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.

beef kidney in red wine sauce

Many people don’t have much experience with offal. Eating animal organs has become uncommon and that’s a bit of a shame. Our ancestors ate organs for two main reason: organs are nutritional powerhouses and there’s no sense in wasting precious food.

If you took part in our most recent cow-share or are looking to expand your culinary expertise, I urge you to try them out! Your best bet for optimal nutrition are organs from pasture-raised animals. Find farmers near you here: http://www.eatwild.com/

Beef Kidney 7

Ingredients

  • 1 lb beef kidney
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is a favorite)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/8 tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

1. Rinse and dry the kidney. Using a paring knife, cut the membrane and remove the fat and tubes from each cube. Place the cubes in a medium-sized bowl and cover with cold water and the two vinegars. Allow to soak for at least 30 minutes. This helps remove the beefy odor.

2. During the soaking time, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Throw in the kidney cubes and allow them to brown, tossing them every now and then.

4. Remove the kidney from the pan and set aside.

5. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and allow them to cook. Allow the onions to become translucent. Add your seasoning.

6. At this time, include the red wine and allow to cook for a minute.

7. Add the kidney cubes and stir around. Allow the flavors to meld together.

8. Serve on a plate with cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash!

Recipe inspired by and adapted from Mark’s Daily Apple. We get our grass-fed beef from Wolf Creek Farm.

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. 

feed a cold

It’s been a while since I have posted and for that, I apologize. Life has been a little crazy recently – I ended my position at a local restaurant and am now working for a local photographer in hopes of absorbing and learning everything & anything. Needless to say, I’ve been a little stressed.

Stressed to the point where my sleeping habits have been affected and my immune system couldn’t take it anymore. I usually get a solid 8 hours of sleep and have reduced that to less than 6 hours a night, and it finally snowballed on me. [Read about the importance of sleep here.] On Friday night, after working my last shift ever (on Graduation weekend no less) I left the restaurant with a huge headache. Saturday morning came and I felt like I had been hit with a truck. Everything hurt. Still does. I managed to make it to the Charlottesville City Farmer’s Market but crashed shortly thereafter and am still recovering.

In hopes of of lifting my spirits, I’ve been making delicious meals for myself. Nothing makes me feel better than a good yummy meal.

Yesterday, sweet & citric were my cravings so I tossed this beauty up. Spring greens, topped with cherry tomatoes, olives, slivered almonds, sliced oranges with a balsamic vinegar & EVOO dressing, with a side of curried grass-fed beef heart. Totally hit the spot! Sweet, salty, and nutritious!

In order to avoid infecting the public and steering clear of the Graduation crowds, I made brunch at home! A basil and green onion omelet with pasture-raised bacon on the side (duh, you can’t have brunch without bacon). And a side of frozen strawberries, coconut milk, and almonds as my dessert! The frozen berries tamed the fiery sensation from my sore throat.

Finally, dinner tonight — bunless grass-fed burger with roasted kale and an avocado & kimchi side. This was delectable. The burgers were seasoned with green onions, paprika, and curry and cooked in bacon grease (what ISN’T amazing cooked in bacon grease?). The kimchi was a gift from my favorite vendor at the market – Wolf Creek Farm!

I’m still not feeling 100% but I can rest easy knowing that at least I’m feeding myself properly!

Where I got my ingredients

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!

Days 197, 198

This past weekend was exactly what I needed it to be. I started off by working a double on Friday (as a result, no photo) which established a surprisingly enjoyable rhythm of craziness. Chris and his parents were visiting for the weekend so I managed to get the two days off.

Saturdays mean Farmer’s Market in the summer and since I wasn’t working that day, I took my time venturing through the booths, tasting the fresh fruit, chatting with the vendors. (Btw, 7am is the BEST time to go to the market – it’s cooler, there’s less people, and no one’s sold out of anything!)

It was also Restaurant Week in Charlottesville and we got a reservation at my favorite place in town, Brookville! Their menu did not disappoint (although the portion sizes could have been a bit more filling, but that’s an issue with all of Restaurant Week). Who can say no to good wine and good food? (Answer: not me)

I spent Sunday finishing The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I would recommend to anyone interested in taking care of their health – which I hope is everybody). After completing the book, my first reaction was to go into the kitchen and start cooking. I was also hungry (when am I not hungry?). On the menu for Sunday night: beet chips, cauliflower rice (recipe here), Indian-inspired tomato and mushroom sautée, and grilled flank (courtesy of Mama Garay). Meal = success! It was a great meal to share with Chris before he left for another two weeks!

Whole30 Reflections

It’s been over a week since I completed the Whole30 challenge and these were mere observations and experiences from my point of view (because well, it’s my blog).

  • Apparently, I thrive in a structured environment and if I put my mind to something, I can achieve it. Good to know!
  • My taste buds have definitely changed – spicy food appeals to me and I’m currently in a love/hate relationship with cayenne pepper.
  • I have some serious demons when it comes to food – even though I’ve been perfectly healthy (both before and during the Whole30) I was incredibly hard on myself during the entire process. I found it mentally exhausting to constantly be worried about every little ingredient that went into my body. Reading labels is a great habit to form; however, don’t let it drive you nuts.
  • Food is like a drug and “getting clean” is like drug withdrawal. Seeing other people eat foods I enjoy is like being a former smoker and having smoke blown in your face.
  • I found myself avoiding otherwise enjoyable situations just so I wouldn’t be “tempted” by food (or alcohol).
  • Things I lost during the Whole30
    • Around 8lbs  – but I didn’t think I did. I did notice some body composition changes but not a significant amount. 8lbs on a 5’2” frame is actually a lot.
    • Strength and stamina at the gym – admittedly, I had been out of the country for almost three weeks and the strength-loss would be more a consequence of that than anything else, however, I did not regain strength after I’d been back for over a month. The 8lbs lost could also attribute to this. In the week after the challenge, I introduced more carbs and have definitely noticed more energy during workouts.
  • Sleep has been heavenly – I’ve been sleeping like a freakin’ baby.
  • For the ladies, I did notice that it affected my menstrual cycle. I didn’t get cramps or bloating and it was an effortless and quick period (maybe 3 days long).  I’m usually in the fetal position for a week straight craving chocolate and bad chick-flicks.
  • All the meat I’ve eaten in the last 30+ days has been appropriately raised and fed (grass, forest, pasture, etc). Which is awesome. It’s also expensive; HOWEVER, because I haven’t been eating out at restaurants, I’ve actually saved money. I bought a new camera lens to celebrate!
  • I’m absolutely lactose-intolerant and that makes me sad. I’ll now be going dairy-free whenever possible but am willing to suffer the consequences when it’s really worth it.
  • I’ll also be going grain-free and low-sugar whenever possible. I’ve yet to introduce gluten back into my diet so I’ll see how that goes.

In the end, I’m glad I did it. Proving that I could do it is a feat in itself and it has taught me that I’ve more willpower than I had allowed myself to believe. Learning how to reset my body and my nutrition habits has been a valuable lesson and one that’ll stay with me.

Day 157 – 6.6.2011

It is Day 15 for my Whole 30 Challenge and here’s what has happened so far..

  • I’m sleeping like a rock
  • My pants feel a bit looser (but just a little bit)
  • My cravings for chocolate have been replaced with cravings for sweet potatoes
  • I’ve prepared every single meal I’ve consumed for the past two weeks
  • I’m seeing some really intense back muscles
  • Experimenting while cooking has been fun – today I cooked with avocado oil for the first time!
I’m pretty proud of myself for making it this far, I don’t think I would have stuck with it if the rules weren’t so strict. Although I can definitely see myself fine-tuning my eating habits to mimic the challenge, I don’t plan on living without dairy or the occasional treat. Halfway there!