Game Day! N’oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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It’s game day. And my boys are fired up over here. There’s been a lot of buildup to the Seattle vs. San Francisco championship game and the energy is high in this Seattle living room. Being a California girl at heart, though spending my entire adult life in Seattle, makes things tricky. My brothers and Dad and many of my childhood friends are big time 49er fans, but you better believe I am decked out in my blue and green and super proud of my Seattle team this afternoon. Tooting around downtown last night proved to be a very spirited adventure! The city is alive with cheer and going all out with Seahawks support. The Ferris wheel is a permanent dance of blue and green lights, the Space Needle is dressed in beautiful blue flare, flying an enormous 12th man flag and even the corporate buildings are showing their support with floors lit up in the shape of a “12.” It’s big fun!

No surprise, I am head of the kitchen, preparing snacks for our crew. Since many of my friends choose to avoid lots of inflammatory ingredients… grains, dairy, sugar etc. These fantastic N’oatmeal Paleo cookies are a great fit for everyone’s dietary needs. No gluten/grains, sugar, corn, soy etc. They are a tasty snack that very closely resembles an oatmeal raisin cookie. The texture is a perfect combo of chewy and crunchy and the sweetness is a perfect dose! They’d even be great for breakfast! Let me know what you think!! Injoy!!

 

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Ingredients:

2 cups almond meal

½ cup flax seed meal

½ cup shredded coconut

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 Tbls cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

½ cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup coconut oil

1 cup raisins

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and melted coconut oil with a hand mixer.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop tablespoon-sized amounts of cookie batter.
  7. Bake cookies for 15 minutes.
  8. Allow cookies to cool and serve.

Blueberry Cauliflower Porridge

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I came across the original recipe for this sweet little morning meal while on the hunt for new grain-free, egg-free breakfast options. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, but cauliflower continues to impress me! While it’s about as void of color as a vegetable can get, its nutritional profile offers great reasons to incorporate it into your diet. With 1 cup racking up only 20 calories, it supplies 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and is a great source of vitamin C. In addition, cauliflower, along with other cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy) has been proven to fight oxidative stress and help to detoxify the liver. Set a goal to get at least 3-5 servings of these vegetables a week. Make a cauliflower pizza crust, or perhaps some chicken fried cauliflower rice! It is easier on the digestive system when already pulverized into small bits as in these recipes. Injoy!

Ingredients:

1 1⁄2 cups riced cauliflower

(Pulse raw cauliflower in food processor until it resembles rice.)

1 cup coconut milk

2 Tbsp equivalent sweetener  (coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, stevia)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup blueberries

1 Tbsp coconut flour

Directions:

1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the coconut flour, in a saucepan over medium- high heat. Bring to a rolling boil.

2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes. Mash the blueberries and stir occasionally.

3. Add coconut flour, 1 tsp at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

4. Choose your own adventure toppings! The photo shows toasted coconut flakes and raw pecans.

In the Crockpot: Butternut Squash Soup

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This soup rocked my world this weekend! And got rave reviews from the friends I shared it with, I might add. An extremely simple recipe to create, just gather the ingredients, toss them into the Crockpot and leave it alone for 6-8 hours. At the end, blend it all up into a creamy pot of deliciousness and enjoy! This is the perfect type of meal to prepare the night before, set the Crockpot to ‘on’ before you leave for work and have a hot, delicious, nutritious meal waiting for you around dinnertime.

Recipe:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, rough chopped

1 can full-fat coconut milk or equivalent amount of homemade coconut milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and set to Low. Allow 6 to 8 hours to cook. When squash is soft, blend soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a blender to process. Consistency should be smooth and silky.

Season with unrefined sea salt and pepper, and top with a swirl of olive oil or balsamic vinegar. In the photo, I also added a topping of crisp bacon for a little extra protein and green onions for a tasty zing. Injoy!

Cookbook Review: Make it Paleo

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I have been getting lots of questions from clients about resources and helpful tips about the low-carb primal diets and the Paleo lifestyle. If you are interested in a Paleo style of cooking, or just trying out some grain-free, higher protein recipes, I highly recommend “Make it Paleo” by Bill Staley and Haley Mason.

“Make it Paleo” has been my absolute favorite holiday gift of the year (Thanks, J Bird!!). I’ve made about 14 recipes so far and even managed to get my very old-fashioned father to love the N’oatmeal raisin cookies! Grain and sugar free. Incredibly delicious! The pictures in this cookbook are colorful and beautiful, the recipes are made with simple, easily accessible ingredients and the instructions are not too fussy. There are helpful tips on what the Paleo diet is all about, stocking your primal kitchen and even wonderful information and diagrams on different cuts of meat and how to choose the best option for the dish you are preparing. The Asian steak salad is a wonderfully colorful and tasty salad made with delicious asian flavors of ginger, garlic and sesame, and coconut aminos rather than soy sauce. I also loved the delicious portobello turkey burgers. A perfect substitute for red meat!

This book provides pure, simple, healthful kitchen concoctions! I will be sharing some experiences from my Kitchen Delightenment, so stay tuned. In the meantime, get yourself a copy and Injoy!!

Thanksgiving Recipes! Bacon Herbed Turkey, Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Sauce

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As promised, here are the recipes from a very merry Paleo Thanksgiving, starting with the bird, of course! Below, you will also find instructions for the Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Easy Orangey Cranberry Sauce. Injoy!

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Brined, Herb Roasted Turkey

Brining is the process of soaking meat in a salt solution. The saltwater is absorbed into the meat, adding extra moisture. The result is that the turkey will hold onto more juices and flavor than it would otherwise. I’m the first to admit, brining can be a bit of a hassle, and while I relish spending all day in the kitchen, I work with a lot of folks that don’t. That’s why they hire me, to learn all the shortcuts possible and still acquire the most nourishment from their meals. That being said, this is an area where it really pays off to take the extra time and make it over-the-top. Once you try brining, it will be hard to go back to the old way of doing things.

Brine

· 1 cup salt

· 1⁄4 cup molasses

· 3⁄4 cup sucanat or coconut sugar

· 2 oranges, skins scrubbed thoroughly and cut in quarters

· 2 lemons, skins scrubbed thoroughly and cut in quarters

· 6 sprigs thyme

· 4 sprigs rosemary

· 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey

· 1 large orange, scrubbed and cut into 1/8ths

· 4 tablespoons refined coconut oil (refined oil has less coconut flavor) OPTIONAL: sub unsalted butter at room temperature

· Salt and pepper

· 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths

· 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

· 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces

· 2 bay leaves

· 5 sprigs thyme

· 4sprigs rosemary

· 1/2 bunch sage

· 3 or 4 sprigs parsley

· 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting

1. To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt, molasses and sugar in 8 cups of water on the stove. Add this to 2 gallons of cold water in a nonreactive container (such as a clean bucket or large ceramic stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, food grade plastic storage bag).

2. Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary. Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sucanat for every gallon of water.

3. Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey. (I recommend putting them immediately on the stove in a pot of water to begin making a stock for the gravy. It is incredibly nutritious to utilize these organs meats. They can also be incorporated into a soup stock with the carcass or roasted separately and enjoyed.)

4. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

6. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels both inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, in a large, heavy roasting pan.

7. Rub breast side with orange segments and rub on all sides with the coconut oil or butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper.

8. Stuff the turkey with the onion, remaining orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Slip some herbs under the skin on the breast side between the meat and connective tissue. For added silly fun, place two lemon halves under the skin to give the lady turkey effect.

9. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.

10. Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour.

11. Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time.

12. Wrap the turkey in smoked maple bacon for the remaining duration of the cooking time for added moisture and flavor. (optional)

13. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.

14. Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

15. Don’t forget to make a wish with the wishbone!

16. Also, save the bacon to blend with the turkey drippings and stock to make gravy. This was seriously the best idea I’ve ever had.

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Maple Bacon Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

So many of the people in my life make a scrunched face when I mention Brussels sprouts being one of my very favorite vegetables. Like anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to enjoy this earthy veggie. Roasting is the perfect way to bring out the delicate flavors and create the best texture possible. And really, adding bacon makes pretty much anything delicious.

· 2 lbs Brussels sprouts

· 6 slices thick cut bacon

· 1/4 cup real maple syrup

· 2 large shallots

· 2 Tbsp bacon fat (drained from bacon)

· sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon, draining all but a tablespoon or so of fat into a glass bowl.

2. Cook shallots in the leftover fat in the pan.

3. Cut large sprouts in half.

4. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts in fat and maple syrup. Sprinkle with salt and fresh paper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are browned.

5. While the sprouts are roasting, chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the shallots.

6. Remove sprouts from oven and add bacon mixture.

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Easy Orangey Cranberry Sauce

I tend to have a negative visceral response to the cranberry sauce of my childhood. The suction sound it makes as it’s exiting the can, the shape of all the little rivets that it holds, just standing there in the bowl, the overly sweet, metallic flavor. With cranberry sauce this easy to make, you’ll never need that purple canned stuff again!

· 1 bag of fresh cranberries

· Zest of 1 organic orange (Best to get organic since we will be using the skin.)

· 1/2 cup maple syrup

· 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (Optional, to turn some or all of your cranberry sauce into a chutney.)

1. Bring cranberries, orange zest and maple syrup to a slow boil and then simmer for 10-20 minutes, until thickened. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

2. Add walnuts while it’s cooling.

Vegan Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

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I love making this dish for my vegan friends, but when I cook for myself, I tend to incorporate it with an entrée that has more of a paleo approach, ie. not-so-vegan ingredients. Like chicken (pictured). This pesto recipe has walnuts in the place of the Parmesan cheese, and plenty of fresh basil and garlic. Although my diet is not entirely dairy-free, I actually enjoy this pesto more that the cheesy variety. It’s fresh and light and delicious raw as well as baked (as in the stuffed mushrooms). For a raw meal, just incorporate it into a salad, add it to raw zucchini pasta, or use as a dip for cucumber, broccoli, carrots etc. This dish can be wonderful as an appetizer or, as I like to present it, as part of a main dish with a protein and vegetable. Makes a great holiday recipe! Injoy!

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     Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts

2 cups fresh basil

½ cup high quality olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic

1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

12 mini Portobello mushrooms

     Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until incorporated, but slightly chunky.

3. Pull stems off of mushrooms and place them face up in a 9×13 baking dish. Spray lightly with olive oil.

4. Fill each mushroom with 1-1 ½ Tbls. pesto.

5. Set some aside if you’d like to include a bit of dressing on fish or chicken.

6. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

 

Thanksgiving Traditions and Pumpkin Seeds!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions recently. Highlights of childhood that still exist in yearly practice, and others that have faded into distant memory. For me, the holidays seem to harness the most abundant traditions, particularly as a child. Gathering at church to sing carols on Christmas eve, then getting to open one present under the tree before bed; the large juicy orange we always found at the bottom of our stockings on Christmas morning; running around the neighborhood banging wooden spoons against pots and pans to ring in the new year with a loud ruckus; huge Easter egg hunts in frilly dresses with all of my siblings and friends. Our traditions were about celebration. Family time, connection, silliness. These days, in addition to the connection and silly time, the traditions that permeate my life tend to revolve around food. Food is a part of me. It’s how I express my love and creativity. How I lose and then rediscover myself. How I connect to the seasons.

There’s the 3-day, completely from scratch, cherry pie for Katie’s birthday in July; the autumn trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins, carve them, then roast the seeds (This is a newer one, but it counts.); and the yearly Thanksgiving feast at the Boys Haus. This will be the 11th year our little chosen family has celebrated the holidays in this special home. The core group of us have all lived there or at least stayed for a length of time over the years. For me, it was for several months when I moved back from California in 2003, then again in 2007 when returning from travelling in Southeast Asia. These days Jasson and Titus are the main inhabitants of the Boys Haus, with Katie and I visiting most weekends. We all have our stories and our personal connection to this little yellow house, and our years of Thanksgivings are among my warmest and fondest memories. The love and intention everyone puts into the dishes they bring to share, the collaboration of all of the conscious kitchens in our friend circle. Our largest attendance was 30 people one year, tomorrow I’m expecting a more modest 15 or so. I will head north and join Katie in the kitchen tonight. I’ll prepare the turkey fixins, get the bird brining for at least 8-10  hours and get the kitchen ready for tomorrow’s full house. She’ll make pies and we’ll prep several of the dishes to make room for turkey to be in the oven all day tomorrow. We’ll laugh and make a schedule for kitchen use and will most likely open a bottle of wine and really dive in. With so much to be thankful for, I love spreading our celebration into 2 days! I hope that you will be sharing Thanksgiving with your most favorite people, nourishing yourselves with the best foods available and honoring all that there is in life to truly have gratitude for!

As there will most certainly be pumpkin pie from scratch, here’s what I’ll be doing with those fresh seeds we dig out! Injoy!

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 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds With a Kick

       Ingredients 

One medium sized pumpkin

Salt

Olive oil

–Variations–

1. Season to taste with Cinnamon, a tiny bit of maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper

2. Season to taste with cumin, turmeric and sea salt

3. Season to taste with rosemary, garlic and sea salt

Instructions

1 Cut open the pumpkin by cutting a circle around the stem end with a sharp knife (knife blade angled in), and pulling off the top. Use a strong metal spoon to scrape the insides of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place the mass of pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from everything else.

2 Measure the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier. Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

3 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with olive oil, about a tablespoon. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer, and toss them a bit to coat them with the oil on the pan. Season with one of the spice blend variations. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Small pumpkin seeds may toast in around 5 minutes or so, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don’t get over toasted. When lightly browned, remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. Let the pumpkin seeds cool all the way down before eating.

Either crack to remove the inner seed (a lot of work and in my opinion, unnecessary) or eat whole.

**Also check out this recipe for cilantro and pumpkin seed pesto!

(Awesome!) Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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With ample cauliflower “rice” left over from this week’s grain-free fried rice, I decided to continue with my cruciferous kick and make a cauliflower pizza for supper. This is a delicious and nutritious gluten-free, low(er) carb alternative to traditional pizza crust. To balance the carbohydrates with protein and fats, I topped it with plenty of organic mild Italian sausage (which I cooked up before adding to the pie) as well as fresh pizza sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted garlic and added fresh basil after it came out of the oven.

You could, of course, skip the meat to go for a vegetarian meal. Also, I have not tried alternatives to the cheese and egg in the crust to make it vegan, but you could try a flax egg and a soft vegan cheese if you like. I appreciate goat’s dairy because the proteins are smaller and closer to human milk, which makes it easier for us to digest. The crust does stay together well, but I do often use a fork when I load it up with delicious toppings.

This recipe was modified from a post on Detoxinista.com. Injoy!

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Ingredients

4 cups raw cauliflower rice (about one medium head)

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup soft goat cheese (chevre)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. To make the cauliflower rice, pulse batches of raw cauliflower florets in a food processor until a rice-like texture is achieved.
  3. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, and bring it to a boil. Add the “rice” and cover; let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain into a fine-mesh strainer.
  4. Once you’ve strained the rice and it’s cooled a bit, transfer it to a clean, thin dishtowel or a nut milk bag. Twist it up and SQUEEZE all the excess moisture out!
  5. A lot of extra liquid will be released, make sure to thoroughly squeeze. This will leave you with a nice and dry pizza crust.
  6. In a large bowl, mix up your strained rice, beaten egg, goat cheese, and spices. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! You want it very well mixed. It will be crumbly and unlike any pizza dough you’ve ever worked with, but don’t worry– it’ll hold together.
  7. Press the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (It’s important that it’s lined with parchment paper, or it will stick.) Keep the dough about ⅓” thick, and make the edges a little higher for a “crust” effect. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400F. The crust should be firm, and golden brown when finished.
  8. Now’s the time to add all your favorites– sauce, cheese, and any other toppings you like. Return the pizza to the 400F oven, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, just until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
  9. Slice and serve immediately.

 

Superfood Spotlight: Raw Cocoa

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Raw cocoa is known to be one of the most nutritious super foods on the planet. It is the highest plant source of magnesium, iron, chromium and manganese. It is also extremely high in zinc, copper and phosphorous, minerals that are greatly depleted by stress. In addition, it is recognized to be the #1 antioxidant in the world. 15 times higher than blueberries, 20 times higher than green tea and 30 times higher than red wine. Also, if you’re looking to get more dietary fiber into your daily consumption, raw cacao provides a whopping 9 grams per 1 ounce serving.

Now, lets be clear that the processed milk chocolate we find in the candy bar isle, while derived from the same plant, does not offer these same superfood benefits. A great way to include more raw cacao is to add it to a smoothie, or I sometimes sprinkle it onto a banana or spoonful of almond butter. Injoy!

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

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This recipe is so incredibly delicious, and got such rave reviews, I had to promise to incorporate it into my biweekly rotation of meals and lunches. I haven’t heard those resounding “yummmmms” about a new dish in quite awhile, so I am happy to oblige! Also, I haven’t had Chinese food in years, but the flavors and preparation of this dish brought me right back to traveling through SE Asia and watching movies with chicken fried rice in my early 20’s. One of my favorite things about food is the memories and nostalgia it can trigger. The tastes, smells and textures can deliver you right into another time and place.

Also, avoiding grains and increasing a variety of vegetables for the last several weeks has inspired creativity in meal planning. This all-in-one supper provides a balanced nutritional profile and a tasty think-outside-the-box style of cooking. Cauliflower is a wonderful cruciferous vegetable to incorporate into your diet. It has lots of B vitamins, Vitamin C (though that does get depleted with cooking), fiber, potassium and protein. Injoy!!

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Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower

2 chicken breasts (optional for vegetarians)

2 Tbsp. + 2 more Tbsp Coconut oil

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped

1 cup green peas

4 eggs, whisked

6 Tbsp. wheat-free tamari

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1/2 tsp. fish sauce (optional)

Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Chop vegetables and whisk eggs. Grate the cauliflower on the larger side of a cheese grater, or pulse pieces in a food processor (recommended) until they are rice sized.

2. Squeeze the cauliflower through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to remove any excess moisture, which helps make sure you get the crispier fried rice texture. (You’ll be surprised how much moisture will be squeezed out!)

3. Heat your skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. coconut oil to the pan and allow it to melt. Add your onions and sauté until translucent. Then add garlic and carrots and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add peas and cook 1 additional minute. Remove from pan and set aside in a large bowl.

4. Next add your whisked eggs to the pan and scramble them until they are lightly browned. Add a little sea salt and pepper, remove from pan and add them to the large bowl with the vegetables.

5. Chop chicken breasts into small chunks and saute them in the pan as well. Then add to the bowl with eggs and vegetables.

6. Next add the remaining 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil to the pan and allow it to get very hot. Add the riced cauliflower to the pan and toss it in the oil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, only stirring every couple minutes so that it allows some pieces on the bottom to fry and get brown and crispy.

7. Add the vegetable and rice mixture back to the pan and stir to combine. Add the sesame oil, tamari, fish sauce and some additional sea salt and pepper to taste.