SIBO-Friendly Sous Vide Egg Bites

If you’ve walked into Starbucks at any point in 2017, you might have noticed that they’re now serving Sous Vide Egg Bites. They come in two varieties: Bacon Gruyère and Roasted Red Pepper. As a gluten-free girl, I was excited to see these, and when I actually tried them, I FLIPPED. I began to crave them every day and proclaimed to Loren that our next kitchen gadget would have to be a sous vide. Here’s a pic from my instagram where I celebrate the gloriousness of the Starbucks version. (I’ll admit that I’m not generally the biggest Starbucks fan. When I go in there, it’s usually because I’m in an airport, which is why it took me a while to learn about these egg bites — but I started going out of my way to go there once I found these!!)

sous vide egg bites

This year started out a bit hectic — I quit my full-time job at the hospital and stepped down from a leadership role at my start-up, resolving to completely dive into my self-employed endeavor. The whole first half of the year flew by so quickly, and then suddenly it was July, and I’d never followed through on my vow to buy a sous vide machine and replicate these little yummy bites! I’d even been talking with the talented Nicole Ruiz Hudson over at Nibbling Gypsy about all of her gorgeous sous vide recipes, but I just wasn’t pulling the trigger to get my own. Luckily, just in time for the beginning of ‘funemployment’ kitchen experimentation, Amazon had a flash sale that highlighted the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker. It revitalized my egg bite-creating dreams, and I finally got my hands on one. 

Sous Vide

First things first: what does sous vide mean? Sous vide is a form of cooking that involves submerging a contained food item into a water bath and cooking it at a precise temperature for a set period of time. The ability to maintain a consistent SIBO-friendly Sous Vide Egg bitestemperature allows for even cooking and splendid results, especially for protein dishes. Eggs, in particular, are pretty finicky if you’re hoping for a very specific texture or level of ‘doneness’. The magic wand, of sorts, sits clamped to the edge of the bath (I used my big stock pot) and heats the water to the precise temperature you need.

What do I mean by ‘contained food’? I mean that you’re not dunking a steak directly into a water bath and boiling it to death — that would be gross. Rather, the food you’re cooking is contained in either jars (as we’ll demonstrate today with the sous vide egg bites), BPA-free cook safe plastic bags like these, or silicone bags like these. Today, it’s all about single-serving breakfast and replicating the silky consistency of the Starbucks creation — all within the guidelines of the SIBO diet.

SIBO-friendly

Next question: what makes these sous vide egg bites SIBO-friendly? SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) requires quite a few dietary restrictions, including very limited dairy. Specifically, only cheese that’s been aged for at least one month is permissible (along with only homemade, plain yogurt), and in limited quantities. (If you’re unfamiliar with my SIBO saga, check out this post, which explains what SIBO is, how I think I got it, and the signs and symptoms — which include a lot of overlap with IBS).

I did a little googling to see if I could find some recipes to serve as my jumping off point, and what I found was a whole lot of cream cheese, cottage cheese, and heavy cream. None of these could go into my version of sous vide egg bites, so I had to get creative. As I’ve done with other egg recipes like my Easy Veggie Frittata and my Paleo Bacon Veggie Muffins, I substituted full fat coconut milk for the heavy cream.

frittata

Kitchen Alchemy: Guesswork in ‘Substitution Land’

In considering what to exchange for the cottage cheese and cream cheese, I was kind of at a loss. No aged cheese has that same creamy consistency, so I was worried about how my bites would match up. I decided to try something weird: avocado oil mayonnaise. I say weird, because one of the two main ingredients in mayonnaise is egg, which kind of makes including it a little repetitive. I was unsure when I decided to try it, so I only included 2 tbs for the whole batch. I love how they turned out, but I’m honestly not sure if adding the mayo really had a substantial impact. In my next batch, I’m going to test it out — half the batch with mayo, half without, and I’ll report back my findings with an addendum to this post. 

Intuitive Cooking

I love recipes where there’s little to no measuring, and where creativity can take the dish in any direction. I like to call this kind of cooking intuitive cooking, because you’re trusting yourself in the kitchen, rather than chaining yourself to every tiny detail in a recipe that doesn’t require it. This is a perfect example of a recipe that allows for lots of variation. Include the bacon, or don’t. Add in cooked shrimp or shredded pork instead. Choose whatever cheese floats your boat. Or leave out the cheese entirely. Chop up some veggies for a quick sauté, and throw them in. Add fresh herbs, dried spices, salsa, or hot sauce to the egg mixture. Anything that suits your fancy!

Here are some regional flavor combinations to try out: 

  • Mexican: add cumin, cilantro, cotija cheese (use anejo if you’re sticking to SIBO rules), and a few tablespoons of salsa (only green onion if you’re sticking to SIBO rules). Grease the jars with avocado oil.
  • Italian: add fresh chopped parsley and oregano, parmesan and/or Romano, and few squeezes of tomato paste. Grease the jars with garlic-infused EVOO.
  • French: add bleu cheese, bacon, and green onion. Grease the jars with butter or ghee.
  • Persian: (borrowed from a fellow experimenter) add boiled shrimp, chopped dates, and turmeric. (skip the dates if you’re sticking to SIBO rules). 
  • ‘MERICA: add aged cheddar cheese, bacon, and breakfast sausage (use ground pork and spices if you’re sticking to SIBO rules).

The flavor experiments could continue forever! In my first go at this, I wanted to try to get as close to my original muse (the Gruyère bacon bites at Starbucks) as possible. But I couldn’t resist trying a couple of different cheeses, since I wasn’t sure how long Gruyère is aged, and I didn’t want to take the chance. I also greased half of the jars with bacon grease and the other half with garlic infused EVOO. Both were delicious, but I think I preferred the EVOO.

SIBO-friendly sous vide egg bites

Important Sous Vide Cooking Tips:

  1. Do not tighten the lids too much (do a “two-finger tighten”). Pressure builds as the eggs cook, and if the jars are too tightly sealed, you might have an exploded glass mess on your hands.
  2. Blend the egg mixture in a blender or food processor. Hand mixing won’t get you the silky, uniform consistency you want.
  3. Depending on the size of your jars and how much room you leave at the top, they might float in your water bath. If you find that your jars are floating, place a heavy plate or a big pot on top of them in the water to weigh them down. You can also try stacking them to keep them in place. Another option is to put something at the bottom of the pot (I saw a suggestion for inverted coffee mugs) and placing your jars atop them, so that they’re higher up in the bath and slightly breaching the surface.
  4. Grease the jars for your egg bites. It will make clean up much easier.

Supplies needed: 

  1. Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker
  2. 10-12 4 oz mason jars (you could also use bigger jars and only fill partially — that will definitely cause floating)
  3. A pot or tub large enough to fit the wand and all of the jars (I used a 2 gallon stock pot but only filled the liquid to the “min” line on my wand cooker)
  4. Food processor or blender
  5. Cheese grater (if using cheese)
SIBO-friendly Sous Vide Egg Bites
Serves 10
Set the sous vide to 172° F before beginning your prep. It takes longer for the machine to get to temperature than it does to get this recipe ready to go.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pack cooked bacon (7-10 pieces)
  2. 12 pastured eggs
  3. 2/3 cup coconut milk
  4. 2 tbs avocado oil mayonnaise
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/2 tsp pepper
  7. EITHER 1 cup grated parmesan or Romano
  8. OR 1/2 cup aged bleu cheese
Instructions
  1. Set the Anova to 172° F in the water bath
  2. Place the bacon on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and broil in the oven until crispy (usually 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it so you don't burn it)
  3. Add the eggs, coconut milk, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender and mix on low until it's smooth and homogenous
  4. Grease 10-12 4 oz jars with either bacon grease or an oil of your choosing (I did half with garlic infused EVOO).
  5. Evenly distribute crumbled bacon in each jar
  6. Evenly distribute the cheese of your choosing in each jar
  7. If your blender or food processor doesn't have a pitcher spout, transfer the egg mixture to a spouted measuring cup and evenly distribute among all of the jars
  8. Screw on the lids (but not too tightly, see the cooking tips above this recipe for more detail)
  9. Once the water bath is up to the proper temperature, use tongs to carefully submerge your jars into the water bath
  10. Set the Anova timer for 50 minutes
  11. Remove using the tongs
  12. Use either a dish towel or oven mits to open if the jars are hot
  13. If not eating right away, allow the jars to cool before refrigerating
  14. Eat them right from the jar or slide a butter knife around the perimeter and turn over onto a plate to slide out your egg bite
Notes
  1. Cook the bacon to a pretty full crisp. On my first try, I cooked it exactly how I like to eat it on its own, and I found that it was too chewy in the recipe. On my second round, I cooked it longer and crumbled it into smaller pieces instead of using half pieces as Starbucks does. I liked it this way best.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

To reheat your egg bites, either:

  • Microwave for 30-45 seconds
  • Get a 140° F bath going with your Anova wand and submerge for 15 minute
  • Toast in the oven broiler for 5 minutes (ovens vary, keep your eye on it for this method to avoid burning)

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

Salvadoran Guacamole: Avocado Egg Salad Boats [RECIPE]

Today’s avocado egg salad recipe is one of those things that should have occurred to me a long time ago. For some reason, it required a rushed morning of grabbing some hard-boiled eggs from the coffee shop and needing to use a nearly expired avocado for me to think about combining these two glorious foods. And why not really?

Eggs are delicious and quite possibly one of the most nourishing foods on earth. By design, they exist to support and build life, right? And avocados — they’re creamy, they’re rich, they’re full of healthy fat (namely monounsaturated fat) and fiber, and they NEED to get eaten or they turn to brown mush. Honestly, I know a few people who don’t like avocado, and I’m really not sure how to cure them of their wrong-ness on this topic. It’s sad really. 

Her’s my fancy equation for those of you who enjoy a good visual from time to time.  

Eggs: nature’s perfect food + Avocado: nature’s perfect fat = Toni’s perfect snack

avocado egg salad

A Recipe’s Evolution

Call me late to the game on this recipe all you want. I know. When I googled “avocado egg salad,” I realized that this was not an original idea in any way, but I’m still sharing my own version of it with you today, because my recipe is awesome, and it makes me happy to share awesome things with you. It’s also simple with only a few ingredients, and that makes me happy too. Prepare as I walk you through my experience of innovating something that I wasn’t aware was already a “thing.”

Eggs and Avocado Mash: Beta test 

I started out that first morning just mashing the two things together with a fork and adding a pinch of salt: 2 eggs, 1/2 a decent-sized avocado. When I took a bite, I wondered why I hadn’t been doing this for years. I also knew there would be more iterations of this heavenly combination of foods on the horizon. It was delicious, but I knew I had some ideas on how to kick it up a notch.

Avocado Egg Salad: Version 1.0

Next I tried adding some of my homemade salad dressing and chopped scallions to the mix. The dressing I used was pretty much identical to the linked recipe, except no orange and a little apple cider vinegar added. This version was divine, but I hesitated to share it, because I though that asking you to make a salad dressing before you made the egg salad was asking too much. Granted, it’d be awesome if you just made a batch of dressing and jarred it in your fridge all week, but in the event that you didn’t do that, I didn’t want to confuse things with too many steps and prep. This iteration was already creeping too far away from my mission of SIMPLE.  

Leftovers: Version 2.0

Believe it or not, I was able to eat leftover salad the next day without it being a gross brown blob of mush. It wasn’t quite enough for breakfast though, so I added another egg, a bit more avocado, and a squeeze of lemon. I tossed it my tote to go to work and as I dug in at my desk, a coworker said, “What are you eating?” When I answered with “avocado egg salad,” another coworker said, “Hey, that’s Salvadoran Guacamole!” I had no idea just now unoriginal this idea really was.

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Salvadoran Guacamole, CWB-Style: Ready for Launch

After a lovely morning of gardening, Loren and I needed a snack, and I decided that this was my chance to perfect this recipe for sharing with you! In the spirit of how this whole thing started, I pulled out some romaine lettuce that needed to get eaten and spread the leaves out on a plate to make boats for holding the goodies. And then I got to work on the recipe I’m sharing with you today. 

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CWB-Style Salvadoran Guacamole: Avocado Egg Salad Boats with Smoked Paprika
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled
  2. 1 avocado
  3. 1 stalk celery, chopped
  4. juice from 1 lemon
  5. 1 chopped scallion
  6. 4 or 5 springs fresh cilantro, chopped
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. OPTIONAL: smoked paprika
  9. 4 large leaves romaine lettuce
Instructions
  1. Scoop avocado and eggs into a mixing bowl
  2. Mash the two together with a fork (you might need to start off cutting up the egg, depending on how easily it comes apart with your fork)
  3. Add all chopped veggies, herbs, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to mixing bowl and continue mixing with a fork
  4. Divide the mixture between the 4 lettuce boats and sprinkle each with smoked paprika
Notes
  1. Prep time doesn't include the time it takes to hard-boil and peel the eggs. Cook times depends on how you like your eggs, but can be anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Then if you want to let them cool in an ice bath, that takes a little more time. If you're me, peeling an egg can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes, so I chose to leave this whole process out of the prep time.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/
 Salvadoran Guacamole AKA: Avocado Egg Salad

Flashback: Love Muffins (Almond Flour Muffins [RECIPE])

It’s been a couple of months since I did a “flashback” post, so for those of you who haven’t read the previous ones, I’ll quickly explain. Flashback posts are blasts from the pasts — recipes, experiences, time travel from before my blogging days. I post these stories from time to time, usually because they hold some sort of juicy morsel worth sharing with the world. They often involve a special experience in my life, and today’s flashback recipe is no exception — it’s a love story in fact!

Today, we’re transported back in time to spring of 2011, when these little yummies were introduced to me for the very first time…

Loren had just proposed marriage atop Indian Rock in Berkeley. The following morning, my lovely friend Colleen called to ask if we’d planned to go to the farmers’ market (which took place halfway between our respective homes). I said yes (to both questions!), and she asked if she could meet us there.

Upon seeing Loren and me, she held out a plastic freezer bag filled with beautiful home-baked almond flour muffins and yelled, “CONGRATULATIONS, LOVE MUFFINS!!” A huge fan of cheesiness with a healthy appreciation for pun, I laughed and gave her a big hug, just before sampling a muffin on the spot. Pure gloriousness! I couldn’t wait to get the recipe.

And then the truth was revealed. Once the excitement subsided, Colleen said, “I don’t really need much from the farmers’ market. I just wanted to see your ring, so I brought you these muffins as an excuse. Let’s see it!” 

almond flour muffins love muffins

We got married the following summer. Here are a couple of pictures (sans muffins).

almond flour muffins love muffins

A Muffin Was Born

So that’s how the name of these beautiful almond flour muffins came to be — I got engaged, and since they were kind of an engagement gift, they were dubbed “Love Muffins.” And boy oh boy will you love them! My recommendation is to get as creative with these babies as your little heart desires. But first, try them exactly as the recipe suggests. This way you’ll get an idea of just how delicious they are before you start tweaking things.

Then, the next time you make them, play with the details as much as you like without losing the main ingredients that make them a nice, solid muffin (that’s the ingredients with asterisks* next to them in the recipe below, for those of you who were wondering).almond flour muffins love muffins

Some variations could include:

  • skipping the chocolate and adding fresh blueberries
  • doubling the cocoa powder and skipping the dried cherries for a chocolate/chocolate experience
  • switching out the dried cherries for fresh cranberries and adding in some orange extract
  • swapping the cocoa for cinnamon and switching to white chocolate chips, or even skipping them altogether 
  • adding additional nuts and seeds of your choosing for a heartier, more calorie-dense snack

On the Health Front

This muffin works great for breakfast or a snack, but it does have some extra sugar in it. If you’re tracking your sugar, choose the darkest possible chocolate chips for your muffins or skip the chocolate chips altogether. (These chocolate chips from Enjoy Life are my favorite because they’re dark chocolate and soy-free.) (affiliate link) You can also reduce the amount of maple syrup to 1/4 cup to further cut back the sugar.

These muffins are gluten-free and grain-free, decently high-fiber, full of healthy fats and proteins (from the eggs, almonds, and walnuts), and are sweetened with an unrefined, natural sugar source. They’re a perfectly wholesome addition to nearly any diet — plus they’re called Love Muffins, which makes them great for the mind, body, and spirit. 🙂 

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Love Muffins
This recipe yields 8 large muffins or 10 medium-sized muffins
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
25 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cultivatedwellbeing.com_-150x150.png)">
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 eggs*
  2. ½ cup real maple syrup
  3. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  4. ½ cup unsweetened dried cherries
  5. ½ cup chopped walnuts
  6. ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  7. 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. 3 cups of almond flour*
  9. ½ tsp baking soda*
  10. ¼ tsp salt*
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line a muffin tin with baking cups
  3. Combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a bowl
  4. Combine the cherries, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, maple syrup, and eggs in another bowl
  5. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well
  6. Evenly fill each baking cup with the batter
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes
Notes
  1. *ingredients with asterisks should remain the same no matter how you modify the recipe with new or substituted ingredients I suggested in the post.
Adapted from a recipe in the book Grain-Free Gourmet by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass
Adapted from a recipe in the book Grain-Free Gourmet by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

Flashback: Fancy Dessert Made Easy – Sweet Plantain Custard [RECIPE]

Today’s plantain custard recipe is more of an amalgam than a flashback, although it’s most definitely inspired by a Panamanian adventure. About 4 years ago, Loren and I went on a vacation to Panama. We landed in Panama City and drove across the whole country, stopping along the way in a beach town, a mountain town, and the scariest place I’ve ever been before launching out to the islands of Bocas del Toro — Caribbean paradise. The trip, which we called our “Engage-moon,” lasted two glorious weeks. It was our post-engagement vacation designed and timed to escape as soon as we were engaged in order to curtail the answering of wedding planning questions the second we got engaged. (Believe me, questions were asked that very night until my dad intervened and told me to hang up the phone!) Anyway, I digress.

coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

The view from our first lunch stop in Bocas del Toro

Plantains and Coconuts

Our trip to Panama was fabulous and filled with two things: plantains and coconuts. When we arrived in Bocas Del Toro, the groundskeeper of our BnB brought us freshly shucked coconut. He had skinned and sliced the top off of two coconuts with his machete, and we drank the coconut water before biting right in. It was heaven — and extremely impressive that he didn’t lose a hand in the process.

coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

So good! We were in Coconut Heaven!

coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

Not a soul in site. We had this whole beach to ourselves!

Like most people with functioning taste buds, I love sweet plantains, but what really got me on this trip were the patacones — unripe (green) plantains smashed and fried and heavenly. While today isn’t the day to share that recipe, that day will eventually come — you can count on it (possibly sooner than later because now I’m craving them). Today, however, is a sweet treat featuring very ripe plantains, coconut milk, and (you guessed it) maple syrup. 

>>>Want to read other “Flashback” posts? You can find them HERE.<<<

Second Chances!

To be perfectly honest, this recipe is the result of me buying green plantains with the intention of making patacones, waiting too long, and having to go the sweet route instead. The beauty of the plantain is that you get a second chance! coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

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Sweet Plantain Custard
Serves 4
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/07200113-4-150x150.jpg)">
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 egg yolks
  2. 2 very ripe plantains
  3. 1 cup coconut milk + 1 tbs
  4. 2 tbs maple syrup
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp REAL salt
Instructions
  1. Start with the two peeled plantains and 1 tbs coconut milk in the blender
  2. Once the plantains start to loosen up and get mushy, add in the egg yolks
  3. Pulse enough to incorporate all ingredients
  4. In a double boiler, heat 1 cup coconut milk and maple syrup until you achieve a low simmer
  5. Once the coconut milk is warmed, slowly pour it into the blender pitcher, stirring/ whisking, or running the blender on its lowest setting until all ingredients are well-mixed
  6. Pour the whole mixture back into the double boiler and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes
Notes
  1. Be careful not to overcook this one. The plantains are pretty thick, so if you allow it all to spend too much time on the stove top, you'll end up with something thick and baby-food like, and no one wants that.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Watermelon and Corn Salad: The Ultimate Summer Salad

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

I’ve cracked the code to the Ultimate Summer Salad!

This watermelon salad concoction is hydrating, cooling, satisfying, detoxifying, and even filling. It’s a great addition to any summertime shindig OR an awesome thing to have in your fridge all week and eat all by yourself. It features watermelon and corn, both summertime favorites, but you might not have ever thought to put them together. Today, we’re putting them together to create a salad sensation beyond your wildest dreams!

Maybe I’m going a little overboard selling this watermelon salad, but I tell you what, it sure is tasty — and nutritious. Here’s the healthy rundown.

cultivatedwellbeing.com (12)

Health Benefits of Watermelon 

I love to pack in the phytonutrients, and one nutrient that doesn’t get enough attention as a powerful antioxidant is lycopene — lycopene is thought to prevent cataracts and protect against lung, bladder, colon, pancreatic, and reproductive cancers in both men and women. It’s also protective against heart disease. Because I think about these things, I usually think of tomatoes (the richest source of lycopene in our diets) when I think about lycopene, but it turns out that watermelon is also a great source of this beneficial carotenoid.

And what better way to get all of these awesome health benefits than to concoct a delicious watermelon salad?

Watermelon is also super hydrating, containing a good supply of electrolytes (potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium) — perfect for a summer party, especially if dehydrating alcohol is involved in the mix.watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

Another awesome benefit of watermelon?

Digestive and skin health. If you’ve read any part of this blog at any point, I’ll assume that you know that these are two of my favorite topics. (Find out why these are my pet topics) Watermelon is 92% water, and the bulk of what you feel in your mouth as you chew it up and swallow is fiber. Water + fiber = a happy GI tract and happy bugs living in there too. As if that weren’t enough, watermelon also contains vitamin A (great for your skin and hair) and choline, a powerful nutrient key to reducing chronic inflammation (another pet topic closely related to gut health). Choline also aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.

What Else is in this Summer Salad?

I’m not going to go through every ingredient in this dish, but suffice it to say that I was thinking about two things that start with an “F” when I was putting this thing together. Well, technically, there’s an “F” and a “Ph,” which sounds like an “F,” so just go with it: Flavor and Phytonutrients.

This Watermelon and Corn Salad brings together delicious summer crops and nutrient-dense herbs and seasoners like cilantro and shallots. You get a real bang for your buck with these additions when it comes to packing in the nutrition and the FLAVOR!

Get excited for this tasty treat. Your taste buds will thank you.

Side note: The only reason ice burg lettuce is included in this recipe as a garnish is because it found its way into my fridge without my doing and I needed to use it before it went bad — and it looked really pretty on the plate. I’ve since tried throwing a handful of baby arugula and a few sunflower seeds into this mix, and it was delicious, so feel free to try that out too. The beautiful thing about a salad is that you can experiment pretty wildly and still come out successful. This brings us back to my ever-present theme of “intuitive cooking.” 

Enjoy!

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

 

 

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Refreshing Watermelon and Corn Salad
Serves 4
This salad is the perfect addition to any summer meal. Featuring hydrating watermelon, cooling cilantro, and a mild kick from the smoked paprika, there's no one this salad can't please
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Prep Time
10 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cultivatedwellbeing.com-9-150x150.png)">
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 to 1/2 medium watermelon, cubed
  2. 2 ears fresh corn, cut from the cob
  3. 2 red shallots, thinly sliced
  4. 1/4 to 1/2 head ice burg lettuce (OPTIONAL: great for garnish)
  5. 3 to 4 tbs minced fresh cilantro
  6. 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  7. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  8. 1/4 tsp REAL salt
Instructions
  1. Combine vinegar, salt, and smoked paprika and whisk or stir to fully incorporate
  2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and pour vinegar mixture over
  3. Toss thoroughly to incorporate all the flavors
  4. Line a serving bowl with the ice burg lettuce or create individual plates using the ice burg as a "cup" for the salad.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Celery Root Soup with Fried Sage [RECIPE]

I’ve been sick twice in the last month (including right this moment), and I’m super bummed about it. After starting my bone broth regimen in January of last year, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been sick, and two of them just happened this month (the other two were horrific food poisoning). As a result, I’m sitting at home surrounded by balled up tissue, binge watching Nurse Jackie while I drink my bone broth and kombucha

We were out of town this weekend and didn’t get in until yesterday (yes, sick on vacation), so I’ve lost track of what day it is and almost forgot to post this recipe today! I’m sure you would have forgiven me, but I’ve been really excited to share this celery root soup recipe with you — I made it for an impromptu dinner party last week, and it got rave reviews. I started with a huge celery root, so it ended up being quite a bit of soup. It freezes well, but if you don’t want to make as big of a batch for yourself, just use smaller root veggies and less broth.

celery root soup with fried sage

I took this picture when I made my buttery sage celery root recipe, but I just had to use it again for this post. She’s too cute for words. (Click the picture to check out that recipe)

Kitchen Tools 

I learned with my blended beet borscht recipe that sometimes an immersion blender just doesn’t cut it to get the consistency you want in a pureed soup. I learned this again with the recipe I’m about to share — once I dumped my cooked soup into my (BRAND NEW!!) NutriBullet Rx, this soup went from good to great.

If you don’t have some form of Nutribullet in your life, I really suggest you consider it. Their top of the line model is half the price of a Vitamix (the gold standard for blenders), and I can personally vouch that it works just as well. And while the link I just shared is an affiliate link, no one asked me to say that. (Not that I wouldn’t be thrilled if they paid me to share my love of their products, but for the record, they didn’t. Maybe some day they will…)

Celery Root Soup 

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Celery Root Soup with Fried Sage
Serves 10
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole large celery root, peeled and cubed
  2. 1 whole parsnip, chopped
  3. 1/2 large fennel bulb or 1 small one, chopped
  4. 1 large leek, sliced (the white part only)
  5. 2 tbs chopped fresh sage + more whole leaves for frying
  6. 1 tbs REAL salt (CWB Favorite Pick)
  7. 1/2 tsp cracked red pepper (use 1/4 if you prefer a milder heat. I was shocked at how much impact this amount had on the final product)
  8. 2500 mL chicken or vegetable broth (I used homemade bone broth -- if you have it on hand, go for it, but it's not necessary to use homemade for this to be delicious)
  9. 2 tbs full fat coconut milk (CWB Favorite Pick)
  10. 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep pot, place celery root, parsnip, fennel, leek, and chicken broth
  2. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until a fork runs through the root veggies easily (about 10 minutes)
  3. Lower the fire to a simmer and add salt, sage, cracked red pepper, and coconut milk
  4. Let simmer another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to incorporate
  5. Turn off the fire and allow to cool under oven vent for about 10 minutes
  6. Stir in 1 tbs EVOO
  7. Blend ingredients in a high speed blender (like the Nutribullet Rx) until completely smooth -- it will need to be done in batches
  8. When you're ready to serve your soup, heat a skillet and add remaining two tbs of EVOO
  9. place whole sage leaves into hot oil and fry on each side for 20 to 30 seconds until crisp, taking care not to burn them
  10. Serve soup warm topped with three fried sage leaves and an extra drizzle of EVOO
Notes
  1. The soup doesn't have to cool to room temperature to be placed in the blender, it just needs to not be piping hot to avoid damaging the blender.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

CWB-Style Blended Beet Borscht [Recipe]

My first Borscht

The first time I ever ate (or even heard of) borscht was back in Baltimore when I visited my good friend, Chef Jack Starr at his restaurant about 8 years ago. Maybe more like 9. My how time flies! Way back then, I had not yet acquired a taste for beets, so I was more than slightly hesitant when he put a steaming bowl of blood red liquid in front of me. He’d pureed all the ingredients and turned what’s usually a red brothy soup with chunks of beet, potato, and cabbage into a smooth, creamy masterpiece. He was excited for me to try his take on this traditional eastern European soup, and I absolutely loved it.

I’ve since seen tons of regional variations of this soup. Some include beef or pork; some use savoy or green cabbage instead of purple. Some use tomatoes and very few beets, while others leave out the beets all together. I’ve seen recipes that include potatoes and recipes that don’t. There’s cold borscht and hot borscht, the two prepared totally differently. The spices vary, the consistency varies, and surprisingly, the color varies too. I learned recently that there’s actually a green borscht that features spinach instead of cabbage. Who knew?! 

blended beet borscht

CWB-Style Blended Beet Borscht

Before we left for our 5-day visit to Texas at the beginning of the year, I realized that we had quite a bit of produce in the fridge that we weren’t going to be able to eat before our departure. Included were beets and cabbage, so I asked my buddy Jack what else I needed to make his amazing red pureed borscht. I didn’t want my anthocyanin-rich red and purple ingredients to go to waste. In typical chef fashion, he rattled off the ingredients with no proportions or measurements, so I figured all that out myself. I also used one yellow beet instead of two red ones to tone down some of the earthiness that can sometimes be a bit too much (for me) with red beets. Then I added a few extra ingredients of my own to boost the nutrition and make a CWB-style Blended Beet Borscht
blended beet borscht

Kitchen Tools

One thing I learned in this process is that, as much as I absolutely love my immersion blender, sometimes it’s just not enough to get the fine consistency I want. When I was using it for this recipe, I was disappointed to see that the fibrous ingredients weren’t breaking down the way pumpkin and sweet potatoes do in some of my other soup recipes. I ended up pouring everything into my NutriBullet Pro 900 Series (affiliate link), and was relieved to find that it made all the difference in the world. Use your judgement with your own appliances — you might have a better immersion blender than I do. Just keep in mind that this soup is meant to have nothing “chewable” in it — it’s an entirely smooth, silky consistency, and my little gizmo just couldn’t hack it.

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CWB-Style Blended Beet Borscht
Serves 12
A new take on a hearty traditional Eastern European dish, totally vegetarian and vegan if you use vegetarian broth and skip the sour cream topper.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 red onion, chopped
  3. 4 ribs celery, chopped
  4. 4 medium carrots (use any color you want)
  5. 1 large red beet, diced
  6. 1 large yellow beet, diced
  7. 1/2 head red cabbage, sliced and chopped
  8. 3 tbs fresh grated horseradish
  9. 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  10. 3 tsp real or sea salt
  11. 10 cups chicken or veggie broth
  12. 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  13. Topping: 1 dollop of sour cream per bowl
Instructions
  1. Heat a stock pot on medium and add the olive oil
  2. Cook the next 6 ingredients for 10 minutes before adding the horseradish, dill, and salt
  3. Cook another 5 minutes, then add broth and vinegar
  4. Reduce heat and allow flavors to meld for another 10 to 15 minutes
  5. Transfer to a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of organic sour cream on top
Notes
  1. If you have a very high-quality immersion blender, you might be able to save yourself from dirtying up the blender. I found that my immersion blender wasn't strong enough to get the job done.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Sweet Potato Pound Cake [Gluten-free]

sweet potato pound cake

The first version of this recipe I tried was in the form of a pumpkin pound cake (rather than sweet potato). It was part of a group potluck, and I loved it so much I took the leftovers home to Loren to share it with him. I’ve since made my own version using my homemade roasted sweet potato puree, and it was every bit as delicious as the original pumpkin one. Both versions are absolutely fabulous, so interchange the ingredients as you wish. I brought what was left of our sweet potato loaf home to Texas a few weeks back, and my mom loved it so much she asked me to make another one before I left. She even made sure to copy down the recipe before the trip was over (and she’s not generally a baker).

What makes this recipe shine is that it’s so SIMPLE. With only a handful of whole-food ingredients, none of which requires any special baking chemistry, it’s almost impossible to get this one wrong. And the final product is nothing short of decadent.

 

Delicious AND Nutritious

Not only would you never know that this pound cake is gluten-free, you’d never know that it’s actively good for you, filled with nutrient-dense ingredients that will nourish your body and make your taste buds sing. I’ll just give you a quick nutrition rundown so you can feel awesome about eating this pound cake for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert — add a dollop of coconut whipped cream to this creation and you have yourself a guilt-free, paleo dessert.

  1. It uses only whole food ingredients
  2. It is entirely gluten-, grain-, and dairy-free
  3. It uses only healthy fats from coconut oil, pastured eggs, and almonds – CLICK HERE for your free 15 oz jar of coconut oil
  4. It’s rich in beta carotene and other healthy phytonutrients (this is true whether you use sweet potatoes or pumpkin)
  5. It’s high in fiber and low in glycemic load (even lower GL with pumpkin but true for both)
  6. It includes warming spices, including cinnamon (which helps regulate blood sugar) and ginger (which aids in digestion)
  7. It uses a small amount of natural, unrefined maple syrup (1/4 cup for 8-10 servings), a natural sweetener rich in minerals and minimally processed

sweet potato pound cake

I have to give credit to my friend and colleague, holistic Chef Christine Cully for sharing her amazing recipe with me and allowing me to post it on CWB for you all to enjoy. Lucky for me (and for you as you’ll soon find out once you try this), Christine’s generous attitude is to share the wealth of her great recipes and get people eating better — just get the information out there, no credit requested! Well I’m giving her credit anyway. So here it is, my amazing sweet potato pound cake, adapted from a recipe by Chef Christine Cully. 

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Sweet Potato Pound Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup roasted sweet potato puree (recipe linked at the top of the post)
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  3. 1/4 cup coconut oil
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 cup almond flour
  6. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  7. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Melt coconut oil
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  4. Combine dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until smooth
  6. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 35-40 minutes
Notes
  1. Let sit for about 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan or cutting to serve.
  2. This recipe works great for muffins as well, and yields about 10 muffins
Adapted from Holistic Chef Christine Cully
Adapted from Holistic Chef Christine Cully
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

As promised, today is the day that I share my sweet potato soup recipe using the fresh sweet potato puree I made for Tuesday’s post. This soup is so sweet and rich, you won’t believe there’s literally ZERO added sugar, including natural sweeteners. All the sweetness comes straight from the potatoes, and with all the wonderfully flavorful and warming spices included in this decadent recipe, you’ll be going back for seconds, thirds even! 

Trial and Error – Stick with it!

My first attempt at sweet potato soup a few months back yielded a lumpy baby food-like mess. It wasn’t a mash and it wasn’t a soup. It was this weird soupy mash, and for some reason, it was mealy too. Maybe it was the sweet potato, maybe it was me, I don’t know, but it took a lot of finagling to get it right, at which point I’d lost all track of how I might share it with you, so I decided to wait til this time, when I nailed it.

The lesson I learned was that it’s actually safer to err on the side of (what you might think is) too much liquid for a super starchy soup like this one (or some of the pumpkin soups or celery root soups I’ve made in the past). The reason for this is that you can correct too much liquid by continuing to simmer, stir, and reduce, thereby enhancing the flavor, whereas if you take a too-thick soup off the fire and then try to correct with liquid later, you won’t get the flavor meld you might have gotten with a slow simmer. In any case, I got it right this time, which is why I’m sharing it with you now. Loren called this one “restaurant quality” too! I’ll take the complement and brag it right along to you so you’ll try it at home!

Kitchen Gadgets

I used an immersion blender for this recipe (I swear thing is my best friend), but if you don’t have one, you can use your regular blender (the only downside to that is more clean up — go get an immersion blender). I’ll be sharing my blended beet borscht recipe in the coming weeks, for which my beloved immersion blender just couldn’t do the job. I ended up moving my soup to the Nutribullet for a much MUCH finer blend, which you’ll hear more about when I get that post up. I’ll go as far as to say that it was a move that saved my borscht. So stay tuned for that. 🙂 In the meantime, feast your taste buds on this glorious delight!

roasted sweet potato soup recipe

 

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Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups roasted sweet potato puree
  2. 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 large carrot, chopped
  4. 1 large clove garlic (mince or press 10 minutes before adding to heat for maximum health benefits)
  5. 3 cups coconut milk
  6. 2 cups almond milk
  7. 1 cup water
  8. 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  9. 1 tbs coconut oil
  10. 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  11. 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  12. 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  13. 1 tsp REAL salt or sea salt
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tbs coconut oil in a large, deep pot on medium heat
  2. Add diced onion and carrots and cook until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add pressed garlic and grated ginger, stirring to marry the flavors
  4. Stir in roasted sweet potato puree
  5. Add water, almond milk, and apple cider vinegar, stirring to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom
  6. Add cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and salt
  7. Continue cooking until all ingredients are fully incorporated, then add coconut milk and reduce heat to low
  8. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it becomes one consistency (a regular blender works too -- even better if you have a great blender like a Nutribullet or a Vitamix)
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Dairy-Free Persimmon Pudding [Recipe]

-Editor’s note added 1/18/15

This simple persimmon pudding recipe is the result of a desire not to waste one totally overripe persimmon a friend gave me from her tree. I’m not a huge fan of persimmons, but Loren loves them, so I took a few home for him. He ate a couple and then left one lonely fruit sitting on the counter until the skin became dark orange and translucent and the fruit was soft to the touch.

(As a side note, this could be fodder for some other blog post one day: How to get your husband or housemate to stop leaving small amounts of food in the fridge to be forgotten forever. I think I’ve successfully shamed Loren out of leaving 3 green beans in the bag and cooking the rest, but we both have a problem with eating fruit before it goes. It can sometimes make for interesting science experiments in the fridge …)

ANYWAY, there was this one persimmon. I had used a mushy persimmon before in a couple of other sweet syrupy recipes, but they weren’t good enough to share with you. This time however, I think I might have outdone myself. This is by far my very favorite way to consume a persimmon, and my persimmon-loving husband agreed — he said he liked it even better than the pumpkin custard recipe in my latest eBook.

Both recipes use coconut milk instead of regular cow’s milk, which some might think would pose a thickening problem. It doesn’t. It thickens right up; you just need a little time and patience (barely even any patience in the case of this small batch!). And at the end of the day, you have a dessert that doesn’t bother a lactose-intolerant belly and is full of the healthy fats from the coconut milk and the pastured egg yolks. What more could you ask of a dessert that already includes a bright orange fruit full of carotenoids? 

The “Single Guy Recipe”

I considered sharing a larger version of this recipe — perhaps one that serves 4 to 6 people — but after listening to an old episode of Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast where he laments the absence of “single guy” recipes in cookbooks after making 24 cupcakes and only wanting to eat 1, I decided to leave this recipe exactly as it was on my first try. This recipe serves two, and honestly, with just the two of us at home, it’s nice to be able to make a dessert that doesn’t linger in the fridge calling my name every night until it’s devoured.

Two is good.

As with other pudding/custard recipes, the more you make, the longer it takes to thicken, so anticipate some time adjustments if you decide to make a double or triple batch* of this scrumptious silky persimmon pudding.

*Editor’s note: I’ve since made a larger batch of this and didn’t simply double everything — which would have possibly yielded more but taken FOREVER. To make six 4-ounce servings like the ones pictured below, I used 4 persimmons, 6 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, and 3 cups coconut milk. The directions remain the same.

dairy-free persimmon pudding

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Dairy-free Persimmon Pudding
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Ingredients
  1. 1 overly ripe, pulpy fuyu persimmon, skin removed (scrape the pulp off with a spoon if necessary)
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  4. 1 cup coconut milk
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, heat coconut milk and maple syrup until you achieve a low simmer
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and persimmon pulp
  3. Very slowly pour the warm coconut mixture to the persimmon and egg yolks, whisking thoroughly until completely incorporated
  4. Pour everything back into the double boiler and simmer until it thickens, about 15 minutes
  5. Whisk throughout to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan or clump up
  6. Pour into 2 ramekins and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving
Notes
  1. See editor's note above in this post for how to triple this recipe.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Cucumber Cups

chicken salad recipe

I have to admit, this cute little finger food idea is something I came across almost two years ago, but somehow I completely forgot about it until the other day when I was reformulating my chicken salad recipe. I love it because it brings a healthy element to the holiday snacking spread of cookies, candies, eggnog, and pie. It can be tempting to load up on sugary, starchy, nostalgic comfort foods this time of year, but if you present something healthy and delicious in your holiday spread, you might be surprised at how many people will appreciate the reprieve from the (delicious) junk. 

Quick unrelated confession: I had to pull myself away from buying a canister of a chocolate and caramel drizzled popcorn and almond concoction the other day. I seriously canNOT resist when that stuff is around. Thanks to an encouraging text message from a friend, I successfully left the store without the purchase, but it was a close call! This time of year is hard for everyone, even health and wellness bloggers!

Intuitive Cooking

A chicken salad recipe is one of those recipes that has room to breathe; it’s more a formula really. It can change every time you make it based on what you have in your kitchen. It can be more or less healthy, and it can be adapted to a wide variety of flavor profiles. As you know, I’m big on intuitive cooking — a little bit of this and a little bit of that — and only since launching this blog did I start really paying attention to measurements so that I could share them with you in some coherent manner. This recipe has some good ingredient estimates, but for the record, I believe in you. If you want to add more of this or that, do it. I’m sure it will be great. 🙂

 chicken salad recipe

3 Secrets for Healthy Delicious Chicken Salad

There are three main secrets in concocting a healthy, delicious, and (dare I say) perfect chicken salad.

Secret #1: Use organic chicken (pastured if you can find it and afford it). I often make chicken salad when I’ve bought an organic rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods and have eaten the dark meat for dinner. That’s a great way to go, but you can also cook the chicken yourself too if you find a pastured one. Using organic will mean that your chicken ate non-GMO feed, but eating pastured means that it was walking around enjoying the sunlight and grubs it was digging up in the dirt. Both are preferable to conventional chicken. Find out more about pastured  chicken and eggs in this post.

Secret #2: Pack in as many green things as possible, especially herbs. This recipe includes a lot of celery, chopped green onions, and fresh parsley. Fresh herbs provide a wild and highly nutrient-dense element to your food, and adding them into everything you eat as often as possible is the best way to ensure that you’re getting a good array of phytonutrients. The mayo I used also had some fresh herbs in it, which brings me to secret #3.

Secret #3: Make your own mayo if you can. It might seem like a lot of work or creating extra steps, but I promise you, it takes 2 minutes or less to make your own mayo (just watch the video. It’s like magic).

Advantages of Homemade Mayo:

  1. You can control quality – if you have the highest quality pastured eggs and organic oils in your kitchen, then you are already leaps and bounds ahead of what you can buy at the store. 
  2. You can control the flavor – a small batch of mayo can be whipped up in mere seconds, so you can make it to match whatever suits your fancy. Want a cilantro mayo for this recipe and a smoked paprika mayo for that one? Great! Customize to your heart’s content. This also means controlling for how much salt is added if you’re concerned about sodium intake (not that I’m saying you should be, but if you think you should be, you can control that element here too).
  3. You can control what type of oil you use – the type of oil you use dramatically affects how nourishing (or harmful) the mayo will be to your body. Most people regard mayo as an ‘unhealthy’ food. Store-bought mayo with conventional eggs and processed soybean an canola oil is unhealthy. What you make at home with the right ingredients won’t be. 

chicken salad recipe

Holiday Cucumber Bites

You don’t typically think of chicken salad as finger food. It’s wet and messy, but if you package it in adorable little bite-sized nibble, it’s the perfect, high-protein finger food. These little cucumber cups are adorable and also another way to add a veggie into the mix instead of using a cracker or mini toast. It’s also friendly to those working on reducing processed carbohydrates or avoiding gluten. 

  1. Chicken Salad-Stuffed Cucumber Cups
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    Ingredients
    1. 2 chicken breasts, cooked
    2. 4 stalks celery, chopped
    3. 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
    4. 1/2 cup chopped pecans
    5. 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
    6. 4 green onions, chopped
    7. 3-4 tbs dijon mustard
    8. 2-3 tbs mayo*
    9. Juice from 1 lemon (separate in half)
    Instructions
    1. Mix all chicken salad ingredients (using only 1/2 the lemon juice) with two forks in a large mixing bowl until well-combined
    2. Slice cucumbers into about 1 inch slices
    3. Scoop out centers of each piece to create a tiny cucumber cup
    4. Squeeze a little lemon juice into each “cup”
    5. Using a spoon, place a bite sized portion of chicken salad into each “cup”
    6. OPTIONAL: Sprinkle a bit of paprika over the top for color
    Notes
    1. *If you have time, I recommend making your own mayo. For this recipe, I made mine using the instructions linked in that video, but I used olive oil instead of coconut oil and added some fresh herbs into the mix. Both work great for this chicken salad recipe. If you're using store-bought mayo, try to find an organic one with high-quality oils and eggs.
    Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

 

Spaghetti Squash and Cauli-Freddo Sauce

Today’s post is a celebration of creativity in the kitchen. I love finding new ways to enjoy familiar foods and add more vegetables and healthy fats into my diet, all while creating something delicious in the process. When I make something new, I like to get Loren to guess the ingredients after he’s taken his first bite. He couldn’t figure this one out, especially after I told him it was completely vegan and nut-free. 

A good long while ago I was listening to the Fat-Burning Man podcast, and the guest was talking about her experience in healing with real foods. She had suffered from multiple chronic conditions, was in constant pain, was overweight, and overall miserable. She healed herself by completely changing her diet, eliminating trigger foods and making vegetables her primary source of calories. One of the ways that she’s maintained all the positive changes she’s seen in her life is to make sure that the food she’s eating doesn’t feel restrictive and limited, and to do that, creativity is a must. I wish I remembered her name — I looked through the list of guests and just can’t find the episode I listened to — but one creative idea that stuck out in my mind from that interview was as cauliflower-based cream sauce. I finally decided to try it last week, and inspired by a version of one that I found on OhSheGlows, I came up with my own version of Cauli-Freddo Sauce! It’s delicious and a perfect topper for regular pasta as well as veggie options like spaghetti squash and zucchini “veggetti.”  

I love this recipe because it looks, feels, and tastes dairy-based but is completely vegan and made primarily with cauliflower. It feels decadent, but not only is it ‘not bad’ for you, it’s actively good for you, as cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts offer a host of phytonutrients that protect us from cancer and other degenerative and chronic diseases. I served this dish with cajun catfish and roasted asparagus. It was a hit!
cauliflower cream sauce

Cauli-Freddo Sauce (Cauliflower Cream Sauce)

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Sea salt to taste 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked cayenne pepper
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. Chop cauliflower into pieces and rinse
  2. Place steaming basket inside a large pot and add about 2 inches of water 
  3. Place chopped cauliflower in steaming basket, sprinkle with salt, and cover
  4. Steam cauliflower until a fork will easily go through
  5. Remove steaming basket and cauliflower and dump remaining water
  6. Place pot back over fire and add olive oil and chopped garlic
  7. Let gently sauté without burning and turn off fire
  8. Add cauliflower, sautéed garlic, another 1/2 teaspoon salt, and all remaining ingredients (except parsley) to a high-speed blender
  9. Blend until completely smooth
  10. Plate your “pasta” with sauce on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley 

cauliflower cream sauce

For the Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • avocado oil or olive oil
  • salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Cut squash in half and grease each half with oil 
  3. Sprinkle lightly with salt
  4. Place face-down in 1/2 inch of water 
  5. Roast on 400 for 30 minutes
  6. Using a fork, scrape out the flesh into a bowl

cauliflower cream sauce

Best Stuffed Squash Blossom Recipe Ever

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free

This year we decided to plant pumpkins in our newly created front yard edible landscape, and as a result, we’ve had a boon of squash blossoms to eat (on the left in the picture above). In years past, I’ve seen tiny baskets of squash blossoms in booths at the farmers’ market and been curious as to how people eat them. Every time I’d ask a farmer, the answer would be, “stuff ’em with cheese, bread ’em, fry ’em.”

MMMM, healthy! (sounded like gas and pain to me)

As a result, we never bothered buying them, but once we found ourselves with a front yard full of squash blossoms, I decided to experiment. The first batch I picked ended up getting chopped up and thrown into scrambled eggs, because I never found the time to do anything with them before they started to shrivel. Little did I know, squash blossom petals are like little magical yellow silky spider webs — much stronger and stickier than you’d imagine, which means they are great for stuffing, even if they shrivel a little bit. The eggs were good, but I wouldn’t say the blossoms added much to them besides color.

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free

I was prepared for the next round I picked, which I used for this recipe, and which will undoubtedly redefine what you think of a gluten-free, grain-free, vegan ANYTHING, much less a version of something that’s typically stuffed with cheese, battered, and fried.

Seriously.

I’m talking about stuffing squash blossoms with vegan cheese and coating them with grain-free batter. This is a vegan, gluten-free squash blossom recipe that will have you pinching yourself in disbelief. One bite of these little nuggets of joy and you’ll be singing the praises of vegans and “glutards” (a new term I just learned that completely cracks me up and apparently describes me) everywhere! Maybe you won’t be singing their praises, but you might be singing mine for sharing this with you. This recipe is not only gluten-free, it’s grain-free, lending itself to an even greater audience of restricted eaters.

 

While I’m not the most humble of people among us, I don’t generally endorse the singing of my own praises, but with Loren as my witness, these things are THE BOMB, and you won’t regret making a special trip to the grocery store for garbanzo bean flour to make them. That’s a promise.

A word on which squash blossoms to eat

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain-free

example using a zucchini plant

There are two kinds of blossoms you’ll find in your garden if you’re growing squash of any kind. Some of the blooms are male and some are female. The male ones just look like a regular flower with a regular stem. Those are the ones you want to pick for a recipe like this one. The female ones have a little mini-fruit at the base of the blossom. Check out this article for more photographic examples and some great info on squash gardening. The take-home message is that you shouldn’t pick the female flowers because you will likely be preventing the fruit from forming. The bees move the pollen from the males to the females, and that “insemination” gets the fruit going. If you take the flower off before that happens, the fruit won’t mature. 

Squash Blossoms(1)

Gluten-free Vegan Squash Blossom Heaven

Ingredients:
  • 20 male squash blossoms
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour

    vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free

    basil herbalea super globe in my garden

  • 1 cup water (you want the mixture to be pasty — thinner than hummus, thicker than soup)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt to go in the batter + a little extra to sprinkle right after they come out of the oil
  • Cashew cheese (I left out the cilantro this time. Linked recipe makes more than is needed for 20 squash blossoms)
  • Fresh basil (any kind will work — typically smaller leaves are sweeter. I used basil herbalea super globe from the garden.)
  • Sunflower, sesame, or coconut oil for frying (you want about half an inch of oil in your fry pan)
 Directions:
  1. Make the cashew cheese following the instructions this recipe leaving out the cilantro
  2. Carefully open each squash blossom to stuff the cashew cheese and small basil leaf into the blossom and twist it shut (the petals just stick together like magic yellow mesh)
  3. In a wide shallow bowl, mix the garbanzo flour and salt and slowly incorporate about a cup of water, until you get the desired consistency — not too thick, not too runny
  4. Heat your skillet before adding the oil, then add 1/2 an inch and heat to 330F
  5. Dip the blossoms into the batter, covering completely, and then place into the oil
  6. Cook each side until golden brown
  7. Salt immediately
  8. Drain on some paper towels and allow them to cool before devouring

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free

 

 

Spicy Watermelon Skewers and Agua Fresca

Today’s post is short, but that’s OK. We’re ready for the weekend right?

I started writing this post with the intention of only sharing the Spicy Watermelon Skewers recipe, but then I started to feel like I was cheating posting something so simple.

Honestly though, it’s sweet, simple, and really really delicious; perfect for a back yard BBQ on a hot summer day and great to bring to a picnic.

To assuage myself of the guilt, I’m also going to recommend that you try a slightly modified version of the skewers in the form of an agua fresca as well — instead of skewering the melon, stick it in the blender!

Now you get two recipes for the price of one!

CYMERA_20140627_153734

Spicy Watermelon Skewers:

Ingredients

  • 1 small seedless watermelon (makes about 8 skewers)
  • About 20 nice fresh basil leaves
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions

  • Cut the watermelon into large chunks
  • Skewer three to a skewer, placing a leaf of basil between the three chunks
  • Sprinkle skewer with a touch of cayenne, chili powder, and sea salt
  • Enjoy outside where you can get messy!

Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

watermelon skewers

photo sourced with permission from Creative Commons

Ingredients

  • 1 small seedless watermelon (makes about 3 agua frescas)
  • About 6 basil leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Maple syrup (about 2 tsp)
  • Chili powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  • Chop the watermelon up enough to fit it into the blender
  • Add all other ingredients
  • Blend
  • Enjoy!

 

 

 

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