Quick & Easy Dinner for One - Asparagus & Ham

We all know we should take the time to cook a healthy dinner every night.  Protein and a couple of vegetables.  But for many of us that doesn't happen.  

Especially when you live alone, after a full day, the last thing you feel like doing many days is cooking.  There have been many nights when a couple of slices of almond bread with cheese and a glass of wine have been dinner.  Not that bad for you every once in a while, but not something you want to be having every day.

That's why I've been looking for quick and easy meals I can put together without too much trouble in just a few minutes.  Things that don't require much more work than heating up a frozen diet dinner - but much better for me.

Here is last night's dinner.  Quick, Easy ..... and delicious.

Ingredients :

8 asparagus stalks
4 medium thick slices nitrate-free ham
8 cherry tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons table cream
1 tablespoon Boursin herb & garlic cream cheese (or your favourite flavour)

Directions :
  • Heat your toaster oven to 400'F.
  • Wash and dry the asparagus and snap off the ends.
  • Wrap 2 spears in each slice of ham as shown above and place on a small oven tray.
  • Wash and dry the cherry tomatoes and add these to the tray.
  • Sprinkle liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile place the cream and the cheese in a small dish (I use an egg cup) and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.
  • When the 15 minutes are up, place the ham wrapped asparagus on a plate and drizzle with the cheese sauce.  Add the cherry tomatoes and enjoy.
This makes a great light supper, especially if you add a glass of red wine and a couple of squares of dark chocolate for dessert.  You can always add a small side salad as well.

This amazingly simple meal looks nice enough for company.  If you serve this at your next dinner party I'm sure nobody will complain, and they will certainly never know just how quickly and easily you put this together.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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Easy Mexican Breakfast Casserole

At this time of year when it's still cold in most places, a hot breakfast really hits the spot, but most of us don't have the time to cook in the morning.  Here is my solution - the easy Mexican Breakfast Casserole.  This is ready in 5 minutes - not much longer than it takes you to brew your coffee - and will keep you full and satisfied until lunch.

Ingredients :

3 slices chopped, pre-cooked bacon (bought or cooked ahead on the weekend and refrigerated.  Read my post here for how to easily cook ahead bacon in the oven.)
1/2 small onion, chopped (you can buy chopped onion in your produce section to make this even faster)
2 large eggs
1/2 an avocado, chopped
2 tablespoons salsa (mild, medium or hot - however you like it !)

Directions :

  • Put the chopped bacon and the chopped onion into a small non-stick frying pan over hight heat and cook for one minute stirring often with a wooden spoon until the onion has softened and is beginning to brown.  
  • Break the eggs over the bacon onion mixture and turn the heat down to low.  Now you can go make your coffee while the eggs cook.  This will take 2 to 4 minutes depending on how runny you like them.
  • Once the eggs are cooked, slide the whole mixture into a bowl, add the salsa and avocado, and enjoy!

The key to having your eggs cook all the way through is to make sure you cook them over slow heat.  Otherwise you might find that you have raw egg white mixed in with your bacon and onion and this isn't very tasty.  Another thing you can do to speed the cooking of your eggs is to put a top over the pan.  Just watch this carefully because it does cook a lot faster.


I find that what really makes this dish is really good quality salsa. After trying many different brands over the years, my favourite by far is Green Mountain Gringo.  It's not the cheapest salsa out there, but the flavour is so fresh tasting, and since it's all natural with no preservatives, for me it's definitely worth the money.  A jar will last a long time - unless of course you're a salsa fanatic!

                  “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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Hippocrates Slow Cooker Soup

The Paleo diet has become an "IN" way to eat these days, but as with all things that suddenly become very popular, the basics often become lost.  When people think about Paleo eating, more often than not they picture hairy cavemen chewing on huge steaks which comprise the majority of their diet.  This is not actually the basis behind the Paleo diet.  


Many people see pictures like this ......


..... and think it means we should be eating like this.  Not the case.

The main idea has always been to leave behind the over processed over sugared and over salted fake foods that so many are eating today, and to go back to eating basics - fruit, vegetables, meat and fish - grown on the land or acquired by hunting and fishing.  

This does NOT mean we should just concentrate on stuffing ourselves with steaks.  Fruit and vegetables are important as well.  In fact very important.  We don't even know half of what is in all the different fruits and vegetables that are available to us today, but we do know that they are full of health benefits and in order for us to be healthy they have to constitute not just part of our diet but a large part.


In his original food pyramid Mark Sisson make this very clear.  As you can see, fruit and vegetables were the base of his plan and in his words should be the "bulk of meal emphasis and nutrients."


Several years ago he changed his pyramid in an attempt to make it more clear.  Unfortunately people pounced on the fact that now meat, fish, fowl and eggs were now the base, and many made these the main - and sometimes only - foods in their diet. This is not what Mark intended. (He explains his new pyramid here. )  Vegetables have always been and will always be a very important part of the Paleo diet.

With saying that, many people don't eat enough.  An occasional salad or whatever vegetables are added to a meat or chicken recipe are all they think about ....if they think about them at all.  This is a BIG mistake, but how can it be rectified?  How can you make sure you are getting all the benefits without adding yet another thing to your list of things to stress about?  Today I'm going to give you a recipe that should make this a lot easier. The simplest and easiest way to get a quick infusion of healthy vegetables into your diet is with a great vegetable soup.  


Hippocrates soup is said to have been developed by the "Father of Modern Medicine" himself.   Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician who is considered to be one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine.  He was born in 460 BC and died in 377 BC.  During his lifetime he created a medical belief that is considered the basis of our Medical system today.  (Unfortunately there isn't much similarity between what he taught and our pill-pushing doctors of today, but that's a whole different topic.)

Unlike the commonly held beliefs of his time, Hippocrates believed that diseases were caused naturally and not as a result of superstitions or wrath of the Gods.  He separated the discipline of medicine from religion and argued that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the Gods, but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits. 

Even though the drug industry would have you believe differently, this belief is still very much held by leading Doctors and research scientists today.  In fact Hippocrates soup plays a big part in the vegetarian diet used in many Cancer centres around the world.  These centres have documented large numbers of cures, and you can get more information on this topic - specifically Dr. Max Gerson's soup therapy - by Googling his name.

You don't have to be suffering from cancer or any other horrible disease to take advantage of the many benefits of Hippocrates soup.  Along with other health benefits, this soup strengthens your kidneys and heals your immune system. There is also another benefit.  Because the directions specifically call for the slow simmering of the vegetables, it's the ideal recipe to make in your slow cooker. My version of this recipe will make a huge pot full - enough to stock your freezer and be at the ready whenever you need an extra nutritional boost.  


Paleo eating is delicious, but if you tend to take it to extreme too often, if this is you on too many days ....then you might want to try the other extreme for a change.  Have a few days on soup, salad and fruit and you will find your system with thank you for it.  You will feel healthier, stronger, more clear headed, and much more energetic when you add more vegetables to your meals and eat a much more balanced diet.

Hippocrates Slow Cooker Soup

For the most health benefits use as many organic or home-grown vegetables as possible, and don't peel them.  Just wash and scrub with a soft brush if necessary.


1 head of celery, coarsely chopped
2 large leeks - chop all the white part and a couple of inches of the green
2 lbs. of tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or one large can of organic crushed tomatoes)
2 medium onions (I like to use red onions) coarsely chopped
1 small bag of baby red potatoes coarsely chopped (The original recipe calls for potatoes, and the small amount used in each serving will easily fit into your 80/20 plan, but if you prefer not to eat potatoes you can leave them out)
1 medium bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or Pizza seasoning if you like a little heat)  make sure you use herbs with no added salt.
1 container low-sodium organic chicken broth (I use this for extra flavour, but if you want to be absolutely true to the original, leave it out.)

  • Chop all the vegetables coarsely, then put into the slow cooker.  
  • Add the seasonings. Cover with the crushed canned tomatoes and chicken broth if using, and enough fresh filtered water to cover.
  • Cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Using a food processor, blender or immersion blender puree the soup.  You can also leave large chunks of vegetables in it if you prefer eating it that way.

Serve this with a big bowl of salad, a small container of nuts and seeds, and a pot of herbal tea .... and you will have a wonderfully healthy and satisfying meal.

 “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”   - Hippocrates


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ChocoPerfection Update

I wrote about Chocoperfection when I first started this blog as a great chocolate alternative for a low carb diet.  Since then I've been eating it several times a week and I love it just as much today as I did back then.

Probably even more now because they just launched a new version - dark chocolate with orange - which is my absolute favourite. I was lucky enough to receive a box of these from the founder, Mary Jo Kringas, and I soon ordered several more.  They are that good!

Since then I've done even more research on them, and nothing that I've found out has caused me to change my mind about the suitability of this product for a low carb and Paleo diet.

I was interested to read that Mary Jo uses the same sweetener that is used in Suzanne Somer's Somersweet.  Suzanne started out promoting her diet but has since made a name for herself as a health researcher.  She is also very adamantly opposed to chemical pollutants of all kinds, so I'm pretty confident that anything that she recommends and certainly anything she would personally sell would have to meet pretty high standards.

Both the sweeteners used in Chocoperfection - oliofructose and erithrytol - rank zero on the glycemic index which makes them perfect for low carbers. Also, oliofructose has been named as one of the healthiest foods on the planet because of it's prebiotic properties.  It cleans the colon and strengthens the immune system.

The other major benefit of Chocoperfection is all the fibre it contains.  Every nutritionist these days is telling you to eat more fibre, and if you are going to take a supplement, why not take it in the form of a delicious chocolate bar?

Mary Jo says she eats 3 or 4 of these bars every day with no side effects.  Some people - unfortunately I'm among them - cannot eat that much without stomach bloating.  But having a bar every day or two works for me, and certainly allows me to indulge my chocolate cravings without any added sugar.

Chocoperfection might not be a "real" food in the sense that it grown on the ground or has a face, but then neither is protein powder - which doesn't stop major Paleo writers from recommending it.  It seems to me that as long as you are eating a healthy Paleo diet most of the time, a Chocoperfection indulgence once in a while is probably as healthy a treat as you are likely to find - and definitely delicious!

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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Paleo Primal and Gluten-Free Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Pizza

I'm really loving this almond flour crust pizza.  Here is my latest version. I no longer feel deprived because I can't eat at my favourite pizza place.  Now I can have a gourmet pizza at home!

Ingredients :

1 individual almond flour pizza base (see post below)
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces of smoked salmon, chopped
1/4 cup of sliced black olives
1 thinly sliced ring of red onion, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh dill
olive oil for brushing

Directions :
  • Preheat oven to 425'F
  • Brush the cooked pizza base with olive oil and sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese, chopped smoked salmon and chopped red onion.
  • Top with the black olive slices and finish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh dill.
  • Place on a pizza pan or cookie sheet, and bake for 10 - 15 minutes, just until all the toppings are warmed through.
  • Serve and enjoy.
I'm really glad I made up a whole batch of these bases and stuck them in the freezer.  Now, with just a few minutes spent choosing toppings, I can enjoy this delicious treat any time I want!

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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Paleo Pizza Crust using Almond Flour or Meal

I have already covered coconut flour pizza crust and protein pizza crusts in previous posts, so to complete your Paleo Pizza selection, I want to give you a great almond flour pizza crust as well.  I have to say that this is now my personal favourite.  The combination of spice and cheese makes it really delicious.

This crust came about after trying many of the recipe versions I found online.  Most were pretty good, but I found that for me they were lacking a bit in taste .  This is why I ended up adding seasoning and cheese to my crust as well as on my pizza.  

Ingredients :

2 cups of almond flour or almond meal
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of Pizza spice (or Italian Seasoning) to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Directions :
  • Preheat the oven to 375'F
  • Lightly oil two pieces of parchment paper.
  • Place all the ingredients into a large bowl.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, then mix everything together to form a dough.
  • The dough will be quite sticky, but you should be able to form it into a ball.  If not, don't worry.  You haven't done anything wrong.  Eggs vary in size so this will make a difference in how much dry ingredients you need. Just add another tablespoon or two of almond meal until you have the right consistency. 
  • Put the dough on one of the pieces of parchment and cover with the other.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it's about 1/4 to 1/2" thick.  I like mine as thin as possible.
  • Place the parchment paper covered dough onto a cookie or pizza pan, then remove the top paper and bake for 15 or 20 minutes.
  • I like mine nice and crispy, so I keep it in the full 20 minutes until it starts to brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Turn the oven up to 425'F. While the base is cooking and the oven is heating, get all of your topping ingredients ready.  You can add whatever you want, but make sure you have at least some vegetables to make this a healthy choice.  When I don't have anything in the fridge I use frozen which works just as well.
  • Put on your favourite toppings, then return to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes longer or until the cheese has melted.   Cool then slice.  
This will give you a great thin crust pizza that's easy to hold in your hand.  You will also find that it's so filling you really won't want more than a couple of slices.

Pizza is a great healthy Paleo treat, so whether you go for this version or prefer the coconut flour crust instead, make sure you include it often on your menu plan.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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Hiking - Simple Pleasure and Exercise combined

We all know now that walking is the best exercise for over-all fitness, so taking up Hiking as a simple pleasure is just a simple progression. (Image from www.vancitybuzz.com)

Hiking not only allows you to get great exercise, it also helps you de-stress and relax by allowing you to focus on different surroundings.


Hiking with a group can be a great way to connect ...


.....but hiking alone also has it's merits.  After a week of dealing with people and problems, it's a great way to get rid of stress and regroup.

No matter where in the world you live, there is always a place for you to hike.  Walking in the country is the best because you also benefit from the fresh air  ...


But if you're stuck in the city you can still enjoy hiking as well.  Maybe you wouldn't consider it hiking, but spending a day walking around the city and checking out the sites is great exercise.


It's hard to believe, but many people who live in cities never see the things that make that city famous unless they have friends or relatives and are forced into doing some sightseeing. 


Most large cities now also have walking trails, and if you check your local tourism office you can get yourself a copy of a local map showing all the trails.  On a holiday weekend when everyone is going out of town except you, why don't you plan your own outing and check out one of these walks.   This is a great activity to do with family or friends. 


Maybe plan on stopping somewhere new for lunch.  One plus of hiking in the city is you don't have to pack a lunch!


If you do a lot of hiking in remote areas, or even decide to do an overnight hike at some point, then you will want to get some equipment, and there are many specialty hiking stores now that carry everything you could ever need and more.  Just spending a few hours in one of these could be a mini day trip.

Whether you're lucky enough to have access to country trails, or have to stay in the city, you can still spend a great day hiking, and reap all the rewards, so if you're getting a bit bored doing your regular neighbourhood walks, consider expanding your horizons.  You'll find it great for your body and your mind

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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