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FitMenCook
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My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is truly a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and enjoying adequate exercise. By experimenting in the kitchen and openly sharing my meals, I learned that healthy eating is hardly boring and that by making a few adjustments, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my personal fitness goals. Our bodies are built in the kitchen and sculpted in the gym.
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This is a remixed version of an older Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie recipe.  Following a lower carbohydrate diet doesn’t necessarily mean you hav eto give up the food you enjoy; rather, you just need to be more creative and thoughtful when it comes to preparing them.  Here, I’ve swapped potatoes with cauliflower and removed the black beans without compromising the flavor, or the hearty, warm feeling you get when you eat shepherd’s pie.

Note: I use ground lamb in this recipe since original recipes include lamb, AND so that I can easily tweak this meal for my ketogenic diet; however, lamb is not required.  If you are following a lower fat diet, then feel free to use a leaner ground meat.

I purchased all of the ingredients from my local Kroger grocery store.

 

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • Top:
    • 25oz (708g) raw cauliflower florets
    • 7oz 2% Greek yogurt (swap with coconut cream for non-dairy alternative)
    • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Filling:
    • 1 lb Private Selection ground lamb (or use lean ground turkey or beef for more than 50% reduction in fat calories, or use veggie ground if vegan)
    • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon garlic
    • 1/3 cup diced red onion
    • 1 green bell pepper, diced
    • 1 cup frozen peas, carrots and corn
    • 2 tablespoons Simple Truth BBQ sauce
    • 2 tablespoons Kroger spicy brown mustard
    • 2 tablespoons no salt tomato sauce
  • Seasonings:
    • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Garnish
    • spray butter or olive oil to brown the top of the shepherd’s pie

 

Steps:

  1. Set oven to 400F.
  2. Add water to pot with a steamer basket, then bring it to a simmer. Add raw cauliflower to the steamer basket. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower can be easily pierced with a fork.  Remove the cauliflower from the basket and let it cool.
  3. In a large bowl, mash the cauliflower using a fork or potato masher, then add Greek yogurt and garlic powder.  Mix it up using a spatula, then season to taste with sea salt & pepper.
  4. Set a nonstick skillet on medium heat, then add olive garlic, bell pepper and red onion.  Cook for about 3 minutes until the red onion turns brown and be careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add lamb to the skillet, then chop and mix it up using a wooden spatula. Cook for about a minute, then toss in the seasonings.  Cook for about 2 minutes, continually chopping and stirring the meat.
  6. Then, add BBQ sauce, mustard and no salt tomato sauce.  Mix it up.  Add the frozen vegetables and cook for about 2 minutes.
  7. Add the mixture to mini-baking tins or to medium-size baking dish. Top the mixture with the cauliflower mash, then garnish the top with pepper and/or spray butter or olive oil if desired.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 400F.

Approximate macros for 1 of 4 servings:

446 calories, 29g protein, 20g carbs, 26g fat, 5g fiber, 10g sugar

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Growing up in the south, and having parents from Louisiana and South Carolina, it’s safe to say that I’ve had my fair share of good comfort food.  I look forward to my mother’s gumbo EVERY Christmas – just the thought of cajun spices, savory broth and seafood with spicy sausage just makes my mouth water.  I was pretty upset when I learned that I’d have to give up so many of the foods that I loved as a kid.  It wasn’t fair!

I always thought that it didn’t make sense that God would bless us with these amazing foods on earth and then say we couldn’t enjoy it.

I was right.  It was all about preparation and portion control.  So with that I set out on transforming some of my favorite foods to be more calorie conscious so that they could better support my wellness goals.

Here’s one of those recipes that I was able to transform and enjoy all year long!  It’s easy to customize for your goals and is actually keto-friendly.

You can easily find all of these ingredients at your local Kroger grocery store (also, check out their affiliate stores including Ralph’s, Fred Meyer and Fry’s).

Ingredients for 5 servings:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1.5 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1lb chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 8oz smoked turkey sausage, cut into chunks
  • 8oz jumbo raw shrimp (peeled, deveined)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in quarters (about 8-10 tomatoes)
  • 8oz tomato sauce (no salt if available)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups raw cauliflower rice (you can purchase this already made or make your own – see my note below)
  • Seasonings
  • Garnish
    • Green onions, thinly sliced

 

Steps:

  1. Prepare the cauliflower rice by placing raw cauliflower florets in a food processor or blender.  Pulse blend until the cauliflower has a rice-like texture. Careful not to over do it so that the cauliflower becomes minced.
    • Pro-tip:  Cauliflower has a LOT of water and often times it can make recipes “soupy.” Empty the cauliflower contents onto a cheesecloth and wrap it up like a ball. Squeeze the ball of cauliflower in order to get out all of the water. Once you squeeze out the most amount of water as possible, empty the contents onto another dry piece of cheesecloth and repeat. After squeezing the second time, I like to spread the cauliflower out on a paper towel and let it air dry for at least 20 minutes so that it can be as dry as possible.
  2. Set a large nonstick skillet on medium high heat and add olive oil, garlic and red onions.  Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the onion to brown.  Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
  3. Add the chicken and turkey sausage and cook until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes
  4. Add bell pepper, celery and cherry tomatoes.  Stir.  Then, add tomato sauce and the seasonings.  Stir and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Fold in the cauliflower rice and the raw shrimp.  Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Pour in the chicken broth, tomato paste and the bay leaves. Add a few pinches of sea salt and pepper, then stir it up.  Reduce the heat to medium and cover.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Uncover, then remove the skillet from the heat, stir it up and allow the jambalaya to “breathe” and thicken.  Season to taste with sea salt and pepper, then garnish with green onions.

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 5 servings:

323 calories, 17g carbohydrates, 13g fat, 34g protein, 3g fiber, 8g sugar

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Here’s a recipe that was inspired by my recent trip to Israel.  I don’t think the recipe had an exact name but it was merely zucchini that had been hollowed out, then stuffed with veggies and rice that were wrapped in a grape leaf.  Then the zucchini was dropped in a pot of broth with tomatoes and boiled for about an hour.

hollowed zucchini   hollowed zucchini
Photo credit: Vibe Israel

As you can see from the pics, what I did in Israel was MUCH more intricate than the abbreviated and altered version here – that’s why I call it an inspiration!  It reminded me that zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables that can often serve as an easy substitute for starchy vegetables (like potatoes) and grains.

I used leftover ingredients to bring it together and kept my version low-carb.  However, I encourage you to make the recipe your own so that it fits your budget and wellness needs.  It can be as lean or hearty as you would like! For instance, add in brown rice or quinoa for a flavor boost as well as dose of complex carbohydrates!

Check out the recipe below!  And if you’re interested, be sure to watch 2-part Israel vlogs!

vibe-israel-yt-thumbnail-v1

 

Ingredients for 6 stuffed zucchini boats:

  • 12oz (85% lean) ground bison (I used Simple Truth ground bison, found in Kroger and its affiliated stores)
  • 3 large zucchinis
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped/minced garlic
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup no salt tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan (or reduced fat if preferred for your diet)
  • Seasonings:
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
    • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
    • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • spray olive oil
  • Optional Garnish:
    • Greek yogurt
    • green onion

 

Steps:

  1. Set oven to 375F.
  2. Chop the ends off the zucchini, then scrape out the inside where the seeds are using a spoon.
  3. Set a nonstick skillet on medium heat and spray with olive oil.  Add garlic and red onions and cook until the red onion turns brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic in the process.
  4. Add the ground bison to the skillet and begin to chop it up in the pan using a spatula.  Then add the seasonings. Chop and cook until there are no more visible pink (raw) pieces of meat.
  5. Add the tomato sauce and stir together.  Season to taste with sea salt & pepper, then reduce the heat.
  6. Place the zucchini boats in a baking dish, add about 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture inside the hollow portions of each zucchini boat.  Then top each boat with about 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan.
  7. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 375F.
  8. Garnish if you would like and enjoy!

 

Approximate macros 1 of 6 boats:

200 calories, 17g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 12g fats, 2g fiber, 5g sugar

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This year has come and gone and we have already arrived at the “SuperBowl” of cooking – Thanksgiving.

Many people have a lot of angst around this time of year because we while we want to enjoy our favorite, family indulgent recipes, we don’t want our enjoyment to totally derail our healthy eating efforts.

But you don’t have to! It’s fine to enjoy and then get right back on track!

Here are 5 easy ideas to help you salvage SOME of your Thanksgiving food so you can reduce food waste.

Calories and macronutrients will need to be calculated by you.  Since recipes for foods will vary by household, I just want to share some ideas that may help you take some of the food and re-package it in a much more calorie-conscious way.

I got all of the ingredients from my local Kroger grocery store so the additional items you will need for the recipes should be easy to find.

WATCH THE VIDEO for context and to answer any recipe preparation questions.


 

MASHED POTATO WAFFLE

mashed potato waffle

Leftover ingredient: Mashed Potatoes
gallery-1453311614-delish-greek-yogurt-mashed-potatoes-recipe

 

Extra Ingredients needed:

  • egg (or egg white)
  • green onion
  • reduced fat cheddar (optional)
  • spray coconut or olive oil

 

EGG WHITE FRITTATA

egg white frittata

Leftover ingredient: Stuffing
o-vegetarian-stuffing-facebook

 

Extra Ingredients needed:

  • minced garlic
  • diced onion
  • egg whites
  • reduced fat mozzarella
  • leftover kale
  • leftover red bell pepper
  • spray olive oil or coconut oil

 

SWEET POTATO SALMON CAKE

salmon sweet potato cakes

Leftover ingredient: Sweet Potato Pie (or mashed sweet potatoes)
sweet-potato-pie_19413

 

Extra Ingredients needed:

 

NO-MAYO CURRY TURKEY SALAD

no may curry turkey salad

Leftover ingredient: Turkey
imgres

 

Extra Ingredients needed:

  • avocado
  • curry
  • fresh tarragon
  • fresh rosemary (small amount)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
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Whether you’re binge watching your favorite Internet shows or preparing appetizers for a dinner party, these cauliflower pizza bites are a sure winner.  I came up with the recipe while thinking about two of my favorite foods –  pizza and potato chips.

I wanted to create pizza “chips.”  After trying out different combinations of seasonings for homemade potato chips, it occurred to me that I should just create mini-pizzas about the size of potato chips.  This would also solve the flimsy cauliflower pizza crust problem, whereby it’s often hard to pick up and hold like a regular pizza.

Problem solved.  And so was my hunger.  Oh yeah – it’s definitely calorie conscious so enjoy even more.

 

Ingredients for 6 pizza bites:

  • Crust:
    • 285g cauliflower florets (cut from a medium head of cauliflower)
    • 1 egg white
    • 1/3 cup reduced fat shredded parmesan
    • 3 tablespoons almond flour
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder (or flakes)
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Homemade sauce:
    • 2/3 cup tomato sauce (no salt)
    • 3/4 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
    • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
    • sea salt & pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella

 

Steps:

  1. Set oven to 400F.
  2. Place cauliflower florets in a food processor or blender.  Pulse blend until the cauliflower is fine like quinoa.
  3. Empty the cauliflower contents onto a cheesecloth and wrap it up like a ball.  Squeeze the ball of cauliflower in order to get out all of the water.  Once you squeeze out the most amount of water as possible, empty the contents onto another dry piece of cheesecloth and repeat.  After squeezing the second time, I like to spread the cauliflower out on a paper towel and let it air dry for at least 20 minutes so that it can be as dry as possible.
  4. In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the crust.
  5. Spray a muffin mold with cooking spray or olive oil, then add about 1.5 tablespoon of the cauliflower mixture to each mold.  Use your fingers to pat the cauliflower down in the molds, then use your thumb or index finger to create a mini-indenture in the middle of the cauliflower crust to resemble a deep dish pizza.
  6. Bake the crust in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. While that’s baking, prepare a homemade pizza sauce.  To save time, you can use a store bought marinara.
  8. Set a nonstick skillet on medium heat, then add olive oil and minced garlic.  Cook the garlic in the oil for about 3 minutes to allow it to flavor the oil.  Then, toss in cherry tomatoes and increase to medium-high heat.  Cook the tomatoes for about 4 to 5 minutes so that the tomatoes get soft and explode in the skillet and it begins to resemble tomato sauce/paste.
  9. Add Italian seasoning to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute, then toss in tomato sauce.  Stir it up and season to taste with sea salt & pepper.
  10. Remove the crust from the oven and ensure the edges are golden brown that it’s not soggy to touch.  Add about 1 teaspoon of the homemade sauce to each mold – do NOT drench the crust in sauce as it will make the pizza soggy.
  11. Add a tablespoon of mozzarella to each pizza, then place the mini-pizzas back in the oven to bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.
  12. After removing them from the oven, allow them to slightly cool so they are easier to remove from the molds, then immediately garnish with basil (if desired) and enjoy.

Approximate macros for 1 of 6 pizza bites:

104 calories, 6g carbohydrates, 7g fat, 7g protein, 2g fiber, 3g sugar

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Just in time for the holidays! Here’s a delicious, Southern-inspired comfort food treat for your family get-together or your weekly meal prep.  Keep in mind that some of the ingredients below are optional – that’s just me trying to add a little something “extra” for the holiday.  With that in mind, make this recipe your own but definitely try to keep it on the “lighter” side!

Ingredients for 12 muffins:

  • Dry
    • 1 1/2 cup oat flour (or whole wheat flour)
    • 1/2 cup cornmeal
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or raw sugar or Stevia)
  • Wet
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Extras
    • 246g mashed sweet potato (roughly a medium-sized sweet potato)
    • 4 slices turkey or center-cut pork bacon (nitrate-free, uncured)
    • 1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese**
    • 1/3 cup chopped green onion**
    • 1 chopped jalapeño (seeds removed)**

 

Steps:

  1. Peel a raw sweet potato and chop it into large pieces.  In a small pot add about 2 inches of water and bring it to a simmer.  Add the raw chunks of sweet potato to a steamer (or metal) basket and steam the sweet potato until soft.  Alternatively, you can bake a medium sweet potato then peel it.
  2. Mash the cooked sweet potato with a fork and set it aside.
  3. Cook your choice of bacon
  4. Mix together all of the dry ingredients into a bowl using a fork.
  5. In a separate larger bowl, beat together the wet ingredients.  Slowly stir in the dry ingredients using a spatula.  Then, fold in any of the “extra” ingredients using a spatula.  Ensure the batter is completely mixed but be careful not to over-mix the ingredients.
  6. Spray a muffin mold with cooking spray or coconut oil, then evenly divide the mixture among the molds.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes at 400F or until you can pierce the muffins with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 12 muffins (using turkey bacon and cheddar):

178 calories, 22g carbohydrates, 7g fat, 7g protein, 2.5g fiber, 5g sugar

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November is Diabetes Awareness month so there is a lot of focus on lower carbohydrate and low-glycemic recipes.  Incidentally, this is a pretty timely post because I’ve been meaning to address a number of requests for lower-carb recipes and I wanted to tackle a very common breakfast recipe that tends to be higher in carbohydrates – pancakes.

Don’t believe the hype!  You can still enjoy flavorful food without some of the ingredients that tend to enhance food flavor and texture.

This recipe is a great “base” recipe for others that may require making substitutions because of dietary restrictions.  Check out my notes below and watch the video for a full explanation.

Enjoy!

 

OAN, I’m really digging the Copper Pan in this video! Easiest cooking surface I’ve used to date.  All I did was wipe it clean with a paper towel.  I picked mine up from Kohls – definitely would add this to a Fit Cook’s Christmas Gift List.

 

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • Wet
    • 4 egg whites
      • Substitutes: whole eggs or milled flax seed (vegan option)
    • 1/3 cup coconut cream
      • Substitutes: Greek yogurt, heavy cream (dairy option) or almond butter with a little almond milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dry
    • 1/3 cup coconut flour
      • Substitutes: fine almond flour 
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 packet (1g) Stevia in the raw
      • Substitutes: raw sugar, raw honey
  • Garnish
    • low-calorie (sugar-free) maple syrup
    • cinnamon to taste

 

Steps:

  1. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Tip for fluffy pancakes: In a separate bowl, beat egg whites (or eggs) with a pinch of sea salt until they are fluffy and almost appears like a foam.  This will likely take about 5 or 6 minutes if doing it by hand (but the upside is you’ll burn some calories in the process).
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and nix together.  Then add the coconut cream and vanilla extract.  Mix together.  If you find that the mixture is too thick, then simply add tablespoons of coconut cream to the mixture until it is thinner.  Note: a mixed coconut flour batter will always appear a little thicker than an all-purpose flour mixture.
  4. Set a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat and spray with coconut oil (or preferred cooking spray).
  5. Once the skillet is hot, add 1 tablespoon of batter (per pancake) to the skillet, then cover and cook for 1 minute.  After about 1 minute, flip the pancake using a spatula and cover and cook for an additional 45 seconds.
  6. Repeat until all the batter is gone.

 

Approximate macros for 1 serving (without cinnamon):

349 calories, 23g carbs, 17g fat, 19g protein, 13g fiber, 5g sugar

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In 2016, I want to continually challenge you to make choices that will push you closer to your fitness and wellness goals. Whether you’re advanced or a beginner to healthy eating and living, there’s something here for you.

Print this calendar out and place it on your fridge or wherever you need a reminder! In fact, you can even schedule reminders on your phone for each day’s challenge(s).

The more you put in, the more you get out. It’s simple!

RULES

Just do what it says on the calendar, take a pic (for proof that you completed the day’s activity), share the pic on any social media platform (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and tag #FitMenCook!  This is even more enjoyable when you can do this with friends and family so be sure to invite them to participate with you.

ENGLISH
screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-10-01-27-pm

Here is the link to the NO-Sugar Challenge for details…

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ESPAÑOL
screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-10-06-48-pm

Aquí está el enlace a página sobre el Reto 5-Días sin Azúcar que mencioné en el calendario.

 

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Tis’ the season of calorie-conscious comfort food and tailgating for football and luckily, I picked up the perfect tool for both.  Recently, I picked up the amazing panini/grill skillet from Kohl’s to test out and I haven’t put it down since.

I love it.  It adds grill marks to just about anything, so you lock in flavor and make all your food even more appetizing.  Plus, I like that you can also toss it on your grill while tailgating for a smoky or BBQ inspired treat.

caprese panini kohlsPlaying around with it, I got inspired to make a “grilled cheese” but with a small twist.  I used basil, tomato and balsamic glaze to give it my own twist on a Caprese salad; and, I used lite safflower mayo instead of butter to make the outer part evenly “creamy and crispy” with each bite.  Try it!

 

Ingredients for 1 caprese panini:

  • 1 100-calorie wheat bun
  • 3oz choice of protein (I used about 3 slices of prosciutto and trimmed fat from edges to save a few calories)
  • 2 thin sliced tomatoes (dried on a paper towel to remove excess water)
  • 1.5 oz reduced fat mozzarella
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
  • 1 teaspoon safflower mayo

Utensils: Panini skillet/grill

Steps:

  1. Assemble the sandwich with protein, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and balsamic glaze.
  2. Place the skillet on medium high heat and spray it with olive oil.
  3. Spread half of the mayo on one side of the sandwich.
  4. When the skillet is hot, place the sandwich on the grill with the mayo side down (so it’s cooking).  Allow it to cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until it is golden brown.  Press down on the sandwich using the panini grill lid.
  5. Spread mayo on the other side of the sandwich, and when ready, flip the sandwich over so the other side cooks (roughly same amount of time, maybe a little less time).
  6. Remove the sandwich from the grill and enjoy!

 

Approximate macros for 1 serving:

368 calories, 32g protein, 24g carbs, 19g fat, 2g fiber, 3g sugar

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Without a doubt, this is my favorite post-workout treat because the carbs help replenish the glycogen stores from training and tearing down the muscles, but in a MUCH more delicious way.

The maple syrup is sugar-free, but if you can handle it and prefer it, you can use real maple syrup or honey, careful not to go overboard since ripe plantains are already rich in natural sugars.

But, you can also eliminate the maple altogether if preferred because the cinnamon and coconut oil pair beautifully in this recipe to satisfy that post-workout tooth.

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 3 ripe plantains (or about 3 cups chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt (to taste)

 

Steps:

  1. Cut the stems off a ripe plantain and peel it. Slice it into small pieces.
  2. Add coconut oil to a nonstick skillet and set it on low-medium heat.  Once the skillet is hot, toss in the plantain pieces.
  3. Cover and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes on low-medium heat, careful not to let the plantains burn.
  4. Flip the plantains, then let them cook for another 3 minutes (covered or uncovered).
  5. Add sugar-free maple syrup (if desired), then sprinkle on some cinnamon.  Mix the plantain pieces together using a spatula to ensure they are all evenly coated.
  6. Let the plantains slightly cool, then enjoy!  Sprinkle a little sea salt on top for a little “sweet & salty” action.

 

Approximate macros for 1 of 6 servings (UPDATED 12/13/16):

182 calories, 28g carbs, 10g fat, 1g protein, 2g fiber, 12g sugar