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What is ApoE4? Why You Should Be Tested – A Quick Primer on Paleo for the Confused Fat Consumer

To Paleo or not to Paleo? That is the question.

If you are ApoE 3/4 or 4/4 that is not a question at all, you do not process lipids well – lipids are fats.

Approximately 25-30% of the population have the ApoE4 variant. If you do, you are at a higher risk for Cardio Vascular Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and more. Find out if you have this gene though lab testing…do it! You CAN fight your genes and win if you start the fight before it is too late. Get tested. Don’t know where to start? Talk to a health professional familiar with genetic testing and get it done. Here is a link to one lab that performs the tests required to get the ApoE4 answer. There are other labs out there, this is just a sample to help you get on the info track.

The diet data studies are in for us 4’s; low-fat, good-carb, is the only way for us to control our lipid profile. The Journal of Nutrition study looks at the ApoE genotype interaction with quantity and quality of dietary fat consumed.  The Journal of Lipid Research study looks at how the ApoE genotype modulates the LDL cholesterol-lowering response to a diet. Both determine lower fat intake in ApoE4 affected people is paramount in optimizing lipid profiles. More data is out there, please do some Googling!

Paleoists, I am not trying to “harsh your mello”, but I would like you to stop trying to convince EVERYONE that eating saturated fats as a method of weight reduction is safe. I don’t want my fellow 4’s, which could potentially include you, the Paleoista, to be killing themselves slowly.

“If we view the population as a statistical whole, switching from an unhealthy diet to a clean Paleo diet even if it is high in SFAs in average lowers the risk for CVD. Unfortunately, if we break down the numbers according to APOE status, this remains only true for those of us that don’t carry the APOE4 gene.

For carriers of the APOE4 gene consuming saturated fatty acids can substantially raise the risk of CVD

Unfortunately, the wider Paleo community has not yet realized this important fact and still promotes the consumption of SFAs to everyone, potentially putting people in harm’s way.”

Everyone should monitor their lipids. A full cholesterol profile is a must to determine if your food consumption is producing positive health results. Optimal eating habits should be the goal. So many factors are involved and cannot be addressed in one short blog post, but to sum up, genetic testing, lipid testing, and macro balancing are key:

“With all general guidelines and medical research on APOE4 and nutrition, we should keep in mind that the reaction of our metabolism to dietary changes is highly individual. Determining the right balance of macro nutrients, especially balancing MUFAs and carbohydrates for an optimal cholesterol profile requires individual experimentation and frequent retesting”

Read the full article quoted above here.

Please note that losing weight on a Paleo diet, low blood pressure, low BMI, and or being “buff”, is NOT an indicator you are non-ApoE4, or that your vascular system is healthy. FYI -“Grass fed” is not a blanket insurance policy for clean arteries.

I am thrilled if Paleo works for you non-4’s, but please have your lipid profile done anyway. Sometimes even good genes cannot combat a bad lipid profile.

Confusion now cleared, we low-fatters can get down to the serious business of modulating our intake of fats and cholesterol.

No diet is “one-size-fits-all”. Food can be medicine or it can hasten an untimely demise. Choose your menu carefully: do your research – read, read, read, employ balance, stay away from fad diets, make healthy eating choices a lifestyle you can live with while on this earth. Do 20 minutes of exercise at least 3 days a week, more is better.

All the best for a Happy New Year, my peeps! Make 2017 your healthiest year ever!

Epicuriously yours,


The Fat Free Gourmet


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The Fat Free Gourmet’s Zucchini and Corn Flakes — or How big is too big?

Fat Free Zucchini and Corn Flakes with Fat-Free Ranch Dressing

Fat Free Zucchini and Corn Flakes with Fat-Free Ranch Dressing

A fat-free recipe for medium garden grown zucchini, 
or other vegetable of your heart’s desire!

Ahhh zucchini.

You can stuff them, steam them, sauté them, even eat them raw! They are a low-calorie vegetable that will take on the flavor, be it sweet or savory, of whatever you choose to mix with them.

Garden grown zucchini present a special challenge…size – it really does matter.

Young tender 6 to 7-inch zucchini squash are perfect for steaming or sauté, 8 to 10-inch are great for stuffing. If you allow them to grow  larger, they become a problem: the skin is tough, the flavor is strong, and they tend to be a little bitter. Typically, zucchini larger than 10 inches go to what I call, “grated recipe” status; I use them in breads, fritters, cookies, salads. But, oh those seeds, what to do with them, they definitely must go!

This year’s garden provided an overabundance of larger zucchini nearing the end of the growing season due to my waning  attention. With a glass of Moscato wine in one hand, and a 14-inch long zucchini in the other, I decided to do something daring…

I laid it on the counter. There it was, in front me, about 2 inches in diameter. What to do with it? I grabbed my knife and hesitantly sliced it in half. (Now, here is where it gets tricky: how big are the darn seeds?!) Hmmm, I inspected. This one had smallish seeds, and so I finished the slicing of it.  I continued into ½ inch thick round slices. Not holding anything back, I spontaneously moved forward with a recipe I had been flirting with for quite some time!

You don’t really need a certain sized zucchini for this recipe, not a giant, smaller is better. Suffice it to say, my 14-incher turned out cravingly well even though it was a slightly larger sized zucchini than I would have normally chosen to use.

Here comes the fun part of this recipe: the tweaks! Those fun creative touches that will make this recipe your own. I am all about experimenting and trying new things! Looking forward to hearing what tweaks you did and the results. Try some of these and create a cravable new favorite!

  • Use any sized zucchini except a giant, and cut it into any shape you like, you may have to adjust cooking time for smaller or larger sized pieces.
  • Use any vegetable you like, simply adjust the cooking time for the density of the vegetable. For instance, potatoes and cauliflower may take a little longer cooking time to achieve the desired tenderness.
  • Serve as an appetizer, a side to your favorite main dish, or as a main dish if you are doing vegetarian.
  • Change up the ethnicity! Add different spices to the egg or the breading mix, your choice, let you imagination go wild! (I like to season both mixtures to give ‘two layers of flavor”.)
  • Serve with a sauce and garnish! Fat-Free Ginger Sesame Dressing (Lighthouse Sesame Ginger Dressing is one of my favorite!) or a few dashes of soy sauce for Asian; with fat-free pasta sauce for Italian, with traditional fat-free Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing for game day festivities, or make up your own low-fat or fat-free sauce! You can even top them with a few sprinkles of fat-free cheese for the last minute of baking in the oven. Pictured are Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce, a dollop of spicy mustard, and sprinkle of cilantro; also pictured with fat-free ranch or blue cheese dressing.
  • Marinate the zucchini before you bread them for another layer of flavor. A 20 minute soak in your favorite marinade would do the trick. How about soy sauce mixed with seasoned rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, or perhaps balsamic vinegar with a dash of garlic. Dill pickle juice for that “fried pickle” flavor!

Here’s the basic recipe:

1 14-inch long by 2 inch in diameter zucchini, cut ½ inch in thickness, or equivalent vegetable, cut accordingly

1 ½ cups fat-free egg substitute
1 teaspoon onion powder

1 ½ cups Kellogg’s Corn Flake Crumbs or finely crushed (see photos) corn flakes
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Salt to taste
(add 1 tablespoon of grated low-fat parmesan topping to this mixture if desired)

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, then spray with a light coating of fat-free cooking spray. Set aside.
Cut vegetables, set aside.
In a shallow bowl mix together egg substitute and onion powder, set aside.

Egg wash for Fat-Free Baked Zucchini and Corn Flakes

Beaten egg and onion powder. Add other spices to the wash for an extra layer of flavor!

In another shallow bowl mix together the last four ingredients, set aside.

Corn flake dredge

Corn flake breading mixture…yum!

Set up your breading prep area; from right to left or left to right whichever is most comfortable for you. Set up in a line with vegetables first, egg mixture second, corn flake crumb mixture, then baking pan. First dip vegetables into the egg mix using only your left or right hand, next into the corn flakes using the opposite hand, then place onto baking sheet. This method is the best way to keep your hands from getting “breaded”!

Prep area set up

Set up for prep area, start from the side most comfortable for you.

Zucchini in pan ready to bake.

Ready to bake!

Bake for 30 minutes or until desired color is reached, and vegetables are fork tender. Serve warm. Serves 6.

Baked corn flake encrusted zucchini fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

Can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave.

(Yum, I just devoured some of the photo shoot left-overs from yesterday!)

Serve with the sauce and garnish of your choice.


Nutritional Data
6 servings, zucchini only, no garnish or sauce
Amount per serving:

Calories 127.8
Total Fat 0.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 282.9 mg
Potassium 321.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 24.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Sugars 3.5 g
Protein 8.6 g


Fat-Free baked corn flake encrusted zucchini with Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce and hot mustard.

Fat-free baked corn flake encrusted zucchini with Mae Ploy Sweet Chili sauce and spicy mustard.

Let me know how your “tweaks” turned out! Leave your comments below or on any of my social media haunts! I welcome everyone to share their ideas and results!

Hope you and yours are looking forward to a loving holiday season! I will be publishing the “Pumpkin Spice Latte Gelato” recipe soon, so be on the lookout!



Epicuriously yours,

Eliminate the excess – eat to live! ❤

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Quick and Easy Super Yummy Fat-Free Yuletide Eggnog

ff eggnog

Serve this delicious nog with a spice dusting of your choosing: pumpkin pie spice blend, apple pie spice blend or just good ol’ freshly ground nutmeg…a dollop of fat-free whipped cream, or even a few mini-marshmallows…or all of them if you are feeling it! This fat-free eggnog will blend well with your favorite spirits or a shot or two of espresso for a yummy Eggnog Latte!


1/2  gallon fat-free milk

2 small packages  (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix, sugar-free or regular, French Vanilla flavor works well

1 tablespoon Brandy extract

1 tablespoon Rum extract

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, freshly grated or pre-ground

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)


Add all ingredients into a large pitcher. Whisk together or blend with immersion blender or hand  mixer until  incorporated. Chill and serve.

Happy Holidays and enjoy! ❤

ff eggnog latte

Epicuriously to you,



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Your Health Cocktail – What Are You Drinking?

bandaid heart

We all have a mix, a cocktail if you will, that got us to where we are, our own personal brew that makes up our health profile. “Yeah, right, life is like a cocktail!” you’re saying to yourself. Just stay with me here. your life to a Tequila Sunrise, a mixed drink made of orange juice and tequila with just a touch of grenadine syrup to make that beautiful  red-orange sunset in a glass. Imagine that is your current life situation contained in that glass. The orange juice is good for you, you could conservatively drink it every day and no real harm would come to you, given that you have no physiological adversities to it. Now, the tequila, well that’s an entirely different story – just a non-essential shot of alcohol to give the drink a kick. The Tequila Sunrise tastes wonderful while you drink it but you probably would not want to make a constant habit of consuming it because the tequila will eventually cause some type of problem.  The good and bad mixed together may be palatable and even make you happy for a while, but it might take a toll on your health.

Your personal life cocktail is made up of many ingredients, some positive some negative. For instance; being sedentary is negative (tequila), daily exercise is positive (orange juice). Some ingredients may be temporarily or permanently out of your control and unchangeable, so we are forced to include them in our mix at present or for the rest of our time here on this planet.  These unchangeable bitter ingredients might include an illness, stress related to our employment or lack of, our relationships, our financial state – these things can be fluid and may change quickly or over time. If you have too much tequila, try adding more orange juice!

I thought I was the hostess with the perfect cocktail, ha ha, silly me! It took awhile to figure out just what was in the bottom of my cocktail shaker! I came from a family where my brother was my abuser, not physically, just a narcissistic bully who never grew up. I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism at age seven. My father, had hypothyroidism, cardiovascular disease, age onset diabetes, and died from his second massive stroke at age 64. I met and married a man just like my brother (just felt like home I guess!). I was married to him for 23 years and had two children with him. I ran a small corporation with my ex-husband and homeschooled my children. Eventually my mother developed Alzheimer’s disease and came to live with us. Stress was a major factor in my life! Over several years, three different medical doctors told me that if I did not change my current situation I would probably end up very ill. My mother passed and after that time I decided to listen to the doctors and left my husband – my kids and I moved 400 miles away. That’s my tequila.

Here’s my orange juice! My father had what the doctor called, “familial high cholesteremia”. No matter how little fat he ate his lipid levels would remain high. He was a chef, owned a restaurant, and had a difficult time staying away from fats. I started to create low and fat-free recipes for him…I was ten years old at that time. His condition made a huge impact on my personal choices. I stopped drinking milk. I stopped eating butter, margarine, and mayonnaise. I ate smaller portions of red meat. By the time I was 19 years old I was on a very low-fat eating regime. I joined a gym. I snow skied, water skied, hiked, played tennis, lifted weights, and took aerobics classes. I took up meditation and yoga. My weight always fluctuated due to my out of control hypothyroidism and pregnancies, but I remained active and didn’t eat much fat.

I was 52 when I finally left my husband. At age 54 I had a major heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery…more tequila to my mix. What a shock that was. Before the heart attack I could do 30 minutes straight, full-out on a ski machine without stopping, lift weights, and play tennis. I did yoga and meditation, and wore a size 3! My cocktail was palatable but it took its toll. Stress and my adrenals had given out. I didn’t realize how bad the stress was until after I left the marriage and moved far away from the situation. Reality set in, I had way too much tequila  in my daily Tequila Sunrise for far too many years.

There are ingredients in your life cocktail of which you are in control, don’t wait, take control as soon as you are aware of them. My cardiologist told me that I probably put off my heart attack by a good ten to fifteen years because of my eating habits and exercise. Too bad I couldn’t have avoided it completely and taken care of myself. I just didn’t get out of my bad situation soon enough and my thyroid and adrenal system was about to fail due to the stress. Out of control thyroid disease causes heart problems.

Some of the best information out there on cutting edge therapies, tests, and strategies for preventing or reversing arteriosclerosis and heart disease are contained in this book, Beat the Heart Attack Gene:

Exercise, eating correctly for your genotype (genetic testing to choose the proper diet for the way your body metabolizes lipids), and maintaining well-being are important ingredients that should be generously mixed into your life cocktail, don’t skimp on any of those. Make time for yourself and always make sure you have a good balance to the mix. Get a complete cardiac blood panel with genetic marker testing from a reputable lab that does a full cardiovascular analysis. Here is a link to the lab I use, Health Diagnostic Laboratories, which is also recommended by the above referenced book:

One more thing that helped me to get on track after my heart attack, I found a brilliant thyroid doctor.  My thyroid went completely bonkers after the bypass surgery and I needed individualized thyroid treatment to regulate my endocrine system. I do not take heart medications or cholesterol lowering drugs, just thyroid meds, minimal hormone replacement, and lots of good vitamins, but that is a whole other blog post!

Mix your life cocktail with as many good ingredients as possible, heal and stay healthy. Shaken or stirred, I wish you a long, happy, and delicious life!

Epicuriously yours,


Please come visit me at any of my web haunts for more ideas, inspirations, and fantastic fat-free recipes!

My website:




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Fat Free Butternut Spinach Soufflé Muffins


Original recipe from Melissa Placzek at

…tweaked to fat-free by Melinda Perino Bebb, The Fat Free Gourmet

Butternut Muffins on cooling rack

…just out of the oven and onto the cooling rack…I’m drooling!

Okay, first let me start by saying that Melissa has an awesome website! She writes and shares ideas about everything I love, especially FOOD!  From crafts to photography, gift ideas to homemade bath salts, what to put on your iPod or in your tea – I know she has an awesome idea for you…she calls them ‘simple pleasures’.  Please visit her on Facebook, or on her website, she will not disappoint!

I found her recipe while perusing or, as my daughter would call it “stalking”, one of my Facebook ‘likes’ pages.  Her recipe stood out as good fat-free candidate and it is!  Flavorful and healthy ingredients make these muffins hard to resist, and they smell…so…Italian!!!

Thanks for sharing Melissa and I hope you don’t mind that I tweaked it for those of us cutting the fat!  My heart thanks you!

Here is the recipe:

This recipe bakes 12 lovely muffins, in either a regular sized pan or a large-sized muffin pan, the difference being the height of the muffin, both sizes are shown in the pictures.  Both sizes cooked beautifully in just 20 minutes.  I did not use liners, just cooking spray, and the muffins came out clean, no sticking.

Steaming the Butternut Squash...oh yeah, I snitched a few pieces...mmmm!

Steaming the Butternut Squash…oh yeah, I snitched a few pieces…mmmm!

2 cups steamed, cubed, butternut squash (a 2.5 to 3 lb squash will yield approximately 5 to 6 cups)

3/4 cup 1% buttermilk

½ cup fat-free egg substitute

1 cup chopped spinach

1 1/4 cup fat-free feta cheese

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 teaspoon minced garlic


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons parmesan herb seasoning (you can find it in the spice isle of you grocery store)

1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix by hand the first eight wet ingredients.  In a separate bowl, blend the remaining dry ingredients.  Add wet to dry stirring until just evenly incorporated and moist.

Spray muffin tin(s) generously with cooking spray.

Spoon the muffin batter into the cups.  Sprinkle the tops with a little more cubed squash, feta, salt, and pepper.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until set and a toothpick comes clean when inserted in center of a muffin.  Remove from oven.  When cool enough to handle transfer muffins to cooling rack.  Serve warm.  Store the muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: Cool completely before putting into airtight container

Butternut Spinach Souffle Muffins

Butternut Spinach Souffle Muffins – Enjoy!!!

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My Fat-Free Friday Rant or 4 Things you can do to Find Your Puzzle Pieces

Okay, it is Friday and I feel I should come up with some wonderful foodie creation – the day is young perhaps I will, but in the mean time, here are some thoughts that I want to share with you – four things you can do to get a healthier mind and body with links to some other inspiring articles…

1. Find Your Formula

On my typical workday, I usually do research on ‘fat-free’ early in the mornings and then try to incorporate that knowledge into something beneficial, either into my life, something to share with you, or whatever inspiration happens. Yesterday an article really rang a note with me. The article, What If the Truth About Weight Loss Has Nothing to do With Diets and Exercises?,  you can check it out here:  .  It was an interesting read, and contained some good information and got me thinking about my beliefs. In my opinion, it only touched on one piece of the puzzle.  We all need to practice some form of exercise and diet, and perhaps incorporate Gabriel’s suggestions, for true lifetime success, but the formula is different for everyone. You need to find the things, note I say ‘things’ not just thing, that works for you.

2. Find the Puzzle Pieces to Your Formula

There are as many reasons to eat a certain diet as there are diets. I live a lifestyle not a diet. I like to think of ‘Fat-Free’ as a puzzle. For example, to me it means using less fat in my cooking, getting rid of fat from  my body, and getting unnecessary excesses, unfood things,  out of my life. Being in a state of peak mental condition gets rid of the fat too. For me living ‘Fat-Free’  is an ideal with many puzzle pieces. That said, it is precisely the pieces of that puzzle that guarantee one’s own personal success with health, wellness, and weight;  and again, the same ‘pieces’ do not fit everyone’s puzzle. You need to find your  own pieces!

3. Plan Your Attack

I like to exercise, be happy, have fun, be productive, write, create, and eat healthy. Some days I am better at those things than others, but my goal is to constantly improve at all of those things.  I try to forgive myself if I make mistakes.  Keeping a positive outlook on life keeps your hormones in balance at any age, so if you need help with that, check out this post by Laura Prevost, 10 Ways to Love Yourself :  .  

How do I love myself? Well, I try to give myself what I need to be a productive person and stay healthy. So, exercise, good diet, vitamins, time with family, helping others, making a living to survive. Oh and last but not least, having  fun! In essence your plan of attack includes the things you pick that are important to you and that you will need to accomplish your goals.

4. Work Your Puzzle

If  the pieces do not all fit at first, don’t be afraid to incorporate new ones; new ways of eating, and new experiences into your life. Comb the web for ideas. Visit a nutritionist or a Holistic doctor who can evaluate your body condition and help create a plan for taking care of your beautiful body.  Anything that might be of value to your person should be explored.

I can recall my first exploration into yoga and meditation. It was very different from lifting weights or my cardio workout. I have never stopped lifting weights or doing cardio just because I started yoga and meditation, but instead incorporated them into my already functioning exercise routine to create a better total workout for my needs. Yoga is an awesome mind/body experience.  Here is a really sweet post by Rich Roll, entitled, Why Every Athlete Should do Yoga: . Yoga, it’s not just for athletes…

So there you have it, a Fat-Free Friday rant about living life Fat-Free. Now go out and find your puzzle pieces, and get healthy!

Enjoy your weekend! Please come visit me at any of my web haunts for more ideas, inspirations, and fantastic recipes!

Epicuriously yours,


My website:



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The Fat Free Gourmet – Who Is She?


What is a gourmet? Webster’s dictionary defines the noun gourmet as someone who enjoys fine food and drink, an epicure; the adjective gourmet as characteristic of high quality or skilled preparation…okay, I’ll take that! Now let us add in parameters: low-fat or fat-free, incredible tastes and flavors. Throw in a 100% Italian family background of chefs and bakers, and there you have it: The Fat Free Gourmet and that would be me, Melinda!

Now that you know who I am, you should know why. it might be good to throw in some personal passion for this endeavor, to, as Emeril L. would say,  “take it up a notch”. High-cholesterol, high blood pressure and two strokes killed my father at the age of 64. He wouldn’t change his eating habits. I was 20, changed mine, and have always eaten a low-fat diet ever since. I suffered a heart attack and subsequent quadruple by-pass surgery at the age of 55, that was eight months ago.. My Cardiologist said that nasty ol’ heart attack would have visited me 10 to 15 years earlier and the outcome may have been completely different had I not practiced  a healthy lifestyle. I’ll take that too!

Why the heart attack if I was eating healthy and exercising? Well, genetics played a part in it too.  I was exercising and had cut the fat but forgot to cut something else: stress. I re-wrote that recipe, and cut more stress out of my life. I’m all good now, no heart damage by the way, my healthy habits got me through the ordeal with flying colors! As an added bonus, I did not have to re-learn eating or exercise habits, I was on the correct road with that, and I am almost as good as new again – a happy-ending to a probable sad story!

Do I eat absolutely zero fat?  Not quite, but I do keep it very low. Do I use my recipes to control the amount of fat that I consume? Absolutely. Do I crave fat? No, the food is fabulous! I can cook anything from fat filled to fat-free, but why should I when both recipes turn out just as epicuriously delicious?! That my friends, is a rhetorical statement of fact.

Give me two hours in the kitchen with you and I will show you how to prepare reduced fat gourmet dishes that will have even your children asking for seconds! Understand that cooking is an art and a science –  cooking with little or no fat is learned. It is not solely a matter of switching out ingredients,  that is where the disillusionment of low-fat and fat-free comes into play. You need the right recipes, some new cooking techniques and you will be good to go! Trust me on this one – would an Italian girl lead you astray when it comes to good food? Not likely!!

So grab a glass of good red wine, Cabernet is my favorite, and a serving of dark chocolate, then let’s visit on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or check out some of my recipes at:

Epicuriously yours,


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