Summer “Grain” Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

summer grain saladI’m back from NYC as of last Friday night and apparently, brought the warm weather back with me. I was gone for 10 days and the whole time I was away, the weather was cold, rainy, and crummy here in Portland. It was the exact opposite in NYC, so thankfully, I missed out! Now, our nice summer weather has returned, so more salads are called upon.

This salad makes for an awesome summertime dinner. I like making it ahead of time, so we can eat it cold after it’s chilled in the fridge, but it can be eaten warm as well. It is so delicious and the simple lemon tahini dressing is perfect. I think I could eat this salad, or a variation of it, everyday!

Meanwhile, you can catch me making this recipe next Wednesday, June 28 on KATU Afternoon Live. I’ll be sure to share the replay link once it’s available.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups golden beets, diced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 cups asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 5 oz clamshell baby kale
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 Tbsp filtered water
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large lemon, juiced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place beets and asparagus on a large baking sheet, and drizzle with coconut or avocado oil. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Once done, set aside.
  2. *Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the ground chicken and season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste. Continue to cook chicken, but don’t break up the chunks of meat as you normally would. Cook until chicken is browned and no longer pink, about 6-7 minutes, but do not overcook. *Note, if your ground chicken is really lean, you may need to add a little oil to the pan. Set aside once done.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, water, and garlic. Add sea salt and black pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  4. Next, add the cooked ground chicken to the food processor bowl with the pan drippings. Pulse about 4-5 times until chicken forms smaller crumbles and resembles grains. Be careful not to over-process.
  5. Pour the chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add the parsley, roasted vegetables, green onions, and baby kale (you may have to work the baby kale in bit-by-bit). Pour dressing over top and stir well. Continue to add the baby kale (if you didn’t add it all at once), until it’s all worked in. Taste, and add more sea salt and/or black pepper, if desired.
  6. Serve right away or let chill in the fridge and serve cold.
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Lemon Dill Avocado Chicken Salad

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Spring is less than a month away, as hard as it may be to believe some days. With its approach in mind, I got to thinking about springy flavors – things like lemon, dill, peas and so on. Contemplating what to make, it suddenly hit me…a spring chicken salad recipe. It’s not very often I share lunch recipes anyway, so it seemed like another good reason to run with it. Plus, I love chicken salad, despite the fact that I rarely make it. I become a creature of habit when it comes to lunch foods and generally stick to the same things, so this is a refreshing change.

I’m sure this would be just as tasty without the addition of the mayo, but I love homemade mayo or a high-quality one like this brand. It adds a little extra creaminess and tang too, which I enjoy. But, if you don’t have any on hand or just don’t like it, you can leave it out. Personally, I never liked mayo until I made it myself. It is way different than what you may know as mayo. Really, it might as well be frosting because it’s that good. I do have another chicken salad recipe that’s tropical-inspired and more mayo-based if you want to check that one out HERE.

Also, stay tuned because next month, on March 20 (also the first day of spring!), I’ll be featuring this recipe LIVE on KATU Afternoon Live. I’ll share the segment when that time comes. UPDATE: watch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded (roughly 1 lb or so of meat)
  • 1 large avocado, sliced into quarters and pitted
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 tsp dried dill
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, rinsed under warm water to thaw
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 2 Tbsp homemade avocado oil mayo or use a high-quality brand like this one 

Directions:

  1. Place shredded chicken in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Remove avocado peels and place avocado in a large bowl. Mash well with a fork and then add the lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, dried dill, mayo, carrot, green onion and peas. Stir well with a spatula until mixed well. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  3. Pour avocado mixture into the bowl with the shredded chicken and stir well. Store in refrigerator.
  4. Serve in a lettuce wrap, over greens or with veggie slices and/or plantain chips.

Simple Supper Friday: Lemon Dill Salmon with Buttered ‘Zoodles’

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I’ll be honest…I feel kinda silly posting this recipe. It almost seems too simple. But then, I thought about it more and realized that it’s the point behind my Simple Supper Friday meals — simple and uncomplicated. Not only that, but as basic as this recipe and ingredient combination is, it’s really delicious and makes for a nice summer meal. I think that’s reason enough to share.

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As for my weekend, I work a couple hours out at Clackamas Physical Conditioning with Jason tomorrow morning and then will come back to town and run the usual errands with Jesse later in the day — mainly just grocery shopping. The rest of Saturday is open to whatever I want — yeah! I work at Recreate Sunday morning and then later, Jesse and I are going to a friend’s house out in Scapposse to have dinner and drinks, and also pick some veggies from their garden. I also have to go pick up my jar of Fatworks pastured pork lard on Sunday! I now have their duck fat, beef tallow and lard. I love that this stuff is made locally, and I can just order it and pick it up from the guy’s house. It can be shipped though and is not limited to Portland residents, so keep that in mind if you’re interested!

Any fun plans for the weekend?

For the salmon:

  • 2 fresh wild Coho salmon fillets (or 1 large fillet, cut in half)
  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter, melted
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill, plus more if desired
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 thinly sliced lemon rounds
  • Extra lemon wedges for serving, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 9×9 pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Place fish fillets skin side down in the pan. Brush on the melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Then, sprinkle the dried dill atop of the fillets.
  3. Pour fresh lemon juice over each fillet and then place one of the rounds atop of each, in the center.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
  5. Serve atop of buttered ‘zoodles’ (directions below) and squeeze on extra lemon juice, if desired.

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For the buttered ‘zoodles’:

  • 2 medium zucchini (I used one green and one yellow)
  • Generous amount of sea salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  1. Peel zucchini with a julienne peeler or use a spiralizer if you have one. Sprinkle the zoodles generously with sea salt and then place in a fine mesh strainer to “sweat.” Allow the water to drain from the zoodles for 15-20 minutes.
  2. After 15-20 minutes, squeeze out any excess water from the zoodles with your hands. Then, place in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 45-60 seconds. Once warm, add the butter and toss. Of course, you can briefly heat the noodles in a skillet on the stove and toss with butter.

Yields: 2 servings

Grain-Free Blueberry Cobbler

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Blueberry season and fresh-picked berries call for cobblers and crisps, and my friend recently reminded me of this. I can’t tell you the last time I even made something of the sorts. Overall, I don’t do that much baking, but it is fun to take on a baking project every now and again. Not only that, but baked goods make the house smell so comfy and cozy. Sometimes, I feel like the smells are the best part!

Overall, the cobbler turned out well, but is best eaten day of and shortly after it comes out of the oven. Yes, it still tastes great the next day, but the dough part gets a little soggy from all berry juice. I actually didn’t mind it at all, especially because the flavor is still there and the dough is a little gritty versus totally mushy (since it’s almond flour/meal). You can be the judge though, but know that you’ve been forewarned, especially all you texture peeps out there.

Meanwhile, feel free to add your own flair to the cobbler — different berries and spices, shredded unsweetened coconut, nuts, etc. There’s a lot of room for variety with something like this, so have fun with it!

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For the berries:

  • 2.5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut flour

Pour berries into a 9×9 baking dish. Mix with the coconut flour. Set aside.

For the dough:

  • 1 cup almond flour or meal (I used fresh ground from sprouted almonds)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted grass-fed butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, plus extra for drizzling, if desired

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour/meal, coconut flour, sea salt, nutmeg, baking soda, lemon zest, lemon juice vanilla and honey.
  3. Add the butter and blend with your hands or with two knives until course crumbs form. Add the coconut milk and mix until a wet, shaggy dough forms.
  4. Drop mounds of the dough on top of the berries. It doesn’t have to be neat — we’re not going for perfection here. It’s not supposed to be perfect, in fact!
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until dough is brown and berries are bubbly. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving, then serve immediately.
  6. Serve with coconut milk drizzled on top, if desired. Coconut milk whipped cream would also be delicious.

Yields: 4-5 servings

Simple Supper Friday: Salmon with Parsley Pesto Cream Sauce

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I’ve been making an effort to try and eat more fish lately because it normally doesn’t happen very often. I’m aiming for 1-2 times per week and so far, so good. Otherwise, aside from my daily 2 oz of Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil, my wild fatty fish consumption is few and far between. Reason being, it’s pretty expensive and I’m kinda hit or miss with it. It doesn’t always taste good to me and I really have to be in the mood for it, unless it’s Loki Fish Co. smoked salmon. I love that stuff and can eat it much more often. Again though, it’s still expensive.

I think fish is much more enjoyable when it has a sauce, nut crust or glaze (remember my honey-lime glazed salmon?), so naturally, I whipped up a sauce. There will be leftover sauce, so feel free to mix some into warm zucchini noodles. It’s delicious and creamy.

Anyway, have a great weekend! I know I will…ring shopping tomorrow!

For the salmon:

  • 2 wild coho salmon fillets
  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter, divided
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 9×9 pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Place fish fillets skin side down in the pan. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Then, dot half the butter on one fillet and half on the other. Then, squeeze 1 tsp lemon juice over each.
  3. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Serve with parsley pesto cream sauce on top.

For the parsley pesto cream sauce:

  • 1/2 cup curly parsley
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Combine all ingredients in the food processor or a high-powered blender (I actually used my new Ninja Master Prep Pro System for this one!) and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings and olive oil quantity, if need be. Cream should be somewhere in the middle between thick and runny.

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Coconut Cake with Lemon Coconut Frosting

Coconut cake with lemon coconut frosting.

As you may know, Jesse’s 32nd birthday was New Year’s eve. I always like to do something special for him and this year, I let him choose his cake. Usually I pick it completely, but I guess I still kind of picked it because I showed him different options, but he made the final decision.

Anyway, the cake recipe is compliments of The Food Lovers Kitchen from their cookbook, Make it Paleo. I’ve made this cake two other times, but it turned out the best this time around. Three’s a charm, right? Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious before, but there were a few things I needed to toy with to perfect it. The only ingredient change I make with this recipe is that I swap out the maple syrup for raw honey since maple is a no-go for me. In terms of directions, I bake the cake for less time than the recipe states, and instead of a four-layer cake, I stick with two layers.

Two layers is easier to work with than four.

The lemon coconut frosting is compliments of The Detoxinista. I doubled her recipe after realizing a single batch was not enough for the whole cake. I listed the double recipe below. This frosting is fantastic by the way. It’s the first time I’ve ever made it. When I’ve made this cake before, I made a frosting from dripped 24-hour yogurt. This makes the yogurt a bit thicker and sort of cream cheese-like (a little runnier though). Making The Detoxinista’s recipe was actually a lot less fuss. Plus, I didn’t have any yogurt ready and didn’t have enough time for all the waiting. I think the lemon coconut frosting will be my go-to whenever I make this cake from now on though.

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For the frosting:

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk, at room temp (or almond milk, which the recipe calls for, but I didn’t have any made)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  1. Measure out all the ingredients and toss into the blender. Make sure to measure out the coconut flour exactly — it’s dense, so a little extra can throw the recipe off. Also, this can not be done with a hand mixer or whisk. You need to use a blender and be patient!
  2. Blend for 30-45 seconds or until everything is mixed together well. Pour into a bowl once done. FYI it will not be thick yet.
  3. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to set. The frosting will be runny after you first mix it, but it does firm up in the refrigerator. Just be patient! I recommend letting it sit overnight.
  4. Before using, remove from refrigerator and mix well. Then, let the frosting soften to room temperature a bit. This will make it easier to spread.

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup raw honey (or maple syrup)
  • 10 eggs, preferably pasture-raised (Yes, 10 eggs! Coconut flour needs a lot of moisture.)
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut plus a little extra for garnishing, if desired

The cakes, post baking.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, add sifted coconut flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl or kitchen mixer, combine eggs, vanilla, honey and melted coconut oil. If you don’t have a kitchen mixer, use a hand mixer. It works just fine.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and continue blend.
  5. Once batter is blended and smooth, stir in shredded coconut by hand.
  6. Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides of the pans with coconut oil. Pour batter evenly into both pans.
  7. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cakes were perfect after about 26 minutes.
  8. Remove cakes from the oven and cool.
  9. Frost one of the cake tops with the lemon coconut frosting and then, stack the other cake on top (stack it top-facing up, flat side down). Then, frost the entire top and sides of the cake. Garnish with a little unsweetened coconut flakes, if desired.
  10. Store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator, as it is perishable.
Wonder what he wished for...
Wonder what he wished for…
Birthday cake beauty.
Birthday cake beauty.