Minestrone soup with barley, in your pressure cooker or Instant Pot

This gutsy, flavorful soup is full of good stuff, and nothing bad. It has whole grains, plenty of vegetables, low in sodium with no added salt, low in fat, high in fiber. Try it once and you may never eat canned minestrone soup, ever again. Leftovers taste even better the next day, after the barley has had the chance to sit awhile, giving the broth a lot more body.

  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 quarts unsalted chicken or vegetable stock (divided)
  • 1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 tsp Mrs Dash Italian blend
  • 2 tsp smoked, sweet paprika (not regular paprika and not the hot stuff)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 4 large spoons jarred chopped garlic, packed in water (or 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped)
  • 3-4 carrots peeled and sliced thick
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini cut up
  • 20 green beans, cut up
  • 1 medium turnip or 2-3 small turnips, cut up
  • 1-2 handfuls frozen corn
  • 2 cups fresh kale or turnip greens, torn into small pieces (don't use the center stems)
  • 2 cans beans, any type, no salt added
  1. Combine all above ingredients, in order, except canned beans and 1 quart of the chicken stock, cover and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, then quick release the pressure.
  2. Empty contents of your pressure cooker into a larger pot, on the stovetop, and add the remaining quart of chicken stock.
  3. Rinse canned beans well and stir in.
  4. Heat till soup reaches serving temperature.
Serve with grated cheese (optional) and a good crusty bread.

Makes about 7 quarts. Feeds about 6-8 people.

Cabbage and Vegetable Stir Fry, with Beef

This is a recipe of my husband's creation. He calls it a stir fry, but there isn't much stirring that is going to happen till it cooks down quite a bit. It's low calorie, low carb, low fat, and low sodium.

It does have some Pinot Grigio wine in it,but not very much. The purpose of the wine is for a bit of flavor, but not enough to give it a wine taste. It helps make up for the missing salt in this recipe.

You are going to need a really big stir fry pan, or maybe it would be better to cook it in a large pot, if you don't have a stir fry pan big enough.

If you decide to go with the stir fry pan, you'll need one that is at least 14", and a lid to fit it. This is the pan I have, and this pizza pan is what I use as a lid.

You'll also need a spiral cutter. This one is quite sturdy and doesn't have the issues that some cheaper ones have, with the steel teeth breaking off and ending up in your food. So, for safety's sake, whatever spiral cutter you get, make sure it's of good quality.

  • 1 to 1.5 LBS lean beef round strips
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large, fat carrot, peeled and spiral cut.
  • 1 zucchini, spiral cut with the skin on
  • 1 yellow squash, spiral cut with the skin on
  • 1 large Spanish onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 TBS minced garlic
  • 2 small cans mushrooms, stems and pieces, no salt added, undrained
  • 1 whole cabbage, about 2 to 3 LBS, shredded
  • 2 TBS Pinot Grigio wine (Not cooking wine. Use the real thing!)
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 2 TBS dried basil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

  1. Brown the beef strips in the olive oil.
  2. Add the spiral cut carrot and stir fry to soften them a bit.
  3. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, onion, celery, red & green peppers, garlic, and cabbage, in that order, building a huge mountain in your pan. (see before photo, above)
  4. If there is room, add the 2 cans of mushrooms, liquid and all. If there is no room, just add the liquid and set the mushrooms aside.
  5. Add the wine.
  6. Cook over medium flame till the cabbage cooks down enough to put the lid on.
  7. Continue to cook for about 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and onion powder. (and the mushrooms, if you didn't add them before)
  9. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

This can be served over rice, if you are not on a low carb diet.

Makes about 6-8 servings, about 2 cups each.
About 180 calories per serving, without rice
About 390 calories per serving, with 1/2 cup rice.

Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

My whole family loves spicy breakfast sausage, but finding a brand that isn't loaded with excessive amounts of salt, seems to be an impossible endeavor. So, I decided to make my own, using ground turkey and a blend of herbs and spices, inspired from multiple recipe sources. The result was this healthy recipe, containing no added salt or sugar, that doesn't skimp on the flavor. It's perfect for a Sunday morning breakfast, or make in bulk to freeze, for a quick heat & serve protein addition to your morning meal.

  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 1/8 ground nutmeg
  • 1 lb ground turkey (do not use 100% turkey breast or it will come out very dry tasting)
  1. Place herbs and spices into a spice grinder or dedicated coffee grinder, and grind into a fine powder.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey and herb/spice blend and mix well.
  3. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, for full flavor to develop.
  4. Form into 2 oz patties. (use a scale)
  5. In a 10" non-stick frying pan, cook 3-4 at a time, slowly, over low flame, till well browned and cooked all the way through.
  6. Serve immediately. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Yield: (8) 2oz patties

Nutrition info:

Serving size: (1) 2oz patty
  • Calories:  86
  • Fat: 4.1g
  •   Saturated fat: 1.3g
  • Cholesterol: 40mg
  • Sodium: 43.3mg
  • Carbs: 1g
  •   Fiber: 0.4g
  •   Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 11.2g