Mint Cocoa Green Smoothie

IMG_5134

Last spring, my neighbor planted mint in our shared vegetable bed. If you’ve ever tended a garden or had experience growing mint, you know that by the next season, the only thing you will find growing in that plot of dirt (and any plot of dirt in a 30 ft. radius) are very enthusiastic/ invasive mint shoots. This has been my introduction to spring. Lots of mint. So, the crisp, green herb has been making an appearance in several recipes I’ve been experimenting with recently. In addition to being added to water for a refreshing kick and sprinkled in generous amounts on fruit salad.

This smoothie is my play on the Thin Mint cookie. It’s packed full of green veggies, uses a good amount of those mint leaves and has the added fiber and antioxidants of raw cocoa. Injoy!

 

1 ½ cups water (coconut water also makes a great base)

1 scoop whey or pea protein (I like the Wow brand. Unsweetened or Vanilla)

1 frozen banana

1 cup raw spinach

½ cup raw kale

1 cup fresh mint leaves

10 raw almonds

2 Tbls. raw cocoa nibs

1 Tbls. chia seeds

2 dates

Blend all ingredients in bender until smooth. Add additional water for desired consistency. Injoy!

*If your kale is especially bitter, add an extra date or a small amount of honey to balance out a bit of sweetness. It should be tasty and appealing but not overly sugary.

 

Advertisements

Bacon Wrapped Zucchini

IMG_4039

This is my favorite new, incredibly versatile recipe. It makes a great side dish for a fresh salad dinner or lunch, is wonderful with eggs for breakfast and is a tasty snack all on it’s own, too! The seasoning is a delicious blend. I often experiment with adding turmeric, curry powder and cumin as well. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

3 medium zucchinis

8 pieces of bacon

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp of oil

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Cut the bacon in half, widthwise and place the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with foil.

3. Bake for 10 minutes. Don’t make too crispy, as it will be hard to wrap around zucchini

4. Meanwhile, peel the skin of the zucchini (optional) and trim the ends.

5. Cut the zucchini into pieces that are 1” thick and 11⁄2” long (it should yield 16 pieces of zucchini).

6. Add the zucchini to a large bowl with the garlic powder, chili powder, and oil.

Stir to coat.

7. Remove the bacon from the oven and drain the renderings.

8. Wrap one piece of bacon around each piece of zucchini and secure with a tooth- pick.

9. Place each piece of zucchini on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the zucchini is tender. Flip the zucchini halfway through so the bacon cooks evenly.

10. For crispier bacon, broil it for the last 3-5 minutes of baking (keep an eye on it).

 

Asian Steak Salad

IMG_4099

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

Ginger Macadamia Nut Energy Bars

1014385_10151745672747642_2011061650_n

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.

1488230_10152157344157642_703077545_n

 

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

IMG_2642

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

IMG_2623 IMG_2627

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

IMG_2551 IMG_2571

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

IMG_2635 IMG_2593

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

IMG_4080

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!

IMG_4078

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.

 

Breakfast Chicken Sausage

IMG_4195

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.

 

Pork and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

IMG_4000

I made these little treats for a good friend’s birthday potluck and they were a hit! Free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, etc. This is exactly the kind of dish I like to bring to special occasions with large groups of people whose dietary needs I’m unsure of. They are a wonderful finger food, tasty, and pack a great amount of protein and nutrients. Important for those events where alcohol may be consumed! Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork (turkey or beef work great as well)

28 oz whole mushrooms

3 cups baby spinach, chopped

1 tsp dried sage

1⁄2 tsp garlic powder

1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄2 tsp pepper

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.

3. Chop the stems and reserve for the filling.

4. Begin to brown the ground pork over medium-high heat.

5. After 5 minutes, add the chopped mushroom stems.

6. Season with spices and cook until the pork and mushrooms are cooked through.

7. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

8. Add Dijon mustard and stir to combine. Allow the filling to cool slightly.

9. Lightly oil and season the mushrooms with salt and pepper.

10. Add about 1 tsp of filling to each mushroom.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked.

 

Almond Chia Pudding

IMG_4112

Chia seeds are known for their many excellent health benefits. Just two tablespoons pack lots of fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids and tons of antioxidants and minerals. This tasty pudding is a great way to incorporate some of those wonderful qualities into your diet. Super quick and simple to prepare, this recipe comes out a bit like tapioca. Smooth and creamy with a nice texture and subtle sweet flavor. Also, I recommend making your own almond milk if you have a high-powered blender. The ability to control how creamy you make the milk is a great advantage. And, none of those pesky preservatives! I add an additional ¼ cup of almonds to the milk for extra creaminess. Injoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups raw almond milk

6 Tbls. whole chia seeds

1-2 Tbls. maple syrup

Instructions: 

1. Place almond milk, chia seeds and maple syrup into a glass jar, cover, and shake.

2. Place in the refrigerator overnight, or for about 8 hours.

3. Serve with fresh fruit, toasted coconut and hemp seeds.

In the Crockpot: Herb-Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

IMG_4052

There’s nothing quite like opening your front door after a long day at work and being welcomed by the aroma of herb roasted chicken hot and ready to carve and consume. I use my Crockpot 2-3 times a week during the winter and I love and appreciate it more each time!

The assembly of this one pot wonder takes about 10 minutes in the morning (you can even chop the veggies and herbs the night before and have them waiting in the fridge for you if that works better) and is easy as can be! The wonderful thing about using a whole chicken is that, depending on how many are enjoying the meal, there are usually leftovers that can be a wonderful lunch the following day. And making bone broth is fantastic way to utilize the incredible nutrition of all the leftover bits. The gift that just keeps giving! Injoy!

IMG_4103

 

Ingredients:

1 free-range, organic chicken

2 sweet potatoes or yams

4 potatoes

4 or more stalks of celery

4 or more carrots

1 large onions

1 head of garlic, peeled

ghee (or pasture butter)

juice of ½ lemon

thyme (dried or fresh)

sage(dried or fresh)

rosemary (dried or fresh)

freshly ground pepper

sea salt

 

Instructions:

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry.

2. Place in roasting pan and rub ghee (or pasture butter) over the breast and legs.

3. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken.

4. Arrange chopped vegetables all around chicken and season everything with salt, pepper, thyme, sage and rosemary.

5. Roast covered in Crockpot for about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low (Could be longer depending on weight of chicken).