Pickled Watermelon Rind

Did you know watermelon rind is edible? I had no idea! I remember growing up being told that eating the white part would give one stomachaches, so I avoided going past the pink area for at least two dozen years. At some point in the last decade I learned the rind is, in fact, edible, and have been meaning to give pickled watermelon rinds a go ever since!

The following recipe is a great way to use the rind and introduce your family to pickled watermelon. The flavors are reminiscent of dill pickles and are well-received by young and old alike. The next time you get a watermelon, give this recipe a go and tell me what you think!

1 Watermelon rind (washed, red flesh removed and cut into strips)
2-3 tablespoons of salt
Dill (sprigs or heads)
Garlic (2-3 cloves, or more if you like it!)
1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
1 tsp. mustard seed (optional)
1 Bay leaf
1 quart mason jar or fermentation vessel

INSTRUCTIONS:
Scrape the pink flesh from the watermelon rind. Peel the outer green skin from the watermelon rind. Cut the watermelon rind into 1-inch squares.
Prepare a light brine by combining 2-3 Tbsp. of salt and 1 quart of filtered water.
Place watermelon rind strips, garlic cloves, dill sprigs and any spices you desire into a mason jar or fermentation vessel. Fill up the remaining space in the jar with the salt solution. Use a wooden spoon to release any air bubbles trapped along the sides of the jar.
If necessary, weigh the rind pieces down under the brine. I use cabbage leaves and sterilized river stones to weigh my ferments (you can sterilize any rock that will fit in a mason jar by washing it well and putting it in the oven at 300 degrees or higher while you bake or roast dinner. I just keep my rock there when not in use).
Cover each jar with a tight lid, airlock lid to prevent oxygen from entering the culture.
Culture at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) for 3-7 days, until desired taste is achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure.
Once the culture is finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to cold storage. The flavor will continue to develop, albeit more slowly.

Slow Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls

I found this recipe on the Lotus Foods website when looking for menu ideas for Forbidden Rice, a dark purple rice varietal that is loaded with polyphenols that protect the brain and heart and feed beneficial flora in the gut. I’ve adjusted the ingredients a bit to suite my palate, but the original recipe is here. Kudos to original author Kate Kordsmeier for such a delicious dinner!

(Note: There will be leftover pork; it freezes well)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the pork:

  • 1 large organic pastured pork shoulder or butt (roughly 4 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (Red Boat has no added preservatives or sugars)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos or tamari
  • 1.5 tablespoons raw, unfiltered honey 
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (typically at international markets – they freeze well; alternatively, you can use 1 tablespoon of lime zest)
  • ½ cup bone broth (or any broth of choice)

For the pickled veggies:

  • 3 cups assorted veggies diced and sliced (such as cucumber, carrot, jalapeño and red onion)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ lime juiced

For the bowls:

  • 3 cups cooked rice (Forbidden Rice® is rich in polyphenols which support beneficial bacteria in the gut and provide a boatload of antioxidants for brain and heart health)
  • ¼ cup chopped herbs (mint, cilantro, and Thai basil are recommended here)
  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Optional:

  • drizzle with sriracha and/or hoisin sauce

Instructions

  1. Liberally season the pork butt on all sides with salt and pepper, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Add the pork to a large slow cooker.
  2. Evenly pour the fish sauce, lime juice and soy sauce over the pork butt. Drizzle honey over the pork and throw the kaffir lime leaves into the slow cooker. Pour bone broth over top, cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours, flipping the pork halfway.
  3. Meanwhile, dice and slice your veggies of choice. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, salt, vinegar and lime juice and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add your veggies and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (you can go as long as you like!).
  4. When the pork is done, shred it apart with two forks.
  5. OPTIONAL STEP: place the shredded pork onto a baking sheet. Pour half of the remaining juices over the pork and broil until crispy. It should take 5-10 minutes, and it helps if you toss halfway through and flip the baking sheet so all areas are crisped equally. Pour the remaining juices over the crispy pork.
  6. In individual bowls, add ½ cup cooked rice. Top with pork, pickled veggies, lettuce and chopped herbs. Drizzle with sriracha and hoisin, if desired. Enjoy!

Zoodles with Peanut Lime Vinaigrette (Vegan and Paleo Options)

This peanut lime vinaigrette is an adaptation from a recipe recommended to me by a member of the VIBRANCE Village of Health on Facebook. The lime lightens up the sauce a lot and, unlike a traditional peanut sauce, this one does not feel heavy and comforting for winter, but rather light and refreshing and best enjoyed on hot summer evenings or days when you are pining for hot summer evenings. Having discovered it in dreary, grey January, it’s been a culinary reminder of days to come.

If you’ve not spiralized I highly recommend it! It’s a fun way to get extra veggies in (think carrots, zucchinis, yams, and more) and kids enjoy being part of the spiralizing process, which then has them more invested in eating the outcome. I have a Paderno I picked up 5 years ago that is still going strong but would now totally choose this Spiralizer on Amazon because it comes with extra blades and recipe ebooks.

If you’re like 87% of Americans and struggling to get enough veggies in, our totally free challenge, 30 Days of Glorious Greens is the perfect challenge for you. Offered only once year in March, this program dives into best practices to get greens in, delicious recipes, and fascinating science behind the glory that that is the humble green. You can sign up below the recipe!

Zoodles with Peanut Lime Vinaigrette

 

Makes 1 cup of sauce and 4-6 servings of zoodles.

Ingredients:

3 zucchini

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup chopped scallions

For Sauce:

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. tightly packed cilantro
2 tbsp. peanut butter (use sunbutter or almond butter for paleo adaptation)
3 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp coconut aminos

1/4 tsp. fish sauce (omit for vegans)
1 tbsp.rice vinegar
1 tbsp. ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha, or more to taste
1/4 cup avocado or mild olive oil

Options:

  • Add chopped nuts, sprouts and extra cilantro on top before digging in.
  • Add 1.5 cups diced chicken, shrimp or tofu to make it a meal

 

  1. Spiralize zucchini (I use the leftover ‘core’ as a dip for hummus)
  2. In a blender, puree all sauce ingredients except the oil.
    While the blender is running, add oil in a thin stream until dressing is emulsified.
  3. Mix zucchini with carrots and scallions. Add the dressing and toss well to mix thoroughly. Best enjoyed within 24 hours, but will last 2-3 days (note that over time the zucchini will lose moisture and become more dense, but still delicious).

 

Recipes like this, and much more, are part of the 30 Days of Glorious Greens Challenge. Sign up now to reserve your seat and receive my best, most delicious tips and practices to keep vegetable intake high. Registration is open now and we begin March 4th!

Lacto-Fermented Limey Onions

If you’ve ever had legit Mexican food these will taste familiar. It’s common to soak onions in lime and water to reduce the pungency of them before adding them to tostadas, tacos, and other South of the Border street food. I took the traditional method a step further by adding salt and letting the onions ferment on the countertop for 5 days. The result is nothing short of marvelous, and adds a bright dash of flavor to chicken soup, pozole, tacos, guacamole, sandwiches, and anything else you enjoy onions on while delivering billions of happy probiotic bacteria. 

 

2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons

Juice and zest of 1 lime

1/2 lime, thinly sliced into rounds

4 cups water

2 tbsp. salt

 

Dissolve salt into water. Layer the bottom of a quart canning jar with lime rounds. Mix lemon juice and zest with onions. Add onions to the quart jar, making sure all juices are included. Top with salt water. Layer an additional layer of lime slices on top of the jar, so they stick out just above the lip of the jar.
Seal the jar. It’s okay (and good) if the water sills out over; this ensures there is less oxygen in the jar.

Let sit in a warm dark place for 3-5 days, breaking the seal every 48 hours to release pressure.
Once the onions are to your liking, refrigerate them to prevent further fermentation.

Bacon wrapped, Machego Stuffed Gypsy Peppers; when you just need to feel naughty.

I’ll admit, these are not what I would call healthy.
These are a super fun, tasty indulgence to make for guests, enjoy every now and then, and are made to share with friends. Consuming a batch yourself is sure to give you a bellyache at the very least!

 

  • 6 gypsy peppers (these are a mild pepper; mini sweet peppers can be used instead)
  • 8 oz. manchego cheese (Spanish sheep milk cheese)
  • 12 pieces of your favorite sulfite-free bacon
  • 1 cast iron skillet
  • 1 heavy smaller skillet, or brick, or small pot with water to press the peppers.

 

Turn on oven to warm (or 200 degrees). Slice gypsy peppers in half from stem to tip. Clean out seeds and white inner pith, keeping the top and stem attached. Slice chunks of manchego off the block, stuffing each pepper half. Wrap a slice of bacon around each pepper half, securing the cheese inside.raw bacon wrapped peppers

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add peppers two at a time, placing the smaller skillet (and perhaps a saucepan of water or brick atop that) on top of the peppers to press them into the skillet. Let cook for 2 minutes, or until crispy, then flip and repeat. See photo below for the jerry-rigged weight we used: a small saucepan filled with water placed inside a small cast iron skillet which pressed the peppers against the larger cast iron skillet.

There are peppers under there!
There are peppers under there!

As peppers are completely cooked, place them on an oven-safe dish in the warmed oven while you finish the remaining peppers.

 

bacon wrapped peppers

Enjoy these with a hearty green salad with pepitas and lime dressing for a satisfying summer meal!

 

Fun Ways to Enjoy Leftover Easter Eggs

Delicious, Tummy-Rubbing Recipes for Leftover Easter Eggs

Dying Easter eggs is practically a must-do for any home with children. Once the fun is over, parents left with a dozen eggs or more that need to be painstakingly plowed through. Most people I know will make deviled eggs or egg salad, and honestly the same old recipe gets weary after awhile. I mean, how many egg salad sandwiches can you handle in a week?

I took it upon myself to scour the Internet for some exciting alternatives to the classics, and a couple of international dishes (Hello, Scotch eggs and Egg Curry!) to take your Easter leftovers to the next level. If you are from a child-free home I encourage you to try one of the deviled egg recipes at your next spring potluck or event – they are certain to please! Do you hate mayo? Try making your own (seriously; it’s easy and makes you realize everything you’ve eaten that was called mayo was a hideous lie). Is there no way on this green Earth you’ll even go there? No problemo – substitute greek yogurt or even avocado in any deviled egg recipe. Here are some choice recipes to try:

KimChi Bacon Deviled Eggs

Truffled Deviled Eggs

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Not into Deviled Eggs? Try these recipes on for size!

Paleo Scotch Eggs 

 

Spicy Egg Curry (use coconut oil instead of ‘refined oil’)

Egg Salad with Capers, Red Onions, Lemon and Dill (nix the bread and spread inside celery sticks or add a dollop onto lox laid atop a romaine lettuce leaf for a healthier choice)

 

Give one of these recipes a whirl this Easter and let me know what you think! If you have any fun ideas for leftover Easter Eggs do share! I’ll happily add them to this post and credit you your brilliance!

 

Instant Pot Persian Rose Lamb

Now that I am sitting on a modest amount of rose infused honey I’m feeling the urge to2016-07-10 10.36.04 incorporate this unique item into meals and snacks. I’ve mixed it into plain yogurt with raspberries (Food of the Goddess, I tell you!) and tonight I made a Persian style spice rub, mixed it with the honey and rubbed it onto a leg of lamb. The result is quite a lovely break from my standard dinners and this will be one I return to again!

Persian food is one cuisine where rosewater and the flavor of rose is incorporated into food. You can also find it in desserts from Afghanistan and, to a lesser degree in India and the Mediterranean cuisine. I did a little research and found an Iranian beef stew that incorporated several spices and used this as a flavor base for the lamb, adding the honey in to sweeten and caramelize the meat. According to my partner this is “the best roast you’ve made”. Give it a whirl and see for yourself!

 

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       Persian Rose Lamb with Veggies

 

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. rose honey (recipe here)
  • 4 pound boneless leg of lamb
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 large carrots, cut into large pieces
  • Other roasting veggies, if desired
  • 1/2 cup broth

 

Preheat broiler. Mix spices together and set aside. Remove lamb from netting and open to expose as much flesh as possible. Salt the lamb on all sides. Mix 1 tbsp. of the spice blend into 2 tbsp. of honey and massage the honey into the lamb.

Broil the lamb for 5-10 minutes on each side to caramelize the exterior and seal in the juices.

While the lamb is broiling prepare the potatoes, carrots and any other veggies you would like to cook. Because this is being cooked under high pressure you’ll want to leave veggies in large chunks or uncut if possible to prevent them from getting too soft. Layer them into the bottom of your Instant Pot as follows: potatoes first, then carrots, then other veggies which presumably cook faster than carrots. Pour the broth over veggies. Once the lamb leg is caramelized remove it from the oven and place it atop the veggies in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker.

Pressure cook on high for 35 minutes (or simply use the Meat/stew setting on an Instant pot) and walk away. Once the lamb is done, remove it from the Instant Pot to cool slightly before carving. Serve with vegetables, drizzling a little bit of the rose honey onto the sliced meat before serving.

What I love most of all about this is that in less than an hour I had a leg of lamb on the table! This normally takes at least an hour and a half in the oven. While the Instant Pot was doing its work I was able to food prep some veggies for the coming week, accomplishing as much in an hour as often takes me all evening.

 

Wild Rose Honey and Rose Scented Body Oil

Last week we went camping for the first time this year. Our Squish (who isn’t so little and Squishy anymore!) had a terrible camping experience last fall and we have been hesitant to go out again. Thankfully he had a GREAT time playing and sleeping in his outdoor “Ohm”.

IMG-20160708-WA0000
While we were out we stumbled upon hundreds of wild rose that were blooming. An herbalist was picking rosebuds to dry and use in her skin care preparations. I decided to take a page out of her book and harvest some petals of my own, uncertain of what exactly I would do with them. I decided to use the bulk of my rose petals for a rose infused honey that I will drizzle on soft cheeses, rub on pork before broiling or grilling, and give away to friends and family this holiday season. With the remainder I had I made a rose infused oil for homemade chapstick or salves (or a moisturizer if I get lazy) and I had just enough left to dry for future use in an herbal tea blend!

Rose Infused Honey2016-07-10 10.36.04

32 oz. raw honey (preferably local to your area)*
1 sandwich baggie filled with wild rose petals and buds
Loosely fill jars with rose petals, gently crushing them in your fingers to release oils. Cover with honey, stirring to get the extra air out. Seal and let sit, turning occasionally, for a minimum of 4 days.

2016-07-10 10.35.30

Rose Body Oil

About 2 cups of rose petals
Pour the rose petals into the jar, mashing them gently to release oils.  Cover with apricot oil. Let sit in a cool, dark, place for 4 weeks (shaking occasionally) before straining for use in body care products or as a moisturizer.

 

 

 

*Commercial honey is pasteurized and filtered so fine that no pollen remains. Given that the FDA identifies honey as having pollen in it, can it even be called honey at that point? Sometimes it is also diluted with corn syrup, imported from China, and otherwise not the healing, healthy food you’ve read about. All enzymes and vitamins have been destroyed.

**Apricot oil is derived from the pit of apricots. It is a light oil that makes skin velvety soft. It’s great to apply upon dry, parched skin and won’t feel heavy or greasy when used topically, making it a favorite of massage therapists. It can also be used in hair as a hot oil treatment.

Resources:

Learn more about commercial honey here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/comparing-commercial-and-locally-produced-raw-honey-zbcz1412.aspx

 

Pastured Pork with Tart Cherry Reduction

A neighbor of mine gave me a huge gallon ziplock bag full of Mortmorency cherries from his friend’s tree in exchange for a kombucha scoby. Having never worked with fresh tart cherries before I knew I was in for a treat. I immediately went to Pinterest, Google and my standby, The Flavor Bible, for some ideas. Here’s dinner tonight, adapted from a recipe I found on the Cherry Marketing Institute website.

 

2016-06-29 18.04.19

Ingredients

  • 4 grass-fed pork chops
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup whole Montmorency tart cherries (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used Zinfindel – don’t use wine in cooking you wouldn’t happily drink!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

Directions

Bring pork out of the refrigerator to warm slightly.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the tart cherries, red wine, orange juice, maple syrup and rosemary. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Whisk in the arrowroot and turn off heat, allowing the sauce to gel slightly.

Turn the oven on broil.

Prepare chops by seasoning with salt and pepper. Broil for 5-7 minutes per side for thin chops or 8-10 minutes per side for thicker chops. Plate the pork chops, spooning cherry reduction over each one.

Serves 4.

Raw Vegan Paleo Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

I can’t believe I did not photograph this before bringing it to a birthday party tonight. I lay blame to Momma brain, combined with September heat and cramming two birthday parties into a single Saturday. Thankfully, the original recipe from which this was derived has a fantastic photo that can give you an idea of what to expect. The beauty of this dessert is not only that it is paleo, vegan, gluten, soy, dairy free AND delicious, but it’s also pretty to boot! You can feel confident bringing this dessert to a party and knowing that pretty much anyone who can eat nuts will thoroughly enjoy it. Goodness knows it’s near impossible to please both vegan AND paleo folks at a potluck. Bring this decadent ‘cheesecake’ and everyone will be your best friend!
(Heads up – this evening the entire thing was gone within the first two hours of the party – you may want to make two).

Raw Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

Serves 10

Crust

2 cups raw nuts
1 cup dates or raisins
pinch of salt

Lemon  Cheesecake Filling

3 cups raw cashews pieces
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
zest of all the lemons you juiced
pinch of salt

Blueberry Layer

2 cups organic blueberries (I used frozen)
1/4 cup of the lemon cheesecake mixture

To make the crust: process the nuts and dates/raisins in your food processor until the nuts have become crumbs and the mixture sticks together when you press it. Press into the bottom of a spring-form pan and put in the fridge.

To make the lemon cheesecake: blend all ingredients (except lemon zest) in a Vitamix or Blend-Tec until very smooth. Pour cheesecake mix into a bowl then add in the lemon zest with a spoon and stir until well combined. Reserve 1/4 cup of this mixture for the blueberry topping – pour the rest onto your crust, spread until evenly layered atop the crust and put it back in the freezer.

To make the blueberry layer: blend the blueberries and the 1/4 cup of cheesecake mixture in your food processor or blender until creamy but still with small pieces of blueberry for texture. Spread this over your cheesecake and keep in the freezer or fridge overnight. If you can wait a day – this is best after 2 days (and not frozen, of course) enjoy with fresh blueberries!