Category Archives: Recipes

PKU-Friendly Sweet Potato Casserole with Bananas

PKU-Friendly Sweet Potato Casserole

This recipe is an adaptation of one I recently saw demonstrated on one of our local weekend morning news shows. Using roasted bananas provides a natural sweetener and also adds fiber and potassium into the PKU diet. With a few slight changes to the ingredients and some gram-scale measurements, I was also able to figure out the amount of phe per serving. In addition to being an awesomely flavorful comfort food perfect for the approaching holiday season, this recipe yields enough servings to feed the entire family. Here’s how you make it:


  • 6 pounds (about 6) sweet potatoes
    (approximately 1,480 grams when measured after being mashed)
  • 2 ripe bananas, skins on
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Michele’s Butter Pecan Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel the sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks and boil until soft (try piercing with a fork to determine when done).

PKU-Friendly Sweet Potato Casserole

Meanwhile, roast the bananas, with the skins on, for 15 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl and pulse with a hand mixer until whipped. When the bananas are cool enough to handle, slice the end opposite from the stem with a sharp knife.

PKU-Friendly Sweet Potato Casserole

While holding the bananas from the stem, squeeze the contents into the bowl of mashed sweet potatoes. Add the butter and maple syrup, mix until smooth. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt; mix to combine. Transfer to a shallow baking pan and smooth out the surface with a spatula. Top potato-banana mixture with marshmallows and evenly sprinkled brown sugar. Bake at 300 degrees F until heated through, about 20 minutes. For the last minute or so of baking time, switch your oven to broil for that campfire roasted marshmallow consistency.

Couple of things to note: I selected Michele’s Butter Pecan Syrup for two reasons: 1.) it is completely phe free and 2.) I really wanted to add butter-roasted pecans, but as we all know, that’s a PKU no-no. If you decide to use a different brand of syrup, be sure to adjust the phe as needed. Also, feel free to have fun with the toppings. Instead of marshmallows, you may want to try raisins for a healthier option.

Yield: 8 servings
Phe: Entire recipe = 1,340 mg; 167.5 mg/serving
Protein: 3.2 gm per serving
Exchanges: 11.2 per serving
Calories: Entire recipe = 2,616 calories; 327 calories/serving
Fat: 6.2 gm per serving

* Simply divide the casserole into 10 servings for fewer mg of phe/serving.



1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

How to save money with a PKU herb garden

An article published in the March 2013 edition of Genetics in Medicine found that 50 percent of states provide either no coverage of medical formula and modified special low-protein products or only partial coverage of these required PKU therapies.

Those of us living with PKU do not need a reminder about just how expensive it is to remain on-diet; however, there is certainly a bit of vindication whenever a peer-reviewed, academic journal reiterates this point. Beyond specially formulated low-protein products, families dealing with PKU are often advised to experiment with herbs and spices. The idea being that some creativity in the kitchen can lead to flavorful meals that people with PKU will actually want to eat!

Yet, I have found that even buying fresh herbs on a regular basis can be costly. Plus, you generally have to purchase them in large quantities and then you are left tossing the left over herbs when they have eventually spoiled.

How to Save Money with a PKU Herb GardenThe solution? I recently started my own PKU herb garden and it features a handful of herbs that I have used most over the past three months: cilantro, basil and rosemary (and for good measure, I’ve also included two cherry tomato plants).

Here is a basic cost comparison (tax not included) for purchasing herbs at a local grocery store versus growing your own:

Herbs at
Grocery Store
Herbs at Home
Improvement Store
Cilantro, $1.99/0.66 oz Cilantro, $2/plant
Basil, $1.99/0.66 oz Basil, $2/plant
Rosemary, $1.99/0.66 oz Rosemary, $2/plant
TOTAL: $5.97 TOTAL: $6

There you have it; only a $0.03 difference for the initial upfront cost. What’s significant is you’ll have to pay approximately $6 each time you buy these three herbs at the grocery store whereas you’ll pay $6 one time for plants that will last you all growing season!

Of course, there is the added cost of potting soil and a planter, but you could also experiment by planting your own garden directly in the ground.

Have you also started a PKU herb garden? Perhaps you’ve planted more than just herbs. Either way, let me know how green your thumb is!



Filed under Lo-pro Diet Management, Recipes

Garlic Roasted Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce

During this long, President’s Day weekend, I was looking for ways to shake-up the spaghetti and marinara I seemed to be eating all the time. I wanted to try something new and eggplant is something I did not have a lot of experience cooking. If you have never cooked with eggplant, try not to get freaked out by the brown seeds. Those are normal. And it is important to extract as much liquid from the eggplant when you press it between the paper towels. This will provide you with the best roasted flavor and texture as possible.

Garlic Roasted Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce, Low-protein, PKU Recipes, PKU Cooking, Phenylketonuria

Low-protein Garlic Roasted Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce


  • 1 med-large eggplant, unpeeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup Classico Traditional Sweet Basil pasta sauce


  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  • Place eggplant in colander, sprinkle evenly with salt and let stand for approximately 2 hours.
  • Rinse salt from eggplant and press firmly between triple-layered paper towels.
  • Toss eggplant and olive oil together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Sprinkle garlic powder on top of eggplant/olive oil mixture, making sure to coat evenly.
  • Spread in single layer on large baking sheet.
  • Roast for approximately 30 minutes or until tender and brown. Stir every 10 minutes.
  • Allow eggplant to cool when done.
  • Separate into two, ½ cup servings (It is important to measure the eggplant after it is cooked because the size and weight of eggplant changes dramatically after it has been cooked).
  • Set one serving aside for sauce.
  • Store the second serving in the refrigerator until ready to eat at a later time.
  • Toss remaining ½ cup of roasted eggplant and 1 cup of pasta sauce into a sauce pan on medium-high heat.
  • Once sauce mixture is warm, serve on top of low-protein Aproten Spaghetti noodles.

Yield: 1 serving, plus an additional serving of roasted eggplant for later
Phe: 129 mg (sauce & eggplant only; add additional phe for low-protein pasta)

My oven seemed to run a little hot for 500 degrees and I did not really need to roast my eggplant for a full 30 minutes. In fact, I would venture to say that mine turned out slightly over cooked; however, I will get better with practice. Just watch the eggplant closely as you roast it on the baking sheet and if you feel that it is getting heavily browned, then remove it from the oven. Whenever you prepare to eat the left-over portion of the roasted eggplant, simply repeat the last two steps in the directions listed above. Depending on your preference, you may also want to top the dish with Daiya Mozzarella Shreds and serve with low-protein garlic bread.



Filed under Recipes

Portabella Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite dishes that my mother would make when I was off-diet was stuffed peppers. Her original recipe called for mixing a pound of ground beef with a cup of minute rice, diced onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a large bowl. Once the mixture was combined, she’d cut the tops off of four green bell peppers, hallow-out the seeds and then fill each pepper to the top with the mixture.

Earlier today, I decided to try my hand at adapting this family recipe for a low-protein PKU diet and I was extremely pleased with how well this dish turned out! I substituted portabella mushrooms for the ground beef and instead of minute rice, I used Cambrooke Foods’s low-protein short grain rice. Here’s a closer look at the recipe and how I prepared it.

Ingredients:Low-Protein, Portabella Stuffed Peppers, PKU Recipes, Low-Protein Recipes

  • 5 medium-sized green bell peppers
  • 2 medium-sized portabella mushroom caps, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1-1/3 c of Cambrooke imitation short grain rice
  • (4) 26 oz. cans of Campbell’s concentrated tomato soup
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • To prepare the green bell peppers, slice the tops off and hallow-out the seeds.
  • Place the caps back on top of the peppers and set aside in a dutch oven.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine portabella mushrooms, onion and imitation rice.
  • Once ingredients are mixed, add ½ cup of tomato soup and stir until well coated.
  • Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop mixture into each bell pepper until filling is level with the top of the pepper.
  • Place the pepper cap on top of the now-stuffed pepper, use two toothpicks to secure the cap and place back inside the dutch oven.
  • Repeat until all five peppers have been stuffed and re-capped.
  • Pour the remaining condensed tomato soup in the dutch oven, filling in around the peppers until the peppers are at least half-way covered with the soup.
  • Place lid on dutch oven and bake at 350° for 1 hour.

Yield: 5 stuffed peppers
Phe: 161 mg per pepper*
Protein: 2.5 gm per pepper
Exchanges: 10.7 per pepper
Calories: 197 per pepper
Fat: 0.8 gm per pepper

* Based on 1.2 cup tomato soup mixed in with ingredients, not soup peppers are baked in.

Portabella Stuffed Pepper Leftovers

Invest in some plastic containers for storing extra servings in the refrigerator or freeze for later.

As you can tell, this recipe makes a ton of leftovers. I ate one pepper immediately and packaged the rest in Tupperware containers. I placed two servings in the fridge for eating later this week (maybe as a packed lunch for work) and froze the other two so they wouldn’t go bad. If you feel like you need a little more sustenance, serve the pepper along with Aproten low-protein noodles and use the extra tomato soup as gravy. Just be sure to add 68 mg of phe per ½ cup of tomato soup you top it with.



1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

Cook for Love’s Banana Bread

Cook for Love, Banana Bread, PKU, Low-Protein Diet, Phenylketonuria

This weekend I got an itch to try a new low-protein recipe. I’ve had my eyes on Cook for Love’s banana bread for about a year now, but because of work and grad school only now have I had the chance to give it a shot. Like most of the baking recipes on Cook for Love’s website, this banana bread started out with 2 cups of the website’s low-protein baking mix. I made a double batch of my own and stored it in a leftover Mix Quick bucket I had from Cambrooke Foods. Then using a Sharpie permanent marker, I labeled the bucket with its new contents, including all the individual ingredients and their amounts. This way, whenever I want to try another baking recipe from Cook for Love, I already have the baking mix assembled!

I was able to gather all of the ingredients from my local Kroger Marketplace with the exception of two items. I had to special order wheat starch from the Internet (either through or direct through Cambrooke Foods) and I had to make a separate trip to Wal-Mart in order to find cake flour (specifically Swans Down). Once I had everything in-hand, the preparation time was practically nothing!

Final review: After letting the loaf pan cool, I sliced a couple pieces and shared them with my husband. At first-bite, the bottom of my banana bread seemed chewy, like it had been over cooked, but as I cut slices closer to the center of the loaf, the chewiness disappeared. The banana bread was extremely moist, almost “spongy” like a poppy seed cake might be. My husband was surprised at how much the batter actually rose in the oven, even without eggs or traditional flour. Overall, this is a very delicious recipe and pretty darn hard to tell it’s not the real thing!

Hands on Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 55-65 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf, 12 slices
Phe per Serving: 27 mg per slice

Out of respect for the hard work, sweat and tears that the folks at Cook for Love have invested in developing PKU-friendly foods, please visit their website to see details on the ingredients and specific cooking instructions for this recipe and many others.


1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

BetterMilk Challenge Recipe 4: BetterMilk Island Smoothie

For my final recipe on Cambrooke Foods’ Three-Day BetterMilk Challenge, I tried the BetterMilk Island Smoothie. While all of the BetterMilk recipes were relatively easy to make, this one was by far the easiest of all. Part of the reason why the BetterMilk Island Smoothie is so simplistic in nature is that the ingredients list is really not that long. Here, have a look:

Cambrooke Foods BetterMilk Island Smoothie

1/2 cup pineapple chuncks or juice; 1/3 cup ginger ale; 1/2 cup of ice cubes (not pictured; 1 packed of Camino pro GMP BetterMilk

After measuring out your ingredients, combine the first three in the blender, cover and process until smooth. Then add the packet of BetterMilk, pulse until it appears to be evenly mixed and voila, you’re done!!

Cambrooke Foods BetterMilk Island SmoothieFinal review: Has the consistency of a tall glass of milk, but tastes closer to a virgin piña colada. Enjoy!!

Serving size: 364 g

Serving per recipe: 1

Measurement Per Serving Per Recipe
PHE: 34 mg 34 mg
LEU: 3118 mg 3118 mg
Pro: 0.5 g 0.5 g
P.E.: 15 g 15 g
Calories 364 364


Filed under Formula, Recipes

BetterMilk Challenge Recipe 3: BetterMilk Mochalatte

Before I even tried my third BetterMilk recipe on the Three-Day BetterMilk Challenge, I already knew I would love it!  That’s because the first ingredient—coffee—is one of my favorite pick-me-ups when I get up and go to work every morning. The recipe is called the BetterMilk Mochalatte and here are the ingredients you’ll need to get started:

Cambrooke Foods BetterMilk Mochalatte

1/2 cup of strong coffee or espresso, cooled; 4 Tbs sugar or Splenda; 2 Tbs Nestle Nesquick chocolate syrup; 1/2 tsp vanilla extract; 1/4 tsp almond extract; 1 packet of Camino pro GMP BetterMilk; 2 cups of ice (not pictured)

The instructions said to “brew strong coffee by using twice the amount of grounds required by your coffee maker OR use twice the amount of instant coffee with boiling water.” In order to keep things simple, I decided to simply brew a little extra coffee in the morning, set a 1/2 cup aside in the fridge and then when I got home from work, it was already chilled.

Once you get your cold coffee in hand, combine the coffee, sugar, chocolate syrup, vanilla extract and almond extract in a blender. Process the ingredients on “low” for about one minute to dissolve the sugar. Then add the BetterMilk and ice. Blend on high until the drink has a smooth texture.

Cambrooke Foods BetterMilk MochalatteFinal review: O.M.G It’s like Tiramisu in a glass! However, when the instructions said to “pour into a tall glass,” they weren’t kidding. I actually tried making this after already eating dinner and could not finish the entire beverage. This recipe might actually be a great option for a meal replacement – huge kudos to Cambrooke Foods’ food scientists!!

Serving size: 555 g

Serving per recipe: 1

Measurement Per Serving Per Recipe
PHE: 51 mg 51 mg
LEU: 3140 mg 3140 mg
Pro: 0.5 g 0.5 g
P.E.: 15 g 15 g
Calories 400 400

Leave a comment

Filed under Formula, Recipes