Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

We’re having a cold spell recently… and I don’t hate it. There’s something about sweating before you even leave the house that just seems wrong. my dog is happier, I can wear better outfits to work…. it just works out better.

Now that I’m so close to a dog park for the summer, I take Sydney and walk over to the park so she can make friends and  get some exercise. She is so out of shape… that makes two of us (at least cardio). I probably couldn’t run for longer than 5-10 minutes at this point, but it’s probably worth it to start. There was at least two dozen dogs in and out of the dog field, and Sydney made a bunch of new friends.

I am also ready to eat some more garden food!!! All my little herblets are growing so well, I’m so excited. We had an abundance of basil in a giant flowerpot so I wanted to make something fresh like caprese… I just didn’t have mozzarella. Use what you got, yo. I’ll put a jalapeno in anything, it’s just the best. I’m not a big fan of feta cheese, but it definitely has the right briny flavor to make this salad work with the sweet watermelon and spicy jalapeno.

Short and sweet. Enjoy this recipe!

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: n/a

serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of semi-ripe watermelon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 2 small English cucumbers, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup of feta, small crumbles, plus more if desired
  • 1 large jalapeno, minced, ribs seeds and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch Himalayan sea salt

Directions

  1. Combine all fresh ingredients in a large bowl. Mix gently, so as to not bruise or break the watermelon and tomato.
  2. Drizzle with balsamic, adding more if desired. Season with a pinch of sea salt.

Best served right away, or brought to room temperature (to catch all the flavors!)

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Cabbage, White Bean and Potato Hash (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

This holiday is a strange tradition in that it’s celebrated widely, but few truly know its origins (ok, so I guess it’s not that strange).

The day is to commemorate Patrick, who was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Though his mission and praise is widely accepted in the Christian community (obviously), I wanted to point out a few key things.

Typically, when people think of St. Patrick’s Day, they see it as celebration of Irish pride, acceptance of immigrant culture and supporting diversity. That’s a beautiful avenue to take this holiday through. However, St. Patrick’s Day is actually a day of religious observance, especially within the Catholic Church in Ireland. St. Patrick is credited with the conversion of “thousands” of Irish Pagans to Christianity, steering them away from what appeared to be a life of sin and toil. A little bit of background on the Paganism, shall we?

By now, I suppose a few of you are feeling that Catholic guilt, by even reading on about what Paganism is. I know I did when I first learned of it. But really, what’s the issue with someone holding different beliefs than you, that are more rooted in nature (pun intended)? And that’s perfectly fine – Christians and other mainstream religions are often brought up to equate Paganism with a sense of hedonism, impurity, or without fear of holy reprisal. If that’s what you’re taught, it’s really all you know, right? Well…. let’s reconsider.

Interestingly enough, Paganism is a blanket term for any religion not recognized as “mainstream”. Pagan rituals typically focus on honoring a deity or deities rather than complete devotion; observing natural patterns such as seasonal changes, moon phases and lifetime rites of passage. They feast, honor nature through ceremonies, and incorporate the earth and its offerings into almost everything they do. Sounds harmless, right? Well, it is. Check your pre-conceived notions at the door and do some googling – if you find yourself eye-rolling as you read, you’re denying yourself and your soul the opportunity to learn and see something different.

Much like anything else deemed “abnormal”, or weird, I think we’ve ignored a lot of what originates from Pagan tradition and how a lot of modern religions honor this. Even what we know today, of Saints, religious symbolism within Christianity, isn’t so different. I think everyone has the God-given right to believe what they choose, and no one can take that away from them. What I think is even more important is that you also cannot take that away from anyone else, either. We live in a world with 7 BILLION+ other souls – and the idea that each one can see the same thing much differently is absolutely crazy, isn’t it?

Moral of the story, I am not pro or anti- St Patrick’s Day. Some years I get into it, others I like to honor other sides of the traditions that it comes from. If you do decide to do some research today in honor of St Patrick’s Day. I hope you learn something that moves you, and drives you to be accepting of others. I hope that you can draw some correlation to how maybe we haven’t really lost touch with the roots of this holiday, but are celebrating it in spite of what it started out as. Again – believe what you choose, and be passionate about it. But there’s 7 billion seats at this dinner table, and everyone deserves to be there. Honor yourself by honoring others! 🙂

*note: sources of this information are from my own education on these topics. If you would like to do research, please make sure you are relying on fact-based outlets, educational and scholarly articles, and moderated/unbiased media.

 

Cabbage, White Bean and Potato Hash (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

fullsizeoutput_6f8.jpeg

prep time: 10 min

cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, sliced, core and large stems removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 can of white kidney beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed
  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ in cubes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, for sautéing

 

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, add your oil over medium heat. Add onion – sauté until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add your potatoes and cover, allowing to steam. Stir every few minutes and sauté until potatoes are slightly soft, about another 10 minutes or so. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Turn your heat to low. Add your cabbage and stir to mix – cover and let steam, stirring every few minutes. Once mixture is visibly wilted and browning in spots, add your beans. Stir to mix, and cover. Let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Once mixture is thoroughly heated, remove lid and turn heat back to medium to allow the starches in the potatoes and beans to dry. Sauté for another 4-5 minutes and remove from heat. If you prefer crisp, continue to sauté until at your preferred level of browned cabbage and potatoes. Serve and enjoy! (Optional for non-Vegans – crumble some bacon over the top).

 

🙂

-S

 

Best Guacamole Ever (Paleo, Vegan, everything)

Happy March! What’s shakin’?

I’ll tell you what. My house, this weekend. The wind was so bad in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic that people lost siding, shutters, roofs… no bueno. I made a few things in the last week, not all paleo/vegan but some yummy treats! Gluten free rice crispie treats, carne asada tacos, slaw, gluten free macaroni and cheese with pancetta…. The whole nine. I’ll get to food in a second, but I wanted to talk about March.

Did you know the month is named after Mars? The planet, not so much. The Roman God of War, definitely. Things you think about when you think of March are battles, conquests, adventures…. random last minute snowstorms because mother nature is funny like that…. you know. Just the normal stuff.  Also, March used to be the very first month of the Roman calendar, which also aligned with new beginnings of Spring and the continuation of life from the prior year, or era. Remember how February had only a new moon and no full moon? That was the suppression of things to prepare for your new beginning. Those plans you carefully crafted last month? Jump on them now. With the brunt of things almost behind us, the latter part of March leaves us with light, easy living and smooth sailing. It is what you make of it, though. Care for your business now to lighten your load later this month. 🙂

On to fun foodies. One thing that’s super important to parties, snack time, dinners etc is my guac. I’m not sure what about it makes it so special, but it’s probably my number 1 requested food when I have friends over. It’s simple, you can put it on anything… it’s all around just a good recipe to have on hand. Try it out! The one thing about making this recipe the best ever is really paying attention to the ingredients. You can use what you have on hand, but I like to find the perfect tomatoes, avocados, etc. Yum.

Best Guacamole Ever (Paleo, Vegan, everything)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 5 pretty ripe but still bright green avocados
  • 1/3 of med-large red onion, -OR- 1 small-med yellow onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced into very small pieces
  • 2 ripe-but-not-too-mushy roma tomatoes (the oblong shaped ones), diced into small pieces
  • 1 large bunch of very fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of a half or whole lime, to taste
  • salt, to taste (I typically start with 1/2 tsp and  go from there)
  • pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mash your avocados with a fork, gently. you don’t want to bruise them and turn them into complete mush.
  2. Next, stir in your tomatoes, gently folding them into the mix, including any juices from the cutting board. Now add your onion, and bell pepper. Stir in your cilantro, as well.
  3. Now add your pepper — just a pinch, and then your salt. Taste test every so often to gauge if you need more… some like their guac a bit more salty.
  4. Lastly, add your lime juice. The idea behind adding your salt before your lime juice is that the enzymes in the citrus react differently to salt, so your flavors are much more vibrant if the lime is added last. I have no idea if that’s really what’s happening, but it sounded nice when I heard it.
  5. Unless you have several hours until you serve your guac, cover with Saran wrap, pressing down against the guac to prevent any oxidation/turning brown. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to serving. If serving within the hour, leave at room temperature to let the flavors meld.

Enjoy!

-S

Valentine’s Day Side Dish-Roasted Broccoli with Goat Cheese and Walnuts! (Keto-friendly)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Quick post that I wanted to share (if you were looking for a tasty side dish for your delicious homemade Valentine’s dinner… quick-roasted broccoli with goat cheese and walnuts! The kicker that makes this more exciting is how you season the broccoli… which is generously. Enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

Serves 5-6

  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into 1 inch florets (remove the bulk of the stem to avoid tough pieces)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 heaping cup of chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup of crumbled goat cheese
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add your olive oil, salt, pepper, shallot. Whisk to combine, and gently toss your broccoli in the dressing, making sure the florets are completely coated. Spread across a parchment lined (or greased) baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the broccoli for 20-25 minutes, until the broccoli starts to brown.
  3. Meanwhile, we prep the toppings. In a small bowl, whisk together your garlic and lemon juice, and set aside.
  4. In a small frying pan, add  the walnuts and  toast over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Do not use any oil – they should remain dry to stay crisp. Once they start to slightly brown, remove from heat and place on a plate to prevent further toasting.
  5. When the broccoli is finished, remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted walnuts and  goat cheese. Gently  toss with lemon and garlic mixture, and serve.

Enjoy!

-S

Creamy Potato Gratin with Sage and Fontina (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)

Who had a good Christmas? I did – and surprisingly, for as much as I jam-packed into those two days, it was relaxing and fun. I was tickled to watch my family open their presents, even if I did over-spend my Christmas budget. You know you may have gone a little overboard when TD Bank calls you because they think you have fraud on your card… and it turns out all the purchases were yours 😦

I got some fabulous kitchen goodies, so you know what that means! NEW RECIPES! I’m happy as a clam with my new KitchenAid hand mixer, my new Cuisinart food processor and a few other fun things. They’ll be making their appearances in my recipes in due time.

I also got a nice gift of one HaloTherapy session to the Salt Cove – it’s a new-ish place that hosts Halotherapy rooms – basically, the room is filled with Himalayan sea salt and is heated to a temperature warm enough to engage the flow of negative ions. Sounds counterintuitive, but negative ions are actually a good thing.  To keep it simple, ions are invisible charged particles in the air. Back to middle school science class, some molecules are positively or negatively charged. If one loses one or more negative ions, it becomes positive – the more negative ions, the greater the negative charge. Negative ions are found mots abundantly in nature… some of people’s favorite places. Have you ever gone to the beach and just couldn’t tear yourself away? Have you ever walked through a forest, took a huge breath, and just felt really energized? Trees, bodies of water, rainstorms, earthen landscapes… welcome to the land of negative ions.

Why are they so good, though? Here’s a few reasons:

  • They neutralize free radicals, which can prevent cancer
  • They promote cell metabolism
  • They enhance the body’s immune function
  • They purify the blood
  • They balance the autonomic nervous system, promoting deep sleep and healthy digestion

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/ ; https://www.journals.elsevier.com/cell-metabolism/

If you’re stuck in an office filled with hundreds of computers, cell phones and Bluetooth devices like myself all day, finding a place like this is a real treat. I highly recommend you check out one in your area – they’re popping up all over the map! It’s a great place to meditate, clear your mind and enjoy some relaxation.

Back to food… while I have been doing my darnedest to stick with the paleo grind, I couldn’t help myself with Christmas. I made the most delicious Potato Gratin… for those of you who can appreciate a little starch and a lot of flavor, please check this out J I will have some healthy recipes back on deck for you guys later this week… stay tuned!

 

Creamy Potato Gratin with Sage and Fontina (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)

fullsizeoutput_585

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons ghee, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup organic crème fraiche
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh sage, plus 10-12 large whole sage leaves
  • 1 large block (approx. 8 oz) Fontina cheese, shredded
  • Himalayan sea salt, to taste (I used approx. 1 tsp plus a bit more)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain  gluten free breadcrumbs (these are delicious)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ~ 3 tbsp Olive oil, for frying the sage

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large but shallow baking dish with some ghee and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Mash the potatoes, along with 4 tablespoons of the ghee. Add the crème fraiche, parsley and chopped sage. Once mixed evenly, mix in the fontina and season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread the potato mixture in the prepared dish in an even layer.
  5. Separately, in a small bowl, use your fingers to blend the rest of the ghee with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add a pinch of salt if you feel the mixture needs a bit more flavor. Top the potatoes with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and crisp on top.
  6. Meanwhile, as the gratin bakes, heat olive oil in a small skillet until shimmering (but not smoking!) Add the sage leaves and cook until crisp, in both sides, about 1 ½ minutes per side.
  7. Transfer the sage to paper towels to drain. Once the gratin is finished cooking, scatter the fried sage over the top and serve.

fullsizeoutput_586

Enjoy!

-S

Holiday Deviled Eggs with Roasted Red Pepper and Jalapeño (Paleo)

Such a heart-warming time this last week, especially approaching Christmas. My Adopt-a-Family gift drop-off for work was a few days ago, so I loaded my Jeep up along with several other cars and we dropped off 10 very large bags of gifts to Family Promise, a local chapter of a non-profit that helps families get back on their feet by providing affordable housing and life skills/coaching as they work to improve their situation.

I may have gone a little overboard in buying things myself for them — I picked up the unclaimed items on the list, found myself at Old Navy with their huge sales… and bought these little girls the cutest outfits, shoes, scarves, hats, gloves… I just wish I could be there to see them open everything. I hope they love it all.

Does anyone else feel a little unraveled? I know the holidays are always really busy, and I know i always feel like I’m one “Issue Notification” email away from a mental breakdown at work, but I’ve been feeling particularly frazzled this year. I leave for work, it’s dark. I come home, and it’s been dark. Do you know what I’ll be doing this weekend?

NOTHING.

It stands to reason that this probably won’t be a total truth, but I plan to do as close to nothing as possible. My current definition of “nothing” is listening to Christmas music, with my dog, wrapping Christmas presents and going to bed at 9pm. I’m so excited.

I’m also excited to have some more time to cook things for you all! I’ve concocted a ton of recipes, it’s just trying to find the time to make them. I’ve been so busy that I’m living off of chopped salad and scalloped potatoes I made, and have kept in my fridge. Whatever! Yolo.

A simple reminder for this Holiday Season, don’t forget about yourself. There’s a fine balance with gift giving, and just general giving, which includes your time, your home, and even your thoughts. Don’t forget to give yourself some peace and quiet — you don’t have to accept every holiday party invitation, nor do you need to gift people the most expensive crazy thing you can find to prove their importance to you. Give from the heart, take some time for yourself, and enjoy the time of year where people are a bit more  generous, a bit more forgiving and a bit more kind.

Holiday Deviled Eggs with Roasted Red Pepper and Jalapeño (Paleo)

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs (preferably cage/cruelty free!)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2/3 cup Coconaise
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño, finely minced, seeds and ribs/stems removed
  • Sriracha, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a saucepan large enough to fit all 12 eggs, cover completely with cold water. Bring to a full boil over high heat. Once the eggs have started to boil, remove from heat and let stand for 12 minutes to allow the eggs to cook thoroughly.  Run the eggs under cold water to stop from further cooking, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, add olive oil and red pepper to a small frying pan, and sauté until soft and starting to brown, about 5-6 minutes. Stir frequently, so they don’t burn. Once finished, set aside.
  3. Gently peel the eggs, careful not to break the whites. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks into a small bowl. Arrange egg whites face up on a plate,  and set aside.
  4. In a bowl, mash egg yolks, Coconaise, Dijon, red pepper, salt and black pepper together with a fork. Continue to mix until smooth. Transfer the egg whites to a plate and fill them with the yolk mixture.
  5. Sprinkle with the jalapeño, add small drop of sriracha and serve immediately. You can cover and chill them for up to 4-5 hours if you need to make them ahead of time.

Enjoy!

-S

Throw-Together Curry-Spiced Couscous (Vegan)

We had our first snowstorm this weekend, and it was kind of fun! I drove home, and it was nice to see the snow covering all of the trees. I think I’m ready for more snow after Christmas… I just need to get through the next three weeks so that I can get my shopping done.

Yesterday was a madhouse out shopping.  People were everywhere, and the sales were actually pretty good. What wasn’t good was the amount of money I spent… it was painful. It seems as though my list of people to buy for continues to get bigger and bigger, and I found myself getting upset with the fact that I was trying to find just something to buy for people.

After talking with people about what the best gift ideas are for big crown, I decided that giving people something that I love, that I also knew they would love, would be the best route. Food, it is! Maybe I’ll make people cookies, or fun dishes and things they can freeze and enjoy later. I haven’t quite decided what I want to do, but I do have a few ideas… They’re a surprise.

This past Friday, my best friend and her old roommate came out to my house for reading. It wasn’t meant to be anything grand or spectacular, but I knew there be people to feed and I was excited to throw something together. I made some delicious vegan garlic bread and a salad with some tasty pomegranate Dijon dressing, but the best part about the dinner was the dish that I just threw together with whatever was in the cabinet. I had couscous, a can of beans, and as I dug through my freezer I found some frozen spinach. With my endless supply of onions on hand, I decided to throw it all in a pan and see what happened. Delicious!

 

Throw-Together Curry-Spiced Couscous (Vegan)

img_30831.jpg

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 5-6

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp oil, divided
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed and thoroughly drained
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper

 

Directions:

  1. In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until they start to become translucent – about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, and continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Once the onion begins to brown, add spinach to pan. If it hasn’t thawed, lower heat so as to not scorch the spinach as it cooks. Break apart with a spoon and continue to cook, allowing the water to cook out, turning the heat back up once the spinach is completely broken up. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until most of water from spinach is gone.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate medium sized sauce pot, heat vegetable broth and other tbsp of olive oil over high heat. Once brought to a boil, add couscous and allow to cook per directions. Stir to fluff and set aside.
  4. Back to the frying pan – add beans and raisins to the pan and mix. Gently stir in the couscous and continue to mix. Add curry powder, paprika, salt and pepper and stir. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes, until couscous starts to brown. If your mixture starts to dry out, add in a tsp of olive oil while stirring. Feel free to add additional salt, to taste (I find the other flavors mix nicely with this amount of salt, but feel free to add).

IMG_3082

Enjoy with some thing light – like my Garlic Tahini Kale Salad!

-S