Watermelon and Corn Salad: The Ultimate Summer Salad

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

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

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

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

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Health Benefits of Watermelon 

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

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

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

Another awesome benefit of watermelon?

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

What Else is in this Summer Salad?

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

watermelon saiad, corn salad, summer salad

 

 

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

Sicola-Style Roasted Tomato Puttanesca Recipe

I don’t mean to mislead you into thinking this is a “Sicola family recipe” — it’s not. In fact, it’s my take on a recipe a friend shared with Loren over Facebook a few weeks back. I loved the idea of roasting tomatoes in the oven instead of making a stove top sauce like I usually do, so I took the nuts and bolts of that recipe and tweaked it to fit my fancy. I’ve never been great at following recipes to a T anyway; in the end, it always becomes my own concoction. This roasted tomato sauce is no exception.

What makes it Sicola-Style?

1) It’s easy; 2) it’s basically measuring-cup-free; 3) it’s flexible (if you don’t like something in it, just trade it for something that suits you!); 4) it’s nutrient-dense (anchovies=omega 3, tomato peels= extra lycopene); 5) it’s chalk-full of rich, sweet flavor — just like this blog — and last but not least, 6) you don’t have to peel the tomatoes! Sweet relief + extra phytonutrients! What could go wrong? I’m starting the tradition right now, and for years to come generations of Sicolas will make this sauce and sing its praises! I know you will too when you try it at home. Tonight we enjoyed it with zucchini noodles, Sicilian sausage, and fresh basil. A healthy twist on my pasta-loving Sicilian family roots! 

roasted tomato sauce puttanesca

What Kind of Tomatoes to Use?

I used giant red heirlooms and cherry tomatoes from my backyard tomato jungle, but I’ve seen similar recipes using Romas or San Marzanos. At the end of the day, if you start with a good tomato, your sauce will be good. Don’t use gross pink flavorless conventional beefsteaks and you won’t get gross watery flavorless sauce. It’s that simple. In my book, you start with good organic ingredients and you’ll get good results. Don’t skimp on quality and your taste buds and body will thank you. If you need help picking your tomatoes, here are a few tips:

  • The deeper the red color (both inside and out), the better. If you’re having doubts, get a produce employee to cut one open for you before you buy. 
  • You want only a little give when you gently squeeze the fruit, but some give is important. If a tomato is too firm, it’s probably not quite ripe, which means it was super green when it was picked and probably tastes like nothing (another reason to ask to peek inside one!)
  • You want a tomato you like — try a few varieties if you’re not sure what you like best. Certainly the flavor will change and be enhanced as you cook and add seasonings, but if you don’t like the raw materials, you’re less likely to like the finished product.
  • If you can get your tomatoes from a local farmers’ market, you’re almost guaranteeing that they were sun-ripened and recently picked, which means rich, deep flavor. Opt for the farmers’ market if you can!

Kitchen Hack: Tomatoes lose their flavor and nutritional value rapidly when refrigerated. Buy your tomatoes the same week you plan to use them and store them on your counter, not in the fridge. You’ll get more flavor and more lycopene, an antioxidant important for eye health and prevalent in tomatoes. In fact, the lycopene increases when you cook and is more bioavailable when fat is added, so this sauce does the trick — cooked in olive oil to guarantee a healthy dose of lycopene in every serving!

Let’s Get Started!

1

Your Shopping list*:

  • 3 lbs fresh organic tomatoes
  • Organic olive oil
  • 1 can black olives, coarsely chopped (a Sicola family favorite!)
  • 1 small jar capers
  • 1 small jar anchovies fillets in olive oil
  • fresh oregano (or your favorite fresh herbs — other options are rosemary, marjoram, thyme, or some combo)
  • cracked red pepper
  • REAL salt

*I’m giving you a shopping list instead of an ingredients list because you will not use the whole can of olives or jars of capers and sardines. My leftover olives are long gone (in my belly) but the capers and sardines will store in the fridge for a very long time.

Supplies:

  • 2 large cookie sheets
  • Blender
  • Jars for freezing/storing (leave about 1.5 inches at the top of each jar you plan to freeze to avoid sadness and broken glass disaster in your freezer)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 while you prep your cookie sheets and ‘maters
  2. Coat the cookie sheets with a thin layer of olive oil
  3. Cut the tomatoes in half if small, into quarters if large, and line the cookie sheets
  4. Generously drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt over tomatoes
  5. Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 225F and cook for another hour
  6. Remove from the oven and evenly distribute about 1/2 the can of olives, a couple spoonfuls of capers, and about 10 chopped anchovies over the two sheets of tomatoes
  7. Add about 5 sprigs of fresh oregano — simply strip the leaves from the stems, no need to chop
  8. Sprinkle cracked red pepper to your desired spice level (start small, you can always add more at the end!)
  9. Replace sheets in the oven and cook another hour or so
  10. Remove from the oven and add all contents to blender
  11. Add about 5 more sprigs of oregano
  12. Pulse lightly for a thick, chunky sauce or puree for a smoother texture
  13. Store in jars in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freeze what you don’t eat to save for a rainy day!

CYMERA_20141015_225520

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

Easy One-pan Meal: Low-carb Green Bean Casserole

My mom is famous for her Italian green bean casserole. Not to be confused with anything involving cream of mushroom soup or fried onions, she layers canned green beans, Italian breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, Lawry’s seasoned salt, and olive oil, in a pan, puts it in the oven, and that’s it. Simple, delicious, full of flavor and childhood nostalgia. 

healthy green bean casserole low carb one-pan mealFresh Green Beans

As a general rule, I try to minimize canned foods and maximize fresh veggies, and since we’ve been super lucky this season with our green bean yield in the garden, I decided to create my own one-pan meal inspired by my mom’s famous recipe. 

If you’re like me, you want dinner to be easy prep and easy clean-up. Since my food-making workshop is a 1950’s kitchen with zero upgrades (no dishwasher, no disposal), I like to dirty as few dishes as possible with one-pot or one-pan meals. 

This recipe works great for a low-carb lifestyle full of flavor and joy without the hassle of exact measurements and tons of dishes.

I like to call my no-measure style of cooking “intuitive cooking” because it involves trusting your instincts and going with what looks and feels right. That being said, I know that intuitive cooking isn’t for everyone, so I will give some estimates so you can get the hang of it. 

healthy green bean casserole low carb one pot meal

Ingredients for this recipe are super simple (serves 4):

  • Fresh green beans (enough to line a large plan without really stacking them on top of each other)
  • About 1 lb of your favorite ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, loose sausage)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to avoid a greasy dish, use very sparingly if you choose loose sausage, which tends to have a higher fat content)
  • Your favorite hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, and asiago all work great), shredded or grated
  • sliced almonds
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (affiliate link)
  • Water and a pinch of salt

Healthy Low-Carb Green Bean Casserole one pot meal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Rinse and snip the ends of the beans
  3. Place a layer of beans in a baking pan and add 1 inch of water and a pinch of salt
  4. Braise in the oven for 10 minutes
  5. While the beans are in the oven, warm a skillet and add your ground meat, browning completely
  6. Drain off any liquid in your skillet and set cooked meat aside
  7. Once the beans have been in for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and drain remaining water from the pan
  8. Layer the remaining ingredients on top of the braised beans in the following order:
    1. ground meat 
    2. garlic powder (light sprinkle over the entire surface of the dish)
    3. onion powder (light sprinkle over the entire surface of the dish)
    4. shredded almonds
    5. shredded cheese
    6. Lawrys seasoned salt
  9. Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes until the cheese turns a golden brown

 greenbean casserole

Easy Japanese Cucumber Salad – Sunomono Recipe

If you’ve been to a Japanese restaurant, chances are you’ve had the Japanese appetizer sunomono. If you haven’t, then I’ll tell you that it’s a simple cucumber salad lightly dressed with oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and a little sugar and allowed to sit in its own juices for a while for enhanced flavor. I love ordering it with chopped octopus — as long as I know that the restaurant cooks the octopus well and doesn’t give rubbery grossness. Rubbery octopus is a bummer, but perfect octopus is divine!

cucumber salad sunomono

I’ve made this dish a couple of times out of a need to use up the giant cucumbers sprouting endlessly in our front yard. They aren’t Japanese cucumbers (which are smaller, so if you use those you might want to use 2 or 3), but they’ve done just fine every time I’ve made this dish. And when I say giant, I mean giant — I used one and made a massive bowl that Loren and I split and still had leftovers (split as an appetizer … I’m known to cook a lot of food). Also, the variety I have growing out front is “burpless” for those of us out there who find that cucumber “repeats” on us. This variety doesn’t do that, so if you’re into gardening, consider growing them.

cucumber salad sunomono

Anyway, this recipe is simply the easiest thing to whip up you could imagine. I literally measured nothing to make it, so the following instructions might not be for everyone. If you want exact measurements, you might want to find another version of it somewhere on the interwebs. I can promise you that this is very hard to screw up though, so go with me down the path of intuitive cooking this one time and see how it turns out. This could be the first step you take toward trusting your own instincts in the kitchen! You won’t be sorry that you didn’t dirty your measuring spoons.

Also, as you’re slicing in the kitchen, I suggest saying “sunomono” to the tune of the Muppets singing in this video. I can’t help it and do it every single time I make or order it. It might be compulsive but I’m not sure. Either way, it’s fun! Or you might hate me for putting this song in your head.

Easy Japanese Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)

Ingredients (serves 3 or 4):

  • 1 giant burpless cucumber or 3 Japanese cucumbers
  • Unrefined expeller-pressed sesame oil — check out my Ultimate Guide to Cooking Oil to find out why “unrefined” matters (about a 5 second pour)
  • Maple syrup Maple Syrup (about a 3-second pour)
  • Gluten-free Tamari (just a dash, maybe 5 shakes through the plastic filter on sunomono Japanese cucumber saladthe spout of the bottle)
  • Black sesame seeds (black ones are more nutritious than white ones, but white works too — use as many as you want)
  • Rice vinegar (about 10 shakes through the plastic filter on the spout)
  • OPTIONAL: fish sauce (2 or 3 shakes, only a 1-second pour if there’s no plastic filter)
  • OPTIONAL: sesame chili oil (start slow with this so it doesn’t get too spicy and add what you want for your own taste)

Directions:

  1. Slice the cucumbers as thin as possible into a large sunomono Japanese cucumber saladbowl. (I use a stand-up grater that has a mandolin-style blade on one side. It’s super simple and safe to use)
  2. Drizzle in all the liquid ingredients
  3. Toss using tongs and make sure everything mixes thoroughly
  4. Add in sesame seeds and do another light toss
  5. OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED: Let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving

 

japanese cucumuber salad sunomono


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.

Spring Sugar Snap Pea Salad |Cultivated Wellbeing

I’ve had a very busy week running around 4 work sites and propagating health and wellness information to the masses of employees at my day-job. It’s wellness fair season, which means I’m halfway through two weeks of back-to-back events.

Cra-zy.

This time of year might be the most exciting but it’s also the most stressful, which means that eating well and sleeping as much as possible are the objectives to meet for my life outside of work. (I successfully slept 10 hours a night all three nights of this long weekend, by the way. I’d call that a SUCCESS!) I will not be getting sick or wearing myself thin. Not while I’m telling everyone else how to be healthy all day. This week’s recipe is one of sheer joy for me to share with you, and it hits the spot where “eating well” is concerned — especially if your definition of “eating well” involves a delicious requirement just as much as a healthy requirement. Both are equally important. sugar snap pea recipe

I’ve recently started listening to an NPR show called Splendid Table, which alluded to a variation upon what I’m about to share, and (like always), I encourage you to be creatively inspired to make this recipe your own. I’ll give you some suggestions at the end to spark your imagination. I served this dish at a backyard BBQ last weekend, and even guests who weren’t all that into sugar snap peas went back for seconds and thirds. We had zero leftovers, much to my disappointment. (I LOVE leftovers!) It really is mind-blowingly good.

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs snap peas
  • 2 lbs red grapes
  • 1 large red shallot sliced
  • 1/4 medium sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 chopped green onions
  • 6 to 10 sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3-1/5 lb pecorino romano, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • Dressing: 1/3 cup EVO and 1 tbs raw apple cider vinegar mixed well
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Snap off the tough ends of the sugar snaps where necessary. I just use scissors and do a few at a time. It saves time and prevents accidental pea mutilation.
  2. Rinse the peas and grapes and drain very thoroughly. I let them sit in a colander for a few minutes and then toss a few paper towels into it to soak up the extra.
  3. In a large bowl with room to toss, add all ingredients (dressing last) and toss

This dish is absolutely fabulous, because it marries the natural sweetness of the peas and grapes with the salty umami of the pecorino romano. And the fresh herbs give a boost of not only flavor complexity but trace minerals and antioxidants too! Healthy and delicious — it’s heaven in your mouth! Seriously. sugar snap pea recipe

Sugar Snap Pea Recipe Variations

A few variations I can’t wait to try that might help get your juices flowing in your own kitchen:

  • swapping peaches, nectarines, or a berry combo for the grapes (UPDATE! Just did this with white nectarines for another BBQ this weekend and the whole salad was gone before the last guest arrived!)
  • swapping out other potent hard cheeses for the romano like parmesan or asiago
  • trying a Mexican cheese, lime, and a TON of cilantro with the peas only, or maybe even with peas and mandarin oranges
  • adding garlic to the onion mix or swapping it for the shallots
  • trading chopped pecans for the slivered almonds

The possibilities are endless here! I encourage you to choose your own adventure with this sugar snap pea recipe — and then share your results with me below! I’d love to hear about it!

Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup

cauliflowersoupcwb1

‘Tis the season for fresh veggies and light fare. As the days get longer and warmer, we can stow away our crock pots, press the pause button on our heavy sauces and stews, and pull out our salad spinners and steamers. Now’s the time for fresh salads and light soups, lean meats and fresh seafood. It’s spring!

This recipe replaces the heavy starchy potato with the fresh and light cauliflower — but not just any cauliflower, the ORANGE cauliflower. This awesome, vibrant orangey-yellow breed of cauliflower makes for a beautiful bright yellow soup rich with extra micronutrients like carotenoids, vitamin C and selenium.

Of course, you can make this soup with regular cauliflower, but I make no promise that it will be as beautiful upon completion. (I bet it will still be delicious though!)cauliflowersoupcwb

The Fresh Herb Quandary

One of the best things about having a small herb garden is that you only pull what you need for your meal, leaving the rest to grow and flourish until your next visit. I used to waste herbs all the time before I started my garden. I’d buy fresh herbs, use them for one recipe, and then forget about them until I found them in a nasty soupy plastic bag in my produce drawer three weeks later. I’ve found a solution to get them to last at least a bit longer, which helps a ton in those months when cilantro and basil won’t grow.

herbs

I say all this because I chose the herbs in this soup not only for flavor, but because I had an abundance in my garden. If you don’t have an herb garden or other recipes planned for the week to use up the herbs I call for in this recipe, don’t sweat it.

Be creative.

Use a combination of dried herbs instead, or use only sage and see what you think. (Sage keeps for a pretty long time in the fridge too.) OR, even better, plan your week around using the rest of these yummy herbs in your meals. (I’d recommend trying a parsley pesto — you’ll use the rest of that bunch right up and it will keep much longer.)

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow cauliflower
  • 2 to 3 cups veggie broth, water, or chicken broth
  • 1.5-2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp EVO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • OPTIONAL: butter or ghee
  • 1 whole medium yellow onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh parsley, sage, and oregano
  • 1/2 tbs REAL salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:cauliflowersoupcwb2

  1. Gently warm a large pot on the stove
  2. Add EVO, keeping heat below smoking point
  3. Add chopped onion and garlic (if using dried herbs instead of fresh, add them here as well)
  4. Lightly saute until soft and onions are translucent
  5. Add in chopped cauliflower and saute 3 minutes more, adding in small amounts of broth or water to make sure nothing burns
  6. When the cauliflower is almost soft, add in the rest of the broth the salt, the apple cider vinegar and the pepper — here’s where you add the fresh herbs if you use those
  7. Let simmer for a good 10 to 15 minutes
  8. Add in coconut milk and optional butter or ghee and turn off the fire
  9. Using an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth (you could also pour the whole thing into a blender, but that can get messy if you’re not careful — make sure you have someone holding the blender still, especially if your pot is heavy!)
  10. Serve in a shallow bowl and garnish with fresh parsley and a swirl of EVOcauliflowersoup1

 

Heart-Healthy Nutty Turmeric Chicken Salad

1chixsaladbreadname

I love chicken salad for so many reasons. One, it’s a great way to use chicken breast, which I otherwise find to be the most boring part of a chicken. Two, it’s a super flexible and very hard to mess up — you can take a chicken salad recipe in nearly any culinary direction your heart fancies. Three, it keeps well in the fridge for advanced meal prep that doesn’t have to be reheated. Four, it can be served on any number of different vehicles including bread, salad, bell peppers, or avocado. Four, it leaves room for creativity in the kitchen and isn’t dependent upon measurements of basically any kind. You just keep adding until you like the way it looks, tastes, and feels. That’s my kind of recipe!

I’ve written a few posts about the benefits of bone broth and how to make it, one of which touts the amazing acne-curing effect I experienced after drinking it every day for 2 weeks. I mostly use chicken (or poultry) bones in my broth, and the secret to success for my newly zit-free face is to always have bone broth on hand, which means making it in bulk and freezing it. Bulk bone broth (say that three times fast!) requires collecting the bones of the chickens my husband and I eat, buying organic turkey necks and chicken backs at the butcher (super cheap!), and almost always throwing a whole raw chicken into the pot.

The trick is to get two uses from the whole chicken, and that’s where this chicken salad comes in!

While I try to keep the broth cooking on the stove top for at least 12 hours, I aim to remove the meat from the whole chicken after 6 to 8 hours (before it gets boiled to death) so that I can use it for chicken salad or some other delicious purpose. I’ve also been known to purchase a roasted chicken from the grocery store, serve the legs and wings for dinner, and make a batch of chicken salad with the roasted breasts. One thing to note when saving the carcass of a roasted chicken: lots of the gelatin ends up on the bottom of the little plastic tray. You want all that, so scrape that into your freezer bag with your bones.

1chixsaladbones

YUM!

Now onto this awesome chicken salad recipe!

Heart Healthy Nutty Turmeric Chicken Salad

You might be asking what makes this particular chicken salad recipe ‘heart healthy.’ Well I’ll tell you! First, I cut the store-bought mayo which typically contains factory eggs and industrial oils (both of which are inflammatory foods and not great for heart health) and replaced it with high-protein Greek yogurt or a homemade mayo. Then I add in celery, parsley, turmeric, and cherries, all of which are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods that are great for maintaining healthy cardiovascular function. (This can also be said of garlic and onions — I use dried powders here so that effect is minimal, but you can use fresh if you have the time to chop them up!) Next there’s the array of nuts and seeds, which also reduces inflammation in addition to containing healthy fats, fiber, and a nice satisfying crunch. Pair this awesome recipe with a big salad, a bell pepper, or a healthy whole grain or paleo bread and you’ve got yourself one heart-healthy powerhouse!

1chixsaladavo2

Ingredients:

  1. 4 cooked chicken breasts
  2. 3 tbs Dijon mustard
  3. 2-3 tbs Greek yogurt (or homemade mayo)
  4. 2 tbs dried cherries or currants
  5. 2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
  6. 7-10 sprigs fresh parsley
  7. 2 tbs almond slivers
  8. 2 tbs pecan pieces
  9. 2 tbs sunflower seeds
  10. 1 tsp kelp powder/granules/flakes
  11. 1 tsp seasoned salt or REAL salt
  12. 1/2-1 tsp turmeric
  13. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  14. 1/4 tsp onion powder
  15. 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Using two forks, start shredding the chicken breasts lightly
  2. Add in the wet ingredients (mustard and yogurt) and all seasonings (9-14) and begin to incorporate as you continue to shred
  3. Add all other ingredients and incorporate

1chixsaladsteps

As I said before, the beauty of this recipe is in its flexibility. I provided measurements for you as a guide, but this is the type of thing you can eyeball and adjust according to your own preferences. Do you like a drier chicken salad (I do, as this recipe reflects), or do you prefer it to be a little more creamy? If you like it creamy, add more mustard and yogurt. You can also take it in a new direction entirely by changing the mustard from something spicy to something sweet, by, replacing the turmeric with curry, by swapping the garlic and onion powders for other dried spices like tarragon and fennel seed. The possibilities are endless! Don’t be shy, make this recipe your own!

And then come back here and tell me about how it went!1chixsaladname

Grain-Free Crab Cakes with Spicy Olive Dipping Sauce

dungenesscrab

It’s Dungeness crab season! Since moving to California, nearly every Thanksgiving has included Dungeness crab alongside the turkey and casseroles. We’ve also hosted at least one crab feast nearly every year as well — sometimes 2 or 3. The season lasts through the winter, and this year, we tripled the celebration — 2 birthdays and a crab feast, all on the same day. Yum!

Growing up in Texas and then moving to Maryland, I’m very well-versed in blue crab. I can pick them and dunk them into butter (or ghee) all day long, never tiring, never getting full. It’s heaven. 🙂 But since moving to California, I’ve discovered the blue crab’s boss — DUNGENESS CRAB! Nearly every bit as delicious, with 5 times the meat in chambers 5 times the size, these monsters are far more bang for your buck. You can eat every single leg (not so on the blue crab unless they’re exceptionally big), and even the joints have little morsels of goodness. Perfect for a party if someone is new to crab picking, and perfect for the hungry!

Due to an awesome deal we got through our friends at Cassis Catering, we went a little overboard on our crab order, and ended up with 2 extra enormous crabs. This is where these beautiful crab cakes come in!grainfreecrabcake1

Crab Cake Ingredients:

  • cooked meat from 2 whole Dungeness crabs (We boiled ours with onion, garlic, Old Bay, bay leaves, lots of salt (more than you might think), cracked red pepper, and lemon juice. We also had corn, carrots, and potatoes boiling in with them for the party)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 to 3 green onions, chopped into thin slices
  • 1 to 1.5 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp Old Bay
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • (optional) red pepper flake to taste
  • sea salt to taste

Directions: Add all ingredients in medium mixing bowl and incorporate with fork, taking care not to completely shred the crab (I prefer large chunks of crab meat instead of shredding it into mush. In my mind, you aren’t searching for the crab amid tons of breading in a good crab cake. The crab is front and center.)

grainfreecrabcake

Spicy Olive Dipping Sauce:

  • 4 tbs mayo (I was too lazy to make my own, but would recommend it if you’re going strict paleo)
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp wasabi powder or paste
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 2 tbs chopped green olives
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • pinch of garlic powder

Directions: Whisk all ingredients except olives until well incorporated and smooth, then stir in olives.

Enjoy!

grainfreecrabcake2

 

Grain-Free Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

Editor’s note: This recipe is now one of many pumpkin recipes I compiled into one glorious eBook: 10 Delicious Pumpkin Recipes for the Vegan and Vegetarian Foodie. Download your free copy now!

DOWNLOAD IT NOW


Are you ready for the ultimate Christmas morning breakfast? Or any other day you have time for homemade pancakes?? (By the way, these also refrigerate quite nicely if you wanted to double or triple the recipe and eat them for a few mornings in a row without all the dirty dishes.)

Seriously, I don’t like to brag (yes I kind of do…), but these pancakes are THE BOMB. Full disclosure, the inspiration came from a totally legit, fully intact, awesome recipe by Gina Matsoukas at RunningtotheKitchen.com. But I believe I’ve taken these puppies to the next level and created a heaven-in-your-mouth AWESOME pumpkin pie pancake recipe that is free of grains and processed sugar, and packed with easily digestible protein, good-for-you spices, and DELICIOUSNESS. (Hint: toasted pecans play a big role in the over-the-top-ness of this recipe!)grainfreepancake

I’m not kidding when I say that these very well may be the best pancakes I’ve ever made, and that includes any box mixes, gluten-free, grain-free, or otherwise. I can’t wait to experiment further with other flavors and combination once I get over my pumpkin craze for the season. And when I do, believe me, you’ll be the first to know (well, second after Loren).

Ingredients (makes about 8 pancakes, enough for 2 people)

  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 tbs ground flax seed
  • (optional) 2-3 tbs hydrolyzed gelatin like this.*
  • 3 good cranks of the grinder of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tbs cinnamon**
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp clove
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 whole pasture eggs
  • ¾ cup raw pecan pieces
  • 2 tablespoons pure grade B maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ghee*** or coconut oil for cooking pancakes

*I like this gelatin because:

  1. it’s from grass-fed cows
  2. it’s easy to digest
  3. it’s great for muscle growth, bone health, and immune function
  4. it won’t gel and make your pancakes weird

**I use ceylon cinnamon because I use it in a lot of recipes, including my morning coffee every once in a while, and studies have shown that too much cassia cinnamon can cause liver damage. I don’t think I overdo the cinnamon, but you never know…

***I use ghee because I’m not strictly paleo. I like the flavor of butter with my pancakes, but the lactose and casein in regular butter and I don’t get along very well. I prefer to use ghee so I can have the best of both worlds. Plus, if you’re using ghee from a grass-fed cow, you’re getting a good dose of CLA, an important part of a healthy diet, especially if you’re trying to trim down or maintain a healthy weight.

Directions:

  1. Heat your non-stick skillet large pan over medium heat and wait for it to warm up before adding your raw pecan pieces
  2. Allow them to heat up, creating a nice, non-burnt pecan aroma before you add in a little ghee to coat them and a dash of salt
  3. Once they are lightly toasted, remove from pan and set aside and lower the heat on the burner
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and the wet ingredients in a smaller one, beating the wet until fully incorporated
  5. Add the wet to the dry, mixing well to create a nice thick batter
  6. Add a good, heaping tablespoon or so of ghee to the pan and turn the heat back up to medium-high
  7. Using a ¼ measuring cup or large spoon, scoop batter onto pan and cook on each side for a few minutes until browned. Feel free to keep adding more ghee as you do more batches until the batter runs out.

gfpumpkinpancake

Don’t forget to download your very own FREE copy of my homage to pumpkin: 10 Delicious Pumpkin Recipes for the Vegan and Vegetarian Foodie. Download your free copy now!

DOWNLOAD IT NOW

Black Sesame Cabbage Cups

Poor Loren (my husband) spent his entire 33rd birthday traveling. We started the morning with a drive to the airport, had a layover in LA, arrived at the airport shuttle, which took us to a train, which dropped us at a bus stop so that we could walk 4 blocks home from there.

truetthurst

Then he got in his car to drive 30 minutes away to take a test for his new certification at work. He didn’t get home until late. What a day! Feeling terrible for him, I decided to make something special for dinner the following evening. And in declaring this week his birthday week, I opened up a nice bottle of wine from our new wine club at Truett Hurst. This 2011 Zinfandel was delicious and the perfect complement to the lamb in our meal.

For dinner, unless we’ve had a particularly grueling day at the gym, I try to keep our meals limited to meat, veggies, and fat, leaving out complex carbs, since it’s so close to bed time and we won’t have time to use them up. When I make dinner this way, the only way Loren will stay full is if I load up on the fats. For this meal, I didn’t drain off the lamb fat before throwing in the veggies, but that’s up to you. I also used high quality palm oil (sustainably harvested), a healthy saturated fat, to sauté the onions before adding in the meat. (This is the palm oil I like.)

As for the black sesame seeds, these little nutrition powerhouses boast a healthy dose of calcium and magnesium, as well as a lot of other valuable trace minerals (check out more at Livestrong.com). I added these in mostly for flavor, but also for the relaxing quality that magnesium can have on our muscles and our minds. The wine helped with that too. 🙂

We’re really lucky to live where we do with access to wonderful farmers’ markets that feature local ranchers selling the meat of happy animals. I say “happy animals” as a tribute to my favorite high school teacher in Houston, TX. She was a lacto ovo vegetarian (not an easy thing to be in Texas back then) who insisted that she only ate eggs from happy chickens, which, at 18, we all thought was equally hilarious and ridiculous.

14 years later, I know what that means — do the animals roam freely? Are they given a diet they were meant to eat? Are they healthy and vibrant? Are they free of hormones and antibiotics? Do they spend time in the sun every day?

This meal is made with ground meat from a happy lamb, and that makes me happy too. It’s full of plenty of healthy fats, as pastured animals have the proper ratio of omega 6 to omega 3s in their body fat (feedlot animals have far too much inflammatory omega 6).

Black Sesame Cabbage Cups

cabbagecups3

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 2 tbs red palm oil or ghee for sautéing
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 big bunch of broccolini, chopped
  • 3 small bunches tatsoi or a few fistsful baby spinach
  • 12 large raw leaves green cabbage (for the cups)
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp – 1 tbs lemon pepper to taste
  • red pepper flake to taste
  • REAL or sea salt to taste
  • OPTIONAL 1/2 tsp sesame oil (for drizzling)
  • OPTIONAL hard cheese for grating over the top
Directions
  1. Warm your skillet over medium heat
  2. Once hot, add 2 tbs palm oil or ghee
  3. Add in diced onions and let them sweat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly (you don’t want them to get brown, just translucent. Turn down the fire if you need to to avoid burning them)
  4. Once the onions are translucent, add in ground lamb and the minced garlic
  5. brown the meat completely, allowing the water to evaporate before adding veggies
  6. Add broccolini only, and cook until it softens slightly
  7. Add in salt, spices, and black sesame seeds
  8. Once the broccolini is just about as tender as you like it, add in the tatsoi just to wilt it. You want all the veggies to retain their vibrant green color.
  9. To serve, place 3 large cabbage cups on your plate and fill to the brim with the mixture from the pan. Drizzle a bit of sesame oil and top with your favorite dry cheese (we used Pecorino Romano)

cabbagecups2

Apples, Apples Everywhere!

apples

After a recent trip to Apple Hill, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the mountain of apples I came home with. I bought Muzu, Pink Ladies, and Gala, totaling out at about 7lbs. That’s a lot of apples for a two-person household!

In addition to eating a bunch of them slathered with my homemade almond butter, I also baked this awesome bread!

Fall Apple Bread (inspired by this gem from Eating4Balance)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 small apples, chopped (I used 2 muzus and 1 pink lady and kept the peel on for extra fiber)
  • 4 large organic eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup organic ghee (butter or coconut oil would probably work fine too)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups nut flour (I used 1 cup almond flour and 1 cup hazelnut flour)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour (Bob’s Red Mill is probably the easiest to find, but you can also run unsweetened shredded coconut through your food processor if you’re having trouble getting Bob’s)
  • 2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. After separating the eggs, place the egg whites in a food processor and blend until stiff.
  4. Add the egg yolks, ghee, honey, banana, and vanilla. Blend until smooth
  5. Toss about two-thirds of the chopped apples into the dry mixture. Then pour in the wet mixture and combine well.
  6. Pour the bread batter into the loaf pan. Top with remaining apple chunks.
  7. Bake for 90 minutes or until it springs back when touched. (If the top starts to get too dark, cover with aluminum foil to slow down browning).
applebread

great for breakfast or a midday snack, packed with nutrition and full of flavor. this loaf lasted less than a week — maybe I’ll make double next time!

Grain-free Chocolate Maple Pecan Pie

Editor’s note: I’ve since rewritten this recipe and also created a Maple Bourbon Pecan pie too. Check out the updated Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe here.


 

As avid rock climbers who take every opportunity to get out to climbing destinations, we have basically resigned to rarely having Thanksgiving ON Thanksgiving Day ever again — this year, the plan is to head out to Bishop for some sport climbing and bouldering — so I figured I might as well make a pecan pie now. I mean, what’s a fall season without a pecan pie? (I’m from Texas, by the way. The answer is “no fall at all.” I also make one around Christmas time 🙂 ). I made this pie the same night I made the Spaghetti Squash Bacon Quiche — pie crust night!

Grain-Free Pie Crust:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs palm shortening like this (affiliate link)
  • a few pinches salt

Mix almond flour and salt first in a food processor, then add egg and palm shortening. Mix until it forms a dough. Form crust in an 8 inch pie dish and set aside.

For the filling: This recipe is pretty sugar-tastic, so I won’t pretend that this pie is the most healthy dessert there is to eat — it’s not. It’s a treat for a couple of times a year. I will say though, that we’re using maple syrup and coconut sugar instead of corn syrup and brown or white sugar like most pecan pie recipes call for. It’s still sugar, don’t get me wrong. But it’s non-GMO, it’s lower-glycemic (at least the coconut sugar is), and both are less processed than the traditional sugars called for in pecan pie. I opted for topping half the pie with chocolate chips, because I wanted to satisfy every craving I could imagine having. And let’s be honest, two people are eating this pie, and one of them is me, so I might as well do exactly what I want to do.

coconut sugar takes some major stirring to dissolve, so make sure it’s all liquified before you pour your mixture into the pie crust

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbs melted ghee
  • 1 1/4 cups pecan pieces or halves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs soy-free, non-GMO mini chocolate chips (If you want to skip the chocolate, add in another 1/2 cup coconut sugar)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (rack should be low in the oven)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, adding in the maple syrup, coconut sugar, ghee, and vanilla
  3. Stir in pecans
  4. Pour into raw pie crust
  5. Cover the exposed crust with foil to make sure it doesn’t burn
  6. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, based on your oven

It’s a personal goal of mine to try to make a pecan pie as good as my grandmother Josie using more ideal ingredients (like the sugars I listed above). I’d say that this one is pretty darn close.

 

Spaghetti Squash Bacon Quiche

spaghetti squash recipe

This is Dexter! She is the most cuddly friend on the planet. Chances are you’ll see a lot of her in this blog. Any excuse I can find to include her, I surely will.

Every Tuesday this fall, my husband goes to a continuing education class and gets home too late to hit the gym. Our usual daily routine is to meet at the climbing gym after work and come straight home to make/eat dinner, but this semester, Tuesdays are different. He usually takes this ridiculously needy yet adorable creature with him to work every day. So now, on Tuesdays, I come straight home to let her out and take her to run around. As a result of this schedule change, Tuesdays have become my running and baking days. This Tuesday, I decided, was pie crust day. I made two crusts, one with bacon fat and one with palm shortening.  This post will feature the one made with bacon fat, but don’t worry, the other will be a quick follow-up.

Simple Baking

You’d be surprised how it easy it is to make a delicious gluten- and grain-free pie crust. I have been an on-again, off-again baker for a couple of years, and only recently have I done it on any consistent basis, so the thought of making a pie crust always feels like a big hassle. Well this one takes 2 minutes.

spaghetti squash recipe

Savory Paleo Pie Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs rendered bacon fat (cold, right from the fridge)
  • pinch of REAL salt or sea salt

Directions:

  1. Mix almond flour and salt first in a food processor, then add egg and bacon fat
  2. Process until it forms a dough
  3. Place the ball of dough in the center of an ungreased 9 inch pie dish and push the dough out into a crust with your fingers. Don’t worry if you tear the dough, just push it back together. Use a little extra almond flour if you need it to stick better

For the filling

spaghetti squash

after roasting it sliced in half long-ways and face down in butter or ghee, you can easily take a fork and scrape out the insides. one giant spaghetti squash is enough to last in our house for over a week.

It’s officially fall, and that means squash time. If you haven’t already seen it on my facebook feed, check out this Greatist article about all the different fall squashes and the fun ways to prepare them. This list could keep me busy for months! Today’s recipe features spaghetti squash. I love spaghetti squash because it’s so versatile. I’ve used it in place of potatoes for hash browns in the morning, (obviously) as a pasta replacement with a tomato sauce or pesto sauce, I’ve made them into little latke-type patties, and the other night for dinner, I used them as a base for a veggie and shrimp stir fry. The options are endless, so if you don’t have a big family to feed, you can just roast the whole thing and then use it for different recipes throughout the week. (I’ve also tried freezing it for later, and it’s perfectly fine to do that too.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roasted spaghetti squash (I roast mine by melting a couple of tablespoons of ghee on a cookie sheet and placing the squash halves face-down. I roast for about 40 minutes at 350)
  • 4 pasture eggs
  • 2 big fistsful raw baby spinach
  • 1 tbs olive tapenade (You can use other flavor if you don’t have this. Fresh parsley, oregano, sage, season salt, and lemon pepper would all be great.)
  • 3 tbs-1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk — eyeball this, you might need a little more or a little less

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and add in the spaghetti squash and spinach until everything is coated and equally mixed
  3. Start adding in the almond milk, continuing to whisk until you achieve the right texture (not too liquidy, not too sticky).
  4. Fry 4 pieces thick cut bacon, just underdone — they’re going in the oven to cook the rest of the way, cut in half
  5. Pour filling into raw pie crust and place the bacon halves like spokes on top of the filling
  6. Cover exposed crust with foil or this pie shield (affiliate link)
  7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your oven — it should be firm in the center when it’s done
spaghetti squash recipe

you can cut the bacon smaller and arrange it however you want. I just thought this was pretty!

 

 

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