Category Archives: Tree nut and Peanut free

Warm Spinach Salad with Mushrooms, Bacon and Cider Honey Dressing

Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon!

Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon!

Who said you can’t eat salads in colder weather? This warm spinach salad is exactly what you need to eat when you want to eat a salad but it’s also cold enough to put the heat on.

Back in the day when I was a bar hopping mad woman living in Portsmouth, my friends and I spent most Sunday’s at Molly Malones for several hours of brunch and cocktails. They had this great warm spinach salad with hard boiled eggs and mushrooms and at the time (many years ago), I had never had anything like it.  A warm salad? That’s crazy talk! Well, since then, I’ve seen and had many versions of that same salad at other restaurants and often make it at home.  It’s so delicious you forget that you’re eating a salad! I’m sure there are hundreds of versions of this salad on the internet but this is how I do it when I’m in the mood for a salad from a restaurant that no longer exists.  So good and super filling! This is a salad that will keep you going and it’s an awesome way to sneak in veggies for people who don’t like them (because bacon)!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
7 to 9 oz container of Organic Baby Spinach
4 Hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
16 oz white button or portobello mushrooms, sliced
8 oz Nitrite Free Bacon (organic if you can get it), cooked & chopped
1 large vidalia or red onion, cut in half, then sliced thinly
1 tbsp coconut oil, pastured butter or olive oil
optional: 1 bunch lightly steamed broccoli (I like to toss in extra veggies!)

Dressing
3 tbsp honey
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 large shallot, finely minced (or 2 tbsp of onion)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
(you can add  thickener like corn starch at the end of the cooking process if you want but it’s unnecessary – if concerned about gluten free eating, double check the brand you use.)

Directions
Cook your mushrooms and sliced onions in a tbsp of coconut oil or butter until onions are soft and mushrooms browned.  Season them with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the mushrooms and onions from the pan and make the dressing by adding the minced shallot, honey and cider vinegar to the same pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is soft and some of the liquid reduces, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour the mixture (carefully) into a small bowl and whisk in the dijon mustard until well blended, then whisk in the olive oil slowly until everything is well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the spinach, mushrooms, onions, broccoli if using, hard boiled eggs, and bacon among 4 plates.  Top with a little of the warm dressing and serve immediately (then wish you had made enough for seconds!).
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No Bean Turkey & Kuri Squash Chili

Looks kinda gross but tastes good!

Looks kinda gross but tastes good!

Chili. I love it, don’t you? Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t love beans and he can’t tolerate really spicy food anymore so I don’t make it too often these days. But I do often modify old favorites into something we both can enjoy. I also love to cook using whatever I just happen to have on hand (which is something you just have to get used to when you take part in a CSA).  I don’t want to have to run to the store for a single ingredient or two (have I told you how we’re a good 20 minutes from the nearest full service grocery store?) so being comfortable with substituting ingredients is really important.

Last week I desperately wanted a warm bowl of chili but I didn’t have bell peppers, corn, cilantro or anything else chili like on hand, but I did have kale, kuri squash (which I’ve never had before) and parsnips so I decided to roll with it and make a chili anyhow.  It worked! The texture of the squash and parsnips blended in really well with the turkey (a great fill in for my bean cravings) and the kale was completely unnoticeable texture-wise. Using squash, kale and parsnips also gave this chili a nice earthy flavor that I think is a nice change from most chilis.

Red Kuri squash - it's thin skinned (edible actually) and to me tastes like a cross between butternut and kabocha. Buttery texture!

Red Kuri squash – it’s thin skinned (edible actually) and to me tastes like a cross between butternut and kabocha. Buttery texture!

This doesn’t really need to be topped with anything – I think it’s flavorful enough to stand on it’s own but if you enjoy topping chili with other things then I think sliced avocado, sliced scallions and my dairy free sour cream would work awesomely.  Feel free to swap out the ground turkey for ground beef or beans or whatever other protein you like.

Don’t let the need for specific recipes hold you back from experimenting in the kitchen.  If you have a couple of techniques down, you can experiment confidently.  Use your intuition. If you have a palate and preferences, you’ll know what you will like.  Cooking healthy on a regular basis becomes a lot easier when you release some of the rules that complicate our lives.  And if something doesn’t turn out so tasty? So what? It’s just one meal.  On to the next!

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients
20 oz ground turkey
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 parsnips, peeled and sliced
3 cups of sliced kale
1 kuri squash*  (see note below about prep)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
2 15 oz cans organic fire roasted diced tomatoes
sea salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or 1 tbsp diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Directions
Heat a 4 qt sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil.  When the pan is hot, add the ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is no longer pink.  Add in the diced onion and cook for 5 minutes.  Add in the parsnips, kale, chopped squash, cumin, chili powder, cacao powder, oregano, garlic powder and fire roasted diced tomatoes (and cayenne or chipotle in adobo if using).  Bring to a low simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes (covered) or until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.  Season with sea salt and pepper and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve as is or top with avocado, cilantro & scallions.

*Note: You have two options for preparing the kuri squash for this recipe.  My personal preference is #2 as (I’ve said this before on this blog) I don’t like cutting into really hard squash.  I’m rather accident prone and I just know I’ll lose a finger one of these days if I try! #2 obviously takes a little longer than #1 so just keep that in mind.

1) Cut in half, scoop out the seeds/membrane and then chop the flesh into 1 inch chunks (you can keep the skin on – it’s edible).

2) Roast the entire squash in a 350 degree oven until soft enough to cut in half easily, about 30 minutes.  Let cool briefly, cut in half, peel, scoop out seeds/membrane and then chop into 1 inch chunks.

Easy Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

Simple Roasted chicken with root vegetables.

Simple Roasted chicken with root vegetables.

One of my favorite cold weather go-to dinners is a whole roasted chicken.  You just need a couple of minutes to get it ready for the oven and then you can sit back and relax while it cooks!  Cook it with some veggies all in the same pan and all you’ll have to do when it comes out of the oven is slice it without burning yourself! Plus, if you use an organic, pasture-raised (and hopefully local) bird, you can also save the carcass to make homemade chicken broth afterwards. Probably the best thing ever for keeping us healthy in the winter!

I used to be really intimidated by cooking whole chickens (or any other roast).  All the recipes I’d see on TV or online all seemed so complicated.  They all had me believing you had to truss it up with kitchen twine, stuff it or don’t stuff it, put herbs under the skin and aromatics in the cavity, and rub various fats and seasonings on the skin.  Jeez! Can’t I just cook the darn thing?? It seemed like way too many ways for things to go wrong and too many steps that may not matter all that much in the end result.

This is a simple recipe.  No fuss. No truss!!  Does trussing and all that junk make for a more flavorful or tender bird? Probably. But I’ve never had anyone turn up their nose or say that the meat from my bird was too dry or that it was not flavorful.  There are some things in life I can’t be bothered with and tying up a dead bird before I cook it’s carcass for an hour and half is one of them.  It’s not like it’s going to try to escape. Maybe for a special occasion you want to go the extra mile and make a fancy bird, but some of us just want to get dinner on the table on a Wednesday night without wrestling with poultry.

Cook it with some veggies all in the same pan and all you’ll have to do when it comes out of the oven is slice it without burning yourself! Plus, if you use an organic, pasture-raised (and hopefully local) bird, you can also save the carcass to make homemade chicken broth afterwards. Probably the best thing ever for keeping us healthy in the winter!

This recipe takes 90 minutes to cook.  I realize that is an asinine amount of time to make dinner for the average day of the week so there are a few options for this:
1. Make it on the weekend.
2. Make it AFTER dinner one night and eat it the next evening. It reheats beautifully.
3. Chop the veggies & prepare the chicken etc the night before, store in the fridge and pop in the oven as soon as you get home.  It’s hands free for 90 minutes so you can get lots of other things done, like your work out, laundry or helping kids out with homework.

Feel free to swap out these particular root veggies for other winter vegetables that you may have on hand or prefer.  Parsnips, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and winter squashes all work well too!

This makes 4 servings.

Ingredients
5 lb whole organic chicken, giblets removed
optional: 1 head of garlic, top sliced off (to expose cloves)
2 medium beets, peeled, cut into 1.5 inch chunks
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 onion, peeled, cut in half and each half cut into thirds
2 large carrots, peeled, sliced into 2 inch lengths
1 turnip or rutabaga, peeled, cut into 2 inch or so chunks
1.5 cups roughly chopped dandelion greens, tatsoi, mizuna or baby spinach
1 tbsps olive oil, melted coconut oil or pasture butter
sea salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the beets, potatoes, onion, carrots and turnip/rutabaga with the olive oil or coconut oil in a large roasting pan (if you care about presentation, you may want to toss the beets separately as they will coat everything red!).  The pan needs to be large enough to accommodate both a 5lb bird and all the vegetables at the same time.  I use one that is large enough for roasting a 20 lb turkey.  Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper on the vegetables.

Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the bird and if using the garlic, insert inside.  The garlic will add some flavor to the veggies and to the chicken but not so much that it’s absolutely necessary.  It WILL make your house smell amazing and make you hungry. Just a warning.

Make a bit of a well in the center of the roasting pan by moving the veggies towards the sides of the pan and insert the chicken in to the well. Liberally salt the skin of the bird (especially if you plan to eat it).  There is no need to add oil or butter to the skin (for this recipe anyway!).

Cook the chicken and vegetables for 90 minutes or until the juices in the thigh run clear when you insert a knife into the thickest part of the thigh.  Normally, I don’t need to do anything at all while this meal cooks (except maybe enjoy a glass of wine) but once in awhile you get a bird that doesn’t seem to release much liquid.  If that happens, you’ll start to smell burning (usually from the most sugary of veggies in your roast).  To fix that, give the veggies a gentle stir and add a few tablespoons of water or stock to the pan and continue cooking as normal.  A little browning adds delicious flavor – no one wants burnt vegetables though.

Going back to inserting a knife into a thigh to see if juices run clear . . .if you are wary of this as a gage of “doneness”, insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh for a reading of 160 degrees.  Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.  The temperature gage will continue to rise and letting the bird sit before cutting will help it to retain juices.

After 15 minutes, remove the bird from the pan and carve for serving.  Stir the greens (mizuna, tatsoi, baby spinach etc) into the roasted root vegetables (in all the delicious chicken juices, fat and gelatin – don’t be grossed out, that’s good stuff!). They will wilt somewhat but should remain vibrantly green. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve the chicken and veggies with a dollop of dijon mustard on the side for the chicken (at least that’s how I like it lately!).

Mix and Match Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie (topped with Butternut Squash!)

Shepherd’s Pie (topped with Butternut Squash!)

Growing up, we had Shepherd’s Pie quite a bit! In our house, it was essentially leftover mashed potatoes, frozen or canned corn and ground beef all baked in a dish together.  To be honest, I did not love it.

But now as an adult, I realize that was my mom’s way of using up leftovers and she didn’t get fancy with ingredients because she had 5 kids and at least one of us at any given time was a picky eater.

While I didn’t love the combo of plain beef and corn, I do see the appeal of a one pot dish and a form of Shepherd’s Pie appears in our house at least a couple times a month.  I like to call it Mix and Match Shepherd’s Pie.  It’s essentially one part protein, one part assorted cooked vegetables, a little tomato paste, worcestershire and appropriate spices, topped with mashed root vegetable or starch of your choice. This is not really a recipe, but more a loose formula, so go crazy if you like.  It’s a phenomenal way to use up leftovers, it’s full of comfort food, and it’s comprised of whole foods . . .what’s not to like?

The options are endless – almost anything you’ve got in your fridge can work here! I’ve made some really crazy combinations and so far neither John or I have turned up our noses at the result.  When you can’t think of anything to make – make this! The amount of nutrients you can pack into it are endless!

sausage, bell peppers, spinach, celery, onions and who the heck remembers what else! Filling for Shepherd's Pie!

sausage, bell peppers, spinach and who the heck remembers what else! Filling for Shepherd’s Pie!

Ingredients
16 – 20 oz protein of choice: try ground turkey, beef, lamb or pork, or sausages (casings removed), thinly sliced chicken breasts or canned beans.

3-4 cups leftover mashed root or starch: try potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, celeriac, turnip, rutabaga, kabocha squash or cooked polenta.  (If I don’t have leftovers, I boil and mash and then stir in 2 tbsp pasture butter or coconut oil to my starch/roots, plus salt and pepper. I usually will leave potato & sweet potato skins on)

3 cups chopped mixed vegetables of your choice: try mushrooms, broccoli, kale, dandelion greens, bell peppers, carrots, peas, zucchini, mizuna, cabbage etc.

1 cup diced onion or thinly sliced leeks
1 tbsp pasture butter, olive oil or coconut oil
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried herbs (one or two): try ground sage, savory, basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, dill
optional: 1/2 tsp garlic powder, onion powder or smoked paprika
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil (or butter) and saute 3 cups of chopped mixed vegetables and 1 cup of diced onions/leeks until they begin to soften and the onions are almost translucent. Remove the vegetables from the pan and cook your meat (you don’t need to cook canned beans if you are using them), stirring occasionally until cooked through.  Stir the vegetables back into the pan, add the worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, herbs and any optional spices until everything is well blended.  Most meats will yield a small amount of liquid during the cooking process, if you use something that doesn’t and the pan seems dry, feel free to add a couple tbsp of water while working in the tomato paste and other flavorings.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pour the meat / bean & vegetable mixture into the bottom of a large casserole dish or 9X13 pan.  Top with mashed root or starch and bake for 30 minutes or until warmed through.  Some toppings will brown better than others, if your top doesn’t brown, turn on the broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes (keeping an eye on it as roots brown quickly).

Remove from oven and let cool briefly before serving.  Makes 4 generous delicious, comfort food servings.

Note: If your mash topping seems soupy (as the case might be with things like butternut squash) stir in a beaten egg before cooking and it will firm right up during cooking!

My favorite combos:
Topping: Colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale, leeks & cabbage stirred in)
Filling: Ground Turkey, broccolini & carrots (photo below)

Colcannon/Butternut Squash shepherd's Pie with ground turkey, carrots and broccolini!

Colcannon/Butternut Squash shepherd’s Pie with ground turkey, carrots and broccolini!

photo 1 copy 5

Topping:  Butternut squash
Filling: Sweet Italian Sausage, Kale, Bell peppers, peas

Topping: Smashed Parm Potatoes
Filling: Ground Beef, mushrooms & carrots

Do you make Shepherd’s Pie? What are your favorite filling and toppings? Are you a traditionalist or do you like to veer off and clean out your fridge like me? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear your side of things!

Roasted Radishes & Greens with Lemon & Butter

photo 1 Are you a fan of radishes and their greens? They’re a great source of vitamin C, folate and potassium and they contain several phytochemicals and antioxidants that help keep our liver, kidneys and bladder running smoothly. Most people eat them raw in salads so they probably aren’t eating enough of them to get much nutritional benefit from them but eating them cooked is a great way to take in more in one sitting (they’re a little spicy otherwise, don’t you think?).  I actually prefer to eat them cooked because it completely changes the flavor!  They become a whole new vegetable, I promise!

Here’s my favorite way to prepare them. Radish greens can be a little spicy so cooking them and adding lemon can really take the bite out of them. Let me know what you think!

Ingredients
2 tsp olive or coconut oil
2 heads of radishes plus their greens
2 tbsps unsalted pastured butter
sea salt
1 lemon

Directions
Cut off the greens, wash them well, chop roughly and put aside (you’re going to eat them too!). Scrub the radishes well and then cut each one in half. Toss the radishes in a little coconut or olive oil and spread out cut side down on a sheet pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast them in a 425 degree oven for 15-18 minutes (depending on size).

Towards the end of the cooking process, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter and when hot, saute the greens just until they wilt and reduce in size. Add the cooked radishes to the pan, melt the 2nd tbsp of butter and squeeze the juice of a whole lemon over them. Add more salt if necessary and eat! This makes two hearty vegetable servings for me and john (because we’re veggie monsters) but if you’re new and timid with cooked radishes, this could be enough for 4!

I swear these taste way better than this picture makes them look.

I swear these taste way better than this picture makes them look.

Healthy Crockpot Apple Butter

Healthier Apple Butter - no refined sugar! Sweetened with just a few dates!

Healthier Apple Butter – no refined sugar! Sweetened with just a few dates!

Last fall I made apple butter for the first time in my crock pot and it was delicious but it required something crazy like a cup and a half of sugar.  As tasty as it was (and as good as it made the house smell), I really didn’t want to use all that sugar this year so I decided to try to make some using nothing but medjool dates as sweetener.  I also left the peel on the apples to increase the amount of fiber and polyphenols and other good stuff in my apple butter.  It worked out really well!  This for sure is a bit more tart and less sweet than last year’s batch but I’m ok with that!  I used 4 dates in mine and I found it plenty sweet (but John tells me my sweet tooth is overly sensitive) but feel free to use a couple more if you are tentative about going the no refined sugar route.  Also, I used Macintosh apples (because that’s all the Orchard had the day we went apple picking) but using sweeter apples like Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp could result in a much sweeter butter.

Apple butter is good stuff! It’s great on toast or rice cakes, stirred into oatmeal, dolloped into smoothies or onto vanilla ice cream and it’s even good in savory dishes (try mixing it with dijon mustard & chives as a sauce for chicken or pork) and if you store it in mason jars it freezes really well.

Throw all ingredients in crock pot, cook for 5-8 hours and then puree in a blender.

Throw all ingredients in crock pot, cook for 5-8 hours and then puree in a blender.

Ingredients
10 – 12 medium sized apples, peel left on, cut into chunks
4 – 8 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup water (optional)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Put all ingredients in a 6 qt crock pot, cover and turn heat to low.  Cook for 5-8 hours, stirring occasionally until the apples and dates are completely broken down and start to take on a thick consistency and a caramel color.  Let cool and carefully pour into a blender and blend just for a minute or two to ensure the apple skins are finely pulverized (you’ll be amazed how broken down they get just by cooking in the crock pot for hours).  If for some reason the apple butter seems too liquidy after blending, you can put it back in the crock pot and cook until it reaches a consistency you are happy with – the longer you cook it will reduce more liquid, concentrating the sweetness and flavor. I’m kind of a lazy cook and I don’t want to cook twice so I’m more likely to just keep cooking until it’s as thick as I like – but your call!

Pour into mason jars and refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.

My batch filled two 16 oz mason jars to the top!

So delicious!

So delicious!

German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad - Light, tangy and crunchy!

German Potato Salad – Light, tangy and crunchy!

Potatoes have a bad reputation.  They’ll make you fat.  They’re a nightshade vegetable. They’ll raise your blood sugar.  They’re a white simple carbohydrate so we shouldn’t eat them.  I turn up my nose at all of that.  Potatoes are the bomb!!

They’re an amazing source of potassium, vitamin B6, copper, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B3 and fiber and these are all things we need more of.  Due to the high amount of processed food people in America eat, most don’t get enough potassium in their diet and this can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Sadly, when people eat potatoes the most common way they eat them is fried, as in french fries and potato chips.  It’s not the potatoes fault we choose these horrendous versions of them. Poor potatoes.

But if you keep the skin on (organic and well scrubbed), pair potatoes with protein and eat a moderate serving of them in a non-deep fried version, they can be part of a healthy diet.  Potatoes are a whole food. A single ingredient.  From the earth.  These are all good things.  I’d much rather see people eating potatoes they made at home, than purchasing processed white hamburger rolls, pasta, white rice etc.  Please don’t put the potato in the same category as these white simple carbs.  It’s really all about making good choices.  If you’re going to eat a huge helping of potato salad and have two hot dogs on white rolls – yeah, you’re going to have a massive blood sugar spike and feel like crap (especially after you top it all with a bowl of ice cream).  But if you have a moderate serving of potato salad, with some grilled chicken or a burger on a portobello mushroom cap (and with some veggies), you’re going going to fare much better (even if you do have a little ice cream later).  It’s actually pretty simple.  Just eat smartly and you can enjoy potatoes for a good dose of potassium and fiber.

My love for the potato grows strong this time of the year because it’s cookout season and that means lots of opportunities for it’s appearance in cold salads.  While a creamy, mayo or buttermilk drenched salad is delicious occasionally (especially if there are delicious herbs and veggies in there), sometimes my stomach churns at the thought of yet another overly mayonnaised potato salad.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of mayo (the homemade kind) but come on, sometimes it seems like some recipes are just potatoes and mayo.  That’s ridiculous.  That is not a recipe.  That is phoning it in.  Driving to the store and buying premade pasta salad would actually take more effort. When I feel mayo-ed out, I turn to German Potato Salad to change things up.

This isn’t a fancy recipe and you don’t need much to make it, some yukon or red potatoes, vinegar, oil and then some herbs or veggies.  Maybe some mustard (and bacon if you are feeling it).  You probably have all the ingredients already in your kitchen.  So for those times when you just might dump the whole bowl of mayo salads over the head of their maker, you can smile and hand them this instead.

Steam the potatoes in a colander for a less crumbly result.

Steam the potatoes in a colander for a less crumbly result.

Add lots of crunchy veggies and some vinegar, oil & mustard.

Add lots of crunchy veggies and some vinegar, oil & mustard.

Add some salt and pepper and give a good stir and you're ready to eat.

Add some salt and pepper and give a good stir and you’re ready to eat.

Ingredients
2 – 2.5 lbs Medium sized Organic Red Potatoes (or Yukon Gold)
3 scallions, sliced thinly
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
a big handful of fresh organic parsley, chopped (or 2 tbsp dried)
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp white vinegar*
1 tsp dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tsp salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Wash the potatoes well, cut them in half and boil in a pot of salted water for 15 minutes (until they give slightly with a fork). When they are mostly tender, drain the water and put the potatoes in a colander, then put the colander back over the pot you boiled them in and cover the potatoes with a clean dish towel.  Let them steam for 15 minutes.  Finishing them off this way instead of boiling for longer time prevents that overly mushy crumbly thing that happens to potatoes when you stir them a lot.

After the potatoes are done steaming, cut each potato half into quarters (depending on the size of your potatoes) and toss into a big bowl.  Add the scallions, parsley and celery to the bowl, then add the vinegars, oils, mustard, salt and pepper and give a good stir.  Serve at room temperature or chill for at least two hours to give the flavors time to develop.  If the salad seems too dry when you are ready to eat it (potatoes are thirsty buggers), add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth or a little more oil and vinegar. Serve with whatever amazing bbq you’ve got going on and don’t forget to invite me over!

Makes 4 – 6 good sized servings

*I didn’t put the gluten free tag on this because it contains white vinegar.  Most celiacs and gluten sensitive people tolerate white vinegar just fine but for the very sensitive, it could be an issue since it is made from grain, including rye or wheat.  The distillation process breaks down the gluten proteins so that the product is virtually “gluten free” from a testing standpoint (under 20 parts per million) but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe for everyone.  Complicated stuff!
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Red White and Blue Popsicles

Strawberry, Coconut & Blueberry Popsicles

My ugly but delicious dairy free popsicles!

My ugly but delicious dairy free popsicles!

No one is ever going to tell you I make pretty food.  I make tasty food that is usually pretty good for you but it usually looks like a train wreck.  But that’s ok with me if it’s ok with you.  Don’t judge my ugly 4th of July popsicles by their outer appearance.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts.  And if you make these yourself you won’t have to go dig up some change when you hear the ice cream man’s music come rolling through the neighborhood. The best part about these popsicles is that you don’t need to worry about gross ingredients like food coloring and high fructose corn syrup and since they contain real fruit you are giving your kids (and yourself) a treat that you can feel good about.  Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of most store popsicles?  They’re usually not even food. I’m looking forward to trying these with other fruits – I’m thinking mango & lime juice would be good too! This made 6 good sized popsicles out of small solo cups.  Despite using small solo cups they were still pretty large popsicles.  I think if you are using molds you’ll get a few more out of the mixture. It’s strawberry season right now in NH so by all means, use fresh if you can get them!

Ingredients
3/4 can full fat Coconut Milk
8 – 10oz organic fresh or frozen strawberries
8 – 10oz organic fresh or frozen blueberries
4 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt

Directions
If your honey is very thick or crystallized, you’ll want to melt it first.  You can do this by heating it in the microwave but I prefer to put it in a glass measuring cup and then setting the measuring cup in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes.  Once the honey is melted, blend the strawberries with 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of honey, plus a dash of vanilla and a tiny bit of salt.  Once they are well blended, scrape the blender out and set the strawberry mixture aside.  Rinse the blender and then do the same with the blueberries (+ honey, vanilla and salt) and again with the coconut milk, setting each one aside in a separate container.   Once all have been blended, spoon a heaping tbsp of the strawberry mixture into each popsicle mold, then a couple of spoonfuls of coconut milk, then a heaping tbsp of the blueberry mixture and so on until you run out of the mixtures.  Freeze for at least 4 hours before eating.

Freaking out because you don’t have popsicle molds? If you don’t have popsicle molds (I certainly don’t!), you can use small plastic or paper cups instead!  The popsicles won’t look as fancy and they may be a little awkward shaped but it will do. You just pour the mixtures in then cover with plastic wrap and make a small hole for a popsicle stick or plastic fork/spoon, then insert one into each hole.  The plastic wrap will keep the stick in place.  Pop into the freezer and wait patiently.  When the popsicles are frozen you may need to run the sides of each cup under warm water for a few seconds to release the popsicle from the plastic cup.  If you use paper cups you can probably just peel them off.  We used plastic forks in ours in place of popsicle sticks (since we didn’t have those either) and the cool thing about that was as your popsicle starts to melt you can just stick it back in the cup and eat it with the fork that has been acting as your stick.  So fancy.

You don't need popsicle molds to make your own popsicles.  Look around your kitchen, you'll find something that you can use.

You don’t need popsicle molds to make your own popsicles. Take a good look around your kitchen and I’m sure you probably have stuff you can use in a pinch!

I will totally be having one of these tonight! Yum!

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Wild Cod with Parsley, Lemon & Shallots and Arugula Salad

Wild Cod with Lemon, Parsley and Shallots - can't go wrong.

Wild Cod with Lemon, Parsley and Shallots – can’t go wrong!

Yay for summer!  I secretly (or not so secretly) love heat and humidity but that doesn’t mean I love being in a hot kitchen on those days (like today!).  When it’s a perfect summer day outside, I want to minimize the amount of time I have to spend indoors so I love having quick dinners at my fingertips and that’s where fish and a raw salad come in.

Wild cod takes just a few minutes to cook and a little chopping and slicing is all this arugula salad takes to make.  You can have healthy and delicious dinner on the table in 15 minutes tops.  Feel free to use any white mild tasting fish for this recipe.

If you are brave (and have amazing grill skills), feel free to grill your cod outside.  I find fish a little too delicate to do on the grill with my clunky bear-like coordination (unless it’s on a wood plank).  But by all means show me up with your gracefulness and report back.  And then come over and get grilling, thanks!

A tip for you:  Keep things like parsley, lemon, shallots, garlic, vinegars and oil/butter regularly in your kitchen.  Why?  Because almost anything tastes like you slaved over it when you add some of those ingredients.  Almost any combo of those ingredients makes a delicious salad dressing, chicken marinade, pasta or potato salad dressing and of course in this recipe, a topping for fish.  Get into the habit of keeping a few simple ingredients in your kitchen and you’ll always be able to whip up something delicious at a moments notice.

Ingredients
4 Wild cod fillets (skinned/skinless)
1 tbsp olive oil

1 organic lemon zested and juice reserved*
2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp pastured butter
1 large shallot, minced
sea salt to taste

Arugula Salad
4 cups baby arugula, chopped (try other baby greens if you don’t have arugula)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 large carrots, shredded or sliced thinly
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste

*it’s really important to use an organic lemon in any recipe that uses the peel or zest.  That is where all the pesticides are and they are not easily washed off.  If you are just using the juice of a lemon, conventional is ok but please go for organic when using zest (and rinse well before using anyway).
Arugula salad -a simple and quick way to get a spicy new green into your diet.

Arugula salad -a simple and quick way to get a spicy new green into your diet.

Directions
Cook cod in a hot sauce pan with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil. When hot, cook the cod for 3-4 minutes on one side, flip and then immediately put in hot oven.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes in the oven (exact time will depend on the thickness of your fillets) and remove when fish is opaque and flakes easily.

While the fish is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a small saucepan, cook shallots for 3 minutes or until softened/browning.  Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest, parsley, sea salt and remaining butter.  Spoon over fish.

Make the arugula salad before you begin making the fish or during (it takes just 5 minutes to make). Chop and prepare all your veggies and then dress with the oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.  Serve the cod and salad immediately.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings.

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Giardiniera with Chicken Sausage (Super Fast Version)


giardiniera3
I have a confession to make. I love sausage. I know that’s probably odd coming from someone whose business is health coaching. I’ve recently realized that sausage is my favorite meat.  It just adds so much flavor to anything you put it in!  My husband finds this hilarious because when he met me, the only animal protein I ate was fish, chicken and turkey.  On the rare occasion that I did decide to eat pork or beef it could not be what I referred to as a “circle” meat – meat that was cylindrical in shape and was comprised of lots of bits of unknown things (think salami, bologna, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni etc).  I just never liked it and frankly they grossed me out (bologna and hot dogs still do).  It wasn’t until I started to learn to cook after I moved in with him that I even considered the possibility that sausage could have a place in my diet.  These days, it appears on our dinner plates at least a couple times a month.  I get local when I can (our meat share from our CSA at Middle Branch Farm provides some) and the rest of the time I purchase chicken or pork sausages whose ingredient lists only contain things I recognize (applegate organic, aidells, organic prairie and al fresco are some brands that have simple ingredient lists that I see where I live).  They all have more salt in them than I would like but let’s be honest that’s partially what makes them so delicious.

This week, during one of my sausage cravings, I decided to make a fast version of italian giardiniera salad and serve them together. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out (cold salad & hot sausage?) but it was a good idea and very filling!  The actual making the salad only takes about 10 minutes (between chopping and lightly cooking the veggies) but you’ll want to serve it chilled so throw it into the fridge for an additional 20 minutes or so.  The flavor of the salad will get better the longer it sits (real giardiniera is marinated for a couple days usually before eating) but I wanted crunchy, tangy cold veggies right away so 20 minutes it was (and that’s why this is the super fast version).  Super yummy.And don’t feel like you need to serve this with sausage or any other meat – it’s pretty delicious on it’s own.  This may make an appearance at a few BBQs this summer.giardiniera2giardinieraI know you’re wondering, where’s the starch? carb? bread? grains? for this meal or for most of my recipes. I do eat grains (whole ones mostly) and starches but I find filling up on vegetables, protein and fat for most of the day keeps me the most satisfied and least bloated.  And, the less I eat grain/starchy carbs the less I get urges to binge or eat uncontrollably because my blood sugar isn’t being subjected to spikes.  I probably eat only one or two servings of grains or starch a day. I know this may not work for you but it’s something to think about if cravings or binging are something you struggle with. It’s taken me my entire adult life to get in touch with how the food I eat affects me physically (and emotionally) so I’m sticking with it.  The key is making sure I get a good amount of fat and protein plus bulk (from the veggies). Okay, sorry I’ve gone off on a tangent (but one that I love to talk about).  Here’s the recipe!!!

And my apologies for the blurry photos.  I was in a rush to get this into my belly and really wasn’t thinking it would be blog worthy before I ate it.

Giardiniera with Chicken Sausage (Super Fast Version)

Ingredients
1 small head of cauliflower
2 large carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 roasted red peppers, diced (make your own or buy them)
14 green olives, chopped (I used pitted unstuffed ones but anything you like goes!)
2 green scallions, diced
1/4 fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste (I use Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt by Selina Naturally)
freshly ground black pepper

4 – 5 links chicken sausage, casings removed (skip this if you bought pre-cooked sausage*)

Directions
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss in the cauliflower, carrots and celery. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes, then drain water and put veggies in a big bowl.  Add in the rest of the ingredients (except for sausage) and stir well.  Put in the fridge to chill.  Cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Once cooked, set aside for a few minutes until your giardiniera is cold enough for you then top the giardiniera with the warm sausage and get crunching.

*If you are using pre-cooked sausage, leave the casing on, dice up and then just cook until warmed through.

Serves 4 (and assuming you choose gluten free sausage, this is gluten free & dairy free)

I ate the leftovers cold (both the sausage and salad) for lunch the next day and it was even better!  I’m thinking this would also be delicious with some white beans and pepperoncini mixed in.