Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel


OMG That’s Paleo? Cookbook Preview & Recipe: 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding


Today’s recipe for 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding is brought to you by PaleOMG’s Juli Bauer and her new cookbook, OMG That’s Paleo?

It was actually Andy who found Juli’s site PaleOMG and brought it to my attention when he saw her recipe for Chocolate Waffles, sent me the link and said, “Let’s make THESE!”
I started following Juli and really liked her down-to-earth personality and writing style. (Which actually encourages me to write more like myself and not so formally.) I especially loved her cooking videos. It takes a lot of courage to be on camera like that! 🙂

Some of her instructions on the website make me snicker (because I sometimes feel like writing them in my own recipes), such as this line in a recipe for Easy Chicken Dinner in 1…2…3:
“Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Not sure if it’s totally cooked through? Cut it open and look. Duh.” 😛

A year later, and Juli has an entire cookbook! I have flipped though it and am looking forward to making her version of the popular Canadian dish poutine, as well as Bacon Chicken Alfredo. I especially appreciate the book’s 5 Ingredient Meals section (in which today’s recipe is included).

There is even space below each recipe to make notes if you change something in her recipes to suit your own tastes. The recipe for the Avocado Pudding is below, though since I was making it for dessert for both Andy and myself, I doubled the recipe. Also, it can be made vegan by sweetening the avocado with maple syrup or stevia drops (to taste) instead of honey.

Thanks to Juli for sending me a copy of OMG That’s Paleo? for review. You can buy it on Amazon here.

5-Ingredient Avocado Pudding
Prep time:  3 mins
Total time:  3 mins
Serves: 1
1 avocado, mashed
3 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs + 1 tsp raw honey
2 teaspoons sunbutter (or other nut butter)*
pinch of salt
dark chocolate chips (optional, but rather necessary in my case) 😉Procedure:
Mash up the avocado.
Add in powder, raw honey (or syrup), sunbutter, pinch of salt and mix thoroughly.
Top with dark chocolate chips. Yes, please.

*TIPS: I used a pistachio nut butter in the recipe. Trust me on this. It’s gooood. Also, for best results, use a food processor to purée the avocado and remaining ingredients. Refrigerate before serving. Top with chocolate chips just before serving.

You can follow Juli on twitter here and like PaleOMG on Facebook here.

If you’d like to see Juli herself prepare the above recipe, her video tutorial is below:

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Tots

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Last Saturday was the annual Komen Race for the Cure at Cal Expo, and Andy won his division! (Race photo by Morinico Photography)

To celebrate the win, I made one of his favorite foods (pizza!) these Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Tots (the pizza was a primal-ized BBQ Chicken Pizza, which I will share with you later this week). I had made an earlier version of the tots last week for myself, but was not satisfied with the texture or really, the flavor. This time, I used a combination of cauliflower and sweet potatoes, and it was a success! I also coated the tots in almond meal for extra crunch. Here’s the recipe!

1/2 head caulflower
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
1/4 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8  cup coconut flour or gluten free flour (to use as a binder)
cracked pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil or a can of olive oil spray

1 cup raw almonds
1 Tbs coconut flour
1-2 tsp your favorite spice mixture (you can be creative here: chili powder, curry, rosemary, cumin)

Peel and cut potatoes into cubes and microwave until soft. While the potatoes are microwaving, pulse the (raw) cauliflower in a food processor until it’s texture is finely “crummed”, do not purée. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. When the potatoes are tender, set aside and allow them to cool.

Rinse out and dry the food processor, then pulse the almonds until they are almost breadcrumb consistency, then pulse in the coconut flour. Then if you wish, add in your favorite spices or extra parmesan cheese to finish off the breading. Set mixture aside on a plate and rinse and dry the food processor again.

Preheat oven to 385°F

Then place the sweet potatoes in the food processor and pulse to mash them up. Then add the cheese, the coconut milk, the eggs and the coconut flour, and pulse until smooth. Then remove the potato mixture and add it to the cauliflower crumbs. Stir until well combined.

Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or olive oil spray. Form the cauliflower and sweet potato mixture into little cylinder shapes and then roll in the almond/coconut flour/spice mixture. Set each shape on the baking sheet. This recipe will probably yield about 24 tots. Lightly drizzle the tots with olive oil, or pulse them lightly with the spray. This will help them get extra crisp.

Bake in oven until golden brown. (30-40 mins) Salt to taste. 🙂

Pistachio and Wasabi Crusted Ahi Tuna Steaks with Avocado “Mousse”

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Sometimes the most simple ingredients and cooking methods can yield the most amazing meals. This was the case last night. Just a few ingredients and it was less than an hour from kitchen to table. Of course, you’ll need a food processor to make things easy, but you can also use a coffee grinder for the fish coating and a blender for the avocado mousse. Once coated, you can prepare the tuna in a skillet on a range top, or grill it. I know you’ll want to try it once you read how simple it is, so I will cut right to the chase. 😉 Enjoy!

3/4 cup raw pistachios
1 Tbs wasabi powder
1 large ahí tuna steak (about 20 ounces, perfect for 2 people)*
2 Tbs olive oil

Pulse the pistachios and the wasabi powder together in a food processor until they reach a finely chopped consistency (like toddy grind coffee).
Coat your tuna steak with the olive oil and roll it in the ground nut mixture, careful to cover all sides. Allow to marinade in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

No matter how you choose to cook your tuna steak, allow the meat to sear on all sides and get slightly warm in the center. It takes longer to cook on a charcoal grill, and a much shorter amount of time on a gas grill. I am very comfortable using a skillet, so I would heat 1 Tbs olive oil or avocado oil in a pan and get it very hot to sear on all sides. The time it takes to sear and cook through without over-cooking depends of course on the thickness of your steak. 🙂

2 avocados
1 Tbs lime juice
wasabi powder (to your taste, 1 Tbs for moderate heat))
1/2 tsp salt

Place the avocados, wasabi powder, lime and salt in the food processor and blend until the mixture becomes mousse-like. Remove the mixture and place in a Ziploc or pastry bag. Place in the freezer and allow to firm (20-30 minutes). Do not allow to completely freeze. Pipe a design of your choice on a plate and top with the remaining pistachio and wasabi coating to dress up the plate.

*The fish Andy purchased came from Taylor’s Market. You can also go to Sunh’s Fish or Whole Foods to buy a similar cut. I recommend sushi-grade. It’s more expensive, but you won’t regret it! Have a great weekend!

The side dish pictured is a simple sauté of kale, onions, a portobello mushroom and bacon.

Blood Orange & Avocado Salad featuring Nudo Mandarin Olive Oil

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A few nights ago, I threw together this quick salad so that I could open my package of Nudo Olive Oils and sample them. I had just returned home from shopping at Nugget Market, and had picked up a few blood oranges. I was particularly interested in trying the Mandarin variety of Nudo (produced with mandarins from Southern Italy which are harvested right off the tree and into their olive press).

1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 red onion, rough chopped
1 blood orange
1 1/2 Tbs Nudo Mandarin Olive Oil
pinch sea salt

Peel the mandarin orange and slice it widthwise. Rough chop 1/4 of an onion (so that the pieces with collect on a bite-full of salad). Place the slices of blood orange on a plate, and arrange pieces of onion over the slices. Then place some chopped avocado over the orange/onion duo. Then salt the plate and drizzle with the Nudo Mandarin Olive Oil.

About Nudo Italia:
Nudo means ‘naked’ in Italian. The company was named Nudo because they only wanted to sell simple, pure products with no pesticides, additives or modifications.

Other varieties of Nudo
include Olive Oil Stone Ground with Garlic, Olive Oil Stone Ground with Basil, Olive Oil with Lemon, Olive Oil Stone Ground with Fresh Mint, Olive Oil with Thyme, Olive Oil First Cold Pressed, and Olive Oil with Chillies. The oils are sold separately or as a part of different gift sets.

The Nudo oils are packaged in tins to protect it from sunlight and maintain the quality. The tin is also 57% recycled and weighs less than glass, so it has a smaller carbon footprint when shipped.In addition to olive oils, the company sells antipasti such as artichoke hearts, pesto, capers, tapenade and sun-dried tomatoes, pastas, soap, chocolate spreads and other gifts, including some gifts selected for Easter.

The most unique gift on their site, however, is the option to “adopt” an olive tree for yourself or someone else. You can also choose the grove from which the tree will grow and your oil will derive, and the delivery method in which your oils will arrive. The cost? $49 for 3- 500 mL (16.9 fl.oz) tins. For more information about tree adoption, you can click here.

You can find Nudo Italia on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. They also have a Pinterest page here.

Gluten-Free Chicken Pesto Pizza featuring Bella Pizza & Foccacia Mix

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Andy and I always celebrate our monthaversary with a special dinner (either at a restaurant or by either of us cooking something that we don’t indulge in everyday). This month, I made one of Andy’s favorite foods and one of the things he used to eat most before going Paleo. Pizza! We both love pesto, but just don’t eat it that often either because it’s usually found on top of bread or pasta. Both no-nos of course. So we compromised with a rice and potato-based gluten-free mix and cauliflower blend for the crust. This time, I used Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix.

Bella Gluten-Free was founded by Mary Capone, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo last month, and who is also a celiac chef and mom of celiac children. She wanted “to create baking mixes that were beautifully tasting, heavenly in texture and wonderfully nutritious.” I have to say that of all the pizzas/crusts at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo, Mary’s was the best. And that’s coming from Andy Harris, who basically subsisted on two food groups–pizza and beer!!–during his span of running 23 marathons. 😉 Andy selflessly (haha!) tasted over 5 slices of pizza at the show to bring you the report back. I did get to try the Bella Gluten-Free Mix at the show and was so impressed I wanted to feature it here on, despite its rice base. I think it’s a great product, and the bottom line is that it doesn’t have wheat.

So here’s what I did to make the pizza! PS: About the pizza I made with this mix, Andy said: “I ate the rest of that pizza today, and I swear it was the best pizza I’ve
ever eaten.  That was wicked!!!”

FYI: One package of Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix makes two 14” pizzas or two 9” focaccia or 12 hamburger or sandwich buns.

1/2 package Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix
2 tsp Mayacamas Gluten-Free Pesto Mix
5 eggs
1 head cauliflower
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Line a pizza pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 385°F.

Follow Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough package directions for 1/2 the package. Steam cauliflower in the microwave until it is “falling apart” tender. Allow to cool. Pulse the cooled cauliflower in your food processor with the rest of the ingredients until they are well combined.

Spread onto lined pizza pan and place in oven to bake until raised and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prepare your pesto topping! When your crust does become slightly browned, you will want to remove from oven, but keep oven on, as you will be using it again to bake the pizza after you top the crust.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (do not skimp on quality here!)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the nuts and garlic in your food processor. Pulse together until the texture is slightly grainy. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly puréed. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree until well combined.

1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 red onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
2 chicken breasts (4 oz each)
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Slice onion and sauté it in a heated skillet with the olive oil. Add the salt and the mushrooms. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Once the onions are translucent, add the balsamic vinegar and cook a little further. Then add the chicken and cook until it is browned. Turn off stovetop and allow to rest.

Assemble the pizza:
Grate as much mozzarella as you like (we used about 1 cup)
Spread the pesto evenly on the the pizza crust, and top with the chicken, onion, mushroom mixture. Then top with the mozzarella cheese.
Return the pizza to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt and the toppings to heat through.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. If you can wait that long… 🙂
Wine pairing: Sangiovese from Vino Noceto (with the pizza) and an Assyrtiko from Gaia Estate, Santorini, Greece (with the salad). PS: On our salad, we’re still loving extra virgin olive oil and the Auntie Si’s Lemongrass Vinegar!

Primal-Friendly Gluten-Free Bleu Cheese Pecan Bread

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If you never make anything else from this website, make this recipe. It is a spin on an old recipe I used to make called “crack bread”. I call it that because it will turn you into an addict. 😉 If you don’t mind eating wheat or sugar, you can look up & make the old recipe here. If you’re ready to have an amazing Primal-friendly meal, (with way less calories) read on:

I came up with the old recipe after tasting an appetizer called Billy Blue Bread at The Owl Grill in Grass Valley. It’s still on the menu there, but since I have cut wheat and sugar from my diet, I wouldn’t dare indulge. Instead, I tweaked my old recipe to make it gluten free and so that no added sugar is necessary! I even ditched the butter in the new recipe and replaced with with an onion “jam” of sorts. There’s so much flavor in the onion “jam”, you won’t miss the butter.

Special products I used in this recipe include Extra Virgin Olive Oil (everyday variety) made by California Olive Ranch and Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend. I’d like to thank both companies for sending me product samples. If you want to be truly primal, you can leave out the gluten-free flour blend (it contains rice), but I recommend leaving it in the recipe to help give your bread a better texture. It’s a really great product.

Primal-Friendly Gluten-Free Bleu Cheese Pecan Bread with Balsamic Reduction
Before you begin, you’ll want to line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and toast and chop your pecans so they are both ready to use. Also, if you don’t want to hassle with making a balsamic reduction, there are several you can buy to use instead.

For the Cauliflower Bread
2 heads of cauliflower
4 eggs
4 egg whites
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend
1 Tbs California Olive Ranch Olive Oil
pinch salt

Prepare: Preheat oven to 375°. Cook cauliflower either by boiling it or microwaving until it is almost falling apart. Allow to cool and then place in a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower with the eggs until completely smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the almond meal, the flour blend, and salt. Stir until completely blended and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in oven until golden brown and bread has set completely. (About 30 minutes). While bread is in the oven, you can prepare the onion jam.

For the Onion Jam
3 large red onions
1-2 Tbs olive oil (I used California Ranch Olive Oil)
1 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch salt

Slice onions and sauté in 1-2 Tbs olive oil. Add the salt. When the onions turn translucent, add the balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking slowly until onions caramelize, then add the garlic at the end. Incorporate fully until the onions are cooked. This should take about the same time the bread will take to bake. When the onions are finished, allow to cool a bit and then place them in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it turns into a paste or “jam”. Set aside. At this point, the bread should be ready to remove from the oven. Now you’re ready to make the balsamic reduction.

For the Balsamic Reduction
2 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar

In a saucepan, heat the vinegar until it is simmering and reduce it until it is the consistency of molasses. This will take about 20 minutes. You will be looking for something thick and viscous that will stick to the back of a spoon.

For the Finished Product
3/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Keep oven temperature at 375°.
Spread the onion jam over the bread, and top with 3/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese crumbles, then sprinkle the pecans over that.

Place bread back in oven, and bake for 10 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Then, drizzle the reduction over the bread. Serve immediately with a big glass of merlot! 🙂 Also, I really enjoy dipping the bread in the Arbequena variety of oil that California Olive Ranch makes.

You can find California Olive Ranch on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Pamela’s Products Facebook page is here and follow them on twitter here.

Grilled Monkfish Medallions with Mustard featuring Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Today’s recipe is from The New York Times Wine Club website and was brought to you by the makers of Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We were introduced to Tazah at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Andy coordinated the product sample at the show, picked the monkfish recipe, and even prepared it for us. I didn’t have to do anything but smile and pose with the bottle of Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sometimes I have it pretty easy. The recipe is fantastic and Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil is versatile enough to use in a recipe and also use in a salad dressing (which we also did the very same evening).

One of the photos is the monkfish with the marinade, and the finished plate includes one of our favorite sides: parsnip chips, sautéed eggplant (both prepared with Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a garnish of kiwi. I was really impressed with Andy’s cooking (he’s above average to start, especially when preparing meat, but this time was a real treat!!). The meal turned out so great! The flavor component that is key is the orange zest. It really amplifies the flavor of the sauce.

To make this recipe completely paleo you can use coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce.

Grilled Monkfish Medallions with Mustard

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 thick slices of monkfish, each about 6 ounces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 orange

Combine the mustard, orange juice and soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Beat well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place monkfish in a glass or ceramic dish and pour 6 tablespoons of mustard mixture over fish, turning each piece to coat both sides. Set aside at room temperature.

Preheat a grill or broiler.

While the grill is preheating, place the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Stir in the grated orange zest and the remaining mustard mixture. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grill or broil the monkfish 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Briefly reheat the sauce to a simmer, stir it and spoon it over the fish.

For more information on Tazah, you can call (323) 664-8956 and find them on Facebook here.

Little Soya Gluten Free Soy Sauce

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OK, so I know soy and soy products are not considered paleo or primal, but I found a gluten-free, non-GMO soy sauce I love and want to tell you all about.

Little Soya meets all FDA standards for labeling as a gluten-free product.  Each batch of soy sauce they produce is tested twice by separate labs to ensure our results are accurate. Also, Little Soya contains no MSG!

Little Soya also contains 45% less sodium than then leading brand on the market. Their lower sodium content makes a great salt substitute in many of your favorite recipes. Their fun, fish-shaped containers are re-sealable and recyclable!

I used Little Soya in a mixed vegetable stir fry recently and here’s how I seasoned the vegetables:

Little Soya Stir Fry:
4 cups mixed chopped vegetables
1/2 cup LIttle Soya Soy Suace
1 Tbs fresh crushed ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp five spice powder
1 Tbs crushed garlic
1 Tbs honey

Combine the soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, five spice powder, garlic and honey. Set aside. Heat 1-2 Tbs oil in a wok or large sauté pan and sauté vegetables until tender. Pour sauce over the vegetables and heat through. So simple and delicious!

You can find Little Soya on Facebook here and on twitter hereYou can order Little Soya online from Amazon here.

Whole Foods Market & Cook Taste Eat Blogger Contest: Chocolate & Cinnamon Pepita Butter Ice Cream

finished product
Whole Foods Market and Cook Taste Eat, a website created by Michael Mina and fellow foodie friends dedicated to helping everyone cook and eat better, have teamed up to offer food bloggers across the Continental U.S. the opportunity to become a Cook Taste Eat TV star.

This is my entry for the contest. It’s a dessert to celebrate Cinco de Mayo using Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value™ Coconut Milk.

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Chocolate & Cinnamon Pepita Butter Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

I used cinnamon and pepitas to incorporate classic Mexican ingredients in my recipe. I also featured Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value™ Coconut Milk as one of the main ingredients instead of using milk or cream. I used a Patron tequila liqueur to flavor the ice cream. Additionally, I used agave nectar and dates instead of sugar to sweeten the dessert. You’ll need an ice cream maker to recreate this dessert. Here are the ingredients and procedure:

For the ice cream:
2 – 14 oz. cans Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value™ Coconut Milk (full fat, not light variety)
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 banana
10 dates
3 Tbs agave nectar
2 Tbs Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

For the cinnamon pepita butter:
1 1/2 cups toasted pepitas
2 Tbs coconut oil
2 Tbs agave nectar
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

For the chocolate chunks:

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup coconut oil

For the ice cream: Combine all the ice cream ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse/blend until smooth and creamy. Place in a bowl and set in the freezer so that mixture will get extremely cold. Chill but do not freeze while you prepare the cinnamon pepitas butter.

For the cinnamon pepitas butter: Toast raw and unsalted pepitas in the oven on a cookie sheet until they are lightly browned. Then transfer them to a food processor and pulse until they become a grainy texture. Add the coconut oil and pulse until mixture becomes the texture of peanut butter or almond butter. Add the agave nectar, cinnamon, and salt, and blend until well combined. Set aside.

At this point you can remove the ice cream mixture from the freezer and pour it into your ice cream maker. Follow individual manufacturer’s instructions, but the mixture should start to resemble ice cream within about 20 minutes if you have an electric model. While the mixture is in the machine, you can prepare the chocolate chunks.

For the chocolate chunks: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave and stir until fully incorporated. Chocolate will be a thin, syrupy texture. Spread on a wax paper lined baking pan and place in the freezer or refrigerator and allow to harden. Once the chocolate is firm, break it up into little chunks and set aside. Reserve a little to use as a topping when you serve the ice cream.

Once the ice cream is made, transfer it from the machine into a large bowl and set in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow it to firm a little more. After 10 minutes, remove the ice cream and stir in spoonfuls of the cinnamon pepitas butter and the chunks of chocolate. I love big chunks of ingredients in my ice cream, so a little stirring will do. Then place the ice cream back into the freezer one last time for 20-30 minutes and allow to harden. Serve with a little of the melted chocolate.

In exchange for writing this blog and tweeting a link to this blog, I received an entry into the Food Blogger to Media Star Promotion. For the Official Rules, click here.

PS: This recipe is paleo friendly and gluten free. You can use honey or stevia in place of the agave nectar. You can leave out the chocolate chunks to make it completely dairy free! 🙂

Vegetarian Recipe: Saag Paneer featuring Karoun Dairies

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On Saturday night, Andy and I stayed in for a change and I made another vegetarian meal with some products that were sent to me by Karoun Dairies. I decided I was in the mood for Indian cuisine and the Yanni grilling cheese I received from Karoun on Friday was the perfect thing to use in my own little version of saag paneer. 🙂

For fun, I added some boiled potatoes and parsnips into the finished stew and I also made the cauliflower breadstick dough (from a few posts back) into a thick sort of naan bread. Phenaanamal!! 😉

4 cups baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound Yanni grilling cheese, sliced or cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs fresh ginger
3 Tbs crushed garlic
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup tomato sauce
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup Karoun Kafir lite cheese
3 parsnips, cut into half moons
2 potatoes, cubed
salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spinach in the boiling water until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Puree until finely chopped. Set aside.

Cut potatoes and parsnips into uniform pieces and boil them until they begin to soften. Do not overcook. Stay on the firmer side, as they will do their last part of cooking in the finished stew.

Next, sauté the onion and mushrooms together until the onion is translucent/cooked through. Add the tomato and the tomato sauce, along with all spices (ginger, garlic, tomato, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne pepper). Allow to simmer on low to medium heat so that the tomatoes will break down.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the Yanni cheese, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Return to the tomato sauce, and stir in the spinach purée. Salt to taste. Cover and cook for about 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Lastly, stir in the Kefir cheese to thicken the sauce. Then add the boiled parsnips and potatoes and coat them with the spinach and tomato sauce. Heat through and make sure the potatoes and parsnips have fully cooked through. Serve the fried Yanni on the side (to retain the cheese’s crispy edges!) 🙂 Happy to report I did not miss meat that night! Thanks to Karoun Dairies for the great product samples!

To find Karoun products, you can enter your zip code in the store locator here.
You can find Karoun Dairies on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Recipe: Veggie February, Redwood Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

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For our first seafood & vegetable dinner this weekend, I made stuffed mushrooms and used three different products I picked up or were sent to me from vendors at the San Francisco Winter Fancy Food Show.

Redwood Hill Farm sent me three different products to taste, and one of them was a goat milk cheddar cheese. I was instantly intrigued because I love cheddar cheese. I had bought a few dozen crimini mushrooms earlier in the week, and needed to use them. So, I thought I could use the cheese somehow to make stuffed mushrooms. Another important element I used was a gluten-free seasoned coating mix from Hodgson Mill I also brought home from the food show. The final result was amazingly good, and I didn’t even use any eggs as a binder. Andy sautéed some shrimp (a wonderful departure from red meat) and I made a big salad to round out the meal.

My recipe for the stuffed mushrooms is below. I’d like to thank Redwood Hill Farms for the cheese samples and for the coupons for some of their other products that were sent to me.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Redwood Hill Farms Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese

12 medium to large crimini mushrooms
1 diced onion
2 Tbs crushed garlic
1/3 cup almond meal
1/2 block of Redwood Hill Farms Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese (finely grated)
1/4 cup Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Seasoned Coating Mix
2 Tbs Karoun Dairy Lite Kefir Cheese (Labne)
1 Tbs olive oil or butter
cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 385°F. Remove stems from mushrooms and chop finely. Lightly oil a 13×9 pan and place mushroom caps gill side down on the pan. Roast the mushrooms while you are preparing the stuffing filling (10 minutes once oven has come to temperature.)

Then heat a pan with your oil of choice and sauté the onion with the mushroom stems. You probably won’t need any salt in this dish because the seasoning mix and the cheeses are salty enough on their own. Cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have cooked through. At this point, the mushroom caps should be ready to take out of the oven. Remove the caps from the oven and flip them over, allowing them to cool as you prepare the rest of the mushroom filling.

Add the crushed garlic, almond meal and the seasoned coating mix to the mushroom stem/onion mixture and coat evenly. Then add the kefir cheese and stir until well combined. Lastly add about 3/4 of the shredded goat milk cheddar (save 1/4 of it to top the mushrooms once they’ve been filled). Add a little bit of cracked pepper to your mushroom filling and then fill the caps. I find it is easier to pick up the caps and scoop filling into them rather than trying to fill them with a spoon. Then once I have scooped some filling into a cap, I dip it into the extra shredded cheese so that the cheese sticks to the top of the mushroom rather than a bunch of cheese ending up on the pan.

Once you have filled the mushrooms and topped them with cheese, return the pan to the oven and bake at 385°F for about 25 minutes. The cheese will turn a nice golden brown on top and the mushrooms will develop an even more roasted flavor. I was so happy with the way they turned out and I hope you will give them a try!

For some fun cheese and wine pairings, you can go to Redwood Hill Farms’ website here.

You can find Redwood Hill Farms on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Cauliflower “Breadsticks” Recipe & Wild Garden Hummus

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At this year’s San Francisco Winter Fancy Food show, I saw that one of my favorite products (Wild Garden Hummus) was on display. This product is not considered “paleo” or “primal”, as it’s main ingredient is garbanzo beans (not accepted in the paleo diet), but I personally find it to be a nutritious and delicious snack food, and healthier than bacon (which is double the calories and fat per serving and completely accepted by paleos.) Wild Garden Hummus is completely portable, convenient and does not need to be refrigerated until opened.

Wild Garden Hummus comes in jars, triangle-shaped tetra packs, and boxed with a bag of pita chips for the ultimate snacker. 😉 I took pictures of the products that the vendor sent home with me, and also a picture of the product on sale at one of my sponsors: Nugget Market (at West Sacramento, last week).

Wild Garden Hummus comes in 6 flavors: Traditional,  Sun Dried Tomato, Roasted Garlic, Jalepeno, Fire Roasted Red Pepper, and Black Olive.

Wild Garden Hummus is all-natural, preservative and trans-fat free. It is vegetarian and features the healthiest ingredients available. I used a 1/2 tomato sauce and 1/2 Wild Garden Hummus ratio to make a dipping sauce for my cheesy cauliflower breadsticks! I went with the Traditional flavor which only contains 6 ingredients (and that includes water). Also the hummus is only 35 calories per serving (2 tablespoons).

And now, here’s the recipe for the breadsticks (modified recipe from Fast Paleo):

2 heads of cauliflower
2 tablespoons of Italian seasonings
(mix anything you like: basil, oregano, rosemary, fennel, garlic, onion powder, red pepper flakes)
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, not the powder kind, the GOOD kind. 😉
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Steam cauliflower until it is mushy and almost overly cooked. I do it in the microwave and it takes a while. You could even cook the cauliflower the night before and do the remaining steps the next day. Cool slightly (so you don’t prematurely cook the eggs) and pulse in a food processor with the eggs until you form a purée.

3. Add your spice mixture and pulse until well combined.

4. Add the parmesan sheet and pulse until the cheese is also incorporated.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Invest in a roll of parchment paper. It’s well worth the sticks NOT sticking to your pan. Spread the cauliflower mixture on the parchment in an even, medium thick layer (3/4 in thick).

6. Place in oven and bake until the sticks start to dry out and turn golden brown. Then, remove from oven.

7. Flip bread over and cut it into “sticks”. Top with a little more cheese if desired. Place under oven broiler to complete the browning and get the sticks slightly crispy. Watch closely to prevent burning.

Tip: Don’t roll out the mixture too thin on the baking sheet, and don’t skip step 7! It really gets the breadsticks more like “breadsticks”…crispy/chewy on the the outside and softer in the middle.

Enjoy! Is it Friday yet? 😉

You can find Wild Garden Hummus on Facebook here, or for more information, you can visit their website here. Wild Garden Hummus is available at Nugget Markets.

SF Winter Fancy Food Show 2013 #WFFS13: Auntie Si’s Lemongrass Vinegar

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Andy and I just returned from the Annual Winter Fancy Food show in San Francisco. I go every year and always find something I have never seen or tasted before. This year, it was Auntie Si Lemongrass Vinegar. (Though, I actually have to give credit to Andy for the find–he’s the one who first spotted the Auntie Si booth at the show, tasted the vinegar and urged me to try it.)

Auntie Si Lemongrass Vinegar was developed by Virginia Wax (aka Auntie Si), a native of Argentina. Wax has been making the vinegar for over 20 years for friends and family, but has only been selling it to the public for the past 2 years.

How did she come up with lemongrass vinegar? Virginia says, “I was taken by the aroma of lemon grass [I discovered at farmers’ markets] and started to experiment with it. I had tried various vinegar infusions, but the lemon grass was my favorite.”

Andy and I met Virginia at the Fancy Food show and spoke to her at length about the product. Not to name drop or anything, but Darrell Corti is a fan of her lemongrass vinegar and thus you can find it locally/buy it at Corti Brothers. You can also buy it by calling 805.481.4102.

Last night, Andy and I made a simple dressing with the vinegar with 1 part olive oil, and 2 parts vinegar. For more recipe ideas, you can visit the Auntie Si recipe page here, or look for them here in the future, as I will be trying it out in a few more meals.

You can follow NASFT on twitter here and find them on Facebook here.

You can like Auntie Si on Facebook here.

Food/Wine Pairing: Spicy Chicken Korma & Casque Sauvignon Blanc


Last night, Andy came over to my house and I made Indian food for the first time. Chicken korma is one of my favorite Indian dishes and I don’t know why it took me this long to make it for him. It’s got a subtle heat that slowly builds. While we were eating, Andy told me it was one of the top 5 things I have ever made for him. Maybe he just wanted something from me after dinner? 😉

Enjoy this dish with a sauvignon blanc or viogier from Casque Wines (Loomis). Today and tomorrow they are participating in the Holiday in the Hills Event at their new tasting room at the Flower Farm – 8920 Horseshoe Bar Road – offering food and wine pairings throughout the weekend along with a logo glass or cloth wine gift bag for all customers that purchase wine. Just bring a new, unwrapped child’s toy to donate for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation Toy Drive and wine tasting at ALL 17 participating wineries is FREE for the day. (Cash donations will also be accepted in lieu of a toy). Where: Auburn, Lincoln, Loomis, Newcastle. When: Dec. 8-9, 11 am to 5 pm. Participating Wineries: Bonitata • Casque • Ciotti • Cristaldi • Dono dal Cielo • Fawnridge • Green Family • Lone Buffalo • Mt. Vernon • PaZa • Pescatore • Popie • Rancho Roble • Rock Hill • Secret Ravine • Viña Castellano • Wise Villa

And now the recipe!

2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless and cut in half or thirds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup sweet onions, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cardamom or 1 pod
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
1/3 cup golden raisins or currants
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh mint (leaves washed and coarsely chopped)
1/4 fresh cilantro (leaves washed and coarsely chopped)
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

Toast and chop the walnuts. Set aside.

Heat a large heavy sauce pot over medium high burner and when hot add oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. It will probably take 2 batches to cook all of the chicken. Brown both sides and remove from the pan. Add more oil and repeat until all chicken is seared.

Remove chicken and add onions, carrots, ginger and garlic and sauté until lightly caramelized about 3-4 minutes in the left over fat. Lower heat and add spices. Cook until spices become very fragrant…make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir. Add broth, walnuts and the seared chicken. Bring to a boil then simmer gently until chicken is tender, approximatly 20 minutes. Mix together cornstarch and water. Whisk into simmering chicken. Return to a boil to thicken. Turn off heat, add raisins and stir in yogurt and herbs.

On the side, I made some parsnip chips and some potato wedges and sprinkled them with garam masala and sea salt. I also made some sautéed onions and eggplant, as well as broccoli battered in coconut & almond flour and baked to simulate some of the common deep fried Indian appetizers I crave. 😉

More on Casque Sauvignon Blanc (2011): It is $20 a bottle, and is their inaugural release for this varietal. The wine was cold fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel without being allowed to go through malolactic fermentation, and no oak aging was used. It’s a drink now wine and just proof of the talents of winemaker Kevin Stevenson. The wine went so well with the Chicken Korma, crisp enough to cool, cut through the kick in the dish.

You can find Casque Wines on Facebook here. Cheers! 🙂

Pomegranate-Walnut Guacamole Recipe: Thanks, Rick Bayless!


Last night was the River City Rebels Running Club’s Christmas Party at Andy’s house (if you go to their site, he’s the hot guy in the blue hat kneeling on the right). 🙂 Anyway…according to the invitation, I was to bring an appetizer. I wanted to make something vegetarian/vegan friendly because quite a lot of people in the club don’t do meat. And last year, I made a salad with meat in it and didn’t report there was bacon–like, a lot of it–in there. Oopsy. So, to try and please the masses, I swiped this super festive guacamole recipe from Rick Bayless. He sent it out over twitter a few days ago. It was very well received by my teammates, so I thought I would share it with all of you. ¡Muy delicioso!

His tweet was simply this: “pomegranate-walnut guac: mash 3 avoc,3/4 c ch tstd walnut,1 ch rstd poblano,2T parsley,2T lime,1/2 ch wht onion. Salt. Garn: pomgrnt seeds” Well played!

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I doubled the recipe, made it in 10 minutes. To save time, toast the walnuts in the oven as you are cutting/chopping. Then when you have everything all mashed up, they’ll be ready to go in (allow to cool first). Serve with plantain chips and fresh veggies!

This recipe also appears in Rick’s latest book. I’ll try to get my paws on a review copy and share some more stuff with you here…because since returning from Mexico, I can’t get enough Mexican food. Hanging on to happy memories and our time in Ixtapa!

Spinach Bread, Where Have You Been My Whole Life?!?

WARNING!! Do not make this bread. It will only make you crave more of it. I got the recipe from my friend and fellow food blogger Julia Mueller who writes the wonderfully delicious blog The Roasted Root. I met her during the Diestel Turkey Ranch visit–she and her boyfriend were sitting across from Andy and I at dinner. It’s great to meet people who have heard of Paleo or even slightly follow the diet. They asked me if I had ever heard of “spinach bread”, and I said, yes, I think I had heard about it on Mark’s Daily Apple, but I never made it and kind of just forgot about it. They gave me the URL to her website and the link to the recipe. Recipe tweaks such as using collard greens instead of spinach were discussed, as well as using half spinach/half collards. Whatever you do, MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH! 🙂 It’s like…”Spinach bread…where have you been all my life?” It’s not that it tastes like bread… but the texture is flexible and you can pick it up and it doesn’t fall apart… making it perfect to cut into squares or use as a wrap… a spinach blanket… oh, it’s just wonderful… 🙂

And then…what did I make to fill the bread? I met Joan and Heidi Diestel in Davis a few nights ago to buy some of their chicken eggs (not really available/distributed except in Sonora) because they are the best eggs I have ever eaten. Hey, eggs are like one of my favorite foods. I didn’t know when I would be able to meet up with my egg suppliers again, so I bought 4 dozen. I told you, I love eggs. 🙂

Instead of just eggs, Joan and Heidi sent me home with 4 varieties of ground turkey to try. They call this line of turkey product “chubs”. On Saturday night, I cracked open the regular variety and decided that since the spinach bread was flavored with sundried tomatoes and mushrooms, I would flavor the turkey with herbs and spices found in Italian cuisine. On the side, Andy and I had one of our favorite things: Parsnip Chips–which also happen to be addictive. Below is what I came up with:

Spinach Bread (this is the recipe doubled)
3 pounds frozen chopped collard greens (1.5 bags)
6 eggs
6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 tablespoon oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
10 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
salt, pepper to taste

Put the oven on at 350 degrees. Spread the greens out on a sheet pan and for 10 minutes or until the greens thaw out. Heat the oils and butter (if you are using butter) garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes. Cook the ingredients until the mushrooms have reduced and absorbed the garlic and the oils. (5-7 minutes) You’ll be able to smell when they are done. 🙂

After you remove the greens from the over, squeeze the water out of them. Show everyone how mighty you are by doing it with your bare hands. ;). Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl, then place the greens in the mixing bowl with the beaten eggs.  Add the sauteed ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix all ingredients well, ensuring the eggs are well incorporated.

Line a sheet pan with parchment, and spread the “bread” batter across it. Bake until the bread dries out in the middle and the edges begin to brown. This will take about 40-45 minutes. Now for the meat filling!

Italian-O Diestel Turkey Patties (makes 4-5)
One “chub” Diestel ground turkey (regular variety)
2 Tbs fresh or dried basil
3 Tbs chopped garlic
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 chopped onion
2 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp thyme
1 egg
1/2 cup pasta sauce
salt and pepper to season

Brown the onion in a skillet with 1 Tbs olive oil. Add the herbs to the pan and heat them slightly to bring out their flavor. Allow to cool slightly and then add the egg and the onion mixture to the ground turkey in a bowl, and add 1/2 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (we used 365 Organic from Whole Foods). Mix with your hands until well combined and form into patties. Then use the same skillet you used to brown the onion to heat some more olive oil and cook the patties. You only need to flip them one time and they will be fragile, so make sure the pan is hot and you give the patty enough time to cook on the first side. Flip and brown the other side and remove from the pan.

Then cut the cooled spinach bread and assemble your turkey patties. Top with more pasta sauce and another slice of spinach bread. And there you go! 🙂

You can find Julia and  The Roasted Root on Facebook here. And you’ll probably be able to find me making more spinach bread tonight. 🙂

Cobble Gobble: Eat More Turkey!

One thing that I took away from my tour of The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch last week is that people don’t really eat all that much turkey. As Americans we probably only enjoy it a few times a year. Maybe the problem is that we associate a lot of fear in cooking such a large and expensive piece of meat. Traumatized by an overcooked bird or a fried turkey explosion? Do we brine or do we not brine? Do we cook it breast side down first? What do I do with the carcass?!?! Maybe we overeat so much during the holiday turkey dinners and have so many incarnations of turkey leftovers, that the thought of having a turkey once a week sounds completely unappealing.

But forget about the larger 20-pound creatures for a moment. If you didn’t have to prepare a monstrosity every time, wouldn’t you love to have turkey once a week or even every couple of days? Think about all the possibilities…. not just turkey lunch meats, but turkey burgers, turkey bacon, turkey sausages, and even turkeys that are the size of roasting chickens? What if you didn’t even have to cook the turkey?

After the Diestel tour, Andy purchased a Diestel turkey breast (from their store on the ranch) to have for dinner at some point the following week. He marinated overnight (Greek style) and then grilled it. The next day he brought some over so I could make a version of my latest obsession, a Cobb salad, only this time, it would be a turkey Cobb salad!

I’m not sure why I am so in love the the Cobb right now. It could be because I love everything in one and the only thing non-Paleo in it is the cheese (I don’t use dressing either because to me it’s not needed with so many other toppings).

The Cobb originated in 1937 at the Brown Derby, when the restaurant’s owner Bob Cobb wanted a late night snack. I imagine it was a kind of TV’s Chopped moment when he raided the cooler and the pantry and combined what he could find inside: head of lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, some cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese, and of course bacon. Even Cobb knew that bacon makes everything better. 😉 The salad dressing Cobb invented ontained red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, garlic, olive oil, dry mustard, and salad oil. Soon everyone was asking for The Cobb Salad, and since 1937, more than 4 million salads have been sold at Brown Derby restaurants.

And that’s what I have had for dinner the past three nights! Last night I wanted to see how wonderful the Diestel Turkey would be in a Cobb. And it was everything I hoped. My Cobb salad had organic Earthbound Farms lettuce (herb blend–with dill in it, my favorite!!), heirloom tomatoes from Feeding Crane Farms, avocado, hard boiled Diestel chicken eggs, blue cheese, bacon, and of course the grilled Diestel turkey breast. We also had sauteed onions and mushrooms on the side, which I enjoy with almost anything.

We enjoyed the salad paired with a Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir. By the way, both chardonnays and pinot noir work very well with a Cobb Salad.

So it’s that easy. Just take the chicken out of your favorite recipe and put turkey up to bat! Turkey Cordon Bleu, Turkey and Dumplings, Turkey Chili, Turkey enchiladas… the list goes on. And, if you are gluten free or Paleo, there are tons of chicken recipes on the internet that you can swap in turkey meat instead.

For more recipe ideas or to see the full line of Diestel products, you can click here.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pecan Breads & Apple Parsnip Soup

I made this duo (the pumpkin breads were my own recipe and I borrowed the soup recipe from Cooking Light) for a wine party Andy and I went to last Friday.

I always make sure to bring Paleo friendly food to a potluck, but I especially like making comfort-type foods that non-Paleo people think they might miss if they cut wheat or sugar from their diet. The Pumpkin and Pecan Breads are such a treat! 🙂

Pumpkin & Pecan Breads

This recipe makes about 18 cupcake-sized breads. Each one can be served with the soup. You can place the bread in the bottom of the bowl and pour the soup over, or you can pour the soup in the bowl first and tear apart the breads using them as croutons.

2 cups pumpkin
1 1/2 cups chopped pecan
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup honey
8 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon crushed ginger

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except for the pecans. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, and coconut oil. Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture and fold until just combined. Incorporate the pecans and then pour the batter into a loaf pan or into a cupcake pan with liners.

Bake until the middle of the breads gently spring back and the tops of the bread are golden brown.
Now for the soup….

Apple-Parsnip Soup (from Cooking Light Magazine–dairy ingredients omitted)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 cups chopped peeled Pink Lady apple (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 1/2 cups chopped peeled parsnip (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple and the next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add parsnip, chicken broth, and apple cider; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until parsnip is tender.
2. Place half of parsnip mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat the procedure with remaining parsnip mixture. Stir in salt and pepper.

Allgood Provisions: Gluten free, Non-GMO, and Organic Snacks

Last week, I was sent a variety pack of snacks made by Allgood Provisions. The samples came in 8 ounce pouches and included cranberries, pistachios, and trail mix. Other varieties include: Organic Almonds, Maple Roasted Cashews, Organic Cherries, Organic Raisins and Banana Chips.

I was reading the Sacramento Bee on Saturday morning (Wednesday’s Taste section) and I found this recipe that just happens to have all Paleo ingredients. It’s authored by Chef Sara Moulton, former editor of Gourmet magazine. It also calls for pistachios, so it was a perfect opportunity to try the pistachios Allgood Provisions sent me!

This salad is sweet and savory and just phenomenal. I love it because it takes boring carrots and brings them to a new flavorful level. Andy and I both were scheduled for long runs the following day, so instead of typical carby runner fare: bread, pizza, pasta, we had beef, eggplant and the carbs came from this salad. It’s the perfect fuel for running! Andy did the math and figured the entire recipe was equivalent to eating three Powerbars. People always ask me where I get my carbs while eating Paleo, and here’s my answer. 🙂

Grated carrot salad with dates and pistachios

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time (for cumin seeds): 4 minutes

Serves 6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon paprika, sweet, hot or smoked, or a combination
1 teaspoon honey
1 pound carrots
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates (about 4 whole)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup shelled natural pistachios, walnuts or almonds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon shredded fresh mint

In a small skillet over medium-low, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until they turn a shade darker and become fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the paprika and the honey.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, coarsely grate the carrots, preferably using the coarse grating disk on a food processor. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the cooled oil-cumin mixture, the dates, lemon juice, pistachios and salt, using your hands to incorporate the dates.

Stir in the mint just before serving.

Recipe photo credit: Matthew Mead/Associated Press

Allgood Provisions products are available at Whole Foods Market.

You can find Allgood Provisions on Facebook here and on twitter here.

Peeled Snacks: Secret Ingredient in the Citroën Cake!

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In today’s blog, I am featuring Peeled Snacks. They’re a troupe of organic, dried fruits with no added sugar that I am pretty crazy about. A few months ago, the people who market Peeled Snacks sent me 4 pouches to taste and review.

I handily scarfed down my favorite: Go Figure. It’s a combo pack of dried apricots, figs, and dates. Yes, please!

Peeled Snacks are gently dried, organic fruit snacks that are tasty, healthy and have no added sugar or other preservatives.

Peeled Snacks are available at Whole Foods Markets as well as online. They are great for kids’ school lunches, on a road trip, or when you need to fuel up for a race.

Peeled Snacks are made with ingredients we all recognize and can pronounce! Gently-dried fruit with no sugar added. The snacks provide a natural source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  They have no artificial flavors or colors and are gluten, wheat, cholesterol and dairy free.  Peeled Snacks sources from the U.S. whenever possible, and as part of its commitment to sustainability, has partnered with the American Farmland Trust to promote and save American farmland.

In fact, I used Peeled Snacks to make decorations on the Citroën cake I made for RB. The cake was Paleo friendly with the only sugar in it being in the white chocolate I used for the frosting and the natural sugar in the fruit.

Andy’s Tires
1 package Peeled Snacks Farmer’s Market Trio (dried apple, grapes, and cherries)
About 1 cup orange juice
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
White Chocolate or Dark Chocolate discs

In a glass bowl, combine the contents of the Peeled Snacks Farmer’s Market Trio and pour enough orange juice over it to cover the fruit. Microwave the fruit in 15 second intervals until it is rehydrated. Then place the fruit in a food processor with the cocoa and the honey. Pulse until the fruit is completely blended and comes together. It will be pliable (like Play-Doh). Then you can form it into tire shapes and place a disc of chocolate on the tire to form a rim.

It was a fun way to decorate the cake without using fondant, which I would have normally used on a cake like that if I were still baking with sugar. I have to say, the tires were my favorite part of the cake! The best thing is, I used the fruit on a whim…I just happened to have it on hand. 🙂

I also used the Dried Mango from the Peeled Snacks line to dip in chocolate and lay it all around the cake, as if the car were driving through the French countryside. Perfection! I wish I had more Peeled Freakin’ Snacks in the house right now!! 🙂

About Peeled Snacks
In 2004, Noha Waibsnaider noticed that something was missing in the snack market. Why? She could get salty chips, over-processed fruit, or energy bars with mysterious ingredients, but she couldn’t find something that made her feel good about snacking. So she set about to fix that problem. Her solution? Tasty and nourishing treats that are now Peeled Snacks.  Noha’s vision for Peeled Snacks was to make healthy snacking as close to natural as possible and a satisfying part of life.

You can follow Peeled Snacks on twitter here and find them on Facebook here.

Happy #Cabernet Day! (and Espresso Rubbed Steak Recipe)

It’s Cabernet Day, and what better excuse to promote the latest wine from the (CK) Mondavi family… namely Marc Mondavi and his Divining Rod wines.

I was sent two bottles to try and I thought I would share with you my thoughts, along with a fab recipe to pair with the cabernet!! 🙂

The first was a bottle of 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. In the shipment, I was also sent a set of divining rods. I haven’t tried them yet, but I have to say they look pretty cool.

The second bottle was  2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Both retail for about $17. Since I liked the Cabernet a lot more for the price, I thought I would choose today to showcase it here on cavegrrl. 🙂

It went very well with the grilled steak, zucchini & heirloom salad, and parsnip chips we made for dinner that evening.

Here’s the recipe for the coffee rub we had on the steak… BTW, the steak was grass-fed, French-cut, one-inch thick, bone-in ribeye from Taylor’s Market. It weighed in at  about 28 ounces including the bone. It was sourced from Wintun Ranch.

Coffee Rub:
1/3 cup espresso (we used coffee from CoffeeWorks)
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tbs Chili Powder
2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp sea salt

Blend all spices together in a small bowl and coat the steaks first with olive oil, then coat them in the coffee/spice blend. Grill them to desired doneness.

You can find The Divining Rod wines on Facebook here and on twitter here. You can find out more about Marc Mondavi here:

Grilled Zucchini Roll Ups with Cherry Almond Chicken Salad


Mom, I’m in the Bee again today and guess what? It’s a Paleo recipe!!


3 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Ground black pepper

Cherry almond chicken salad:
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup pitted dark cherries, chopped
1 cup sliced and toasted almonds

For zucchini: Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.
Brush the slices of zucchini with oil on both sides. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper.
Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.

For chicken salad: In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onions, fennel, shallot, salt and pepper; set aside. In a small bowl, add the lemon juice and poppy seeds to the mayonnaise and stir to incorporate. Then pour the mayonnaise mixture over the chicken mixture and combine the two. Then fold in the cherries gently, followed by the toasted almonds.

To assemble the roll-ups, take a grilled slice of zucchini, and place 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of the chicken salad on its edge. Then roll up the slice tightly around the chicken salad, like a piece of sushi, and fasten the end with a toothpick. You might need two toothpicks per roll-up. Continue this process until you are out of zucchini slices.

Now you can enjoy that abundance of zucchini instead of giving it away to your neighbors. 🙂

Citroën Cake: Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Mostly Paleo

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Just thought I would show off what I have been working on for the past few evenings in between three jobs and the workout schedule. As you can see, Andy has a 1961 Citroën, and I did my best to recreate it for this birthday cake.

It turned out rather well considering fondant and food coloring are completely off limits with Paleo. On the other hand, I did use copious amounts of white chocolate (organic) and some butter in the blue frosting. Oh, and the blue coloring is made with red cabbage (weird, I know) and a bit of baking soda.

Check back on this post if you are interested, and I will post the recipes techniques I used on the fillings and components of this cake. Many things were tweaked from other websites and somethings just came to me as I was making it.

BTW, happy 10 month-aversary, Andy! 😀

I wanted to leave out the agave nectar (decided NOT paleo, and I wanted to make enough batter to fill the car pan, so I adapted the recipe for German Chocolate Cake (adapted from Elena’s Pantry) to suit my needs. Here’s what I did:

1 1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup xylitol
2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
15 eggs
1.5 cups coconut oil
1 ½ cups honey
1/4 coconut milk
1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract

In one bowl, combine the dry ingredients: coconut flour, cocoa powder, xylitol, salt and baking soda
In the mixer bowl, mix eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla.

Add dry the ingredients into the mixer bowl, rotating additions of the coconut milk and continue to blend until well combined, but not overly mixed. Oil the pans you’ll be using and dust with coconut, almond flour, or flax seed. Pour batter into pans and bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes.

Check back for the filling and frosting recipe as well as what I did to make the windows and tires. 🙂

German Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream for the Caveman…

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This weekend is mah caveman’s special day. His birthday is August 5th, and we are throwing a party for him on August 4th (don’t worry, it’s not a surprise!!). Well, he just loves ice cream. But, ice cream is decidedly NOT Paleo, as it is made with dairy and loads of sugar.

Well, OK then. An ice cream-like substance ye shall have.

I modified this recipe from all to make it Paleo friendly. Of course I used a totally Paleolithic blender, food processor, and ice cream maker to make the ice cream happen. Well, ya know. At least it’s all natural. 😉

1 1/2 cups So Delicious (unsweetened) coconut milk
1 cup coconut cream (skim the cream off the top when you open the can of coconut milk, and purchase the full-fat, not “light” variety)
1/3 cup xylitol
2 (1/2 pound) avocados, peeled and pitted
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1 cup toasted and chopped pecans
3/4 cup dark chocolate discs
1/4 cup coconut oil

Puree milk, coconut cream, xylitol, avocados, and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Pour into a cold metal bowl, cover, and chill for about an hour. Then pour the mixture into an electric ice cream freezer and process according to the directions on your machine. Once the mixture has thickened, place back into the freezer and allow to harden slightly (keep in mind that you will will want it stirring consistency).

Toast the coconut and pecans at 350 until they are browned. Be careful not to burn either, as they brown quickly. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

For the chocolate chunks, place the chocolate in a bowl and pour the coconut oil over the chocolate and microwave in 10 second pulses to allow the chocolate to melt. Then spread over a piece of wax paper in a thin layer and allow to firm up in the refrigerator. Drag a knife or spoon over the hardened chocolate and break into pieces.

Take the bowl of ice cream out of the freezer and stir in the pecans, chocolate pieces, and the coconut. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. I am not sure how long it will last there, since the ice cream is so good it is typically gone within a few days!

Happy Birthday, Andy! 🙂