tomato basil salsa over chicken breast

I wish I could say something poetic about the glut of tomatoes in my garden this year. But alas, I can not. Because I got a harvest totaling six tomatoes. Six. I had twelve plants of all different varieties, but between the unnaturally cool spring, the obnoxious amount of rain we’ve had, and my lack of attention to the garden as of late, the tomatoes plants all bit the dust.

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So. The six fruits I managed to grow are precious to me.
I felt like I needed to prelude with this because there are a myriad of ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes. (Tomato sandwiches are one of my favorite!) And yet I have chosen to take four of my six and blend them into a sautéed tomato and basil salsa.
But fear not. It’s that good and worth each precious fruit I spent. In addition to which, this recipe is whole 30 friendly.

I mixed up the salsa one morning in about twenty minutes (before I made coffee even!) and stuck it in the fridge for later use. Tonight it was simmered over medium heat until it began to resemble a sauce more than a salsa, and poured lavishly over grilled chicken breast. Summer in its zenith.

The key to eating clean is simplicity and preparedness. If a recipe takes too long to make or is too fussy, then I’m liable to cram fistfuls of chips or thick slices of cheese into my mouth while I’m making dinner because I’m too ravenous to wait. There goes Whole 30. Oops.
So:
Be prepared.
Keep it simple.

This recipe does both. I used a food processor to finish the dicing process for me and pulsed the ingredients below a few times before tasting and adding salt and pepper. You can use a knife and dice each item on its own as well, combining everything in a mixing bowl. Either way, this recipe is diverse, keeps well in the fridge, can be used hot or cold, and is worth the expenditure of four precious garden tomatoes.
Enjoy!

TOMATO BASIL SALSA

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4 medium tomatoes, cubed.
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 whole onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
dash of salt
dash of pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

 

corn salsa with cilantro

Summer is about being outside. Because around here, winter lasts for like nine months. Not even kidding. So when it warms up, we go out. We cook outside, work outside, play outside, sleep outside, and eat outside. Grilling becomes second nature and any side dish that pairs with the dark earthy taste of charbroil, makes for happy tastebuds.
This corn salsa makes for especially emotive tastebuds. Because cilantro.
Cilantro, to me, takes like summer. Fresh, clean, bright. The more the merrier!
This salsa can be paired with a bowl of tortilla chips or served all on it’s own as a side salad.
Enjoy!

CORN SALSA WITH  CILANTRO

2 15oz cans of yellow corn, drained
1/2 red onion, diced
2 sweet red peppers, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, diced
1/4 cup lemon juice (or lime!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl gently blend the corn, onions, peppers, black beans, and cilantro. A soft spatula works best—you don’t want to smash the beans and corn together. Set aside.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a small dish or dressing jar, and then drizzle over the corn mixture. Stir well to coat and then refrigerate before serving.

 

carrot and parsnip mash

Sometimes mashed potatoes are the best thing in the history of ever. And sometimes they aren’t. —Like when you’re doing Whole30. Mashed sweet potatoes are a nice substitute, but they are so . . . sweet.
So.
Here’s a savory substitute to gorgeous, fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes that is not only better for you, but also fluffy and gorgeous, pretty to look at, and entirely vegetable-based. I threw in a little coconut cream to make things extra decadent.
Want to make it more of a meal? Throw on a soft egg or a steak. BOOM.
Enjoy!

CARROT AND PARSNIP MASH

6 carrots, peeled, and chopped
6 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup coconut cream
1 teaspoon onion flakes
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot boil chopped carrots and parsnips until fork-tender, just as you would potatoes. Drain and return veggies to pot. Add coconut cream, onion flakes, salt and pepper, and using either a hand-held beater or immersion blender, whirl until the veggies begin to soften and blend together. I like my mash a little chunky. A few pieces of vegetables mixed in with mash give this dish texture and color. But if you prefer them light and cloud-fluffy, continue whipping/blending until smooth.
Serve as a side with a pat of butter or a dollop of Greek yogurt.

guacamole and carrot sticks

Snacking is an art form in my mind and ought to be practiced often. As such, one might as well snack right. Whole30 has some great snacking options if you can force yourself to see past the typical crackers and cheese route. And guacamole and carrot sticks are a perfect option in this regard.

Whenever I’m on the road, this is my go-to snack. It’s portable, rich in flavor, filling, and good for you. Does colorful count? Let’s go with colorful too. Totally counts.
Enjoy!

I like using a food processor for this recipe because it simplifies the process. But a knife, fork and bowl work just as well for mixing up a batch of guac. Even better: a guacamole molcajete! Whatever tools you use, this is simply about blending flavors and textures.

GUACAMOLE AND CARROT STICKS
 

1 avocado, pitted and diced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon diced cilantro
1 teaspoon red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic
a dash of lemon juice

In a bowl, toss avocado, tomato, cilantro and onion together. Blend and mash with a fork until the diced pieces  begin to break down and combine. Blend in garlic and lemon juice and mix until well incorporated.
Add carrot sticks, and if you need some protein, some uncured salami.

Note: I adore cilantro. But not everyone does. If you hate the stuff, feel free to substitute diced scallions or fresh parsley.

If you are using a food processor, toss all of the ingredients, including the garlic and lemon juice, into the bowl and pulse several times until the mixture is blended but still chunky.

root-veggie pot pie

I love meals you can make in advance, either days in advance or mere hours.
Basically I love meals that make the dinner hour a little easier. Because at my house it is typically “the bewitching hour” —that mysterious time of day when everyone is transitioning from physical location and varying degrees of emotional stability. (Getting home from school/going to activities, getting home from work/going to meetings, getting up from naps/going to fall-apart on the floor, etc).

That said, even if your house boasts a considerably more calm dinner hour, this recipe is particularly tasty, easy to make, good for you, and pretty. All the necessary qualifications for a great meal.
Enjoy!

ROOT VEGGIE POT PIE 

1 large rutabaga (peeled and cubed)
2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
3 parsnips (peeled and cubed)
4 large carrots (peeled and cubed)
3 turnips (peeled and cubed)
1 cup + vegetable broth
1 onion, (peeled and diced)
1 teaspoon diced garlic
3 tablespoons clarified butter
salt and pepper top taste

CRUST:
1  3/4 Cup flour + 2 tablespoons (or as needed should the dough be too moist).
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

Start with this pie crust recipe and method. Mix it up, use the waxed-paper method to roll out and fit the bottom crust to the pie plate, and set it aside.
I use this recipe and method for every pie I make—sweet, savory, fruit, cream, or otherwise. It’s the only fail-proof pie crust recipe I’ve ever found and I’ll love it forever.

Once all of your root vegetables are peeled and cubed, melt butter in a large fry pan, add garlic and diced onion, and sauté until caramelized.
Then add all of the cubed root veggies, about 1/2 cup vegetable broth, cover, and simmer until broth is absorbed by the veggies. Add the rest of the broth, cover again, and cook. Veggies should be fork-tender by the time the remainder of the broth is absorbed. Feel free to adjust quantity of broth as needed. It will vary a bit based on the size of your veggies. Ultimately, your vegetables need to be tender enough to pierce with a fork but not mushy as they will continue to cook once inside the pie.

Once the veggies are ready and all of the broth is absorbed, sprinkle salt and pepper over the cooked vegetables until the flavor is to your liking. Then gently scrape the vegetable from the pan into the prepared crust. Roll out and fit the top crust to the pie using the waxed-paper method. Trim and crimp the edges, lightly sprinkle to top with salt and pepper, and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes—until the crust is golden brown across the top.

Allow to rest and cool slightly for about 40 minutes. This will help the juices be re-absorbed into the cooked vegetables rather than spilling out of your crust when you cut into the pie.

Serve warm.

 

cauliflower rice with fresh guac and cucumbers

Lunch is hard.

By lunch I’ve usually exhausted any energy my coffee addiction provided, the kids are clamoring for something super healthy like Kraft MacNCheese, chips, and bread, and all I can think about is eating something that will make the noise stop for just a few minutes. That, or a second to pee by myself.
Ahem.
Lunch is hard.

But sometimes, lunch can be less hard—and this usually happens when you thought to plan ahead, or when whatever you made for dinner last night can ride in on a sliver spoon, reimagined as something new and tasty.

And thusly lunch rode in today. It was quick, easy, whole30 friendly (!) and while it didn’t make any of the clamoring cease, it did give me a little extra energy where coffee failed. Winning. Happy lunching friends!

CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH FRESH GUACAMOLE AND CUCUMBER SLICES

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Cauliflower rice is a staple I try to have on hand all the time. It’s a great vegetarian base for almost any meal and it goes with everything. It’s a little odiferously strong, but the flavor is fantastic and it keeps in the fridge for about three to four days—though my batch rarely lasts that long.

CAULIFLOWER RICE:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons (or more as needed) Olive or Avocado oil
1 tablespoon Sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (+ additional to taste)

Chop a head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, and then in a food processor, pulse into rice-sized bits. I have a 7-cup processor and it takes several batches to get the whole head of cauliflower processed. This is the messy part of the recipe.

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In a large wok or deep skillet, heat olive (or avocado) oil on med heat. You’re not going to fry the cauliflower, you’re going to cook it, so make sure your pan isn’t too hot or it will splatter and burn. (Believe me, I learned this the hard way!) Add the cauliflower to the oil, sprinkle in salt, and mix thoroughly with a spatula. Feel free to taste and adjust salt as desired. Continue stirring occasionally until the rice begins to soften a bit and stick together. It will not be as sticky as actual rice, but it will clump a bit when moved around the pan. You don’t want it too soft or mushy (like a paste) so be careful not to overcook.

Once cooked through, remove the pan from heat and set aside. For this recipe, the rice can be served either hot or cold, your choice.

GUACAMOLE:
2 ripe avocados
3 tablespoons chunky salsa
1 teaspoon diced garlic
1 teaspoon diced onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients until combined but not soupy. You’ll want to be able to tell what the ingredients were, before they were combined. So, kinda chunky. (Good foodie terms there, I know).

In a bowl, spoon cauliflower rice (hot or cold) and top generously with fresh guac. Throw on handful of fresh cucumber slices (the baby ones are my fav!) for a nice fresh crunch and call it good. Good lunch.
Enjoy!

 

 

 

zucchini noodles and shrimp with garlic-horseradish yogurt sauce

Nine days stuck indoors with sick kids makes you do some funny things. Not the least of which includes totally abandoning healthy eating resolutions/Whole 30, because when you are trying to survive it is not a good idea to give up pie.
Temporarily abandoning blogging is another one of those survival things.
And cooking real food. Pjb? Cereal? Pancakes? Fruit basket? All reasonable meals come day nine with four small sick children and no escape.
Anyway. I’m back.
Hi.
And I’m eating pie. Whatever.

But I’m also eating this: Zucchini noodles and shrimp with garlic-horseradish yogurt sauce.
Tasty? Check.
Good for you? Check.
Pretty? Check.
All the requirements met.

Enjoy and stay healthy out there!

ZUCCHINI NOODLES AND SHRIMP WITH GARLIC-HORSERADISH YOGURT SAUCE

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5 small green and/or yellow zucchini (Spirilized into noodles or cut in thin rounds)
1 lb peeled shrimp
3 tablespoons clarified butter
1 tablespoon diced garlic
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a sauté pan, melt clarified butter, and simmer garlic and horseradish. Add lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Continue simmering and toss pealed, tail-free shrimp into the pan. Cover and allow to simmer for a few more minutes. Then throw zucchini noodles (or rounds, halved) into the pan. Toss to coat with butter sauce and cover until the zucchini is more noodle-like than vegetable-like. —About 8 minutes.

Remove the zucchini and shrimp from the pan but retain as much of the cooking liquid as possible. I even go so far as to use a strainer/colander with a plate underneath, draining the zucchini and shrimp, and then adding the liquid from the plate back into the pan.

Turn the heat off the liquid and allow it to cool a bit. You’ll add the yogurt and mayo to this liquid and if it’s too hot it will separate.
Once cooled (20 minutes or so) add ½ cup homemade mayo and 1 cup honey yogurt. I like a creamy greek yogurt for this—so tasty! Whisk until the yogurt and mayo are well incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Spoon over plated zucchini noodles and shrimp. Serve hot.