grain-free tabbouleh

I’ve made this Grain-free Tabbouleh recipe from Melissa Joulwan’s The Clothes Make the Girl for several potlucks now and it’s always been a huge hit. The cauliflower substitution for bulgur wheat is a really good touch.

Chris is part Lebanese and I’m a sucker for ethnic food so we jump on the tabbouleh-train whenever possible. We’re lucky we don’t have actually gluten intolerances so we indulge in the occasional traditional tabbouleh but this recipe makes it a real meal instead of a cheat meal.Paleo Tabbouleh

The salad:
1 head raw cauliflower
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
2 seedless cucumbers
4 ripe tomatoes
4 cups curly parsley leaves (about 2 bunches)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
6 scallions

The dressing:
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. After washing your cauliflower and separating the florets, use your food processor to rice it. Use the pulse mechanism until the cauliflower begins to resemble rice. You may have to do it in batches if necessary. Melt the coconut oil and in a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the coconut oil.

2. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and coat the sheets with the riced cauliflower in a thin layer (as thin as possible). Place in the oven. Check on it at 10 minutes, then again at 15 minutes, and once more at 20 minutes. You don’t want it to burn but you don’t want it to be soggy – you want crispy.

3. Clean the cucumbers and tomatoes and begin dicing them into small pieces. As you go, place them in a colander over the sink and sprinkle with sea salt, allowing the vegetables to sweat out the moisture.

4. With your best knife, begin to mince the washed herbs. This might take some effort but I like the pieces small so they spread evenly within the dish. Place the herbs in a large bowl.

5. Take your scallions and begin to finely slice them. Side note: when you’re done with the roots, don’t throw them away! Place them in a small cup with about 1/3 cup of water, they will regrow (I know! It’s magic!).

6. If the cauliflower is done, allow it to cool. Meanwhile, drain your the tomatoes and cucumbers. Then combine all the veggies with the herbs!

7. In a separate bowl, combine the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Slowly drizzle the olive oil while whisking everything with a fork. With a rubber spatula, meld the dressing into the large bowl, allowing everything to be coated. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

dairy-free, easy peasy pesto

Something I always tell people about eating healthy is to have fun with it! It shouldn’t be some a punishment or horrible chore that you have to do. Eating clean is not easy but it doesn’t have to be miserable. That’s when you can start getting creative. Homemade condiments and sauces are one way to get unnecessary ingredients out of your diet and connect with your food!

Here’s an easy quick recipe for pesto that can go on top of anything! Eggs, veggies, meats, even by itself if the moments calls for it :)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic (if you’re not a huge fan of garlic, take it down to 2 cloves)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups basil (about 2 small bunches or 1 large bunch)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. In your food processor, grind walnuts and garlic together until it has a rice-like consistency.
  2. Add in basil, olive oil, and salt & pepper.
  3. Blend until everything is well-mixed and super green! The viscosity should be hardy and not runny.
  4. Add to whatever you’re craving at the moment!

 

Seen here on top of some ground beef egg muffins :)

If you want to be adventurous, try adding mint, parsley or other fresh herbs to the mix. Play around with ingredients and see what you can come up with. ¡Buen provecho!

stuffed roasted squash

Who loves fall? This girl. I love everything about it: the beautiful saturated colors of the leaves, the crisp air in the mornings that make you want to stay in bed, the smell of cider and pumpkin – I don’t even mind having to carry layers of clothes around because it’s cold in the morning and toasty during the day! But what I love most about fall is the food (duh).

Eating seasonally is pretty important to me and I make every effort to buy most of my produce from local farmers around the Central Virginia area. And what yummy produce is in abundance in the fall? Squash! Roasted, baked, sautéed – any which way you cook squash it will be nutritious and delicious!

Here’s a super easy idea that allows you to get creative and use whatever you have on hand! The only important part is preparing the squash.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash squash of your choice (I like acorn) and grab your best & sharpest knife. Cut horizontally across the top and a little bit off the bottom to stabilize it. Scoop out the seeds. (If you want to get really resourceful, you can save the seeds to toast them and have an handy-dandy snack for later!) Line up on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for about 45-60mins.
2. Grab your skillet and get going on a good stir-fry! Good ingredients to mix-and-match are: ground meat, onions, peppers, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, and bok choy. Some of my favorite spices for stir-fries are: paprika, chili powders, cayenne pepper, ginger, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice. Add salt & pepper to taste. Go crazy! Get creative! Have fun!
3. Once your squash is squishy (that’s a technical term) but still holding its shape, start scooping the stir-fry in. If you’re doing dairy, top them off with some aged gouda or a really good parmesan.
4. Turn your broiler on as you stick the squash back into the oven and let them go for 5-10mins. Let the flavors and textures blend together but don’t let it burn!
5. Take the squash out. Let them cool. Devour as necessary!
I didn’t include measurements or numbers because it will depend on the type of squash you use and how big your batch of stir-fry will be. Whatever you don’t use up = leftovers! You can’t lose, really. 

beet & apple faux-slaw

A spark of ingenuity hit me last week while we were cooking up some beef tongue tacos (don’t hate – lengua is delicious). We just started receiving our winter CSA share from Horse and Buggy Produce and in an effort to use up as much as we could, I came up with this concoction!

This beet and apple faux-slaw goes perfectly on top of tacos, as a side to a bigger entree, or as a quick snack!

You’ll need..

  • 2 medium-sized beets, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1/4 green apple – its sour taste lends well to the other ingredients but I’m sure other apples would be fine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp sumac* optional
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp gluten-free Tamari sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
*I found this spice at Whole Foods and it’s delicious but it may be hard to find in other stores. If you find it, great! If not, no worries!

Start with a sauce pan on medium-low heat and drizzle the olive oil on top. Julienne the beets and apples in the meantime. I would suggest cutting the apples first — beets tend to get red juice all over the place and make your kitchen look like a murder scene. Lovely.

Once you’ve got your matchstick pieces, place the beets into the pan and stir. Do not add the apples. While the beets are lightly cooking, mix the tamari and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season the beets with dried lemon peel, sumac, and salt & pepper (keeping in mind that tamari is also salty).

Once the beets have softened up a bit turn the heat off, add the liquid mixture, and let cool (if you’re in a hurry, go ahead and pop it into the fridge). Add in the apple pieces and stir away. The apples will absorb the red coloring from the beets and give you a super colorful dish. Devour!

I topped the lettuce-wrapped tacos with slices of avocado, the faux-slaw, and some chopped spicy almonds.

Grass-fed beef tongue from Wolf Creek Farm

it’s a new year!

I hit the big TWO-FOUR last week so I’m officially a big girl. Here’s an update on what I’ve been up to!

  • Food – I really don’t like the word “diet” but the way I eat is mostly paleo. I’m avoiding dairy whenever possible because I’m lactose-intolerant and it gives me acne (and feeling like a 14 year old was bad enough the first time around), eat my heavy carbs post-workout, and indulge in wine, dark chocolate, and homemade treats. Whenever possible we will continue to eat seasonally and locally.
  • Fitness – Just ended a strength cycle at CrossFit Charlottesville and hit several big PRs. I followed my plan to only go to the gym three times a week and it worked brilliantly – I was never overtrained, unhappy at the gym, or restless. I’m going to continue that habit for the time being. CrossFit Total numbers listed below
      • Backsquat: 167lbs
      • Shoulder Press: 67lbs
      • Deadlift: 201lbs
      • Total: 435 (a 50lb PR from March 2011)
  • Photography – had my very first client this past December! I had an exceptional time with the family and it couldn’t have gone any better. The session made me want to jumpstart my photography so I’ve set up my photography website for all to see! Go to www.jennigabriela.com to view my work!

A shot from the family shoot! Tonks is the cutest dog!

September 5, Day 248

This past Labor Day, despite the rain, we ventured out to Madison County to partake in the Meet Yer Eats Farm Tour. Meeting the people who grow my food means a lot to me, considering I’m putting a lot of trust (um, and my health) in their hands. Since Virginia is not a small state, there was no way I’d be able to visit all the farms I regularly purchase produce from but we were able to make it to two: Wolf Creek Farm and Brightwood Vineyard and Farm.

I was thoroughly impressed by the tour given by John Whiteside of Wolf Creek Farm. He spoke about every aspect of the failing American food culture and was honest about the dangers of not paying attention to where your food comes from. After the tour, I felt like I had learned more from him in those two hours than I had in many classes during college. That says something. (It also says something about college courses. I can’t recall a single thing from Molecular Cell Biology — I’m looking at you, Professor Wormington.) I’ve gotten to know John and Mihye this year as I frequent their stand at the Farmer’s Market every week. They’re kind and humble people who can strike up a conversation with anyone and have plenty of advice about cooking (the beef kidney sitting in my freezer right now is a testament to that). Being able to see the open pastures where the cattle live was a great thing for me to witness. I know that the beef I consume has been treated well and humanely – they’ve had good lives.

Brightwood Vineyard and Farm was up next on our tour. I venture to their stand on Saturdays and taste some of their homemade jellies and jam. As soon as we parked, it kind of felt like home. Comfortable, unhurried, patient. In an odd way, it reminded me of my grandparents’ farm in Guatemala. The animal tour was great – got to see lots of chickens, donkeys, sheep, ducks, goats, and some vegetables afterwards. We sampled the jellies and wine and bought one of each since we’re suckers for good food (who isn’t?). By the end of the tour, the rain got the better of us and we headed home shortly thereafter (not before stopping by Rev Soup for some late lunch).

Slowly but surely, I’ve been taking baby steps towards being more appreciative of my own food. I recently bought herbs to grow at home and I bought a mushroom growing kit (which my inner 5 year old could not pass up). In the coming years, I want to grow my own vegetables at the very least. It’s funny but I think I can taste the difference between produce that’s been cared for and produce from a factory (perfect-looking but flavorless). I consider myself really lucky that I have access to plenty of local, beyond-organic food here in Virginia; I wish more people were aware of how easy it is to get (and make!) good food.

August 27, Day 239

For those living under a rock (or you know, not the East coast), Hurricane Irene is pummeling through and actin’ a damn fool. Since Charlottesville is on the outskirts of her wrath, it’s been raining all day. Luckily, it hasn’t been anything more than that and hopefully everyone is staying safe tonight. In preparation for the storm, I made sure that our bellies would be satiated and happy throughout the night.

First up, homemade soup – the Big Girl version. Having recently bought some stew meat from Wolf Creek Farm through Relay Foods and having a lot of beef stock in the freezer, it was time for some comfort food for a rainy afternoon. Again, I acted by intuition and not by recipe (because it’s more fun that way). I added essentially every vegetable I had in the fridge: onions, red peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes (technically a fruit?). Seasoning: garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. It sat for almost four hours on medium-low heat, until the meat was tender and falling apart. Verdict: it tasted like home, which is exactly what I was aiming for.

Next up (obviously) was dessert! My challenge for today was a No Bake Chocolate Cake. I’m going dairy-free and this involves heavy cream but meh! Life’s too short and there was a hurricane coming. That being said, at least I made sure that it was grass-fed heavy cream from Natural By Nature.

This was so decadent! I didn’t let it sit for long enough so it was still a bit soft but in my opinion it only added to the velvety flavor and texture. The chocolate-coffee combo blended with the richness of the cream is to die for. And it’s boyfriend-approved! Super easy to make!

Days 211 – 219

Alright, confession time: I’m definitely going through a blogging lull. It’s an incredibly busy time right now (including my first time shooting at a wedding, mastering kale, working too many doubles, double-under whip burns, driving like a mad woman around Virginia, and barely getting enough sleep) so I hope I’ll be inspired to blog/write more in the next couple of weeks. Can I get a free pass for these pictures?

Beautiful bride, beautiful wedding. A great experience for me.

A completely local breakfast. Forest-fed sausage, poached eggs on top of Swiss Chard. I love you, Charlottesville City Market.My love affair with okra is only getting worse.

Artwork done completely in chalk on the Downtown Mall’s Freedom of Speech Wall.

I was testing out my own recipe for kale chips (they’re really good, btw) but my battery died before I could photograph the entire process. Sorry :(
Red Velvet Cupcakery in Reston, VA. So rich and decadent. 
Chris has been away all summer teaching the Spirit of Atlanta drumline. As you can see, it’s a terrible life. (His friend Drake, who also teaches, laying on the floor).
Recipe for Saturday night: stuffed eggplant. Two of the main ingredients pictured.
An Italian-inspired dinner: basil cauliflower rice, topped with balsamic ground beef and peppers, side of grape tomato & almond salad, red wine for effect.
Events not pictured: slowly but surely converting my mom to the paleo diet, my first strict chin-up (!!!!), becoming a composting expert, reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, and double-under war wounds. And lots of other things that I can’t remember. C’est la vie!

Day 205 – 7.24.2011

Some relief from the heat today! A small rainstorm rushed through and left puddles everywhere. Sidenote: I’ve also been playing around with Aperture all day so please forgive the post-processing flaws, it’s the only way I’ll learn.

 

I’ve mentioned before that I try to get one item from the Farmer’s Market that I’ve never dealt with before – this week’s victim: okra. Now, I didn’t really know what okra was because I’ve only eaten once (and it was fried). But! It was fun looking up recipes and techniques on cooking it. Several articles warned me that it was slimey but it wasn’t terrible! Smelled kinda funny but it added to the adventure. I ended up using this recipe but subbed cayenne pepper and a spice rub for the chili powder. (I also ended up burning my hand in the process and may have yelled out several expletives which may or may not have been heard down my street.) The cayenne pepper gave them a really good kick! They were delicious! Definitely going to make these again (sans hand-burning hopefully).