Asian Steak Salad

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I made this delicious salad from the Make it Paleo cookbook for a group of friends that came by over the weekend. It is tasty and colorful and makes for a wonderful presentation when serving to guests. I recommend marinating the steak overnight for ultimate flavor. If you cannot find coconut aminos in your local grocery store, you can order it here. Or tamari and soy sauce can both work as substitutes. Also, a mandolin works great with this recipe to cut down on time chopping vegetables. I have found mine to be a lifesaver on many occasions! And lastly, I love to make a double recipe of this salad and keep it in the fridge for a quick lunch to go. Just leave the oranges and dressing on the side and the cabbage and other ingredients keep beautifully for 5-7 days. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

Steak Marinade

2 Tbls. coconut aminos

2 Tbls. fish sauce

½ tsp. each, salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes, to taste

1 clove garlic

½ tsp. fresh ginger, minced

 

Salad

10 oz sirloin steak

2 cups shredded cabbage

¼ cup red belle pepper, sliced thin

1 radish, sliced thin

1 medium carrot, shredded

8 grape tomatoes, halved

½ navel orange, chopped

1/8 cup slivered almonds

½ green onion, chopped

 

Sesame Ginger Dressing

½ Tbls. garlic, minced

½ Tbls. fresh ginger, minced

2 Tbls. toasted sesame oil

2 Tbls. coconut aminos

2 tsp. sesame seeds

½ tsp. each: salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

 

Instructions:

1. Whisk together all ingredients for sesame ginger dressing and steak marinade

2. Marinade steak for at least 3 hours before cooking

3. Grill sirloin steak on high for approximately 4 minutes per side, flipping once

4. While letting the steak rest, rinse and chop all vegetables as well as the orange and toss together

5. Slice the steak thinly

6. Plate salad, and top with strips of steak

7. Drizzle with dressing and serve

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Ginger Macadamia Nut Energy Bars

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I love to make these tasty treats for hiking trips or road trips or simply with a smoothie for a light breakfast. They’ve got a subtle nutty flavor with the cinnamon and ginger giving a great little kick! The perfect amount of natural sweetness with the dates, too! Injoy!

 

1 ½ cups raw macadamia nuts

1 cup pitted medjool dates (about 10)

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

Pinch of sea salt

 

1. Place nuts into a food processor and blend with the ‘S’ blade for 60-90 seconds until finely ground.

2. Add the dates, spices and salt, and process another 60-90 seconds until incorporated.

3. Press mixture into an 8×8 inch pan and refrigerate 4-5 hours.

4. Cut into bar shapes and individually wrap in waxed paper. You can also roll the mixture into balls and then roll in shredded coconut.

 

…And now a somewhat unrelated tale of caution about macadamia nuts for you dog owners. I have had a dog my entire adult life and I had no idea that macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to our little four-legged friends.

A few weeks ago I made these tasty energy treats. I had about a ½ a bag of the nuts leftover and stashed in my pantry. Miles, my Boston Terrier, sometimes gets board on days home and entertains himself by rummaging through closets and cupboards (child safety locks have since been installed in my kitchen). On this particular day, he found the bag of macadamia nuts and ate roughly ¼ cup of them.

Later when I got home from work, I walked in the door and he did not come to greet me. He just lay on the couch and stared in the opposite direction. This is a surefire sign that he has gotten into something and knows he will be in trouble. I found the evidence. A chewed up bag with a few crumbs left.

A few minutes later I called him to come outside and take a walk. He didn’t budge, which is very odd behavior for him. I kept calling, then went over and picked him up and placed him near the door, at which point he crumpled into a pile on the floor, unable to hold his body weight up. I tried to get him to move and help him to stand but he just couldn’t. He was essentially paralyzed. I started feeling his limbs and spine to see if he had an injury of any kind. Miles is 10 years old and while he’s a spry little old man, we also have a 2 year-old rambunctious Boxer with 50+ pounds on him. A roughhousing injury is entirely plausible.

There was no sign of broken bones or a specific strained muscle, it just seemed like his nervous system wasn’t firing. We rushed to the Emergency Vet. As I’m racking my brain filling out the paperwork, it doesn’t even occur to me that the macadamia nuts could have been a problem. Now, I realize this next statement makes me sound like a terrible dog owner. Miles has eaten many a nuts in his day. He once ate and entire bag of trail mix on a backpacking trip. Raisins and all (which are also very toxic to dogs). I don’t even want to think about the things he’s gotten into. He’s a terrier. A very food-oriented little dog, with guts of steel!

As I’m sitting in this terrible waiting room, with bright lights and sterile furniture, people sobbing and sick pets coming and going, stressing with thoughts that they are going to come back and say he needs some crazy surgery or will require a little cart for his back legs, a good friend calls and asks if I mentioned macadamia nut specifically. She informs me that they are a neuro-toxin to dogs and can cause paralyzation. What?! Crazy. I update the vet tech and the entire plan changes. (Unfortunately not until after they had done X-rays and lots of other unnecessary, uncomfortable and expensive tests. Lesson learned). They give him a little doggy charcoal detox, pump him full of fluids and 2 hours later he walks out of the vet’s office. A little slower, but walking none the less.

The next day, he is 100% better and back to getting in trouble in the kitchen. Thank goodness!! The moral of the story, no macadamia nuts for your fur babies! And now, when I make this recipe, I buy the nuts in bulk and don’t keep any leftovers in the pantry.

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Mystery Box Challenge: Persimmons, Jicama, Anaheim Chili, Mint, Fresh Ginger and Lamb Chops

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Every so often I like to pretend I’m on Chopped (one of my favorite cooking programs) and participating in a Mystery Box Challenge. You know the one, the box of several mystery ingredients that usually don’t pair well, and a limited amount of time to create an awesome dish to present. In my version, I imagine myself closing my eyes and spinning around in circles in the middle of the produce department of my grocery store and throwing the first few items I point at into my basket. In reality I peruse the brightly colored shelves and give myself 1 minute to choose 4 random items that I’ve never worked with before and take them home to play in the kitchen. And I don’t give myself a time limit, just try to engage my creativity and come up with something seasonal and delicious for dinner.

On this particular foggy Tuesday afternoon, I stopped at the produce stand a few blocks from my home. I had gone to pick out a few items for a dining room centerpiece. Hard, colorful little bundles of decorative corn on the cob, a bumpy dark green gourde and a perfectly round white pumpkin. As I shopped, more veggies were being loaded in from the farm truck and I started to get inspired. Persimmons, about 9 different varieties of squash and lots of leafy greens were beginning to stack up near the entrance. Mmmmm! A perfect opportunity for a Mystery Box Challenge!

I glanced at my watch and begun the 1 minute countdown. I knew those perfectly ripe persimmons were coming with me, so I immediately put 4 into my basket. After that, I passed the pyramid of jicama, a yam-like vegetable from Mexico. I had no idea what to do with that, perfect! Into the basket. Next, I walked quickly over to the herb section. Mint and fresh ginger jumped out at me. Not a likely pair. I very rarely cook with mint unless it’s sprinkled on a fruit salad, so that was a great addition. And ginger I’ve mostly only used in smoothies, tea and an occasional pumpkin pie. Into the basket they went. Lastly, I knew I wanted something with a kick. I grabbed the first hot pepper I saw, which happened to be an Anaheim chili. Great! Done! On the way home, I also stopped by the butcher and picked up a couple of lamb chops for protein and snipped a few sprigs of rosemary from my neighbor’s enormous hedge.

Back in the kitchen, my culinary adventure began. Without realizing it initially, several of the ingredients come from the warmer southern region and actually pair together quite nicely. I used the jicama and fresh mint in a slaw with green apples and carrots. The persimmons I made into chutney with the chili and ginger along with golden raisins, green apple and other warming spices. This went perfectly with the lamb chops, for which I made a rub with the fresh rosemary and some garlic and sea salt. It all came together beautifully! In addition I did sauté up some kale and onion with coconut oil as the plate was looking a bit void of greenery.

When is the last time you challenged yourself in the kitchen or in other areas of your life? Where do you become your most creative self? Do you tend to stay within your comfort zone much of the time? There is a popular saying ‘Magic happens outside your comfort zone.” I certainly agree with that sentiment and the delicious meal created that day is a shining example. This week, think outside the box. Pick up an ingredient you’ve never worked, or try a new technique in the kitchen you’ve never tried (wok much?). Challenge yourself, get creative and have fun! Injoy!

 

Jicama and Green Apple Slaw

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Ingredients:

1 cup matchstick-cut Granny Smith apple

1 cup matchstick-cut jicama

1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Instructions:

1. Toss apple, jicama and carrots together in a large bowl.

2 Place mint leaves, olive oil, sugar, vinegar, Dijon mustard and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until blended but slightly chunky, about two 10-second intervals.

3. Pour dressing over apple mixture; toss until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Persimmon Chili Chutney

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Ingredients:

2/3 apple cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1 cup chopped onion

1 large tart apple – peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped fine

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan combine the apple cider vinegar, water, chopped onion, chopped apple, golden raisins, sugar, lemon juice, chili, ginger, lemon peel, coriander and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Add the persimmons and simmer until the persimmons are tender about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate chutney. May be made a day or two ahead.

 

Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops

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Ingredients:

1 pound lamb chops or rack of lamb

2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, mix the rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the        olive oil together. Coat the lamb chops with the mixture, massaging it into the meat with your fingers. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, sear the lamb chops on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. At this point, if you want your lamb chops rare, they are likely cooked enough. Remove them from the pan; cover them with foil and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. If you would like your chops more cooked, you can put them in a 400°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or keep them in the hot pan, remove from heat, and cover the pan for a few minutes. Then remove from the pan to a plate or cutting board, cover with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving

Radish Home Fries

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I am always looking to incorporate great breakfast recipes that don’t include eggs or grains. These delicious radish home fries make a wonderful breakfast with a handful of greens or spinach, or along side a scramble or omelet. In this simple and tasty preparation, the radishes soften much like potatoes and have a wonderful flavor, especially cooked with the bacon. Top with green onion for a fresh zing. Injoy!

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Ingredients:

1 lb radishes

3 pieces of bacon (or more if desired)

1⁄2 cup diced sweet onion or shallots

1 clove garlic, minced

1⁄2 cup chicken bone broth

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Instructions:

1. Trim the ends of the radishes and cut each radish into quarters (cut smaller pieces in half).

2. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy and cooked through.

3. Set the bacon aside on paper towels to drain. Leave the renderings in the pan. (if you used more than 3 slices, drain off all but 2 Tbls. fat)

4. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the garlic and the radishes and stir to coat.

6. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Add the broth and cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

8. Crumble the bacon into pieces and add to the radishes.

 

The Most Romantic Meal: Messy, Beautiful Love on a Mountain

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Lying in bed with my honey Wednesday evening, reading aloud to one another as we sometimes do, a spread in our free weekly newspaper catches my attention. “Love and Dinner: True Stories from Our Lives by Stranger Staff.“ We read a few of the essays. They are funny and sweet, disastrous, awkward and awesome!

Reading about these experiences with oysters and pearl necklaces, crabs on the beach under the moonlight, makes me think about what I would consider my most romantic meal to date.

There was the dinner I had with the boy from Argentina, perched in a treehouse on a tiny island in Thailand. We sipped ice-cold coconuts, looking out towards the neon orange sunset, over the vast ocean and waves crashing below. The breeze was warm and we sat in our swimsuits, bodies still salty from a day of diving. He spoke to me in his accent that sounded like poetry and fed me the most delicious red snapper from his fork. That was dreamy, but not the most romantic meal. There was the time several years ago when Jasson had a gift certificate for a fancy steak house that was worth more than half my rent. We got all dressed up and ventured downtown to orchestrate a fancy, romantic dinner. It had all the elements. Candles, hand holding, whispering and giggling, hours of being waited on, delicious food and wine. But that wasn’t it. There was also the time a boy I had only been dating a short while surprised me at my apartment with all the fixins for a fresh, delicious meal from the farmers market. And whiskey gingers (my favorite drink). He did all the work preparing sesame stir-fry while I sat and sipped. He turned on Foy Vance and danced me around my onion and garlic smelling kitchen in between stirring. That was pretty close, but also not quite it.

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What I’ve decided has been my most romantic meal to date is perhaps that last thing one might expect. We were freezing cold in wet dirty clothes, brushing mud off of our food, for which we had no plates, silverware or even napkins, and praying that the smell of our lunch in the tent would not attract bears later.

It was mid-June and Jasson and I were on a 3-day backpacking trip to Cashmere Mountain. The first morning was so beautiful we considered leaving the rain fly to our tent back in the truck to save weight in our packs. Thank goodness past experience with the temperament of the North Cascades talked us into stuffing it down with the rest of our gear. Just in case. We hit the trail just after sunrise since the weather reports indicated it would be in the upper 90’s that day and we wanted to get past the long, exposed, intensely uphill portion of the trail before the heat really got going. Fifteen minutes in, a downpour hit so strong it chased us into the largest tree/bush we could find to shelter us from the huge droplets. It passed, we laughed and continued on. The sun came out in very short bursts, enough to dry us off and give us glimpses of the beautiful mountains and cliffs we were passing. Mountain goats, marmots, hawks and wildlife of all kinds visited us on the trail. We were grateful for the cooler temperature since it made hiking the exposed part of the trail where there had been a forest fire last year, much easier. We didn’t go through as much drinking water, and figured the sun would really get blazing as we reached the alpine lakes, just in time for a swim!

Right at Noon, dirty, exhausted and high on mountain bliss, we reached Little Lake Caroline where we planned to set up camp for the night. The sky was still precariously grey and we decided to find a site and get our tent set up before heading out to explore. Not 10 minutes after venturing off from our little home away from home, the rain began again. No big deal, we thought at first. We’re from Washington, it’s par for the course to get a bit wet if you want to be outdoorsy in this state. Then the thunder and lightning began. This was a little more daunting, so we headed back. On the way, the rain became an even heavier downpour than we’d ducked away from that morning, the thunder was clapping and rumbling in loud rhythms just over our heads, and the lightning made the air feel electric all around us. We ran until we reached our little yellow tent, scrambled to get our soaked bodies inside, then fell into sloppy, heaving heap of laughter. It was all extremely exciting!

Twenty minutes later, when we could barely hear ourselves talk anymore, we realized that the rain had turned to hail the size of ripe blueberries and the thunder and lightning was even closer to the little ridge we were perched on. In addition, we were literally sitting in a huge puddle that had collected under our tent, and everything we brought was absolutely soaked. Then the mudslide began. Our puddle turned into a rushing river of mud sweeping rocks, leaves and twigs along with it. We geared up and crawled out of the tent to build a trench and try to divert the river around our meager flat of land. It actually worked pretty well!

Back in the tent, we stripped down and crawled into our down sleeping bags to try and warm up. Laying silently there next to each other, we listened to the earth crack and shatter and rumble, feeling our tent being blown around so ferociously I thought we might soon get flung right off the cliff. Eventually, the exhaustion from the day caught up and the sounds of the forest lulled us into a nap. An hour or two later we woke to our bellies growling. Though the thunder and lightning were a bit further off in the distance, the rain had not slowed much and we had no choice but to eat in our tent. A big no-no in bear country. And the only option we had for lunch was smoked salmon. A double big no-no in bear country. We pulled out our food bag and set a spot in the middle of the tent trying our very best not to spill or leave crumbs.

As I looked over at this man I have known my entire adult life, my best friend, my companion; a man whose blue eyes smile at me and my entire being melts; a man who I am my most favorite self with, I think, this is romance. This silly, scary, adventurous, uncertain, unexpected afternoon trapped cuddling in a tent is the most romantic I have ever felt. It’s the kind of love we dream about, the kind of love we love to doubt. This salmon and avocado eaten carefully off our mountaineering knives, followed by a crunchy bite of trail mix could be a candlelit dinner under the stars, in any city in the world, with harps playing and the most delicatessen food available, and it wouldn’t match the love and intimacy of this moment.

I have always felt that a meal shared offers nourishment on many levels. The pleasure that our senses experience, from the visual appeal, to the smell and flavor to the texture of our food; the nourishment our bodies receive from the energy and nutrients our meals provide; and the connection we feel with our companions over a shared food experience. It all adds to how our bodies integrate the energy of food.

It also seems to me, how comfortable you can be with one another in the most miserable and uncomfortable moments of your life is equally proportionate to the amount of warmth and love that be can shared. If we can laugh through a meal in a tiny, wet tent with mud under our finger nails in a crazy storm on the top of a mountain, I’m pretty sure we can laugh through just about anything.

My heart capacity grew that day. Over salmon, avocado and trail mix, my heart experienced what true romance can feel like. Real. Beautiful. Messy. Bliss.

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Breakfast Chicken Sausage

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While shopping for breakfast protein recently, I discovered that my beloved turkey bacon brand had begun to include carrageenan in their ingredient list. This is bad news. Carrageenan is an additive with no nutritional value that is derived from raw seaweed and is widely used as a thickening agent in milk alternatives (boxed soy, almond, rice milk etc.), ice cream and yogurt. One of the main reasons I started making my own Almond Milk.

Carrageenan is known to cause inflammation to the digestive system, and in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. In addition, when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes. More bad news for our country’s already soaring diabetes rates. Best to stay away from Carrageenan.

Alas, a delicious homemade breakfast sausage recipe, nutritious and free of pesky preservatives! Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1. 1 lb ground chicken

2. 2 tsp fennel seed

3. 2 tsp dried rosemary

4. 1 ½ tsp garlic powder

5. 1 ½ tsp dried sage

6. ½ tsp salt

7. ¼ tsp black pepper

 

Instructions:

1. Grind the fennel seed and the rosemary in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to break down the spices (recommended).

2. Combine all of the spices together.

3. Incorporate the spice mixture into the chicken.

4. (Optional) Fry 1-2 tsp of the meat in a skillet to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.

5. Form into 10 equal patties.

6. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat and brown the patties for 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through.

7. Serve with your favorite vegetable.