Category Archives: Refined Sugar-Free

Grilled Asparagus with Feta, Almonds and Basil

grilled asparagus blog

Sometimes, you need something that really brings the spring feeling to your plate. For me, asparagus is that “something”. Asparagus means winter is over. That the green things are growing again, and that I can expand my fresh vegetable intake beyond root vegetables, winter squash and cabbage. The beginning of spring vegetables, to me, is the greatest time, because it speaks of all the delicious, fresh things to come.

Now, I feel somewhat guilty saying this, but I’m ready for the winter to be over. It’s been cold even down here in Texas (and I certainly know that it doesn’t even compare to what those of you in the north have endured!), and for longer than usual. I’m embracing spring. I’m ready for rain, thunderstorms, and green, growing things. For now, I’ve temporarily forgotten that with springtime comes our barrage of gigantic Texas insects, followed by all-too-warm temperatures. Come August, when it’s 100 degrees for days on end here, I’ll be wishing for the cold once again. But right now, I’m ready for the warmth.

So in order to encourage spring to come along, I grabbed some asparagus and uncovered my grill. It’s finally light enough in the evening that I can grill without needing a flashlight. (Come on, tell me I’m not the only one that’s done that!) Truth be told, I love grilling. It’s quick and easy, and there’s one less dish to wash when you’re done. It also imparts a lovely flavor to just about anything.

In this case, a brief visit to the grill makes this asparagus tender and full of flavor. Toss it with some lemon juice, almonds, feta (omit for dairy-free/vegan), and basil, and suddenly, you’ve taken an already-fresh flavor and completely kicked it up a few notches. It’s bright, fresh, and definitely is that “something” that brings spring to your table.

It really only takes a few minutes to make, and is totally worth every moment. I enjoyed this as a side dish on a mundane weeknight, but it’s certainly dressy enough for company, or even for a holiday dinner – Easter or Passover Seder (served with a vegetarian main or fish dish), perhaps?

Print Recipe

Grilled Asparagus with Feta, Almonds and Basil (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

2 t extra virgin olive oil

1 t lemon zest

1 t lemon juice

1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T crumbled feta cheese (omit for dairy-free/vegan)

2 T sliced almonds

1 T chopped fresh basil

Preheat grill to medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour over the asparagus, and season with salt and pepper.

When grill is hot, place asparagus in a single layer over direct heat on the grill. Close the lid and grill for a minute or two, and move so that the other side of the asparagus spears touch the grill. Continue to grill just until tender (the time may vary depending on the thickness of your spears and heat of the grill). Remove immediately. Toss asparagus spears with feta, almonds, and fresh basil and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms, Plus Videos For Veggie Success!

roasted balsamic mushrooms

You’ve made a decision. You want to eat more vegetables. But after eating salads for a few weeks, you’re sick and tired of the same old thing. You want to try a new vegetable, so you browse the produce aisle, and you grab something different. Some spinach. Cabbage. Maybe Brussels sprouts, or some crimini mushrooms. You’ve told yourself “I’m going to cook this!” and you put it in your basket. It goes home with you, and you stick it in the crisper drawer in the fridge.

And there it sits. And sits.

Aaaaand sits.

See, you had the best of intentions. You really did. But that new vegetable? Frankly, it’s intimidating. Outside of the norm. You just don’t know what to do with it! So it remains in the fridge, alone and forgotten, until it has turned into a mushy, slimy mess in its cellophane bag. After a time, you guiltily throw it away, and resolve to do better next time.

Sound familiar? An alternate version of the story involves you browsing the produce aisle, but feeling so overwhelmed by the intimidation (“I don’t know how to cook any of this stuff!”) that you ultimately come home with a baking potato and a bag of salad for the third week in a row.

I’ve been there. I understand. When we’ve already expended so much energy throughout the day focusing on getting kids ready for school, working, dealing with emergencies, ungrateful bosses, traffic, and less-than-ideal weather, we just can’t deal with the “new vegetable” thing. Even if our heart is in the right place.

It just seems so…hard.

That was the premise for the recent string of YouTube videos I’ve been sharing lately. Because I know that for many of us, cooking from scratch alone is uncharted territory, and even if we know how to make a few things, we are often hesitant or just don’t have the energy to do something that seems daunting. A new vegetable, or any food, really, often seems daunting! I’m hoping that through these videos, that we can together change that thought process. Because honestly, a vegetable shouldn’t be so scary, right?

Each of these videos (feel free to browse around and subscribe to my YouTube channel) showcases a simple way to prepare a fresh vegetable using very few ingredients, and 5 minutes of preparation time, max. The videos aren’t super-fancy; my kitchen isn’t perfect and I’m often in comfortable clothes. It’s not perfectly polished. My dogs make cameo appearances sometimes, as they’re often hoping I’ll drop something tasty on the floor. Moral of the story is: This stuff is totally down-to-earth and doable. Even at the end of a long day. I promise!

This week, I’m sharing one of my favorite ways to make roasted mushrooms. These mushrooms I’ve shared before a few years ago, but I come back to them time and again. After all, they’re easy. You can toss mushrooms with some herbs and garlic, and when you’re ready, throw them in the oven. Then, 20 minutes later, you take them out. The end. Finito. That’s all you have to do.

But in case you don’t believe me, you can watch the video and see for yourself.

See? That’s not so bad, right? Ready to make them for yourself? Here’s the recipe!

Print Recipe

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms (gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, sugar-free)

1 lb fresh crimini mushrooms

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 t fresh thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ c fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Toss the mushrooms with the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast until the mushrooms are juicy – about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and toss with the parsley while still warm.

(hint: to streamline your meal, you can prepare this recipe up to the point where you would put it in the oven, and instead refrigerate for a few hours. Then, when it’s time, just pop in the oven as directed.)

Serves 4.

 

 

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

sauteed spinach

Looking for a quick-and-easy way to get something green on your plate for dinner tonight?

How about spinach?

Gone are those days, when I was growing up, where Mom would open a can of spinach, and we would eat it, pretending we would grow big and strong just like Popeye. I can’t even remember the last time I ate canned spinach, honestly. It’s been a long time. I much prefer fresh when I can get it, frozen when I can’t. It’s a taste preference – canned seems mushy and salty to me nowadays.

Cooking from fresh, however, doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. With just a few ingredients and less than 5 minutes, you can have delicious sautéed spinach with garlic that is a million times tastier than the canned variety. The fresh flavors of the spinach and garlic really shine, and the spinach is tender and bright.

Want to see just how easy it is? Check out my simple instructional video – and while you’re at it, subscribe to my YouTube channel to see even more easy veggie ideas.

So while your main dish is roasting in the oven, pull out a skillet and sauté some spinach! You’ll be happy you did.

Print Recipe

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

1 T coconut oil (or oil of choice – olive oil or butter works well here)

1 clove garlic, minced

8 oz spinach leaves, rinsed well and drained (let any residual water cling to the leaves), torn into smallish pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, swirling around to coat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add spinach leaves and stir to coat. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for a minute or two, or until leaves have turned bright green and have just started to wilt. Remove the lid and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 2-4.

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts

pan seared brussels sprouts

A few weeks back, I shared in the Eating the Food group that I was having pan-seared Brussels Sprouts along with some eggs for breakfast. This started a conversation not only about Brussels Sprouts (and their deliciousness, of course) but also about getting more vegetables into your breakfast. I must confess: I don’t always get veggies in first thing in the morning. I do enjoy them (especially with eggs), but it just doesn’t always happen. Of course, that realization got me thinking and inspired this post about getting more vegetables into your day.

So I’ve been motivated once more to be sure I’m giving vegetables their due. While I have no issues in the spring and summer, when I go to the farmer’s market and come home with more vegetables than any normal human can possibly consume in a week, (What can I say? They all look SO GOOD and I get starry-eyed and have to bring them all home with me.) winter-time makes vegetable consumption more difficult. This is when I focus on those veggies that are longer storage varieties, such as root vegetables, winter squash, cabbage, and of course, Brussels Sprouts, so they still taste fresh. I also try my hardest to make these veggies easy to make, so I’ll be more likely to consume them even on busy weeknights.

Pan-searing is one such way to accomplish that “easy-to-make” goal. It only takes a few minutes and really highlights the natural sweetness of the Brussels Sprouts, thanks to the caramelization that happens in the pan. They’re delicious alongside meatloaf and mashed potatoes, pork chops, or even with eggs at breakfast. Even if you’ve previously shunned Brussels Sprouts, I encourage you to revisit them with this method. You might just find them not only tolerable, but they could become your new favorite veggie!

For step-by-step instruction, check out my “how-to” video on YouTube for these Brussels Sprouts (and feel free to subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode!):

Print Recipe

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

1 1/2 T coconut oil

1 lb Brussels Sprouts, sliced roughly into 1/4 inch thick slices

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium heat. Add coconut oil and allow to melt and coat pan. Spread out sliced Brussels Sprouts into a single layer in the skillet. Allow to sear without moving for about a minute, or until the sprouts start to brown. Stir around to flip the sprouts and brown the other side for another minute or so. Continue to stir every so often, spreading the sprouts back out, until they are browned on edges and just tender throughout. (Total cooking time is about 5 minutes.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Roasted Rosemary Carrots

roasted carrots with rosemary

I’ve got another super-easy vegetable solution for you this week, complete with a super-easy video showing you just now super-easy it is to make.

Doesn’t that sound super-GREAT?

Okay, maybe I’m getting a tad over-excited. After all, we’re talking about carrots here, right? But these carrots, in my opinion, are worth getting excited about. They take only a few minutes to prepare, and after a little time hanging out in the oven, they emerge with caramelized edges and sweet, carrot-y goodness that can please any palate. Who wouldn’t get excited about that?

Check out the video (and feel free to subscribe, so you can be notified as soon as I post new videos to YouTube). You’ll even get to see my dogs and their affinity for carrots. They tend to always be nearby if I am cutting up carrots – it’s by far their favorite vegetable.

Print Recipe

Roasted Rosemary Carrots (gluten-free, vegan)

5-6 large carrots, peeled if desired

1 T rosemary needles, chopped

1/4 – 1/2 t kosher salt, or to taste

1 1/2 – 2 T coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces (I cut mine about 3/4 inch thick). Toss carrots with rosemary, salt, and coconut oil until evenly coated. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning over about halfway through the baking time, until the carrots are browned and tender. Remove from oven and serve.

Serves 2-3.

Arroz Con Pollo

arroz con pollo

Somehow, it seems that I never managed to make arroz con pollo. It just never appeared on the “to do” list. Obviously, this was a terrible oversight on my part. Now that I’ve made it, I’m not quite sure how I got by without it all these years.

I realized that I’d made this oversight this past week, (Okay, so I was watching Top Chef and one of the chefs made Spanish arroz con pollo. Top Chef is one of my guilty pleasures.) and started to research recipes. I looked at Spanish versions, Cuban versions, and all sorts of other variations. Some recipes called for a ton of peppers, some, none at all. Some called for long grain rice, others, short-grain. Some used saffron, some annatto, and some turmeric. A few versions called for olives, and I even came across a recipe that used beer. After my research, I then decided to compile snippets of each recipe and make my own. It leans towards Cuban, but I won’t attest to its authenticity, as I’m not Cuban and have not had the pleasure of enjoying any Cuban food other than what has come out of my own kitchen. (Someone should really help me rectify this…are there any good Cuban restaurants in Dallas? Can someone fly me somewhere where there are good Cuban restaurants, please?) But regardless of origin, it was a hit with my husband and me. We ate until our bellies were full, enamored by the flavorful, slightly sticky Valencia rice with its aroma of saffron and tomato. The chicken was tender and echoed the same flavors as the rice. The jarred roasted red peppers added a perfect piquant punch that complemented the creamy, sticky rice.

Comfort food at its finest. We’ll be having this again, I promise!

Print Recipe

Arroz con Pollo (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 parts

1 t dried oregano

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t black pepper

3/4 t kosher salt

1 T red wine vinegar

2 T olive or coconut oil

1 c finely chopped onion

1/2 c red bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c tomato puree

1 c white wine

3 c chicken stock

1/4 t saffron threads

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb Valencia or other short-grain rice (Arborio is an acceptable substitute)

1 c frozen green peas, thawed

Jarred roasted red peppers, for garnish (optional)

Blot the chicken dry with paper towels. Toss the chicken in a large bowl with the oregano, cumin, pepper, salt, and red wine vinegar. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil to medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or other casserole dish. Brown chicken pieces all over, 2-3 minutes per side. (I did this in batches) Set chicken aside on a platter.

Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the remaining oil in the Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for another minute. Add back the chicken, wine, chicken stock, and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the rice in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Drain. When the chicken has simmered for 25 minutes, add the rice and stir in. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. (If you peek in on it and it seems too dry, you can add a bit of water and stir.) When it’s just about finished, stir in the peas.

Garnish with roasted red peppers and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

Turkey (or Chicken) and Gluten-Free Parsley Dumplings

It’s been years since I’ve made chicken and dumplings. Early on in our relationship, my husband did more gourmet cooking than I did. Somewhere along the way, the tables turned, but he has always made his famous Turkey Gumbo. Usually, I’d save the excess broth, full of cayenne and turkey goodness, and use it to make spicy chicken and dumplings. Of course, at the time, my dumplings were biscuits from a can. But still, the dish was a once-a-year specialty, and we adored it.

This time around, I opted to make turkey and dumplings. There was no gumbo (that might happen before the year is out if I ask nicely, though), but I had leftover turkey thighs and wings in the freezer that I didn’t use for gravy at Thanksgiving. I opted instead to use them for the meat for this dish, and some chicken broth I’d made a while back. So instead of turkey broth and chicken, this is chicken broth and turkey. You with me?

Honestly, you could just as easily use a while chicken, cut up, in place of the turkey I used. It would be just as delicious, and I’m imagining it’s easier to locate a chicken than turkey thighs and wings. But whatever you use, be sure and make dumplings. Because in my opinion, it’s all about the dumplings.

Good dumplings are fluffy, pillow-y clouds of deliciousness that sop up the broth from the soup. Bad dumplings, on the other hand, are none of these things. I’ve had bad dumplings. Not the canned biscuit ones – to be perfectly honest, those were not half-bad. I’ve had bad ones at restaurants. I’ve had failures in my own kitchen when attempting to make them from scratch as well. Thankfully, these are definitely not of the “bad” variety.

These dumplings are pillow-y. Full of flavor. The parsley mixed into the dough really makes them special. While the turkey (or chicken) soup is delicious on its own, these dumplings take it to the next level. And when it’s cold and icy (like it was this past weekend here in North Texas), they warm your belly like nothing else can. They’re perfect for a day when you and the family have been outside in the cold, or just need a bit of comfort. It’s a bowl full of happy.

Turkey (or Chicken) and Parsley Dumplings (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 large turkey thigh and 2 turkey wings (or 1 3-lb chicken, cut up)

Salt and pepper

3 T olive oil

1/2 c diced onion

1/2 c diced celery

1/2 c diced carrot

1 garlic clove, minced

1 t minced fresh sage leaves

1 t minced fresh thyme leaves

4 c chicken broth

1/2 c coconut milk

Dumplings:

1/2 c superfine brown rice flour

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c tapioca starch

1/2 c cornmeal

1 T unflavored gelatin

1 heaping tablespoon baking powder

1 t kosher salt

1 c coconut milk

1/2 c water

2 T minced fresh parsley

Salt and pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season turkey or chicken with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet for 30-45 minutes or until cooked through. Remove and allow to cool to touch.

While the poultry is cooking, in a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrot and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, sage and thyme and sauté for another minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and allow to simmer.

Next, make the dough for the dumplings. Whisk together the flours, cornmeal, gelatin, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the coconut milk and water and mix in. Add the parsley and stir in as well. Set aside.

Once the poultry has cooled, remove the skin and the meat from bones, and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and place into the simmering broth. Add the coconut milk. Stir in and taste to adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the dumpling dough into the simmering soup. Cover pot, leaving lid propped a bit open, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid; allow to simmer for 10 minutes more.

Serves 4.

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

Habanero Hot Sauce

habanero hot sauce

Early in the spring, I planted several pepper plants – one bell pepper, one jalapeno, and one habanero. Unfortunately, cucumber-pocalypse happened, and the cucumbers dwarfed these plants. You couldn’t even see them. I thought my pepper season was a flop. But when the cucumbers gave up the ghost, and I pulled up the vines, the plants were still there. So I opted to nurture them a bit and try for a fall season full of peppers.

It wasn’t a bad season, in spite of everything. I had a good handful of bell peppers, a couple dozen jalapenos, and a couple dozen habaneros.

peppers and eggplant

Well, only a few ripe habaneros, truthfully. We had a cold snap a few weeks ago, and even though I covered my plants, the pepper plant didn’t survive, so I pulled a bunch of green habaneros. They actually ripened on the counter, much to my happiness.

Except then, I had to come up with something to do with over 2 dozen habanero peppers.

Hot sauce was the answer!

I love a good hot sauce. I’m a big believer in Sriracha and Slap Ya Mama, but would never hesitate to try a new sauce. A few drops of a good sauce can make tamales sing, turn my boring breakfast of hard-boiled eggs into a delight, and can turn a bowl of chili into my favorite meal ever. This sauce can do all of these things.

Caution: it’s not for the timid. Habaneros definitely pack a punch. Just a few drops will do. But it’s more than just searing heat…there’s a subtly sweet background, thanks to some carrot and a touch of brown rice syrup. The sweetness compliments the peppery heat of the habanero perfectly. I can’t wait to use it on everything imaginable. I may or may not be planning my meals for next week around the ability to apply this stuff.

Of course, it’s great as a homemade, edible gift as well. The holidays are coming up, and sometimes a small, homemade gift can mean a lot. I am a fan of making edible gifts, and this is definitely something you could make ahead of time, pour into a cute bottle, and give to your favorite chili-head. I happen to have one of those in my family. If I don’t eat it all myself, there might just be a bottle in this person’s future. Or maybe I just need more habaneros. We shall see.

Print Recipe

Habanero Hot Sauce (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

About 20 habanero peppers

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 c distilled white vinegar

1/2 c water

1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 c lemon juice

1 t kosher salt

1 t smoked paprika

2 t brown rice syrup

Before you start to handle the habaneros, please be cautious. These are pretty hot. Wear gloves when touching the peppers, or you will regret it, as the hot oils will seep into your hands. If they don’t burn your hands, then when you touch more sensitive areas (your lips, tongue, eyes, etc.) it will burn, and that’s no joke.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start by cutting each pepper in half, removing the stem, and scraping out the inside and the seeds. Cut each garlic clove into 3-4 pieces. Place in a single layer on a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and roast for about 20 minutes or until brown on top. Keep an eye on them, as you don’t want them to burn. (Another note: you may want to open up a window, as this process can get pretty fragrant. I was sneezing just a bit.)

While the peppers and garlic are roasting, place the water, vinegar and carrot in a small saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the carrot is soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Place the peppers, garlic, carrots and vinegar in a blender, along with lemon juice, salt, smoked paprika, and the brown rice syrup. Blend, scraping down the sides as needed, until completely smooth. If it’s too thick, then water and vinegar, alternating a few tablespoons at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Taste the sauce (be careful, just a few drops would be enough!) and adjust your seasonings as needed.

Store sauce in a glass jar or bottle, refrigerated, for several weeks.

Apple Pie Spice “Un-Popcorn”

thanksgiving popcornI can’t believe I’ve never managed to share this little gem of a holiday recipe with you. I will admit, I’ve made it several times already. You’ll have to forgive me for not doing so sooner.

You see, typically the Thanksgiving holiday is a whirlwind for me. I’m often working at the ol’ day job up until the Wednesday before, and we usually have around 20+ people to feed. I try to do as much advance preparation as possible, but it’s still a busy, busy holiday.

Let me tell you, when I finally sit down after dinner, the glass of wine I decide to enjoy is often the best glass of wine ever.

Somehow, in that whirlwind, I’ve never made this pre-dinner Thanksgiving snack far enough in advance to share. Well, friends, this year is your lucky year. I’ve made it already, and so I can share it with you.

But why “un-popcorn”?

Truthfully, I love popcorn. I don’t eat it often, but when I do, I thoroughly enjoy it. You can certainly make this with popcorn. But I have some family members that cannot tolerate corn products. For those family members, I have opted to make a popcorn alternative. I promise you, it’s just as satisfying as the real deal. What do I use?

Why, rice cakes, of course!

I’ve done it before, in this “granola“. Crumbled rice cakes make an excellent stand-in for popcorn. They’re light and airy, and hold up perfectly to the caramel-y topping. I’m a big fan of Lundberg’s rice cakes – they’re gluten-free and they have versions that are lightly salted, which are my preference for a recipe such as this. And no, I’m not paid to tell you that – I just like their products.

This “un-popcorn” is easy to make – just crumble rice cakes, and then simmer maple syrup and spices, pour, toss, and bake. The result is a sweet and salty, crunchy mixture that just feels like Thanksgiving, thanks to the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The dried cranberries and walnuts definitely help out that Thanksgiving feel as well. My personal favorite, however, is the black pepper. It’s a perfect foil to the sweeter spices, and keeps it in that “appetizer” category and away from feeling too much like a dessert.

Whether you make this with real popcorn or faux, I encourage you to add this to your Thanksgiving menu. It’ll keep the hungry masses at bay while you make the finishing touches to the big meal, and it’s very more-ish. I’m certain it’ll be a hit that will keep you coming back to it, year after year.

Print Recipe

Apple Pie Spice ”Un-Popcorn” (gluten-free, vegan)

1 package Lundberg lightly salted rice cakes, crumbled

3/4 c chopped walnuts

1/2 c dried cranberries

2 T coconut oil

3/4 c maple syrup

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground cardamom

1/4 t ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the crumbled rice cakes, walnuts, and dried cranberries and toss.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt to a boil. Add the black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and whisk in. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 4-5 minutes. Pour over rice cake mixture and stir well, making sure everything is evenly coated.

Divide mixture between the two prepared baking sheets and spread out into an even layer. Bake on the lower and upper racks for 5 minutes, and then swap the baking sheets and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Break into smaller chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Autumn Kale Salad with Apples and Candied Pecans

kale salad thanksgiving

If your Thanksgiving menu is anything like mine, it’s filled with the traditional fare: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, rolls, casseroles, pies, and more. All of these dishes are iconic, and I wouldn’t leave any of them out for anything. But honestly, it’s all so heavy. So when I’m brainstorming for vegetable or additional side dish ideas, I want something a little lighter to balance it all out. Something fresh. Something green.

Now I know kale has been the latest darling in the “healthy eating” industry. I’ve posted recipes with kale before. I love it, personally, and eat it because it tastes good to me. But lately kale is everyone’s favorite “detox” vegetable. I’m not a believer in detoxing – I have juiced and such in the past, and I enjoy the flavor. I sometimes even feel the green juices give me a boost of energy. I will admit, in the past I did have a touch of obsession with ensuring I got what was in reality a crazy amount of greens into my body on a daily basis, thinking I was healthier for doing so. (I wasn’t healthier…) I’ve since backed off and have listened to my body and just focus on whatever vegetables are fresh and sound good to me at the time. (And sometimes, that’s kale!) But I’ve never believed that squeezing juice out of fruits or vegetables somehow “detox” your body – that’s what your liver does, all on its own. It doesn’t mean that the vegetables, including kale, don’t have great vitamins and such – they do. They’re just not magical.

Anyway. I digress.

Thanksgiving. And this salad. It’s fresh. It’s easy. It can be made in advance. unlike lettuce-based salads, and can still hold its crunch. In fact, I find it’s tastier made a bit in advance of eating. It allows the lemon juice to really meld and mingle. With the sweetness of the apples and cranberries, and the candied pecans, it’s a lovely autumn salad. Most of all, it’s a great, refreshing addition to your Thanksgiving menu.

Print Recipe

Autumn Kale Salad with Apples and Candied Pecans (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

1 bunch kale, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces

1 T olive oil

A couple pinches of kosher salt

1 carrot, julienned

2 stalks celery, sliced

1/4 c dried cranberries

1 crisp apple (such as Honeycrisp), cut into 1/2 inch dice

1/4 c flat-leaf parsley, leaves coarsely chopped

1-2 T lemon juice

Candied Pecans (recipe follows)

Drizzle the olive oil over the kale, and sprinkle with salt. Massage the oil evenly over all of the kale leaves. Add the carrot, celery, cranberries, apple, and parsley, and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice. Toss well and taste. Adjust salt and lemon juice as desired. Top with candied pecans and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Candied Pecans (gluten-free, vegan)

1 t coconut oil

1/2 c raw, shelled pecans

3 T brown rice syrup

A couple pinches of kosher salt

Dash of cinnamon

In a small skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the pecans, brown rice syrup, salt and cinnamon. Stir to coat completely. Keep stirring over heat until sugar bubbles and clings to pecans, pulling away from the pan and becoming “drier”. Once everything really seems to stick together in a “glob”, remove from heat and turn out to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading out the pecans as much as you can with the back of a spoon. Allow to cool completely and break into small pieces.