Tag Archives: gluten free

10 Days, 10 Dinners

Of all the things I get asked, “What do you eat?” or “What do you make for dinner?” is probably what I get asked the most. Last year I did a blog post that was an entire week’s worth of food in pictures.  It went over well – people loved to see what my meals / snacks consisted of.  I’ve been meaning to do one of those again but for some reason only seem to remember to take pictures at dinnertime!! So I thought I’d post a week and a half worth of our dinners so that you can see how I’m eating lately. So this is what I really ate for dinner from 4/28 – 5/7 (yes, it took me almost 2 weeks to get it into a blog post but when you see the LENGTH of this post you’ll see why!). I’ve included a loose version of a recipe for each meal (but I made most of these up on the fly with the exception of any linked recipes so it’s possible I’m forgetting an ingredient!) in case something interests you.

My hope is that these types of posts inspire you to get creative in your kitchen and see how easy and delicious more whole foods in your diet can be! And while I don’t want anyone to think that they need to eat exactly how I eat to lose weight or be their healthiest – eating the way I’m eating these days makes me feel my best. It keeps my cravings to a minimum, gives me tons of energy and it keeps the binge monster at bay. I want to encourage you to pay attention to how the foods that you eat make your body feel (and how the way your body feels affect your brain/emotions). It’s different for everyone and I encourage you to experiment to find what feels good to you.

My only gripe with our meals lately is that I feel like I need to make more of an attempt to eat  a couple vegetarian meals, at least for me. This is hard to do in our house as we don’t eat soy protein and John hates/can’t tolerate beans/legumes (and it’s rare for me to cook 2 different entrees). It’s something I struggle with. The meat / fish we do eat is always the highest quality I can get my hands on. I do not buy feedlot meats. I can’t support that and I cut back in other areas of spending so that we can afford healthier and more humane options.

Anyhow, enough blah blah blah here are 10 Days, 10 Dinners

1. Tues – 4/28
Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

(and Tessemae’s Green Goddess Dressing). I totally went back for a second helping of salad and an extra “cake”.

These came out super good which I was sort of surprised by! I bought a 14.75 oz can of Wild Alaskan Canned Salmon – the kind that has bones and skin in it – and the only way I could think of making it that would disguise bones/skin (gag!) was by making salmon cakes. I’ve always avoided these types of cans because the idea of the extra bits grossed me out but since my dairy consumption consists mostly of butter, I need to make extra effort to get calcium from other foods and guess what salmon bones have?? Yup, calcium (and vitamin D too).  And eating the skin increases the amount of healthy omega 3 fats by more than double per serving and since those are essential for reducing inflammation we need to eat them where we can! I’m over my fear of skin and bones in canned salmon and will definitely buy it again – it’s quite a bit cheaper than fresh and it’s already cooked so it’s a great way to save time and money.

How long this took to make: 20 – 25 minutes total (includes Cakes, tartar sauce and veggies for salad)

Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

How to make this:

I just drained the liquid from the 14.75 oz can of wild salmon, poured the contents into a bowl and literally crushed the crap out of bones and meat up with my hands. The bones are super crumbly and the skin was rather soft so it all blended up in small bits very quickly. When it was the right consistency for cakes, I stirred in 1 whole egg, an egg white (leftover from making mayo so I thought why not?), roughly 1/4 cup of rolled oats (processed in the food processor to a breadcrumb consistency), a few tbsp of chopped onion, 1 stalk of chopped celery, a little dijon mustard, garlic powder, parsley and a dash of tamari.  Mixed it together with a spoon and heated up my favorite cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  I added about a half tbsp of both butter and olive oil to the hot skillet and when hot, scooped about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan (per cake) pressed it down with a spatula so it formed a patty shape, cooked for about 3 minutes, flipped and cooked for about 3 minutes more. I cooked 3 at a time (and I think this made 7 or 8 total). They got an awesome brown crust and stayed together well.

TIP: I think the reason they worked out so well was that I let the mixture sit for a few minutes while I cut up salad veggies and the skillet heated up so the oats had time to absorb some of the moisture.  For the tartar sauce, I just made my homemade olive oil mayo and added some diced bubbies pickles to it, and a little of the pickle juice.

The best part was this meal came together in just a few minutes – I think start to finish was 20 minutes. It helped that I didn’t make the salad dressing – Tessemae’s makes ones with really simple ingredients so I buy it occasionally to save myself some time (not that dressing takes more than a minute – but I get tired of whisking!).

2. Wed – 4/29
Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans

I know, who the heck makes a whole roasted chicken on a weeknight? This girl does. We eat pretty late so even if I don’t get home until 7 I can still stick a chicken in the oven for dinner. I will roast a chicken with just about any vegetable combination – it’s an amazing way to have a delicious dinner that looks and tastes like you slaved forever! The juices from the chicken flavor the vegetables and the natural sugars in your starches caramelize – you can’t replicate this stuff on the stovetop (well you can but it’s a lot of work)!  After you’re done with the chicken, save the carcass for making broth (I put them in the freezer until I’m ready).

How long this took to make:  Active time, 5 minutes Inactive time, 90 minutes

Desktop Pictures2

Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans.

How to make this:

Prep for this took 4 minutes!! Chopped up a head of cauliflower into big florets, sliced two sweet potatoes into thick circles (skin left on but scrubbed well), rinsed a bag of fresh green beans, chopped an onion into a few chunks and then placed all of that in a big roasting pan. Drizzled with a little olive oil and tossed the veggies with my hands. Sprinkled with a little sea salt and black pepper, made a well in the center and stuck in a 5 lb organic chicken. The only thing I do to prep the chicken is open the bag it came in, remove any neck/giblets or whatever, stick it in the pan and sprinkle it with salt. That’s it (no rinsing, no trussing, no butter, no fuss!!).  Bake a 4-5lb bird with lots of veggies/root veg of your choice at 425 for 80 – 90 minutes. It’s perfectly done every time!  You don’t have that much time? You can cook just the bird by itself at 450 degrees for 50-60 minutes (and cook your veggies another way). This is the type of stuff we should all learn I was talking about here – techniques for cooking instead of specific recipes.

3. Thurs – 4/30
Got take out from You You in Nashua

I ate my weight in sushi and spicy mayo (though the spicy mayo was homemade and I used low sodium tamari instead of the soy sauce they gave us). Sorry no pic! Just picture me eating a massive plate of various sushi and smiling the whole time. I swear, I would eat it every day if I didn’t think it would give me mercury poisoning.

4. Fri – 5/1
Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg.

I was feeling a little breakfast for dinner ish but had some turkey I wanted to use up so a hash it was! I added some weird spices because that’s how I roll. Meals like this are a great way to work vegetables in and not even feel like you’re eating them. You’ll laugh but I cooked kabocha squash for me and potatoes for John. He can’t do squash but I would cut off my arm to eat it more often! I could have eaten potatoes too, but I just really wanted to eat my squash, so I made two things out of selfishness really. To be honest, the way I cook, it didn’t make extra work for me. I literally roasted the squash and his potatoes on the same cookie sheet in the oven for the same amount of time. This time, I went back for seconds of just the squash. I love me kabocha.  You should try it if you haven’t before – it’s drier and nuttier than butternut squash.

How long this took to make:  About 30 minutes for the hash and eggs, 60 min for my potatoes / squash (but you can microwave so that it can all be done in 30).

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

How to make this:

Cook your starch however you want (I baked potatoes and kabocha squash whole in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or so. You’re welcome to microwave yours to save time). While your starch is cooking, saute a big bunch of chopped kale (I used lacinato – it’s my favorite), 1 chopped zucchini, half a chopped onion, and 8oz of sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil, coconut oil or butter. When they’re mostly cooked, remove from the pan and cook 1 to 1 1/4 lbs of ground turkey in the same pan until cooked through.  Add the cooked veggies back to the pan, plus some paprika, garlic powder, turmeric and (weird I know) ground allspice, plus some sea salt and pepper and stir / cook until most of the liquid released from the veggies are gone. While you’re cooking in the spices, heat a skillet up over medium low heat, add some fat and fry up a few eggs to your desired doneness. Serve the hash on top of your starch and an egg or two on top of that.  It’s super awesome with salsa on top.

5. Sat – 5/2
Went out to dinner at Copper Door with the hubs and his dad

I had Wood Roasted Haddock with corn-crab hash, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, bell peppers and sweet compound butter. Also had 2 chicken rangoon appetizers (yup, I ate wheat) and a Manhattan the size of my whole fist. (sorry no pic!). I could totally replicate the haddock dish at home, no problem. Those rangoons though . . .

6. Sun – 5/3
Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Made homemade Chicken broth (using the saved carcass from Wednesday’s dinner) while we were home this weekend and turned it into a delicious and easy to digest soup (was having stomach pains after my wheat indulgence the night before).  If you have a high quality, rich tasting broth, you can make delicious soups with just a few ingredients since the broth is already so flavorful. Try it, I swear you will wonder why you ever bought store broth!

How long this took to make: Since I had homemade broth already, soup took about 30 – 35 minutes total.

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

How to make this:

Place 1 to 1.5 lbs organic boneless chicken breasts or thighs in a 4 quart dutch oven or stock pot. Add enough broth to cover the chicken plus 2 inches (they should be completely submerged and covered by 2 inches of liquid) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, I added a 1/2 cup of arborio rice, a two inch piece of peeled fresh ginger and about a tsp of anise seed (which I immersed in the broth tied into a piece of cheesecloth). You can also use 3 or 4 whole star anise.  I brought it back to a boil, then reduced to a simmer and let the chicken cook 15 -20 minutes (or until cooked through). I removed the chicken from the pan and let cool for a few minutes. Keep the rice cooking at a medium low temp and add more broth if needed. While the chicken is cooking, heat up a saute pan with a little fat of your choice and saute a chopped onion and 4 sliced stalks of celery until softened, about 6 or 7 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop up into bite sized pieces. Remove anise seed and ginger from the rice/broth, add chopped chicken, sauteed celery and onion and your raw but sliced head of bok choy to the pot. Add 1 tbsp low sodium tamari, a dash of rice vinegar and 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (or 1 tbsp fresh grated). Heat everything through and season with pepper.

7. Mon – 5/4
Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

This was the result of one of those nights when I came home and stared into the fridge several times and didn’t know what to make. Nothing was appealing to me, I was tired and really didn’t want anything that we had. Took a chance in throwing this all together and it worked out well!

How long this took to make: About 45 minutes.

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

How to make this:

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut two big zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon then lightly rub with olive or melted coconut oil. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. While zucchini is cooking, heat fat of your choice in a medium sized saute pan and cook 1 diced onion and a roughly chopped fennel bulb (freeze the fronds for the next time you make broth – adds a delicious flavor and it’s good for the belly) until softened (about 6 or 7 minutes). Add 1 lb grassfed ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Add 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp ground allspice and stir until ground beef is cooked through. Season with sea salt and black pepper.  While the meat and zucchini are cooking, make a quick marinara sauce. I take a whole onion, cut in half and remove the skin and place the two onion halves in a hot sauce pan with a little olive oil or butter and then I add some dried oregano, either fresh or dried basil and 1 clove minced garlic and stir until fragrant (a minute or two). Then I add a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and generous sea salt and black pepper and I let it simmer for a good 25 -40 minutes (depending on how hungry I am!). When your meat and veggie mixture is cooked through, fill up your zucchini boats with the mixture and place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with marinara sauce (feel free to add grated parm or gruyere if you eat dairy). Serve with steamed green beans and (frozen) organic corn.

8. Tues – 5/5
Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

This is really easy to make and John liked it despite not liking fish.

How long this took to make: About 30 minutes (Mahi Mahi takes about 10 minutes but brussels take a bit longer)


Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

How to make this:

I totally cheated with my salsa. I had some Salsa Fresca from whole foods in the fridge. To that, I added some chopped fresh pineapple, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a diced avocado. Voila, Pineapple Avocado salsa bitches. I do make my own salsa sometimes but I’m also a fan of improvising with what I have available at any given moment. Put your salsa aside and make a spice rub for your mahi mahi. Use this as a rough guide and adjust to your needs: 1.5 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp sea salt. If you like spicy you’ll probably want to add some cayenne to that but I leave it out for John. Put it all in a bowl and mix together and then rub it all over (front and back) of 1 – 1.5 lbs Wild Mahi Mahi fillets. Let your Mahi Mahi sit for a few minutes, make some quinoa and prep your brussels sprouts. I roughly follow this recipe. Though I use less olive oil, less salt and cook at a slightly higher temp for less time (say 425 for 25 minutes – it really depends on how big your sprouts are). When your quinoa and sprout are almost done, heat a cast iron skillet or good saute pan over medium high heat, add about 1/2 tbsp of both butter and olive oil and when hot add your Mahi Mahi fillets. Cook for about 4-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through (will depend on thickness of your fillets – fish cooks pretty fast!). You should get a good sear if the pan is hot enough. Serve the Mahi Mahi with the salsa on top or on the side.

9. Wed – 5/6
Wild ramps, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto.

My risottos are really more like a bowl of vegetables that have some slow cooked rice mixed in, instead of the other way around. I used more of the chicken broth I made on Sunday instead of store bought – it’s way more nutritious and tastes so much better too.

How do we make risotto? I promise, it’s not as hard as people make it out to be but you do need to be present and available to stir regularly. Once you see that risotto is a cooking technique – and you just need to learn the formula you realize you can add anything to it – there are endless delicious variations. One word of advice, you probably don’t want to make it for the first time on a weeknight if you have hungry little ones waiting on you (try it on a weekend when you have some extra wiggle room).

How long this took to make: About 40 minutes.


Wild ramp, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto

How to make this:

You can follow this recipe here. To this, I added a whole bunch of chopped rainbow swiss chard in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. I also use more than 3 cups of broth (probably closer to 5 cups) and have my broth warm before adding it to the rice. I used DuBreton Organic Mild Italian Pork Sausages. If you can’t find Ramps (not exactly in every grocery store are they!), try using scallions, leeks or egyptian onions for a similar light onion flavor (though you won’t want to use the tough green tops of leeks – again save those for broth making!).  If you don’t have vermouth, try white wine – and if you don’t use alcohol, skip it and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a little acid kick. Lastly, the parmesan in risotto is totally optional – it’s still creamy and delicious without.

10. Thurs – 5/7
Paleo Pad Thai

This is super delicious.

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

How to make this:

Use this recipe for Paleo Pad Thai by Melissa Joulwan. It’s basically spaghetti squash with grilled chicken thighs, sugar snap peas, scrambled egg and a delicious sunbutter sauce. We’re not paleo but searching for paleo recipes is an easy way to find recipes that only contain whole foods / real foods and you can adjust them as you see fit. This recipe can take a bit to make so I usually try to make the sauce and cook the whole spaghetti squash the day before (both of which only take a few minutes of active time – but having some steps done saves time when I’m actually cooking).  This is definitely quite different from traditional pad thai but that creaminess and crunch we’ve come to expect from pad thai makes this total healthy comfort food.

There you have it. 10 consecutive days of dinners at my house. What have you been eating lately?


Blueberry Protein Smoothie

Shutterstock Blueberries

Those of you who know me, know that I’m not a fan of making non-food items a part of our daily diets and for the most part, I think heavily processed protein powders usually fall into a non-food category. Sure there are some decent ones out there but many contain ingredients from questionable sources and fillers that can wreak havoc on your digestive system. While I don’t see anything wrong with using a protein powder occasionally or while one is training for a specific event for a short period of time, I just prefer that we get the majority of our nutrition from things that our ancestors would recognize as food! It’s not that hard if you are willing to spend a little time in your kitchen each week.

One of the things I frequently get asked by clients is how they can get a good amount of protein in their smoothies without resorting to a protein powder – well, there are lots of ways to do it and this recipe is one way that seems to be the most enjoyable for people to drink.  It’s sweet, creamy and super filling! Plus it’s a gorgeous purple color!

If you’ve never had greens in your smoothies, try adding just a leaf or two of the lettuce on your first try and increase the amount of greens you add as you get used to the flavor.  Romaine is pretty mild and blends in pretty well flavor-wise.

This makes about 24 oz of smoothie – 1.5 servings. I like to drink 2/3 of it as a meal and save the other portion (well covered) in the fridge for a pre or post workout snack.  This smoothie is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A and C. A 16 oz serving has about 19 g of fiber, 14 g of protein and 21 g of good fat.

This can be changed up to suit your tastes easily too! I sometimes swap out the blueberries for strawberries and sometimes add some avocado in place of one of the seeds (lowers the protein a bit but it’s just as filling).  Other nuts and seeds like pumpkin, brazil nuts or cashews work well also.  And you get bonus points if you add additional vegetables – I like adding a stalk of celery or some cucumber!

Try this and let me know what you think!

1.5 cups frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 romaine heart, tough end removed, leaves washed
2 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp almond or sunflower seed butter
1 cup water

A sweet smoothie packed with protein and even has hidden vegetables!

A sweet smoothie packed with protein and even has hidden vegetables!

Put all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend on high until smooth – about 1 minute. If you do not have a high powered blender you may find it easier to blend the hemp and chia seeds first with water, then add the other ingredients in slowly a little at a time.

This makes about 24 oz of smoothie – about 1.5 servings.

Mushroom Herb Quinoa Patties with Pan Seared Sea Scallops & Spicy Garlic Mayo

Delicious, easy and good for you!

Delicious, easy and good for you!

That title is a mouthful, huh?

Who says eating gluten free or not eating cheese has to be boring?  Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a meal that looks a little fancy even if it isn’t.  This was delicious and came together really quickly even on a weeknight! I had leftover quinoa in the fridge and scallops take less than 6 minutes to cook in a pan.  The worst part is whisking the oil into the mayo (just take a break and stretch your forearm if needed. Just kidding, it’s not that bad). And if you’re grossed out by the idea of eating mayo as a condiment with a meal, well I have news for you, you’ve eaten it before at fancy restaurants – it’s also called aioli or rouille.  Using well flavored mayo’s to flavor seafood, soups or other dishes is a much older tradition than using it on sandwiches. So there. I’m going to go enjoy my homemade mayo now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.  I think I just made mayo hipster? Is that what just happened there?

This is a great way to use up leftover quinoa and any diced veggies you may have in the fridge.  I use mushrooms, celery and onions here but you certain could use other things if you don’t have those. No need to limit yourself!  And if you don’t eat seafood or are vegetarian, the quinoa patties each have about 5 g of protein in them so a couple of those and some veggies and you’ll still have a filling meal!  These are also good when used as sort of a falafel with some tahini sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers and all that deliciousness.

A note on substitutions: If you have a problem with soy, feel free to leave out the tamari – it just adds a little umami flavor.  It won’t be a big deal if you leave it out.  Feel free to use other GF flours that you have on hand or if you eat wheat, you can use breadcrumbs.

I think you’ll love this!  When you eat like this, you won’t miss heavily processed food, cheese, wheat or anything else.  Good stuff!


1 cup dry quinoa, cooked and cooled
6 – 8 oz mushrooms, chopped in small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp unsalted pasture butter
1 clove garlic minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 whole egg or the whites from 2 eggs
2 – 4 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp low sodium tamari
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Sea Scallops
1 tbsp unsalted pasture butter
1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
12 sea scallops, trimmed, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
sea salt and black pepper

Spicy Garlic Mayo
2 egg yolks (from pasture raised organic hens – local is best!)
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil (don’t use Extra Virgin for this)
juice from half a lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt
1 tbsp sriracha sauce (I use Ninja Squirrel brand from Whole Foods)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the patties first.  Heat a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 1 tbsp butter and saute the celery, mushrooms and onion until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have browned. Add the garlic, rosemary and oregano and cook for just 30 seconds or so.  Turn off the heat and stir into the cooled quinoa.  Add the egg whites (I used egg whites only because I used the yolks for the mayo and didn’t want to waste them) tamari, parsley, coconut flour, salt and pepper.  Start with 2 tbsps of coconut flour and stir well.  Add more coconut flour if the mixture is very moist.  Coconut flour will absorb some of the moisture but sometimes too much so! Add a couple tbsp of water if that happens.

Grease a baking sheet with whatever fat you prefer to use and then form the mixture into 10 – 12 patties.  They should be a little smaller than the palm of your hand.  Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5-7 minutes.raw quinoa mushroom patties before going in the oven.

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

While the patties are baking, make the spicy garlic mayo. Put the minced garlic on a firm surface (a cutting board will do) and sprinkle generously with sea salt.  The salt will soften the garlic and help it to release juices. Place the egg yolks* and dijon mustard in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.  Continue whisking and slowly drizzle the olive oil down the side of the bowl.  The oil and the yolk mixture will start to emulsify. Keep whisking and pour the oil slower than you have to.  If you pour too fast, the emulsion will start to break (stop pouring and whisk until it comes back together).  As it thickens, the bowl may start to slide around – it might help to rest the bowl on a dish towel.  When you finish whisking in the oil, add the garlic with it’s juices and salt, the lemon juice and whisk.  When that is well blended, whisk in the sriracha sauce.  If you don’t like spicy, you can leave out the sriracha – it’ll still be a delicious garlicky mayo!  Add more salt if necessary and set aside while you make the scallops.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  While it is heating, sprinkle your scallops* generously with sea salt and black pepper. When the pan is very hot, add 1/2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp oil to the pan.  When the butter is melted, add half the scallops, placing one of their flat round sides face down in the pan.  (Unless you have a very large skillet to work with, I recommend only making 6 at a time – otherwise they will release too much liquid and you won’t get a good sear).  Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  They should have a nice browning on the outside but still be tender on the inside. If they stick to the pan, they probably need another minutes on. Remove from heat before they get tough!

Pan seared scallops are super easy to make and make you look fancy!

Pan seared scallops are super easy to make and make you look fancy!

Serve a couple of quinoa patties topped with 4 scallops and a big dollop of the garlicky mayo. I happened to serve this with some raw romaine leaves and some sauteed kale & extra mushrooms – but you can serve it with any vegetable you have on hand.

Serve a couple of quinoa patties topped with scallops & spicy garlic mayo on a bed of vegetables. So good!

Serve a couple of quinoa patties topped with scallops & spicy garlic mayo on a bed of vegetables. So good!

*This recipe contains raw egg yolk and scallops that are not fully cooked.  Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness. 

Gluten Free Tourtiere – French Canadian Meat Pie – with Kale and Celery Root!

French Canadian Meat Pie - Tourtiere (made gluten free and a little less carb heavy).

French Canadian Meat Pie – Tourtiere (made gluten free and a little less carb heavy).

I know we just finished Thanksgiving but bookmark this one for when Christmas rolls around in a few weeks! How many of you ate “meat pie” on Christmas Eve?

Can I just tell you that when I decided to stop eating flour on a regular basis the thing that made me waver on it the most was meat pie???? Not pizza, not cake, not sandwiches, but something I ate only once or twice a year.  I grew up in a household that ate French Canadian Tourtiere (also known as meat pie) every Christmas Eve after we came home from the 7pm Mass (and right before my sisters and I exchanged Christmas presents with each other).  My mother was the cook in our household and she passed away in 2001 so while a lot of our traditions have changed since, I’m always quick to hold on to whatever I can that reminds me of her.  Tourtiere was not one I was willing to give up.  Just the smell of it cooking in the kitchen reminds me of being a kid and all the fond memories that go with holidays around that. It’s kind of funny how hard I’ve held on to that, especially considering I didn’t even eat pork or beef from my early teenage years until just a few years ago – but that reminder of family times is still there.

Looks naked without a top crust, I know, but it tastes so similar to the one I had as a kid - and won't make me feel terrible later!

Looks naked without a top crust, I know, but it tastes so similar to the one I had as a kid – and won’t make me feel terrible later!

Earlier this fall, on a chilly evening, I realized I had all the ingredients on hand to make Tourtiere but I didn’t want to make it with wheat flour – knowing that if I did, I would feel bloated, constipated and have joint pain for the next 4-5 days afterward. I decided I’d make a crust of sorts with coconut flour and I also decided to lighten up the carb load by using celery root instead of potatoes. And being the weirdo I am, I added a few cups of chopped kale to it too.  Believe it or not, the kale blends right in with the strong spice flavors so don’t shy away if you are a meat pie fan and want to make it a little healthier. And the celery root is completely passable as potato!!

I went with just a crust on the bottom of this pie instead of the traditional top and bottom crust because in all honesty, I’m not the best “dough” person.  I’m not super experienced in working with coconut flour or any other gluten free flour (let’s be honest – dough of any flour type fears me) and while I felt confident that I could make a pat in pan type of crust for this, I wasn’t so sure I could roll it out on top of the pie.  I’m sure there is a way to do it but the first night I made it, it wasn’t going to happen.  The second night I made this I tried to roll it out but I don’t think I moistened the flour enough – it might have worked had I added a second egg or some extra liquid.  I’m sure there are bloggers out there who can come up with a much better pastry than me for this particular dish – a couple of google searches will probably take you to them.  BUT, I have to say, the pie holds it’s shape pretty well without the second crust and the flavors all mimic the original pretty well.

No, celery root is not potato, no coconut flour is not wheat flour, and no kale isn’t extra pork or pork fat . . . but with these substitutions this is a dish that tastes like Christmas Eve without making me feel heavy and lethargic afterwards.

Try it and let me know what you think!

1 lb grass fed ground beef or
1/2 lb organic ground pork & 1/2 lb grass fed ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 large celery root / celeriac, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
a pinch of ground allspice (or more)
1 head of kale, chopped finely (steamed if you like it very tender)
sea salt and black pepper

Crust (makes just one layer of crust)
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
1 egg
1/2 cup coconut flour
generous pinch of salt

Put beef/pork, onion, celery root, water and bay leaf in a pot and simmer covered, stirring occasionally (to break up the meat and celery root) for 40 minutes, remove cover and let simmer for another 10 or until water is cooked off. Mash gently with potato masher if celery root isn’t completely broken up. While meat mixture is cooking, make your crust (fyi- this is just a one crust pie – different than traditional tourtiere).

That crust looks pretty good huh?

That crust looks pretty good huh?

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt your coconut oil or use softened butter and mix into coconut flour.  Add 1 egg and a pinch of salt and mix until well combined. If it seems very dry you can add a tbsp of water but it should resemble a thick dough. Transfer the dough to a pie plate and press out into the plate using your hands.  You’ll need to press from the center and work out to the sides. Don’t be shy about pressing it firmly and working it up the plate – coconut oil firms up as it cools and the warmth from your hands will help it be more malleable.

Once you have it covering the pie plate, bake the crust for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, stir in cinnamon, cloves, allspice and (raw or steamed) kale into the celery root and meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir for a minute or two until kale wilts and then pour into the baked pie crust.  Bake the pie at 400 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.  The longer you let it sit, the more firm it will be for serving. Serve with a tomato relish or ketchup (that’s how we ate it growing up!).

Note: Don’t be shy with this – the second time I made this I added mushrooms and dandelion greens instead of kale and it also blended in really well.  What swaps can you make in some of your childhood favorites that might be more nutritious?

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.

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

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!).

Lemon, Asparagus & Spinach Risotto (Cheese Free)

Creamy cheese-free risotto!

Creamy cheese-free risotto!

I love risotto. I remember being so intimidated by it when I first learned to cook.  Having to stand in front of a stove stirring constantly for 30 minutes just seemed like too much of an opportunity for my ADD to screw it up but I eventually gave it shot and it really wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be.  The key is maintaining a constant temp (not too high, not too low) and stirring relatively regularly while it absorbs the liquid (but not constantly).  I’ve made a lot of different risottos over the years and most of them were drowning in parmesan reggiano, mascarpone or pecorino in addition to whatever other deliciousness (pancetta! butternut squash! fried sage!) I put in there.  I wanted to make it a little less of an indulgence and more of a regular day meal so I made a few tweaks to the traditional recipes I’ve made.  This one has no cheese, I’ve swapped out some of the arborio rice for brown rice, and I’ve included a couple servings of veggies but make no doubt about it – this is still a delicious and indulgent tasting dish!

Risotto is usually made with a high starch rice like Arborio, because the starch content lends itself to creaminess when cooked slowly with liquid.  But the problem with most rice that is right for risotto is that they are stripped of the whole grain (otherwise making risotto would take hours!) and when you eat them they can spike your blood sugar just like white rice.  No bueno.  To counter that (a little), I decided to use 1/2 arborio and 1/2 brown rice for this batch. It makes a difference!

Note about substitutions: This can easily be made vegan by opting for vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth and using coconut oil or olive oil in place of the butter (though I would opt for extra virgin olive oil for the 2 tbsp of butter stirred in at the end – more flavor!).  This can also easily be alcohol free.  The wine is just for flavor.  You can omit it and add in a little extra lemon juice at the end or a dash of your favorite vinegar to brighten the flavor.

This makes 6 side dish servings or 4 main course servings (though I would add protein to serve this as a main dish).

Lemon zest.

Lemon zest.

3/4 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup brown, wild or japonica rice (any whole grain rice of your choosing!)
5 – 6 cups low sodium organic chicken broth
1 onion, diced
3 tbsp unsalted pasture butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup white wine (I’ve even used vermouth in a pinch)
1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off, then stalks cut into 1 inch pieces
2 -3 cups baby spinach
1 – 2 organic lemons, zested and juice reserved
dried or fresh parsley – your call as to how much (I love it so I use a lot!).
sea salt & black pepper

You’ll need 3 sauce pans or dutch ovens for this recipe. I honestly believe (now) that risotto isn’t that complicated but I do recommend reading through the entire recipe before starting so that you have an idea of what is coming next while you are cooking.

Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and turn heat to medium-low. In another saucepan or dutch oven, begin cooking your brown or wild rice according to the package directions (or if you’re me, just pour a few cups of water in a pan, boil and add rice).  You will only cook the whole grain rice for half it’s normal cooking time (so if it requires 45 minutes to cook, you will cook it for 22-23 minutes.  When you’ve cooked the wild rice for the allotted time, drain if necessary.

In another saucepan, (while the whole grain rice cooks), melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until it softens. Add the arborio rice and stir well to coat the rice with the pan liquids. When it’s well coated add the wine to the pan. Stir and let it cook until it’s mostly absorbed. Once the wine is mostly absorbed, add a small ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir. It should be absorbed into the rice in about 2 minutes. Continue adding small ladles full of stock to the rice, one at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing it to completely absorb into the rice before adding another.

Do this until the stock is gone (20 – 25 minutes). Note: You may have to turn your heat up or down a little to make the liquid absorb at the right speed.  Add in the whole grain rice when it’s cooked at it’s halfway mark – usually after the first couple of ladles of stock have been added to the risotto so that the arborio and whole grain rice finish cooking together.


Coating the arborio rice with pan liquids.

When you are on your last ladle or two of chicken stock, add in the asparagus and allow it to “cook” with the rice.  One the liquid is absorbed, turn the heat down, add in your lemon juice, lemon zest, baby spinach, parsley, salt and black pepper.  Stir until the spinach wilts and then stir in the remaining 2 tbsps of butter. Taste to adjust seasoning if needed and serve!

This is a great base for risotto – meaning you can change this really easily by adding herbs, or by swapping out the vegetables for different ones.  You can skip lemon juice & zest and see if you like a less tangy flavor! So many options.  Enjoy!

Wilting the spinach at the end of cooking.

Wilting the spinach at the end of cooking.

I like to add sliced smoked sausage or pan seared wild sea scallops to mine. Yum!

I like to add sliced smoked sausage or pan seared wild sea scallops to mine. Yum!

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!

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

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!