Monday, March 25, 2013

Banana Almond Flour Muffins

I haven't baked in a while thanks to my new restrictions (no nuts, no eggs), but I found this recipe that I hadn't posted and figured you all probably need a fun treat. I created this muffin recipe by tweaking my banana cake and throwing the batter in muffin tins. If you are open to nuts and eggs, these muffins are awesome - only a tiny of raw honey, and they are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast. You can add raisins, berries, nuts, or even almond butter if you want to get crazy with these. While you chow down on these, I will be brainstorming some egg-free, nut-free creations. Enjoy!

Banana Almond Flour Muffins: Serves 6, Prep time: 10 min, Bake time: 20 min

- 1.5 cups almond flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon 
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. cup coconut oil, softened
- 2 Tbsp. cup organic raw honey
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 large banana, mashed

- Optional add-ins: raisins, berries, chopped nuts, cocoa nibs, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside
3. In a separate bowl, mix coconut oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla
4. Mix wet ingredients until fully combined and then add the mashed bananas
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl
6. Pour batter into a greased muffin tin
7. Bake for 20 minutes - tops will be lightly browned and a toothpick should come out clean
8. Let cool and then serve topped with fresh jam, honey, coconut butter, or plain!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spaghetti Squash & Red Pepper Meatballs

Happy early Passover to all of my fellow Jewish and non-Jewish readers who may be celebrating! Lexi and I celebrated tonight by going to Zaftigs in Brookline. I have to admit it was the first time I ever ordered gefilte fish at a restaurant, but it was delicious! I even tried the homemade beet horseradish, but sadly I still found that violently disgusting (sorry Zaftigs). 

Last week when Lexi came over for dinner, we made spaghetti squash with meatballs. Channelling my Italian roots (aka spending a lot of time with the Martinos) comes pretty naturally to me, or so I thought. This dinner was delicious, but the initial taste of the meatballs was a bit bizarre to say the least. When I asked Lexi how they were, she said "they taste Jewish". A week later, we still don't know exactly what that meant, but I did decide against naming them mini Jew balls. If you're daring, try them out, and let me know what you think! FYI - the longer they sat in the fridge, the better they got. Apparently mini Jew balls taste better with age! Happy Passover everyone :)

Spaghetti Squash & Red Pepper Meatballs: Serves: 4, Prep time: 30 min, Cook time: 45 min

- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow onion
- 6 large button mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 1 Tbsp. coconut flour

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and bake face down for 45 minutes
3. Meanwhile, add pepper, onion, and mushrooms into the food processor, and pulse until finely chopped
4. Mix ground turkey, pepper mixture, chopped garlic, and coconut flour until well combined
5. Place 16-20 meatballs on a foil-lined cookie sheet
6. Bake for 30 minutes until cooked through
7. When squash finishes, string it out of the skin with a fork
8. Serve squash with your favorite homemade tomato sauce (thanks Lexi!), and top with meatballs



Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rainbow Beet Salad

Happy Spring! I have been convincing myself it is warmer than it really is and have boycotted wearing jackets in the middle of the day. Probably not the best decision, but I am preparing myself for the sunshine to come. I got very used to the 85-90 degree weather in Dubai, and with my upcoming Florida trip, there is no need to accept the cold weather. I even got a little taste of winter when I was in Dubai - Ry and I went skiing in the Mall of the Emirates at Ski Dubai. 

It was the most ridiculous experience imaginable, and we all know I have had my share of ridiculous experiences. I was in a tank top and sandals and was waiting in line with the most diverse group of people all waiting to get fitted for our snowsuits and skis. We bought some matching striped hats and purple gloves and then suited up. We carried our skis up an escalator and then walked into the world's largest refrigerator. The "mountain" wasn't huge, but it definitely did the trick. The best part was when I went on the "advanced" lift and fell off (FYI - I have skied since I was 4 years old...). Ryan was in front of me and didn't see, and I rolled down the mountain into the guy behind me cracking up. After the fall, my lips turned purple and my teeth wouldn't stop chattering, so we went inside, got back into our summer clothes, and returned to the dessert - pretty standard if you ask me.

Tonight's recipe was inspired by my dear friend Naima. I met her through my IIN health coaching program, and she is a wonderful cook. She is from Tunisia, and she has so many wonderful recipes using fresh, seasonal ingredients. The first time she came over for dinner she brought a gorgeous beet salad with potatoes and tomatoes. I switched it up a bit using rainbow beets from today's farmers market and nixed the potatoes. This is an amazingly light and fresh side dish that goes great with any meal. This is the perfect addition for your next dinner party because it can be made in advance. Thanks Naima!

Rainbow Beet Salad: Serves 4-5, Prep time: 10 min, Cook time: 30 min

- 1 white beet
- 1 golden beet
- 1 red beet
- 20 cheery tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 lemon
- 2+ Tbsp. chopped parsley
- Sea salt and pepper

1. Peel each beet and chop into large pieces
2. Boil uncovered for 30 minutes until soft
3. Chop tomatoes and cooled beets into bite-sized pieces
4. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper
5. Serve at room temperature or chilled 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lamb, Mushroom, & Onion Stuffed Pumpkin

The Dubai farmers market didn't compare to SOWA in Boston, but it was still awesome to check out. The quality of the local produce was pretty good considering the climate. We picked up some onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, apples, pumpkins, broccoli, and aloe vera. I decided to make a stuffed pumpkin recipe with ground lamb. Apparently the local food movement in Dubai is really growing, and they have 2 mini markets and 1 pretty large one every week. The main company is called RipeME, and everything is organic and grown around the UAE. Unfortunately the people running the market were not the farmers, so they weren't able to answer all of my questions. That being said, I was thrilled to check it out and felt right at home strolling through the market on the other side of the world. 

On a somewhat unrelated note, I am pleased to say that I have somehow avoided jetlag. My first day back I did try to shut off the sink by turning the light off (FYI - that does not actually work), but other than that my mind has been clear and my sleep has been great. I forced myself to stay up as late as possible the first night and then made sure to work out, eat clean, and hydrate like crazy. Not too shabby after a 24 hour journey back home! 

Lamb, Mushroom, & Onion Stuffed Pumpkin: Serves 4, Prep time: 10 min, Cook time: 50-55 min

- 2 small pumpkins
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
- 4 small onions, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1-2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- Sea salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Slice pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds, and lie flat (cut-side down) on a cookie sheet
3. Bake for 30 minutes
4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat
5. Add garlic and onions and cook until soft (5-10 minutes)
6. Add mushrooms and cook another 5-10 minutes
7. Add ground lamb, and cook until pink/red is gone (about 10 minutes)
8. After the pumpkins cook for 30 minutes, flip them over (cut-side up), and cook for another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned
9. Scoop the lamb mixture into the pumpkins and bake for another 10 minutes


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Crockpot Moroccan Lamb Tagine

I'm back! It has been a while, but I am back in the U.S. and ready to share all of my culinary adventures from Dubai. I was over in Dubai for the past three weeks and had an unbelievable time. I had some great adventures on the weekends and spent some quality time at my company's Dubai office during the week. Grocery shopping in Dubai is a bit different from Boston, but I did pretty well. I even went to the Dubai farmer's market which was an experience. It was just a fraction of the size of the markets here but was still great to support the local food movement in the Middle East. I had the opportunity to try some amazing restaurants, but my favorite (by a mile) was Pierchic. The restaurant is at the end of a 250-yard pier in the middle of the ocean. It is part of the Madinat Jumeirah resort, and was hands down the most gorgeous place I have ever been in my life. We had a four-course meal with the freshest seafood imaginable as we overlooked the Burj Al Arab and the entire Madinat Jumeirah. I was 99% sure that I was on an episode of The Bachelor while I was there because it just seemed too good to be true. I am quite certain that the meal, the ambience, and the company will never be beat, and it was absolutely a major highlight of the trip.

Separate from all of the restaurants, I cooked some really exciting meals using new spices and flavors I had never experienced with. I will share my recipes over the next few days and catch you up on my paleo adventures from the other side of the world. The first recipe to share is a crockpot moroccan lamb tagine. This cooked all day while I was at the office, and it was amazing to come home to. I experimented with the spices, fresh rosemary from the garden, and prunes. Many people are scared of prunes because they remind them of 90-year-olds, but prunes are simply sweet and delicious dried plums - don't be afraid!

Crockpot Moroccan Lamb Tagine: Serves 6, Prep time: 20 min, Cook time: 8-10 hours

- 1 large onion, chopped
- 5 carrots, peeled & chopped
- 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 8 1-inch pieces of ginger
- 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
- Dried apricots (100g)
- Prunes (250g)
- 2 pound lamb shoulder
- 2 Tbsp. lamb spice mix (rosemary, rose petals, cumin, paprika, onion, garlic, mint, etc.)
- 1-2 cups water

1. Put onions and carrots at the bottom of the crockpot
2. Cover with water (just enough to barely cover)
3. Spice both sides of the lamb, and lay it on top of the onions/carrots
4. Slice a few slits in the lamb and stuff with chopped garlic and rosemary
5. Add prunes, apricots, and ginger 
6. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours
7. Shred the lamb, remove the ginger, and serve!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Chili w/ Beets & Kale

While my affair with chicken is on hold for now, I do have a fantastic recipe to share. I had originally dreamt up this beet chili on Valentine's Day, but you may remember that I completely destroyed the beets (and the pot) that they were cooking in. I decided to give it another try using the crockpot to avoid any issues. 

I ate beets for the first time about 6 months ago, and now I can't get enough of them. I even ate slices of a raw beet while I was chopping them, and they were delicious! The texture was like a beautifully crisp apple, and the flavor was so rich. Anything with this much color is good in my book. I experimented with some cumin and paprika in this recipe to give it a little chili flavor. I will try this out again with extra spice and a non-chicken alternative (ground lamb anyone?). Eat your beets for vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, manganese, potassium, and iron. Not too shabby for a cold winter day!

Crockpot Chicken Chili w/ Beets & Kale: Serves 8-10, Prep time: 30 min, Cook time: 6 hours

- 2 lb. organic chicken breasts (frozen or fresh)
- 2 sweet onions, chopped
- 2+ Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 3 large beets, peeled & chopped
- 2 14.5oz cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 qt. organic vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 Tbsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat
2. Add onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until soft
3. Pour the cans of tomatoes on the bottom of the crockpot
4. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the tomatoes
5. Cover the chicken with the onions and garlic, and then top with cumin, paprika, and pepper
6. Add the beets on top and then pour the broth over everything
7. Cook in the crockpot for 5 hours on high or 7-8 on low
8. Take the chicken out, shred it, and then return it to the pot
9. Add the chopped kale into the crockpot, cook on low for 10 more minutes, and then serve!