SIBO-Friendly Sous Vide Egg Bites

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

sous vide egg bites

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

Sous Vide

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

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

SIBO-friendly

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

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

frittata

Kitchen Alchemy: Guesswork in ‘Substitution Land’

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

Intuitive Cooking

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

Here are some regional flavor combinations to try out: 

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

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

SIBO-friendly sous vide egg bites

Important Sous Vide Cooking Tips:

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

Supplies needed: 

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

To reheat your egg bites, either:

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

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

Homemade Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

I’m officially well into my new life of “funemployment,” and the first recipe I’m going to share is nothing short of a celebration. That’s right folks, it’s chocolate time. You may have noticed an increase in references to #sibo on the old IG account lately, but in case you haven’t, I’ve had a recent, unfortunate diagnosis of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), which has rendered my food choices quite limited as of late. (I could use this space to rant about the medical insurance racket and how insanely long it’s taking me to get the antibiotic I need, but I’ll spare you the details.) One of the interesting things about the SIBO diet is that you can have raw honey and certain fruits, but no other sugar whatsoever. I’ll get more into SIBO in a separate post, but I just couldn’t wait to share this recipe.

Because I am absolutely addicted to chocolate, and because most store-bought chocolates are not sweetened with honey, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Join me for the next few minutes on my chocolate making adventure, and then venture out on your own chocolate journey and let me know how it goes!

I’ve tried a few different things so far, but the one I’m most excited to share is the Almond Butter Cups. Like most things on CWB, this is simply a chocolate roadmap with one example of how it could end. You have the power to make your chocolate dreams come true — I’m just here to help. 🙂 

chocolate almond butter cups

Recipe Lab: Refrigerator Chocolate

You might recall that I experimented with some freezer chocolate back at Christmastime. (Side note, I just realized this was TWO Christmases ago — 2016 was the fastest year of my life, by FAR. Anyone else feel me on this?) Anyway, in the spirit of homemade holiday gifts and attempting to include some healthy sweets in our holiday celebrations, I made Paleo-ish Peppermint Bark. The main ingredients were coconut oil, raw cacao powder, and maple syrup. It turned out great, but it absolutely HAD to stay in the freezer or it would become a big melty mess. And since I can’t include my favorite sweetener for the time being (maple syrup), I’m moving forward from here with raw honey. 

To avoid the melty mess this time, I decided to experiment with raw cacao butter to achieve a more stable finished product. And guess what … it was the right choice. I have successfully upgraded my chocolate-making skills from freezer chocolate to refrigerator chocolate!

Is this chocolate raw?

The ingredients in my refrigerator chocolate are raw, but I did melt everything on the stove. I read a bit about raw chocolate and learned that the hottest temps allowable for raw chocolate to remain raw are between 118 and 120F. I didn’t use a double boiler or check the temperature, but I’d imagine that if you did those things and kept the temps in range, you could make exactly what I made and be able to call it raw chocolate.

The Chocolate Journey

Since my main chocolate-making experience was in making the peppermint bark for the holidays, I decided to stick to that in round one of my chocolatey adventure. More bark. But instead of going for the peppermint variety, I kept it simple, sprinkling raw cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds on top and calling it a day. It turned out pretty great actually.

homemade chocolate barkRound 2: Almond Butter Cups

In round 2, I decided to get more creative. I’d bought a few silicone molds a while back, and most of them had just been collecting dust in my cabinet. The only ones I’d used were these adorable little hearts when I experimented with homemade lotion bars (I think it was also that crafty Christmas back in 2015). So I pulled out the mold that looked like peanut butter cups and went to work on my version of almond butter cups. This was a delicious decision and turned out to be the inspiration for today’s post.

chocolate almond butter cups

The Almond Butter Cup Filling

The filling consists of equal parts raw almond butter to raw honey, stirred aggressively with a fork. Very simple and delicious. In my first attempt at almond butter cups, I used about a dime-sized ball of filling, which made for a high chocolate-to-filling ratio. They were delicious, but I knew I wanted more almond butter in every bite. I went to work again, this time using these really cute flower molds that were much deeper (so they could fit more filling). 

chocolate almond butter cups

chocolate almond butter cups

I love how these turned out, but as you might see from the pictures, some of the filling snuck out of the sides, so they aren’t quite perfect to look at. Considering that they taste amazing, and that I’m a novice at this whole chocolate-making endeavor, I’m still giving myself an A for effort and believe that I’ve earned bragging rights as a wannabe chocolatier. (I’m sure real chocolatiers are rolling their eyes at this simpleton, but I do what I want.)

What will I come up with next?

Also featured in one of these pictures are my first attempts at a “peppermint patty.” I didn’t love how they turned out, so I’m going to go back to the drawing board before I share that recipe with you. I already have an idea of how I’ll improve these for the next round. I’m also going to try my hand at an “Almond Joy”-style bite-size morsel. So stay tuned for both of those. And if you decide that you want to beat me to the punch in figuring those two out, please be my guest and let me know about it! I’d be happy to share your version with everyone!

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (Sweetened with Honey)
Chocolate prepared with all raw ingredients, sweetened with raw honey for those with food restrictions (especially those related to SIBO)
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup coconut oil
  2. 1/3 cup raw cacao butter (or 5 cubes of the Big Tree Farms brand)
  3. 3/4 cup raw raw cacao powder
  4. 2 tbs raw honey
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  6. pinch of salt
  7. OPTIONAL: raw maca powder
  8. OPTIONAL: raw cacao nibs and coarse sea salt for topping
  9. FOR THE FILLING: If using shallow, buttercup-like molds, 2 tbs raw honey + 2 tbs raw almond butter. If using deeper molds, 3 tbs raw honey + 3 tbs raw almond butter (I used creamy)
Instructions
  1. in a small saucepan, melt the raw cacao butter on very low heat (optional to use a double boiler to avoid scorching)
  2. once it starts to become liquid, add in the coconut oil
  3. turn off the fire when both oils are fully liquified
  4. whisk in raw cacao powder, raw honey, vanilla, salt, and maca until the chocolate liquid is completely uniform
  5. place your mold onto a rigid surface (like a cutting board or cookie sheet) for easy transport
  6. pour a thin layer of chocolate into the bottom of each mold
  7. freeze for 10 minutes
  8. immediately thoroughly mix the honey and almond butter in a small mixing bowl and freeze for the remaining few minutes until it's time to take out the chocolate
  9. remove the molds and filling from the freezer
  10. using a small spoon and clean fingers, form a ball of filling to place inside each mold (for shallower molds, you want a dime-size ball. For the deeper molds, about a silver dollar-size ball.)
  11. once you've distributed the filling, give the remaining chocolate a good stir with the whisk before spooning out the rest of it to fill the molds
  12. If your filling is visible, use a spoon to gently press it down and hide it under the chocolate
  13. (Optional to sprinkle the nib and sea salt toppings at this time)
  14. freeze for another 20 minutes (or overnight)
  15. pop your chocolates out of their molds and store in a non-porous covered container in the refrigerator
Notes
  1. You can use this same chocolate recipe without the filling to make chocolate bark, chocolate bars, or even dipping chocolate.
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.

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.

Paleo Tropical Coconut Chicken – Bringing Home Aloha

paleo tropical coconut chicken

It’s been about two weeks since I returned home from 10 days in Hawaii, and I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to completely avoid the usual “post-vacation blues” that I sometimes get after a long break. This trip was absolute perfection, and I’ve brought the aloha back with me in the form of a renewed (although never completely abandoned) coconut obsession. I’ll share a super quick and easy Tropical Coconut Chicken recipe today that features shredded coconut that I brought home with me from Oahu. And stay tuned for more coconut-themed awesomeness inspired by the trip in the next few posts!

Quick Coconut Story

Loren and I did not randomly select Oahu as a destination.paleo tropical coconut chicken One of our good friends (and one of my favorite people) moved there a few years ago, and we’ve been meaning to make a trip out ever since. We finally made it happen, and we had the pleasure of experiencing full immersion into the lives of two local dudes making a living climbing up into coconut trees and removing the nuts for folks all over the island — and making awesome stuff with their spoils. I’m actually planning on dedicating a full post to the two of them and their business (Roots and Branches if you want a sneak peek), but suffice it to say that Al Smith and Hans Heinz — R & B founders — know their coconuts. 

One of the projects Hans was working on during our visit was to supply shredded coconut to a local brewery for a coconut porter, and I got to sit in on initial sample production — and take home the winnings! In my carry-on luggage, I brought home a zip-lock bag full of fresh Hawaiian shredded coconut, which will be featured in today’s recipe! 

I have so much more to share about all things coconut I learned from Hans, but for now, this recipe will have to suffice. It’s super easy and pretty quick too. And as always, it’s just the baseline for your own intuitive cooking. I encourage you to switch up the herbs and spices or to add in some heat if you want (my body doesn’t love spicy lately, but this recipe lends itself really well to spice). Whatever flavors suit your fancy will work with this simple starting point.

paleo tropical coconut chicken

You better believe I drank that coconut creme right up too! Some went in my coffee, some went into smoothies, and some went right in my belly on its own.

Quick Chicken Story

If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you know that chickens wander freely the way pigeons do on the mainland. I wouldn’t say they’re present in enormous flocks, but there are LOTS of chickens EVERYWHERE. paleo tropical coconut chickenDespite having been to Kauai back in the late 90’s, I hadn’t known about the chicken situation, so seeing them roam freely on roadways, in parking lots, on the hillsides, along the beach, and even passing through our outdoor seating at a restaurant was pretty amusing to me.

We had a whole family of come through as we enjoyed our signature margaritas at Cholo’s Homestyle Mexican after our Sunday beach cleanup with Hawaii Ocean Ambassadors. The babies were so cute that Loren couldn’t resist picking one up mid-meal. I was a little nervous that he might be bringing chicken germs a little too close to our meal, but the little chicky was so cute that it didn’t matter.

Seeing these little guys and gals running around everywhere gave new meaning to the classic joke about chickens crossing roads — which wasn’t lost on one of my travel buddies who is obsessed with puns and dad jokes. So going forward, chickens will make me think of Hawaii. That’s why I chose to make this coconut recipe with chicken. 

Paleo Tropical Coconut Chicken
Serves 2
super easy recipe, adaptable to every palate by switching up the spices and/or adding some heat to it with cayenne or habanero.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 oz chicken tenders (about 8 tenders)
  2. 1.5 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/2 cup coconut oil
  5. Seasonings - I used Simply Organic Lemon Pepper and Real Season Salt
Instructions
  1. Crack eggs into a shallow bowl and beat until completely uniform
  2. Spread shredded coconut out on a large flat plate
  3. Heat coconut oil in a shallow cast iron skillet at medium-high heat
  4. When oil is hot (test by dropping a piece of coconut in and seeing if it sizzles)
  5. dip chicken tenders into egg on both sides then into shredded coconut on both sides until coated
  6. Place coated chicken into pan and cook on both sides until done in the middle (a few minutes each -- the coconut should brown a little)
  7. Cover a large flat plate with 3-4 paper towels and place cooked chicken on paper towels to absorb some of the oil
  8. Season immediately on both sides (make sure at least one of the seasonings you choose has some salt in it, otherwise they'll be a bit bland)
  9. Repeat until all chicken is done
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.

Salvadoran Guacamole: Avocado Egg Salad Boats [RECIPE]

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

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

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

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

avocado egg salad

A Recipe’s Evolution

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

Eggs and Avocado Mash: Beta test 

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

Avocado Egg Salad: Version 1.0

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

Leftovers: Version 2.0

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

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Salvadoran Guacamole, CWB-Style: Ready for Launch

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

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

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

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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!

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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/

 

Make the Most out of Your Slow-Cooked Meal + Lamb Shank RECIPE

It’s that time of year — the time when we dust off our slow-cookers to make hearty stews, chilies, soups, and braises. It might be my favorite culinary time of year, because I LOVE SOUP!!! It’s kind of an obsession. When it’s cold outside, I could eat soup at every meal, including breakfast. I never get sick of it. Ever! And once you bust out the slow-cooker, you step up the game with a ready-to-eat, home cooked meal waiting for you when you get home. What’s better than that on a cold winter evening? 

Here in the Bay, it’s been raining and cold — a weather recipe for feeling chilled to the bone. In both Ayurveda and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, a cold, damp winter calls for warming, grounding foods like soups, stews, hearty slow-cooked meats, and root veggies. This simple, slow-cooked lamb shank hits a home run in all of these categories.

make the most of your slow-cooked meal

Prepping your Lamb Shanks and Veggies

I love starting something in the morning and coming home to the aromas of dinner already made and waiting for me in the kitchen. I will say though, that when I first dipped my toe into the slow-cooker experience, I was surprised to learn that there can sometimes be a bit more prep than you’d expect if you want the best possible outcome.

Sure, you can throw everything into the slow-cooker raw and hope for the best, but you likely won’t get it. You could get something good, but not the best. The best is when you use time-honored cooking methods that bring out the most mouth-watering flavors in the foods you’re planning to toss into the slow-cooker. If you must toss everything in raw, I recommend sticking to vegetarian dishes, but even those are made better with a quick trip to the stove top before ending up in the slow-cooker. For meat recipes — especially red meats like lamb, beef, pork, and wild game — browning the meat first is an important part of the process.

Is it optional? Technically, yes. Do I recommend skipping it? No. Why? 

Make the Most out of your Slow-Cooked Meal

1. The Maillard Reaction

The Maillard reaction is a chemical process that takes place on the surface of the meat when you sear it on high heat (without burning it). It’s kind of like caramelizing, but it’s also a bit different. The Maillard reaction is what imparts that rich, nutty, meaty flavor to the cut you’re cooking. It alters the amino acids and sugars on the surface of the meat and melds them together for that beautiful, rich flavor we expect when we bite into a steak or a pork chop. Caramelizing involves sugar only, no aminos.

make the most of your slow-cooked meal

Common lore is that searing will seal in the juices, but that’s actually not true. Searing does not magically plasticize your meat into an impermeable surface. But that doesn’t mean that searing isn’t important. Even when you plan to toss your cut into the slow-cooker and immerse it in cooking liquid, starting with a good, hot, dry sear to brown the outside of the cut is crucial for achieving the rich flavor you’re expecting from the finished product. 

Skipping this step will result in a sad, grey-looking finished product that won’t be as flavorful as you’d hoped. And being disappointed in a slow-cooked meal (at least for me) is a much bigger bummer than being disappointed in something you threw together in a few minutes (even if the slow-cook prep took the same amount of time). I’ve made the mistake of skipping the browning step and ended up with a pot full of very bland, disappointing chili (yes, you should even brown ground meat).

2. Sauteing the Veggies

This step, while (again) technically optional, will ensure that your veggies impart the most flavor to your  slow-cooked meal. I remember the first time I saw a recipe that told me to saute all my veggies first, and I was like, “Whaaaat??? I can’t just throw it all in?? WTF?? I’m not doing that.” I’ve since learned my lesson (reference disappointing chili above). Sauteeing doesn’t take as long as caramelizing — you just need to cook everything for a few minutes to unlock the glory — it’s worth it. I wouldn’t skip it.make the most of your slow-cooked meal

Kitchen Hack: Timing Your Slow-Cooked Meal Prep

All this is to say that it does take a little bit of time to get your ingredients into the pot, but if you can give yourself 20 extra minutes in the morning to get this meal started before you rush out the door, you’ll thank yourself. All I ask is that you pull your meat out of the fridge before you do anything else so that it has time to warm to room temperature (or as close to it as you have time for) before you brown it. I recommend you take the meat out, do your whole morning routine (shower, make up, hair, walk the dog, whatever), and then get everything ready for the slow-cooker. 

Rosemary Citrus Slow-Cooked Lamb Shank
Serves 2
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 lamb shanks
  2. 5 ribs celery, finely chopped
  3. 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  4. 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  5. 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  6. 1 large root veggie of your choosing (potato, celery root, parsnip, sweet potato), coarsely chopped
  7. 1 naval orange, thinly sliced
  8. 1 cup bone broth or veggie broth
  9. 1 cup red wine (I used cabernet)
  10. 2 tsp salt
  11. 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  12. 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  13. 1 tbs coconut oil
  14. 1 tbs avocado oil
  15. 1 tbs tomato paste
Instructions
  1. If possible, pull lamb out of the fridge and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes (preferably 45 minutes to an hour) before browning
  2. Heat the skillet and brown all sides of the lamb shanks
  3. Move shanks to the slow cooker (leave the cooker off for now)
  4. Toss coarsely chopped root veggies on top of the lamb
  5. Melt coconut oil on the heated skillet
  6. Add finely chopped red onions, carrots, and celery
  7. Allow to soften and sauté for at least 5 minutes
  8. Stir in finely chopped garlic and avocado oil, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, taking care not to let anything burn
  9. Pour sautéed veggies over lamb inside slow cooker
  10. Add tomato paste, wine, broth, salt, rosemary, and thyme to slow cooker
  11. Top with sliced oranges
  12. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours
  13. Enjoy a nice, warm, home-cooked meal after a long day's work!
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Homemade Gift Ideas: Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark

And, as promised, I’m sharing this absolutely delicious, rich, Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark today. I say “ish” because there are candy canes in it. And candy canes, as far as I can tell, do not fall into the paleo diet. This recipe, however, is worth the minor cheat (if you’re a strict paleo eater, which I’m not), as the vast majority of what you’ll be biting into is pure, healthy, whole food decadence. I think you’ll love it. Everyone I’ve shared it with so far loves it, and I’ll be giving away 5 more boxes of it this afternoon. Crossing my fingers that it will be as big a hit today as it has been this last week.

As for packaging and decorating, I found these cute little glass boxes at a Japanese store called DAISO (it’s kind of like a dollar store) for $1.50 each. They’re microwave safe glass containers, and of course I busted out the paint pens again to make them festive for the season. You really can make awesome gifts on the cheap if you know where to look! And the contents inside are far from skimpy — believe me, this is a sweet, rich treat!

homemade paleo peppermint bark

For more ideas on homemade gifts for the holidays, check out my homemade flourless rum balls, my homemade garlic herb salt, my homemade foot scrub, and my homemade lotion bars and hand salve. You’ll love them all! And just in time — one weekend left to get it all done guys!

Special Chocolate Care

I’ll be honest, this chocolate is somewhat high-maintenance. It needs to stay in the fridge or freezer, because coconut oil, while mostly solid at room temperature, is in no way hard like chocolate should be at room temperature. And coconut oil is the main ingredient. In chocolate you buy at the store, cacao butter is the main ingredient, and while using cacao butter was originally part of my plan (I have a big block if it at home and everything!), I chickened out on using it when I read that the temperature had to be monitored more closely during the heating and cooling process than it did with the coconut oil (read: SHORT CUT) chocolate that I ended up making. I’m fine with the special needs of this chocolate. It forces me to pick a piece and walk away from the refrigerator, which is a good thing for me when it comes to peppermint bark (it’s one of my favorite holiday things!).

But I do plan to experiment with the cacao butter after the holidays when I have more time for trial and error. This way, I can figure it out and perfect it in time to make a shelf-stable version next year. Then again, Christmas isn’t the only time for chocolate eating, so maybe chocolate-making will become a regular thing for me. After all, I am stocking up on silicone molds. My next chocolate project to tackle will be some sort of nut butter chocolate. I haven’t quite worked out how I want to do it, but the wheels are turning, so I’ll keep you posted!

Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark

homemade paleo peppermint bark homemade gift idea

Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark
This is my take on the traditional peppermint bark. There's no white chocolate in this one, but that's ok. It's an almost-paleo treat that you can feel good about indulging in!
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder (CWB Favorite Pick)
  2. 1 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil (CWB Favorite Pick)
  3. 8 tbs pure maple syrup
  4. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 3 tsp peppermint oil (CWB Favorite Pick)
  6. 4 standard candy canes
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil on the stove in a saucepan until completely melted
  2. Add in the cocoa/cacao and stir or whisk until it's fully mixed into a homogeneous liquid
  3. Turn off the heat and add the other three ingredients
  4. Pour about 1/4 inch thick into a cookie sheet or a silicone tray like this one
  5. On a non-breakable surface, unwrap the candy canes and crush them. (I used the bottom of a thick glass cup and crushed them on a cutting board) You can decide how big you want the pieces to be
  6. Place the tray in the refrigerator for at least one hour
  7. When the bark is completely solid, remove tray from the refrigerator
  8. If using a hard, non-pliable cookie sheet, turn the tray upside down on a cutting board and bang on the back of it to release the bark. You might need to use a thin spatula to get underneath it to release it
  9. If using a silicone tray, simply peel it back and either break or cut the pieces as desired
  10. Store in the fridge or freezer
Adapted from AllRecipes
Adapted from AllRecipes
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. All opinions are my own.

 

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.

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

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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
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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. 🙂 

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

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

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.

cutivatedwellbeing.com

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!

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!

http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015-05-11-20.47.44-150x150.jpg)">
Brined Citrus Kale Salad
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015-05-11-20.47.44-150x150.jpg)">
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.

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