Lemon Walnut Green Bean Salad

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I recently needed a quick, fresh side dish idea for a potluck picnic. This time of year, delicious green beans are in season and offer the perfect spring flavor to any meal. This recipe is a breeze to prepare and with the balance of nutrients in the fresh vegetables and the awesome healthy fats found in walnuts, it is a wonderful complement to a community gathering.

This dish can be made ahead of time, but I suggest leaving the walnuts out until serving to maintain crispness. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed

1 cup walnuts

2-4 Tbls fresh snipped chives

2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ tsp lemon zest

½ tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. Add green beans and blanch for about 4-5 minutes until tender but still crisp.
  3. Drain using a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Place into a large bowl.
  4. Place the walnuts into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and roast for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully as they burn easily.
  5. Place on a plate to cool, then chop and add to green beans.
  6. Wisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and add to the green beans and walnuts. Injoy!!

 

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ABC Fudgesicles (Avocado, Banana, Cocoa/Coconut)

 

 

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With the warm summer weather in full swing, it is a great time to play with some fun, frozen, kitchen concoctions! These naturally sweetened fudgesicles are a hit amongst adults and kids alike. The creaminess of the avocado and banana combined with the sweet delicate coconut flavor works wonders in this delicious dessert.

In addition, it’s always great to find alternatives to the highly processed, super sugar laden dessert options found in the grocery store. Below are the ingredients lists from two popular brands of fudgesicles.

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Yikes!! High fructose corn syrup, aspartame, guar gum, carrageenan, artificial colors and flavors, plus loads of other difficult to pronounce chemicals… this is not the stuff you want to ingest or feed to your kids! Carrageenan for instance, is a gumming agent that is known to cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which is the root cause of ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease and certain types of cancer. In fact, drug investigators have actually used carrageenan in the past to cause inflammation in the tissues of laboratory animals in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. Steer clear of this harmful additive also found in most shelf stable milk alternatives, boxed almond milk, coconut etc. by making your own! The freshness and flavor can’t be beat! Injoy!

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Ingredients:

8 Medjool dates

½ cup water

1 medium avocado, pitted

2 small bananas (or 1 ½ large)

1 cup coconut milk (from a can)

5-7 Tbls raw cocoa powder

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch sea salt

 

Optional additions before blending:

½ cup fresh mint

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

 

Optional additions after blending

½ cup chopped walnuts

zest from ½ orange

dried coconut chips

 

Instructions:

1. Place the dates into your blender and cover with water. Pack the dates down so they are completely covered and let soak for 30 minutes.

2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a little more water or coconut milk.

3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours. Remove by running warm water over the molds to loosen fudgesicles.

 

** This recipe makes 8 fudgesicles, I used half of the quantities to make the 4 pops pictured. Another option is to serve the extra as pudding. It is delicious as a creamy unfrozen desert as well! Injoy!

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

Pork and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

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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.

 

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.

Thanksgiving 2013! Lessons Learned and a Lovely Day in Photos

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Things have been pretty eventful around the Delightenment Kitchen so far this holiday season. Thanksgiving was a wonderful day filled with friends, relaxation, some beautiful sunny outdoor time and plenty of cooks in the kitchen. No holiday is right without a few missteps and opportunities to learn something new. Here are a few tips I learned, followed by Thanksgiving 2013 in photos!

1) Oven bags are not brining bags. This is kind of a no-brainer, I realize. (Or a no-briner, really. Hehe.) Somehow I thought I could make it work. (With a 20lb turkey! Silly girl.) Though, after running around to any open grocery store in the area at 10pm Wednesday night, the boys saved the day with a cooler just the right size. That little blue cooler is now the official tool for large meat marinating.

2) Always ALWAYS check (and re-check) your instant read thermometer and make sure it is not set to Celsius. This mishap was caught just in time and only resulted in the bird being a few more degrees than intended.

3) Wrapping the turkey in bacon once it’s breast side up is delicious, keeps the meat moist and makes the most wonderful gravy I’ve ever tasted. It also may cause a grease fire.

4) When a grease fire erupts and threatens to engulf the kitchen:

1. Do not blow on it.

2. Do not whip a towel at it.

3. Do not run around the kitchen with your hands over your head yelling. It’s not helpful.

4. Don’t bother with the fire extinguisher (it’s just too messy).

5. DO grab some white vinegar and baking soda, mix in a jar (quickly) and toss it at the base of the fire. This chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide and smothers the fire. Thanks Titus!!

5) And lastly, I’ve known this since childhood, it’s always my favorite part of the holiday season, but here it is anyway… Pumpkin pie, especially the gluten-free, dairy-free (made with coconut milk, yum!) low sugar variety that Katie creates, makes an excellent breakfast! Even better thank dessert! I’m thinking next year we should have one for dessert and make one specifically for breakfast the next couple of days.

Anywho… A photo essay. (Recipes will be included in a follow up post.) Injoy!

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Citrus fruits and delicious herbs from the garden for brining.

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The turkey’s in!! Molasses, plenty of pink sea salt and lots of love.

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I have never seen the dogs quite so attentive as when I’m rubbing butter and spices under the skin of a 20 lb. turkey!

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Slow simmering the neck and organs into a stock on the stovetop makes for a delicious and nutritious base for gravy!

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Bird goes in breast side down for the first hour or so to ensure a slower cooking of the tender breast meat.

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Don’t forget to have a good breakfast! We went with green smoothies and latkes (Happy Chanukah) made by Titus!

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The ladies carried on the tradition of taking a walk and collecting lots of live natural objects for the centerpiece. Here’s Pepper putting on the finishing touches.

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Orange cranberry sauce on it’s way….

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Delicata squash roasted with cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg.Also, brussel sprouts with shallots and maple smoked bacon.

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Lightly blanched green beans with ginger and garlic. Scalloped potatoes with goat cheese and fresh herbs.

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I will totally buy the love of dogs with bacon. That is all.

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Aaaaaaand… the guest of honor. Thank you delicious turkey for sacrificing your life so that we may come together and be nourished and celebrate. Also, the pig who’s bacon got into several dishes and was even wrapped around the turkey for a good portion of the roasting. (Not pictured.) Namaste.

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Dessert time! Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie; GF/DF apple crumble pie, with apples from the front yard tree. And (oops) frozen coconut whipped cream!! Such a wonderful meal with lots of fantastic leftovers!