Cocoa Roasted Sweet Potatoes

First off, happy New Year! I hope all of you had great holidays and are enjoying 2018 thus far. I have so much excitement surrounding this year and am feeling giddy, energized, and joyful. There is so much good to come.

On another note, just because the holiday season is over does not mean that chocolate is out of the question! I know many of us had our fair share of treats, but who says you can’t have chocolate with your vegetables? It might sound wild, but in this case, I’m talking about a dusting of unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder on roasted sweet potatoes. It’s a match made in heaven with the natural sweetness and a decadent way to mix things up. For a little spice, I added a dash of turmeric and black pepper too. It’s a magical combo. Also, I know it may appear as if the sweet potatoes are burnt, but I assure you, they’re not. That’s just the covering of cocoa powder.

Meanwhile, just add your protein of choice and some greens, and you’ve got an epic meal. My recommendation would be baked chicken breast and sautéed kale. Perfecto!

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 Tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place chopped sweet potatoes in a large bowl. In a small dish, whisk together melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, turmeric, sea salt, and pepper. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Place in an even layer on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.
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Grain-Free Norwegian Berlinerkranser

My Norwegian grandma would be so proud. I recreated a classic Norwegian Christmas cookie and one that she used to make every holiday season: the Berlinerkranser. This wasn’t the only Norwegian cookie she made during the holidays — there were several, but most of them require special Scandinavian tools to make — tools that I don’t have. Fortunately, nothing fancy is needed to make Berlinerkranser cookies, but they are a little tedious and fussy. It’s so worth it though. When I took that first bite, it was an instant stroll down memory lane.

These delicate cookies are rich and buttery, but not too sweet. They literally melt in your mouth and are fantastic alongside a cup of coffee or tea. In this recipe, they take on a little bit darker color due to the coconut sugar, but I assure you, the lovely flavor is all there. Traditionally, pearl sugar or coarse white sugar is used to adorn the cookies, but I opted for crushed almond slices instead. It still offers texture and a bit of crunch. I did actually try some with coconut sugar sprinkled on top too, but liked the almond slices better.

Oh, and you’ll notice a very interesting thing about these cookies — they contain both cooked and raw egg yolks. This was a piece of trivia for me and as many times as I’ve eaten them, I never knew. The yolks are a highlight and normally give the cookie a light yellow hue, but again, because I used coconut sugar, the yellow color isn’t apparent. Well, I guess it’s there…it’s just hidden!

Meanwhile, I wish you all very happy holidays and much joy!

Cheers!

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 hard cooked egg yolks, preferably pasture-raised
  • 2 raw egg yolks, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 cup salted grass-fed butter, softened
  • 2-1/2 cups Paleo Baking Flour blend (I used and recommend this brand)
  • Egg whites, lightly beaten (saved from the raw eggs)
  • 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mash the hard cooked egg yolks with a fork. Once mashed, whisk in the raw egg yolks until smooth. Then, add the coconut sugar and whisk again until smooth. Mixture will resemble nut butter.
  2. Next, add the flour and the butter, alternating between the two a little bit at a time until it’s all mixed in. It will look crumbly, but will come together when pressed. Split the dough into two thick logs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, remove dough from fridge and allow to warm up about 30 minutes before handling it. Then, preheat oven to 375 degrees F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (find HERE).
  4. Divide each log of dough into about 14-15 “snakes” about 1/3″ thick and 4-5″ long. Put half the dough back in the fridge to stay cool while shaping the first half. Carefully shape into overlapped wreaths. Place on the baking sheets and press together to flatten.
  5. Gently brush with egg whites and sprinkle with almonds.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for a little bit and then gently place cookies a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Yields: ~30 cookies

Oven-Baked Grain-Free Party Mix

I grew up eating homemade Chex Mix every year during the holiday season from the time I was a little kid on. It was something I ate copious amounts of (along with all the Christmas cookies mom made) and thoroughly enjoyed. I even adored its salty aroma when it was baking in the oven and it lured me into the kitchen every time.

Naturally, like any person, I picked out the stuff I liked best. For me, it was the cashews and wheat Chex, especially the pieces that were extra coated in seasoning and stuck together in a chewy sorta way. Anyone else know what I’m talking about here?

Anyway, after discovering I was allergic to gluten several years ago and then later going completely grain-free, I thought my Chex Mix days were over. It would have been doable when I was just gluten-free, but no grains at all is a different story.  And, honestly, for a long time, I didn’t miss or think about this salty snack mix much, but something struck me this year and I really wanted to create my own version. I also assumed there were many others that wanted a grain-free party mix as well. So, I figured it out and let me just stay that it’s amazing, salty, and still addictive.

I recommend using the best quality nuts/seeds you can find, meaning raw and sprouted whenever possible. Feel free to swap out any of the nuts for other varieties as well. For instance, hazelnuts and pecans would be amazing in this recipe. Macadamia nuts too. The plantain chips add some extra crunch and variety, and the big flakes of coconut take on the flavor of the seasoning while adding another layer of texture. Speaking of the seasoning, it is spot on and meets all the requirements. Also, I opted for coconut aminos and fish sauce to create a Worcestershire-like flavor because I don’t like the Worcestershire sauce options out there. It proved to be a winning combo.

If you give this recipe a try, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Cheers and happy holidays!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup melted grass-fed butter, ghee, or avocado oil
  • 1.5 cups raw almonds, preferably sprouted
  • 1 cup raw cashews, preferably sprouted
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, preferably sprouted
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, preferably sprouted
  • 4 oz package roasted plantain chips (I like this brand)
  • 1 heaping cup unsweetened coconut flakes (not shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos (find here)
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce (I like this brand, which is gluten-free and unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules or powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion granules or powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. In a large roasting pan, mix together the almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and plantain chips. In a small bowl, whisk the melted butter or ghee (obviously you don’t have to melt avocado oil, if using) with the coconut aminos, fish sauce, and all the seasonings.
  3. Pour the seasoning mixture over the nut mix and stir to coat. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Once cooled, store in airtight container.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

This time of year is full of indulgences and honestly, there is nothing wrong with indulging, especially when it’s done consciously, with joy, and in the company of those we love. I think whatever we choose to consume shouldn’t leave us feeling crummy though, unless those consequences are worth it and you know what you’re getting into (if you stew over your choice or feel guilty about it after the fact, it’s not worth it). Personally, I want a treat that doesn’t wreck me or send me into a tailspin and make me want all the sweet things. In my opinion, those consequences are not worth it.

Fortunately, there are ways that I can have my cake and eat it too. This holiday brownie recipe fits the bill. It’s made of high-quality ingredients, isn’t too sweet, and doesn’t leave negative after effects. It is, however, decadent, rich in chocolate flavor, and offers a festive dash of peppermint. After all, chocolate and mint are a classic holiday combo. These would be great without the mint though too, so if peppermint is not your thing, go ahead and omit it. Either way, it’s likely these brownies will not last long. We went through two batches quite quickly — just the two of us. It took me a couple batches to get it right, so we ended up with double and both were worth eating!

Meanwhile, catch me making this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live later this afternoon, between 3-4pm PST. Watch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops dietary-safe peppermint essential oil OR 1 tsp peppermint extract (where to get high-quality essential oils)
  • 2 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond meal/flour (I like this brand)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 oz good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 88%)

For the ganache:

  • 3 oz good-quality dark chocolate, broken into squares (I used 88%)
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil

Garnish:

  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut butter, or to taste (I like this brand)

Directions:

  1. Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, except for the chopped chocolate.
  3. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet. Whisk until smooth. Then, fold in the chopped dark chocolate with a spatula.
  4. Pour batter into lined baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool in pan.
  5. For the ganache, melt 3 oz dark chocolate and 3 Tbsp butter in a double boiler on the stove, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can melt in the microwave, but be sure to do it on a lower power setting and keep a close eye. If your microwave has a melt feature, you can go that route as well.
  6. Once brownies are cool to the touch, pour the ganache on top and spread with a spatula in an even layer or gently shake pan to spread. Chill in the refrigerator until ganache is set. Then, drizzle with melted coconut butter and slice into desired-size squares.

Turkey Butternut Squash Stew

This stew is the epitome of healthy comfort food. It’s the perfect antidote on a chilly day and full of nutritious ingredients to boot. I’ve made it a couple times already and love that we’re able to get a few night’s worth of meals out of it. It’s been wonderful with the damp, drizzly, and gray weather we’ve been having. It’s definitely going to be on repeat this winter.

On another note, we got our tree over the weekend — on a very rainy, wet day (we ate this stew for dinner that night). We went to a tree farm on Sauvie Island and picked out a little Douglas Fir. When I spotted the tree, I swear it had a beam of light shining down on it. It was so radiant and emitted such a glow. We instantly agreed on it too, even though we had intentions of getting a Grand Fir when we got to the tree farm. Anyway, the tree is perfect and the house smells lovely with its aroma. Lights are on, but we’re waiting to adorn it with ornaments until next week. We’ll be out of town tomorrow through Sunday and know the kitties might be too tempted by the shiny, hanging bulbs while we’re away! We have a friend checking in on them, of course, but they still end up with extra time to themselves. Anyway, if you want to get a glimpse of our little tree thus far and see me hauling it in the wagon, visit my Instagram page HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 lb ground turkey breakfast sausage (I used New Seasons’s country sage turkey breakfast sausage)
  • 1 medium cabbage, chopped
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup good-quality chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt butter or ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté a couple minutes, until onion is translucent. Next, add the ground turkey breast and ground turkey sausage. Season to taste with a little sea salt and black pepper. Continue to cook meat for several minutes, until browned, breaking up the pieces with a spatula as needed.
  2. Next, add the cabbage, 1/4 cup of broth, and a bit more sea salt and black pepper. Stir, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover with a lid. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butternut squash, carrots, poultry seasoning, dried sage, and bay leaf. Stir well. If need be or desired, add up to 1/4 cup more broth. Cover with lid and let cook for another 10 minutes or until squash and carrots are tender.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Yields: ~6-7 servings

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Delicata Squash, & Cranberries

roasted squash, Brussels and cranberriesThanksgiving may be over, but the holiday season is officially in full swing. Although, I’ll be honest, it doesn’t totally feel like it yet. Anyone else feeling that way?

Anyway, with the holiday season here, there will be plenty more dinners, parties, and get togethers, and I’m willing to bet you’re going to need side dish recipes to share. This festive, healthy, and colorful bounty is perfect. And, not only is it visually pleasing, it’s delicious too. I especially love the pop of color and burst of tart flavor from the cranberries. Also, you may notice that the Brussels sprouts are purple (or would it be red?). I had never seen this variety before and couldn’t resist the beautiful color. If you can’t find the purple ones, green work just fine and taste the same.

Meanwhile, I hope all of you had a lovely Thanksgiving last week, and enjoyed time with family and friends.

Cheers and enjoy!

roasted vegetables with cranberries

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
  • 1 medium delicata squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded, and cut into half moons
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place Brussels sprouts, cranberries, squash, and shallot on a large baking sheet (line with parchment, if desired) and drizzle with the avocado oil. Sprinkle the thyme, sage, sea salt, and black pepper on top. Toss to combine and spread out in an even layer.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are crispy and browned. If desired, give a gentle stir halfway through cooking time.

Savory Sweet Potato Casserole

I was never one for the sugar-laden sweet potato casserole and truly, never understood it. That as a side dish and then pie for dessert? Made no sense to me, but traditions, I suppose. Even as a kid, I was never interested in that super sweet casserole, but honestly, it was probably more the sweet potato part that turned me off because I liked marshmallows, and brown sugar was okay in my book then too.

On the flip side, a savory sweet potato casserole is something I can totally get behind, and this one fits the bill. It has a nice mix of flavor and bite, plus some “cheesiness” from the nutritional yeast. If you’re not sure about the nutritional yeast, start with half the amount, taste, and add more if desired. Alternatively, you could use good-quality Parmesan cheese as a replacement, if tolerated and desired.

Meanwhile, I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! If any of you make this recipe to go with your holiday meal, please let me know how you like it!

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee, plus extra for greasing dish
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp granulated onion or onion powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable, chicken, or turkey broth
  • 2 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 casserole dish with a little butter and set aside.
  2. Add sweet potato chunks to a large pot and add enough water to cover. Then, add a couple pinches of sea salt to the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter. Once melted, add the onion and sauté 1-2 minutes. Then, add the chanterelles and garlic. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper. Continue to cook until mushrooms are softened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp butter to the pot with the cooked sweet potatoes and mash. Then, add the nutritional yeast, onion granules or powder, cayenne, nutmeg, Dijon, vegetable broth, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Lastly, add the eggs and stir into mixture.
  5. Pour sweet potato mixture into the greased dish. Sprinkle walnuts on top in an even layer. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.