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.

Guide to a Healthy Thanksgiving: Eat This Not That

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I get to spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen making food I almost never eat at any other time of year — something I’ve already started preparing for, even though it’s not until next week. As most “Friendsgivings” go, we’re doing ours potluck-style this year, and I’m making my three favorites: green beans, sweet potatoes, and pecan pie. The rest is up to my friends to put together — and it’ll be a well-deserved treat after spending Thanksgiving morning climbing at Smith Rock! (Never been there before, can’t wait!)

Maintain Don’t Gain

I always tell my coaching clients that this time of year is about maintaining and not gaining. It’s rough to keep strict weight loss in full focus around the holidays, so the goal shifts to maintenance until January. This is true for other health goals as well — dietary restrictions can be difficult to follow when glutenous, dairy-filled, white sugar-laden treats are on every surface at holiday parties. My personal strategy is to do what I’ve done this year (and in years past): to claim my three favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal so that I can know exactly how they’re being prepared and eat them with abandon (or at least controlled abandon. Is that an oxymoron?)

My strategy works for me, because I can take or leave some of the other traditional foods on the Thanksgiving table. I don’t care about stuffing or mashed potatoes for example. I could also take or leave the cranberry sauce. But I know that’s not everyone, so for those who want something from every casserole dish on their plates this Thanksgiving, I’ve prepared a guide with suggestions for helping you stay on track. It’s intended to offer you some low(er) carb, low(er) sugar options richer in phytonutrients and mindful of at least some of the common dietary restrictions. The idea is to keep the healthy substitutions delicious so that you’re satisfied and not wishing you’d just splurged on the real thing.

I’ll start with my favorite way to prepare Thanksgiving sweet potatoes and then share a few suggestions with you from CWB and around the interwebs that will work as healthy substitutes. As far as the Turkey goes, the best thing you can do is get rid of the skin if it’s not an organic bird. And save the bones so you can make some turkey bone broth!

Rosie’s Sweet Potatoes

Thanksgiving Eat this not thatMy sweet potato recipe is modified from the version my mom makes every year — which I LOVE — chalk-full of butter, heavy cream, and loads of brown sugar. I’m able to accomplish pretty much the exact same thing using substitutions that are a little friendlier to those avoiding lactose and milk proteins. I also sub out the brown sugar for maple syrup and coconut sugar so that you still get the sweet and the crunch but you also get some fiber and micronutrients too. The essence of my mom is still there though, so I’ll still call them Rosie’s Sweets.

Whether you’re talking about the original recipe or my slightly healthier modified version, both of these recipes blow the marshmallow-topped canned sweet potato casserole out of the water. Maybe I’m biased because I grew up with my mom’s masterpiece, but the typical sweet potato mush doesn’t compare in my book. Here’s how you do it — no measuring required: 

  • Roast your sweet potatoes in the skin for an hour or so
  • Remove the skin (or don’t) while they’re still warm
  • Cut into bite-sized chunks and fill the bottom of an oven-safe baking dish
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and a pinch of salt
  • Cover with handfuls of pecan halves or pieces
  • Scoop teaspoon sized dollops of ghee or coconut oil and place them every two or three inches across the dish
  • Drizzle maple syrup and coconut sugar gently over the whole surface of the baking dish 
  • Pour coconut milk over the top (no more than a cup or so)
  • Bake on 375 until sizzling and brown (about 15 minutes)

Eat This Not That for Thanksgiving

Parsnip Mash vs Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving Eat this not thatParsnips are among the more underrated roots in the vegetable kingdom. They’re often skipped over for the seemingly more exciting potato or carrot. (They look like white or yellow carrots.) But guess what. Parsnips are awesome, and if you’re avoiding nightshades, they make a delicious substitute for mashed potatoes on the Thanksgiving table. They also have lower net carbs (if you’re counting) and tons of folic acid, calcium, and fiber. The fiber will keep you full for longer and will prevent the insulin spike that comes with peeled white potatoes. I happened to have just posted a perfect parsnip mash recipe this week — skin and all! Check it out and add it to your Thanksgiving lineup. 

Cauliflower Gravy vs Traditional White Flour Gravy

Thanksgiving Eat this not thatWere you wondering why I didn’t suggest a cauliflower mash instead of potatoes up above? It’s not that I don’t love mashed cauliflower, it’s just that I don’t want to tell you to replace your whole Thanksgiving meal with 50 shades of cauliflower. By all means, if you love cauliflower mash, go for it, I just wanted to give you some variety and suggest something you might not have tried before. AND, I wanted to leave room for this cauliflower gravy from The Paleo Mom. I personally cannot wait to try this.

Right now, the only cauliflower we have in the house is purple. I’ll keep you posted should I decide to make purple gravy. Although I haven’t created my own cauliflower gravy recipe, I knew in my gut that a good one must exist, because this nutritious veggie works great in sauces and soups as a substitute for cream. If you’re curious, you can check out my Cauli-Freddo Sauce recipe and prepare for your taste buds to thank you.  

Italian Green Bean Casserole vs traditional green bean casserole

Thanksgiving Eat this not thatThis substitution is not just a matter of health, it’s a matter of flavor and yum factor. Put these two dishes side by side, and I dare you to choose the one with the cream of mushroom soup in it topped with those weird fried onion that come out of a can.

But the health concern is most certainly part of the equation as well. The sodium alone in the cream of mushroom is cause for concern, not to mention the high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, ultra-pasturized powdered milk solids, and the who-knows-what-else is in that can. Add on top of that the rancid oils used to fry those canned onions, coupled with whatever is added to them to keep them crispy … just seems like a digestive/wellness nightmare to me.

Around this time last year, I shared how to make healthy, delicious gluten-free breadcrumbs for this very dish — the Italian Green Bean Casserole. My mom has been making this my whole life (in fact, back in the day when I only ate beige food, this dish became an exception), and I’ve created a more nutritious, gluten-free version by swapping out some ingredients and making these Italian breadcrumbs. One thing I do to control the sodium is control the beans. I’ve found delicious success with both steamed fresh beans and no-salt-added canned beans. And I always use freshly grated cheese. Deeeelicious!

Grain-free paleo stuffing vs the boxed stuff

Thanksgiving Eat this not thatAs I said before, I could take or leave cornbread stuffing, but when I came across this grain-free recipe at PaleoPorn, I decided a) that it needed to go on the list and b) that I needed to try it as soon as possible. I love this recipe because it could almost be a meal on its own. You could scoop this stuffing onto a bed of greens and have yourself a feast of a salad! It’s not only gluten-free but grain-free, for those who are avoiding grains all together. It’s chock full of veggies, healthy fats, and there’s even some sausage in there to really get the flavor going and the protein count up.

This stuffing works great for those of us who don’t care much about the turkey in our turkey dinner (guilty), and is a creative take on something that’s usually just another carb-y, white dollop on the Thanksgiving plate. Even if you can’t stick with it exactly, shoot for real food ingredients in this year’s stuffing and add in as many fresh herbs as you can to pack a powerful flavor and nutrition punch.

As for the traditional alternative: whether we’re talking about the boxed stuff or stuffing made from scratch, we’re looking at a bready mix of refined flours and white sugar. Might as well save the sugar for dessert and enjoy something that won’t send your blood sugar through the roof before you even get to the dessert table.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce vs the canned stuff

Thanksgiving Eat this not thatI feel like for this substitution, a picture is worth a thousand words. But for the sake of consistency, I’ll point out that this amazing-looking homemade cranberry sauce from Two Healthy Kitchens kicks it up a notch (to say the least). It’s not just a sugar bomb like the canned stuff is. It features whole fruits and nuts to slow some of that sugar down, and it involves zero cooking, so it saves you time too. You can also customize the texture with your food processor — leave it chunky or smooth it out. Up to you! 

To really drive the point home, I looked up the ingredients in the most popular canned cranberry sauce (the kind that remains the shape of the can when it comes out). And guess the ingredients. Guess! Cranberries, high fructose corn syrup, water, corn syrup. That’s it. Side by side with the rich flavors and textures of THK’s recipe (or so many other gorgeous homemade recipes), there’s really no comparison. And again, this one is raw, so one less pot for you to clean!

Pumpkin vs Pumpkin Pie Mix

Thanksgiving Eat this not that

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There’s virtually no way around dessert on Thanksgiving. And that’s fine. It’s one of the best parts of the holiday! I personally consider the sweet potato recipe I just shared to be one of the desserts of the day, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more. For some reason, there’s always room for dessert no matter what else has gone down the gullet — especially on Thanksgiving. Here’s the trick for pumpkin pie: mix the pumpkin yourself. Instead of getting the can that says “Pumpkin Pie Mix,” opt for the box of plain pumpkin (affiliate link) and add in your own sweets and spices. This way, you can control what KIND of sugar goes in and HOW MUCH. Plus, you’ll avoid the BPA from the can. You can even add in extra cinnamon, which has been shown to improve insulin response (might as well throw it in).

More Dessert Advice

Pick your FAVORITES for the holiday season, and enjoy them, guilt-free. Be judicious this time of year when the barrage of sweets is endless, so that when you do choose something sweet, you can be sure that it’s worth it. If there are five different kinds of pie, pick your favorite one or two and do half-slices, rather than trying them all. If lemon meringue isn’t your favorite, leave it for someone else and make every bite count. Just make sure you leave some pecan pie for me. After all, our goal is to live a sweet, rich life — the sweet has to come from somewhere!

Eat This not That Infographic

Here’s a visual guide of everything we just discussed. Click here to download a PDF for reference


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.

Sweet and Savory Parsnip Mash [RECIPE]

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet because I’m planning a bonus post for Friday, of which today’s recipe will be a part. I’m featuring parsnips — mashed parsnips to be exact. 

The Parsnip

Parsnips are weird. They look like white carrots that don’t taste very good raw (even Dexter doesn’t like them), and sometimes they can be gnarly and weird. Grocery stores don’t need them to look “perfect” to sell them, so they kind of seem more exotic than your average root veggie — a beet, a carrot, a potato. Parsnips are actually pretty great though. They’re high in fiber (about twice the fiber of a potato or carrot), and they boast a pretty decent nutritional profile: potassium, vitamin C, manganese, folate. Lots of goodies in there. Plus, they’re naturally sweet. Yum.

image found on Wikipedia through Creative Commons by Jonathunder

image found on Wikipedia through Creative Commons by Jonathunder

Parsnip Mash

I have to admit, the humble parsnip has never been a star on my shopping list. I don’t think I ever even tried a parsnip before I learned how easy and delicious roasted root veggies could be. I decided to throw some into the mix one day and have enjoyed them ever since. This was back in grad school when I finally decided to stop being afraid of my oven. In addition to the stove top creation as the main feature of this meal, today’s recipe has an oven component too (for the topping), so get your preheat going and let’s get started! 

parsnip mash

http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Parsnip-e1447877848453-150x133.png)">
Parsnip Mash
Serves 6
Parsnips are delicious substitutes for potatoes. They're high in fiber, have a low glycemic load, and have a natural sweetness to them.
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Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
18 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Parsnip-e1447877848453-150x133.png)">
Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. medium leek
  2. 1 cup bone broth (affiliate link) or veggie broth
  3. 1/4 cup coconut milk (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 2 tbs butter or ghee (CWB Favorite Pick)
  6. pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Cut parsnips into large, even-sized chunks and place in a large pot
  3. Separate the white part from the green part of the leek, coarsely chop the white part and add it to the pot
  4. Slice the green part of the leek into 1/4 inch strips and spread out evenly across a cookie sheet
  5. Drizzle greens with avocado oil and roast while the parsnips are steaming (about 7 minutes)
  6. Cover and simmer parsnips and the white part of the leeks in broth until a fork slides easily through the parsnips (about 12 minutes)
  7. Turn off the fire and add coconut milk, salt, and butter or ghee
  8. Using an immersion blender (CWB Favorite Pick) or potato masher, blend or mash until smooth and creamy like mashed potatoes
  9. Sprinkle black pepper to taste
  10. Top the parsnip mash with roasted green leeks and enjoy warm
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. 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.

Homemade Garlic Herb Salt [VIDEO]

Call me crazy, but I’ve decided that this year is the year of handmade gifts. I’m doing culinary gifts, body care gifts, and possibly even a few others that I haven’t quite ironed out yet. I’m excited to share ALL of them with you as I complete them, and today will be the first one of the bunch. 

homemade garlic herb salt recipe

Before we get started, I have to give credit where credit is due. I decided to try this homemade garlic herb salt concoction after listening to a Splendid Table episode that featured one of the Tuscan variety. While today I’ll feature some of the herbs Sally Schneider shares in her recipe, the personalization of this herb salt is as endless as the spices in your fridge or in your garden. You can really run wild with the possibilities. 

Proportions

The most fascinating thing about this herb salt concoction is the proportions. I know, it already doesn’t sound that fascinating. But seriously, you really don’t use a lot of salt when making this salt. You use a ton of garlic and as much as three times as many fresh herbs as salt in whatever amount you choose to make. You pack loads of flavor into this mixture without relying on the salt too terribly much — great if you’re watching your salt intake or trying to add more herbs and spices into your diet.
homemade garlic herb salt recipe

If you don’t often listen to Splendid Table (which you definitely should check out!), one of the things I love about it is that the guests (and the host) often promote what I like to call intuitive cooking. They encourage people to add ingredients to taste, a little of this, a little of that, using rough estimates and finding the right combination on your own. I find that style of cooking extremely empowering. It’s always been the way I’ve cooked (and the way my mom does), and making these herb salts was a pretty similar experience. I just tried to stick to the 3 to 1 proportion.

For those who really need a recipe though, there’s a great one right on the Splendid Table episode page. (linked under the video)

 

Check out Splendid Table

 

Maple Pear Skillet Dessert with Homemade Whipped Cream [RECIPE]

By now you probably know how much I love maple syrup. I use it to sweeten most things that need sweetening — coffee, the occasional homemade cocktail, baked goods, and most definitely skillet desserts. This recipe might be simple, but rest assured, it’s absolutely delicious — perfect for a night in with the hubby or doubled (even tripled) for a friendly gathering. I’ll actually go as far as to say that this post features a bonus recipe — I’m about to share my secret ingredient for my famous homemade whipped cream. I wasn’t initially going to do it, but I’m feeling generous so here goes!

pear skillet dessert recipe

Both parts of this delectable dessert use maple syrup as the sweetener. The maple pear skillet portion features the “Single Guy” strategy of making just enough dessert for the moment (no need to have leftovers to think about while you’re at work the next day — or is that just me?). And the whipped cream portion is — well, let’s be honest, you will probably eat whatever amount of whipped cream you make, so don’t go crazy with it.

Pears and your health

Before we get to the secret ingredient, I want to point out that pears are awesome. I actually didn’t grow up eating pears. I was a brat of massive proportion when it came to food as a kid (definitely not a brat in any other ways, right Mom and Dad?), and pears were not on the approved list of beige food items I would allow past my lips. They were mealy and weird, and the skin didn’t do it for me. So I didn’t start eating them — or even know what a good pear tasted like — until a few years ago. Now I’m in love. My in-laws have a tree and share their spoils with us when they can, and it’s times like these that inspire impromptu desserts like the one I’m about to share. 

pear skillet dessert recipe

But back to pears being awesome — not only is a perfect pear delicious, it’s also a pretty great source of fiber and micronutrients too. In fact, pears have even more pectin (a soluble fiber) than apples (which are known for it). Foods high in soluble fiber aid in digestion by bulking the stool and absorbing toxins in the bowel. Pectin has also been shown to lower cholesterol and aid in mild constipation. Soluble fiber is also beneficial in regulating sugar absorption — something I’m being super conscious of right now since my big decision

Pears are also a great source of vitamins C, K, and E, and minerals copper and potassium. They have a rich phytonutrient profile, which includes antioxidants like quercetin (a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory) and glutathione which helps prevent high blood pressure and stroke. (source

So you can feel good about this little healthy indulgence — just be realistic with the whipped cream!

Now, on with the recipe and the big reveal! (I may or may not be making a much bigger deal about the secret ingredient than I really need to…)

 

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Maple Pear Skillet Dessert with Homemade Whipped Cream
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http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/08160585-27-150x150.jpg)">
Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe pears, sliced thin
  2. 1 tbs butter
  3. 1 tbs almond flour
  4. 1 tbs crushed pecans
  5. 1 tbs maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tbs butter in a hot skillet
  2. Add sliced pears, stirring/flipping to coat in butter
  3. Cook about 2 minutes until softened but not mushy
  4. Add pecans and almond flour
  5. Stir/flip to make sure all ingredients are coated and cooking evenly (another 30 to 45 seconds)
  6. Stir in 1 tbs maple syrup
  7. Cook for another 45 seconds to a minute, taking care not to burn the syrup but allowing it to thicken a bit
  8. Serve hot with a dollop of fresh whopped cream
Notes
  1. For the whipped cream, you want at least a cup of organic heavy cream (you know I'm not much for measuring) and at least 2 tbs of maple syrup. Add those two items to your blender along with 1 tsp vanilla extract or the inside of one whole vanilla bean and ... drumroll please! ... a generous pinch of sea salt. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I'm telling you, the sea salt takes it to the next level.
  2. I've also been known to make this whipped cream using a little Van Gogh Espresso Vodka. You. will. die. Soooo goood! Enjoy!
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

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
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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.

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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
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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/

Fruit Too Ripe to Eat? Make a Simple Skillet Dessert! [RECIPE]

Ever since I moved to the Bay Area and discovered the joys of a super fresh nectarine right off the tree, a sweetness I’d never tasted in a nectarine before, I became obsessed with stone fruit fresh from the local growers. I love summer in general, but the fact that it’s also stone fruit season takes it to a whole new level. The road to our most traveled climbing destination (Yosemite) is lined with local growers selling their fresh produce, so I always insist we stop and stock up on the way home. We even have a few neighbors growing apricots, plumbs, and nectarines, and sometimes on a walk with Dexter, I snag a few from the trees. Fresh, delicious, sweet nectarines might be the best thing on earth.

nectarine skillet dessert

The First Fruit of the Season

When I saw the first beautiful white and yellow nectarines of the season at our local grocery store a few weeks ago, I bought a few. I usually like to sample before I buy (hence my preference for the little stands and farmers’ markets), so I didn’t go crazy and just got a few to kick off the season. I couldn’t wait to get home and sink my teeth into the first nectarines of the season. Unfortunately, I got distracted and promptly packed them into the fruit drawer in our refrigerator and forgot about them.

Oops.

A couple of weeks later, I remembered that I hadn’t eaten them and pulled out slightly wrinkly nectarines. They weren’t moldy, and they did still have a nice sweet flavor, but I didn’t want to eat them plain like that all sad and wrinkly. And so another version of the “Single Guy” dessert was born. 

I chopped up those wrinkly nectarines, grabbed some blueberries, and tossed them into a heated skillet with a little coconut oil and started cooking. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, and suddenly I had two desserts ready to go for my husband and me! Easy as pie (or a two-person mini pie without the crust). 

nectarine skillet dessert

The Kitchen Hack of the day is this: Don’t waste the forgotten fruit!

Breathe some life back into it by turning it into a skillet dessert! As I’ve mentioned before, you can really do a lot for dessert with a skillet and some fresh (or not so fresh) fruit. Get creative and don’t waste that fruit just because it’s a little past its prime. (Just make sure there’s no mold or rot.)

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Nectarine and Blueberry Skillet Dessert
Serves 2
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
7 min
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
7 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe nectarines or peaches, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  2. Handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  3. 2 tsp coconut oil (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. Zest from 1/2 a lemon
  5. 8 crushed macadamia nuts
  6. 1 tsp maple syrup
  7. Refrigerated coconut milk (cold so that it's thick and scoop-able) (CWB Favorite Pick)
  8. Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Heat a sauce pan and add coconut oil and fruit
  2. Cook the fruit on medium heat until it softens and the blueberries start releasing color, stirring to ensure that nothing sticks or burns
  3. Add crushed nuts, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt
  4. Stir everything to incorporate well
  5. Once you plate the fruit (I use small ramekins), add a scoop of cold coconut milk for topping (if your coconut milk isn't solid, just stir it in -- it will still be delicious!)
  6. Serve warm
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

 

A Rolled Lunch: Paleo Burritos and Easy Lunch Ideas

There aren’t a ton of great lunch options in the neighborhood where I work, so I tend to make my lunch on most days. Buying lunch out at a restaurant every day can get both expensive and unhealthy pretty quickly, so I tend to keep it pretty reined in. Making my lunch also allots me my full lunch hour to relax outside (although I’ll admit that lately I’ve been holed up inside all day long — starting Monday, that changes! It’s been beautiful out!) 

Today’s post is sort of a mash-up of lunch suggestions I’ve been wanting to put together into a post for a good long while. These suggestions are meant for portability, lunch on the go, or a quick and easy snack to make in your tiny office kitchen without the need for actual kitchen appliances. I also love these suggestions for picnic fare if you’re tossing your lunch into a backpack and going on a hike. The possibilities are endless, so I’m going to give you a jumping off point and then send you on your way to concoct your own, personalized rolled lunches!

paleo burrito ameri-maki - a rolled lunch

A Rolled Lunch

There are endless combinations of ingredients that can be rolled into a nice, neat, tasty rolled lunch — I like the freedom of throwing things together, but I understand that some people need specifics, so that’s what we’re doing here today. We’ll start with the wrapper options and then move into fillings. And then, as usual, I’ll encourage you to be creative and try whatever suits your fancy.

The Paleo Burrito

For me, the wrapper sort of sets the tone for the meal. Not all wrappers can accommodate all fillings. It might be more accurate to call my paleo burrito a “paleo wrap,” but you can honestly make it as Mexican as you want for a truly burrito-y experience. For a burrito or classic-style wrap, I like to use Paleo Wraps (affiliate link), which are made out of coconut flour and only impart a very subtle coconut flavor into your rolled lunch. I love them because they’re sturdy and you can really pack a lot into them. They’re also pretty tasty and low in sugar. All good things! 

paleo wraps

The Collard Wrap

This wrapper is exactly what you think it is. Collard greens are perfect for a rolled meal, because they are wide, flat leaves sturdy enough to hold the ingredients inside and flexible enough not to crack. I find that since collard greens have a little bit of a bitter flavor, the stuffing should have some pretty strong flavors of its own. My favorite thing to wrap in a collard green leaf is a chicken salad made with a good strong dijon mustard and dill pickles. So good!

paleo burrito ameri-maki - a rolled lunch

The Ameri-Maki

I lovingly call the nori-wrapped lunch an “Ameri-maki.” Maki is the Japanese name for rolled sushi, and since I can put whatever I want in my maki-style lunch (including the chicken salad I just mentioned above), I can invent a name for it too! This is the nori I use (affiliate link). Nori does have a decently strong “ocean” flavor, so consider that when selecting your stuffing.

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The Stuffing

To simplify the stuffing suggestions, I made a handy-dandy chart for you. These are just suggestions, most of which I’ve had in all three wrappers at one time or another, so don’t hesitate to switch up ingredients or wrappers based on what’s in your pantry or fridge at any given time. Simply take one ingredient from each column and roll ’em up! (Use as many different veggies as you want, I’m just trying to keep it simple for you!) I left out grain options here to remind you that there are plenty of awesome grain-free lunch choices; but if you aren’t trying to eliminate grains, feel free to add a bit of quinoa or black rice into your rolled lunch if you so desire.

The Paleo Wraps are probably the most accommodating wrapper, because they have the mildest flavor, but the collard and nori bring something exciting to the table too. They also bring more phytonutrients, because they are vegetables, each with its own unique nutrient profile. 

paleo burrito ameri-maki - a rolled lunchYour Turn

A rolled lunch has as many possibilities as a salad would — from greens, veggies, and toppings to dressings, sauces, and spreads; it all goes in! Get creative and make your own rolled lunch. And I want to hear about it! 

What do you like to have for lunch? Ever considered a rolled lunch? Any stuffing ingredients I’m forgetting that are must-adds? 

Let me know in the comments below!

Pesto Green Beans with Shrimp [RECIPE VIDEO]

It’s hard to believe, but the beans in this dish started out purple. I’m calling it a green bean dish because it’s much easier to find green beans than purple ones, but I feel compelled to tell you that these beans started out purple! I’d seen online that purple beans do turn green when you cook them, but I think some part of me was in denial until I saw it for myself. 

pesto recipe green beans with shrimp

Gardening and Eating for Optimum Health

After reading Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson (affiliate link), I decided that this year’s garden would have as many purple, red, and blue items as possible in it. Red and purple plants possess a markedly high potency of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant shown to promote ‘anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activity, cardiovascular disease prevention, obesity control, and diabetes alleviation.’ This year in the garden, we have multiple types of red lettuce, purple pole beans, and red and purple carrots. We also have strawberries, beets, and blueberries, which fall into this category as well. We’ve already committed a bit of real estate to our globe artichoke plant and our green okra, but purple artichokes and okra might be on the list for future seasons if we can find a place to put them. The more the better!pesto recipe green beans with shrimp

Pesto-Making [VIDEO] 

A while back I promise that you’d be the first to know if I ever got around to making a how-to video for quick and easy pesto at home, and I finally did! I used the simple formula laid out in this video to make the pesto I included in the recipe below. I hope you enjoy it and try some creative combinations in your own kitchen to make truly unique and flavorful pesto of your own! This recipe included fresh basil and carrot tops (from purple carrots) straight from the garden, so it falls right in line with our goal of eating for optimum health.

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Pesto Green Beans with Shrimp
Serves 3
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Cook Time
20 min
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Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups green beans
  2. 1 red onion
  3. 18 raw shrimp (deveined and peeled)
  4. 4 tbs pesto
  5. 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  6. Salt to taste (this is the herb salt I use in the video)
  7. Optional: dash of red pepper flake
Instructions
  1. Blanch the beans in about 1 inch of water, save the water
  2. Add 1/2 the water to a shallow skillet and heat to a simmer
  3. Add 1 whole sliced red onion and cook until the water evaporates
  4. Once the onions are cooked through and the water has evaporated, add shrimp
  5. Cook shrimp until about 1/2 way done and add in the beans (you can toss the rest of the water
  6. Season with lemon pepper, good salt, and an optional touch of red pepper flake
  7. Turn off the heat when the shrimp are done
  8. Stir in 3 tbsp fresh pesto
  9. Serve hot with a side of sweet roasted potatoes or another whole food starch
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

The Best “Cheezy” Popcorn [RECIPE]

cheezy popcorn vegan

To be perfectly honest, I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost three years and not shared this vegan “Cheezy” Popcorn recipe yet. The nuts and bolts of this recipe take me waaaaay back to my days of doing demos at Whole Foods Market as the Supplement Specialist on the Whole Body team. If you’ve ever shopped at Whole Foods on a demo day, you know that there are tons of tasty treats all over the store waiting to be sampled and then added to your shopping cart right then and there, either by a rep from the company or a Whole Foods team member. One of the treats I used to demo a lot was a simplified version of the recipe I’m about to share with you today. It’s a healthy snack chalk-full of micronutrients and packed with flavor that can be as customized as your fingerprint — or at least as what’s on your spice rack.

A Word on Popcorn

cheezy popcorn vegan

click to purchase (affiliate link)

Popcorn (corn in general) is technically considered a whole grain — a whole kernel unadulterated or processed. While it’s a starchy food, it’s certainly a decent part of a whole foods diet, but the topic of popcorn isn’t cut and dry. We’ve talked recently about GMOs on this blog, and so much of the corn we grow in this country is GMO that it’s important to seek out organic, non-GMO popcorn kernels. This way you know you’re not getting a mouthful of pesticides to go with your whole grains, and you’re doing something good for Mother Nature too. Another important caveat about popcorn is the method used to make it.

There’s a big difference between the microwaveable stuff and the stuff that pops on your stove top or in an air popper, and the difference is in the bag. Literally. The ‘microwave-safe’ bags used to pop popcorn contain what the EPA considers a “likely carcinogen,” perfluorooctanoic (PFOA). There’s also that weird butter powder that microwave popcorn tends to feature. A chemical in that powder diacetyl is so toxic to the respiratory system that there’s an actual disease unofficially called “popcorn worker’s lung.” Why this substance is considered safe by the FDA is beyond me, but I’m going to go out a limb and say you probably shouldn’t breathe it in — or eat it. 

So, in conclusion, air-pop or do some old-school stove top action, and choose organic, if you plan to make popcorn part of your healthy lifestyle. I use this air popper and absolutely love it. (affiliate link)

Fancy Flakes (aka Nutritional Yeast)

CWB Favorite Pick (affiliate link)

The first thing I thought when I learned about the benefits of nutritional yeast was, “wow, I bet more people would try it if it
weren’t called that.” Nutritional Yeast, while possessing a less-than-appetizing name (should we rally for “fancy flakes??”), is a micronutrient powerhouse and a delicious additive into sauces, vegan “cheezes,” and even smoothies if you play your cards right.

Rich in B vitamins (including thiamin, folate, niacin, and B6), minerals (including iron, selenium and zinc), and glutathione (a potent antioxidant), it’s an awesome ingredient to add into your diet whenever you can. It’s also low in sodium but high in flavor, and it contains all the essential amino acids (plus more), making it a complete vegan protein source. For those of us concerned about candida overgrowth, nutritional yeast does not aggravate or feed candida in the body. 

For our purposes today, nutritional yeast brings the cheez too our cheezy popcorn.

Flax Oil

By now you’ve probably heard hundreds of times the importance of including Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, and that as Americans, we definitely aren’t eating enough of them. I’ve shared my Ultimate Guide to Cooking Oil, which mentions the importance of Omega 3s, so I won’t go through all of it again, but quickly I’ll share that flax oil is great not just for Omega 3s, but also for the lignans from the hulls of the seeds pressed to make the oil. Lignans are beneficial to cardiovascular health and may play a role in breast cancer prevention. There’s still more research to be done on the potential benefits of lignans, but we also know that they’re a great fiber source as well, and come with all the benefits generally associated with adding fiber to your diet. You can buy the oil with or without the lignans. In addition to their health benefits, they also offer a more nutty flavor to the oil. 

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"Cheezy" Popcorn
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 10 cups air-popped popcorn
  2. 2 tbs Organic Flaxseed Oil (with lignans)
  3. 3 tbs Nutritional Yeast (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
  5. 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  6. 1/4 tsp Lemon Pepper
Instructions
  1. While the popcorn is warm, mix all dry ingredients together in a small bowl
  2. Toss popcorn with oil first, then toss in dried seasonings
  3. Enjoy fresh
Notes
  1. This recipe is versatile and flexible. Try adding in some fresh chopped rosemary, one time, a touch of cayenne or chili powder another time, or even a sprinkle of truffle salt. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

 

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

Brined Citrus Kale Salad [RECIPE]

Kale has spent a lot of time in the lime light over the last few years. Hailed as a “superfood,” a magical smoothie ingredient, a new salad green, and the answer to all of life’s problems, kale really has a lot to live up to!

Random fact: Before the surge of good press for kale in 2012/13, the largest purchaser of kale was Pizza Hut — it was used to cover the ice as garish at the salad bar (source).

To be honest, sometimes I get sick of kale. We grow a TON of it in our garden, partly because it’s easy to grow, and partly because I like to have a variety to choose from — we have lacinato kale, purple curly kale, green curly kale, and last year we had red Russian kale. I bet you didn’t know there were that many varieties of kale — or maybe you did, because it’s all the rage! Having a constant supply of multiple kale choices for just over 2 years at this point has sort of chipped away at my desire to eat it all the time. 

brined kale salad

I still sneak it into smoothies and braise it with the drippings of animal parts from time to time, but I haven’t wanted to eat a nice kale salad for a little while. That doesn’t mean I haven’t eaten them, just that it wasn’t really my first choice of things to eat. As much as I caution against falling into cooking ruts, sometimes I find myself making the same old kale salad just because it’s tried and true — and we have kale coming out of our ears.

I was feeling creative the other day when I came across a big bin of grapefruit at the grocery store and decided it was time to try out a new kale salad recipe.

Secret but Vital Step

I remember when I first brought a bunch of kale from the garden home to Texas (yes I brought it on the plane) and encouraged my mom to make a kale salad. She was not interested in eating raw kale. She said she’d make the salad, but after I left, she confessed she’d just cooked it because she was scared to eat it raw. I totally get it. Raw kale is rough, takes a lot of energy to chew, can sometimes be a little scratchy on the throat going down, and can be a lot for the gut to break down. But the secret step that makes a kale salad truly delicious is a quick brine and massage. It breaks down some of the fiber, brings out the natural flavors of the plant, and makes kale a bit easier for the gut to handle.brined kale salad

Kitchen Hack: Brining and Massaging the Kale

After I wash, de-rib, and chop or tear my kale leaves, I always brine the kale. This little secret is the difference between a good kale salad and a great one. If you’ve ever had a great kale salad at a restaurant — one where the kale isn’t too hard or sharp, where it seems slightly wilted, yet still raw — it’s probably because the chef brined the kale. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Sprinkle about 1 tsp of good salt (like this) over the bowl of prepared kale leaves (I’m thinking a full bunch from the store — you’d be surprised how much this stuff will shrink down)

Step 2: Using clean hands, start squeezing the kale leaves and kneading them like dough so that the salt really penetrates the leaves. It should take no more than 2 minutes for you to notice the changes in the leaves (You’ll notice that some liquid will start accumulating at the bottom of the bowl, and the leaves will start to with and shrink down a bit)

Step 3: Once the leaves are wilted and softened, taste one to see how salty it is. If it’s just right, you can start constructing the rest of the salad. If it’s too salty, give the greens a quick rinse and a run through the salad spinner to get rid of excess salt before you put the rest of the salad together. 

Simple as that! Kale salads are a great vehicle for a salty/sweet combo like parmesan cheese and peaches, and I almost always include nuts or seeds as well. Goat cheese, dried cherries, and pecans also make for a great kale salad. I love a salad like this with a nice piece of wild salmon or even a great cut of pastured pork. The recipe I’m about to share with you was born out of a desire to stretch the kale salad to incorporate the bittersweet of grapefruit. If you’re a newbie to this art, experiment with ingredients you know you love. Have fun with it!

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Brined Citrus Kale Salad
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
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Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 bunch dino (aka lacinato) kale (any type works, this one requires the least massaging)
  2. 1 tsp REAL salt (CWB Favorite Pick)
  3. Juice of 1 grapefruit
  4. 2 tbs EVOO (CWB Favorite Pick)
  5. 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  6. 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  7. 4 scallions, chopped
  8. OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Instructions
  1. Massage and brine the kale using the instructions above, draining off and rinsing only if necessary after tasting
  2. Add the pecans, the radishes, and the scallions to the greens
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk grapefruit juice and EVOO
  4. Toss into salad until fully incorporated
  5. Top with cheese if desired
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

CWB-Style Carduni Fritti (Baked not “Fried” Cardoons) [RECIPE]

Born in Texas to a Sicilian-American family, my appreciation for both fried food and traditional Italian cuisine has been imprinted into my DNA. While my family has been American-born for many generations, the old-world roots remain strong and have integrated nicely with Texan culture. With family recipes passed down in hand-written cookbooks, both old-world and new; men and women in the kitchen working up their culinary magic — my family is all about making and enjoying food together. It’s the central focus at every gathering (for better or for worse), and it’s part of our identity. We do Southern, we do Italian, and we do Southern Italian; and it’s all amazing. 

My passion for all things food — gardening, cooking, eating, sharing — surely stems from my lineage. Part of my inspiration in creating recipes for this blog is to combine family tradition with the healthy lifestyle I’ve chosen for myself — delicious meets healthy. My goal is to build upon the family recipe, replacing less-than-ideal ingredients with nourishing ones we can all feel good about eating, all without losing the essence of the family dish. I did this with my mom’s green beans, and now I’m going to share my version of the Carduni Fritti (Fried Cardoons) my grandmother used to make — or as she would call them, “gardunas.”

What’s a Cardoon?

It turns out, that’s an excellent question. The idea for this recipe came when a relative suggested I fry up the stems of my artichoke plant to make fried carduni. Skeptical that this was actually what cardoons were, I did a little internet investigating and discovered that the difference between cardoons and artichoke seems to be a little unclear. I do know that the cardoons my grandmother used to make were made out of the leaves of the plant, not the stems, but as far as I can tell, you can’t just pull off the leaves of the artichoke plant and fry them up.

The final verdict (as far as I was able to decipher from my cursory internet research) is that they share a common ancestor, that there is a domesticated and a wild variety of cardoon, but that the globe artichoke plant was cultivated for domestic use earlier in history. So while they are similar, they are not exactly the same. All this is to say that I didn’t use official cardoons, I used my artichoke stems for this recipe, and if I can find cardoons, I’ll be trying this again — and possibly trying a few of the cardoon recipes I found on my internet hunt.

fried cardoons carduni fritti

Cardoons – generally grown ornamentally, but traditionally eaten in Italy and Spain (Pauline Eccles [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

fried cardoons carduni fritti

Globe Artichokes in my back yard

Finding Cardoons

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea where my grandmother found the raw cardoons for the recipe she used to make. They’re definitely a seasonal item (we always ate them around the holidays and around Easter) but besides that, I don’t know. A quick search online resulted in “maybe you can find them at the grocery store certain times of the year.”

Of course, reading this has inspired me to order some seeds to grow my own, but in the meantime, the stems of my artichoke plants held up just fine in terms of the texture and flavor I came to expect from my grandmother’s signature Sicilian dish. 

Baked, Not Fried

I’m starting to feel like I shouldn’t have called this recipe “Carduni Fritti.” After all, the ingredients are neither true cardoons nor fried, but if you just stay with me, it will all be worth it. If you’ve tried that green bean recipe I linked above — here it is again — then you know that I can make some delicious gluten-free Italian food, and these little numbers fall right in line with excellent oven-baked Italian deliciousness. Recreating MawMaw Josie’s “gardunas,” CWB-style, gave me the opportunity to make use of the stems of my giant artichoke plant, which would have otherwise just been composted, so it was worthwhile, even if calling this dish “fried cardoons” is a little inaccurate.

In the end, my “not-Carduni not-Fritti” hit the nostalgic spot for me — as did my imitation of my grandmother eating them.

fried cardoons carduni fritti

fried cardoons carduni fritti

fried cardoons carduni fritti

fried cardoons carduni fritti

fried cardoons carduni fritti 

 

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CWB-Style Carduni Fritti
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
50 min
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 or 6 artichoke stems, cut into 4 inch pieces, blanched in salted water and peeled
  2. 2 eggs beaten with 2 tbs unsweetened almond milk
  3. 1 cup garbanzo flour
  4. 1 tsp seasoned salt
  5. 1 tsp lemon pepper
  6. 2 tbs fresh chopped oregano, basil, and rosemary
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. In a shallow pan with about 2 inches of water 1 tsp salt, parboil the stems for about 5 minutes
  3. Pour into a strainer and run cold water over until they're cool enough to handle
  4. Peel the outer fibrous layer around the outside of the stem off to expose the tender, inner heart of the stem
  5. Slice stems in half, lengthwise
  6. Pat the peeled stems dry
  7. Beat 2 eggs with 2 tbs unsweetened almond milk in a medium bowl
  8. In a separate bowl, mix garbanzo flour, seasoned salt, lemon pepper, and chopped fresh herbs
  9. Grease a cookie sheet large enough that all the pieces will lay flat without overlapping using avocado or coconut oil
  10. Dip each piece in egg mixture, then in the batter, then on the pan until all are battered and ready to bake
  11. Bake on 350 on a greased cookie sheet for 8 minutes on each side
  12. Lightly spray with extra virgin olive oil (CWB Favorite Pick) and salt immediately when they come out of the oven
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (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. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.