Spicy Turkey Sausage Bolognese with Zoodles (Paleo!)

I can’t even believe that we are at the end of September. It feels like it was just March, and here we are all is moving in, the weathers better.

I’m guessing most of you are aware that the US had a debate last night. If you watched it, you definitely didn’t get anything worthwhile from it. Thinking about this makes me think about everything that’s in motion right now. The full moon is tomorrow, and for the first time in a while (at least that I can remember), it’s going to happen during the day so that we can see the four showing of the moon. I think this moon is important for many different reasons, a lot of which has to do with all the energy that’s been moving about. As we entered Mars retrograde earlier this month, we are definitely coming up with a lot of shake up. Did you know that Mars was the Roman God of War?  All of that masculine energy, moving Yang energy, needs to move forward. But in retrograde, it can feel like we are all standing still. While I know a lot less about intricate astrology than I do the moon, I know that this particular moon is one that is timed with gathering the ‘fruits of our labor’. Seems pretty trite to think that, what with a good lot of us sitting inside for the last 6 months? On the contrary.

 This particular moon, in Aries, is opposite of the sun in Libra (holler to my fellow Libra babies!), which definitely brings to light a lot of relationship and interpersonal dynamics that need to be reevaluated, have been outgrown, or issues coming up related to our internal self and our need shake things up.  It’s also a time to release tension, frustration, and anger. What we’ve seen socially and politically as of recently coincides with the energy of this time, where people are itching to lash out and rebel against the system. To counter this, it’s super important to keep flexibility in the back of your mind at all times, and to adapt to changing circumstances. This month, interestingly enough, opens and closes with a full moon. I truly believe this will be one of the most important times in 2020, so I will be doing my best to be thoughtful, patient and…. Well… I suppose I’ll keep my mouth shut.

On the side of shaking things up, I really should be taking a lot of my own advice – I know that outside of my work, I find the most joy when I’m doing things cooking, yoga or Reiki related. I’ve been trying to find more opportunities to incorporate more of that into my life, which brings me to my next point…. I’ve started my yoga teacher training! It was an impromptu decision last month to try this – I’ve enrolled with an absolutely lovely yoga institute, and I know I’m going to learn a lot about myself and the practice of yoga – the yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayamas, pratyaharas… there’s a few other limbs, but I can’t give away all the goodies just yet J

I’ve been stockpiling recipes, trying to get some momentum going – in the meantime, I’ve been making some goodies for my reiki and cooking projects…. A little hint hint, think… aromatherapy sprays, natural body care, wholesome stuff for the wholesome chef. I’ll try to post some info about it once I know what it is that I’m doing.

I rolled the dice on posting this one (I have a few other good ones!), but I figured since it was fresh off the stove, I’ll post it. The weather dipped a little in temperature today, so you KNOW I pulled out all of my pots and pans to simmer stuff, dump spices in… I couldn’t resist. While I’m doing the low-carb thing, I whipped out my Vegetti (yeah, you heard me), spiralized some zucchini, and went to town with whatever frozen meat was in my freezer… which happened to be turkey sausage. Turned out great – but you could use whatever meat you prefer.

Spicy Turkey Sausage Bolognese with Zoodles (Paleo!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 2 green zucchini squash, washed, ends trimmed – makes about 3-4 cups of zoodles
  • 1 lb turkey sausage, or preferred ground meat
  • 1 15 oz can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more if preferred
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)

Directions

  1.  Using the Vegetti or other spiralizer, spiralize two whole zucchinis with the skins still on. I like to do this ahead of time, and let them air dry on a paper plate/towel for a few hours. (you can also buy pre-packaged zoodles, but they’re kind of expensive.) Set aside.
  1. Next, in a large frying pan, heat up your olive oil over medium heat. Add your onion and turkey sausage, breaking apart, stirring as you browned the meat – approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Season the meat lightly with salt and pepper, adding your garlic in once the meat is nearly cooked. I make sure the meet is as ground and broken up as possible – I just feel like the texture is better that way.
  1. After the meat has browned, add your can of crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, spices, and white wine. Stir and let simmer until bubbling, then turn heat down to low – allowing to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. If liquid evaporates too quickly, feel free to add a splash of chicken broth.
  1. This next step you could do a few ways, since technically the zoodles could be eaten raw, but nobody really likes that. You could either add your zoodles to the sauce pan and let simmer for another 3-4 minutes, or, you could sauté in a separate pan over medium heat with another tablespoon of your preferred cooking fat.  I like to do it this way, because while I only eat for one, I typically have leftovers and want to keep for as long as possible.  Sautéing or cooking your zoodles separately can allow for freezing or storing more easily, but it is a preference. However much of the zoodles you cook, cook them down to evaporate some of the leftover liquid still in the zucchini – about 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  1.  Add your zoodles to a small pasta bowl and spoon your Bolognese sauce on, or add right in your pan if preferred. Serve immediately. If totally dairy free, feel free to garnish with nutritional yeast. If not strict Paleo, serve with grated or shredded Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

-S

Oven-Baked Salmon with Garlic Chili Lime Butter (Paleo, Keto-friendly!)

So, I had big plans to post something totally different. Then, I thawed something else and decided to cook it, and it turned out so nice I have to post it.

I’m trying to get in all of my seafood ideas before the weather turns – that way, I can start to cook pumpkin, squash, pumpkin squash, more pumpkin, fall, squash. It’s that time of year and I am jones-in’ for some fall.

I don’t have a lot else to say about this, so I may as well get right to it. This recipe is paleo and keto friendly, and it’s literally one of the easiest salmon recipes I’ve made in a long time.

 

Oven-Baked Salmon with Garlic Chili Lime Butter (Paleo, Keto-friendly!)

 

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 15 min

Serves 2

 

Ingredients

  • 2 4oz boneless salmon filets, skin removed
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated or pressed
  • 2 tbsp organic, grass-fed butter, or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (about ½ of a lime)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, for garnish

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. If available, place a baking rack overtop your baking sheet, greasing it so that salmon won’t stick. The baking rack will allow the bottom of the salmon filets to remain crisp, but it isn’t required – just preferred.
  2. In a mug, or in a small stovetop saucepan, melt your butter. Mix together with your garlic, chili powder, lime juice and sea salt.
  3. Place your filets on your baking rack/sheet. Spoon your butter mix evenly over your salmon filets, coating the salmon filets entirely.
  4. Bake until salmon is opaque and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, and garnish with chives. Serve, and enjoy!

 

-S

Shrimp Pad Thai (Gluten Free with Paleo and Vegan substitutes!)

Happy….Tuesday? These days blend together. I hope everyone reading this is healthy and safe at home!

I did wake up at “normal” time today, won’t be doing that again until stuff is open once again. It’s only fun to do when I have things to tend to, like getting dressed and going to the gym. Right now, I just leave here to either take my dog out for as long of walks as we can, or even less frequently, go to the store. I have been doing yoga once or twice a day, and I even skipped the wine and White Claw last night. I’m trying. It’s hard.

I put it off in favor of getting take out, eating an outdoorsy Easter dinner in my mom’s flowerbed with my own plates, fork and serving utensils (social distancing, y’all), as well as trying to stretch out my leftovers… but I FINALLY made my Pad Thai. It was worth the wait.

I’ve made this a few times and because I rarely go by a recipe, sometimes it turns out better than others. It’s never been bad, but last night’s edition was the best I’ve done. Fortunately, I wrote down most of it. Key word – “most”.

A lot of my best recipes are based off of improvisation. Outside of basic ingredients, when it comes to seasoning, my recipes tend to err on the  cautious side. I have a really high tolerance for spicy, and I LOVE love love salt, so when I piece these recipes together, it’s done for the masses who may not be able to tolerate the 7 teaspoons of red curry paste that I’m really using… so I only write in to use the 4 tsp that I started with, “plus more, if preferred”. It’s a good lesson for me to start writing down my recipes more accurately… but I’m always open to feedback!

Okay, on to the noodles. This recipe uses rice noodles from my local grocery store, but if you wanted a bonafide paleo recipe you could use shirataki noodles, zoodles (zucchini spiralized “noodles”), or the new Jovial Cassava pasta once it’s available.

 

Shrimp Pad Thai (Gluten Free with Paleo and Vegan substitutes!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 3-4

 

Ingredients

  • 1 package of rice noodles –  if preferred: shirataki noodles, any whole wheat or gluten-free spaghetti noodle or Jovial brand’s Cassava spaghetti noodles will do
  • 2 large carrots, julienned or shaved
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved then sliced into ¼ inch thick semi circles
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen sliced green beans, or snow peas
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced or pressed garlic
  • 1/3 to ½ lb of raw shrimp, peeled and tails removed (if vegan – sub tofu in, or your preferred veggies)
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp plus one tsp fresh grated or chopped ginger
  • juice of ½ a lime

For the sauce:

  • 1 heaping tbsp peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (omit if making vegan)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (can sub tamari or regular soy sauce), plus more if desired
  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil, or avocado oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more if preferred
  • juice from the other half of your lime

 

  • Peanuts and additional sliced lime, for garnish

 

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together your nut butter, fish sauce, vinegar, coconut aminos, oil, crushed red pepper, lime juice and the tsp of fresh ginger. Do a taste test – if it’s too sweet (sometimes coconut aminos can be), add more lime, or rice vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Cook your noodles according to instructions. I typically start boiling the water at the same time I do my next step, as the water takes a bit to heat and the noodles vary in cook time. Cook until soft, drain, and set aside, watching to ensure they don’t dry out and get sticky.
  3. Meanwhile, as the noodles boil, in a frying pan with a tsp of your preferred cooking oil, add your onion, carrot and green beans over medium heat. Sauté for 5-6 min, stirring frequently, until starting to brown. Add your ginger, garlic and shrimp (or tofu) and continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring, making sure shrimp does not overcook. Once shrimp has turned pink (or your tofu/veggies have browned), Add your noodles into your frying pan. With tongs, gently fold, mixing together.
  4. Next, pour your sauce over the noodles, gently mixing to coat. If your noodles are absorbing the sauce too quickly – no worries! Drizzle a tsp of additional oil in at a time until they’re smooth again. You can also add additional coconut aminos/soy for a punch of flavor.
  5. Gently mix in your chopped cilantro.
  6. Serve in a bowl with peanuts and lime for garnish.

 

Enjoy!

-S

 

 

Cheddar Old Bay Biscuits (with vegan options!)

Hey everyone!

So…. Last time I wrote, the world was normal, I was busy, and stuff was all status quo. Since then, a wild novel coronavirus has infiltrated every corner of the earth, I am stuck at home along with nearly 7.8 billion other people, watching Tiger King, praying I find toilet paper somewhere, and waiting for off-hours to log into my work computer because of network volumes. I am grateful to have a safe place to be, but I’d be lying if I said this was peaches and cream.

I’ve had a LOT of time on my hands in the last 3 weeks…. So why wouldn’t I take the time to post about food!??!

To be completely, honest, I’ve been down. I have been cooking a ton, but I haven’t been enjoying it all that much. I’ve felt guilty when I indulgently dump more shredded cheddar into a bowl (that I normally wouldn’t even eat), wondering if I should be more aware that I’ve still got a paycheck and should be more responsible with my resources. I go to the grocery store, holding my breath (literally) hoping that there’s vegetables there that I can think clearly enough to buy what I need and how to make it last so I’m not out and about, unnecessarily. I’ve left messes in my house, making me quite uncomfortable, so that I have “something to do” a few hours later in cleaning it up.

But it’ll get better – I am alive, healthy (as far as I know, for now), and I have luxuries that I still need to be appreciative of. Having said that, I am going to try to continue posting recipes to my blog, but with more awareness that right now, we’re all just doing the best we can. They may not be paleo, they may not be vegan or gluten free, but hopefully it gives you some inspiration to pass some time and think of everything we do still have until we can all frolic around town like a Disney movie and hug the townspeople.

If you have these things around and can tolerate a bit more lax of a diet, try out this treat for some normalcy, and to make friends with your quarantine buddies. Mine’s my dog, and she’ll eat anything….. but these will still please a picky eater!

Also, pardon this crappy picture of biscuits. Resources are a little stressed, and I ate the rest of them…. 🙂

*4/8/2020 note…. I just looked at my measurements, and they were super super wrong… like ‘worst typo ever’ wrong. Please see below for updated measurements!

Cheddar Old Bay Biscuits! (with vegan options!)

 

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15 min

Makes 6-8 biscuits

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, or a pinch more if you like zest
  • ½ cup cold salted butter (cut into cubes), plus ¼ cup melted butter – vegan butter is fine
  • 3/4 to 1 cup milk (non dairy is fine!)
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar (vegan is fine)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh, or dried parsley

(note: if you have Bisquick, you can swap the flour, baking powder, salt, cold salted butter and sugar for 2 cups of Bisquick and ¼ cup of melted butter)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Pour the flour, baking powder, sugar, garlic powder, and 1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning in a food processor, then add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is chopped into small pieces. If a food processor isn’t available, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly by hand, then mixing the butter in by hand, pressing the dry mix into the butter thoroughly. (If using Bisquick, mix the Bisquick in a bowl with the garlic powder, Old Bay and melted butter and stir).
  3. Next, pour in the milk and shredded cheddar, then mix to combine. The mixture should be easily breakable by hand, somewhat sticky, neither runny or dry and crumbly. Add more flour or milk (or Bisquick) accordingly to achieve this consistency, if needed.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease a foil-lined sheet. Use a scoop to place even portions of biscuit  (approximately 1/3 cup) batter onto the baking sheets, two inches apart.
  5. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until golden.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining melted butter and parsley together for the biscuit tops. Once the biscuits come out of the oven, brush them with melted butter.

 

Enjoy!

-S

Authentic Maryland-style Crab Cake, but Paleo!

Alright y’all, I’ve been newly inspired.

This past weekend, I felt compelled to go buy a pound of jumbo lump crab meat. Why, you ask? Because apparently my greatest indulgences happen at the grocery store. I live a wildly dangerous life.

Anyway, I had been menu-surfing restaurants out of town for an upcoming work trip (does everyone do this?) and I came across a very seafood-centric restaurant that had what looked like the most beautifully made crab cake, ever. I love seafood, but I am particularly…. particular… when it comes to crab cakes. I grew up in the Mid Atlantic – we’re blessed to be a short drive from the beach, whether it be New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland or the Chesapeake Bay.  Having said that, I’ve grown up to be a bit more  discerning with my seafood sources than someone that doesn’t live near water. (Shameless unpaid plug – if you want the best crab cake on the east coast, Woody’s in North East, MD has it, hands down. Not even up for debate).

So this whole “being-around-Maryland” thing. I have a deep appreciation for the price of crab meat, after actually knowing what it takes to pick enough jumbo lump meat to fill a container. I was probably 17, visiting OCMD for the White Marlin Open that year. At the marina, this petite elderly woman sat in a chair at the end of the dock – we had time to kill, so we stood near her as she picked at the crab with the thimbles on her thumbs and tossed the shells aside. She asked us if we had any good crab recipes, and if we didn’t, did we want one? Without hesitation, she summoned me to find a paper to write her recipe down – I grabbed a Walmart receipt out of my pocket and scribbled it down. I’ll tell you – that recipe is THE ONLY crab cake recipe I’ll ever want to know. It’s indulgent but not heavy, and it will please even the snobbiest of crab-cake connoisseurs.

For a friend with gluten-free needs, I adjusted the recipe and I have to say – it turned out fab. A few more paleo-friendly tweaks and it still turned out really well. I thought I’d share. You can cook them a few different ways – I normally bake mine (so they stay nice and tall and round), but they’re pictured pan-fried. You can make smaller portions for an hors d‘oeuvres, or larger for a dinner. Enjoy!

 

Authentic Maryland-style Crab Cake, but Paleo!

 

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 15 min

Makes 6-8 crab cakes, or 15-18 small bites

 

Ingredients

  • 16 oz jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup paleo-friendly mayonnaise, such as Primal Kitchen
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp old bay seasoning
  • Pinch of Fines Herbs seasoning, or dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp Grey Poupon (I only use this brand!)
  • 1 tsp paleo Steak or Worcestershire Sauce (I love Primal Kitchen’s Steak Sauce for this)
  • ~1tbsp ghee (or salted butter, if not strict Paleo)
  • Pinch of salt (optional, if making with ghee)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or if using foil, grease your pan with spray or butter.
  2. In a small bowl, pick through the crabmeat to ensure there are no shells.
  3. In a separate, medium sized bowl, whisk your egg. Add your mayonnaise, continuing to combine.
  4. Next, add your breadcrumbs, old bay, herbs and garlic powder, and stir thoroughly. Add your Dijon and Worcestershire, and stir until combined. Lastly, add your crabmeat and gently stir in, careful not to break apart the lump meat.
  5. Form into 6-8 crab cakes, and space evenly (2-3 in) apart on the baking sheet. If using ghee, melt and add pinch of salt, drizzling a bit over each crab cake. If using butter, add a very thin pat of salted butter to the top to make a nice golden crust.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.

 

Enjoy!

-S

Roasted Dijon Winter Vegetable Medley with Pancetta (Paleo!)

Hello all, and happy 2020. 

I’ve been… for lack of a better word, dormant, so far this winter. I’ve been physically tired, trying to do a lot all at once, have been trying to balance work with fitting in time to cook, and that’s always really hard around the holidays. There was DEFINITELY not a shortage of food, which would be the reason for my favorite jeans being a bit tighter than my preference…. Hoping that with some water, more exercise and more sleep I’ll be back to my old self.

It’s been a whirlwind of a month so far, too. Out in the world there’s some whack shit goin’ down…. Plus we had a full moon that I swear made people turn into wild animals. I was talking with a friend about how this particular moon happened to coincide with a lot of feelings of anxiety, unrest and just general discontentment. I don’t like to feel stagnant – and I think that’s just what I’ve been feeling. I have a few goals, not New Year’s resolutions – I want these to carry on indefinitely, not just for the first six weeks. Although, I am doing Dry January and for those of you that love your red wine the way I do…. It’s been less than stellar but I’m getting by.

Goal #1 – get myself back to my best physical state. I don’t mean crash dieting, “getting thin”, etc. I’ve always been fairly thin, but I want my body to reflect how hard I’ve worked, and I want to feel my best. I dropped the ball at the end of last year…. I plan to continue lifting, and I signed back up for unlimited monthly yoga. My  first hot yoga class of the year was last night, and it was HARD.

Goal #2 – speaking of yoga, I want to take my practice more seriously. I want to be able to handle intense strength movement, and I plan to build upon that. Maybe a few new pairs of tights will be a good incentive.

Goal #3 – indulge in less wine. I’ve cut out all wine for the month of January, which is surprisingly a lot harder than I thought. In noticing this, I realized that my social drinking on weekends crept into a glass with dinner, which turned into one with and one after dinner, which became a lot more frequent that I ultimately want. Learning what is moderation for me and sticking to it will be most important.

Goal #4 – make time for mental clarity. This one is big. My self-proclaimed title as a workaholic is not a humble brag, or any badge of honor. In fact, I often feel shame if I am not working as much as I can – like somehow, I’m Less-Than if I’m not burning the candle at both ends. I don’t like to sit still, be idle, or not have a mental inventory of accomplishments that I can draw from to make sure I’m “still working hard enough”. What’s that even mean, anyway? Working “hard” enough? I’m an accomplished professional, I work long hours… I’ve had at least 2 jobs since I was 10, why am I still trying to check a box? Feeling burnt out already at my age is probably not a sign of good trajectory here, so I plan to take more Me-Time without the shame. I’m giving myself permission to bum it every now and again. 

Goal #5 – lower my expectations. Being realistic, optimistic, pessimistic… those are all still expectations. 2019 was a hard year – I went in feeling like it would be my best year yet, and it was far from it. I’m going into 2020 with the intent to be happy – however that looks, I’ll know in 12 months. Expecting things to go a certain way will set me up for disappointment, which I am not trying to fall into.

I think these are pretty realistic goals…they happen to coincide with the new year, but there’s something icky about calling them New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe it’s the idea that a new year must mean huge changes, and anything less than that means you’re falling short. I’m over that crap, I don’t want to go on thinking I’m failing some sort of test.

I’ve held on to this recipe for a while, and it’s actually really simple… just makes for a really nice combo for your winter meals. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Dijon Winter Vegetable Medley with Pancetta (Paleo)

 

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 45 min

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 large shallot, sliced but left in larger pieces
  • 2 cups fresh butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 cup fresh parsnip, peeled and cubed
  • 2/3 cup pancetta, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the sauce:
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp dijon
    • ½ tsp paprika
    • Pinch of coconut sugar (to cut the acidity of the dijon)

     

    Directions

    1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add your shallot and pancetta. Sauté 8-10 minutes, until shallots and pancetta are somewhat brown – then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving remaining fat behind in the pan.
    1. Still at medium high heat, add your squash, parsnip and brussels, ensuring as many pieces are in contact with the bottom of the pan to crisp. Cover with a lid – this allows steam build up so that the vegetables can cook a bit faster. Stir occasionally – you don’t want the pieces to break apart, but you want them to thoroughly brown on all sides.
    2. Allow to sauté for about 10-12 minutes covered – once things are starting to brown, turn your heat down to medium low and continue to sauté uncovered and allow to crisp for another 20-25 min.. Season with salt and pepper, only stirring occasionally. Adjust heat as needed.
    1. Meanwhile, whisk together your sauce ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified. Set aside.
    1. Checking back with the vegetables, they should have started to caramelize – stir to ensure consistent exposure to the bottom of the pan. Add your pancetta and shallot back, continuing to gently mix. Add your sauce, drizzling over the contents of the pan, gently mixing.
    1. Remove from heat and serve. Delish 🙂

     

    -S

    Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage and Feta (Gluten-Free with Vegan Option!)

    Stop… pumpkin  time!

    Alright, here’s what’s up. The weather is cooling down, at least at night. All my fun pumpkin and other fall recipes are slowly creeping in. and let me tell you….. I’m excited. Honestly, I won’t spend all day here talking about the less important stuff, let’s get straight to the facts – Pumpkin is the law of the land from September 1 through November 30. This marks the time of year where I’m a little more lax on my food preferences, because I like to enjoy holidays to the fullest extent. Also, I tried making this recipe with cauliflower rice and it just wasn’t as indulgent.

    Cue: Pumpkin Risotto, The Food You Didn’t Know You Needed Until You Ate It. This is creamy, gluten-free, delicious, flavorful, and has a lot of room to make it super indulgent for your friends without dietary restrictions, and if you make too much, you can do what I did and make arancini with the leftovers J While I would’ve loved to make this paleo, I chose not to because I wanted to make sure I got the full effect of a good fall dish. If you’re going to use cauliflower rice as a substitute, proceed with caution. Cauliflower holds more water and less flavor – you may need to go a bit heavier on your seasonings if using cauliflower.

    Let’s jump in, shall we?

     

    Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage and Feta (Gluten-Free with Vegan Option!)

    prep time: 15 min

    cook time: 30 min

    Ingredients

    • 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if making vegan)
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)
    • 3 tbsp ghee or butter, separated (vegan option: 2 tbsp coconut oil)
    • 1 large shallot, minced
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
    • ½ cup fresh sage, loosely chopped
    • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
    • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
    • Small handful of fresh parsley, finely  chopped
    • sea salt to taste (be generous!)
    • Pinch of pepper
    • Pinch of pumpkin pie seasoning (a literal pinch – nothing more than to make fragrant)
    • 2/3 cup crumbled feta

    Directions

    1. In a large mixing cup, combine your pumpkin puree and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
    2. In a small skillet, heat 1-2 tbsp of your butter over medium heat. Gently add a piece of sage to test the temperature and see how long it takes your sage to brown. Once you’ve tested, arrange your sage leaves in a single layer, allowing to crisp, about 20-30 seconds, working in batches if necessary. Sage doesn’t contain a lot of water, so it doesn’t take a lot of time to crisp. If it turns completely brown, it’s fried too long. Set aside on a plate/napkin to let cool.
    3. Next, in a large sauce pan or pot, melt 2 tbsp of your butter (or oil) over medium heat, Add your shallot, garlic, and pinch of salt. Sauté until shallot becomes translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
    4. Add your thyme and uncooked rice, stirring to coat rice with mixture. Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent rice from browning too much.
    5. Turn your heat down to medium low. A half cup at a time, slowly add your pumpkin stock mixture until it evaporates. Add another half cup, allowing the liquid to absorb until you are out of liquid, all in all about 20 minutes. The rice should be cooked, not entirely al dente, but not gummy. It should still have a creamy texture. Do a taste test and adjust with salt and pepper. Remember – you will be adding additional sage and feta, so don’t go too heavy handed.
    6. Serve, and garnish with feta and sage.

    Enjoy!

    -S

    Restaurant-Style Spicy Mayo (Paleo, with Vegan option!)

    We’re in a heat wave. 

    This is about that time of year where I’ve gotten my summer vacations out of the way, and my next low-key excitement is buying sweaters from WHBM… so I get tired of the heat pretty quickly. My birthday is in the fall and as much as I try to hide my love for all things pumpkin, I really just can’t. Mums, pumpkins, sweaters, apples, pumpkins next to mums, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, roasting veggies while wearing a sweater and drinking Punkin Ale, arranging mums while stacking pumpkins while drinking a Punkin Ale, more pumpkins, ugh. It’s too good. Now that I think of it, 2 years ago I bought mums way too early and they just chose to leave me and die because of the heat. After replacing them twice, I decided I need more patience.

    We aren’t there yet! It’s still hot, and I still have nice people bringing me fruit, tomatoes, peppers, etc from their gardens. A lady gave me a zucchini the other day the size of a baby. Little hot peppers, cute little radishes, herbs – I should appreciate this time of year more than I do. Having said that, a lot of this stuff translates well into different types of cuisines. Mexican food? Dice those tomatoes and make some guac. Jalapenos? Make a fun sauce. Lots of parsley, basil and cilantro? Make chimichurri! With all good end-of-summer recipes though, you need a good sauce. Fish tacos, roasted veggies, burgers, sandwiches, you need something to bring the heat and complement your food.

    You know that delicious spicy mayo they make at sushi restaurants? That sauce that has just the right amount of flavor, and if you’re feeling sassy you order like 2 sides of it? Well, good news! I made a recipe that is probably nothing close to what they’re actually making, but it tastes pretty darn close and is easy to make. Put it on everything. This also puts that huge jar of Mother In Law’s Gochugaru Chili Flakes you may have bought for my last recipe to good use. I actually smothered those Cajun Artichoke Turkey Burgers with this spicy mayo and my chimichurri sauce in a lettuce wrap and a slice of grilled red onion. Yum 🙂

    Restaurant-Style Spicy Mayo (Paleo, with Vegan option!)

    Prep time: 10 min

    Cook time: n/a

    Makes ~1 cup

    Ingredients

    • ¾ Paleo-friendly mayo, or Veganaise
    • ¼ cup Sriracha, adjust for heat preference. Get the chicken-bottle stuff, keep it authentic 🙂
    • 1 tsp coconut aminos (soy sauce, if not strict paleo)
    • 1 tsp paleo-friendly Worcestershire-style sauce – I like Primal Kitchen’s Steak Sauce. Annie’s also makes a vegan Worcestershire sauce (or use regular, if you aren’t strict)
    • 1 tsp gochugaru chili flakes

    Directions

    1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Easy peasy.

    Can be stored in the fridge for as long as the expiration date on your mayo says – I doubt it’ll last that long because you’ll definitely eat it all!

     

    Enjoy!

    -S

    Chimichurri Sauce (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free, EVERYTHING)

    I’m a little late on posting this. And, by a little, I mean a lot. I really wanted to post it last Wednesday, but time got away from me.

    So! This most recent full moon (in Aquarius) was directly opposite of Venus, which calls love and relationships front and center and puts you directly in front of whatever you’ve been facing in the background. Because of how strong this position is, until the new moon, ensure that important decisions you make are done so with logic and understanding, and not just emotion. The open window for opportunity is also here, so if there’s something to shake up and change, now would be the time.

    That’s one thing I like to think about when it’s a full moon. I look at new moons as though they’re a beginning to a new chapter, and full moons as sort of a “pulse check” to make sure your intentions are where they should be by shining literal and figurative light on everything around you.

    So about those turkey burgers I posted last week. It seems a lot of people were as jazzed about them as I was, which is always awesome. I definitely need to share with you this sauce concoction I made while I was at the beach. It’s called Chimichurri sauce – most often found in South American food, I’ve seen it served with steak. Personally, I’d eat it on everything and anything. When I’ve had it before, it’s been a bit more heavy on the oil, so I lightened it up this time and while the texture/consistency is different, I HIGHLY recommend keeping this on hand pretty much all the time. Put it on your breakfast, put it on your burger, put it on your chicken, your tacos, your fish, anything you’re eating, this pretty much takes what you’re eating from a 2 to like an 11. Delicious. Make it your own, too – my version has some zip to it, but you can change yours up to add whatever other common herbs you have on hand too (oregano, mint, etc).

    Chimichurri Sauce (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free, EVERYTHING)

    Prep time: 15 min

    Cook time: n/a

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 large bunch of cilantro, stems removed
    • 2 handfuls of fresh basil
    • 1 large bunch of fresh parsley, stems removed

    (at this point, I should be honest, you don’t need specific ratios, just a medium sized mixing bowl filled with fresh herbs… just go heavy on the parsley)

    • Juice of 2 limes
    • 1/3 cup of olive oil, plus more if needed
    • 1 small garlic clove
    • 1/3 of a red or yellow onion
    • 1 1/2 tsp gochugaru chili flakes (I like Mother In Law’s Korean Chili Flakes)
    • Sea salt, to taste (I used ~1 tsp)

     

    Directions

    1. In a food processor, add your herbs, garlic and onion. Start blending, slowly pouring in your olive oil until you achieve a thinner consistency.
    2. Once the herbs are finely blended, add your lime juice, salt and chili flakes. Continue to blend. The consistency should be thin, almost runny, but not watery.
    3. Do a quick taste test – this should be herby but not taste like a mouth full of grass… it should be tangy, salty and flavorful. Add more lime juice, chili flakes or salt if needed, and blend for another 10-15 seconds.
    4. Serve and enjoy! I keep mine in the fridge for up to 5 days after. It may slightly dull in color over time but it’s still tasty, don’t worry!

    -S

    Cajun Turkey Burgers with Artichoke (Paleo, Egg-free!)

    Happy Tuesday!

    Sort of. Yesterday was my first day back at work after having been off for the last 10 days. A much needed break, I spent time at the beach with good friends, did LOTS of cooking, lots of drinking beer, lots of suntanning. I’m currently doing a “dry” week…. No alcohol, LOTS of veggies, lean meats only. I already limit my dairy and gluten, but I think I may cut that out altogether. I feel as though I came back a dry, crispy potato. I need a detox.

    There’s a lot of conflicting information about detoxing. Though juice cleanses and teas sound really effective, the best way to detox your body after a period of greasy eating or heavy drinking is simply to get back to your routine (assuming you eat somewhat healthy). A few things I’m doing to get back on track:

    • No Alcohol: this one STINKS, but I’ve decided to lay off the libations for a week or two. I love beer, love wine. It’s a nice treat to have on weekends, or occasionally with dinner. However, after this past week…. I need to take a breather. Increased alcohol intake can lead to inflammation of your digestive tract, dehydration and can alter your blood sugar levels. To feel your best, ditch the alcohol for a week, then another, a few months if you’re strong. The decreased carbohydrate intake can also lead to a few less calories, meaning you may even shed excess weight.
    • No Dairy: Depending on what sources you ask, humans should not have dairy. I could live without milk, but I adore cheese. I don’t have it often, but I’ll be darned if I’m passing up a charcuterie board with some good mustard, good goat cheese/manchego and some delicious salami. So…. When we had a ton of cheese down at the beach, I ate it. We ate all the cheese.
    • More dark, leafy greens: I love my kale salads! When done right (with a nice acidic dressing), kale can be filling and tasty. I love a good ginger/lime based dressing, or even my Garlic Tahini Kale Salad.  That and more spinach, arugula, and spring mix in general.  With some berries, a good dressing and some sliced almonds, pecans or walnuts, it’s a filling salad. You can even throw some chicken on there, too
    • Lots of WATER: I ended up getting a gallon YETI container. Is it practical? Yes and no. It’s heavy, people roll their eyes when I use two hands to drink my water, but I have 64 oz here at my desk without needing to get up to refill. It certainly helps. Side note – I had a very nice aesthetician tell me I’ll keep my tan longer if I drink more water. I believe that, and that’s all the motivation I need to drink water! (PSA – if you’re reading this, wear sunscreen)
    • Re-up my probiotics: A healthy, balanced diet should contain enough nutrients to keep your microbiome regular, but finding the right probiotic is good support if you need it, especially with bloating from vacation. I  like Ora Organic probiotics. They’re freeze-dried so you don’t need to refrigerate, and they’re vegan and gluten-free. It comes in a powder and a capsule form.

     

    All the serious stuff aside, I must share with you the most amazing turkey burger recipe I created. I think the best things I make are from happy accidents or random experimenting, and this was no exception. My friend is on a AIP diet intended to lower her histamines, so a few substitutions were made. These burgers are egg free and the whole thing comes together and is SO delicious. I added some chimichurri sauce (recipe here!!) and a slice of grilled red onion, with lettuce as a wrap. Feel free to add your own burger twist, the more the better! This recipe makes a lot of burgers, but you can freeze them and save for later.

    Cajun Turkey Burgers with Artichoke (Paleo, Egg-free!)

    Prep time: 20 min

    Cook time: 12-15 min

    Makes 12 burgers

    Ingredients

    • 2 lb ground turkey
    • 1 heaping tbsp Cajun seasoning (link)
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp dried parsley
    • 1 heaping tbsp flax seed
    • 1 tbsp avocado oil
    • 1 ½ tsp ground sea salt, plus more if preferred (be generous with your salt!)
    • Optional toppings: slices of grilled red onion, spicy mayo, lettuce, tomato, bacon, or gluten free/sprouted grain buns

    Directions

    1. Preheat your grill or griddle pan to medium high heat, ~375 degrees F.
    2. In a large bowl, mix all of your ingredients and let stand for 5-10 minutes to allow flax to absorb.
    3. Taking about 6-8 oz of burger mixture, shape into patties and pat thin, making a divet in the center (as burgers tend to “puff” up when cooking). Your mix should make about 12 medium sized burgers.
    4. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side, until browned. Flip, and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes. Once at temperature, turkey tends to cook fairly quickly, so keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook.
    5. Remove from heat and cover, letting rest for approximately 5 minutes. Serve immediately, and top with your preferred toppings.

    Enjoy!

    -S