Bean-Free Zucchini Hummus

The idea of zucchini hummus is nothing new to me, yet this is my first go at it. I’ve had cauliflower hummus before, which I remember liking, but I definitely like the zucchini-based version better. Zucchini has a neutral flavor and doesn’t need to be steamed beforehand, so it works extremely well and simplifies things. And, if you’re wondering about the no beans thing, keep in mind that it isn’t the beans (garbanzo beans, usually) that make hummus, hummus — it’s the tahini. This version has all the flavor of traditional hummus, minus the bloat. It’s less starchy too.

I have to laugh and reflect a little on the mention of the bloat thing because in my days as a vegetarian, there were numerous summers when my sister and I ate loads of homemade hummus. She was the skilled, creative hummus-maker and I always enjoyed the fruits of her labor. But, I consistently was left with a stomach ache afterward, yet I would continue to eat it day-in and day-out. Live and learn, right?

Meanwhile, I enjoyed this hummus with fresh veggies, sautéed greens, plantain chips, and even dolloped on top of eggs. There’s lots of ways to eat it!

Keep in mind, this hummus is a bit thinner than bean-based hummus because of the lack of starch. It will thicken a little after being in the refrigerator, but if you want your hummus to be thicker, feel free to experiment with ingredient ratios. But, know that even then, the texture will still be different.

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On a completely different note, please imagine rain drenching down on the massive Eagle Creek fire engulfing our beloved Columbia River Gorge here in Oregon (started by firecrackers during a no burn season). The fire has now covered 32,000 acres and is zero percent contained. It’s so smoky here in Portland and the city has been blanketed by ash “snow.” Really, there is just so much chaos going on in our country right now. Send the love and positive vibes, please!

Ingredients:

  • 3.5-4 cups zucchini, diced (peel if you like, but I left mine unpeeled)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Black pepper, to taste

*Note: you can peel and add the garlic whole, but watch out for any pieces that miss the blade in the food processor. I had this happen before and ate a huge chunk of garlic!

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender, and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides, if needed, and blend again. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired. If you like, garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkling of smoked paprika before serving.

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Spanish “Rice” and Chicken Bowl

Spanish rice 2

Spanish rice is something I enjoyed growing up and a recipe I kinda forgot about until recently. My mom used to make my Great Aunt Leona’s recipe and baked it inside of bell pepper halves. I was never a fan of the bell pepper part as a kid, but loved the rice. I’m sure this recipe would work well stuffed and baked inside a bell pepper too, but I didn’t opt for that since bell peppers really do not agree with me (or my husband). You could just add some bell pepper to the pan if you want that flavor, but don’t want to bother with the baking part. Then, everything still stays in one pan!

Meanwhile, mark this recipe as an easy weeknight go-to. It’s a complete meal that comes together quickly and tastes marvelous. And, again, it’s all in one pan. I hope you enjoy this twist on Spanish rice and if you do, give me a shout-out in the comments or on social media!

Cheers!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed ghee, butter, or other fat of choice
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp homemade vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 16 oz bag cauliflower rice
  • 1 cup unsweetened, no salt added tomato sauce (I used this one)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Dried oregano, to garnish

Directions:

  1. Melt ghee in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for a couple minutes. Then, add the diced chicken, and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Continue to cook chicken for several minutes, until browned.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cauliflower rice. Season to taste with a bit more sea salt and pepper.
  3. While cauliflower is cooking, combine the tomato sauce, chili powder, and homemade vegetable bouillon in a small bowl. After the cauliflower has cooked for a couple minutes, add the tomato sauce mixture and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Lastly, add the cherry tomatoes and stir. Remove from heat and garnish with dried oregano.

Yields: 2-3 servings

Smoky Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

sweet potato wedges 2These smoky roasted sweet potato wedges are a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken, fish, burgers, sausage, and more. They’re great for the remaining days of summer, yet versatile enough to eat all year long. The flavor is perfectly smoky with a pleasant dash of turmeric spice and garlic (and of course, salt!). I enjoyed these dipped in yellow mustard, but also thought they tasted fantastic on their own.

Meanwhile, I hope you were able to catch the eclipse this past Monday. In my neighborhood here in Portland, I got to witness it at 99.3%. It was phenomenal and bizarre to feel the temperature drop, see the light fade, and hear animals around me create a stir. It was powerful and I couldn’t help but be moved to tears!

Cheers and enjoy!

P.S. Catch me on KATU Afternoon Live tomorrow, August 25! I’ll be making my cashew butter and jelly bars!

wedges close up

Ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 mid-size sweet potatoes, sliced into wedges with skin on (I used white sweet potatoes, but any variety will work)
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic granules or garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or rectangular dish, combine all the ingredients and toss well with tongs. Then, line in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 17.5 minutes. Flip and bake for another 17.5 minutes. (Note: if your oven runs hot, you may want to check the sweet potatoes a bit sooner).

Yields: 2-3 servings

 

Cashew Butter and Jelly Bars

My gosh, these bars are something special, and my inner child is especially satisfied by such a delightful treat. These take me back to PB&J days as a kid, something that was often a staple in my lunchbox. Mom almost always used homemade jam and her strawberry was my favorite. It was probably the sandwich I ate most growing up (side note, but I also used to like bologna and ketchup sandwiches).

Back-to-school time isn’t too far away and that’s what inspired this rendition of a classic creation. I don’t have kids of my own (I do have two fur kids though), nor do I plan to have kids, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a back-to-school treat! But, back-to-school or not, kids or no kids, these are wonderful anytime and for all. Also, I will be featuring this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live later this month, so stay tuned! UPDATE: watch the replay of me making these on KATU Afternoon Live HERE.

Feel free to experiment with almond or sunflower seed butter, if you prefer. If you eat and tolerate peanuts, you can even use peanut butter, of course. The cashew butter is so good in this recipe though and a nice change of pace — at least for me (I really don’t eat cashews or cashew butter very often). The strawberry filling is so fresh and jammy tasting, but not overly sweet. And, overall, the bars as a whole are not too sweet either. If you ask me, these are just right.

Cheers and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

Filling:

  • 16 oz fresh strawberries, sliced and hulled (if need be)
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp water

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew butter (I used this brand)

Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp unsweetened cashew butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, chopped (note: I dry toasted mine beforehand, but that’s optional)
  • Light sprinkling of fine Himalayan salt, optional (if using salted cashews or salted cashew butter, you may not need)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add strawberries and honey to medium saucepan over medium heat. Mash strawberries with a potato masher to break up the large pieces and release juice. In a small dish, dissolve the arrowroot powder into the water. Then, once the strawberries are mashed, but still a bit chunky, add the lemon juice and dissolved arrowroot mixture, and stir. Simmer over medium-low for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a food processor, gently pulse together the coconut flour, coconut sugar, and sea salt. Then, add the coconut oil, cashew butter, eggs, and vanilla. Pulse until mixture forms a ball.
  4. Press dough into bottom of 8×8 pan with fingers (note: greasing pan isn’t necessary, but feel free to line with parchment paper for super easy removal, if you like). Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and pour strawberry filling on top. Then, dollop cashew butter on top in teaspoon-sized increments (8 tsp total). Gently swirl cashew butter around with a chopstick or spoon handle. Sprinkle with the chopped cashews and the Himalayan salt, if using. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until strawberry topping is warm and bubbly.
  6. Let cool completely (about 2-3 hours) and then cut into desired-size squares. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Fourth of July Panna Cotta

Fourth of July is only five days away! Can you believe it? I’m never totally ready for it to come because summer always seems to fly by in the blink of an eye after the Fourth is over. We don’t have any plans other than working a little that morning (I am anyway — not sure about Jesse) and keeping our kitties company in the evening. Our cat, Frankie, is terrified of fireworks and loud noises in general, but our other cat, Dutch doesn’t seem to mind much. Anyway, we want to be there for Frankie since she gets so stressed out. Poor kitty. During the day, maybe we’ll go for a bike ride or something. We’re playing it by ear.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a festive, healthy, and patriotic dessert to make, look no further. I’ve got you covered with this non-dairy Fourth of July panna cotta featuring coconut milk, blueberries, and raspberries. It has a hint of lemon flavor thanks to the lemon essential oil and tastes wonderful with the fresh berries.  If you don’t have access to the lemon essential oil, you can substitute lemon extract instead (1 tsp is probably enough, but it depends how lemony you want it). Strawberries would also be a great addition to this dessert if you want to add some extra red color and more berry flavor.

On another note, I went back on KATU Afternoon Live yesterday and made my summer “grain” salad with lemon tahini dressing. Watch the replay of the segment HERE.

Ingredients:

  • 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (this brand is great and has no gums)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp cold filtered water
  • 1-1/4 tsp gelatin powder, preferably grass-fed (I recommend this one or this one)
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey, or more if you want it sweeter
  • 4 drops high-quality, dietary-safe lemon essential oil (learn where to get therapeutic grade oils here)
  • Fresh blueberries and raspberries or strawberries, for serving
  • Toasted slivered almonds, for serving
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes or chips, for serving

Directions:

  1. Pour water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin powder, allowing it to bloom. Set aside.
  2. Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat on the stove over medium heat. Whisk in the vanilla and honey. Once the honey is fully dissolved, add the gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon essential oil.
  3. Divide mixture equally among three individual size glasses or small bowls (small mason jars also work well). Place in fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
  4. Once set, top with desired amount of fresh blueberries and raspberries. Garnish with the slivered almonds and coconut.

Yields: 3 servings

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.

Pepperoni “Pasta” Salad

pepperoni noodle salad 2

The warmer days are becoming more and more abundant and we’re getting closer to actual summer, which means more salads and other cold foods. I love the change in eating that each season brings and look forward to the variety that each season offers.

This cold “noodle” salad is reminiscent of pizza and tastes incredible. It’s fresh, light, and full of Italian flavor. The “Rawmesan” really brings the salad together and adds a wonderful cheesy flavor minus the actual cheese. If you don’t want to buy it, you can also make your own by following this recipe. It’s very easy. Alternatively, you can opt for some high-quality Parmesan if you tolerate it. I personally do okay with small amounts of aged cheese, like Parmesan, but find that I feel better without cheese completely and prefer to mostly avoid it. So, I opted for the Rawmesan. Do what’s best for you.

I recommend eating this within a couple days, as the zucchini starts to soften slightly and more water is drawn out (of course, it still tastes good though). If you do have leftovers, it works well to add a little more zucchini and fresh basil the next day.

Meanwhile, I’m off to NYC bright and early this morning for an intense 3-day kettlebell training and then some fun. I can’t wait, as I love NYC!

Cheers and enjoy!

pepperoni salad 3

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium zucchini, spiralized
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 4 oz package Applegate Farms mini turkey pepperoni, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • About 1/3 cup Rawmesan or high-quality Parmesan cheese, if tolerated

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes, basil, red onion, and pepperoni.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, garlic granules, sea salt, and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and mix well with tongs. Lastly, mix in the Rawmesan or Parmesan cheese. Serve.