warm right out of the pan, room temperature or lightly toasted in the toaster. You can use Low Carb Almond Bread for sandwiches, croutons, as a dipping bread, or a base for fried eggs and tuna melts. It’s a great way to keep your Keto diet on track with only 2.4 net carbs per slice. Enjoy!

An egg salad sandwich made with Low Carb Almond Bread is cut on the diagonal and speared with a toothpick olive.

Here’s the breakdown per slice when cutting into 12 slices per recipe.

Calories per slice: 202kcal

Net Carbs per slice: 2.4g

Fat per slice: 17.4g

Protein per slice: 9.25g

Want more low carb options?

Broccoli Cheddar Frittata

Beef Roulade

Tarragon Chicken Cutlets

A stack of Low Carb Almond Bread resting on a wire rack with a fresh parsley garnish.

Author:  Compelled to Cook, adapted from Pork Rind Keto Bread

A stack of Low Carb Almond Bread resting on a wire rack with a fresh parsley garnish.
Low Carb Almond Bread
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    12 slices 15 minutes
    Cook Time
    20 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    12 slices 15 minutes
    Cook Time
    20 minutes
    A stack of Low Carb Almond Bread resting on a wire rack with a fresh parsley garnish.
    Low Carb Almond Bread
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      12 slices 15 minutes
      Cook Time
      20 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      12 slices 15 minutes
      Cook Time
      20 minutes
      Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly spray a 10"x15" baking tray with non-stick spray and line with parchment if desired.
      2. Stir together almond flour and baking powder.
      3. To a large bowl add the cream cheese and mozzarella. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir and return to microwave for another minute. Stir until smoothed out. Add eggs one at a time whisking with a fork to incorporate each fully. Stir in parmesan cheese and dry ingredients. Spread evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 17-20 minutes.
      4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool cut into 12 squares.
      Recipe Notes

      -I like to use garden vegetable or herb and garlic cream cheese.  They add a nice twist to the taste.

      -The cut squares will last up to a month in the freezer in an airtight container or Ziplock bag.

      -Room temperature squares can be warmed in the toaster.

      -This bread holds up well when used for sandwiches, but also great topped with a fried egg or as a tuna melt.

       

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      Nut Butter Granola Bars

      Nut Butter Granola Bars

      Baked Nut Butter Granola Bars cut and wrapped with a ribbon.

      NUT BUTTER GRANOLA BARS

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      These slightly chewy, a little bit crunchy Nut Butter Granola Bars are the perfect snack or grab and go breakfast. As the name implies, they are made with nut butter, and my personal preference is natural chunky peanut butter. I’ve also made them with almond butter, which is tasty too, however the peanut flavour really comes through when using peanut butter and it’s a great flavour that marries up nicely with the honey. So tasty!

      Nut Butter Granola Bars pressed into a 9x13 pan and ready for baking.

      From this recipe, you get 16 nicely sized bars that wrap and freeze well for those of you who like to get a little meal prep done. If it’s likely that your hungry family will hoover through these is a short time, they’ll last for several days in a sealed container at room temperature.

      Nut Butter Granola Bars are gluten-free, packed full of protein from the goodness of nuts and egg whites. The fat from the peanut butter and ground-up nuts helps to keep you feeling full and dried fruit and honey give a little chewiness and natural sweetness. There’s no excuse not to have a batch of these ready for snacking, enjoy!

      Baked Nut Butter Granola Bars cut and wrapped with a ribbon.

      Author:  Compelled to Cook, adapted slightly from Bon Appétit

      Nut Butter Granola Bars
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        16 bars 30 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        30-35 minutes 5 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        16 bars 30 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        30-35 minutes 5 minutes
        Nut Butter Granola Bars
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          16 bars 30 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          30-35 minutes 5 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          16 bars 30 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          30-35 minutes 5 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: bars
          Instructions
          1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange nuts and pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 10-12 minutes until golden, stirring once. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
          2. Meanwhile, reduce the oven to 300°F. Spray a 13x9" pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper, overhanging the long sides.
          3. Using a food processor, pulse cooled nuts and 1 cup of oats until a sandy consistency and no large pieces of oats remain. Transfer to a large bowl, along with the remaining cup of whole oats. To the same bowl stir in dried fruit and oil (chop any dried fruit bigger than a raisin).
          4. In a medium saucepan whisk together honey, salt and vanilla over medium heat until at a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes until bubbling vigorously and smells like caramel.
          5. Add peanut butter to oat mixture along with the hot honey and stir to fully combine. By adding together, the hot honey will help melt the peanut butter. Whisk egg white in a small bowl and stir into oat mixture until fully incorporated.
          6. Scoop into prepared pan and pack down firmly and evenly. Using the bottom of a measuring cup helps to compact the mixture and get it flat.
          7. Bake until golden and no longer sticky 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before scoring into 16 pieces (2x8). Let cool completely in the pan before lifting out using the parchment overhang. Cut along score marks into bars.
          Recipe Notes

          -don't skimp on the amount of listed salt.

          -I used a combination of almonds, pecans and cashews.

          -cut bars can be wrapped and frozen, kept in a sealed container for up to 1 month.

          -cut bars will last for about 5 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

          -other nut butter such as almond butter work well too.

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