Archives for category: Vegetables

A beautiful morning at my house.

We are definitely creatures of habit. No doubt about it. Even as a chef, I find my household grocery list looking pretty repetitive week to week. This doesn’t happen as much with produce because I like to shop seasonally. For example, during the fall/winter months, hard squashes were always in my reusable totes, but since its turing spring I haven’t bought a squash for a month or so. When it comes to my staples… ground beef, bacon, eggs, coconut milk, etc,  I tend to be very unadventurous.  So every once in a while, I like to purchase something new and different. This past week I picked up some smoked salmon. I LOVE salmon. I usually buy it in frozen steaks but smoked salmon is pretty freaking amazing. When I used to work at trader joe’s, one of my favorite paleo breakfasts during the early shift was a package of smoked salmon and an avocado.

One of my favorite flavor combos!

In remembrance of those days, I recently made a delicious omelette containing those two wonderful items. Healthy fats from all these ingredients, especially the omega 3’s from the wild salmon!

Side note: I also purchased some broccoli, which is a rarity for me. This strikes me as amusing since all I hear from most paleo folks is that they are bored from eating chicken and broccoli all the time. I think to myself, ” How have I managed to sustain paleo cooking for a year without eating broccoli every week?” No joke, I probably have it once or twice in a six month period. So… yeah. I guess that makes me a paleo anomaly.

There's my broccoli!

Salmon and Avocado Omelette

1 oz. smoked coho salmon (from Trader Joes in the beige packaging. It has no sugar added during the smoking process)
2 eggs
1/2 avocado
cooking fat
spices

  1. In a small skillet, melt some coconut oil (good) or bacon fat (better!) over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the two eggs and season with black pepper, red pepper flakes, and some garlic powder (I don’t add salt because the salmon is pretty salty).
  3. Pour egg mix in the skillet. Cook one side and flip to cook the other. This takes practice to do without a spatula. Practice by yourself so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of other people. Then, when you are a proficient omelette flipper, invite friends over for breakfast and impress them with your crazy skillz.
  4. As the second side cooks, add your smoked salmon and avocado slices to one side of the egg circle.
  5. Slide onto a plate and  fold over the filling with the empty side of the egg.

See, I told you I like breakfast sandwiches (check my Almond Flour Biscuit post)! This a great alternative to using bread as a vehicle for your food, it’s also another good Paleo breakfast item.

I couldn’t resist trying a new version, especially since it’s nut-free. Nuts and I have a complicated relationship. Actually, I make it complicated. The nuts really hold no blame in this scenario. I tend to have an addictive personality. Okay… okay, not tend. I DO have an addictive personality. I find something I like and I go CRAZY over it. My coconut hiatus last week was an attempt at reigning in that obsession. Unfortunately, when I shut down one obsession, another one starts up. Enter my friend (foe), the NUT.

I found myself going back to my nut dependence that I originally steered away from by introducing more coconut products. Here’s the bottom line: Too much of anything is not good. As a person with life-long digestive problems, nut consumption presents quite an obstacle to “feeling well” in a gastrointestinal context. Not to mention, nuts are relatively high in Omega 6 fats which will sabotage the hallowed Paleo goal of evening out your O3:O6 ratio.

In newbie Paleo-eaters, I almost always hear or see the tendency to over-consume nuts. They are fast, easy and tend to be filling. For me, I could eat nuts until I burst. They really do not make me feel full or satiated… which presents a problem. So my solution is to try not to have nuts around the house. If I do eat them, it’s usually in the form of a “condiment” on salads or in sauces or I will make a dessert-type item OCCASIONALLY (everybody’s favorite diet-related word used to cover up over consumption of questionable items. HEAR YE, HEAR YE! Occasionally means: Not habitual; infrequent).

Yum!

Portobello Breakfast Sandwich

1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced in half like a hamburger bun
1 egg
1 oz. smoked salmon
1/4 avocado, sliced or mashed
1/4 c. sautéed onions
1 Tbsp. melted bacon fat

Remove the stem and gills with a spoon

  1. In a skillet, melt the bacon fat and dip mushroom buns into the oil. Take out ans set aside.
  2. Over low heat, saute onions until soft and a bit caramelized.
  3. Heat up your BBQ grill and over medium heat, grill mushroom halves  until tender.

    Post-grill Portobello

  4. Remove sautéed onion from the skillet and fry up an egg. I like mine a bit runny so this goes pretty fast.
  5. Layer salmon and onions over bottom “bun” add fried egg and avocado and top with the other “bun”.

Wedding gifts are amazing.

A cast iron dutch oven is a prime example of why wedding gifts are amazing.

O Great Bearded One... or Colin.

So, here’s a quick shout out to our friend Colin who purchased said item in honor of our nuptials! Putting it to use was simple enough. I set out to create a delicious Paleo-fied Shepherd’s Pie. Below are the fruits (or pie) of my labor.

This particular pie was topped with a kabocha squash mash, but you could use any squash (or yam) you have on hand.

Kabocha Shepherd’s Pie

1 1/2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
1 c. diced eggplant
1/2 bell pepper, diced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
2 shiitake mushrooms, diced
4 whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
pinch cayenne

Topping

1/2 onion, caramelized
1 large kabocha squash (about 3 cups of flesh)

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Caramelize onions by slicing thin half moons and cooking on LOW heat for 20 mins or until onions are soft and brown (not brown and crispy). Stir occasionally
  3.  Cut squash in half and take out the seeds. Place face down on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 mins. Done when skin gives easily when pressed.
  4. Let the squash cool and then scoop out flesh into a food processor.

    mash it up!

  5. Add caramelized onions and some salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  6. Lower oven temp to 300.
  7. In a cast iron dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat,  saute onion, celery, and mushrooms for 2-3 min. Add beef.

    celery, pepper, and eggplant

  8. Stir until beef begins to brown.
  9. Add bell pepper, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, and spices.
  10. Heat until beef is cooked through and vegetables are beginning to get soft.

    gettin steamy

  11. Spread topping over the top of the meat mixture in the dutch oven. If using a baking pan, transfer meat mixture to baking pan first, then spread the topping on the meat.

    Rustic

  12. Bake for 20 mins or until squash topping begins to brown.

It's behind the ceviche!

Another great vegetable side dish for a BBQ. This is more of a summer recipe, so keep it in mind as you’re doing all your ab work to get a ROCKIN beach body! I made this dish along with Peruvian Ceviche and Raw Pear and Blackberry Tart.

When grilling the vegetables remember a few things:

  • charring food is bad. The charred portion becomes carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in our bodies. Try to keep flare-ups to a minimum and keep those “grill marks” light.
  • along the same lines it’s better to use a higher heat oil when grilling. Olive oil and other medium-low heat oils will oxidize and change chemical structure in high heat… making them unsuitable for our bodies. Coconut oil can drip into the grill and cause flare-ups sometimes, so I used grapeseed oil in this recipe.  

    Geoff says "Grill Safely or else!"

Grilled Vegetables with Salsa Verde

 1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 3/4″ strips
2 bell peppers
3-4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise same as eggplant

  1. Heat grill to medium high.
  2. Place whole bell peppers on the grill, turn occasionally until skin is slightly blistering and soft.
  3. Brush zucchini and eggplant slices with some grapeseed oil and dust with pepper and salt.
  4. Grill slices until soft with slight grill marks
  5. Remove bell peppers when ready. Cool in cold water and remove skin and seeds.
  6. Slice bell pepper into strips like the eggplant and zucchini.
  7. Serve on a platter with Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

1 avocado
1/2 c. cilantro leaves
1/2 c. parsley leaves
1/2 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
Juice from a half of lemon
2-3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. salt
sprinkle of paprika

  1. In a blender or small food processor chop garlic and ginger
  2. Add parsley and cilantro and chop until well combined. Scrape down the sides with a spatula when necessary
  3. Add remaining ingredients and season to taste
  4. Serve sauce over grilled vegetables or on the side.

The Original Urban Solace Version, complete with grilled cheese and sweet potato fries

My husband used to work at a restaurant in San Diego. Not gonna lie, this restaurant makes some pretty delicious meals and my man is one of their biggest fans. He loves many a dish on their menu… Beef cheeks, fig meatloaf, ahi tuna chop chop… I could go on forever. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I sometimes try to recreate his favorite meals with a paleo-friendly ingredient list.

Apparently, I succeeded in my quest and now hubby has a new favorite home cooked meal. So much so that he mourned the impending end of this meal while he was halfway through his cup of soup. Just the thought of it being over made him sad. I’m pretty sure he would have hooked up a soup IV if he could.

So with that introduction I give you (Duh Duh DA DA!!!)

Tomato and Roasted Fennel Soup

1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
3 c. stock
1 sweet onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
4-5 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. duck fat, divided
1 Tbsp. dried basil
sea salt
pepper
1/4 c. pine nuts
olive oil to drizzle

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a bowl, coat the fennel, garlic, and parsnips with 1 Tbsp. of fat and season with some salt and pepper
  3. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 mins

    Parsnips, Garlic, and Fennel

  4. In a soup pot, over medium heat, sauté the shallots and onions until translucent
  5. Once the fennel mixture is done roasting, add it to the soup pot, sautéing for another 5 mins

    Add roasted veggie to sauteed onions

  6. Add stock and simmer for 10 mins

    Add stock before tomatoes

  7. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer for 5 mins adding basil
  8. With an immersion blender (or regular blender) puree the contents of the soup until all chunks are gone, add salt and pepper to taste
  9. In a blender or spice grinder, grind pine nuts with sea salt until it becomes a fine dust like grated parmesan
  10. Add half the nuts to the soup pot and stir

    Success!

  11. Serve with a garnish of olive oil and a dusting of pine nuts

Roasted Squash and Eggplant with Arugula

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (1/4 inch)
1 eggplant, peeled and diced (1/4 – 1/2 inch)
3 c. fresh arugula
2 Tbsp. melted bacon fat or coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a bowl, coat eggplant and squash with oil and seasonings
  3. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 mins until the edges are browning.
  4. In a bowl, toss the warm veggies with the arugula until it begins to wilt.
  5. Serve with your favorite entree, like Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto Chicken

    Makes a nice side dish for the winter season.

Just got back from all my wedding festivities! Spent two weeks away on our honeymoon instead of one and I was quite thankful for the flexibility on our schedules to accommodate such a long vacation.

The new Mister and Missus

Awwwwww!

We stayed in a beach condo for two weeks so I had multiple opportunities to create fun and interesting recipes all day long. Here is the first of many that I will be sharing on this blog.

Add a little side salad and you have a complete meal.

For this recipe, buy all natural and uncured bacon. No nitrates or nitrites added. That stuff is no bueno. Also, go and find a kabocha squash. They are not hard to find and if you’ve never had one, YOU MUST TRY IT! It’s so delicious that my HUSBAND (see how I snuck that in there?!) insists that we always make it when we have visitors because he wants to share his favorite squash with everyone. Here’s what a kabocha looks like.

You can eat the skin too!

Bacon Wrapped Drumsticks with Grilled Kabocha Wedges

5-6 Chicken drumsticks
10-12 slices of bacon (nitrate and nitrite free), about 2 slices per drumstick
1 kabocha squash (also known as a Japanese Pumpkin), seeded and sliced into wedges
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

  1. Light up your grill on medium heat
  2. On a cutting board, wrap the drumstick from top to bottom with bacon strips. Set aside.

    It's like decorating your chicken.

  3. Place kabocha slices in a bowl. Drizzle coconut oil over along with the salt and spices. According to your taste you can make it more salty or more spicy.
  4. Place kabocha on the grill, about 5-6 mins per side depending on the heat of your BBQ. They are done when easily squished or broken. They become quite tender if cooked too long.
  5. Put chicken on the grill and turn halfway through. They should cook about as long as the squash. Be careful for flare ups from the bacon grease dripping into the grill. When the bacon is nice and crispy, take off the grill and serve.

    Crispy and Juicy

Serves 2-3 people

 

 

 

Just a quick little breakfast item.

I like frittatas for multiple reasons:

  1. You can load them with things like meat and veggies.
  2. They are great as leftovers for when you don’t have anytime to cook but you need a quick snack that’s paleo-friendly
  3. You don’t have to flip it like an omlette.

This one started with some caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms. I used frozen spinach and all natural, nitrate/nitrite free bacon. My cast iron was small so I only used 6 eggs, so if you have a bigger pan, use more.

Bacon, Mushroom, and Spinach Frittata

1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 c. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
6 eggs
sea salt and pepper to taste
grass-fed butter or bacon grease to oil pan
OPTIONAL: some organic, grass-fed cheddar to top. and avocado

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Over medium heat, with some butter begin to caramelized the onions with  the mushrooms until soft.
  3. You may cook the bacon in the same pan or a different one depending on your preference. (I combined  to limit my pan usage). Once cooked, turn off heat and set aside.

    Bacon, onions, and mushrooms

  4. In a medium bowl, whip eggs with some salt and pepper
  5. In a cast iron or oven safe skillet, heat butter over medium heat . Add egg, then spinach and bacon mixture.
  6. Cook over heat for a while until the egg looks half cooked and half runny.

    Pre-oven frittata

  7. Put the skillet in the oven to bake for about 30 mins or until the middle of the frittata is set. To check, just give the pan a shake and its done when it won’t “jiggle” anymore.

Out of the Oven

This one is from the hallowed Paleo grounds of Mark’s Daily Apple. In fact, it’s one of the recipes from the Primal Blueprint Reader Cookbook. I’ve made this dish a couple times. It’s so lovely and aromatic as welll as FILLING. This last time I only dished it over a 1/4 of the acorn squash. But for those with hearty appetites, go ahead and serve it in a half a squash. It’s a beautiful presentation either way.

For the folks who are uber-sensitive to dairy: swap out the butter for coconut oil and omit the yogurt. Enjoy!

It's a spice extravaganza!

Butter Chicken

4 lbs. chicken thighs, chopped into 1 inch cubes
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup Greek-style (thick) yogurt
7 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can diced tomatoes, unsalted)
6 cardamom pods (crush pods slightly to release seeds and more flavor)
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

  1. Combine chicken, garlic, spices and yogurt in a covered container. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  2. Melt butter in a deep pan. Add vinegar, tomato paste, tomatoes, cardamom and cinnamon. Boil rapidly, stirring until sauce is thick (approximately 20 minutes).
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add chicken. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through. Add cream or coconut milk, simmer a few minutes more, and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Roasted Acorn Squash

2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
Coconut oil to grease baking sheet

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil.
  3. Place squash halves face down on the sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 mins, until the squash is tender and the lip of the opening is browned.

An unfortunate picture of a delicious dish!

Here’s a simple one for those chilly Southern California nights (wink, wink). Soup is a great way to stretch your dollar and incorporate some really healthy items into your food rotation. BONUS: there’s usually leftovers which means for very little time investment, you can have a few meals for the next few days!

Butternut Squash is a seasonal vegetable. It comes around in the harvest time so it’s best eaten in the fall and winter months. It has a delicate and mildly sweet flavor, similar to an acorn squash. Good for soups because it’s not as heavy as sweet potato or pumpkin. Butternut’s versatile flavor pairs well with savory elements like rosemary, bacon, and brussel sprouts as well as sweet ingredients like cinnamon, apples, and golden raisins.

 

Good in a mug or a bowl

 
Butternut Squash Soup
 
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 c. water
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
3 c. organic chicken stock
1 inch ginger root, diced
1 honeycrisp apple, peeled and diced
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
 
  1. In a large pot, saute the yellow onion until soft.
  2. Add water and butternut squash, heat on med-high until squash becomes tender.
  3. Add ginger, apple and 2 c. chicken stock. Simmer for a bit until the squash is really soft.
  4. Using a blender or immersion blender, begin processing the soup to desired thickness, adding additional stock when necessary.
  5. With the blended soup in the pot, stir in spices.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some Plantain Chips.