Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon and Avocado (Paleo!)

Hey y’all. Still cold. However, apparently there’s a snowstorm on the horizon…. Which I LOVE. I am ready for  snow, 100%.

As I sit back and think about how  close December is, and how close to an end 2018 is, I think about how much happened in 2018, and how much still has yet to happen as a result of what’s since passed this year. 2018 was a prime example of looking at things through a lens lined with emotional and spiritual maturity, peace and loving energy. What’s that really mean, outside of all the foo-foo stuff? Really, just this – as we begin to evolve more quickly, which is happening more and more each year, it’s easier for us to stay aware of what’s changing and going on around us, and how we can react to best suit our needs and heal.

Again, what does this really mean? Here’s a few examples:

  • Not believing every first thought we have – some are rooted in human emotion and fear, and don’t suit our best interest. Taking a step back and realizing that our thoughts have a greater influence on what goes on around us can make a WORLD of difference in keeping with the positive instead of sticking without knee jerk reaction. Be patient with your thoughts, and allow yourself to process before coming to conclusions.
  • Not sourcing our own value from someone else’s perspective – on the flipside, while your thoughts do control your life around you, they cannot directly manipulate people around you. Focus on only your reactions, and understand that if you’re too worried about someone else’s thoughts, you lose sight and strength over your own.
  • Focusing your sights on not having enough, and whatever lackthereof is ailing you – this sounds counterintuitive if you gloss over it, but this one is the most important. I’m a FIRM believer in the law of attraction, for many  reasons. If you go around thinking about everything you don’t have, it will never be any further from you. You say… but, Sarah, how do I live my life like I have all the stuff I need, if I don’t already have it? Well, you choose your words carefully. You wake up in the morning, count your blessings (no matter how few there are), and thank the universe for the opportunity to gain everything you’re destined to. Once you’ve done this enough times, two things happen. First, you truly see how valuable what it is you do already have, and then simultaneously open your doorway for more.

Everyone is guilty of these thoughts at some point, because we are human. In order to truly evolve and heal, we need to catch ourselves and recondition our knee-jerk reactions into things much more suited for growth, and self love. We also need to stop thinking of self-love as a foo-foo, dirty of silly term, and start defining what that means to us, little by little.

Side note, I was pretty excited to see that my store introduced plum for the holidays – what a great color to finish off the year with. Plum, or violet, or any rich shade of purple, is an extremely powerful color – often associated with royalty (the Advent candles are also purple….) 🙂 I came across a healing technique recently, having to do with envisioning a violet flame – both the color, and visualization, are extremely powerful in that they present a quick spiritual “recharge” that we can do for ourselves.

The  color violet is special in that it holds the highest frequency within the spectrum of colors – this is a scientific fact. By identifying the highest color vibration we know of, we provide a segue to the next level of vibrational light. What’s the brightest thing you can think of, that you’ve seen on earth? Fire.

If I haven’t lost you yet, by envisioning a violet colored flame, we are calling our thoughts to move to the highest level of light our minds can think of. Light such as this has the ability to heal our physical bodies (think of laser therapy), alter our perception of what’s around us (think of illuminating a dark room), and provide warmth and comfort, helping heal our emotional bodies. A quick visualization can put you on the path of healing with a few steps.

In a quiet room, visualize yourself seated and surrounded by violet light. While you’re visualizing it, imagine it flickering as if it were a candlelit  flame – anything to create a realistic image.

  • As you picture yourself immersed completely within the violet light, say this to yourself several times:
  • “I am within the violet light, because the violet light is within me.”
  • Express your gratitude for the opportunity to connect with the Violet Light – this actually is a representation of connecting with your higher self.

If you’ve never visualized something like this, I may have definitely lost you. Trust me when I say that at the very least,  you will feel more calm, and definitely more empowered. Repeat this as necessary throughout the rest of the year.

—–

I bet you might be hungry after reading all of this. I know I am. Since it’s still COLD as a witch’s…. broomstick, please enjoy this tasty healthy version of a twice baked potato. Gluten-free, dairy free, paleo, keto-compliant, this thing is the bees knees. You won’t be sorry 🙂

Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon and Avocado (Paleo!)

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 90 min

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 3 sweet potatoes, more round/fat in shape
  • 1 lb of thick cut bacon
  • 1 heaping tsp of ground chipotle powder
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prick your sweet potatoes with a fork, and coat with your preferred fat/oil (I like avocado oil). Bake for 50-60 minutes, until tender. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool before slicing neatly in half. Further let cool once cut and halved. Turn oven down to 350. If using to cook bacon on a cookie sheet, bake until slightly browned. Leave oven at operating temperature. (skillet cooking bacon is fine too – just cook and set aside). Chop into small pieces, and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, add 1 tsp of your preferred oil and saute onion until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add your garlic, continuing to saute until starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, gently scoop the contents of each sweet potato half, leaving behind a thin layer if necessary to keep the skin in tact. Mash the sweet potato, adding the garlic, onion and chipotle. Next, add your bacon. You likely won’t want to taste test for more salt until after your bacon is added, since bacon does tend to add a lot of salty flavor. Add more chipotle, if desired.
  4. Scoop contents back into the sweet potato skins, dividing equally. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until potato starts to form a golden crust.
  5. Meanwhile, as the potatoes are cooking, mash your avocado in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch of chipotle if desired. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make this as you would any other guacamole (link to my recipe!), depending on what ingredients you have on hand.
  6. When potatoes are finished cooking, remove from heat and serve with a scoop of avocado on top. Garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

-S

Garlic Paprika Thyme Sweet Potato Fries (Paleo, Vegan!)

Boy, do I love me some carbs. It’s sort of a problem.

My jeans have gotten tighter, but such is life when Dogfish Head Punkin Ale AND French fries are involved. Even if this means I have to go out and actually get both of them. Yum? Yes. Since I typically start off complaining about the weather, I’d like to point out that it’s been feeling particularly Fall-ish recently… with the exception of the monsoon and grey skies today, I enjoy that the leaves have been falling. I even went out to the barn yesterday! I didn’t ride, it was raining, but it was nice, crisp and cool. Two thumbs up.

I’m also back into the swing of things with cooking on Sundays… I hope to make a few things that I can pass along on the blog, but I do get a bit… lax…. When it comes to healthy eating as the weather gets cooler. I’ve been exceptionally lucky to not have to worry a WHOLE lot about gaining weight with as much as I do, but as I said… my jeans, they is tight. I will be doing some cardio today, with the intention of eating Guinness Beef stew soon, and some Shepherd’s Pie, and… other potato-ey goodness without sacrificing my waistline.

The good news is, not all carbs are created equal. There are complex carbs, and carbs are fuel! Unless you’re into the Ketogenic diet (which I do enjoy a lower carb recipe every now and again), use your carbs to your advantage, and dress em up with some garlic and zest. Like these, below.

Garlic Paprika Thyme Sweet Potato Fries (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

Ingredients

  • Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin, fry-shaped strips (sized to your preference, some people like wedges)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together your garlic, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl with your olive oil.
  2. To evenly coat, I like to put my fries into a bag, pour my oil mixture in, and shake… you can also coat sweet potato fries with a brush, or your hands if you enjoy a mess… heh.
  3. On a greased cookie sheet, place your fries in a single layer, evenly spaced, so they cook thoroughly. If you prefer super crispy fries, feel free to turn over with tongs once browned on one side. Once they start to crisp/firm up and brown, remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before serving. As they dry, they will  continue to crisp.

Enjoy!

-S

Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip (Gluten Free, Vegan!)

Just a quick update for you all! Tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve been SUPER busy. I haven’t forgotten about you!

I wanted to give you guys a good recipe for any upcoming parties you have, especially for fall J I love to make my own potato and sweet potato chips, which go really well with this recipe (air fryers for the win, I love Amazon… find mine here). This dip is super quick, super easy, and the last time I made it, it was gone within 30 min. Note…. Double the recipe next time, heh.

Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip (Gluten-free, Vegan!)

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Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • ¾ cup of roasted red peppers (jarred, in olive oil, is what I used)
  • juice from ½ of a large lemon, plus more to taste
  • salt, to taste (I used ~1 tsp)
  • pepper, to taste
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ~1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • optional: handful of crumbled feta (FYI – feta is not vegan… it’s cheese…)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the feta cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth – about 30-45 seconds. Adjust flavors to preference – you may like additional salt, or lemon.
  2. If using feta, upon serving, stir gently into the dip. I also like to sprinkle some on top for presentation, but note! Again, feta is not vegan.

Enjoy!

-S

Mediterranean Zucchini Pasta with Garlic, Sun-dried Tomato and Toasted Walnuts and Feta (Gluten Free, with Vegan option!)

Hello, foodies. Hope you’re all staying dry out there! I’ve been thinking of those of you down south, the news about the devastating flooding breaks my heart 😦 My grandfather lives in Greenville, SC and he said the rain has been unbelievable. Those of you in coastal towns –  you’re in my thoughts! I’ve been trying to find the best way to offer assistance in the wake of all the flooding – unfortunately, not much can be started until the water recedes. If you’re interested in helping out those in need, always do your homework before donating money (local is better!), and make sure you know some details about where you’re donating. Here are a few ways I’m considering:

Local Food Banks – Harvest Hope Food Bank, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. It’s recommended to contact them to see where their greatest needs are before donating.

Google Donate – if you google “Hurricane Florence donate”, Google has a donation page set up. There are FAQ’s if you’d like to verify its validity, and they will match up to $1MM in donations. Often times, money is the best way to go so it can be used however needed.

Local Humane Societies – North Carolina (Greenville), and South Carolina (Myrtle Beach)

Frank’s Nation – Animal Rescue/Shelter- https://www.gofundme.com/frank039s-nation-vs-hurricane-flo

Verified by GoFundMe, this non-profit has launched a campaign to cover expenses of its volunteers who are searching for dogs in the affected areas. Save the pups left behind! 😦

Hopefully you all find some time or spare money to offer, if you’re able J many people won’t be able to return home until the water recedes, so anything we can do to help, we should!

Side note… I made some delicious stuff in the last few days. Some paleo and gluten free friendly, some “healthy”… and some are NAATTT. I made my family’s famous potato salad, which is filled with sugar, and mayo, and deliciousness… but I also made some light staples, appetizers and some good fall dishes. You’re in for a treat for the next few days, as this weather is going to be cruddy.

Until next time… here’s my delicious zoodles!

Mediterranean Zucchini Pasta with Garlic, Sun-dried Tomato and Toasted Walnuts and Feta (Gluten Free, with Vegan option!)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and thinly sliced (save the oil!)
  • 3-4  green zucchinis, spiralized (or two 1lb packages of pre-sliced zoodles)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3  cups of fresh spinach, loosely chopped
  • Handful of toasted walnuts, seasoned to preference (I like garlic powder, generous salt and pepper! Clink the link for my recipe) If vegan- use plain walnuts
  • Optional: 2/3 cup crumbled feta, plus more to taste (cheese is not paleo compliant, FYI)

Directions

  1. Using a spiralizer, cut your zoodles according to the tool’s instructions. Place on a paper towel to remove some of the moisture. Pro-Tip – I like to do this ahead of time to allow them to dry a bit, as zucchinis are made up of a lot of water. If using pre-cut – leave the package open for a few hours in the fridge prior to using.
  2. Once ready to cook, heat about 1-2 tbsp  oil in large pan over medium high heat. Add zucchini noodles and saute for 5-7 minutes, allowing some of the water to cook out. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Once tender, remove from heat and set aside on a plate.
  3. Add another tbsp. of your reserved sundried tomato oil to the pan and turn the heat back down to medium – add your onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add your garlic and allow to brown (but not burn), for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Once your onion and  garlic are cooked, add your sundried tomato and spinach to the pan, stirring. Next, add your wine and turn the heat to medium high in order to burn out the alcohol. Stir to combine, until spinach begins to wilt. Salt and pepper to taste, if needed.  Lastly, add your zoodles back to the pan, stirring to coat in the tomatoes and spinach.

Upon serving, garnish with walnuts and feta, if using.

Enjoy!

-S

Toasted/Candied Nuts

Picture from foodhomeandaway.com, image subject to copyright

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15-20 min

This is the perfect staple to salads, pasta dishes, or even a snack/charcuterie tray. You can dress them up, make them spicy, the whole nine. Follow this simple “recipe” to make delicious, walnuts, pecans, or more! I always keep some on hand to throw into a recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 to 2 cups of your preferred nut (I often use roasted/unsalted pecans or walnuts)
  • Egg whites from 1-2 eggs, depending on how much nuts you have
  • Spices of your choice – for candied/sweeter ones, I’ll use maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. For savory ones, I’ll use salt, garlic powder, dried herbs such as parsley, chives, thyme… whatever you want! Be very generous with seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, add your egg whites and seasonings to a large bowl. Using a whisk or a mixer, briskly whip your egg whites until they are quite foamy. You don’t want merengue-style egg whites, and you definitely shouldn’t have any peaks…. Just enough elbow grease to get the eggs pretty foamy and opaque.
  3. Add your nuts into a large Ziploc bag or bowl, and pour in your egg whites. Stir/shake to coat thoroughly.
  4. Add your nuts in a single layer to your cookie sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until starting to darken/crisp. Don’t be alarmed if they’re chewy when you first remove them from the oven… they will crisp up as they dry. Allow to cool.

Enjoy!

-S

Shrimp Ceviche with Mango Avocado and Lime (Paleo!)

September 6th, and HOTTER THAN HADES! Good thing I’m not allowed to wear shorts to work, because I love a good ol’ fashioned heat stroke. Just kidding… no one loves that.

I figure I should  get some of my recipes up that are the last of summer cooking while the heatwave is still here. I definitely forgot about a few things I made, but it’s just really important that I share them. It’s also really important that I share a show I was recently introduced to, because now I’m hooked and watched it way past my bedtime last night. It’s called Humans, and I watch it on Amazon Prime Video. Without giving too much of the show away, it centers around artificially intelligent “synthetic humans”, whose purpose is to help people do tasks and be of general help. You find out very quickly  that a handful of them are different, in that they’ve been programmed to have feelings. You can imagine that may throw a wrench in things, and you must watch.

Trying to make this short and sweet so we can get right to the food. Go get the last of your freshly caught seafood, because this one is actually really fun and sort of like a science project! Just a PSA about sourcing ingredients for this recipe, it requires shrimp. If you’re like me and want to try and get the most sustainable and toxin-free version of seafood, you may no need to spend the big bucks for wild-caught shrimp. According to an article I came across on Medium.com, (Why Wild-Caught Shrimp Aren’t as Innocent as You Think), Shrimp is one of the most widely consumed seafood categories, which if wild-caught, may impact the ocean’s ecosystem in more ways than we know. Additionally, much of the shrimp in the US is imported and held to a different standard than US food regulations. There’s honestly a lot of grey area (and I don’t really spend a lot of time researching shrimp farms, to be honest…) that I’m not aware of, so I make sure if I make ceviche, I’m buying reputable shrimp. If you have an iron stomach or simply aren’t concerned, buying farm-raised shrimp will do you just fine.

To start, buying frozen isn’t bad – if anything, it gives you some time to decide what you want to do with it. Though I have yet to easily come across truly organic shrimp, there are a few things to look for if you want to make sure your choice in seafood is a smart, sustainable choice. The Marine Stewardship Council or Best Aquaculture Practices often add labels to shrimp so you know what you’re buying. As with any animal, the bigger ones likely have a greater impact than the normal sized ones, so I tend to just get the 21-30 count.

ANOTHER COOL THING! Did you know that the enzymes in citrus can actually “cook” seafood? Both cooking seafood with heat and curing it with citrus juice allows a process called “denaturation” to happen. I won’t bore you with the science… but it has to do with enzymes in the citric acid breaking down molecules within the fish as if it were cooked. Safe to eat, delicious, etc. Makes me think of sitting on the patio at a restaurant in Key West or Costa Rica, eating fresh ceviche with my morning omelette… 🙂

Shrimp Ceviche with Mango Avocado and Lime

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 3-4 hours (marinating time)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw shrimp, rinsed, tails removed
  • ½ medium sized red onion, finely minced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced into small cubes
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, stems, ribs and seeds removed
  • Juice of 4 limes, plus more if needed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. On a plastic cutting board (no raw anything on wood, if you can help it!), dice your shrimp and add to a shallow pyrex or baking dish. I cut mine into thirds for bite-size chunks.
  2. Add your shrimp to your dish, spreading in a single layer if possible. You want to keep this shallow so the citrus juice can cover the shrimp entirely. Add your lime and lemon juice, stirring to ensure the shrimp is coated. Cover the shrimp with tomato and red onion, spreading to cover any bare spots. Cover and let sit for at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator to marinate.
  3. Check back after the time has passed to ensure your shrimp is “cooked”. It should appear pink, and opaque. If you see bits of gray, give it a stir to coat (it’s fine to mix the onion and tomato around now) and let stand for another 30-60 minutes.
  4. Once the shrimp is cured, add your mango, cilantro and avocado. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. I tend to squeeze in a pinch more of lime juice for an added bite, as the shrimp tends to absorb much of the flavor.
  5. Garnish with extra cilantro, if desired. Serve with chips or preferred dipper, such as vegetables. I like Siete’s grain free tortilla chips 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

Quinoa Kale Salad with Almond Ginger Dressing (Gluten-Free and Vegan!)

Hello everyone!

I’ve been quite mum these last few weeks. No great reason, honestly. I’ve definitely been busy, but I think it was just dedicating the time to sit down and write something out wasn’t something I wanted to bring myself to do. The good news is — I’ve written up some really good recipes, so the next few weeks you are all in for a treat!

Sunday night was a full moon, and yesterday was the close of a very prominent Mars retrograde.  Between June 26th and August 27th of this year, Mars appears to rotate backward when orbiting the sun. While these things are typically just illusions, a lot of impact can be made by this. Had you noticed that people in general were a lot more aggressive this summer? A lot more turmoil or feelings of discomfort in the air? This had been where we needed to reassess where we stood with our projects, and what we needed to move forward. Because of the appearance of a retrograde, any Mars energy, or masculine energy, is aimed inward, rather that outward — internalizing anger, fear, or heightened emotions sounds like a recipe for disaster. For some people, it was.

THE GOOD NEWS! it’s over. New beginnings. Get stuff started. Starting with this delicious salad. it’s the best of both worlds, grains and veggies. and I love it.

Quinoa Kale Salad with Almond Ginger Dressing (Gluten-Free and Vegan!)

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: ~20 min for the quinoa

Ingredients

For  the salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 small purple cabbage, sliced very thin
  • 2 large carrots, skinned and thinly sliced (I used vegetable peeler)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized bunch of kale, rinsed, dried and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup almond butter (you can sub another butter if you have allergies!)
  • Juice from one lemon, plus zest (if needed)
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos, or gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp of water (at a time), to thin the dressing as needed
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. First, rinse your quinoa through a fine strainer (so it doesn’t wash away!). Place in a saucepot with 2 cups of water, chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and turn heat down and simmer until quinoa is cooked with little water left – about 15 minutes. Remove from pot and allow to cool in a bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, as your quinoa is cooking, add your almond butter, aminos/soy sauce, and stir until mixed. Add in the remaining dressing ingredients, and continue to stir. If you find that by adding water, your dressing has less “zest”, feel free to add some more coconut aminos or soy sauce. It should be somewhat thin like pancake batter, so as to coat your kale. Set aside about 3 tbsp of dressing for your quinoa.
  3. Separately, in a large bowl, for your salad, add your kale. Add in the rest of your vegetables and mix.
  4. Once quinoa has cooled, stir your set-aside dressing into your quinoa and mix thoroughly. Add into the kale. Pour your remaining dressing in and use tongs to mix thoroughly.

Chill in the fridge until serving.

Enjoy!

-S