Gado Gado (summer feast!)

Summer is coming, so I think it’s time to post one of my favourite summer meals. We have been eating this one long before we cut sugar and wheat from our diet, but it tastes just as good without sugar in the sauce. It’s mostly cold, so perfect on a hot summer night.

I love this meal for kids (and other fussy eaters) because they get to choose what they want to eat from a variety on the platter. I love this meal for mixed vegetarian/omnivore crowds because you can just put the shrimp in a separate bowl for the meat eaters. I love this meal for guests because it presents so well.

Gado Gado table

Gado Gado is basically a big salad with peanut dressing that you eat with your hands. Maybe that’s why I like it.

What the photo above doesn’t show is that during that particular meal we did 3 variations in individual bowls according to who wanted mild (no chili peppers) and who wanted vegetarian (no fish sauce) and who wanted all of it; that’s why the peanut sauces are individual. Usually we just put a nice bowlful on the table with a spoon.

I apologize to whoever published the book we originally got this recipe from. I believe it was an Australian publication. I don’t have it anymore (I remember buying it in Vancouver at a book fair outside the library just after the new central branch was built, which was in 1995) but the recipe lives on.

A few notes about Gado Gado. It is Indonesian and authentic recipes will likely use roasted peanuts instead of peanut butter. You will find as many different variations out there as you will find different recipes. (Search away and try them all!) You will vary the recipe every time. Really, if you have something in the fridge or the garden that you think would work well, try it. If you don’t have some of the things listed, don’t sweat it. As you can see from the photo below there was no mooli/daikon radish, green beans or sprouts but we added regular radish and carrots. If the potatoes are too carby, leave them out. So, having said that, I give you this recipe as a template, really.

If you’ve been making Gado Gado for years and have a delicious ingredient for the salad that I haven’t mentioned here, please add it in the comments! Or if you have a favourite Gado Gado recipe, comment with the link! I think the only change I made to the original recipe below was removing the sugar (and adding a few suggestions). No dairy, no wheat, no sugar, low carb, can be vegetarian.

Gado Gado for 4

  • (1 or 2 potatoes)
  • salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ounces green beans topped and tailed
  • 1 head romaine lettuce (or other lettuce good for wraps)
  • 4 tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 4 ounces bean sprouts (bean shoots) or whatever sprouts you have
  • 1/2 cucumber peeled and cut into fingers
  • 5 ounces giant mooli (daikon radish) peeled and julienned or grated
  • OR jicama would work (or I bet celeriac would be great)
  • OR raw cabbage works well, too (or do all 3)
  • 6 ounces firm tofu cut into large dice
  • 12 ounces shrimp large, peeled and cooked (or cooked then peeled)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro

Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 fresh red chili small, seeded and finely chopped (I’m sure I’ve used chili flakes when in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk canned or fresh

Spicy Peanut Sauce: Combine sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Boil the potatoes in salted water and simmer 20 minutes. In another pan, bring salted water to a boil and cook eggs and beans together: lower the eggs into the boiling water; after 6 minutes, add the beans and boil for a further 6 minutes. Cool the potatoes, eggs and beans under cold running water.

Wash and spin the salad leaves and use outer leaves to line a large platter. Pile remainder on one side of the platter.

Slice the potatoes. Shell and quarter the eggs. Arrange the potatoes, eggs, beans, and tomatoes in separate piles. Arrange the other salad ingredients in a similar way to cover the platter.

Turn Spicy Peanut Sauce into an attractive bowl and bring to the table with the salad.

How to eat: take a lettuce leaf, put a little spicy peanut sauce on it, fill it with your desired fillings, wrap the leaf around the toppings and eat it. Bon appetit!

gado gado


Camping Trip Preparations

We are going to be heading out on another big camping trip this summer, and I’ve started looking into my notes from the big trip 2 years ago. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ll be making and bringing food-wise for the road.

I’ll be making:

  • Dana’s Snack Mix – from 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender
  • Tamari Almonds – a perennial favourite
  • Grainless Granola – this linked recipe is an adaptation of the original recipe from the Wheat Belly Cookbook – I would eliminate the last 2 ingredients (honey & salt) and, a secret from my mom, I find that coconut chips (the big slivers, not flakes) make this really, really tasty. Also, cook at 300F, stirring a couple of times, for 20 minutes.
  • Sunflower Sesame Crackers – I got the recipe from 500 Low-Carb Recipes, but there’s one that pretty close on this website (just add 1/2 tsp salt to the mix)
  • Cookies
  • Almond Milk 

We’ll bring cheese, summer sausage, cucumbers, carrots, various nuts (that’s picnic lunch there), soda water, I’m going to make chili (actually, I got this great Indian Beef Chili recipe from a book I borrowed from the library called Quick-Fix Indian by Ruta Kahate, so there may be 2 chili types) and keep in mind other 1 pot meals. I might make some breakfast cookies, and there will definitely be bacon and eggs, as well as greek (strained) whole milk yogurt. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

In my search for the above recipes online, I found these grain-free, sugar-free (sweetened with dates but I’d cut them way back and try a few other tricks) chai granola bars, which sound intriguing. I’ll let you know if I try them…

Easter Chocolates

One quick post today, since it is Easter weekend. I have 2 young boys who like to do an Easter (chocolate) egg hunt every year (a tradition started several years ago when I was away, by a relative).

So instead of buying chocolates from the store that are full of sugar and other crap we don’t want, I make my own. This time, I just tempered extra dark chocolate mixed with unsweetened chocolate (I’m guessing it was about 20% carbs, because the extra dark chocolate is about 30%, instead of the usual 50% that semi-sweet is) and poured it into our silicone moulds halfway, dropped in an almond, then filled it up.

Don’t know how to temper chocolate or why? Check this out.

We got the silicone moulds from, a Montréal online seller.

homemade extra-dark easter almond chocolates

Low-carb at the One of a Kind Show

A few weeks ago I was an artisan in the Etsy section of the Spring One of a Kind Show and Sale in Toronto. Which meant that on top of creating all of my stock, designing my booth/table setup, marketing, and packing up, I also had to prepare food for the 5 day, 11-13 hours/day sale.
This was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to go the 5 days without succumbing to the temptation of the food they sold there, which was slightly better that mall food court fare.

So, the week before the show, I started preparing food. Actually, I had been putting food aside for a while, but then I realized that maybe the Indian beet soup and Butter Chicken I had frozen into individual portions weren’t the best idea, because a) if I spilled them they would stain and b) they might leave me with garlic and onion breath, with which to meet and greet customers. Not so ideal.

Since I was going to be there for 11-13 hours most days starting at 9 or 10am, I had to figure out how I was going to eat. I decided that I’d have a second breakfast around 11 or 11:30am, and one big meal (lunch/supper) at around 3 or 4pm when things slowed down between the day folks and the evening folks. That was when I had friends come in to spell me off for a break. Other than that it would be little snacks on the spot.

For my hot meal, I had Mockeroni Cheese from the The Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet Cookbook, referred to in an earlier post, and my husbands yummy sausage stew. Sorry no photo but here is the recipe:

Sausage and Carrot Stew

  • 4 garlic sausages
  • 150 g chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1.5 tsp oregano
  • .75 tsp cumin
  • 560 ml canned tomato quarters
  • 4 tsp tomato paste
  • Parsley.
  1. Remove sausage casings, cut into rounds or chunks
  2. Fry sausages. Keep the juices, Add onion, fry a bit, add carrot fry some more.
  3. Add tomato, pepper, oregano and cumin. Cook on low heat for a bit. Season.
  4. Serve with parsley.

For snacks, I made Tamari Almonds:

I got the recipe (so my recipe database tells me) from but I can’t find the recipe there anymore (besides, I modified it), so here it is:

  • 5 cups almonds
  • 1/4 cup tamari sauce
  • dash Worchestershire sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F
  2. Mix/toss ingredients in a bowl, spread on a baking sheet with sides. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  3. Cool completely on pan and transfer to airtight container.

Yep, it’s that easy.

I also made Sunflower Cheddar Crackers, from 500 Low-Carb Recipes:

This person has posted the recipe. I do them on a baking stone, which may be why mine aren’t burnt on the bottom like theirs, or maybe I just didn’t bake them as long. Also I use a rolling pin to flatten them between 2 pieces of parchment.

Speaking of gluten-free crackers, as I was searching for the above recipe, I came across these, which I haven’t tried, but they look pretty tasty. I may have to try them in the future.

I also made myself treats: mini Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins:

On day 1, my mom came with a friend and dropped off some of Wheat Belly Cookbook’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe is similar to my modified version, but I think she adds coconut chips in there as well. Sorry, no photo!

For my second breakfast, I made Overnight Chocolate Coffee Chia Breakfast Pudding. I chose that since the days were long and I figured I could use the extra boost.

Overnight Chocolate Coffee Chia Breakfast Pudding


The recipe comes from, but I skipped the sweetener (it doesn’t need it). So it’s just:

  • ½ cup brewed coffee (chilled)
  • ½ cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  1. Blend all but chia seeds in blender.
  2. Place the blended mixture into a resealable large jar (or 2-3 smaller jars) then add chia seeds. Seal jar(s) and shake.
  3. Place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 3+ hours.

I also brought cheese slices and carrot sticks. And a lot of water. Because it was dry in there. Crazy dry. Thankfully, they had the HTO To Go water refill station there.

And that managed to get me through it without buying any food or carbing up.

As a little bonus to this entry, last weekend I was visiting friends in the country whose family raises free-range chickens for their own use. They saved all the livers and put me to work making 7 lbs of chicken livers into pâté. I took a few photos, and it was my best batch ever.

Those were all combined (along with ground ginger, salt, and cream) to make a huge vat:

vat of chicken liver pate

We divided it into jars and gave a bunch away, took some, froze some, and started eating some right then and there. As we didn’t have crackers made up, we just spread it on cucumbers and celery. Delicious.

Pork Roast, Cheese Sauce & Cookies

I know, I know, it’s been an age since I last posted. I’ve been busy with the holiday season, making and selling hats and cute things from wool for my little business.

But here’s a very quick entry. Apologies for the appalling photography.

gluten free cheese sauce

Pork roast and veggies with gluten-free cheese sauce!

We had a pork roast last night which was delicious (even the kids thought so). I tweaked this Roast Pork with Rutabagas and Apples recipe from Williams-Sonoma by eliminating the sugar/honey, and instead adding a couple of tablespoons of applesauce (since the reviewer said the amount of glaze didn’t cover the roast, I made more). Also, we didn’t have rutabagas, so I used parsnips. It was delicious. Tonight we had the leftovers, and they were just as delicious.

Also, it has come to my attention that you can make cheese sauce without flour. Gluten-free cheese sauce.  In a double boiler, add a little cream (for 3 people tonight I added about 1/4 cup – better to start with too little as you can add more later). Let it heat up, then add a bunch of grated cheese (we use old cheddar). Whisk. Let it melt. Add more cheese if it’s too thin or more cream if it’s too thick. Whisk. Melt. Serve immediately.

Nikki's Healthy Cookies - low carb version

Nikki’s Healthy Cookies – Lynn’s low carb version

Lastly, a friend sent me a link to the recipe for Nikki’s Healthy Cookies and I finally tried it. We didn’t have any oats, and I’d rather not use them, so I used a cup of sliced almonds and a cup of sunflower seeds, whizzed in the food processor to chop them up a little. Everything else I kept the same as the original recipe. They are delicious!

Tonight I didn’t have 3 bananas, so I used 2 and about 1/3 cup of some tart applesauce I’d made from some crabapples we’d picked back in August. They are also delicious. The only tweak I’d make is an attempt to dry them out a bit by adding more almond flour or a tablespoon or two of coconut flour.


I don’t have any affiliation with these folks, but what they have filmed so far looks interesting and I always feel like it would be great to get the word out on sugar and what it’s doing to us. If you feel the same, go on over and take a look at Carb-Loaded, and consider giving to their kickstarter fund to help them out. Only a few days left (sorry about the short notice, we’ve been out of town camping in wonderful parks in Ontario).



low-carb drink: refreshing mint water
Apologies for the theme change. The old one started not working on me, so I made a quick switch to this one. Onward…

A big quandary for people who don’t do sugar is: what to drink? No soft drinks, no juice (sure, fruit is okay, but not without the fibre), no milk (for me, anyway), and I never drank tea or coffee with sugar (okay, I did drink tea with sugar when I was a teen). Oh, and I’ve cut out all alcohol since it feeds my insomnia, and I value my sleep too dearly to knowingly throw a wrench into those works.

We drink a lot of water. And I am a bit of a coffee addict. Only 2 cups a day, but I have to have those 2 cups. With almond milk. And sometimes full cream. And the best is when I’m with my friends who get raw cream. Serious yum.

Of course water gets tedious. My husband, who is English, is happy drinking endless cups of tea (with almond milk), but the rest of us (who don’t drink endless cups of tea) get tired of water. So we mix it up a little, especially in summertime. Lemon water is a no brainer, and club soda, plain, or with a slice of citrus, but we also get out in the garden and pick mint to add to our water pitcher (and also make hot tea with it). It lasts a couple of days and is truly refreshing, not to mention lovely to look at (see above right).

low-carb drink: refreshing cucumber waterA spa favourite is cucumber water. We happened to get a ton of cucumber in the past few weeks in our CSA (community supported agriculture from Plan B Organic Farms) share, so I thought it would be a nice change, and help me to feel a little pampered in my own home. Plus, you have a delicious crunchy snack at the end.

Now that summer is nearly upon us (or, you know, upon us one minute and gone the next), I keep thinking of iced tea. We have always been fine with drinking iced tea without sweetener, so this is perfect for us. But I don’t particularly like my kids to be downing tons of caffeine, so I have to pick up some rooibos tisane (the Englishman has been very clear on the fact that if it doesn’t come from the tea plant, it is not tea, it is a tisane), which the guys will happily drink interchangeably with real tea. Add a few sliced lemons to a pitcher full and it’s delicious. A café I worked in during my university years used to use orange slices (and juice) which the guys might like as well.

low-carb drink: cold fruit tisaneA favourite of my kids, which came from a friend who also avoids sugar is to make a fruity tisane and let it cool and then refrigerate it. However, this one is tricksy for those expecting it to taste like it smells… folks who don’t know it’s just herbal tea (okay, okay, tisane!) think it’s going to be sweet. But my guys know what to expect and it’s a nice change for them. Our friend also came up with the brilliant idea of reusing glass milk bottles for this purpose. She had brought over the bottle (right) one day with some sort of cold berry tisane in it, which she was using with her kids to wean them off juice. (We also do use the lovely glass milk bottles with our homemade almond milk, which is a little confusing for folks visiting. Sorry, folks!)

Do you have any favourite sweetener-free low-carb beverages you enjoy and want to pass along?