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

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs (Paleo!)

Winner, winner! TURKEY DINNER!

Happy Monday, y’all. This has been one of the Monday-est Monday’s ever. I’ve been waiting for the weekend for what feels like 12 years. Then all of the sudden it’s Monday. That, and the days are made progressively longer by doing the whole keto thing. If you aren’t familiar with Ketosis and the Ketogenic “diet”, definitely read up on it… here is a good book to start.

I think what’s most interesting about this “diet” is that most people compare it to the Atkins diet. If you recall, Atkins was popular in the 90’s and I think everyone’s parents tried it at least once. It was controversial because of the “war on Fat”, when Ancel Keys proclaimed that eating fat made you, well, fat. That is so false. The link of consuming fat with heart disease was actually filled with incorrect inferences and cherry-picked information, and people just stuck with it. After all, if people don’t want to “be fat”, why would they eat it? And down the slippery slope we go.

The Ketogenic Diet and Atkins are similar in that they reduce carbs, but are done so a bit differently. The ketogenic diet was founded back in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic, and he used it to treat epilepsy. It focused on high fats, a fair amount of protein and the low carbs familiar with Atkins. By reducing your carbs as a source of energy, your glycogen reserves are depleted (as your body can only store that for +/- 48 hours), and it turns to fat as a means of energy consumption. Your stored fat is converted into ketones, which your body uses for energy. This is beneficial if you’re trying to lose fat, but also if you have a difficult time managing your blood sugar, as this increases your insulin sensitivity and lower your glucose levels.

The Atkins diet also reduces carbs, but does so in a step-based process that allows you to reintroduce carbs back into your diet as a form of weight maintenance. The science is the same as the ketogenic diet, but the perception behind this diet was that it was a quick fix, and that you risk gaining your weight back upon eating a high amount of carbs again.

To each their own — I feel better, stronger and I have more clarity when I eat fewer carbs, so that’s what I stick to. with that said… these were born out of a need to eat Frank’s Hot Sauce. I love Frank’s hot sauce, I love buffalo anything. That, and while my brother was home from college, I wanted to make him something that tasted “late night drunk food”, but didn’t leave you feeling like a slug when you woke up.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you… Buffalo Turkey Meatballs. Yaammm.

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs (Paleo!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: 25 min

Makes about 12-14 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • half container of sliced brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, plus separate 1/4 cup set aside
  • 1 heaping tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp salt (this is conservative), plus more to taste
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 2 heaping tbsp scallions, green and white parts, sliced thin

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat a tbsp of oil or your preferred fat over medium heat. sauté onions until translucent, about 5-6 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add your mushrooms and sauté for another 4-5 minutes, until soft. remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together your turkey breast, mushrooms, onions, egg, almond flour and scallions. Lastly, add your hot sauce.
  3. The mixture may be quite wet — if you feel you need to add more almond  flour, do so 1 tsp at a time until the mixture is able to hold its shape when rolled into a meatball.
  4. On a cookie sheet with a greased wire rack, set your meatballs about 1-2 inches apart. The rack is optional — I find that these run a bit as the moisture burns out, and I don’t like to drain my cookie sheet halfway through to get them to crisp. Bake until starting to brown, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, as the meatballs are baking, mix together your remaining hot sauce and ghee. Season with salt, to taste. Drizzle over the meatballs and serve.

Enjoy!

-S

Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes (Paleo)

Spring Equinox. Mercury retrograde. Snow. Rain??? Cold?? No, not that bad.

There’s so much going on !??!! One of these days soon, I’m going to get my life together and get organized. I just need some time, sigh. On a brighter note, the snow that came Wednesday is melting rapidly. The birds are out, and it looks like it’s going to stay in the 40’s and 50’s for the next two weeks. It’d be lovely if it got into the 60’s, but I’m afraid to ask.

I stocked up recently on all my favorites from Athleta recently (thank you work for providing me a gift certificate for an award I received!), and I am absolutely loving my new  tank tops. You can find them here! They’re stretchy but not too tight, and they come in great colors. I’m excited to use them for yoga, lifting, etc.

Not a whole lot of other things going on with me, just dropping in to remind you to remember your intentions for Spring, stay true to yourself, be kind to yourself and others, and have fun! There’s no reason these days to not enjoy yourself every now and again. Stay tuned for more delicious recipes this weekend… for now, here are some matcha green tea cupcakes.

Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes (Paleo)

Prep time: 20 min

cook time: n/a

serves 3-4 as a meal, 6-8 as an app

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp matcha green tea powder

For the icing:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews soaked in filtered water for at least 4 hours**, drained, rinsed, and gently dried
  • 2/3 cup coconut cream chilled*
  • juice from one lemon, about 2 1/2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, room temperature (solid)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup, plus more to taste
  • pinch of ground sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp of matcha green tea powder

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cups.
  2. In a food processor, blend cashews on high until they form a paste. Scoop the excess paste down from the sides to ensure the mix forms properly.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and continue to blend or process on high for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is creamy. Refrigerate until using, for up to 24 hours.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, almond milk, honey, vanilla, and then coconut oil. Slowly add your almond flour, baking powder and salt. Distribute your batter evenly among the cups. Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack and allow to cool completely before frosting. You can either frost with a spoon, or with a pastry bag.

Enjoy!

-S

Zesty Southwestern Egg Salad with Avocado (Paleo)

This week has been a great lesson in attitudes.

The last few days/weeks have brought nearly unbearable cold to not only the Northeast, but to pretty much the entire country. We’ve also had some incredible fodder to fuel our griping, if we’re looking for it. Iguanas and turtles are cold-stunned in the south, cities in the north are flooding and then freezing, and any time spent on the internet gets you incredibly upset, whether you’re looking at the news, Hollywood, or social media with people’s ridiculous antics.

If you’re like me, you’re thinking…

…So where am I supposed to go for some enjoyment? Good question.

I don’t really watch TV, but I’ll be darned if I don’t know who’s being chastised for taking misstep in attempting to stand for women’s’ rights in Hollywood. (I still like you, Justin)

I try not to watch the news unless it’s the weather, but wouldn’t you know it, The Trumpet is all about his fancy words and superior intellect… as is everyone critiquing him. (Not saying this is undeserved…)

I try to stay in my lane on Instagram and Facebook, but everyone’s either sick, depressed, or complaining. (I feel you, I do). Where to turn?

Well, I guess the easy answer is to unplug and ignore, but that’s a lot easier said than done… so I’ve adopted a different approach. It’s an unfavorable one, because it requires work on your own part rather than everyone else’s. It’s called an attitude adjustment, and I’ve been working on mine all year. Go me!

What do I really mean by this? I suppose you could take from it whatever you wanted, but it’s as simple as it sounds. Of course it’s easy to complain about how cold it is outside, but essentially, your complaining won’t raise the temperature. It won’t make you warmer, it won’t lower your heating bill, and it won’t make your friends happier by telling them you’re angry at the weather. Instead, make an active effort of something positive, such as “Wow! I’m really cold. At least I have this warm coat, though!” Sounds cheesy, yes? That’s because you haven’t looked at the positive enough recently to recognize that it’s always there.

Real life example… let’s say you’ve come across a cute video of a puppy and a parrot playing together on someone’s kitchen floor. They’re gently sparring and giving each other doe eyes, and suddenly your bubble is popped by the droves of comments from internet experts whose expertise seemingly includes canine and avian behavior, human social psychology, and they are also apparently attorneys when met with conflicting thought? If you can get over the surprise of how qualified these folk are in life and lucky you are to hear their riveting opinions and commentary, realize this: you’ve not yet stoked the fire in this conversation, and you have no investment in it. You’re lucky enough that their small actions have not genuinely impacted you, so keep on scrolling. I know very few people that actually get involved in these intellectual and emotional internet mud puddles, but don’t take it to heart what goes on. Make an impact in person, and make it a point that your next outward act stems from kindness and positivity.

You’d be pleasantly surprised by finding how much of a difference it can make in your life if you start by shifting your point of view on things. you’ll worry less, stress less, and won’t feel as bogged down by others’ energy. Try it out!

In the meantime, try my zesty take on an old classic — Southwest inspired (PALEO!) Egg salad. It’s got a great flavor… I hope you like it!

Zesty Southwestern Egg Salad with Avocado (Paleo)

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Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 6 large hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 of one large ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 2 heaping tbsp of Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped; ribs and seeds removed
  • 2 heaping tbsp of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste (I used approx. 1/4 tsp of each to start, and added more to my preference

Directions

For the hardboiled eggs:

  1. Fill a saucepan large enough to fit your eggs in a single layer. Cover with at least 1 inch of cool/room temperature water over the eggs, and bring to a rolling boil.
  2. Once eggs have boiled for approximately 30-45 seconds, cover with a secure lid and remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Once cooked, place eggs in a bowl with ice and water to stop from cooking further. Voila!

For the Salad:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mash avocado thoroughly with a fork.
  2. Using an egg slicer (like this one*, my favorite :)!), slice the eggs in two perpendicular directions and add to the bowl.
  3. Next, add your mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeño, cilantro, lime, onion and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add your salt and pepper last — sometimes the spices give enough zest where you don’t need as much salt as you think you do!

Enjoy 🙂

-S

 

 

*By clicking this link, I may receive compensation through product referral. You will not pay a different price as a result — but it would sure be great if you bought it through my recommendation! 🙂

Veggie Pad Thai (Vegan)

Happy 2018, friends!

What a whirlwind it’s been… already back to work. With the temperature in the single digits, neither my dog or myself wanted to get out of bed this morning. It will be good to get back into the swing of things and to get back into more of a routine.

One thing I like about the New Year is the initiative everyone starts with to invoke some change into their lives. While I hate the tired mantra of “new year, new me”, I’m going to carry through with my new year’s intentions of improving myself, and sticking with them. A reminder – they aren’t resolutions. there’s nothing broken about me that needs fixing. Think of yourself as a fine precious metal, or a prized trophy, a timeless heirloom piece of silver … you’re still the same you were, inside and out, but by polishing yourself up, you suddenly see yourself in a different way, which is the start of something great.

#1 – Self Care

My first intention for 2018 is to make sure I’m taking care of body the best way I can. Some people take this and run with it to the farthest extreme… which might just be the quickest way to set yourself up for failure.

“I’m cutting out all carbs for 2018!”

“I’m going to the gym TWICE A DAY… until forever.”

“I’m never drinking again. Ever.”

I had probably said all of these things at least once, myself. Here’s the problem: are you actually going to stick to any of that? Unless medically necessary, is this all realistic? No. My goal for the year is to prioritize my health first by maintaining the best habits from last year, and swapping out alternatives for things I wanted to  change. Instead of indulging in a big salty bag croutons to snack on (yes, I do actually do that… without salad…), I’m going to make sure I have veggies and homemade hummus on hand at work at home. I treated myself to a fun new water bottle so I’ll be more inclined drink more water. Which brings me to my next intention…

#2 – Buy only what I need

If you have ever met me, you know that I love to shop. I will shop for anything, anyone, anywhere. I have tons of crap I don’t need, and have the audacity to say “I have nothing to wear!” as I stare at a rather large walk-in closet filled with clothes I can’t even remember I have. I’ve worked at White House | Black Market for several years now, and even still, I’ll walk in and see another associate wearing something and comment that I like it, only to be reminded that I bought it 3 weeks ago. I’ve bought duplicates by accident of salad dressings, dish soap, bread (why am I buying bread???) ziplock bags, only to see that I didn’t need them. My intention for this year is to actively keep inventory of what I have, so that I don’t overbuy, overspend and overindulge. I should hopefully have a fatter bank account and less clutter.

#3 – Do stuff that actually makes me happy

To the tune of saving money, I’ve always been a stickler about expensive trips, or big ticket items. While I consider myself a money-saver in the grand scheme of things, I’ve been so obsessed over not buying large things that I’ve overlooked all the small stuff that quite possibly could’ve totaled up to a small fortune. I want to travel with my friends, I want to build a house, and just do things that I’ve wanted to do and never tried to. I want to make my cookbook eventually, and I want a great website for you all… of which I know costs money. No more wasting time, effort and money on things that don’t make me happy.

These are all things I’ve always liked to adhere to, but my intention is stick to them for 2018. If I slip up, it’s not the end of the world… I will just regroup and pick up where I left off.

What are some of your intentions for 2018? Let’s discuss over some delicious Pad Thai 🙂

Vegan Pad Thai

prep time: 25 min

cook time: 20 min

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

For the pad Thai:

  • 8 oz brown rice pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced into strips, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cup red cabbage
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk green onions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, loosely crushed
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • (optional for non-vegans!) 1 egg, scrambled well done and finely chopped
  • sesame oil, for frying

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ~1/4 cup of almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed or grated
  • 1/3 cup organic peanut butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • juice from half of a lime
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • (also optional) ~1 small squirt of sriracha for heat

Directions

  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp sesame oil. Sauté red bell pepper, carrot and onion until starting to brown, stirring constantly; about 8-10 minutes.
  2. While sautéing the veggies, cook pasta per box directions. Drain, and set aside.
  3. Back to the veggies! Next, add snap peas and cabbage and stir so they can heat — we want these to remain crisp for  texture, so they’re added last.
  4. Separately, in a mixing bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth. the consistency should be somewhat thin to spread across the noodles — similar to a salad dressing, not too thick. Depending on your preference, you can add more coconut aminos, lime juice or almond milk to keep the flavors strong while thinning out the sauce.
  5. Once  finished with the sauce, add noodles (and egg, if using) and sauce to pan and turn off the heat. Continue to stir gently… we don’t want the sauce to muddy the veggies with the sauce, so don’t be too rough. Serve immediately and  garnish with cilantro and green onion.

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)

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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.

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Enjoy!

-S

Mushroom Thyme Twice-Baked Potatoes (Vegan)

If you guys haven’t gotten the hint yet that I really love potatoes, you must not be paying a whole lot of attention. While white and yellow potatoes aren’t Paleo, they’re too important for me to give up… which is why I can’t eat a strict paleo diet. I try though… so, perhaps I can get an honorary mention for that.

The weather took a turn and it’s been super chilly recently — another reason to carb-load like a little hibernating animal (which I wish I could do).  After a long work day, intense lifting at the gym, and battling rush hour traffic, let me come home to my potatoes. I grew up with my mom making these with real milk, butter and cheese — they were a staple of guest dinners and holidays, because they do take a bit longer than a quick throw-together meal.

I think my favorite part about these is how well they freeze and keep — you can totally make these ahead of time. Pull one (or a few) out, brush with olive oil and bake until hot. I’m trying to get into time-saving… I’m sort of tired of rushing around everywhere, but it seems to be the norm. My day starts at 4:30am – I get up, get ready, pack up for my day, feed and let my dog out, run around and figure out what I didn’t pack yet, and rush out the door, rush to work, run around at work, rush home to feed my dog, rush to wherever I’m going after work, rush home and take dog for a rushed walk, rush to cook dinner, rush and get ready for bed, and then pass out. Did reading that exhaust you? Because recapping my weekday exhausted me.

I think that’s a New Year’s intention I’m going to make. Note, I said “intention”, and not “resolution”, because resolutions are absolutes. Here’s why:

in·ten·tion

/in-ten-shuhn/ (noun)

an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.

While resolutions are done in anticipation, they speak from a place of fixing what’s wrong, rather than just adding to your life to make things better. Things change, your life evolves, and your goals at the beginning of the year may not really align with where you want to be at the end of the year new things happen. Based on the above definition of intention, there’s much more association with cause and effect, and it’s more synonymous with change. Always leave room for change! Always leave room, period.

That’s my intention in and of itself; I need to give myself more time to just… do whatever. I work 60 hours a week, have several pets to care for, a very large family, and love to make time to cook… but unless I’m doing it at 3am, I have to make sacrifices elsewhere in my life, just to make recipes… and that doesn’t feel good when it’s something I love so much. However, I realize that the workweek  hours aren’t changing any time soon, my pets aren’t going anywhere… so I need to learn when to find balance. And that’s my intention. I’m approaching it with optimism, with positive thoughts for a positive outcome, and from the angle that I won’t beat myself up if I fall back into my own ways… I’ll just pick up where I left off, and try again to cut myself some slack.

Starting with thawing out last week’s twice-baked potatoes for a quick dinner that I don’t have to think about… it’s something, right?

Mushroom Thyme Twice-Baked Potatoes (Vegan)

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 1 hr 20 min

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 baking potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup vegan shredded cheese, such as GoVeggie Vegan Cheddar (available at Whole Foods, Wegmans, Giant)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated or pressed
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub them with the olive oil and bake for 1 hour, making sure they’re sufficiently cooked through (poke with a knife or fork to the  center – it should be quite soft, but the skin should not yet be wrinkly).
  3. Meanwhile, while the potatoes are baking, add 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add onion, and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and mushroom, and continue to  cook, stirring so the garlic does not burn, for another 6-7 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown. Remove from heat.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool a bit. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, gently scrape out the insides into a large mixing bowl, leaving a small layer of potato left (so it stays intact), being careful not to tear the shell. Lay the hollowed out potato shells on a baking sheet, and brush the skin side with olive oil. Place them back upright on the baking sheet.
  6. With a mixer or potato smasher, mash the potatoes so that the large chunks are all gone. Add the vegan cheese, almond milk, mushrooms, onions, herbs, salt and pepper (to taste) and mix together well.
  7. Fill the potato shells with the filling – they should be “over-filled”, and have a heap of mixture on them.
  8. Place back in the oven for another 20 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Garnish with extra rosemary and serve… though it’s vegan, it does go quite nicely with Paleo Grilled Hawaiian Chicken, Maple Ginger Salmon, or even my all time favorite Garlic Tahini Kale, a.k.a. “No New Friends” Salad.

Enjoy!

-S

Best 2017 Holiday Gifts for the Healthy-Food, Natural-Beauty and Causeworthy-Clothing Junkies

Some might say I get a little excited when it comes to gift giving. When I was younger, I used to buy birthday and Christmas presents for people, and in typical Sarah fashion, I would do it months ahead of time. The problem with this was that I couldn’t wait to give them their gifts and demanded they open it immediately.

Not a whole lot has changed about that, so I really have to fight the urge to hold onto presents when I have them for people. It’s hard. Life is hard.

The drawback with gift-buying these days is that the preference is digital, and since everyone’s super busy, it can be hard to really know your audience when gift shopping. When in doubt, I always aim for something healthy or sustainable

So – if I’m not thinking about food? I’m probably thinking about shopping. There’s definitely a LOT going on this season in terms of fun stuff at every price-point! See below for my favorite picks for this year.

$25 and under

Pacha Whipped Soap + Scrub – $12

Pacha

www.pachasoap.com

I absolutely love this stuff. The fact that it smells amazing is, oddly enough, the least cool thing about it (but a major selling point!). The owners of this company have embarked on a mission to provide underserved communities around the world with clean water and soap, and means to help them improve their situation. You can find this at Whole Foods.

Black & Decker CitrusMate Plus Juicer – $17.99

Black-And-Decker-CitrusMate-Plus-Juicer

www.vitacost.com

This is one of those things you didn’t know you needed until you have it. For those of us that hate pulp, you can even filter that out. This is perfect for recipes, measuring your juice, and just makes an all-around great little addition for someone you know that loves to do stuff in the kitchen. This makes it super easy and quick to make some delicious Lavender Lemonade…

HUM Nutrition Daily Cleanse Skin Supplement – $25

hum1

www.sephora.com

I really like this vitamin. It’s vegan, sustainably sourced, and is free of most major allergens. It has green tea extract, chlorella, MSM, and other beneficial plant nutrients. Sephora stocks a few different types to suit different skin needs, long with some other products in this line. Definitely worth a look.

Chef’n Kale & Greens Stripper – $7.95

www.chefn.com

I use this thing all the time… and quite frankly, what was life without it? For the amount of Garlic Tahini Kale Salad that we make, this is a huge time saver. It’s even great for tedious little herbs like Thyme and Rosemary. It’s easy to wash, compact to store, and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

Youth to the People Cleanser and Cream Mini Duo – $20

kale spinach face

www.sephora.com

This little set is great for people who have allergies to a lot of other major skincare lines. While I’m a Clinique/Origins girl myself, I’ve tried this and really liked how smooth it left my dry skin. It is made with actual spinach and kale – like a salad for your face!


$50 and under

Cuisipro Fat Separator – $34.95

cuisipro

www.surlatable.com

If you’ve ever made a gravy, confit anything where you need to separate a liquid, this is a great tool to have. The little filter separates the pan drippings and solids, it cleans easily, and its BPA-free, which I feel is really important if you’re using plastic.

OXO V-Blade Mandoline – $39.95

mandoline

www.oxo.com

I have a mandoline very similar to this, and it has greatly reduced the time spent slicing potatoes, cucumbers, apples, onions, etc… as well as greatly reduced my fear of cutting my finger off (came very close, one time….) The great thing about this is that it folds up nice and flat, comes apart to clean well, and is adjustable using a little nozzle.

Gandy’s Flip Flops – $33

gandys1.jpg

www.gandysflipflops.com

This company was started after two brothers from the UK were traveling in Sri Lanka when the 2004 tsunami  hit – unfortunately both of their parents were killed. This was their motivation to create something that would help other orphans, specifically those impacted by the tsunami, by helping build orphanages in India and Sri Lanka. Your feet feel good, you feel good!

Kopari Coconut Multitasking Kit -$40

Kopari

www.everythingbutwater.com

This little set includes Coconut Melt, a nice blend of Kopari’s 100% organic coconut oil, as well as aloe vera, cocoa seed butter and beeswax. The Body Glow has to be the best part of this – well worth trying!

WHBM Living Beyond Breast Cancer Butterfly Print Scarf – $48

whbm scarf

www.whbm.com

I may be a bit partial to White House Black Market (I’ve worked there part time for almost 7 years), but I’ve been really touched by the company’s involvement with and contribution to Living Beyond Breast Cancer – an organization that helps women assimilate back into normal life once in remission from Breast Cancer. I’ve had a few family members and close friends that have experienced this, and it really touches me to know that there’s an organization out there that serves this purpose.

Antonym Certified Organic Baked Blush – $36

Antonym blush

www.antonymcosmetics.com

This blush has a great shimmer to it, is cruelty free and Ecocert certified. The naturally-derived mica flecks give a nice shimmer without nasty aluminum, or other harsh chemicals. I prefer the Peach color for lighter skin tones, but according to reviews, the copper tone is a really nice tone on darker skin. It comes in a fun wooden container, so makes a great gift.


$100 and under

Taaluma Totes – $60-100

taluuma

www.carryacountry.com

The concept of these tote bags is pretty  cool. Wool and cotton from all around the world is brought back to the US, where disabled adults are employed to construct each bag. As if that didn’t make you smile, proceeds from the sale go back to the fabric’s country of origin in the form of a micro-loan to farmers and small business owners. YET – there’s more – the repayment funds go towards purchasing even more fabric, so as to promote sustainable economic growth. Carry your bag, carry the world.

Gloss Moderne Clean Luxury Masque – $65

gloss moderne

www.glossmoderne.com

This super conditioning mask is great for curly hair – it doesn’t weigh your hair down and keeps everything super sleek with zero frizz. The smell is to die for – the company’s signature scent was created by a popular perfumery. The best ingredient? Cocoa Butter 🙂

Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Oval Covered Casserole – $100

le creuset casserole

www.lecreuset.com

This is another one of those things where, when you have it, you use it all the time and you can’t remember what life was like before you had it. A covered casserole dish is a great alternative to cooking things in a traditional dish with foil – the best part is, there’s no waste to remove and throw away. This one is big enough to fit all of your holiday side dishes, your fall mac and cheese dishes, your picnic salads… the whole nine yards.

Cuisinart Wine Opener – $99.95 – currently on sale for $79.96

cuisinart wine opener

www.williamssonoma.com

Remember those days in college when you would only buy screw-top wine bottles because you didn’t have a wine opener? Remember those days when… I still do that… because I’m lazy, shred a cork every now and again, and this screw-top Malbec was on sale? For days where I like to be a bit fancier, I really enjoy using a good ol’ shortcut… and this puppy can open up to 120 wine bottles on a single charge. It’s like a power tool! But, it’s safe! And for the kitchen!

 

Lilah B Perfection Eye Quad – $58

lilah b

www.lilahbeauty.com

This eye palette comes in 4 different combinations to cater to warm and cool skin tones. The best part? It contains aloe, marigold extract and coconut oil to give a creamy color that keeps your eyelids hydrated.

 

Trudeau Graviti Electric Salt and Pepper Mill Set in Copper – $79

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 9.06.41 PM.png

www.williamssonoma.com

These are absolutely beautiful, and are super simple to fill. All you do is flip them over, no work required! It grinds on its own. They stop as soon as you flip them back upright. They’re so pretty, you won’t want to hide them away in your cabinet.

Here you have it — my favorite picks so far for gift buying this year. Keep an eye out for more updates — definitely more to come! Be sure to share with your friends and follow on instagram @ thedivinekitchen for more fun!

Enjoy 🙂

-S