Tag Archives: winter

Creamy Cauliflower Dip

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One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from changing my diet is when you close a door on one food, there’s a window that opens. And it’s a chance to experiment, be creative and discover something new. Four years ago I started on this journey of healing my body naturally and along the way have had to give up many of the foods I love. I can attest, eliminating foods you enjoy and rely on from your diet is hard. And it’s easy to get stuck staring at that closed door, focusing on what you can’t have. But, I’ve learned if you can break away, there’s a whole world of foods out there to play with, and you just might find something even more interesting and delicious to love.

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Caul Me What You Want
At first glance, cauliflower may seem to be a boring, bland vegetable – a less exciting version of broccoli, which is saying a lot… But if you stop at first glance, let me tell you, you’re missing out! Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables you can stock in your fridge. It can become rice, mash, crust, soup, a dip… It can be transformed in so many ways, if you didn’t know any better, you might not realize you’re eating those boring little white trees…

Cauliflower, and really all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.), help our bodies detox. There are specific phytonutrients in crucifers that activate enzymes which work to get rid of harmful toxins. That’s why cruciferous vegetables are so often hailed as cancer fighters.

One more thing… cauliflower in particular is a solid source of of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in… can you guess? I’ll give you a hint… it’s in the head (see what I did there?). Brain health! We call it a “head,” it sorta looks like a “brain”… Gotta hand it to Mother Nature, she sure knows how to keep it interesting.

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Cauliflower “Hummus” Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2-1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower florets with coconut oil and cumin. Spread on baking sheet and roast 30-40 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and cool.

In food processor or blender, combine cauliflower, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper in food processor. Process until smooth. Add water if needed to get to desired consistency. Add more to thin.

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The Best Beef Stew

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First, let me apologize to all the Catholics out there for sending you beef on the first Friday of Lent. I’m truly sorry. But I thought with another cold front on the horizon you might need this for the weekend…

Oh, the tease of spring… it continues. Instead of cursing the weather gods for keeping me one more weekend away from wearing flip flops, I’m choosing to embrace the chance to make something warming and delicious to curl up with one last time (oh, please). Because before we know it it’s going to be 90 degrees out there and we just won’t look at a hearty bowl of stew the same way…

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For all you Paleo peeps, this happens to be a Paleo beef stew I tweaked from this recipe. Instead of the traditional white potatoes in beef stew, I used two kinds of sweet potatoes – your standard orange flesh variety and Japanese sweet potatoes which have a darker, purplish skin and are actually white inside. Sweet potatoes have loads more nutritional value over their white potato cousins. They have tons of vitamin A, C and manganese and are also high in B vitamins, potassium and fiber. Japanese sweet potatoes have the same make up but their richly pigmented skins also make them considerably higher in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists believe our digestive tracts benefit in particular because the compounds associated with these pigments may protect from heavy metals and free-radicals there. And that means a happier tummy.

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So, I know I probably don’t have to sell you on a slow cooker… it’s amazing isn’t it?! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me almost two years after getting one to really use it. I have no idea what I was doing or thinking. There is nothing more brilliant than being able to put a bunch of whatever – meat, veggies, liquid, spice, you name it – in a pot, turn it on and say see ya later. You go about your day (a little less stressed I might add having dinner already taken care of) and when you come home it’s like opening the door to a fantasyland where a private chef has been cooking for you all day. Oh, it smells so delicious. And you just know whatever’s been cooking in that pot all day is going to be so rich, tender and comforting. Still talking about the stew here, ladies… 🙂

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The Best Beef Stew

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs grass fed beef stew meat
2 cups stock
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
3 large sweet potatoes (I use a mix of orange and purple skinned potatoes)
2-3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/8 cup arrowroot (used to thicken at the end) – optional

Directions

First, add the meat to the slow cooker, then add the liquid and all the vegetables, spices and seasonings. Set slow cooker to low and let cook for eight hours. About half way through, give it a stir to move the vegetables.

If you want a thicker stew, do this when the timer dings: Ladle out most of the liquid into a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil, then transfer a small amount to a small bowl and slowly whisk in arrowroot until it’s completely absorbed. Pour the mixture back into the boiling liquid in the pot and remove from heat while you whisk continuously. If you want it even thicker, add some water to your small bowl and sprinkle in more arrowroot powder, whisk well, then add that to your liquid. Once at desired consistency, pour the thickened liquid back into the slow cooker and stir to mix well.

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The Trick to Making a Delicious Kale Salad

salad plate

How do you really feel about kale?

If you’re making a bitter face after reading that sentence, I understand. The No. 1 complaint I hear about kale is that it’s soooo bitter. And you’re right. Eaten completely raw the stuff is absolutely disgusting. There, I said it. But when kale is properly prepared, that bitterness mellows and can even (dare I say) turn slightly sweet, and that, my friends, is when kale becomes absolutely delicious!

If you take nothing else away from this post know this: Eating healthy does not mean force feeding yourself bitter green things. No one does that. Or at least no one does that for more than a day or two without coming back to reality. I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to kale beyond it’s bitter rap. The trick is just knowing how to prepare it.

Here’s a fun fact. Did you know chopping kale in a food processor sort of smells like freshly cut grass? It does… but if your salad tastes like your lawn there is a problem…

chop greens

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Bitter is Better
The darker the green, the more bitter the taste. But don’t let that scare you. Dark leafy greens are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and oxygen. They help detoxify, purify the blood, oxygenate your cells and can even lift your spirit. All these benefits and yet dark leafy greens have so many of us stumped. Once you know how to prepare them though, they’re easy to add to any meal.

Banish the Bitter
Now that we’ve appreciated bitterness for what it means nutritiously, let’s talk about how to get rid of it. Kale is a hearty plant with a tough exterior so that it can endure the harsh winter months. To enjoy it raw, you have to get it to soften, because behind that tough exterior is just a sweet vegetable. It’s all in the approach. And it starts with lemon. The acid in lemon counters the bitter flavor and helps to break down the leaves. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:1 ratio and season with salt and pepper to make a simple dressing. Pour dressing over the chopped greens and (this is the real trick) get in there with your hands and massage the kale. You read right… massage – deep-tissue style – both hands. in there. working it. This breaks down the cellulose structure of the plant so that it wilts and softens. Pay attention as you massage and notice the leaves turn a more brilliant green and shrink up a bit. And just like that the kale is transformed from lawn clippings to a delicious salad…. Magic!

dressing

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add nuts and fruit

Massaged Kale Salad

Ingredients

1 bunch kale
1-2 lemons
1/8 cup EVOO
salt & pepper
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
1 cup dried fruit (currants, raisins, cranberries, etc.)

Directions

Wash kale well and tear leaves away from stem. Tear leaves into pieces and place in food processor or blender to chop. Pulse until  finely chopped (you’ll have to do this part in a few batches). Transfer to a large bowl.

Next, make the dressing. In a small bowl combine juice from lemons and EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and whisk well until combined. Pour over kale and massage the dressing into the greens using your hands.

Mix in choice of nuts, fruit or other salad toppings. If kale still tastes bitter, add more lemon and continue to massage until no longer bitter.

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Creamy Butternut Cauliflower Soup with Chicken and Kale

butternut cauliflower soup

There are two types of people in this world. There are those that when food is scarce, put on their boots and walk to the store in the ice. And then there are those that get creative and make do with what they’ve got in the kitchen. I am the latter of the two; my husband is the former. Case in point: when I woke up Friday morning to winter storm Cleon and a forecast below freezing through Sunday, I knew I’d be settling in for the long haul. My husband, on the other hand, wanted breakfast tacos. While he headed out into the icepocolypse, I went straight to the kitchen to figure out what the heck we were going to eat. It’s funny, sometimes it’s the meals where you’re short on ingredients or have to substitute with what you have on hand, when you discover the most delicious combinations.

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add broth

blend soup

add kale

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Creamy Butternut Cauliflower Soup with Chicken and Kale

Ingredients

2 tbsp. virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 inch piece ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1/2 head cauliflower, cut in florets
6 cups chicken broth
1 lb chicken breast, diced
1/2 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
salt and pepper

Directions

Place a large soup pot over medium heat and and add a little (about 1/2 cup) of the broth. Once heated through, add diced chicken and cook until opaque. When done, transfer chicken and broth to a bowl and set aside.

Return pot to medium heat and add oil. Then add onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Next add garlic and ginger. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes. Add squash and cauliflower to the pot and stir to coat with oil and aromatic mixture. Cook 5-7 minutes, then add broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered 15-20 or until vegetables are tender enough to be pierced with a fork.

To blend the soup, you can use either a blender or an immersion blender. If using a blender, be careful handling the hot soup. Make sure the lid is secure – you may want to hold a towel over the lid just in case (you don’t want hot liquid flying in your face!). With an immersion blender you can blend the soup directly in the pot. Blend until silky and smooth.

Add chicken and extra broth back to the pot along with kale. Return the soup to a low boil and allow the kale to wilt into the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Coconut Chicken Curry

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Since getting back last week from India… I mean Austin… I think I’ve had curry four times. Why am I confusing Austin and India, you ask? That was my little joke during our long weekend visit with friends, because every day involved something Indian. We were there primarily to see my friend Lauren perform in a Bollywood production – Om Shanthi. Bravo, Lauren! Maybe all that Bollywood energy stuck with us. But the next night we ended up at G’raj Mahal, an Indian restaurant near Rainey Street. And then, the following day, I found myself loading up a plate of curried cauliflower and chickpeas at the Whole Foods on Lamar, which, by the way, also thinks it’s in India – I couldn’t believe the assortment of Indian curries in the to-go food section and naan in the bread aisle. Anyway….

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Curries like this one are on the regular dinner rotation at our house. I’m a big fan of anything that you can cook in one pot and I love using lots of spices. So, Indian food, and actually most cuisines from the eastern hemisphere make regular appearances. We joke about how our future kids’ friends will react when they stay for dinner and then find out we’re having dahl… Iguess I better get working on a back up healthy mac & cheese…

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Usually when making curry I don’t stick to a particular recipe. I like to change it up and just go with whatever vegetables I have on hand. It’s a great “clean out the fridge” dish or if you’re shopping you can try to save a little and opt for what’s on sale. Serve over brown rice (or enjoy just by itself) add a little cilantro and BOOM!

spices

I’ve been asked if there’s a particular brand of curry powder I prefer, or if I make my own. I don’t have any regular go-to’s really, but as we’ve experimented more and more, it’s sort of fun combining my own spices rather than going off the shelf. The one in this recipe comes from a recipe provided by Dr. Amy Myers from Austin UltraHealth. If anyone out there has a brand or personal blend they swear by, please share!

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This recipe uses butternut squash (I found the cutest little baby one… makes me excited for fall!), celery, green onions and kale. But change it up and use what you like… cauliflower, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots… the possibilities are endless. Don’t have that mix of spices? Use a prepared curry powder or paste. Here’s an old vegetable curry recipe from way back when that uses curry powder for another option.

Did I mention this meal has super powers too? The pungent spices – turmeric, cumin and coriander (just to name a few) – in curry have been used medicinally for centuries. Pungents, which are usually lacking in our modern American diet, are drying which should balance out the sweet (considered mucus forming) foods that it’s easy to get some much more of. Think about the last time you had a spicy chili and it left you with a runny nose, clearing your sinuses. The spices really were “drying you out.” Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, teaches that a truly balanced meal should include all six flavors – spicy, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter – for satisfaction, balance, optimal digestion, health and harmony. It may sound like a tall order for just one meal, but it shows, food is powerful. And when it’s powers are used for good, magic like this happens…

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Coconut Chicken Curry

(recipe adapted from Austin UltraHealth’s recipe)

Ingredients:
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, cut into crescents
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced small
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups kale, torn and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces
1 can full fat coconut milk

Directions:
Heat large skillet ove medium heat and add coconut oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add spices and stir to coat onions. Then add squash, celery and green onions and stir to mix well. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Cook until you can pierce squash with a fork. Add kale and continue to cook until wilted. Add chicken and coconut milk and simmer to allow flavors to combine. Add black pepper to taste. Serve as is or over brown rice and topped with cilantro.

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Chicken with Cauliflower Mash and Broccolini

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I just got home from seeing Dr. Mark Hyman speak at the Dallas Performing Arts Center. If you dont know Dr. Hyman, he is a rock star in the health and nutrition world, leading the way for functional medicine and changing the way we all think about health, disease and medicine. Check him out. One of his main takeaways for how to create health was quite simple – eat real food. Cooked by a human (you or someone near you). Sounds easy enough, right? But for many of us it’s a lot easier said than done. We’re short on time and often skills too. I don’t know about you, but I never had Home Ec. By the time I got to high school there were more important things to learn than cooking. But what could possibly be more important than the fuel we use to run our bodies and minds? It’s the foundation of our health and well-being. What we eat becomes our cells, our blood, tissues, organs, skin… We create health with what we put in our bodies. And it’s completely in our control. All we have to do is get to the grocery, get in the kitchen and get connected with our food.

Here’s a simple classic that’s fairly easy and worth the time in the kitchen – roasted chicken and vegetables. I know what you’re thinking. “Mashed potatoes?” Well, not exactly. That’s actually cauliflower right there. And mashed it tastes just as creamy and comforting as the spuds you’re used to. Plus it has a heck of a lot more nutrients and no peeling necessary – win-win. Healthy home-cooked comfort food. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Feeling like cooking = rocket science? I can help.

Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1/2 lemon, cut in small pieces
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
Sea salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400
Stuff whole chicken with chopped onion, garlic and lemon
Sprinkle outside with salt and rub salt into skin to cover
Roast at 400 for about an hour until skin is browned and crispy

Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup evoo
1/2 tsp sea salt
Squeeze of lemon

Directions:
Steam cauliflower until soft enough to pierce with fork. This took about 15 minutes. You can cover the pot to cook more quickly. Be careful to not immerse florets in water or you’ll end up with watery mash. Just trust me.
When soft, transfer florets to food processor, add evoo, salt, and process until smooth (really smooth).
Add squeeze of lemon and pulse.

Steamed Broccolini

Ingredients
1 bunch broccolini

Directions
Steam about five minutes until bright green and soft

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Mushroom and Rice Soup

I may have mentioned before that I was a picky eater as a kid. Until college, my diet consisted mostly of carrots and turkey sandwiches on wheat bread. Like most kids, I had very strong opinions about certain foods that would never (never) enter my mouth. I couldn’t tell you where these strong opinions came from. They were certainly not based on taste. Because I knew with the utmost certainty that something dreadful would happen if I ate that. As you might imagine, a food labeled “fungi” fell into this category. And I may or may not have pitched a legendary fit over a certain mushroom spaghetti sauce that went down in the annals of my childhood. And here I am 20+ years later eating, cooking and telling you to try nothing other than… mushrooms. Oh the irony.

I’m not sure exactly what turned me on to mushrooms, but now they’re a regular staple of my grocery list. With some dark leafy greens and a little onion, you’ve got one of the quickest and healthiest weeknight meals you can make. Mushrooms are one of the most powerful healing foods on the planet. They’re a staple of Chinese medicine and have been used for thousands of years to treat everything from viruses to tumors. There are more than 200 varieties used medicinally with different powers and properties. But even the most common of mushrooms will do your body good.

Generally, mushrooms are natural immune boosters and also work in the body to help regulate inflammation. I’m talking about the kind of inflammation that can exist and linger at low levels in the body and contribute to all sorts of diseases, like heart disease and Alzheimer’s. We’ve also learned that mushrooms help balance the level of estrogen in the body, essentially helping to prevent certain estrogen-related cancers, like breast cancer. In the world we live in today, where we come into contact with estrogens regularly from plastic bottles and containers, and added soy in so many foods, mushrooms work to block it. They’re also high in vitamins and minerals that are critical to cell and immune function – selenium, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese.

Superpowers aside, mushrooms are incredibly flavorful and add a richness to whatever it is that you’re cooking – like this soup, and I’m sure too that spaghetti sauce I turned my nose up at when I was five.

Mushroom and Rice Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
salt and black pepper
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
20 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

In a medium-sized pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add a little salt and 1 cup of rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Saute until the onions are translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the carrot and celery and cook, covered, for 6 minutes more.
Add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, covered, until they release their juices, about 4 minutes.
Add the broth, bay leaves, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Stir in the cooked rice; remove and discard the bay leaves. If desired, season with additional salt and pepper.

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Veggie Pot Pie

It’s December 27 and if you’re in the same boat as me, you had one too many of those (fill in the blank).  After a weekend of indulgence, there’s nothing better than a little simplicity to balance you back out. And this magic pot of veggies will help do just that. I say magic because this thing has two whole bunches of leafy greens in it. Like magic, a towering pile of torn greens – that literally covered my counter space and had to be heaped by the armfull into the pot – shrinks itself down and practically disappears. Every time I cook leafy greens and watch them reduce to a fraction of their original volume I am amazed.

For such a fresh and nutrient-loaded meal, you wouldn’t know it by the time spent slaving in the kitchen. For the peas, corn and even carrots you can use frozen. That just leaves the onion, garlic and greens. Cut the onion into crescents. Mince the garlic. And after washing the greens, team up with your roommate, husband, kids and go to town tearing them into bits. Remove the hard stems and rip those leaves a new one. After a long day, I find this can actually be somewhat therapeutic. Take it out on the vegetables.

As for the crust, this recipe uses a combo of millet and amaranth. A what? I’ve actually had amaranth in my pantry for some time now but this was my first experience with the ancient grain. Amaranth was a native grain to the Aztecs and was so important to them that they used it in rituals and, in particular, what was the equivalent of their Christmas celebration. The conquistadors didn’t approve and outlawed it along with other “false idols.” It disappeared, but has been sort of rediscovered. The high-protein (5g per 1/2 cup cooked, versus 2g in wheat), gluten-free grain has resurfaced. And some even seem to think its resurgence will only continue given that it can grow just about anywhere and is easily cultivated, oh ya, and cheap. Millet is another grain alternative to wheat and is incredibly versatile. It can be prepared smooth, like a mashed potato consistency, or grainy, like rice. It’s high in magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, important minerals for heart and bone health.

Together, the amaranth and millet make a bread-y, crust topping that’s sort of like cornbread. No ancient grains on hand? Shocking. Instead, you could use cornmeal or polenta to make a cornbread-style topping. Or you could make one out of rice like I did here.

Warm, comfy, cozy – everything you want this time of year. Comfort. And joy. In a pot.

Veggie Pot Pie

What you need:

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped
1 bunch kale
1 bunch collards
1 1/2 cup corn
1 1/2 cup peas
1/3 cup amaranth
1/3 cup millet
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp arrowroot*
2 tbsp mirin
parsley
salt and pepper

What you do:

In a sauce pan combine amaranth, millet and 2 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer, about 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, fold in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

In a dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and carrot and saute about 5 minutes, until tender. Add peas and corn and stir. Stir in mirin and add greens in batches. Allow greens to cook down, 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine arrowroot, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable broth and stir. Add sauce to the vegetables and stir until it begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Flatten out vegetable mixture and top with grains, spreading out evenly across the top to make a crust. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Place under broiler about 10 minutes, or until the crust browns.

Let it cool before serving.

* Arrowroot is used to thicken the sauce. No arrowroot on hand? You can substitute with cornstarch, as long as that’s OK for you. Be sure to look for non-GMO.

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Cranberry & Pear Tart – My New Roots Recipe Challenge Winner

Photos courtesy of My New Roots

My New Roots is one of the blogs I follow and Sarah B., the nutritionist and chef behind the blog, has given me plenty of inspiration in the kitchen. I was completely flattered to learn that this time I inspired her. It was with my cranberry & pear tart recipe that I submitted in her reader recipe challenge. And it won! I won! I won. I won! I feel like I’m back in fourth grade and just got first prize in the science fair. But this is so much better. And cooler.

Sarah tested out my recipe and had a photo shoot with the finished product, which is quite photogenic on it’s own and Sarah’s photographs makes it look even more gorgeous. I can’t stop looking at it.

This dessert is an anomaly. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free and made with all natural sweeteners (no refined sugar), but you don’t have to tell anyone that. They wouldn’t believe you anyway. So just let them enjoy. It’s pure, guiltless, holiday indulgence.

So hop on over to My New Roots and check out my winning cranberry & pear tart (OK, done bragging now). And thank you Sarah B., I am sincerely flattered and honored to be featured on your blog.

I’ll be making the tart again for Christmas. So Family, you’re in for a treat. I can’t wait for you to try this.

To all, here’s wishing you a very merry holiday with lots of love, delicious treats and happy memories. Cheers!

Cranberry & Pear Tart

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
75 g whole grain flour

For the filling:
2 pears, sliced thin
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 Tbsp. ground flax
6 Tbsp. water or pear juice
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
zest of 1 organic lemon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix. Grease a 9” tart pan with a little coconut oil and press crust evenly along the bottom of the pan. Place pear slices in a layer on top of the crust.
3. For the filling, combine the flax with the water or juice and set aside until a gel forms. Mix the cranberries with remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the gel and fold to mix. Pour filling on top of crust and pear layer and spread evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow tart cool completely before removing from tart pan (approx.1 hour, or place in the fridge).

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Cranberry Apple Quinoa Stuffing

A new favorite at Thanksgiving this year was a gluten-free cornbread stuffing with cranberries and apples that came from the Gluten-Free Goddess (Thank you, Karina!). I thought the flavor combo was just too delicious to be reserved for only special occasions, so I tried making it a little simpler for something more weeknight appropriate and used quinoa instead of gluten-free cornbread. I use quinoa a lot (like here, here and here) because it’s such a versatile and incredibly good-for-you grain. Quinoa is like a lighter, finer rice. It’s ridiculously high in protein – and is actually the only grain that is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids making it an excellent choice for vegetarians. It serves as the perfect base for pilafs and medleys, and works great as a side dish or tossed in a salad. You could serve this cranberry apple quinoa mixture on the side of roasted chicken or have it, like I did, simply over a bed of spinach. The flavors scream holiday and the spice from the curry powder and cinnamon warm you up from the inside out. Why not make a regular old Monday night in just a little more festive?

Cranberry Apple Quinoa Stuffing

What you need:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1 cup cranberries, halved
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper

What you do:

First, rinse the quinoa well and set aside. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot and then add the quinoa and little salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or so, until all of the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325. In a cast iron skillet (you’ll be transferring it to the oven later. If you don’t have cast iron, any skillet will do, you’ll just need to put everything in a baking dish when it comes time to bake). heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add thyme, curry powder and cinnamon and stir to flavor the oil. Add the onion, celery and apples and stir to coat everything evenly with oil. Continue cooking until the apples soften. Remove skillet from heat and add cranberries. Mix in quinoa and stir until evenly combined. Stir in vegetable broth, maple syrup and salt and pepper to taste.

Move the cast iron skillet to the oven (or transfer contents to a baking dish) and bake 20-25 minutes.

Serve over fresh spinach for a lighter meal or along with herb roasted chicken as a seasonal side dish.

Have leftovers? Throw it in with a mixed green salad for lunch.

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