We met some friends down at Waikiki a few weeks ago to share a dinner picnic and watch the Friday night fireworks, and these yummy, easy-to-pack turkey boats were my contribution to the spread. I gathered up ingredients from my fridge and spice cabinet that I thought would go well together, and I have to say that the mix I came up with turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. Bold statement, but it’s true! The citrusy notes of the lemon and coriander pairs nicely with the smokey cumin and bacon, and the ground turkey and kale provides a nutrient dense, mild background that really lets all of the flavors shine. A final touch of spicy sweet sriracha gives just the right amount of kick, and the whole thing is so tasty that I could eat this for days. We spooned generous portions onto crisp romaine “boats” for a high protein, low carb starter, but it would be equally delicious paired with roasted root vegetables, your favorite gluten free grain, or on top of a salad of leafy greens and chopped crunchy veggies.
Happy National Cookie Day 2015!
In honor of National Cookie Day, and all of the holiday baking that’s happening right now, I wanted to share my newest recipe with you all. These Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies are rich, decadent, perfectly chocolatey, and they happen to be loaded with healthy fats and fiber, too! A little crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, they feature ground pecans in place of flour, maple syrup instead of refined sugar, and get their richness from coconut butter. The ingredients are quite different from traditional cookies, but they are just as delicious, and I find them to be far more satisfying. They are a fantastic way to treat yourself to something sweet this holiday season without that feeling of total sugar overload.
If you have been craving something pumpkin and spice, but don’t fancy yourself a baker, or just want to try something new, then this recipe is for you. My Chai Spiced Pumpkin Custard is rich, creamy, perfectly sweet and spicy, and it’s filled with lots of fiber and healthy fats so you can feel great about indulging in this decadent treat. It’s also incredibly simple to make. You just blend the ingredients and then pour into ramekins and let it set up in the fridge. No cooking, no fuss! My boys absolutely love this custard, and it’s something that I am happy to give to them at any time of day. Whether you are looking for a new healthy dessert option for your family, or planning an autumnal meal for guests, I hope you enjoy this pumpkin deliciousness as much as we do.
Dinner just doesn’t get easier than this when you’re in the mood for a hearty, made-from-scratch meal. Five main ingredients and 15 minutes of prep time will give you a mouth-watering, healthy supper that is kid friendly and perfect for any time of the year. At 4 pm today, I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner, but luckily both my fridge and freezer are well stocked thanks to last week’s trip to Costco, and today’s jaunt to the grocery store and farmers market. For tonight’s meal I was inspired by the gorgeous, vibrant organic rainbow carrots that I got from the store. They must be in season right now because they are so crisp and fresh, despite having been flown (or shipped!) over from California. I always have organic chicken thighs in the freezer, and lemons in the produce drawer, so I pulled out some shallots that I got from the farmers market, and tied it all together with the aromatic rosemary that grows so eagerly in our backyard. After simmering on the stove top for about an hour, the result was a yummy, comforting dish that was perfect for this cool and rainy Sunday evening.
Happy Aloha Friday, everyone!
Most weekdays, Felix and I have our little routine of going out in the morning for a playdate or a trip to our neighborhood park, and I usually sprinkle some errands in there too. Today, I had a follow up appointment with my opthamologist to check in about some ongoing eye irritation I’ve been dealing with. Unfortunately, it hasn’t resolved yet, but we’re working on it. We headed to the park afterwards for some hide and seek, playground time, and bubble blowing, and when we got home I fed Felix a quick lunch of marinated chickpeas, green peas, and green beans- all leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. While I got him down for his nap I thought about what I was going to eat for lunch, and decided on one of my old standby’s: Salmon Salad. I’ve been making this probably once a week lately, and today’s batch turned out so delicious that I just had to share.
I’ve been suffering from major cookie cravings lately, and I finally did something about it after a fun morning at the Bishop Museum last week. I wanted to create something that is healthy, relatively low sugar, and AIP (autoimmune protocol) compliant, while still satisfying my inner cookie monster. This was the first batch that I tried, and I’m happy to report that the recipe turned out perfectly. I love it when that happens! Dense and chewy with the right balance of sweetness and spice, these molasses cookies are exactly what I was hoping for. They get their dark color from mineral-rich blackstrap molasses, a rich source of iron, potassium, and calcium, and it has less sugar cup for cup than other sweeteners like cane sugar, coconut sugar, honey, and maple syrup. To achieve a chewy texture, I added grass fed gelatin to the mix. Besides helping the cookies hold their shape, gelatin has a multitude of health promoting qualities that you can read about here, and I love it for its ability to heal the gut, boost immunity, and nourish hair, skin, and nails. If you like ginger cookies, I hope you’ll try these out. They are warming, comforting, and thanks to their dense texture, they go perfectly with a glass of your favorite milk!
We all know that some kids are better at eating their vegetables than others. Well, If you happen to have a picky eater in your house, then this recipe is for you. Why do I call it Sneaky Veggie and Beef Soup? Because I sneak 3 stalks of celery, one whole red bell pepper, and 3 packed cups of hearty kale leaves in this dish, but all of the vegetables are blended into a purée before cooking, so nobody would ever know! With the fresh, familiar flavors of tangy lime, smokey cumin, and sweet red bell pepper, this sneaky soup sure pleased all three of my guys at dinner last night, and Nikhil (my fussy one) had no clue that he was eating green vegetables.
Today we threw a good old fashioned birthday party for Nikhil and Felix, who are both January born. The party was in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, so I put together an array of healthy and yummy snacks that all happened to be vegan, and gluten-free of course. This Coconut Date Dip is a little treat that I whipped up on Friday afternoon with ingredients I already had in my fridge and pantry. I served it with Granny Smith apple slices and it was a big hit at the party, especially amongst the parents. Sweet and tangy with complex notes of warm ginger and cinnamon, it boasts a great texture that would also work well as a spread for toast or crackers, paired with strawberries or pear, or just straight from the spoon for an energizing, fiber-filled bite. I’m not sure if my boys had a chance to try out this snack today (they were too busy having a blast with all of their pals), but I’m guessing they’d love it. I think I’ll offer it up with crackers tomorrow after school. We’ll see what they say!
It’s almost Thanksgiving!
I love this time of year. The weather in my neighborhood cools down to a perfect 78 degrees, and everyone starts to get super festive with get togethers, holiday activities, and lots of yummy food. I had my girlfriends over on Saturday evening for a potluck and jewelry party (you can check out my friend Chun’s dainty pieces here), and my contribution to the dinner table was this Slow Cooker Chicken Curry that turned out to be a hit. I make this dish probably 2-3 times a month, and I almost always put it on the menu if we are entertaining guests. Aside from being a crowd pleaser (it’s even kid-approved), it’s an easy, fool-proof recipe that requires little prep time, and then the slow cooker does the majority of the work for you.
Yesterday afternoon I decided to make some homemade gluten free pizza crust so that the boys could have pizza night, which is Nikhil’s favorite. While I was waiting for the dough to rise, I searched through the fridge to figure out what I was going to make for myself for dinner, because as much as I love pizza, the bread & cheese combo just doesn’t agree with me. My internal clock must sense that it’s officially fall now, as somehow I was craving soup again, even though it continues to be close to 90 degrees here! In the fridge I found a whole leek and a bunch of fresh dill leftover from the delicious Summertime Salmon Chowder that I made last week, as well as the remnants of a rotisserie chicken that I had picked up over the weekend. I also found a handful of crimini mushrooms in the fridge, which I thought would work well with the leeks and the dill. My findings were especially fortuitous because I love mushrooms and any type of onion, but Ben barely tolerates them (I think he’s mildly allergic to onions), so I wouldn’t normally make something like this for the family. I knew Ben would enjoy pizza night with the boys, so I got to work on my own dinner, and came up with this oh so yummy soup.
Despite our humid, 88 degree weather here, I found myself craving salmon chowder of all things the other afternoon. I did an online search for a Paleo version, and thought that the ingredient list of Sarah Fragoso’s Scrumptious Salmon Chowder looked appealing. I had most of what I needed at home except for carrots, bacon, and leeks, so the boys and I took a trip to our well air conditioned grocery to get some stuff. It was a great excuse to get out of the house and cool off. Although Sarah’s recipe doesn’t call for it, I picked up some crisp celery at the store to add to my soup because I wanted that extra savory flavor in there. I also opted to cook the bacon in whole strips, and then poured off the bacon fat and replaced it with virgin coconut oil before sauteing my veggies. I know it’s common in Paleo cooking to use a fair amount of bacon fat, but I’m just not a fan. I made a few more changes to the recipe, but mostly stuck to Sarah’s ingredient list and I have to say that the result truly was scrumptious! Both of my boys enjoyed the dish, and I ate two large bowls at dinner, plus a bowl for lunch the next day. I shared it with a friend of mine, and her response to her first bite was “yes!” So, even though this is not my original recipe, I wanted to share it with you because it’s just that good. And if you feel like checking out the Everyday Paleo website, be sure to look for Sarah’s Puerto Rican Beef and Chocolate Custard recipes. They are two of my faves.
I absolutely love the fragrant, tart flavor of limes- especially in the summertime. As you may have noticed in my last post, I have been on a lime kick recently, and I’ve been using every opportunity possible to incorporate these citrusy gems into my cooking. A few weekends ago, we went on a family hike to a waterfall that is just a few miles from our house. The boys were so tired when we got home that they all took an afternoon nap (Ben included), so I decided to get creative in the kitchen and make a yummy dinner from the stuff that I already had in my fridge. The result was this savory and tangy Cilantro & Lime Chicken, which I served alongside an easy vegetable curry that I made up that afternoon as well (I’ll post that recipe soon). It was a hearty and satisfying dinner that is both kid and grown-up friendly. Although the chicken was tasty for dinner that night, it was 100% better the next day for lunch after a couple of leftover breasts had a chance to marinate in the fridge overnight. So, I highly recommend marinating your chicken for at least 8 hours before cooking it, which tenderizes the meat and infuses it with the intense flavors of the lime, cilantro, garlic, and cumin. I promise it’ll be worth the wait. One of the best things about this juicy chicken is that it’s super versatile. It would be delicious on top of a crunchy romaine salad, inside of a sandwich, with sauteed greens and jasmine rice… feel free to get creative and pair it with some of your family’s favorite sides.
It has been almost 3 months since I last posted. Yikes! We’ve had a very busy (and beautiful) spring here in Honolulu, but now that it’s almost officially summer, it feels like things are starting to slow down a bit. I created this recipe yesterday evening while my littlest one was taking an unexpected nap, and I am super excited to share it with you. Sweetened only with fruit, these tangy freezer bars are the perfect summertime treat for the whole family, and they are so easy to whip up. Ben and I each enjoyed one for dessert last night (they weren’t ready until after the boys had gone to bed), and he loved them so much that he called them “magic.” I think you’ll feel the same!
Although I strive to eat a mostly Paleo diet (no grains, legumes, dairy, or refined sugar), I don’t always want to eat meat at every meal. In general beans don’t completely agree with me digestion-wise (they are legumes), but I still love them, and chickpeas, which are also known as garbanzo beans, are my favorite variety. I grew up eating chickpea curry, and until I discovered how much better I felt eating the Paleo way (almost 3 years ago now), this was in our regular rotation. More commonly known as chana masala on Indian restaurant menus, this is a universally loved dish. I have updated my version of it to be especially kid friendly for my boys by including carrots, because what kid doesn’t love carrots? I served our chickpea curry tonight with steamed cauliflower tossed in virgin coconut oil, and even my pickiest eater cleaned his plate.
I am on a mission to eat more vegetables everyday. Last year I met a registered dietician who told me that he eats ten servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Ten servings! I’m not saying that I think we all need to consume that much produce every single day, but it did get me thinking about what I’m really eating on a daily basis. While I try to get ample veggies into my diet (I read here that a good rule of thumb is to try to fill half your plate with fruit or vegetables at each meal), I’m not sure if this always happens. It’s pretty easy to just reach for a piece of fruit, but my goal is to consume more dark, leafy greens like collards, mustard greens, bok choy, chard, watercress, arugula, and kale. I’ve found that the more greens I eat each day, the better I feel. I have more energy, I crave less sugar, and my mood seems more mellow overall. I got together with some friends over the weekend, and we ended up having a conversation about how kale is going to save the world (there’s actually a t-shirt that makes this claim!). Needless to say, my friends and I are kale fanatics, and rightfully so. For starters, it’s delicious sauteed with garlic, cooked into soups, baked into lasagna, blended into smoothies, marinated in salads, roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, and oven-crisped to make kid-friendly kale chips. And of course we’ve all heard about the magnificent health benefits of kale (you can read about these benefits here and here). I have many kale recipes to share with you, but I thought that this simple, refreshing, easy-to-prepare salad is a great start. Make a batch, keep it in your fridge, and snack on it throughout the day as a yummy way to get more fresh fruits and veggies into your life.
This is one of my all-time favorite dishes. We ate a lot of khima matar growing up, and I remember both my grandmother and my mom making it. It’s nourishing, comforting, deeply satisfying, and I often crave it when I’m feeling rundown. The sweetness of the green peas pairs nicely with the rich, full bodied flavor of the spiced beef in such a perfect way that not only do Ben and I love it, but both of my little guys gobble this up (especially my 14 month old!). I usually serve this with my spiced jasmine rice for Ben and the boys, and then toss some steamed sweet potatoes in coconut oil for myself, to keep my meal paleo. I know that peas are controversial in the paleo world, but they seem to work well for me if eaten in moderation. Feel free to omit the peas if you don’t care for them- this curry is still absolutely delicious without them.
My dear friend Rani is a total foodie, and our mutual love of wholesome, delicious fare is something that we frequently bond over. A few months ago she was kind enough to share a recipe for her new favorite breakfast shake (I think she called me specifically to tell me about this shake), and it was perfect timing because I had been feeling uninspired about my morning meals. She described it as thick and yummy, protein-rich, and full of healthy fats. From the ingredient list it sounded so delicious that I made one for myself that same day, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, (provided by the walnuts and chia seeds), it’s the perfect solution for those mornings when I’m not in the mood for a meat and veggies breakfast, or when I’m feeling too lazy to prepare a proper meal for myself. It’s also a great snack option whether I’m at home or on the go. Over time I have tweaked the original recipe to reflect my own personal taste, but its essence remains the same: A healthy, decadent, deeply satisfying chocolatey shake that you can feel great about sipping. I know I do!
I love chai masala. Translated as “a mix of spices for tea,” chai masala is spicy, sweet, pungent, comforting, immune boosting, and its culinary uses are endless. Traditionally, this spicy mix is simmered with black tea, milk, and sugar to make masala chai (spiced tea), a staple in most East Indian households, and a favorite on pretty much every Indian restaurant menu out there. It’s definitely a staple in my kitchen pantry, and I use it often. Until last week I had been not-so-slowly chipping away at a small jar of chai masala that my sister brought for us from Tanzania a couple of summers ago (a little bit goes a long way).
I usually wake up ravenous, and this past Saturday morning was no exception. I could have reached for gluten free toast slathered in almond butter, but I decided to scrounge through the fridge to see what kind of hearty paleo breakfast I could come up with. I had a container of leftover oven roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes that I had used the day before to make a delicious soup, so I grabbed that plus some bacon, red onion, celery, and fresh thyme I had purchased from my local farmers market. When I start my day off with protein and vegetables, I find that it’s much easier to stay on track for the rest of the day. Right now staying on track for me means eating mostly paleo. No grains, legumes, dairy, or refined sugar. This savory hash is what I came up with. Feel free to substitute whatever roasted veggies and fresh herbs you have on hand. If you want to make this dish, but don’t have any roasted vegetables in your fridge and don’t want to hassle with roasting them, an easy shortcut is to simply steam the squash and sweet potatoes until fork tender, then toss them in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper before adding them to the skillet. And if you don’t have any bacon at home, your favorite sausage either crumbled or roughly chopped will do the trick. Omit the meat if you are vegetarian, or try this with veggie sausage. You can’t really mess up a hash, so enjoy getting creative with your ingredients.