Lemon Muffins - Low Carb and Sugar Free 2020 version

About two weeks ago I bought a container of ricotta cheese intending to make a keto lemon cake, but... life.

So last weekend I used half the container to make a keto lasagna and hoped I'd have time to get around to the cake this week.  Which, I didn't.  But yesterday I realized had about 30 minutes free to whip up 'something' yummy to snack on for the next couple days and using up the ricotta cheese was my goal.

Although I wasn't in the mood for a cake and my husband isn't a 'cake' eater at all.  He loves cake, but it never occurs to him to eat it.  Ever.  If it's out of sight, it's out of mind and also, as sad as it sounds, he thinks "cutting a piece of cake" is just too much work.  But he will eat cupcakes (and muffins), if they are front and center, on the counter, where he can't miss them and can grab one or two 'on the go'.

Lemon Muffins
Great to use up leftover ricotta

2/3 c ricotta (I used about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 c granulated sweetener (I used 1 c So Nourished brand erythritol w/ Monk Fruit)
3 eggs (I used 4)
1 t grated lemon zest (I use 2 t dried lemon zest)
3/4 t lemon extract (I used about 2 heaping capfuls)
1/2 t vanilla extract (I used about teaspoon, didn't measure)
2 c almond flour (I used 3 cups)
1/4 c coconut flour (I used about 1/3 cup)
1 T baking powder (I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 t salt (I used about a teaspoon)
2-4 T water (I didn't use at all)

Preheat oven to 325.  Line your muffin tins with paper liners.  The original recipe made about 12.  My version made 18.

In a food processor bowl, place the ricotta cheese, sweetener, eggs, lemon zest, extracts and blend.  Add the dry ingredients and process again just until smooth.  Wait about 30 seconds to see how thick your batter is as the coconut flour thickens the batter as it absorbs moisture.  If you need to add a little water you can do it now and blend again.

Fill your muffin tins. Bake 25-30 minutes until the tops are firm when you gently touch them.  Cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes and then you can remove to cool on a wire cooling rack (to keep the bottoms from getting soggy).  

You can top with a simple glaze if you wish - mix about 1/2 cup powdered natural sweetener with about 2 T lemon juice and drizzle.   Mine in the photo are plain. 

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Keto (low carb, sugar free) donuts ...

Mini Donuts... one of the pan versions I made

This was my favorite pan - a mini fluted pan - not a bundt pan, more like a thick cookie or little cake

Is it a donut or a muffin? Or a little cake?  I decided to bake my donuts in 3 different pans instead of just my mini donut pans like I usually do.  I used a mini muffin pan, a mini donut pan and then a pan I had no idea what to call it... a fluted mini muffin pan?

The regular mini donut pans are just too difficult to get the donuts out of, even with a lot of butter or oil.
After about 10 years of dealing with the little donut pain-in-the-butts, I decided to grab two other pans that were in the cupboard, and that is how I found I really liked the other two pans even better than the little donut pan.  So much easier to get out, but I also loved how the had a little crisp to the outside of them!  Not just a completely moist and soft almond flour baked good like you usually get with almond flour goodies.

You can play with this recipe:  These donuts can be flavored however you wish.  LorAnn oils are my ultimate favorites and I have a whole ziploc full of different flavors from grape to apple, from peppermint to chocolate to bubble gum and more.  They last for years and years (and years) and are good quality, strong and very easy to use.  The apple cider in this version is because I used apple flavored oils.  With blueberry I leave that out and replace with a teaspoon of lemon juice and/or vanilla.  For cake donuts, it's vanilla extract. Play with whatever flavor you like.

This one is apple cinnamon... keto, sugar free and low carb of course.


2 c almond flour
1/2 c natural granular sweetener (I used Lakanto classic)
1/4 c unflavored whey protein powder (I use Isopure exclusively)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 c water
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 t apple flavored LorAnn Oils

Whisk together the dry ingredients; almond flour, protein powder, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the eggs, water, butter, apple cider and flavoring.  Fill about 24 mini donut or muffin tins that you've greased very well with butter.  Bake at 325 for about 17 minutes.  So they are firm and not still jiggly.  Let them cool in the pan at least 10 minutes before removing to cool completely.

Top with a mixture of cinnamon and natural sweetener (I used Lakanto) - about 1/4 cup sweetener to 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Heavier if you really like cinnamon.  If the tops of your donuts or mini muffins aren't sticky enough to grasp the cinnamon/sweetener, you can brush them with melted butter first.

My favorite shape was the fluted mini cake pans.  Almost like thick muffin tops - but bigger than a muffin top. 

This is the pan I'm not sure what it's called.  I bought it and a Madeleine cookie pan at the same time years and years ago - on clearance in some random cake and decorating shop in Minneapolis that doesn't exist anymore.

The tops are dipped in a mixture of granular natural sweetener and cinnamon.  For blueberry donuts or vanilla cake donuts I'd use a simple glaze.  I would for chocolate donuts too but I hate chocolate so I probably won't be making those any time soon.

These were made in the mini muffin pan. Most people have this pan or have easy access to it.  They do come out of this pan much easier than the mini-donut pans!

When you can get them out of the pan in one piece, the mini donuts do turn out cute!

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#WhatsForDinner? Keto - Low Carb - Sugar Free and YUMMY

We'll be doing mussels in garlic and butter along with grilled bacon wrapped shrimp.  For a side, I prepared (earlier today) a salad with peppers, green onions, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, kalamata olives and some diced tomato; sprinkled with basil and chilling now.

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#WhatsForDinner? - Tonight's dinner is..... Marinated Grilled Pork Chops with Jalapeno, Cream Cheese & Bacon

I'm sitting here in the office waiting for my husband to get home from work... dinner is made and I thought what the heck, I'd post a #WhatsForDinner?  post.  Tonight it's grilled pork chops!

I've posted this one before (just search for it in the search box to the right or at the top of the page) - it's pork chops that have been marinating in salsa, then grilled.  At the end of the grill time I top them with a scoop of spicy mixture that uses cream cheese, jalapenos, cheddar cheese and crumbled, cooked bacon.

Oh... so .... good....

My husband is not a fan of pork chops but he will gladly eat these!  We love them and so far, everyone we've made these for does too!

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Creamy Sugar Free, Low Carb Cheesecake made with Sour Cream

You should chill your cheesecake overnight as it makes the texture creamy and wonderful. I cannot EVER wait and always have a piece warm...  so this photo is of it still warm.

This is a cheesecake very similar to the first cheesecake recipe I was given a copy of in the early 90's, by the wife of the Pastor I worked for in Tennessee.  She always made hers in a cake pan though.  I use the traditional springform pan. She used sugar of course, while I use a natural sweetener.  In this cake, I was using Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener - which I've been thrilled with so far in everything I've been making lately.

Basic Low Carb Crust:

2 c almond flour, other nut flour, ground pecans, fine sugar free cookie crumbs, a mixture of any/all
1/2 c natural sweetener, confectioner's style (like So Nourished, Just Like Sugar, etc.)
1/4 t salt
4 T butter

Mix or blend the almond flour, ground nuts, sweetener and salt in a small bowl.  Add the butter, and mash/mix with a fork, your fingers or a rubber scraper until it starts to come together, place in your pan (for pie or bars).  Press evenly all across the bottom of a springform pan. Bake for about 12 minutes at 350.  Remove and let cool while you make your cheesecake.

Basic Plain Cheesecake

5 packages cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
1 1/2 c sweetener of choice that is not liquid drops (adapt the amount for the brand/style you are using*)
1 c sour cream
lemon juice

*I used a mixture of Lakanto and Swerve - the confectioner's or 'powdered sugar' style.  Sometimes I use the granular, but it can make a less creamy texture.  You can also just whirl your granular sweetener in a food processor or blender. 

Beat the cream cheese smooth, then add your sweetener, followed by the eggs, sour cream and lemon juice and vanilla to taste.  Start with about a tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of vanilla but if you want a more lemon flavor, don't add the vanilla.  And if you wish, just switch to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and a tablespoon of vanilla.  (You can add other flavors, add fruits, mix about a cup of the batter with cocoa and swirl it in, add sugar free candy pieces like crumbled peanut butter cups, add swirls of sugar free jams or jellies, etc.  But I'm a weirdo I guess.  I like plain, vanilla cheesecake best of all).

Pour your batter into a well greased 9 or 10 inch springform pan (or a large cake pan like my bosses wife used to use).  Bake at 325 for about 1 1/2 hours for the springform pan. Remove and let it cool completely then cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.  This changes the texture.  Serve with a drizzle or dollop of whatever you wish.  Caramel, chocolate, fruit, whipped cream, peanut butter sauce, crushed candies, crumbled cookies - using all sugar free and low carb options of course!

*I sometimes use a water bath and sometimes half this and use a small sprinform pan to make this in my InstantPot pressure cooker.  I don't typically bother with the water bath though.  It makes cheesecakes a bit more of a pain to make.  I had my pizza stone heating in the oven this time and just put the springform pan on it and baked it that way.  Turned out great.  If you do get a cheesecake that develops a crack during baking or cooling, just add a nice topping!  Covered with a sugar free jam, lemon filling, crumbled sugar free cookies or candies or even just covered in sweetened whipped cream, it is beautiful and no one would ever know.

This time I used a mixture of almond flour and ground pecans leftover from Christmas baking for the crust

Pressed into the bottom of the pan (and just a tiny lip up the side)

Baked for 12 minutes in my oven, until starting to turn golden on the edges

A yummy smooth cheesecake batter

In the pan and now... into the oven!

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce - No Sugar Added

Serve your favorite spaghetti sauce over spiral zucchini 'noodles' for a low carb, pasta free option

This is a sauce I keep on hand at all times (as well as homemade pizza sauce) in my freezer.  I typically triple or quadruple the recipe and use a large #10 can of diced tomatoes I buy from our local membership warehouse.  If I'm out and I'm in a hurry I'll make a single or double batch quickly using regular sized cans.

I love the flavor of this sauce the best out of all the spaghetti sauces I've made over the years.  I really love when I use the canned tomato puree in it, but I don't often have that on hand as much as I do diced tomatoes.  Easily remedied by whirling them in a blender or food processor!  Use fresh tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato puree or whole tomatoes you've pulsed a few times in the blender/processor.  Use what you have.  And be ok with not being precise on amounts either.  If you are off on the tomato puree by a half cup or something, don't sweat it!  Plus, you can always add a can of tomato sauce if you don't have enough puree.  Just play with the recipe and make it your own!  

Spaghetti Sauce

2 - 10 3/4 oz. tomato puree (I usually use diced tomatoes and puree it in the processor)
1 c water
1/2 t dried minced garlic or garlic powder (yep you can use fresh)
1 t dried, minced onion  (yep you can use fresh instead)
4-5 t sweetener of your choice (taste test for sweetness. I like to only use about 3 teaspoons myself)
1/2 t salt
1 T lemon juice
1/4 c dried parsley flakes
1/8 t thyme
1/4 t basil
1/4 t oregano
dash pepper
*optional meat

If you are using meat, brown about a pound of ground beef, turkey, pork, Italian sausage, chicken sausage or a mixture of whatever you wish.  When it's browned, continue by adding the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer slowly for about 1 hour.  I either Food Seal mine for the freezer or if I want it fairly soon, store in Mason jars in the refrigerator.

Serve over pasta or for a low carb option, serve over spiralized zucchini or even the Palmini canned version.


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Low Carb Stir Fried Rice - (Faux Rice of course)

A photo literally 'in action' as I was stirring the dish with one hand, taking a picture on my cellphone with the other.  And the second I was finished taking the photo I scooped a huge bowl of this yummy faux stir-fried rice, added a bit of Bragg liquid aminos (an alternative to soy sauce that tastes the same) and enjoyed every. last. bite.  And then went back for seconds.  #Truth

Although I would previously make this with chicken or shrimp, I've found I'm really loving it right now with ground pork.  (Which is odd because I've never been a huge fan of pork!)  But oh how I crave this over the past couple months.

Use 1 Sun-Bird seasoning mix
1 pound ground pork, diced or ground chicken, shrimp or whatever you wish
3 c riced cauliflower (either whirl it in a food processor with the S-blade or use store bought)
1/2 - 3/4 cup veggies of choice (I use green beans, as peas have a higher sugar content) and green onions
2 eggs
soy sauce or liquid aminos

I currently am using store bought frozen "riced cauliflower" since it's readily available, affordable (I buy mine at a large membership warehouse store).  This makes it so easy!  I grab one or two bags, pop them into the microwave to 'cook' for about 3-4 minutes while I put a little oil in a pan on the stove and cook/brown the pork or chicken.  As the pork is browning, I get about 3/4 cup of frozen green beans out and pulse them in my food processor until they are about the size of peas.

When the chicken or pork is done, remove it to a plate and pour the 'rice' (cauliflower) into the hot pan.  Stir fry briefly to warm, add the seasoning packet and about 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce or liquid aminos.  Stir, make an empty spot in the center and add the 2 eggs, scrambling as they cook.  Add the green beans/peas, green onions if you use them, and the pork or chicken (or add small shrimp at this point) and stir-fry until heated through.

I have started to add a can of bean sprouts to this, which I really love.  But I've found you have to be careful as different brands have different nutrient values;  there are a couple brands out there with higher carbs and sugar grams.  I currently keep a can of La Choy on hand.  It has 2 carbs and less than a gram of sugar in 2/3 cup (label) but because these are mixed into the whole dish, you are only having about 1/4 of a cup, so it's basically less than 1 carb.


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