Sweetly Spicy Kale Chips

This recipe is inspired by my colleague Alissa Segersten’s recipe over at Nourishing Meals. To procure Firefly Kitchens’ Kim Chee Salt, head click this link or visit the Ballard Farmer’s Market in Seattle, WA.

1 large bunches kale, stems and inner ribs removed
1/2 small lime, juiced
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoons cashew butter (can sub creamy almond butter)
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon Firefly Kitchens Kim Chee Salt (or sub sea salt)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Tear leaf from kale stems and chop or tear into large pieces.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Place the kale into a large bowl, and drizzle the nut butter mixture over the kale. Use your hands to gently massage the mixture in, coating each leaf.

Use one very large cookie sheet or two medium sized sheets and distribute the kale evenly so they are in one layer. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, removing the pans every so often to stir and flip the leaves 2 to 3 times while cooking. If they are not crisp and dry at the end of cooking time just pop them back in until they crisp up.

Once they are crisp, let them cool on the cookie sheets. Transfer to a bowl to serve.

PRO TIP: In humid climates, kale chips lose their crunch fairly quickly. Sticking them back on the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes in a 200 degree oven will crisp them right bak up again.

Sweet and Smoky Bacon Wrapped Piña (Paleo, AIP-friendly)

This is a paleo adaptation from a recipe I saw online that uses sugar. I found the replacement to be exquisite! Impress friends and family by bringing this to the next potluck you go to.

BONUS – if your pineapple is not perfectly fresh, the roasting process will bring out its sweetness!

Sweet and Smoky Bacon Wrapped Piña

  • 1 package of your favorite bacon (sliced pork belly can work really well if AIP bacon is unaccessible)
  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • Toothpicks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut bacon in half.

Cube pineapple into bite sized chunks.

Mix maple syrup, molasses and paprika in a small dish. Using a silicon basting brush, brush both sides of a bacon slice lightly with molasses mixture.

Wrap the bacon around a pineapple chunk and spear with a toothpick to hold in place. Repeat with bacon and pineapple until you run out of bacon.

Line the bacon wrapped piña onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn pina over, removing the toothpick if needed, to caramelize the other side. Cook for 5-10 minutes longer.

Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Hot pineapple is HOT and can burn your mouth fiercely.

Crockpot Curry Chicken

I’m loving my crockpot as I’m settling into the house where Squish will be born (Squish is the nickname we’ve chosen for our child in utero). Even after three weeks in we are not completely settled, and the crockpot has been a godsend. One pot meals, no fuss, little prep – so handy!

This Curry Chicken is on the list for this week; it will provide an easy and tasty meal this week. Give it a go when you are short on time and don’t want to think about dinner at the end of the day; a little prep in the morning goes a long way!

Crockpot Curry Chicken

Ingredients:
o 1.5-2 lbs chicken breasts
o ¾ cup canned coconut milk
o 1 cup chicken broth
o 2 tablespoons tomato paste
o 3 garlic cloves, minced
o 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (dried can be used also)
o 4-6 tablespoons curry powder
o 2 bell peppers, chopped into 1 cubes
o 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
o Salt and pepper, to taste
o Dash of red pepper flakes

Directions:
Place chicken in the slow cooker. Mix the coconut milk, tomato paste, garlic, ginger, curry powder, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes in a bowl and mix well. Add in peppers and onions. Mix all ingredients together to completely cover the chicken in the curry mixture. Cover and cook at low for 6-8 hours.

MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE:

Mix all ingredients together and divide into 2 gallon freezer bags. To cook, remove from bags and place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Recipe courtesy of my homies at Metabolic Effect!

The Miracle of Bone Broth

Bone broth has been used in most cultures as a restorative and healing food. It is used to heal the sick, mend injuries, restore strength and  promote health. As the values of processing became associated with purity in the early 20th century America potent medicinal foods such as organ meats and bone broth became passé. There are some schools of nutritional thought that point to the loss of “scraps” from the diet as contributors to disease and tooth decay that are the norm in modern culture.

Mineral Rich Bone Broth

 

After much experimentation, I have found a bone broth of my own making that I am very excited about. It is dark, rich, and flavorful. It includes ingredients long forgotten but highly valuable in healing. And, it’s very easy to make, requiring little prep or clean-up.

 

  • 2 pounds of scrap bones (soup bones, chicken carcass, marrow bones, etc)
  • 3 chicken feet (I completely understand if you choose to omit; but these add high amounts of collagen and other nutrients to the broth)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, sliced lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, cut lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, leaves included, coarsely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 pieces of wakame (sea veg that is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals)
  • 1/4 cup dulse flakes (sea veg that is rich in iodine, trace minerals and  fucoidans for healing injuries and tissues)
  • 1/4 cup nettles (optional)(western medicinal herb rich in iron and silica as well as vitamins C and K, soothing to GI tract and beneficial for building strength and robust health in a stressed or injured body)
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar (critical – it’s acidic nature is key to pulling minerals from deep within bones)
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce (adds a nice depth of flavor)

 

OPTIONAL: Roast bones in 400 degree oven until browned – 5-10 minutes. This roasting will add depth of flavor to the broth.

1) Crush garlic and set aside to allow allicin to form.

2) Place veggies and bones into slowcooker pot. Add herbs, sea vegetables and spices.

3) Cover with water and vinegar.

4) Set slow cooker on low for 24-36 hours.

5) Strain broth, discarding vegetables. Bones may be saved and reused if desired.

Makes 2 quarts of broth.

 

For maximum healing, consume 1 -2 cups of broth per day, as a liquid, soup, or through cooking it with other foods. To learn more about using foods to speed healing of injuries or for post-surgical recovery, visit www.nutritionforinjury.com

Recipe of the Moment: Caldo De Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup)

Caldo de Pollo

 

Baby, it’s cold outside!

It’s my first winter residing full time in Seattle since 2007. I’m digging the change in weather, relishing the crisp, fresh air and the need to wear scarves beyond SoCal Winter Fashion. It’s soup season – a time of year I largely abandoned in my years in San Diego. Now that I have my ultra-nifty-super-incredible crock pot/slow cooker Multi-tasking Machine of Doom I am playing with throwing everything in the pot and stepping away.

The night I made this I was exhausted and suffering from low blood sugar. This is a nightmare position to be in when you are wanting to stick to any dietary plan because your biology will want to take over and force you to call in a pizza or chinese food. To make this meal as quick as possible, I used a rotisserie chicken and my pressure cooker setting. Dinner in 20 minutes? HELL YES. Take that, Domino’s!

Caldo De Pollo

  • 1 rotisserie chicken – skin removed
  • 1 qt. chicken broth or bone broth
  • 5 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 pound tomatoes, diced (use bottled or aseptic packaged rather than canned, if not using fresh)
  • 1 cup Salsa Verde/Tomatillo Salsa
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • cilantro and fresh lime for garnish

Peel the meat from the rotisserie chicken and set aside. The skin and bones can be saved for bone broth, which is highly nutritional and very easy to make. Grab your Instant Pot and add the broth, chicken meat, diced veggies and seasonings. Cook under pressure for 20 minutes and serve, topping with diced, fresh cilantro and lime juice.

MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE:

Mix chicken, carrots, onion, tomatoes, salsa verde, pepper, salt, cumin, oregano, paprika, and garlic together. Pour into a Gallon Freezer and freeze for up to 3 months, removing extra air from the bag as you seal it.

TO COOK:

Remove chicken from bag and place into pressure cooker. Add 1 quart of chicken broth. Attach lid and set to manual for 20 minutes on high pressure. Serve with fresh lime and diced cilantro.

Stovetop: Remove chicken from bag and to a stock pot with one quart of chicken broth. Cook for 30 minutes, or until onions and carrots are cooked through.

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Here are a few of my favorite sweet treats for Halloween parties and events where I need to whip up a healthy, tasty sweet treat!  These are very kid friendly and quick to make as well!

Date Coconut Balls

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 generous cup soft pitted dates (it’s okay if it’s a bit more)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded zucchini squash (use the fine side of a box grater and don’t tell the kids!)
  • 1 cup shredded flaked unsweetened coconut, divided

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper.
Place the almonds in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process into fine crumbs. Add dates, a few at a time, processing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon and sea salt. At first the mixture will just look like bread crumbs, then it will come together in a ball. If it doesn’t come together, add a few extra dates.
Remove the cookie dough from the food processor and mix in the shredded zucchini and a half a cup of the flaked coconut with your hands until well combined. Form the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the remaining half cup of coconut on a plate and roll each ball in the coconut to coat. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and freeze several hours until the balls are firm. Remove them from the freezer and serve thawed.
Note: You can store these cookies in the freezer or refrigerator. They taste best when served cold, but not frozen.
Makes 15 cookie balls.

Aimee’s Almond Oat Energy Bites**

  • 2 1/2 cups Rolled Gluten-free Oats
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/2 cup Organic Raisins (very important – grapes are a highly sprayed crop)
  • 1/2 cup Organic Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 oz. Vanilla flavored Nutriiveda Achieve, or vanilla Whey or Rice protein
  • 1/2 cup Almond Butter
  • 1/3 cup Agave Nectar (honey can be substituted)
  1. Grind 1/2 cup oats and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds in food processor until powdery.
  2. Combine remaining 2 cups oats, remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raisins, chocolate chips, and cinnamon in large bowl. Add oat/seed and protein powder and mix well.
  3. Stir in almond butter and agave nectar in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer to dry bowl and mix until soft dough forms.
  4. Moisten hands, and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place in freezer 20 minutes to set, then serve or store in the fridge.

** This recipe is great for kids who are very sensitive to sweets; the added protein helps keep blood sugar stabilized. This recipe also has an ideal carbohydrate/protein ratio that makes it beneficial for endurance sportsand wilderness hiking!

Quick and Easy Chocolate Truffles (now with Kitty option!)

Makes 24 “truffles”

  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup packed, pitted dates (about 24)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 2 Tbsp cacao nibs or finely chopped dark chocolate
  1. Toast the walnuts in a preheated 325F oven for 15 min., or until browned and fragrant. Stir the nuts half way through baking.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until they are pebble sized pieces. Set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Place the dates in the processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Process until they’re smooth and form a ball around the blade. (At first, you will get lots of sticky pieces.) Add the cocoa and process until smooth.
  4. In a bowl, knead the date mixture with the walnuts and cacao nibs until they stick together. If the mixture is too sticky, add more nuts or cacao nibs. If too dry, add a couple teaspoons of water.
  5. On a cutting board lined with plastic wrap, shape the mixture into a long 1″-wide rectangle. Slice pieces with a sharp knife. Or, roll into 1″ balls. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Ingredients for the ears, noses, and whiskers:
(thank you to Wing-it Vegan for this idea!)

  • 48 whole almonds
  • 24 almond slices
  • several raisins or a few dates (frozen)
  1. Carefully cut about 1/4 inch off the tips of each whole almond. Just the “pointy” ends, these will be your kitty ears as seen in the photo. Use a sharp non-serrated knife and a cutting board for best results. You won’t need the other ends of the almonds, so use them in another recipe above!
  2. Cut about 1/4 inch off the tips of each almond slice to make the little triangular-ish noses.
  3. Cut the raisins into slices, and then into strips. They are easier to cut if they are frozen and less sticky. These will be your little whiskers, you will need 48 whiskers for 12 kitties. This recipe makes enough for 2 dozen cats.

Staying Grounded: A Simple, Seasonal Soup

Winter is Vata season – season of air and wind. It leaves many of us a little scattered, especially if we are not living in tune with the seasons and taking more downtime and rest as the plants and animals around us do.
People with heavy amounts of Vata in their Ayurvedic constitution tend to have more difficulty staying focused and calm during winter months. Anxiety, worry, distracting thoughts, insomnia, or feeling “spaced out” is common for them when imbalanced. On a physical level, one may experience more gas, bloating, and constipation, fatigue with an inability to relax, and increased sensitivity to the cold. The grounding soup recipe below is seasonally appropriate for winter – when root veggies come into season – and they are quite calming and grounding to the body. From a Chinese 5 element and Ayurvedic standpoint, root vegetables draw our energy back towards the earth and help keep us calm and focused. They are slightly more yang, their own energies cause them to grow close to or burrow into the earth and this energy is passed onto the consumer.
Don’t believe in “energy” around food? Sugar, a highly yin food, makes most people a little spastic and unfocused. When Mom cooks a meal, it tastes better than when you follow her recipe to the “T”, because it is infused with her love. When the chef is upset…well, you can taste it in the food. It’s flat and “off” somehow.

If you are feeling a little spacey, a little anxious, a little constipated and bloated or just want a seasonal, warm winter meal, try the soup recipe below. It’s simple and delightful this time of year!

GROUNDING SOUP

– adapted from Jen Hoy’s recipe at about.com

According to Chinese 5 element theory, round and root vegetables strengthen the spleen and reproductive organs, nourish the liver, and aid digestion. This soothing soup has a notable calming, easing effect, and should be eaten often by anyone with a sensitive nervous system. The soup also helps promote lactation, and balance blood sugar. It is especially good during the cooler months, as it is considered a warming soup.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
* 1 leek, white and green parts, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 medium carrot, chopped
* 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
* 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
* 1 small turnip or rutabaga, peeled and chopped
* 1 small pumpkin, or butternut or kabocha squash, peeled and chopped
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 quarts vegetable or beef stock
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
* Sea salt
* Chopped parsley (optional)
* fresh ginger to taste (optional)

Preparation:
In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, leek, garlic, celery and carrot, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add potato, sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, pumpkin and bay leaf. Stir vegetables, and then add vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Add thyme, and sea salt to taste. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf, and puree soup in a Vitamix, if desired.

To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. This soup keeps well for several days.

Makes about 3 quarts, or 6 servings.

Cinnamon Walnut Rice Pudding

This rice pudding is a perfect cozy breakfast or dessert on a cool day. You can also make this in the rice cooker and have it available to you – piping hot – for a few mornings!

2 cups water
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 1/4 cups rice or almond milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup brown rice syrup or maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, place the water, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 35 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well to combine, and continue to cook the mixture over low heat until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and place the pudding in the refrigerator to chill. Top individual servings with a little additional cinnamon before serving, if desired.

Serves 3-4

Recipe: Dandelion Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays food carnival. Click here to learn more about sustainable eating and living.

This salad is a quintessential bone-building meal! Dandelion leaves contain more calcium and iron than spinach and anchovy fillets – with the bones – are also a fantastic source of calcium. The anchovy and balsamic pair well with the bitter nature of dandelion greens rendering this salad a tasty addition to a crisp spring evening. Sweet peppers add additional texture and color.  Serves 4.

1 large bunch Dandelion Leaves, or
4 Wild Dandelion Plants *
1 small red or yellow sweet pepper
6 Anchovy Filets
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1/4 c extra virgin Olive Oil
3 tb Balsamic Vinegar
Ground Black Pepper
optional: 1/2 avocado, diced or 1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Instructions
Wash dandelion leaves thoroughly and remove any bits of dirt, root or damaged leaves. Dry. Trim large leaves into 2″ long slivers; leave smaller ones whole. Blend anchovy filets with garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss leaves with dressing, then divide among 4 plates. Top with black pepper and serve at room temperature, preferably al fresco in the garden.

*Note: Be sure plants gathered from the wild haven’t been sprayed or treated with chemicals. If you aren’t sure, don’t use them.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Beans, beans! Good For Your Heart! The More You Eat, The More You….

Beans have been all the rage in my kitchen this winter. Mash ’em, slow cook ’em, open a can of ’em.

Beans are a powerful food – full of heart-healthy soluble fiber, folic acid, cholesterol-free protein, and beneficial phytochemicals. However, they have a nasty reputation for making themselves known as they pass through the entire digestive process.

If farts have you phobic, I’d encourage you to try some of the following tried and true methods for reducing the gas-producing probablility of this wonder food:

  • Beans contain a difficult to digest oligosaccharide called raffinose that causes some distress if consumed. Pre-soaking the beans, discarding the soaking water, and scooping off the foam that rises to the surface reduces ingesting this carbohydrate greatly. Soaking helps breaks down the raffinose, and the foamy stuff on top is some of the remaining indigestible starch.
  • If using canned, rinse thoroughly! Beans are cooked in the can, so all those indigestible carbohydrates remain behind. I recommend draining the can in a colander and rinsing thoroughly.
  • Many cultures have figured out ways to increase the ease of eating beans.  For Mexican food, you can add epazote, add kombu to beans for both flavor, powerful nutrition and gas-reduction, and Mango powder (Amchoor), fennel seeds, fresh peppermint, fresh cilantro and fresh ginger is often used in Indian cooking for the same purpose.
  • Add beans to your diet a bit at a time to introduce them to your system. This is especially helpful if you have been consuming a low fiber diet for some time.
  • When all else fails, Beano has been known to be helpful! I have not personally needed it, but have heard others swear by it.

Ready to try some recipes?

Click here for a great source of many bean recipes! Also, my recipe archive has some of my personal favorites posted!