Sweet Potato Leek Soup [RECIPE]

I have no idea what came over me when I made the decision to make soup on what was likely the hottest day so far in 2017 (last week). But for some reason, I felt inspired to invent a new version of potato leek soup using the sweet potatoes sitting on my counter. I knew I needed to use them, but I just couldn’t bring myself to turn on the oven in my un-air conditioned kitchen. And since I’d just pulled three beautiful leeks from the front yard garden, the idea came to me in a stroke of genius. Loren came home and informed me that soup on a hot day was less genius than I’d originally thought, but I was pretty much finished making it, so we went with it!

Sweet potato leek soup, paleo soup

Sweet Potato Leek Soup Recipe

This recipe was an experiment, and while there’s one thing* I’d do differently the next time I make it (I explain it in the recipe), I’d say it turned out pretty darn delicious. Loren and I brought our soup outside that night to eat at our back yard dining table —  it was much cooler out there than inside our little sweat box of a house, so all in all it was a beautiful evening. We enjoyed the dusk and some candle light, and Dexter hung out on the gravel until we were ready to go back in. That’s success in my book!

*What’s the one thing I’d do differently? The next time I make this soup, I’m going to pull out half the sweet potato chunks from the pot before fully puréeing the rest into a thick, creamy base. Then I’ll add the pieces back in for texture. What I did this time was just do a half-way blend, leaving some larger and smaller chunks, but not achieving a thick base. It was perfectly fine to eat the way I did it, but I think it would be a prettier soup to do it the other way the next time. And the texture would be better.

I did the blending with an immersion blender like this. It’s a great tool to have on hand, but if you don’t have one, just use a blender. It makes for a little more  clean up but works just as well. 

Sweet Potato and Leek Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium sweet potatoes, cleaned, peeled, and cubed
  2. 3 leeks
  3. 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (discard stems and mince leaves as desired)
  4. 6 cups chicken broth/bone broth/vegetable stock
  5. 3 tbs avocado oil
  6. 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Make sure you've cleaned the leeks really well (dirt can hide between the leaves) before separating the green part from the white part
  2. Chop both the white part and the green part into 1/4 inch pieces, keeping them separate for different parts of the process
  3. Melt 2 tbs avocado oil in a medium stock pot and add in white part of leeks
  4. Saute until translucent (about 5 minutes)
  5. Add in the cubed sweet potatoes and rosemary, and cook for another 5-7 minutes
  6. Add in the broth/stock, vinegar, and salt, and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes
  7. Once the sweet potatoes are soft, turn the stove down to low, use a slotted spoon to remove about half from the pot and set aside
  8. Use an immersion blender to blend the contents of the stock pot until smooth and uniform
  9. (At this point, turn off the fire and taste to see if you'd like to add in your coconut milk. If so, stir it in)
  10. Stir the sweet potato cubes back into the mix and cover the pot
  11. In a separate sauce pan, heat the last tbs of avocado oil on medium heat
  12. Toss in the chopped leek greens and saute until softened
  13. Add these to the top of the salad or use as the base of a stir fry (see notes for more details)
  14. Serve soup piping hot
Notes
  1. I love the green parts of leeks and always think it's a shame to see recipes that direct you to discard the greens. They're actually really delicious and contain most of the nutrients you find in leeks, so I encourage you to use them either as a topping for your soup, or as a stir fry ingredient (as pictured here). Simply warm up some ghee or your favorite cooking oil and saute them in a frying pan before adding in a protein, or just on their own. They're also wonderful in the oven -- I just spread the entire chopped leek (both white and green parts) on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and a touch of salt, and roast them as I would any other veggie. They're pictured here sauteed with kale and shrimp.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

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.

Cook-Ahead Meal: Italian Turkey Meatball Recipe

turkey meatball recipe

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe, and this Italian turkey meatball recipe has been on the docket for literally months at this point. It actually took me a while to dig up the pictures I took. Life has been BANANAS lately in the way of making time for CWB, which makes me simultaneously sad for the blog but excited for all the things that are happening in life outside of this project. I hope you haven’t forgotten about me in my infrequent posting lately! I hope to get back to at least weekly posting now that I’ve gotten a better handle on my routine. Now, on with the show!

turkey meatball recipe

Kitchen Hack: Cook-Ahead Recipes

Speaking of life being bananas, making time to cook every night has become increasingly challenging, so in an effort to continue to eat at home (and at a decent hour) while still getting everything else done, I’ve started making bigger pots of food and eating them for many meals — including lunch the next day. This is not a new concept by any stretch, but sometimes it’s hard to actually carry out in the CWB household. Sometimes, we plan to eat the same thing for a couple of nights and then we gobble it all up at once (not a great plan for me, zero consequences for the tapeworm I live with). 

Still other times, I intend to make enough food to eat for a few nights and then freeze the rest for next week, but then I forget about it and it goes bad in the fridge. And I really REALLY hate wasting food. Not good.

All this is to say that making meatballs can be the answer to a lot of these problems. So today’s kitchen hack is really just MEATBALLS. I mean, obviously this can apply to lots of different foods, but meatballs are SUCH an easy thing to make and freeze, and they’re small enough that they’ll cool while you’re eating dinner and be ready for the freezer by the time you’re done (no forgetting about them!) In fact, if you feel as strongly as I do about having a few meals for now and a few for the freezer, you might even double this recipe (depending on how many people you’re feeding at home). 

turkey meatball recipe

Cook-Ahead Italian Turkey Meatball Recipe

This recipe fed us for a night or two, me for lunch a few days, and we even invited a couple of friends over for dinner and finished them off with them. Depending on how hungry you are, 2 or 3 will do the trick.

Each time we ate them, we did something different — that’s the beauty of a really tasty meatball. It isn’t limited to just pasta and tomato sauce. It can work as a meat dish all its own with whatever sides you want; it belongs in Italian Wedding Soup (or any broth-based soup); it can sit on a bed of greens for a salad; you can even eat one with your eggs and greens in the morning. They’re a lot more versatile than you think. And the dirty dishes for this project include 1 cutting board, 1 chef’s knife, 1 cookie sheet, and 1 bowl. That’s it. 

Enjoy!

Cook-Ahead Italian Turkey Meatballs
Yields 18
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs turkey (1/2 light, 1/2 dark)
  2. 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (stems removed)
  5. 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  6. 1/2 tsp REAL salt
  7. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  8. 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
  9. 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  10. avocado oil for greasing the pan
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 375
  2. add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix gently by hand
  3. form meat balls about 1.5 inches in diameter (slightly bigger than a golf ball) and place them about 1/5 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet
  4. bake for 15 minutes
Notes
  1. makes 18 to 20 meatballs
  2. great for freezing for later
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

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.

cultivatedwellbeing.com (7)

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

Sweet and Savory Spaghetti Squash Waffles [RECIPE]

Today’s spaghetti squash waffles recipe was born out of a need to use an incredible surplus of spaghetti squash, which landed in my kitchen after my first experiment with a grocery delivery service. It’s the kind of service where you go online and select your items and then someone goes to the grocery store of your choice and shops for you. I had never done this before. It was fun going through the online list of items and picking out the foods I wanted delivered. It took surprisingly longer than I thought it would, but most definitely less time than going to the store myself would have. So I was excited at this new-found extra time I’d have because of this convenient service …

Womp Womp 

While I won’t say that I was entirely satisfied with the service (or that it’s worth the up-charge on every item, the tip for the shopper, AND the delivery fee), I will say that it was definitely a learning experience as far as “being specific” is concerned. There are elements of grocery shopping that you take for granted when you do it for yourself — things you don’t necessarily think about, because they’re inherent to you and your family. You know what you’re shopping for. You know how many people you’re shopping for, and how quickly these people will eat the food you buy/cook.

I have two people in my household, and I added one spaghetti squash to the list. When I saw my bags of groceries sitting on my doorstep, I was shocked to see that one of the grocery bags was almost entirely filled with one.gigantic.spaghetti squash. It was literally the biggest spaghetti squash I’ve ever seen. As an aside, I also ordered a few root veggies, thinking I’d do a nice roasted root side for dinner one day that week. I ordered one parsnip as part of that combo, and got the saddest, tiniest little parsnip I’ve ever seen. Here’s a size comparison:

sweet and savory spaghetti squash waffles

Anyway, this post wasn’t meant to be a bashing of home-shopping services. I know many people find them useful. And if it weren’t for this incredibly sized spaghetti squash, I never would have thought to come up with this kitchen hack or recipe. So there’s a silver lining, per usual.

Leftovers + Waffle Iron = New Creative Meal! It works for a lot more than just squash. In fact, I saw some pretty cool ideas right after Thanksgiving using leftover cornbread stuffing, veggies, and all kinds of other goodies. Start experimenting!

Size Matters

Apparently, in the world of spaghetti squash, size really does matter. I baked this thing using my favorite, super simple method for making winter squash. Stick it in the oven whole. I’ve done this many times with many different types of winter squash, and spaghetti squash in particular has come out great in the past. I could use a fork to fluff out the “spaghetti” strands and top it with my favorite paleo sauces. This time, with this gargantuan, the fluff yielded big chunks rather than “spaghetti.” I thought maybe I hadn’t cooked it long enough, but the flesh was definitely cooked.

Still as delicious as any other spaghetti squash would be, I decided to get creative with my chunky squash, as I knew we’d be eating it for days. And these beautiful waffles were born!

Sweet and Savory Spaghetti Squash Waffles

I have slight variations on this waffle to make one sweet and one savory. Neither has a particularly strong leaning either way, but one is perfect for savory toppings (like avocado, some homemade salad dressing or even as the bottom of an open-faced sandwich), while the other is better suited for a sweeter topping like almond butter and bananas, pumpkin butter, or maple syrup and butter. Basically all butters!

All the other ingredients are the same. 
sweet and savory spaghetti squash waffles

sweet and savory spaghetti squash waffles

A Word on Maca Powder

I’ve added maca powder to this recipe for my own personal reasons, not because it adds much in the way of flavor to these recipes. But I wanted to include it here, because I thought it’d be a good chance to tell you about this awesome super food.

“What are my personal reasons?” you might be wondering. I’ve been feeling somewhat drained lately, and I’m concerned that my adrenals are taking a hit from all the work I’m doing (three jobs right now). As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’ve also recently decided to go off of birth control after 11+ years of use, and as a result, I’m experiencing some wonky hormonal side-effects. 

While I don’t think I’ve reached the point of full-on adrenal fatigue, I’d like to prevent it before I get there, so I’m taking precautions. If you’re unfamiliar with adrenal fatigue and are curious to learn more, this is a great place to start for some basic info and links to more in-depth explanations. I haven’t yet been tested, but I’ve been super burnt out and exhausted lately, so I’d like to get ahead of my energy to avoid hitting the bottom.

After all, this blog is all about self-care, so I sure as heck better be taking care of myself, right?! My course of action so far has been to supplement with maca powder and another potent adaptogen formula (affiliate link) every day, and I can say with certainty that I’ve noticed a positive difference in my energy levels and ability to focus. I’ll share more about adaptogens in a future post. 

What’s Maca Powder?

sweet and savory spaghetti squash waffles

click to purchase through my affiliate link

Straight from WebMD: “Maca is a plant that grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru for at least 3000 years. Maca is a relative of the radish and has an odor similar to butterscotch. Its root is used to make medicine. 

Maca is used for “tired blood” (anemia); chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); and enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory, and fertility. Women use maca for female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, and symptoms of menopause. Maca is also used for weak bones (osteoporosis), depression, stomach cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, erectile dysfunction (ED), to arouse sexual desire, and to boost the immune system.”

I’ve used maca on and off for years but this is the first time I’ve included it in a consistent daily routine. An occasional teaspoon added to a smoothie here and there never yielded any noticeable changes, but daily use has benefited me these last few weeks. The caveat, of course, is that I didn’t go about my change very scientifically. Desperate to feel better, I added my adaptogen formula and the maca at the same time, so I can’t say for sure if my better state of health is due to one, the other, or both. I plan to keep using the maca when the adaptogen formula runs out and see how I feel after a few weeks. On with the recipe!

  —> Pin this Recipe <—

Sweet and Savory Spaghetti Squash Waffles
Yields 6
Season one way for sweet and one way for savory, and use these waffles for any meal of the day! This recipe yields 6 regular, square waffles.
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Prep Time
6 min
Prep Time
6 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 eggs
  2. 1.5 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  3. 1/2 cup almond meal
  4. 3 tbs coconut flour
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  7. OPTIONAL: 2 tsp maca powder
  8. For savory waffles: 1 tsp lemon pepper
  9. For sweet waffles: 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. Avocado spray for the waffle iron
Instructions
  1. Heat your waffle iron before you start mixing
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-incorporated
  3. Spray waffle iron with avocado spray
  4. Pour mixture over waffle iron
  5. Cook in waffle iron until browned and crispy (or less crispy if that's how you like them!)
Notes
  1. I included the time to cook the spaghetti squash in the "cook time" area above. If you've already cooked and scooped the spaghetti squash, this recipe takes only as long as it takes you to mix the ingredients and cook in the waffle iron. These waffles keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the oven when you're ready to use them.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

 

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie [RECIPE]

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Potpie

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie 

We had a big crowd for Thanksgiving this year. But apparently we had an even bigger turkey, as it was the only thing leftover by the time we all packed up to head home from our Thanksgiving trip to Bend, OR — our unexpectedly epic, snowy adventure.
 
I’d intended to experiment with a few different ways to use the Thanksgiving leftovers, but alas, turkey was the lone-leftover. Everything else got gobbled up, but don’t be too upset, because I’m about to share with you the most outrageously delicious paleo pot pie you’ll ever sink your teeth into.
Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Potpie

Smith Rock State Park, OR 

 
It’s completely free of corn starch and wheat flour, and the only dairy in it is the butter in the crust. You’ll never believe what makes the filling creamy! (Don’t worry, I’ll get to that in a minute.) The crazy part is, you’d never even know it was missing anything! I would be willing to wager that if I handed you this dish in a blind taste test, you would have absolutely no idea that I’ve used only wholesome, healthy ingredients, OR that it’s both gluten-free and grain-free. I’m so excited for you to try it!
 
Disclosure
But first, full disclosure. I like to give credit where credit is due. Before this experiment, I had never made a pot pie in my life, so I scoured the web for grain-free, gluten-free pot pie recipes that didn’t seem too complicated. I ended up landing on this one from Every Day Maven, and I took a page out of her book to concoct my own version of this paleo treat. I pretty-much use her exact method for the crust. I just changed some of the seasonings to fit my own palate. I suggest you check hers out and see which one sounds better to you. She also has some great step-by-step pictures, which I’m not going to include here.
 
As far as not being too complicated — this recipe has a lot of steps and it does take a while, but it’s very straight forward, and I’ve laid it out in the simplest way possible, so just about anyone can follow along. Which leads me to my next point … 

A Kitchen Helper

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey PotpieI’m lucky enough to have a helping hand in Loren when I make multi-step recipes like this (at least most of the time). This recipe has a lot of moving parts, and although it’s certainly possible to get it done solo, it’s more fun to have someone in the kitchen with you to share tasks — or at the very least to wash some dishes so you don’t have a mound a mile high waiting for you when you’re done.

That being said, there are some “cooling periods” in this recipe — you stick the dough in the freezer twice for large chunks of time — so you can chop and prepare other things while you wait. I’ve laid out the tasks in the order that makes the most sense for a solo home cook.

This recipe in total takes well over 2 hours — not quite sure where the Maven’s math came from at an hour and 50 minutes — so if you’re anything like the skinny man I live with and need dinner right away, have a snack. Or make this on the weekend. I’ll be honest, it’s one of the more labor-intensive recipes at CWB, but it’s SO worth it. Even the skinny, hungry man agreed!

Coconut Cauliflower Puree

This is my little not-so-secret, secret ingredient for this masterpiece. Your average pot pie recipe calls for either white flour or cornstarch + either milk or heavy cream to create the thick, creamy, saucy consistency of the filling underneath the dough. Everyday Maven chose to replace those ingredients with russet potatoes and coconut milk. I took it a step further and replaced the potatoes with steamed cauliflower for a lower-carb option. I like to pack in the phytonutrients wherever I can, and not being a fan of eating too much potato, I decided to give a nod to some of my other creamy cauliflower recipes (Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup and Cauli-freddo Sauce) and make the swap. It turned out FANTASTIC. It took some doing not to just start spooning out the puree and eating it before it ever made its way into the frying pan. And since I eliminated the potato chunks as well, I added some umami to the mix with diced cremini mushrooms, which I sautéed with the onions and carrots. Yum! 

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Potpie

Note #1:

You need your butter to be rock-solid cold for the crust in this recipe. I happen to buy lots of butter at a time and keep the extras in the freezer, so it worked out for me to be able to make this recipe on the spot, but you will be sad if your butter isn’t frozen when you start this recipe. Just giving you a heads up.

Note #2: 

Getting everything done in the right order is the best way to ensure a timely dinner. 
  1. Start with the dough and get it into the freezer as quickly as possible. 
  2. Then get to steaming your cauliflower (don’t forget to add a pinch of salt!)
  3. Then start chopping. 
  4. Then preheat the oven.
  5. Then start sautéing the veggies.
  6. Then get the dough worked out flat and stick it back in the freezer.
  7. Then start blending.
  8. Then get everything else into the pot.
  9. Then grease your dish.
  10. When the dough is ready, you’re ready for the oven. 
Step by step details are below in the actual recipe, but I wanted to give you an outline first.
 
Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie
Serves 6
I'm including the time freezing the dough as prep time and assuming that's when you'll be doing your chopping and simmering. If you do the dough on another day and freeze it to use later, the prep time will be shorter because you won't be waiting for the dough.
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Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Crust Ingredients
  1. 1 cup blanched almond flour (CWB Favorite Pick)
  2. ¾ cup tapioca starch (CWB Favorite Pick)
  3. ½ tsp garlic powder
  4. ½ tsp lemon pepper
  5. ½ tsp Real salt (CWB Favorite Pick)
  6. ¼ tsp baking powder
  7. ¼ cup frozen butter (I use Kerrygold pastured butter)
  8. 1 large egg
  9. 3 tbs ice cold water
Pot Pie Ingredients
  1. 1 tbs butter or ghee for sautéing (CWB Favorite Pick)
  2. Avocado oil for greasing (butter or ghee works too, but I sprayed with my Misto Sprayer to make it easier)
  3. 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  4. ½ cup full fat coconut milk (CWB Favorite Pick)
  5. 3 medium carrots, diced
  6. 8 cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  7. 1 head cauliflower
  8. 1 pound leftover turkey meat, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  9. ⅔ cup frozen peas
  10. 1 tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary
  11. 1 cup bone broth (CWB Favorite Pick)
  12. Dash of apple cider vinegar (CWB Favorite Pick)
  13. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place almond flour, tapioca starch, garlic powder, lemon pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and baking powder into a food processor and pulse a few times
  2. Shred your frozen butter right into the flour mixture using a cheese grater
  3. Add in the egg
  4. Gently pulse just enough to incorporate the egg without over-mixing
  5. Stir in the cold water with a spatula or spoon
  6. Spread a sheet of parchment or wax paper over a cookie sheet or cutting board and dump your dough -- it should be a lump of dough, not liquidy
  7. Place dough in the freezer for 30 minutes
  8. While the dough is freezing, chop up your cauliflower and start steaming it on the stove with a dash of salt
  9. Chop your onions, carrots, and mushrooms, and cube your turkey
  10. On a very large skillet, heat about a tablespoon of ghee and add in the onions
  11. Sauté onions until translucent
  12. Add in carrots, mushrooms, and the bone broth, and turn down the temp to a simmer
  13. Pull the dough out of the freezer and place another piece of parchment or wax paper on top before rolling out or shaping with your fingers to fit your dish (I used 6 personal pie dishes, but it was too hard to make perfect circles to top each pie. I ended up cutting the dough into 6 pieces with a pizza cutter after the final freeze and just placing "squares" on top instead of fitting the dough completely around the top of the pie. If you fit your dough around one larger pie, cute some slits into it to let the heat out as it bakes)
  14. Place rolled out dough back in the freezer for another 30 minutes
  15. Once the cauliflower is steamed, transfer it to the blender and add the coconut milk and a dash of apple cider vinegar
  16. Blend until completely smooth and set aside
  17. Add turkey, frozen peas, and rosemary to your veggies on the stove and turn up the heat
  18. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes until the peas have thawed and all the veggies are cooked
  19. Turn off the stove and stir the cauliflower/coconut mixture into the meat and veggies
  20. Grease your baking dish(es) -- I sprayed avocado oil to keep it simple
  21. Transfer your filling into your baking dish(es)
  22. Pull the dough out of the freezer, remove the top piece of parchment paper, and either flip over directly onto the one dish or use a pizza cutter to cut into equal pieces to top your individual pies.
  23. Bake at 350 -- 1 hour and 10 minutes for one big pie or 50 minutes for little ones
Adapted from Every Day Maven
Adapted from Every Day Maven
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

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.

Pecan Pie Two Ways: Maple Bourbon and Chocolate [RECIPE]

This Thanksgiving, we’re heading out to Smith Rock in Oregon for a Friendsgiving. We’ll be staying in a house in Bend and enjoying our turkey dinner with some of our closest climbing compadres. I love this time of year — in case I haven’t said it 100 times before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the tradition, the food, the family, the friends.

A Tradition of Gratitude

Last year, after we enjoyed our potluck Thanksgiving meal, we started what I’m hoping will become a new tradition among friends. We picked one person at a time and each of us said what we were grateful for about that person — our favorite thing about them and why. And then we all jumped in the hot tub on a cold desert night. It was beautiful. Unfortunately this year’s destination doesn’t include the hot tub, but I’m crossing my fingers we’ll share our gratitude together again. 

A Tradition of Pecan Pie

One thing’s for sure. I’ll be bringing not one but TWO pecan pies this year. One maple bourbon pecan pie, and one chocolate pecan pie. Pecan pie is my absolute favorite holiday dessert. It reminds me of home, and especially of my grandmother who passed away a couple of years back. She used to make the best pecan pie ever. My pecan pies are all grain- and gluten-free, and they work great for those with lactose or casein allergies, because I use ghee instead of butter. The crusts are made with almond flour.

gluten free grain free maple bourbon pecan pie

In the course of doing this blog, I’ve learned that as I improve and perfect recipes over time, it never hurts to share the improvements, even if I’ve already posted a recipe here at CWB. If you’re a CWB veteran who’s been with me since the beginning, you know that I posted a chocolate pecan pie recipe waaaaaay back in the first month of this blog’s existence. But I’ve improved upon that recipe — I’m sharing both versions of my favorite holiday dessert with you today. Get excited. They’re delicious.

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie
Yields 1
pecan pie is my absolute favorite fall/winter/holiday dessert. add bourbon, and you've stolen my heart.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
For the crust
  1. 2.5 cups almond flour
  2. 1 egg
  3. 2 tbs palm shortening (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 1 tbs bourbon (I used Bullet)
  5. pinch of salt
For the filling
  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 1 cup maple syrup (I use grade B)
  3. 4 tbs ghee (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 1 tbs bourbon
  5. 2 tsp vanilla
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 1 1/4 cups pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
For the crust
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until a ball of dough forms and all ingredients are incorporated
  2. Shape in a pie dish by hand and place pie crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling
For the filling
  1. Using a hand mixer or immersion blender, combine the first 7 ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are completely incorporated and you have a uniform liquid (you want all the sugar to dissolve into the liquid and the ghee to be mixed in completely)
  2. Stir in pecans
  3. Remove crust from the freezer and pour in the filling
  4. Cut a pie-sized circle out of a piece of foil or use one of these and place on the exposed crust to protect it from burning
  5. Bake for 30 minutes
  6. Allow to cool before slicing and serving
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/
glutenfree grain free maple bourbon pecan pie and chocolate pecan pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie
This recipe is an improvement upon an old favorite from way back at the birth of this blog. It takes the traditional (albiet gluten- and grain-free) pecan pie and adds dark chocolate chips for a rich, delicious experience.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
For the crust
  1. 2 cups almond flour
  2. 1 egg
  3. 2 tbs palm shortening (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. pinch of salt
For the filling
  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 1 cup maple syrup (I use grade B)
  3. 4 tbs ghee (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 2 tsp vanilla
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 1/4 cup pecan halves
  7. 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (CWB Favorite Pick)
For the crust
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until a ball of dough forms and all ingredients are incorporated
  2. Shape in a pie dish by hand and place pie crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling
For the filling
  1. Using a hand mixer or immersion blender, combine the first 6 ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are completely incorporated and you have a uniform liquid (you want all the sugar to dissolve into the liquid and the ghee to be mixed in completely)
  2. Stir in pecans
  3. Remove crust from the freezer and pour in the filling
  4. Evenly sprinkle chocolate chips into the filling
  5. Cut a pie-sized circle out of a piece of foil or use one of these and place on the exposed crust to protect it from burning
  6. Bake for 30 minutes
  7. Allow to cool before slicing and serving
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/
 gluten free grain free maple bourbon pecan pie


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links (CWB Favorite Picks), 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.

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. 🙂 

http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cultivatedwellbeing.com_-150x150.png)">
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.

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

 

 

http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cultivatedwellbeing.com-9-150x150.png)">
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/

Mexican Stuffed Acorn Squash [RECIPE]

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a beautiful kitchen hack for preparing winter squash. For those of you who missed my post on this ground-breaking topic, the secret is … wait for it! … putting the whole thing in the oven uncut, unpeeled, un-punctured, and roasting it on 375-400 for 30 to 45 minutes. It’s super simple, super delicious, and it works for all winter squash, including pumpkin. I recently did it with butternut squash for a party (roasted 4 of them on the same cookie sheet for about 45 minutes total) and spaghetti squash for lunch with a friend (roasted 1 big one for about 30 minutes), and they all turned out great.

When I shared this kitchen hack, I also shared a delicious ground lamb and purple cabbage recipe to go along with it — to stuff in the halved, roasted squash. Today I’m sharing another awesome “squash stuffing.” This one is all about Mexican spices, and I love it even more than my first stuffed acorn squash recipe. 

stuffed acorn squash recipe

Seasoning and Timing

When seasoning with delicate herbs and spices, I’ve found that timing is everything. Adding cilantro too soon can mean wasting it because the flavor will be cooked out before you serve the dish, but there IS a flavor difference between cooked and raw cilantro. This recipe uses both, because I love both, and I feel like they both need to be there to get the right balance of flavor. I never ever use dry cilantro (or parsley or basil) because it’s just a waste — they basically taste like nothing once they’re dried. If you can’t find them fresh, start searching for some other way to flavor your food.

Same goes for lime juice: timing is everything. Squeezing a lime into a marinade is a great way to flavor a piece of meat or veggies, but squeezing it into a hot pan too soon when there hasn’t been any time for it to sink into the other ingredients is a waste. If you want lime or the acidic effect of lime, marinate or add close to the end. Otherwise it’s a waste. 

A Word on Preparing Beans

If you’ve read my post on maximizing phytonutrients, you may have checked out the book I reference by Jo Robinson, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (affiliate link). If not, I’ll share another food hack with you from that book. Canned beans have more antioxidant value than dried ones. Somehow the heating process increases the nutrient value, bringing more phytonutrients to your plate. Fascinating, right?

The only problem is that canned beans aren’t soaked before they’re cooked, leaving all the phytic acid and other antinutrients present. These components make it difficult for us to digest beans and properly utilize all the protein they offer us. They can also make calcium difficult to absorb, which can be a problem for those with brittle bones or osteoporosis. Soaking beans before cooking with water and a touch of acid (like raw vinegar, lemon juice, or kombucha) will diminish the phytate content and make beans a much healthier food to consume.

But canned beans are already cooked. Guess what? You can still soak them! Compared to soaking and then cooking dried beans, this won’t seem like a chore at all, trust me.

Simply rinse your beans in the morning and place them in bowl filled with lukewarm water. Drop about 2 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar into the water, and swish it around. Cover the bowl with a plate or towel on the counter, and head off to work. (Don’t refrigerate.) When you come home 6 to 8 hours later, drain the liquid and rinse the beans one more time before adding them to your recipe. 

 

  • http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-03-30-20.04.42-150x150.jpg)">
    Mexican Stuffed Acorn Squash
    Serves 4
    Servings for this recipe are tricky. The stuffing will feed 3 to 4, but how many the squash will feed will depend on the squash. I always like to find the smaller squash and make more so that 1/2 a squash is about 1 serving. If you end up with a huge squash and only two people eating, consider scooping out half of each one for lunch the next day with the remaining stuffing.
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    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    40 min
    http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-03-30-20.04.42-150x150.jpg)">
    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    40 min
    Ingredients
    1. 2 small acorn squash
    2. 16 medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    3. 2 cups cooked black beans*
    4. 1/4 small red onion, diced
    5. 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
    6. 1/4 jalapeno (you decide the heat -- I don't use the seeds)
    7. 2 cloves garlic, minced (let sit at least 10 minutes before adding to fire)
    8. 2 tbs avocado oil
    9. 20 sprigs of fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
    10. 1 tsp dried savory
    11. 1 tsp dried marjoram
    12. 1 tsp cumin powder
    13. 1/4-1/2 tsp REAL salt (to taste)
    Instructions
    1. Heat the oven to 400 (no need to preheat)
    2. Place two small acorn squash on a cookie sheet and roast for 35 to 40 minutes while preparing everything else
    3. In a warm skillet, add 2 tbs avocado oil, onions, and peppers
    4. Allow onions to "sweat," stirring on low heat for about 3 minutes before adding in half the chopped cilantro leaves
    5. Stir in cooked, strained black beans
    6. Stir in minced garlic and simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes before adding shrimp
    7. Clear some space on the skillet so that the shrimp hit it directly to cook
    8. Give each side about 30 seconds and flip, then incorporate into the beans
    9. Stir in salt
    10. Once the shrimp are completely cooked through (but not overcooked), add the other half of the cilantro leaves and the juice of 1 lime and turn off the heat
    11. Slice the roasted acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds
    12. Stuff the halved squash with the Mexican shrimp stuffing and consider the optional toppings below
    Notes
    1. OPTIONAL: top with sour cream or greek yogurt, cilantro pesto, guacamole, sunflower seeds, or some combination of these
    2. * see note about preparing beans
    Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

The Perfect Zucchini Lasagna

This recipe was many iterations in the making in the CWB kitchen. I tried a version of it that ended up too “crunchy” with slightly under-cooked zucchini, and one with vegan cheese (the cashew cream from this recipe minus the fresh herbs). I’ve seen many versions of it online, most of them stuffed with what I consider to be WAY too much  cheese (some had up to 4 cups of mozzarella + even more ricotta!). While I bet those recipes are delicious, I just can’t justify eating that much cheese in one meal.

Not only is all that lactose and casein hard on the bowels, we can’t forget that lactose is a sugar. Whether dairy challenges your digestion or not, cheese — and especially soft cheese like mozzarella and ricotta — is mostly sugar and fat. We often consider cheese a source of protein — which it is — but it’s not necessarily an ideal source if you’re working on minimizing your sugar intake or watching your waistline. As delicious as it is, cheese isn’t something we should over-consume, no matter what lifestyle plan we’re following.zucchini lasagna

The Perfect Balance

In my quest for a perfect zucchini lasagna, I wanted something that was cheesy, but not too cheesy. I chose to feature goat cheese because it’s easier to digest than most cow cheeses. I also chose parmesan as the topper because hard, dry cheeses have less sugar and less fat than the softer varieties. And parmesan provides a delicious, classic Italian flavor to a modified yet still classic dish. 

My goal was to create a dish just filling enough — I wanted it to be satisfying, but to stop short of the overstuffed, pants-unbuttoning feeling we sometimes get from lasagna or other cheesy Italian dishes. And I wanted to avoid a greasy mess. Nothing is more unappetizing to me than seeing orange oil ooze out of my food. (Ok, I can think of more unappetizing things, but that one is up high on the list.) I found my balance by creating a light tomato and lamb ragu packed with spinach and aromatic herbs, skipping the pasta, and going light on the cheese.

zucchini lasagna

One Important Extra Step

Most recipes I checked out online simply layered the raw zucchini in the baking dish between the sauce and the cheese. I see two problems with this strategy. First, when I tried that, I ended up with some unwanted crunch in the final product, which I wasn’t happy about. Likely I just didn’t cook it long enough, but we were too hungry to wait any longer, and when I reheated it in the oven the next day, it was still crunchy. Second, zucchini is a very watery vegetable. When you cook it, the water leeches out, so you could/will likely end up with a soupy mess that falls apart when you cut it if you simply throw the slices in raw.

I avoided both of these potential snags by doing a quick roast of the zucchini before putting together the layers. The explanation about how to do it is included in the recipe below. Another option is to salt the zucchini and let the water leach out of the raw strips before baking, but I’ve found that you run the risk of making the final product too salty, plus it takes almost as long to do that as it does to put them in the oven. I had mine roasting while I made the sauce, so the only extra time it took was the time to wash the cookie sheets I used to roast them. Ultimately, it’s up to you. You can skip the roasting step and see what happens, or you can do the quick roast and add that much more flavor into the dish.zucchini lasagna

One more thing…

When I sent Loren to the store with a grocery list that included “goat cheese,” he came back with honey goat cheese. At first, I thought about running down the street to get what I’d really wanted, but then I just decided to try it with the honey. Equal parts curiosity and laziness yielded the sweet addition to this recipe. It’s actually really good and not too sweet at all! Makes for a unique version of this popular variation on lasagna. Just enough to give the dish something extra. (Way to go Loren!)

It’s up to you if you want to use it or just go for standard goat cheese, just giving you full disclosure on how it came to be in this recipe. 

http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-03-22-15.28.40-150x150.jpg)">
The Perfect Zucchini Lasagna
Serves 6
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-03-22-15.28.40-150x150.jpg)">
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 zucchini
  2. 1 lb ground lamb
  3. 1/2 large red onion, diced
  4. 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed (set aside for 10 minutes before adding to the fire)
  5. 2 big fists full of baby spinach
  6. 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  7. 4 green onions, sliced
  8. 2 cups strained tomatoes (CWB Favorite Pick)
  9. 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  10. 3 to 4 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon (or whatever fresh spices you have on hand) - using twine, bind them together so that they will be easy to fish out later
  11. 2 tsp salt + more for sprinkling
  12. 1 tsp lemon pepper
  13. 1 tbs EVOO + more from a Misto for spraying (CWB Favorite Pick)
  14. 1 small tube honey goat cheese** (CWB Favorite Pick)
  15. 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Using a mandolin, slice zucchini long-ways to create long, thin strips (like noodles)
  3. With a Misto sprayer, spray a layer of EVOO on two large cookie sheets
  4. Place a single layer of zucchini on each cookie sheet, spray again with EVOO
  5. Sprinkle lightly with salt and squeeze the juice from 1/4 a lemon on each pan of slices
  6. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes
  7. While that's baking, start browning the ground lamb in a hot skillet
  8. Allow to cook all the way through, breaking it up so that it remains loose as it cooks and the water can steam off with some of the fat
  9. Once the lamb is totally browned, add in red onion, red bell pepper, green onion, spinach, and garlic
  10. Allow flavors to marry for about 5 minutes before adding in strained tomatoes and vinegar
  11. Place fresh herb bundle in the center of the pan and cover entirely with sauce
  12. Cover pan and cook on medium for about 15 minutes
  13. While that's cooking, place the first layer of roasted zucchini in a baking dish and get the rest of the raw zucchini in the oven on the cookie sheets
  14. Stir the sauce to better incorporate herbs, then remove and discard the herb bundle
  15. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp lemon pepper, and 1 tbs EVOO, and turn off the fire
  16. Divide the meat sauce in half in the pan
  17. Place the first half on top of the first layer of zucchini, then add the next layer of zucchini followed by meat sauce again
  18. Then spoon out half of the tube of goat cheese in chunks across the second layer of meat sauce and add the rest of the zucchini on top of that
  19. Now one final layer of the other half of the goat cheese and shredded parmesan on top of that
  20. Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is slightly browned
  21. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving
  22. Use a sharp knife to cut
Notes
  1. **You don't have to use honey goat cheese if you can't find it. Regular works great too.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

 

Lamb-stuffed Whole Roasted Acorn Squash [Recipe] [Kitchen Hack]

As you might know from previous posts, I love a good winter squash recipe. My best friend in high school had a gourmet chef for a mother, and she would make butternut squash soup with sage and heavy cream — I’d sneak seconds out of the fridge when I’d go over there for dinner. And my first memory of biting into a winter squash was life changing — roasted acorn squash topped with a sesame soy glaze at a locally sourced restaurant in Austin, TX sometime in the early 2000’s. I was hooked.

While I loved these starchy veggies, I found them unwieldy and downright frightening to prepare myself. I’ll admit to buying the pre-cut, pre-peeled butternut squash at Whole Foods in the produce section and paying an arm and a leg to have someone else risk their fingertips to cut that thing apart for me. They roll all over the place!lamb-stuffed whole roasted acorn squash recipe

Life-Changing Kitchen Hack: Roasting a Whole Squash

A few weeks back, I learned an amazing trick to save time AND my fingers, and guarantee excellence each and every time I make winter squash. And that trick is to do NOTHING to it before sticking it in the oven. Nothing. Turn on the oven, stick it in whole, let it roast from the inside; and then slice it open, scoop the seeds, and do as you please. It’s amazing! And today’s recipe will feature an acorn squash roasted like this. It’s literally the easiest way to cook winter squash while avoiding the emergency room! 

Time-Saving Tip

Roasting this way is also a great way to multi-task in the kitchen — or even prepare extra for the rest of the week. Depending on how many squashes you’re cooking (yes, that’s a plural form of squash, I just looked it up), the time in the oven will shift slightly, but this is a set-it-and-forget-it way of preparing a base for your dinner. Tossing a squash in the oven gives you time to focus on the rest of your meal. And if you’re preparing for the whole week, why not mix it up? Throw a spaghetti squash in there too and get the base for this recipe started for later in the week.

For this dish, I started some ground lamb and cabbage going on a skillet while my squash did it’s thing in the oven. If you’re shooting for a vegetarian dinner, you could work up some quinoa and veggies, or make it super easy by pulling out a BPA-free can of veggie chili (affiliate link) for the easiest healthy dinner on earth. Or you could stick with my recipe below. lamb-stuffed whole roasted acorn squash recipe

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Lamb-Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash
Serves 4
Makes 4 very generous servings -- unless you're really hungry, prepare for some leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 whole acorn squash (small to medium in size)
  2. 1.5 lbs ground lamb
  3. 1/2 a red cabbage, chopped
  4. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  5. 1 cloves fresh garlic, chopped or pressed
  6. 4 tbs fresh rosemary
  7. 1 tbs fresh sage
  8. 2 tsp REAL salt + more (CWB Favorite Pick)
  9. Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Roast 2 whole acorn squash on 400 for 40 minutes, let sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing to avoid a steam burn
  2. While the squash is in the oven, start browning ground lamb on a hot skillet
  3. When the meat's about halfway cooked, sprinkle in 2 tsp salt and add chopped red cabbage and bell pepper
  4. When the meat's about 3/4 of the way browned with 1/4 still red and uncooked, stir in garlic, sage and 1/2 the rosemary.
  5. There should be lots of juices sizzling and bubbling at this point, and the cabbage should be pretty close to done.
  6. Once it's all cooked, add 2 more tbs fresh rosemary and cook for another 5-7 minutes
  7. Slice the top off the acorn squash and cut them in half
  8. Scoop out the innards and seeds, saving the seeds for toasting later
  9. Sprinkle all 4 halves with salt and black pepper
  10. Plate the squash and fill each center with the ground lamb cabbage mixture
Optional but Awesome Toppings
  1. cashew cream
  2. OR
  3. Greek yogurt
  4. OR
  5. sour cream
  6. AND
  7. fresh sprouts
  8. AND
  9. raw sunflower seeds
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

 


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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

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/

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