SIBO-Friendly Ratatouille [RECIPE]

One of the perks of getting to attend the Biocodex Foundation Kickoff event was experiencing the amazing food in Paris. On our second night, we were treated to a beautiful meal at Les Deux Magots, an iconic Parisian treat with an up close and personal view of the oldest cathedral in Paris. (When I told my friend who lives in Paris that we were going there for dinner, his response was, “Fancy pants.” I’ll take it!)Sibo-friendly ratatouilleMy last course of the evening — lamb saddle on a bed of house made ratatouille — is what inspired today’s recipe. I’ll go ahead and say up front that virtually nothing in this multi-course meal was “SIBO-friendly” — especially the dessert platter — but this dish was pretty close. I worked around the onions, but I know I ate a lot of garlic. That being said, I put my entire protocol on hiatus for the week that I was in France. I won’t say I went completely nuts — I did what I could to choose wisely — but there was no way that I was going to be there and not enjoy fresh baked goods or the amazing cultural delicacies this beautiful country has to offer. To be honest, I didn’t experience any digestive consequences until the very last full day. And I view that as a testament to how diligent I’d been before going. BUT, I digress…

Here’s the main course, paired with a perfect Rhone from Chateau La Borie:

Sibo-friendly ratatouille

Why is this a SIBO-Friendly Recipe?

This is a SIBO-friendly recipe because it features vegetables that are allowable in “unlimited” quantities: eggplant, peppers, yellow squash, tomatoes, capers, and olives. I also left out the major offenders: garlic and onions, which are traditionally included. I chose to use yellow squash instead of zucchini, because while zucchini is allowable in certain quantities, I wanted this to be a recipe that those dealing with SIBO could enjoy without measuring anything. And also because I just picked those glorious yellow delights from my backyard garden and wanted to use them! That being said, if you prefer zucchini, feel free to switch it out, bearing in mind that a serving is 3/4 cups.  Check out my SIBO Diet Short List for a list of other veggies you can eat “unlimited” on the SIBO Diet, along with some helpful cooking guidelines and a list of resources from experts in the field.

The trick with converting a garlic or onion-heavy dish to a SIBO-friendly version is to make smart substitutions. To do this, I employed lots of green onions (allowable without the white part) and then topped the dish off with garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil, which is SIBO-legal. And I added them both at the end of the cooking process to ensure that the they retained as much of their flavor as possible. 

SIBO-friendly Cheese

If you don’t have dairy allergies, hard cheeses that have been aged for at least one month are acceptable on the SIBO Diet. I was thrilled to find an adorable cheese shop in Bordeaux that vacuum-sealed customer purchases so that they would remain fresh and in-tact on a transatlantic flight. They were also kind enough to let me hang out and take some pictures of the goods. It was very very difficult to narrow down my purchases, but I did end up with a truffle-infused Pecorino that I grated on top of my SIBO-friendly Ratatouille to add double the umami. It was truly a divine addition.

Sibo-friendly ratatouille

Cooking on High Heat

I cooked my SIBO-friendly Ratatouille mostly on high heat, because I started the process a little later than I’d intended, and I wanted to get dinner on the table at a decent hour. It turned out great and ended up becoming a 30-minute meal, which works out for all of us, but it’s important that you use the right cooking oil if you plan to follow my lead. I used avocado oil, which is able to withstand high temperatures much better than EVOO.

These days, if I want an olive oil flavor, I usually cook with something else (like water, avocado oil, or ghee) and then add in some EVOO as a topper once I turn off the fire. This way, I get the flavor and nutrients without risking burning the oil and turning it from healthful to carcinogenic. Consider practicing that in your next few meals and see how it goes. It might take a little bit of an adjustment, but it will be worth the health benefits. And if you have a really good olive oil, you’ll likely notice that you taste more of the olive oil flavor while using less of it in your food.

More Food Pics!

I thought about using this post to share more exciting food pics from my trip to France, but then I realized that since most of them aren’t SIBO-friendly, that would kind of be cruel. SO, if you’d like to check out some of the glorious treats that I enjoyed (or at least enjoyed photographing), head over to my Instagram and flip your way through. There are some real works of art from Bordeaux in particular that you should check out.Sibo-friendly ratatouille

SIBO Friendly Ratatouille
Serves 4
This recipe is a mix of all SIBO Diet-approved veggies and spices, while still remaining delicious and satisfying. It also includes gut-supportive bone broth and nutrient-dense fresh herbs.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tbs avocado oil [Buy avocado oil]
  2. 1 large eggplant
  3. 1 large yellow squash or zucchini (the one I used was so big I had to core it -- if yours are smaller, consider adding 2 or 3)
  4. 1 bell pepper (I used orange)
  5. 1/2 cup bone broth (Mine was homemade and pre-salted. You can adjust your salt based on how salty your own broth is)
  6. 2 cups POMI strained or chopped tomatoes [Buy POMI]
  7. 2 tbs capers
  8. 8-10 black olives
  9. 1 full bunch scallions (green part only)
  10. 1 cup loose fresh chopped herbs (I used fresh oregano, sage, and parsley from the CWB garden)
  11. 1-2 tsp Real Salt or pink salt
  12. 2 tbs garlic-infused EVOO [Buy garlic-infused EVOO]
Instructions
  1. Cube all the veggies
  2. Chop scallions and fresh herbs (and set aside)
  3. Heat a very large frypan before adding avocado oil on medium heat
  4. Add cubed eggplant, squash, and pepper
  5. Stir to ensure that all veggies are exposed to the heated oil and turn up the heat to high
  6. Stir in bone broth and cover for 5 minutes
  7. Uncover and stir in tomatoes
  8. Cook on high, stirring regularly for another 15 minutes (reducing things down)
  9. Coarsely chop the olives while everything is cooking
  10. Add in capers and olives
  11. Once all veggies are softened, turn off the heat and add in the freshly chopped scallions and herbs)
  12. Finish with 2 tbs garlic-infused EVOO (or drizzle on individual servings)
Notes
  1. This dish is amazing served warm as a side dish or as a base for 1/2 a cup of white rice or quinoa and a delicious cut of meat. You can also eat it cold as a Sicilian-style caponata with SIBO-approved rice crackers once you reach that phase of your protocol.
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 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
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.

Watermelon and Corn Salad: The Ultimate Summer Salad

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

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

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

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

cultivatedwellbeing.com (12)

Health Benefits of Watermelon 

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

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

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

Another awesome benefit of watermelon?

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

What Else is in this Summer Salad?

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

 

 

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Refreshing Watermelon and Corn Salad
Serves 4
This salad is the perfect addition to any summer meal. Featuring hydrating watermelon, cooling cilantro, and a mild kick from the smoked paprika, there's no one this salad can't please
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Prep Time
10 min
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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/

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.

Celery Root Soup with Fried Sage [RECIPE]

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

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

celery root soup with fried sage

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

Kitchen Tools 

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

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

Celery Root Soup 

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Celery Root Soup with Fried Sage
Serves 10
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-03-12-18.48.47-150x150.jpg)">
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole large celery root, peeled and cubed
  2. 1 whole parsnip, chopped
  3. 1/2 large fennel bulb or 1 small one, chopped
  4. 1 large leek, sliced (the white part only)
  5. 2 tbs chopped fresh sage + more whole leaves for frying
  6. 1 tbs REAL salt (CWB Favorite Pick)
  7. 1/2 tsp cracked red pepper (use 1/4 if you prefer a milder heat. I was shocked at how much impact this amount had on the final product)
  8. 2500 mL chicken or vegetable broth (I used homemade bone broth -- if you have it on hand, go for it, but it's not necessary to use homemade for this to be delicious)
  9. 2 tbs full fat coconut milk (CWB Favorite Pick)
  10. 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep pot, place celery root, parsnip, fennel, leek, and chicken broth
  2. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until a fork runs through the root veggies easily (about 10 minutes)
  3. Lower the fire to a simmer and add salt, sage, cracked red pepper, and coconut milk
  4. Let simmer another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to incorporate
  5. Turn off the fire and allow to cool under oven vent for about 10 minutes
  6. Stir in 1 tbs EVOO
  7. Blend ingredients in a high speed blender (like the Nutribullet Rx) until completely smooth -- it will need to be done in batches
  8. When you're ready to serve your soup, heat a skillet and add remaining two tbs of EVOO
  9. place whole sage leaves into hot oil and fry on each side for 20 to 30 seconds until crisp, taking care not to burn them
  10. Serve soup warm topped with three fried sage leaves and an extra drizzle of EVOO
Notes
  1. The soup doesn't have to cool to room temperature to be placed in the blender, it just needs to not be piping hot to avoid damaging the blender.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Roasted Curry Carrots and Fennel [RECIPE]

I’ve decided that I need two ovens, because I love roasting things so much. Doubtful that will happen in my tiny kitchen any time soon, but a girl can dream right? I’ve sung my praises of roasting many times, but I have to say that lately I’m loving it more than ever. I want to roast my dinner almost to the exclusion of every other cooking method. All you do is chop things up, spread them on a cookie sheet with some oil and seasoning, and throw them in the oven. And that’s saying nothing of the fact that the final product is so much more delicious (and nutritious) than what you get in a saute pan.  What could be more amazing than that?

Every vegetable on this plate was prepared in the oven. Every last one. Even the tomatoes. Roasting is simple, it retains the nutrients (and beautiful colors) of the veggies because it’s a dryer form of cooking than boiling, steaming, or sauteing, and it just tastes better. In short, roasting is the bomb. 

roasted carrot and fennel recipe

I Hate Cooked Carrots

Ok, maybe as an adult I’m less of a brat about it, but when I was a little kid, you couldn’t pay me to eat a cooked carrot. (That’s not to say that I didn’t accept bribes to try other foods, but a cooked carrot was a nightmare.) My grandmother would tell me that they would make my eyes pretty; my mother would smother them in butter and even brown sugar sometimes to try to entice me. They’d try to hide them in a pot roast — the most egregious of offenses in my child-sized brain. But I just couldn’t get behind a cooked carrot. I really don’t know why they tried so hard — I’d eat them raw. Anyway, enter the solution I love so dearly, featured in today’s post: ROASTING! 

Digestive Support with Fennel and Ginger

The other two major components of this recipe are fennel and ginger, both ripe with nutrients to support healthy digestion and decrease inflammation. Since we’re just finishing up with the Why Gut Health Matters series, I figured I’d keep in step with this week’s recipe and encourage some ingredients that are good for the belly and body. 

Fennel bulb has a very mild anise flavor, but it feels more like celery in your mouth. It’s delicious raw or cooked, and it provides a ton of vitamin C, folate, anethole, and quercetin, all free-radical fighters, all inflammation extinguishers. (source) The seeds are hailed for their medicinal properties, which include relief from heartburn, gas, bloating, and quite a few other ailments, so they’re a great alternative to prescription drugs that can wreak havoc on your gut biome.

Ginger is a well-known digestive supporter. It helps relieve nausea, intestinal gas and bloating, and discomfort in the digestive tract. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory and promotes healthy circulation. 

On to the Yum!

This recipe features carrots, fennel, and a touch of spice with an Indian flare — which you can totally skip if you’re not into it, but just give it a try. It’s a super simple recipe that’s great for digestion, full of filling fiber, and absolutely delicious. 

Even a cooked-carrot hater can’t resist this recipe.
Trust me. 

roasted carrots and fennel recipe

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Roasted Curry Carrots and Fennel
Serves 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 carrots, chopped 1/2-inch diagonally
  2. 1 large bulb fennel, sliced
  3. 2 tbs avocado oil
  4. 2 tbs minced fresh ginger
  5. 2 tsp fennel seed
  6. 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  7. 1/2 tsp REAL salt (CWB Favorite Pick)
  8. black pepper to taste
  9. 2 tbs fresh green fennel tops, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Lay chopped veggies flat on a cookie sheet
  3. Add minced ginger, curry, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper evenly across veggies
  4. Drizzle with avocado oil
  5. Roast for 10 minutes
  6. Remove from oven and toss with a spatula to better incorporate oil and spices
  7. Sprinkle fresh green fennel tops over veggies and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Pickles Gone Wild: Wild Fermentation and the Good Bugs

wild picklesI’m excited to share this super simple wild pickles recipe with you! And I’ll say up front that although my recipe calls for green tomatoes, this formula works with cucumbers, peppers, cauliflower, and just about anything else you might be curious to try pickling. The fermentation time will vary based on what you’re pickling and whether or not you cut it up or pickle it whole, but start with this framework and you’ll have yourself some effervescently sour pickled veggies in no time. Eat a few bites at every meal to encourage healthy digestion.

What are Wild Pickles?

wild picklesWhat we’re making here is not the homemade version of what you can find in the grocery store aisles. These pickles are usually sterilized and, for lack of a better word, dead. While the internet is teeming with “refrigerator” pickle recipes that include vinegar as part of the pickling liquid, these are not true pickles in the purest sense of the word. True pickles are done with a wild ferment. They are a live food packed with living bacteria that do the souring instead of all that vinegar. And they’re awesome for your digestion and your wellbeing.

How do the bacteria get into the jar?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Bacteria are in the empty jar in your cabinet right now. And they’re on the cucumbers growing in your garden. and they’re on the dill weed, the jalapeno, in your spice  rack … you get the point. Give the bacteria that live among us the proper environment to turn something good into something great, and they’ll be up for the task. All you need is some salt water, something to pickle, and some spices to make them delicious, and let the wild bacteria do the rest!

What’s the Difference? Why Wild?

On Tuesday in part 1 of my Why Gut Health Matters series, we talked about your gut as your body’s Gate Keeper. We covered quite a bit in that post, but one of the things we touched on was the important role gut bacteria play in the integrity of the gut lining, and therefore our health in general. Ensuring that we have a healthy ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in the gut is an integral step toward having a healthy gut lining and preventing leaky gut.  

Before we go further though, a little vocabulary speed round is in order.

All of these words refer to the microscopic bugs that live in your intestinal tract, primarily in the colon. I’ll use them interchangeably for the most part:

  • gut bacteria
  • microbiota
  • probiotic (refers to the good ones only)
  • microbiome (refers to the whole ecosystem)

So what else do probiotics do?

  1. Probiotics play a vital role in strengthening our immune system. In fact, anywhere from 65 to 90% of our immune system lives in our gut in the form of epithelial cells (villi), which are fed by … drumroll please … probiotics. These bugs keep us well!
  2. Probiotics protect us from harmful bacteria. They take up space in our bowel that might otherwise be filled with harmful bacteria, which cause disease, create gas and bloating, promote inflammation, make us crave sugar and junk food, and can even negatively affect our mood, resilience, and cognition. They also release substances (including lactic acid) that inhibit the growth of the bad guys, preventing them from taking over and wreaking havoc on our health. 
  3. Probiotics produce bioavailable vitamins from the foods we eat. Without beneficial bacteria in our gut, we would have no access to the B Complex (biotin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folic acid, and B12). We would also be deficient in vitamin K, because the bugs down there actually synthesize it from our food.
  4. Probiotics reduce cortisol, (a stress hormone) and increase GABA (a relaxing chemical), therefore positively affecting mood disorders like anxiety and depression, and reducing stress. Reducing cortisol also improves insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for folks at risk of developing type 2 diabetes or other metabolic disorders.

Let’s get to the Pickles

wild picklesThe instructions included in this recipe are for the green cherry tomatoes I pulled from my garden when the weather was cooling down but the vines were still full. They were very fresh when they were pickled. 

I recognize that green cherry tomatoes might not be the easiest thing to find on a whim, so if you make your pickles using larger tomatoes or cucumbers and you plan to slice them up, make sure they’re SUPER FRESH, and start checking them after 24 hours. One tip I’ve read but haven’t tried is to give your cucumbers an ice water bath before starting the process. Leave them in ice water for an hour or so before getting them into the jars to freshen them up and ensure crisp and crunch in the final product. (Adding grape or blackberry leaves will do that too, but why not do both just to make sure? Who wants a mushy pickle? No one.)

If you plan to keep your cucumbers, green tomatoes, or peppers whole, wait to check them until day 6 or 7. It takes the whole veggies a while longer to pickle all the way through than the slices. I’ve seen some recipes recommend that you leave whole pickles to ferment for up to two weeks; but again — check them. No one wants a mushy pickle.  In the meantime, check out this cool video on how to chop a bunch of cherry tomatoes super quickly!

 

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Wild Pickled Green Tomatoes
This recipe works with all sorts of veggies, so be creative!
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Ingredients
  1. One 1500 mL (6 cup) jar
  2. 2 lbs green cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
  3. 2 tbs sea salt
  4. 4 cups water
  5. 1 jalapeno (I used 1/2 the seeds, but how spicy is up to you)
  6. 10 sprigs fresh dill
  7. 5 cloves garlic sliced in half
  8. 1 tbs black pepper corns
  9. 1/2 tbs whole coriander seeds
  10. 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  11. 1 tbs mustard seeds
  12. OPTIONAL: grape leaves or blackberry leaves (this ingredient is as source of tannins, which is intended to promote crispness -- more useful when pickling cucumbers)
Instructions
  1. Slice the green tomatoes in half (for full-sized tomatoes, quarter them instead of halving them)
  2. Pack the jar tightly with all the tomatoes leaving at least two inches of space at the top of the jar
  3. Add all other ingredients on top of tomatoes
  4. Dissolve salt in 2 cups warm water in a separate container
  5. Pour salt water over all ingredients into the jar
  6. Fill the jar with the remaining 4 cups of water leaving no less than 1 inch at the top for gas and ensuring that the veggies are completely submerged in the liquid -- this is important. If you need to put something heavy on top to weigh down the veggies waiting to be pickled, do it.
  7. Seal tightly and leave on the counter at room temperature for 3 to 5 days (check at 24 hours for sliced cucumbers)
  8. You want the tomatoes to be firm but pickled all the way through (not mushy). When they are to your liking, refrigerate them and they will keep indefinitely
Notes
  1. BE CAREFUL when you open the jar for the first time. Gas can build up and create some effervescence as the bacteria do their thing.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

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

Trial and Error – Stick with it!

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

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

Kitchen Gadgets

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

roasted sweet potato soup recipe

 

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Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4
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http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2014-12-28-19.52.33.jpg)">
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups roasted sweet potato puree
  2. 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 large carrot, chopped
  4. 1 large clove garlic (mince or press 10 minutes before adding to heat for maximum health benefits)
  5. 3 cups coconut milk
  6. 2 cups almond milk
  7. 1 cup water
  8. 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  9. 1 tbs coconut oil
  10. 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  11. 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  12. 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  13. 1 tsp REAL salt or sea salt
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tbs coconut oil in a large, deep pot on medium heat
  2. Add diced onion and carrots and cook until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add pressed garlic and grated ginger, stirring to marry the flavors
  4. Stir in roasted sweet potato puree
  5. Add water, almond milk, and apple cider vinegar, stirring to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom
  6. Add cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and salt
  7. Continue cooking until all ingredients are fully incorporated, then add coconut milk and reduce heat to low
  8. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it becomes one consistency (a regular blender works too -- even better if you have a great blender like a Nutribullet or a Vitamix)
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Spaghetti Squash and Cauli-Freddo Sauce

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

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

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

Cauli-Freddo Sauce (Cauliflower Cream Sauce)

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

cauliflower cream sauce

For the Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

cauliflower cream sauce

Buttery Sage Celery Root [Low-carb Recipe]

Garden Woes

Sadly, I have to admit that the family garden isn’t all success stories. My attempt to start celeriac (aka celery root) from seed this spring was a total failure. I started them inside under lights, and they took forever to sprout (apparently that’s normal), and then they slowly putted along for a while, growing more slowly than everything else. I eventually transferred them to larger indoor pots (still under the lights). Then I put the survivors outside after hardening them off, and only two kept growing. Then they stopped. That’s the end of that story. 🙁 So sad. I’ve never seen celeriac seedlings at any nursery I’ve ever visited, so I suppose I’m limited to buying them in the grocery store. Oh well, maybe I’ll try again next year.

Lucky for me, my local grocer almost always has a nice stock of celery root for me to use in all kinds of fun recipes, which we’ll get to shortly. For now, check out the size of this thing and the terrified look in Dexter’s eyes! I never get tired of this picture.

dexterceleryroot

What’s Celeriac?

Celeriac, also called celery root or knob celery is a variety of celery distinct from the common stalk variety we see most often. It’s not actually the root of that plant, but the two plants are related. It grows wild in the Mediterranean parts of Northern Europe and is much more widely used there than it is here in the US. The stalks of celeriac are also edible, but they’re a bit more fibrous, so I have only ever used them in soups. The outer layer of the bulbous root is gnarled and covered in thin hair-like roots, which can be peeled and discarded. The inside is white and firm and can be shaved raw into a salad, roasted, boiled, or steamed. 

6 Reasons to Eat Celery Root

With its weird, stringy, hair-like tangles connecting to a gnarled bulbous structure with brainy wrinkles, it’s easy to think that preparing celery root would be a lot of work. After all, the outer layer is rough and unappetizing at first glance, so you have to get rid of it. But it’s worth the little bit of kitchen labor to incorporate this awesome ingredient into your diet. 

Here’s why: 

  1. It’s a low-glycemic root that has a mere fraction of the insulin-spiking simple carbohydrates of a potato (about 5–6% starch by weight). (source)
  2. It’s high in fiber, which keeps you full longer — a great tool if you’re working on portion control.
  3. It’s a lot easier to prepare than it looks — simply cut a large one into manageable pieces and use a carrot peeler or sharp paring knife to remove the skin. Anything you can’t remove when raw will come off easily once it’s cooked. 
  4. It has a mild celery flavor — a flavor those in the culinary world classify as umami, the 6th flavor after sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and bitter. This adds a rich element to nearly any dish you’re complementing with celery root and makes for a much more interesting side dish than your average potato.
  5. It has a very long shelf life — about 6 to 8 months — if you store it at approximately 41 degrees F. (source)
  6. It’s just as versatile as a potato; use it for soups and stews, roast it, mash it, or try out the delicious recipe I’m sharing with you today.
butteryceleryroot

shown here with braised kale, dry-smoked salmon, and an avocado

Buttery Sage Celery Root
Feel free to choose your own herbs if sage isn't your thing!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 celery root (how large your root is will dictate how many are served. serving size = 1/2 to 1 cup per person, cooked. I only used half of the one shown in the picture with Dexter. That one was GIANT!)
  2. 2 tbs grass fed butter
  3. 8 to 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  4. REAL salt or pink Himalayan salt
  5. black pepper
Instructions
  1. Start boiling about 2 inches of water in a saucepan and set your steamer basket inside
  2. While your water is warming, peel and cube your celery root. If it's a large one, cut it in half before peeling
  3. Place cubed celery root into the steamer and sprinkle salt throughout
  4. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes until a fork pokes through easily
  5. Remove steaming basket, dump the water, and set the celery root aside
  6. Add butter and chopped sage leaves to pan, stirring to melt and infuse the herb into the butter
  7. Add celery root back in along with a touch more salt and black pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes on medium, stirring to make sure the butter doesn't burn
  8. Serve with your favorite protein and veggie combo
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Creamy Cucumber Gazpacho Recipe

I was wandering around the Jack London Square Farmer’s Market in Oakland when I heard someone calling my name. I turned to see a good friend sitting at a vendor table. Sara had just finished doing a cooking demo for Cookin’ the Market, and she was excited for me to try her creamy creation. 

Straight from the About Us page on their website, “Cookin’ the Market is a market chef program focusing on creating quick, nutritious meals using fresh, seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. Sharing free recipes, cooking tips, and cooking demonstrations around the San Francisco Bay Area. The program is a response to the pre-packaged, heavily processed and fast foods that have become so prominent in American meals. Cookin’ the Market emphasizes real ingredients, healthy recipes, and easy preparations to demonstrate that anyone, regardless of time or talent, can cook delicious and nutritious foods that not only taste better, but are also better for you.” (read more)

This delicious, refreshing green soup couldn’t have entered my life at a better time. I have cucumbers coming out of my ears from the front yard garden! I was excited to go home and replicate her recipe, which I’ve since made no less that four times. I think it merits a share and a nod to this awesome program and my awesome friend Sara. 

cucumber gazpacho recipe 

 While it’s superb straight out of the blender, I’ve also found that it’s even better after it’s been in the fridge for a day. So if you have time to make it a day in advance you should! 

Creamy Cucumber Gazpacho
Serves 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 large cucumber or 2 smaller ones
  2. 1/2 cup organic greek yogurt
  3. 1 tbs fresh mint (about 10 leaves)
  4. 1 tbs fresh chives
  5. 3 scallions
  6. Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  7. 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel the cucumber and chop into 3 or 4 pieces
  2. Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and puree until completely smooth
  3. Serve with a garnish of chopped scallions and a drizzle of olive oil
Adapted from adapted from a recipe by Sara Haston of Cookin' the Market
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/
I love it because it’s light and fresh while still being rich in protein and nutrients, including probiotics from the yogurt! A fantastic and nutritious combination of flavors, and it literally takes mere minutes to throw together Peeling the cucumber is the most laborious part.

Enjoy!

cucumber gezpacho recipe

Roasting: The Easiest Way to Make Veggies Delicious

When I first ventured off to college, I was excited to experiment with cooking for the first time outside my parents’ house. Having been curious to learn and try to replicate some of my mom’s recipes (none of which is written down or involves any measuring whatsoever), I was eager to begin my own journey in the kitchen. I cooked for my dorm-mates when we had potlucks in the communal kitchen, and I was always willing to try anything I could dream up — as long as it was cooked on the stove top. 

The oven was off-limits back then. Very scary. The words “roast” and “bake” conjured anxiety of burnt poultry or ruined pork parts. There’s no stirring, no mid-course correcting, no way to know what’s going on in there without opening the door compulsively, which I was told not to do. Casseroles freaked me out. With the exception of those green beans I mentioned last week, I didn’t want anything to do with the oven until much later in my cooking escapades. Years later. roasted vegetables 1

And now, I have to say that even though we have a very old, very inefficient, somewhat temperamental oven that literally heats up the entire kitchen when we use it, I couldn’t live without it. I am so eager to throw something in the oven and walk away to get something else done while my dinner cooks. Or at least I’ll work on another part of dinner while something happens inside that magical oven. 

Roasted Vegetables

Today we’re going to talk about the simplest, most delicious way to prepare just about any non-leafy vegetable: Roasting. I love roasted veggies. They’re so simple, and the process is all but fool-proof, even for a beginner in the kitchen. You can roast just about anything using an extremely simple formula that will pretty much guarantee deliciousness every time. With this formula, you can stick your veggies in the oven and move on to making another part of your meal. It’s a great tool for multitasking in the kitchen and getting a lot of delicious food on your plate at each meal without spending all day in the kitchen. 

roasted vegetables 3

Here’s the formula:

cookie sheet or baking pan (not the flat kind, you want a lip) + veggies of your choice + olive oil, avocado oil, melted coconut oil, or ghee + salt and pepper + (optional) balsamic vinegar. Spray oil works great in roasting so you can coat things well without totally overdoing the oil.

roasted vegetables 2

Here are some veggies that are great for roasting:

  • asparagus (chop the white ends off, roast the rest whole)
  • zucchini/squash (better with balsamic and sliced very thin!)
  • broccoli (chop into bite size pieces)
  • cauliflower (chop into bite size pieces)
  • eggplant (better with balsamic and sliced very thin!)
  • bell peppers (slice thin or roast in halves or quarters)
  • onions (sliced or quartered, both work great)
  • sweet potatoes (diced or sliced – leave skin on)
  • beets (diced, pealing is optional – I never peel them)
  • celery root (diced)
  • sunchokes (diced)
  • pearl or fingerling potatoes (whole or cut in half)
  • pumpkin (quartered or sliced, don’t bother peeling until afterwards)

roasted vegetables 4

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F for non-starchy veggies and 400 for the root/starchy veggies  
  2. Rinse your veggies and chop or slice accordingly
  3. Lay the veggies flat on a cookie sheet avoiding any overlapping
  4. Drizzle or spray with oil of your choices (I use this avocado spray or you can use a Misto Sprayer – affiliate links)
  5. (optional) drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper (skip the pepper for the sweet potatoes and beets)
  7. Roast non-starchy veggies for 10 to 15 minutes, starchy veggies could take up to 40 minutes, depending on the root
  8. For starchy veggies, shake them up on the pan after an initial 20 minutes, then check back every 5-10 minutes after until they’re done

With this tool in your tool belt, eating veggies every day will be a snap! Enjoy your delicious roasted vegetables with your favorite cut of meat and a nice big salad if you’re working on a low-carb lifestyle. (Find out why you should make your own salad dressing.) 

Now it’s your turn!

What’s your favorite veggie to roast? What do you add to your roasted veggies to make them delicious?


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation if you click and purchase it. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

The Wonders of Sunchokes!

This post is going to be short and sweet, because I got started late this afternoon and was fidgeting around with graphics when I should have been writing.

I love love love SUNCHOKES, and today I want to share the simplest recipe on earth that yields a healthy, filling, delicious root veggie side dish WAAAAY more exciting than a potato. OK, here it is.

sunchoke recipe

photo sourced from Creative Commons, created by Kenraiz Krzysztof Ziarnek (source linked)

So what’s a sunchoke?

Jerusalem artichoke? No? Same thing. The names are interchangeable, even though this tasty gem has absolutely nothing to do with the artichoke family, which is a thistle. Rather, as the first name I used may indicate, “sun”choke, this hardy plant is related to the sunflower and grows tall with yellow flowers just like its cousin. The stalks grow 8 to 10 feet tall, and the underground rhizomes spread in a tangled network just below the surface, growing into gnarled starchy edible roots. According to most gardening websites, when the plants start to wilt and turn brown, the roots are ready to harvest.

I got impatient in my own garden, however.

I know, shocking.

We bought a couple of sunchoke seedlings last fall, and without doing any research at all, stuck them in the back of one of our two back yard raised beds. They did nothing but wilt and die, so we removed them and moved on with life. This spring, little sprouts came from where we’d removed them, so we let a few of them grow to see what would happen. They grew and grew until they were casting a shadow over the rest of the box, at which point we cut them back and finally decided to actually do a little research on the crop.

Oops

PANIC ensued when I read that they are known to take over, spreading rapidly wherever they are planted. We planted them RIGHT next to our asparagus, which can take up to three years to yield a crop — not something I wanted to risk. Out they came!

roasted sunchoke recipe
fresh out of the ground

These little babies became dinner that very night.

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Roasted Sunchokes
Roasting root veggies is a great way to retain flavor and nutrients with minimal effort. You can apply these simple instructions to any number of root veggies, you just might need to adjust cooking time based on how large you chop and how dense the root. (beets take forever)
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb sunchokes
  2. Avocado oil (spray form is easier to work with, but drizzling from the bottle works too)
  3. REAL salt or a mild seasoned salt
  4. cracked red pepper
  5. black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Cut sunchokes into small chunks and spread across a cookie sheet in one layer ( no overlapping)
  3. Spray or sprinkle avocado oil over the chunks and toss to ensure that all sides are covered
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper over (use cracked red pepper sparingly)
  5. Toss again to ensure the seasons cover the chokes
  6. Roast on 400 for 30 to 35 minutes (could take longer, depending on your oven)
  7. They're ready when they feel soft like cooked potatoes
Notes
  1. Try to make the chunks as uniform in size as possible to ensure even cooking. You might end up with some soft and some crunchy, but the crunchy ones are good too!
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Why bother?

Potatoes are much easier to find than sunchokes, and they don’t take as long to cook, so why should you go to the effort to eat roots other than potatoes? I’ll tell you why!

Sunchokes are high in fiber, especially oligo-fructose inulin, which as I’ve shared in my resistant starch potato recipe, is awesome if you want to consume a starchy food without the glycemic load. The fiber in a sunchoke balances out the starch, making it a great addition to your plate if you’re watching your carbs.

Sunchokes are also rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, E, and carotenoids; all great cancer-fighters and more prevalent in sunchokes than your average potato.

100 grams of fresh sunchoke provides 429 mg or 9% of daily required levels of potassium, which is an important mineral for the active among us (it’s an electrolyte) aiding in muscle recovery and preventing muscle cramping.

100 grams of fresh sunchoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of iron for the common edible roots and tubers. (source) Iron deficiency in the US is relatively common, but supplementation can lead to undesirable consequences like cramps and constipation. Eating a food naturally rich in iron is a great solution, because when iron is packaged up how nature intended, those side effects disappear.

Sunchokes are also rich in B vitamins, especially thiamine, an essential nutrient for healthy hair, skin, and nails. (source)

Enjoy these nutrition powerhouses and the delicious, unique flavor that comes with them. Today I’m sharing a simple roasted root recipe, but you can make a killer creamy soup with these guys too. Try it out! And enjoy!

sunchoke recipe

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