Dairy-Free Butter Chicken

Basically indian flavors are just my favorite! I love the subtle heat mixed with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, and cumin for example. India definitely has it figured out with spice blends that are both delicious and nourishing to the body as well. When I lived in Austin, Texas, I made friends with someone who was born and raised in India. He taught me all about the Indian culture and food. One of the recipes he shared was butter chicken. At the time I was plant-based so I had to modify the recipe of course to omit the butter, chicken, and cream.

Now I have made many different versions. One with sprouted chickpeas and a cashew cream sauce to finish. One with just cauliflower and chickpeas and full-fat coconut milk to finish. And one with chicken and chickpeas and coconut milk over spaghetti squash and spinach. How ever you choose to make this, the tomato gravy is what counts!

I will pre-warn you that I just go by taste so use the measurements provided for spices as a guide and adjust to meet your own taste buds.

Let’s talk about substituting the butter and cream part of traditional butter chicken. Like I mentioned, I have substituted a cashew cream made from soaked and blended cashews and also full-fat coconut milk. Both are delicious! The spices are so prominent that you aren’t really going to taste coconut. The fat from the coconut milk really rounds out the spices so you A. don’t burn your taste buds and B. aren’t getting sharp notes of the spices. As far a substituting butter, I just add plenty of coconut oil at the end. It works great for the mouthfeel and again you aren’t going to notice a big coconut taste because of the spices.

Honey- honey is added at the end. The sweetness counter-balances the spiciness.

Lemon- lemon is also added at the end to amplify all the wonderful flavors. And I don’t know about you but I love adding fresh lemon juice to all my tomato sauces.

Okay here’s the recipe! Enjoy!

DAIRY-FREE BUTTER CHICKEN

For the sauce:

  • 24 oz strained tomatoes (or tomato puree)
  • 1 white or red onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 inch of ginger, minced or grated
  • 3/4-1 c full-fat coconut milk OR cashew cream (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 c coconut oil (split for sauteeing and finishing)
  • marinated and grilled chicken (recipe below)
  • cooked or sprouted chickpeas
  • cauliflower (optional), diced
  • juice of 1/2 to one lemon
  • 2-3 T raw, local, honey
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • rice or spaghetti squash to serve

Spice blend:

  • 1 1/2 T garam masala (the one I get has black pepper, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili powder (I just ground up red chili flakes)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground coriander

MAKE IT!

Cook your chicken first (if using) then start the butter chicken sauce.

Make your spice blend and have it ready in a little bowl next to the stove.

Slice your onions and get the garlic and ginger root minced up. In a cast iron saucepan or heavy bottomed skillet melt 1-2T of coconut oil. Add the onion and begin to caramelize (about 15-20 minutes). Once the onions are beginning to get some color, add the garlic and ginger as well as you spice blend. Cook about 2 minutes more until fragrant and then add the tomato product plus a about 1/2-1 cup of filtered water. If you are using cauliflower, put it in at this stage to cook the cauliflower. Stir well and place a lid on top. Let it simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes or if using cauliflower until it is al dente. Then add the cooked chicken and chickpeas. Allow to cook over very low heat for about another 5-10 minutes for the flavors to meld and the chicken to heat through.
Remove the bay leaves. Add the coconut milk or cashew cream, another 2T of coconut oil, the honey, salt to your taste, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Serve over rice, quinoa, or spaghetti squash with a good helping of fresh, chopped cilantro.

CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast, organic, cubed or whole
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (I used ground red chile flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2T cashew yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp himalayan sea salt

Mix the chili powder, garam masala, coriander, yogurt, cumin, and lemon juice in a bowl. Add chicken and rub the marinade in with your fingers. Marinade ideally at least four hours or overnight. You can cube the chicken and get away with marinating for less time or you can leave the chicken whole and cube it up after it is cooked.

To cook: Allow the chicken to sit out at room temperature for about a half hour so it is not so cold. Preheat a grill or the oven to 350.

To grill: cook the chicken over low heat flipping halfway through until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees fahrenheit.

To roast: Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 1/2 T of avocado or coconut oil and when it shimmers and runs easy across the pan add the chicken breasts. Tip to prevent sticking- Take the chicken and without laying it down sweep it across the pan moving away from you to coat the whole breast in oil. Proceed to lay it down in the pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken. Once the chicken is browned on one side and comes away easy from the pan flip over and place the skillet in the oven. Roast until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees farenheit.

Allow the chicken to rest on a plate for 10 minutes. Cut into cubes. Now your chicken is ready to add to the butter chicken gravy!

Cashew Cream Recipe:

  • 1c raw cashews
  • filtered water

In a mason jar soak the cashews with plenty of water for at least 10 hours. Drain the cashews. Add the cashews to a high powered blender along with 1/2 cup of filtered water. Blend scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed and adding water as needed as well.

I hope you make this wonderful recipe and enjoy! I really enjoy this recipe this time of year when the weather is cold and our bodies can use all the nourishing things for immunity. The warm spices in this recipe are great for circulation, antimicrobial action, and digestion.

Healthy wishes friends,

Abby

15 MINUTE NO-COOK PASTA SAUCE

Although summer is winding down, we are still having hot days here in Montana. Maybe you can relate to this, but when your apartment has no AC, you avoid cooking and heating up the place as much as possible! So! I have explored a new cuisine…no-cook recipes.

No-cook recipes basically use ingredients that have been cooked already (such as canned beans) or are just straight up raw. Not only are they great to avoid heating the house, but they also come together super quick!

For this recipe I drew inspiration from one of my favorite chefs Heidi Swanson. She is a cookbook author and I get recipes in my email from her! Check out her website and blog with recipes here.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

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  • 2 cups of organic cherry tomatoes
  • 3T-1/4c of vegan basil pesto (recipe follows)
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • Sea Salt
  • 8 oz of Gluten free spaghetti (I like banza)*
  • ¼ cup Toasted sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup Castelvetrano olives, sliced
  • 1 cup Zucchini, spiralized or diced into small cubes
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade

MAKE IT!…

Grab all your ingredients. In a deep bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, pesto, salt, the zest of one lemon, and 1T of lemon juice. Blend with a hand blender briefly leaving chunks of tomatoes still. If you don’t have a hand blender you can pulse the sauce in a food processor or high powered blender but be sure to leave some chunks. Mix well and season with salt to your taste.

Bring a pot of water to a boil with plenty of salt. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. 

Meanwhile prepare the zucchini, slice the olives, and chiffonade the basil by stacking multiple leaves on top of eachother, rolling them up, and slicing lengthwise into thin strips. Tip, use a rocking motion when slicing the basil starting your slice at the tip of your knife and driving the knife down while pushing the knife forward and through the basil leaves. You should end your slice gliding through the basil with the butt end of the knife. By using the whole knife in this way you prevent bruising of the leaves and also get a clean cut all the way through…If this is making no sense youtube it;)

Drain the pasta once it is cooked and add the sauce, olives, and zucchini. Stir with tongs and top with fresh basil and the toasted sunflower seeds. Walnuts would be delicious here too. You can also add in other vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, sprouts, or asparagus which are all delicious!

Enjoy! 

* You can make this recipe completely no-cook by subbing more zucchini for the pasta.

VEGAN PESTO

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  • 1 fresh lemon zested
  • ½ fresh lemon juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ -¾  tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ⅓ c raw walnuts
  • ⅓ c organic extra virgin olive oil (or more as needed)
  • 4c packed fresh basil leaves

In a food processor or high power blender pulse the zest and juice of the lemon, garlic, salt and pepper, walnuts, and basil to get a chunky mixture. With the food processor running begin to drizzle in the olive oil slowly until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust lemon juice and/or salt. Enjoy!

Meet my airstream friends, the Beans

Yes, their last name really is Bean, and yes they do live in their airstream full-time….Meet Nallely and Tanner Bean- some of the most wholesome people I have ever met

It all started in the little town of Georgetown, Texas at a small coffee shop where Tanner was a barista. This coffee shop became a weekly stop for me and soon we connected by nerding out over Yirgacheffe pour overs and my cassava tortilla recipe! (Recipe at the very bottom of this post!) Tanner and his wife follow a paleo diet and they, like me, would much rather make food from scratch than choke up eight or so dollars for eight grain-free tortillas, for example. Soon we were chatting all about holistic recipes and their journey to healthy eating and becoming paleo.

Tanner shared with me that he suffers from psoriasis, an auto-immune disorder that causes dry, scaly spots on the skin. For that reason, and the fact that both him and his wife worked out excessively and never saw any improvements in health or weight they decided to try out a Whole 30 diet. Most of you know this is a huge and very difficult commitment to eat completely clean for 30 days straight. You guys, they felt so good they did it for over 60 days, AND through the holidays might I add! They couldn’t believe how great they felt from nourishing their body with real food! They transitioned to a paleo diet and still eat this way on a daily basis. They have found it to be so helpful for many reasons but especially for Tanner’s psoriasis and their vitality!

Okay so back to the airstream! Fast forward several months and I end back up in Montana, and so did these two…in fact in my backyard. Over the week that they were here visiting our national park (Glacier National Park), we hammocked, we hiked, we made coffee, WE BAKED!:) They taught me about simplistic air-stream living, and we talked a lot about food, nutrition, faith, and simple aspects of life. They have been airstream living since 2017! Read their full story here. Also, their instagram is beautiful and they give updates of all their wonderful adventures throughout all the national parks they visit and airstream living hacks. Follow them @essentiallystreaming or by clicking here. It really is no easy thing to downsize to fit everything you own into an airstream; to live happily with only the bare essentials. They even have to pay attention to how much their set up weighs for insurance purposes… something I would have never even thought of! Tanner also taught me on a couple occasions how to make really delicious coffee. I was so honored to be able to bake with them and share some of my recipes and what I’ve learned about food and nutrition with them too!

Because I know you’re wondering…here’s what we made:

  • paleo marshmallows
  • paleo german chocolate cake
  • coconut butter or “manna”

Nallely made my day when she was almost in tears over the marshmallows. She hadn’t had marshmallows in over 2 1/2 years because marshmallows even at health food stores are made from cane sugar which is NOT paleo. Tanner also made me laugh sooooo hard. After overhearing me tell Nelly that we needed to bring the maple syrup up to 240 degrees fahrenheit, he pipes up and says something like “are you sure about that, I don’t think that’s possible.” You see Tanner being a pro barista (really, he’s won competitions and everything) pays very close attention to the boiling points at all elevations he visits. Well supposedly here water does not boil over 203. Of course he was proven wrong, and yes he did in fact double check me with his own thermometer!! LOL sorry Tanner…

You can head virtually experience our baking sesh here…Just be prepared for some good laughs haha 🙂

All that to say, my time with the Beans reminded me of a couple very important life things to always remember:

  1. Keep the main things the main things. I have to remind myself what these are to me EVERYDAY ALL DAY and it is a struggle, let me tell ya. What is the essence of life for you? Does everything you do tie back to those things?
  2. The world is really so small when you embrace community. Community is important to me, because it makes me and others better. The Beans wanted to bake with me because they wanted to learn from ME, but I learned so much from THEM too. That’s why I love cooking with others so much- its never a one way street. We were not created to do life alone. We can build a stronger, better world by sharing our experiences and talents with people and they with us.

Thank you Tanner and Nelly! ❤ Keep spreading the good stuff!

Cassava Tortillas

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Recipe adapted from http://blog.sweetlaurel.com/

  • ¾ c cassava flour
  • ¼ c arrowroot powder 
  • 3T coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ⅓ c cold water or more as needed 

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and water as needed. Roll into balls. Place between two pieces of parchment paper and use a rolling pin or tortilla press to flatten into a circle. Place on a hot skillet for about 1-2 minutes per side. When tortillas are finished cooking, place inside a folded damp kitchen towel to keep warm until serving. Place any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze. 

Vegan Grain Free Tacos

I love tacos, who doesn’t right? Most taco shells are made from corn. During nutrition class, I was really sad to find out that corn is actually a grain (not a vegetable) and also that it is one of two of the most genetically modified and pesticide full crops out there. Why is this? Corn is massively overproduced because of all the food additives that can be derived from it…even citric acid! Like isn’t citric acid supposed to come from oranges or something, not necessarily. This is just one example of a food additive that is in almost everything. Unless the package says grain free, it’s likely that the citric acid is coming from corn. Tip for all you paleo people out there and others allergic to corn. But how is that even possible? Heavy heavy processing of food that the body does not know what to do with. Pesticides and additives can also inhibit normal detox of the body by the way. Luckily I discovered a grain free hard shell taco by Siete. They are made from cassava, which is a tuber that grows in the ground! Siete also makes soft tortillas from other flours like almond, chickpea, cashew, cassava, etc. You can find them at most major health focused grocery stores, I get mine at Natural Grocers.

So the vegan part. Vegan tacos come together so fast and are so delicious. I made a couple different versions recently and both were delicious! Two things were on my mind, I want some protein going into these tacos and I want something fresh and green to tone down the spice I’m about to add.

To incorporate protein I used garbanzo beans and black beans for one recipe, and then a simple homemade hummus for the other. Both were great. I found the hummus to work really well for glueing the other ingredients to the shell so less fell out. I loved the black beans and garbanzo beans whole for their texture and flavor.

For greens, I chiffonaded spinach for one recipe and used sunflower seed sprouts for the other. Ps not sure if that is actually a word but basically what you do is stack some spinach leaves on top of eachother then roll them up tight and slice them with a knife. When they unroll, you will have long strips and you will feel super fancy! You’re welcome.;)

Okay so for the seasoning, I decided to think outside of the box and use some new harissa seasoning that I picked up. I used the Frontier brand which has a nice blend of organic chiles, cumin, garlic, and even a touch of peppermint! Super yummy and not too spicy.

I hope you can enjoy these recipes and make your own version of vegan tacos! Share pictures and tag me when you do! Also, I don’t measure anything when it comes to tacos so use these recipes as a guide to unleash your own creativity! 🙂

VEGAN HARISSA TACOS 2 WAYS

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Roasted Delicata Squash and Hummus Tacos

Ingredients: 

  • Delicata squash
  • Homemade hummus or store bought
  • Harissa seasoning (I used Frontier brand)
  • Honey 
  • Sunflower seed sprouts
  • Avocado, diced
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Tahini, optional but delicious
  • Siete Grain Free hard shell taco shells
  • Avocado oil or coconut oil (melted) for the pan 
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a glass pan, lay down a sheet of parchment paper and drizzle in a couple tablespoons of avocado oil or coconut oil. Set aside. 

Wash your squash. Slice the both ends off of the delicata squash and then slice it in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds out using a spoon. Reserve to roast later or discard. Place each half on their flat side and slice into thin half moons. Place in the pan and sprinkle with harissa seasoning, plenty of salt, and pepper and about one tablespoon of honey. Toss to coat evenly with the oil then spread out so that the squash is in a single layer ideally. Roast for about 30 minutes flipping around the 20 minute mark. 

While the squash is roasting, prepare all the other ingredients: make the hummus, dice the avocado, chop the cilantro. 

TO ASSEMBLE: Spread a good layer of hummus on each side of the taco shell. Add the squash, avocado, and sunflower seed sprouts. Drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with cilantro, then squeeze plenty of fresh lime juice on top. 🙂

Enjoy! 

PS. The tahini was a goof up because I forgot it in the hummus when I made these, but to be honest it ended up being the perfect addition to these tacos! 

Triple Bean Tacos

Ingredients: 

  • Garbanzo beans, canned or cooked yourself*
  • Black beans, canned or cooked yourself*
  • Dragon tongue beans (or regular string beans) **
  • Harissa seasoning (I used Frontier brand)
  • Coconut oil or avocado oil 
  • Spinach
  • Honey 
  • Avocado, optional
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Siete Grain free hard shell tacos
  • Salt and pepper

Wash the dragon beans and snip the ends off. Chop into one inch pieces. 

In a cast iron pan heat the oil. Coconut oil will give you a more buttery mouthfeel. Once the oil is hot add the beans. Add a little water just to coat the bottom of the pan and place a lid on to steam the beans briefly. Steam for a few minutes until al dente then remove the lid. 

Add the harissa seasoning to taste, honey, salt, pepper, and both the garbanzo and black beans. Cook for about 2 minutes longer. 

Meanwhile mash the avocado with plenty of lime juice and salt. Chiffonade the spinach by stacking multiple leaves on top of eachother then rolling up. Slice lengthwise into thin strips. 

To assemble the tacos: 

Spread a good amount of smashed avocado on each side of the tortilla. Place the bean mixture inside followed by the spinach. Finish with more lime juice and enjoy! 

NOTES: 

*I love the Eden brand beans because they are organic and pressure cooked which breaks down the lectins and makes it easier for your gut to digest the beans

**Dragon tongue beans are a beautiful purple and white speckled bean variety. They are less stringy than regular beans but can be cooked the same. 

Healthy Wishes Friends!

Abby

Stop Damaging Your Cells

The oils and fats you should and shouldn’t be cooking with…

Fat. It’s sustaining to the body, satisfying to the mouth. In cooking with fat we prevent sticking, and our food becomes moist and tender.

FAT IS IMPORTANT TO FLAVOR AND FUNCTION

Fat is a controversial topic of health and I am here to bring clarity. In order for fat to be our friend we need to make sure we are using fat in the applications they are chemically meant for. To keep it simple, fats become damaged and turned into free radicals four different ways: oxidation, pressure, light, and heat. Free radicals are unpaired “free” electrons that damage our cells. You can read more about the science behind this here. Bigger picture, free radicals are responsible for degrading of organ systems which lead to chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. In the case of the heart damaging fats severely harm the blood vessels causing them to become torn. Our bodies use cholesterol and fibrin, and red blood cells to repair the damages but this makes the vessels less flexible as the new tissue is essentially a scab. Damages over time can result in high blood pressure, strokes, and other heart issues.

To avoid damaging our fats we first need to choose the right kinds. You always want to choose oils that read “expeller pressed”, “extra virgin” or in the case of coconut “virgin”. This means that they have been cold pressed. If the product does not read this then more than likely the oil has been extracted by method of chemicals and high heat. Again the heat damages the oil’s chemical structure and who wants chemicals in their oil. EW! You should also be familiar with the word “smoke point.” Visually when an oil is smoking, you know that it has become oxidized and you should NEVER consume smoking oil! You also want to select an oil that is in a dark container to reduce exposure to light. I opt for glass to avoid toxins from plastic. Exception: I’ve never seen coconut oil sold in a dark container. Keep your oils in a dark, dry, and cool place in your kitchen NOT NEXT TO THE STOVE. You should also keep oils sealed to avoid exposure to oxygen. Think along the lines of what an apple looks like after it is cut an exposed to air.

Which oils are the healthiest?

My three favorite are organic extra virgin olive oil, expeller pressed avocado oil, and organic virgin coconut oil.

OLIVE OIL- Should only be used in cold preparations. Heating olive oil damages the chemical bonds and causes free radicals. Olive oil has a delicious delicate flavor that is enjoyable in salad dressings, finishing foods, pestos, hummus, and other dips. Olive oil is also high in omega 6 anti-inflammatory fatty acids! 🙂

AVOCADO OIL- THE HEALTHIEST COOKING OIL. It can withstand very high heat before becoming oxidized and turning into free radicals. It has a very neutral flavor that will not come through in the food. Use in all cooking preparations, to marinade, in dressings, etc. To get you started try this sweet potato yam fries recipe!

YAM FRIES

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  • 2 organic sweet potato yams (pictured are garnet yams)
  • avocado oil ( just enough to coat)
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Rosemary (fresh or dried, optional but delicious!)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Line glass pans or baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper. Clean and cut the yams into fries. Combine the yams with the remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat evenly. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast 30-40 minutes flipping at about the 20 minute mark.

COCONUT OIL- Is delicious, buttery, and antimicrobial. The lauric acid in coconut oil nourishes our tissues to create an antimicrobial effect. In this way it is great used in food, body care, and personal products! Coconut oil may be heated although not as high as avocado oil. Its best use is probably in baking applications and especially as a butter substitute. It is also delicious when melted gently and added to some cacao powder, maple syrup and sea salt for a chocolate syrup drizzle. 🙂 You can also use coconut oil in place of lotion and when making homemade beauty products! Lastly, swish coconut oil around in your mouth in place of mouthwash to cleanse your mouth of bacteria! Could it get any easier?

ORGANIC GRASS FED GHEE and BUTTER- Personally I avoid dairy. But if you prefer dairy, these are two options to cook with safely. Ghee especially is suitable for higher heats such as for sauteing. Butter is great for baking and for basting when roasting. Buying grass fed ensures a healthier omega 3 to omega 6 ratio as well as far more vitamins and minerals.

OILS YOU SHOULD NEVER COOK WITH

Besides olive oil, other vegetable oils including sunflower, flax oil, sesame, and safflower should never be heated. And in my opinion canola oil should never be used. In my nutrition course we learned that canola oil has actually shown to cause heart lesions, yikes! Additionally any sort of hydrogenated vegetable oil should never be consumed. Hydrogenation turns a liquid vegetable oil into a solid fat by means of adding metals, blasting with hydrogen under extreme pressure, deodorizing, and bleaching. MMM yummy right? The end product is now a trans fat or in other words free radicals. To nerd out one last time on you, the body has no use for trans fat because what happens is it gets confused about whether it is a saturated fat or unsaturated fat and puts it in all the wrong places, damaging your cell walls and body.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and took something away. If you have any questions or comments drop those below!

Healthy wishes,

Abby 🙂

HOW TO SAVE YOUR SAD HERBS

KITCHEN TIPS AND TRICKS- PART 3

Rejuvenate and Repurposing Herbs

Hello friends. I apologize for the delay since my last post, its been a crazy past couple weeks- in a good way! School has started back up for me and we are learning about all sorts of cool topics like analyzing blood work and making herbal formulas based on energetics!

Anyways, I am excited to share with you guys some tips on how to save your sad looking herbs. It happens to all of us- we bring home a large bunch of herbs and only use a portion of it. The rest gets put back in the fridge and becomes limp. Most herbs at this point would have the fate of being thrown out. Maybe it was the way I was raised but I have a really hard time throwing food away…There are so many ways to repurpose and possibly even bring your herbs back to life!

HOW TO REJUVENATE HERBS

Think like you just received a bouquet of flowers. Similar process here, your herbs are thirsty! Water is what gives vegetables their crisp structure by the way.

  1. Cut off a bit of the stems
  2. Place in a glass with a little water in the bottom for the stems to drink from
  3. Cover with a bag and secure with a rubber band for longer term storage or a ziploc type bag

Note, this method does not work as well for woody herbs like rosemary, repurpose instead! (Read on to know how).

RECIPES FOR REPURPOSING SAD HERBS

  • chimichurri (see recipe below)
  • zhoug (spicy cilantro sauce)
  • shatta (middle eastern hot sauce)
  • pesto
  • green goddess sauce (I like this recipe)
  • quinoa pilaf (I like mine with mint, apricot, olive oil, and toasted almonds)
  • potato salad (throw in any herbs)
  • soup
  • stock, recipe here (you can easily freeze parsley stems, etc and add other vegetable scraps to your freezer stash until you have enough to make stock!)
  • meal prep ramen
  • summer rolls (I love mint, cilantro, and basil most)
  • dry them!
  • make a marinade
  • make salad dressing (ex: lemon juice, olive oil, mint or basil, salt and pepper- blend in a blender, boom salad dressing in 2 seconds)

CHIMI WHAA? CHIMICHURRI!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1c parsley leaves
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • small handful of fresh mint
  • 1tsp dried oregano or 1T of fresh
  • 1- 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender buds, optional (purple mountain lavender is my favorite)
  • 1/2 tsp himalayan sea salt

METHOD

Mince the lavender buds if using and the garlic pretty finely.

Add everything to a food processor or small blender. Pulse to get a nice chop on the herbs. You don’t want to completely liquify this but the lavender should be pretty chopped up with the herbs still a bit chunky.

Enjoy however you wish. I love to drape this over my breakfast bowls (as pictured above), add to brown rice or quinoa, as well as salads, with a nice balsamic glaze (stay tuned for next blog post on this). Chimichurri also is magnificent with anything grilled including but not limited to mushrooms, steak, chicken, shrimp. You could also thin this recipe out with more oil and use it as a marinade.

HERBS AND WELLNESS

Not only can herbs add flavor to our food, they are also super nutritious! Bet you didn’t know that in the past, herbs were actually added to meals strategically to help with digestion and other wellness benefits. Parsley, for example, is known as a carminative herb. These aid in digestion and help prevent bloating. Parsley also may help to combat cancer with its antioxidant properties. Some cooking methods may cause oxidation (free radicals) in our foods that can damage our cells so cooking with antioxidant rich herbs helps to neutralize this. Other herbs high in antioxidants are dill, cilantro, basil, and rosemary. Actually it’s pretty safe to assume all herbs have some antioxidant potential all just in different ways. Basil has antimicrobial properties to prevent bacterial growth (against such things like e.coli). Lastly, real quick you should know that rosemary is also said to help with memory; a great addition to your study-time snack students! 🙂

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any kitchen or health questions you’d like to see a post about I’d love to know! Use the form below! Healthy wishes friends!

Love,

Abby

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How to Dice an Onion in 30 Seconds

Kitchen Tips and Tricks -Part 2

Onions are my favorite vegetable to cut! It didn’t always used to be this way. Before culinary school I had no idea how to handle an onion. Then in school I learned an advanced way to cut an onion but it involved cutting horizontally and I was always scared to cut myself. After working in the industry I learned an even easier way!

Step 1

First we need to get a flat side to safely cut the onion and also to remove the peel easier. Hold the onion firmly and cut both ends off. Leave some of the root core in tact so the onion stays together when you cut it- you’ll see in step 3 what I mean. (Cut the dirty roots off but leave that core inside the peel in tact).

Step 2

Turn the onion on a flat side root side up and cut it in half vertically. Then peel the onion.

Step 3

Lay the onion with it’s large flat side down and the root part of the onion away from you. Beginning on one side of the onion use the tip part of your knife to begin cutting about 3/4 of the way away from the far end and make a downward motion to cut all the way through the end closest to you (don’t begin the cut completely at the far end because we want the onion to stay intact). See the photo.

Repeat this in the width that you wish your dice to be.

Step 4

Turn the onion 90 degrees. Begin cutting the onion crosswise. How far apart you make your cuts will depend again on the width of your dice you wish to achieve.

Repeat with the other half of the onion.

And there you have it, diced onion! There will be some odd pieces from the sides of the onion but just roll with it. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy not having to cry about cutting onions anymore. 😉

TIP: For optimal nutrient absorption let your cut onions sit for at least 5-10 minutes. Onions, like garlic, contain beneficial sulfur-containing compounds. Upon cutting and exposing to oxygen these phytonutrients are converted into compounds that promote health! The longer it sits, the more these compounds are converted. Heat deactivates these compounds so the that is why it is best to let them sit as long as possible to build up a fighting a chance of the phytonutrients surviving cooking. Also the finer the cut the better!

Why do Onions make my eyes water? Make it stop!

Onions contain two compounds called allin and allinase. When the onion is whole these compounds are separate but when the onion is cut the cell walls are ruptured allowing these two compounds to combine and form a new compound called thiopropanal sulfoxide. Like discussed above this compound increases the onions’ health promoting properties, but is also responsible for the pungent taste and aroma, as well as making our eyes water when it gets in the air. Some tricks that can help prevent your eyes from watering are cutting near a running vent, open window, or chilling the onion for an hour before cutting it. Running the onion under water will decrease its nutrition.

Nutrition of Onions

Which type of onions are the healthiest? It seems red onions rich in their flavonoid antioxidants that help prevent cancer and heart disease among many other chronic illnesses are the most nutrient dense. Rule of thumb the richer the color of any vegetable the more nutrients. Research supports that onions are beneficial for promoting blood sugar balance, heart health, digestive health, immune health, and preventing inflammation. This is all because onions are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin b6, quercetin, folate, biotin, chromium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, as well as the amino acid tryptophan which is needed for sleep! I found it most interesting that cooking meat with onions helps neutralize some of the free radicals that occur from cooking meat at a high heat. Plus they add such great flavor! It is recommended in the book The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan to consume at least two onions a week following the guidelines above to get the best health benefits! If you want to read more in depth about the nutrition of onions you can go to his website: http://www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=45

How to Store Onions

Properly stored, onions can last for a month or more. It is most important to make sure they are in a ventilated area and are stored in something such as perforated basket that allows air to circulate underneath. Yellow onions will last longer than white onions because they contain more of those pungent compounds discussed above. DO NOT refrigerate uncut onions. The moisture in the refrigerator will cause spoilage. Make sure they are in a dry and dark place for long term storage. The only exception is green onions, also known as scallions. Those should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag wrapped tightly around them. Also store away from potatoes. They will absorb the potatoes’ moisture and the ethylene gas from potatoes will cause spoilage as it is a ripening compound.

Sometimes we don’t need the whole onion. Cut onions should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container an used within 2 days as the onion will begin to oxidize.

I hope you found this post helpful and healthful!

Love,

Abby

Resources The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan first edition

Ain’t Nobody got Too mush-room for Mushrooms

Kitchen Tips and Tricks -Part 1

how to select, wash, and store mushrooms

HOW TO WASH MUSHROOMS

Do you submerge your mushrooms in water or spray them off with water? If the answer is yes, I’m here to save you! You see mushrooms are like sponges- their porous nature means they absorb water. To get those perfectly browned sautéed mushrooms, we need to avoid adding water to them in the first place! Also definitely definitely do not use any chemicals to clean your mushrooms. They will absorb that too and we don’t want that. So how should we clean these things? It’s so easy you’re going to laugh, read on!

All you need is a damp paper towel or kitchen rag. Take each mushroom and wipe clean. That’s it! Make sure to only wash mushrooms right before you use them as washing in advance will encourage spoilage and cause the mushrooms to become slimy.

HOW TO SELECT MUSHROOMS

If possible, it is best to buy organic mushrooms to better ensure that the soil these fungi grew in was not full of toxins. It is often best to select packaged mushrooms versus loose as they are usually vacuum sealed. Loose mushrooms will stay fresh for up to five days whereas prepackaged will last 7-10 days before the package is opened. It is also best to buy whole mushrooms and chop them yourself because chopped mushrooms are pretty difficult to clean one and two they retain nutrients and flavor longer whole. Never buy mushrooms that are slimy. Look for plump and clean looking mushrooms.

HOW TO STORE MUSHROOMS

Since crimini mushrooms are most common, we will focus on this type. Crimini mushrooms will stay fresh for up to five days if stored correctly. Mushrooms need room to breath. Therefore it is best to avoid plastic bags and instead store them in paper bags in the refrigerator. Like I said above, do not wash ahead of time.

NUTRITION

Research suggests that crimini mushrooms may protect DNA from oxidative damage and therefore cancer. They may especially help prevent breast cancer by preventing circulating levels of the form of estrogen that promotes this cancer. They are packed with antioxidant minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. Selenium is great for thyroid support as well as binding to toxins like mercury. Crimini mushrooms are also a great source of b vitamins which are necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and lipids. These means they help the body make and use energy! Crimini mushrooms are dense with the amino acid tryptophan which is necessary for healthy sleep. Lastly they are a great source of fiber and 5oz of raw crimini mushrooms only contain 31 calories making them a great food for healthy weight control/loss. You might want to add some more mushrooms into your life! Check out this easy recipe below!

MUSHROOM STOCK FOR UMAMI FLAVOR

  • 1c mushroom stems
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp whole coriander
  • 1 tsp whole thyme leaves (optional)
  • parsley stems (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp whole black pepper
  • 1/2c onion peels/scraps
  • 6 c filtered water

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for about an hour or so. Keep an eye on it. Taste and if it seems infused enough strain and add salt to taste. Use as you desire!

Some ideas might be to make risotto, to cook rice and other grains, for sauces, soup, stews, or braised recipes.

I hope you found this post helpful and practical! Healthy wishes!

Love,

Abby

HACK YOUR MASHED POTATO GAME

Mashed potatoes are a great comfort food right? What if you could have the same mashed potato dreaminess with a much more interesting flavor and less of a blood sugar spike? Oh wait, you can! In this post I am going to give you two ways to hack your mashed potato game!

TURNIP MASH

Ingredients:

  • 1 turnip
  • filtered water
  • about 1 tsp of himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 c canned coconut milk

Equipment: blender or food processor

Method:

Wash well one turnip. Without peeling, cut into one inch cubes. Place in a medium pot and add the salt and coconut milk. Cover with water and bring to a boil.*

Once boiling, cover and simmer until very fork tender.

Strain reserving the liquid. Transfer the turnips to a blender or food processor (preferably glass) and start pureeing. Add a little reserved liquid as needed to get a nice mash. Reserve the rest for a wonderful sauce or soup! Enjoy with your favorite sauce and toppings!

Turnips taste similar to potatoes but with a little extra zing! Yum! I served this with a coconut milk, lemon, and fennel based sauce which I steamed dandelion greens in. These are very good for detoxing the liver and digestion but you could use any greens. I’d suggest collards, chard, or spinach!

*You want to bring everything to a boil all at once, otherwise the outsides of the turnips will become overcooked while the inside remains raw. This goes for any vegetable mash, even potatoes!

CELERIAC MASH

Ingredients:

  • 1 celeriac (also known as celery root)
  • filtered water
  • about 1 tsp of himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 c canned coconut milk

Equipment: blender or food processor.

Method:

Peel the celeriac with a paring knife or veggie peeler then cut into one inch cubes. Place in a medium pot and add the salt and coconut milk. Cover with water and bring to a boil.

No this is not a coconut….it is actually celeriac, promise!;)

Once boiling, cover and simmer until very fork tender.

Strain reserving the liquid. Transfer the celeriac to a blender or food processor (preferably glass) and start pureeing. Add a little reserved liquid as needed to get a nice mash. Enjoy with your favorite sauce and toppings!

Pictured above is a chickpea shakshuka. It’s a spicy tomato based sauce originating in Israel with lots of delicious herbs. If you would like this recipe or the sauce recipe used for the turnip mash please message me by clicking here or via instagram or facebook!

On that note, if you make these recipes, I’d love to see your work! Tag me on instagram or facebook @chefabbalina!

I hope you find these recipes fun and easy!

In health,

Abby

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As an amazon associate I earn by qualifying purchases. With that said, as a holistic wellness centered company, all the links provided are products we use ourselves and are posted with our reader’s health and wellbeing in mind. Many of the links are to give readers an idea of what to look for. Of course if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.

MEAL PREP RAMEN JARS

When I was in gradeschool, often I had cup of noodles in my lunch- they were great! But then I got older and realized the ingredients weren’t so great. I haven’t had ramen like that in a very long time but I was delighted when I came across the idea to meal prep my own in a nutritious way!

Now the key to making a great ramen jar of your own is creativity. There is no strict recipe here so you’re going to have to get creative with me friend! Are you ready for this? Lets go!

STEP 1: GATHER JARS

I just used good old mason jars and also some old peanut butter jars that I saved. You just need something with a tight screwing lid

STEP 2 : PREP VEGGIES, HERBS, & NOODLES

I used:

  • frozen peas
  • frozen broccoli
  • kelp noodles
  • bamboo shoots, canned
  • carrot ribbons (cook faster, use a veggie peeler to make)
  • green onions
  • garlic granules
  • cilantro, a lot
  • mint, a lot
  • mushrooms (add a lot of flavor)
  • spinach
  • pineapple ( I used frozen for less mess)

Other ideas for you:

  • fresh minced ginger, adds great flavor
  • minced lemongrass, adds great flavor (skip if using red curry paste)
  • thai basil, a lot
  • ramen noodles, cooked al dente
  • zucchini
  • water chestnuts
  • enoki mushroom
  • bok choy, chopped, cooked or raw
  • cabbage, shredded,
  • bell peppers, sliced or diced, cooked or raw
  • protein of some sort like pork belly, chicken, tempeh, boiled egg, or chickpeas

I could go on on and on but there’s some ideas.

So place the ingredients in your jars that don’t need cooked (like fresh herbs, the garlic granules, greens, bamboo, and frozen veggies). Then cook the ingredients that need cooked and add those to the jars. To save time fill each jar with the same ingredient all at one time then move on to the next ingredient.

TIME SAVING HACKS:

the kelp noodles!
  • Frozen veggies: they are already prepped and blanched for you. You could even use a stir fry blend. I threw mine straight in the jar, they defrosted, and it worked out great. Otherwise you will need to cook what needs cooked. (onions, mushrooms (or you could leave raw), protein, peppers, etc). You can also used canned to save time. You will also want to cook whatever noodles you are using almost until they’re done (al dente).
  • Kelp noodles don’t need cooked! They are made from kelp which is a seaweed (so great for iodine content and gluten free) and only need rinsed and cut before use. Don’t worry they don’t taste like seaweed, they don’t really taste like anything actually
  • Carrot ribbons, they take about zero time to cook, you could probably just add them to the jar raw actually

STEP 3: FLAVORING

Here’s what I have used:

This is going to be the fun part. Since I am on the elimination diet, I’ve had to stay away from soy and peppers, a big bummer so I was a little limited as to what I could try out.

The key here is flavor because you will just be adding water which has no flavor. Herbs from above are really key here too, use a lot! I also found the addition of pineapple adds a nice sweetness. Here are some other ideas:

  • thai kitchen red curry paste
  • other curry pastes
  • miso
  • tamari (omit himalayan salt if you use), start with a couple tablespoons
  • fish sauce, just a splash, omit himalayan salt if you use
  • pho spices like cinnamon, star anise, clove
  • red pepper flakes, just a pinch- would definitely recommend
  • rice vinegar
  • peanut butter or tahini
  • soup base ( I stayed away from this because I don’t like the processed junk in most of these but feel free to use to give a more brothy taste. Lol I don’t think that’s a word.)

Once you figure out what suits you, add that to the jars. I don’t have measurements because it depend on what size jar you are using. I would say for a pint size start with about a teaspoon of seasonings and a tablespoon of pastes. Set in the fridge until ready to eat! I added my seasoning one day at a time and adjusted each day based on what I liked. Try out a few different flavors!

STEP 4: ADD HOT WATER AND DEVOUR

Heat up water to boiling and add. Stir up making sure the coconut oil melts and all the flavors meld. Enjoy!!

If you make this I’d love to see it! Tag me on instagram or facebook @chefabbalina 🙂

Happy ramen making all and healthy wishes!

Abby

Contact Info:

abby@chefabbalina.com

to send me a message click here

Instagram and Facebook: @chefabbalina

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As an amazon associate I earn by qualifying purchases. With that said, as a holistic wellness centered company, all the links provided are products we use ourselves and are posted with our reader’s health and wellbeing in mind. Many of the links are to give readers an idea of what to look for. Of course if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.