Crispy Roasted Plantains with Cilantro Lime Aioli (Paleo, Vegan!)

Hey y’all!

It’s definitely been a while, I know I need to make an effort to post more. I’ve been cooking, I’ve just been terrible about documenting everything. Some fun stuff, some un-fun stuff, busy with work, the whole nine. I’m headed to the beach late next week, followed by a trip to Philly to see KHALID! (thanks work!), and I plan to just eat… NON STOP. I’ll have to fit some running in there, I think.

Guess what today is! It’s the start of Leo.  Where are my LEO’s at?! A lot of people near and dear to my heart are born under this sign, and I definitely feel a complete shift in energy, for the better. Interesting about this particular time is that when we are dead in the middle of this fixed Fire sign, there’s a lot more intensity, energy, creativity and overall happiness. People are back in their element. I like that, because all of those warm-weather summer projects are calling. Oh, and that intense heatwave is done, so I no longer have to carry my giant dog across the pavement to the grass for her to go to the bathroom.  It’ll only get better when mercury retrograde is done on July 31, when all the confusion and A.D.D.  slows down.

Let’s get to it! Who loves to dip stuff into..stuff? I do. My latest obsession is plantains. They’re the older brother of the banana… less sweet, starchier, can go sweet or savory. Though I feel like I’ll never live down the nasty, bouncy-ball, chewy charcoal briquette plantain slices I made a few months ago, my tribe… they’re good sports. They’ll try these again.

The key to making this dish is RIPE plantains. Borderline brown. Slice them down the middle, gently, and carefully peel them. They’re just so wonderful.

 

Crispy Roasted Plantains with Cilantro Lime Aioli (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

 

Ingredients

  • 3 large plantains, peeled, sliced into ½ inch pieces on a diagonal
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • sprinkle of onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the aioli

  • 2/3 cup paleo or vegan friendly mayo – i like soy-free Vegenaise
  • juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • 1 small garlic glove, pressed or finely minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

 

Directions

  1. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of ghee. Once up to temperature, add plantains, spacing evenly. Sauté until golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Use your remaining tbsp of ghee once you flip the plantains to the 2nd side, to ensure a consistent golden brown crust.
  2. As plantains are cooking, mix together your aioli ingredients and add to a small serving bowl.
  3. Once plantains are thoroughly cooked, tender and brown on both sides, transfer to a paper-towel covered plate to drain excess oil. Serve immediately while still hot.
  4. Garnish with cilantro, lime and one last dusting of salt.

 

Enjoy!

-S

5 Great Everyday Benefits of Chamomile

Greetings, foodies. Guess what? It’s going down to 4 degrees tonight. Guess what else? I saw that in Fargo, ND, the windchill is going to be -54 degrees FAHRENHEIT! Is that even livable? What happens to your house, do the walls literally just shatter? Where are your dogs? Does fire actually still… work??? Honest questions. I struggle with 30 degrees. I can’t even comprehend weather that cold. My hands and lips are already crusty from this cold weather, I lotion about every 45 minutes, drink about 8 bottles of water… everything is just so DRY.

Queue to a friend of mine at work giving me a nice  big bag of dried chamomile flowers from Barefoot Botanicals. I have some jojoba oil that I’m going to infuse with the chamomile for dry skin. I love to use that kind of thing rather than store-bought lotions, that way I’m sure of what’s in them. I had a bad reaction to a lotion I thought I really liked that was seemingly “natural” – smelled like coconut, had coconut oil in it, was made by a small business, etc. I come to find out, the ingredients were artificial, sourced overseas and god knows what I was actually using. Maybe a few drops of an essential oil I’m feeling (lavender, ylang ylang, maybe some citrus), and I have myself a nice skin oil.

Speaking of, I want to  share with you a lot of great things you can use chamomile for. It’s definitely a useful thing to keep around the house, so be sure to go grab some and stock your pantry with it! Unfortunately Barefoot Botanicals is out of stock, but you can find some to order online here!

5 Great Everyday Benefits of Chamomile

Anti-Itch Remedy for Bug Bites

Chamomile is great for reducing the pain and itchiness insect bites due to the elevated levels of quercetin and luteolin, two types of flavonoids found within the buds. For lack of some science-y stuff, it it contains stuff that suppresses the production of certain enzymes that your body produces as a response to the bug bites. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea is great, but a bath with a few tea bags couldn’t hurt!

Better Sleep

Having trouble sleeping? A cup of chamomile tea before bed has been known to act as a calming agent due to the flavanoid it contains, apigenin. This bonds to benzodiazepine receptors in your brain that are known to reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier to sleep.

Relief from Acid Reflux

Chamomile is known to calm an upset stomach, but it’s also useful for acid reflux, which is something I am VERY happy I know. Studies have shown that it can calm the muscles within the digestive tract and can support a proper pH within your stomach acid by inhibiting helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that contributes to stomach ulcers.  A helpful tip would be to drink this after a large meal to aid in digestion.

Minor Scrapes, Cuts and Burns

Using chamomile as a natural means to help heal superficial wounds has shown to be highly effective. In a scientific study, a trial showed that the antimicrobial properties of chamomile helped speed the process of epithelialization (skin cell regeneration) and wound contraction (further healing). In addition to disinfecting, you can heal your boo-boos faster with chamomile!

Sun Burn Relief

Who’s had sunburn? Yeah, not proud of the number of times I’ve let this happen… but it does. Remember those anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile I mentioned before? It’s great for reducing inflammation after a long day out in the sun. That, coupled with its ability to promote faster skin cell generation, may greatly reduce the pain of a pesky sunburn.

Hopefully these tips make your life a little easier and give you a little boost with all this cold weather. Enjoy!

-S

Sources:

Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future. Srivastava, Shankar, Gupta, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

Chamomile: An ancient pain remedy and a modern gout relief – A hypothesis. Hamed, Ali, Sanaz, Afshin, Afagh, Feb 2012. https://academicjournals.org/journal/AJPP/article-abstract/F0DF1C635194

Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties. Marco Valussi, 2012. https://doi.org/10.3109/09637486.2011.627841

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Sage and Mushrooms (Paleo, Vegan!)

More rain. That’s totally fine. It means I’m not missing anything outdoors, and I can sit inside, watch Barefoot Contessa and stare at my dog. And more importantly…. COOK!

It’s September 1, which means a lot to a lot of different people. To me, as a fall baby, a Libra, and lover of all things fall, it’s been a countdown for the last 9 months. I’m not even ashamed of all the plaid flannel, suede booties and cute thermals I have… and the food is a whole different ballgame. Speaking of ballgames, I think other people are interested in football right now…? I love to watch baseball, but my sport of choice is hockey. Go Flyers. I’m a horseperson, so my hobbies aren’t really something people gather to watch unless they partake themselves. But I do love me some football parties, because that means COOKING!

Short and sweet, honestly. This recipe is a repost by request. I posted a little preview on my Instagram a little while back, but here we are with the final product! Gnocchi is one of the few Italian foods I do eat. While I love carbs, I’d much prefer potatoes than pasta. Growing up around a predominantly Italian extended family (though I am not one bit Italian, lol!), I got to see a lot of different ways to make staple Italian dishes. I love ricotta gnocchi, regular gnocchi, the whole nine… but red sauce isn’t something I typically prefer, unless it’s on top of a pizza. That’s a recipe for another time, so let me share with you how to make Brown Butter and Sage Sweet Potato Gnocchi! Yes, you read that right 🙂

These have an inherently sweet flavor because of the sweet potato, so balancing it with hearty mushrooms, garlic and sage just really makes the dish pop. Oh, did I mention these are VEGAN? You can definitely jazz them up by adding some pancetta, but these will do just fine. Promise.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Sage and Mushrooms (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed so that any chunks are broken up
  • 1/2 cup of cassava flour, plus more if needed. Sometimes the sweet potatoes hold a bit more water than anticipated, which is no biggie!
  • ~2 tsp olive oil, plus more if needed
  • pinch of sea salt, to taste
  • 1 package of pre-sliced cremini/baby bella mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 heaping tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • additional herbs of choice, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Peel and rinse your sweet potatoes, removing any knots. Boil in a large pot, potatoes covered with water until soft. Once finished, remove from water and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl and mash until smooth.
  2. Add in your cassava flour and mix until completely smooth. Add salt to taste. If you prefer a bit of zest, feel free to add a smidge of garlic powder and paprika, a pinch at a time. The flavor will be in the sauce, so don’t worry if it’s light.
  3. This part can get tedious, so be patient! Take teaspoon sized scoops of the mixture and roll into balls. I used a gnocchi roller to really get the shape going, but you can form into an oblong sphere and roll with a fork to get your gnocchi marks.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop gnocchi into it. Once they have risen to the surface, remove, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  5. If you have one, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into the pan. Add gnocchi and cook on each side until golden, then remove. I’ve tried this with cast iron and regular metal, and they may stick unless you use a nonstick skillet.
  6. While your yams are boiling (or while your gnocchi mixture sits), Add your onion to a large frying pan along with a tbsp of olive oil (or ghee/butter if not vegan) over medium heat. Sauté 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent.
  7. Add your garlic and mushrooms, continuing to stir. The mushrooms may start to release some water, so make sure these remain uncovered.
  8. Once the mushroom and onion mixture starts to caramelize, add your gnocchi to the same pan as well as your sage, and continue to sauté. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Try not to disturb the gnocchi too much, as you don’t want them to break apart. Shimmy the pan to mix until further browned, another 2-3 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with herbs.

Enjoy!

-S

My Top 5 Favorite Superfoods (and where to find them!)

Happy Friday!

Today starts another fabulous long holiday weekend… complete with rain, rain and more rain. I’m home working for the day, so hopefully I can squeeze in some cooking to get you guys some delicious recipes.

One thing I wanted to share, though. I love healthy food, but I didn’t always love it. Growing up, my mom was an excellent cook, but I still hated vegetables. My parents ate them so I don’t know if I was just being stubborn. I didn’t like to eat steamed vegetables and I certainly didn’t know how to cook for myself until the last few years so I was sadly deprived of a lot of delicious ways to eat and cook vegetables. Then Amazon came to the rescue and now I feel like I need to share all the fun things I found recently to you and your loved ones/picky eaters if they aren’t into trying new things (though I think my recipes are delicious…).

8Greens Effervescent Super Greens Dietary Supplement – $14

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B0792HYX21/ref=twister_B07DPWSPSF?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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This stuff is liquid gold. My favorite local cosmetics store, Houpette, started carrying this when they moved to their new location, and I am DELIGHTED. It has a nice citrus-y taste, isn’t sludgy, and gets you the Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Zinc and other minerals you need if you don’t plan on eating your broccoli. It’s vegan, gluten free, sugar free, salt free and preservative free.

TerraSoul SuperFoods Gelatinized Maca Powder – $13

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Terrasoul-Superfoods-Organic-Gelatinized-Powder/dp/B00EHQQ1A6/ref=lp_6944339011_1_11_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535718486&sr=1-11&th=1

maca

Don’t let this one’s name fool you – it’s vegan, certified, organic, non-GMO and also gluten free. Maca is a root native to Peru – it’s balanced in carbs and protein, and also contains vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium, fiber, manganese, along with others. Studies have suggested it increases libido and fertility in men, and it has been suggested that maca root also alleviates unfavorable symptoms of menopause. As with everything – always pay attention to your body, as anything that influences your hormones can impact things such as your thyroid, or general hormonal wellness… however, the state that you will likely buy your maca root powder carries little adverse side effects compared to its natural state (raw, uncooked). When taken properly, this can do wonders, but always consult your doctor if you have concerns!

Greenbow Organic Bee Pollen – $11.99

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/GREENBOW-Organic-Bee-Pollen-Certified/dp/B019HI4CRC/ref=lp_6944339011_1_1_sspa?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535718486&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1

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Though I’m a firm believer in buying this particular one locally (the bees are pollinating your local flowers – it couldn’t hurt to ingest local pollen for allergy reasons!), if that isn’t available to you, this is a great choice. Bee pollen contains amino acids, Vitamin B and other minerals to support a healthy immune system. I am particularly fond of this brand because they donate 1% of their proceeds to the Planet Bee Foundation, which helps to repopulate the bees and promote awareness of dangers to the bee ecosystem. Word to the wise – without bees, we all die…. If we’re being transparent, here. **side note: if you are allergic to bee venom, or anything bee related, it is recommended that you consult your doctor prior to any consumption of a bee byproduct.

Navitas Organics Goji Berries – $15

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Navitas-Organics-Goji-Berries-oz/dp/B000FFLHSY/ref=sr_1_21_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535719220&sr=1-21&refinements=p_n_feature_nine_browse-bin%3A6997074011%7C6997076011&th=1

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This one is fun in that… it’s kind of fun to say. They’re like a dried cherry cranberry raisin type thing, and I add them to my smoothies or overnight oatmeal. Chinese folklore says these are nicknamed “Happy Berries” – as the monks were jolly, happy and cheerful, and attributed this to their consumption of goji berries. They are high in antioxidants and vitamin A, and they taste pretty darned good, too. If chewing on these things freaks you out, Navitas also sells, powder form, available here.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – $25 (30 servings)

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Vital-Proteins-Pasture-Raised-Grass-Fed-Collagen/dp/B00NLR1PX0/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535719464&sr=1-4&keywords=vital+proteins+collagen+peptides

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I love this stuff. While I am fortunate enough to have what some would consider “good skin”, there’s no sense in letting it go to waste! I add this to my coffee every morning… it’s taste-free, smell-free, and doesn’t change my coffee at all. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and makes up a good part of all the connective tissues in our body. It maintains skin’s elasticity and regeneration of cells, your hair, tendon, cartilage, bones and joints. Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. In laymen’s terms… if you’d like to help slow the process of saggy boom-booms or crepe-y skin, this is a great product to give you a head-start.

—–

These are just a few of my favorites that I’ve found over the years. If you aren’t interested in buying at Amazon, most local health food stores, as well as Whole Foods and Wegmans, carry these products. Much of the evidence provided around these products is from my own research, so always be sure to educate yourself on what the best superfood regimen may be for you. I’m always here for questions too!

What’s your favorite superfood or healthy product you’ve found? Share yours!

-S

Taco-Spiced Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Paleo!)

Ah, Mondays.

Not just any Monday – the Monday that I go back to work after having a week off. These are the worst kind of Mondays, but honestly… this one wasn’t so bad. I had so much fun at the beach, but I’m glad to be back. I didn’t get as tan as I had hoped, but I think it’s because I panicked when I would get overheated and spray SPF 70 all over myself. Note: overheating does not mean my skin is burning. Idk, there was a lot of wine involved.

Side note: I am wildly allergic to conventional sunscreen! It’s no fun. I had no idea until my late 20’s that the rash I’d get on my armpits, inside elbows, back of my knees and hips was not because “it was hot outside” – I am allergic to avobenzone and oxybenzone. These ingredients create chemical reactions on your skin that filter UVA rays and converting them to energy less harmful to your skin. (source)

Oddly enough, I have topical allergic reactions when using sunscreen that contains this, so I’ve experimented with mineral based sunscreen and I found one that doesn’t turn me into Casper while I still get a safer tan. One I don’t like? Alba Organics mineral sunscreen, in the green tube. If we’re being completely honest, that shit sucks.

Cue the angels! I stopped at the local surf shop on my way home from the beach and picked up my new favorite. It’s called Raw Elements Daily Lifestyle lotion, SPF 30. To be completely honest, I wish I found this sooner. The crappy thing about zinc sunscreen is that Casper hue, and if you rub this stuff in enough, you don’t get it. Plus, it stays on for a loooooong time, so if you’re like me and forget, you’re good. Plus PLUS, it does not harm the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes, so that’s my favorite part 🙂 Check it out here.

Back to food. Last week I decided to make some goodies, I have yet to post them. One of the glorious things were these peppers. These PEPPERS. You could absolutely make them vegan and sub in some crumbled tempeh or soy and a pinch more spices, and I think that would just be phenomenal. Enough with the talking, let’s dine.

Taco-Spiced Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Paleo!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced; or one 15oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 ½ tbsp taco seasoning
  • 4 poblano peppers, tops sliced off, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 container of sliced cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
  • optional for non-paleo eaters – cheese and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. in a large skillet, add 1 tbsp of your preferred fat and sauté your onions over medium heat until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add your mushrooms and continue to cook until the moisture has evaporated, another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add your turkey and sauté until fully cooked, another 6-7 minutes. Add your tomatoes, juice and all, and continue to cook.
  3. While there’s still moisture in the pan, add your taco seasoning and stir, covering the contents of the pan. Set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. While it heats up, stuff your peppers with your turkey mixture, ensuring they’re full by pressing the turkey mixture into the pepper with a spoon or fork.
  5. Place in a greased baking dish and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until pepper has wilted and turkey has browned.
  6. Garnish with your preferred toppings (cilantro, and sour cream/cheese, if using). I squeezed some lime over the top of mine before eating 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

Health Food Haul – Ideas for Healthy Groceries

So you’ve made the effort to eat more healthy foods, and you’re ready to shop. Where do you shop, and where do you start? What’s worth splurging on, and what’s worth buying the regular or generic brand? I’ve picked my favorite products and brands at my favorite stores.

Whole Foods

After Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, there was a noticeable decrease in a lot of their produce and meat prices. I like to make special trips to Whole Foods a few times a month (since it’s sort of out of the way), and these are a few of my favorites.

Miso

miso.jpg

Miso is fermented soy-bean paste – derived from a legume, it’s not for the strict paleo dieters, but it’s gluten-free and loaded with flavor. Any time I’m making an Asian-style marinade, this is a definite staple because it’s a huge punch of flavor. You can find it in red or yellow “flavor”, depending on your preference, and I particularly love the brand Westbrae Natural.

Plant-Based Protein Powder

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Calling all Vegans! For the naysayers that lament you’ll never get enough protein, here’s your rebuttal. I love this brand of protein – PlantFusion Vanilla Bean Flavored Nature’s Most Complete Plant Protein. It has a really light flavor, so you can really add it into anything, such as smoothies, desserts, etc. It’s considered a “complete” protein, so you get everything you need.

Olive Oils, Vinegars and Sauces

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This one is more of an adventure than it is a requirement… I love sauces. Truly, I will put sauce on anything. I love aioli, I love gravy, I love dipping sauce. Whole Foods stocks a few of my personal staples, which I love… California Ranch Olive Oil (buy domestic!) has this flowery peppery taste that I have to have when using EVOO. Balsamic is another staple, and I often pick up a bottle of Napa Valley Naturals Organic Balsamic Vinegar, for salads and reductions. In a pinch, of I don’t have the time to make my own salad dressing, Primal Kitchen Green Goddess Dressing and Marinade is another favorite I like to keep on hand.

Ground Buffalo and Bison

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In my home town, we had a restaurant that actually made it to the Travel Channel, called Half Moon. It was known for sourcing “unusual game” on it’s menu, such as kangaroo, buffalo, alligator or other food not commonly found within the US. Nature’s Rancher Ground Bison is great to pick up when I’m trying to recreate Half Moon’s “buffa-loaf” – a tasty meatloaf made with buffalo/bison, rather than ground beef. Nature’s Rancher is one of the “Animal Welfare Approved” farms in the US, where further info can be found at https://animalwelfareapproved.us.

Wegmans

Wegman’s is my grocery store superhero. I get so excited when I’m able to stroll around and get my groceries, bulk nuts/candies, AND BOOZE! Plus, if I’m absolutely famished, I can get things at the food bar, or restaurant. It’s the mecca, the toy store, the everything for foodies.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

brussels

These have to be the best thing ever. I have a food processor that I love using, but for whatever reason, I can’t stand using it for brussels sprouts. I don’t want them paper thin, but rather a little chunky… and Wegmans sells these glorious bags of pre-shredded brussies. You can find Wegmans Cleaned and Cut Shaved Brussels in the produce section. LOVE IT.

Almond Milk

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I can’t take credit for this one. My friend started getting this brand after Wegmans discontinued their generic store brand (we called just to be sure… it really was tragic….), and not only is the bottle cute, but it really is the tastiest. Califia Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk is carrageenan free, and is so far the simplest almond milk I can find without making my own. For the record – carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and is commonly used as a binding agent or additive in foods, or a thickening agent. Carrageenan is not FDA regulated, though side effects with the digestive system have been documented.

Organic Produce Selection

This isn’t any one particular product, but I find the organic selection at Wegmans to be a lot wider than Whole Foods. I’m not sure if it’s product placement or marketing, but I also feel like there are cheaper options for little things that add up, such as organic herbs, or veggies I don’t normally buy a lot of. Highly recommend.

Giant (Martin’s)

Giant is my usual go-to, out of convenience. I will say that I think they do an exceptionally good job at stocking a lot of organic items I prefer, and if they don’t stock it, management actually takes requests to start stocking certain items… which has worked out in my favor a few times. If you look enough, you can find pantry staples I use in my ingredients right around your local grocery store if these other big-chain retailers aren’t feasible! Giant even has their own natural/organic brand, called Nature’s Promise. I love the selection it offers.

Tahini

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Other stores have good brands I’m sure, but I am a big fan of this brand because it’s unsalted. A quick stop to Giant and I can stock up on enough Woodstock tahini to make whatever my heart desires…. like this Garlic Tahini Kale Salad…. 🙂

Low Sodium Chicken Broth

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This speaks for itself. Beef and vegetable broth not pictured, but I can pay a fraction of what some of the other brands at Whole Foods and Wegmans charge for organic and anti-biotic free chicken broth. I typically start with low-sodium options to limit my salt, that way I can add to the dish later if necessary.

Maple Syrup

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This stuff can really cost a fortune. I really only use maple syrup as a sweetener in recipes to get that nutty flavor, as I think it’s too sweet to eat on waffles and pancakes. This is just enough to last me a few months, as I use it sparingly.

Diced Tomatoes

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I have about 4 of these cans on hand at any given point. I use them for Caprese Chicken, Curried Chicken Meatballs, and even my fresh salsa! I’ve spent hours chopping tomatoes into little pieces, and I have to say this tastes just as fresh as if I cut the tomato myself. It just saves a LOT more time!

Local Markets

Some things are just better left to the local markets, made one at a time, and with love. A few favorites sourced locally near me, below!

Eggs

it’s a life dream of mine to have chickens on my would-be horse farm… but I’ll settle for local eggs in the meantime. Harvest Market, one of my favorite places, is my go-to for local goodies. I learned (a lot later in life than I probably should have) that brown eggs come from brown chickens, so for no other reasons than purely aesthetics, I love to get brown eggs from my beloved brown chickies. The local farms that Harvest Market sources their eggs from let their chickens roam and live their best lives.

Honey

honey

I like eating local honey for a number of reasons. One brand near me, Walt’s Swarmbustin’ Honey, is made right down the street by local bees. Local bees means local pollen, and local pollen means local allergies… which means if I’m eating local pollen, I’m building immunity to it. In my smoothies, I’ll also by the pollen kernels from Walt’s, for an extra kick. So far, so good! ATTNit should be noted that if you have any life-threatening allergies to bees, bee stings or anything bee-related, you should consult your doctor before starting this. It’s an unusual link, but not worth the risk!

Kombucha

Babas-kombuchas

I’m finicky about this. I really think there’s a difference in taste/quality of small-batch kombucha that makes it special. A few local brands that I get at Harvest Market (or my local farmer’s market in KSQ) are Baba’s Bucha, and Inspired Brews. Both have Unique flavors, and who doesn’t love a good dose of probiotics?

Not sure where to start in your area? Visit www.localharvest.org to check out local and seasonal markets that source your next favorite produce, goodies or grocery staples. You can search based on zip code, or for what you’re specifically looking for, such as co-ops, CSA’s, markets.

Enjoy!

-S

Lemon Lavender Cake (Paleo)

How did this happen?

What, you ask? Well, we are already a week into February, which to me makes no sense. I remember New Year’s, I remember Christmas, I remember last summer, and somehow we are already a month into 2018. A lot of nice things have happened so far, and I really get the vibe that this is a good year unfolding, for everyone. A lot of things that have bothered most people have come out into the open, and I almost feel a collective sigh of relief from the world at large… things like the “Me, too” movement, people standing up for one another… their beliefs… it’s been a very nice thing to take notice of.  Here’s my take on February, and what we’ll notice.

This month, as I’ve pointed out, I think is a time to notice and reflect on how we’ve spent 2018 so far. We are well past our New Year’s Intentions, so it’s a likely time where people are asking themselves if they’ve adhered to their beliefs, and if they’ve set out to take the action they planned for. I think it’s also a time where people start to have that “oh, crap!” moment, that it’s already been a month, and how quickly time really goes when you worry about it.

A reminder to everyone reading this is that, whatever your intentions for yourself were, do not compare yourself to anyone else as you think about them. Skip the highlight reels on the internet, forget the nasty comments made in the media, and start remembering why you made your intentions for this year in the first place.

Did anyone take notice of how we started out this month the day after a beautiful full moon? February has a reset button for those who need a do-over, or another chance to set the pace for the rest of the year. Reevaluate what you brought into 2018 with you, and reflect on how you’ve actually improved upon your concerns, or made changes for the better. Is something still not working, no matter how hard you try? Perhaps this is the month where you take advantage of the “reset button”, and you shed what weighs you down to continue improving yourself and sticking to your intentions for the rest of the year.

On a side note… today was bad weather so I worked from home. It was an intention of mine for 2018 to be as productive as possible on these days… which means squeezing in any extras I can without the distraction of my work friends, and to take advantage of my oven being right next to me as I work so that I can find new ways to feed my tribe of fellow foodies 🙂 This took some experimentation, but it came out every bit as good as I hoped on my final try. Who wants Spring time? I do! Have this in your recipe stash for the first day of Spring.

Side note! Follow me on Instagram if you haven’t already, @thedivinekitchen. Lots of pretty recipe pictures… head over that way and follow!

Lemon Lavender Cake (Paleo)

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 5 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid (melted but not hot off the stove)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp culinary lavender, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp finely ground Himalayan salt

For the frosting

  • 1/3 cup of coconut butter
  • 1 tsp agave
  • juice from half of lemon

Directions:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan (mine was about 8in x 4in) with coconut oil or ghee.
  2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla, maple syrup, and lemon zest. If you’re melting your coconut oil on the stove top, be sure not to add it as soon as it’s finished melting – you don’t want your eggs to scramble! Give it a few minutes to cool down.
  3.  Next, mix in your coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix thoroughly. You’ll notice that the mixture may look a bit fluffy – this is fine… science at work with the baking soda. Allow the mix to sit for about 5 minutes so that the coconut flour can absorb. Gently mix in your lavender.
  4.  Add your batter to your greased loaf pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in center of cake shows no batter on it. Remove from heat and allow to cool once finished.
  5.  As your cake is baking, mix together your coconut butter, agave and lemon juice. If it starts to separate, that’s ok! You can melt it so that it melts together, remove from heat and stir, then place in a small bowl in the fridge for 5 minutes. Stir to get the consistency back, and then spread over your cake. Optional – garnish with slices of lemon for a pretty dessert centerpiece.

Enjoy!

-S