CHICKPEA & CARROT CURRY (vegan)

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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.

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LEMONY KALE & APPLE SALAD (vegan, paleo)

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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.

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KHIMA MATAR aka PEAS & BEEF CURRY

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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.

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CHAI SPICED CHOCOLATE SHAKE (vegan)

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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!

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CHAI MASALA & MASALA CHAI

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).

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BACON, SQUASH & SWEET POTATO HASH (paleo)

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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.

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