cucumbers and hummus

I need a shirt that says, “Sorry for what I ate when I was tired.”
Man, I make the worst food choices when I’m exhausted. Anyone else?

On that note, it seemed time for a post on snacks. A series of them actually. Healthy snacks. Because frankly, I’m tired all the time and I could use some snacking help. So let’s get started with this one. One of my top favs.

CUCUMBERS AND HUMMUS

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Seedless, or French cucumbers as they are also called, aren’t seedless actually, but their seeds are softer and smaller than traditional cucumbers. This makes them more palatable to kids too, so tuck that away for snacking hour!
Hummus is one of the easiest sauces/dips/garnishes I know how to make. And also the most versatile. You can throw just about any herb or spice in the mix to change up the flavor, but I think I like it best with the traditional shot of lemon juice and garlic.

Here’s what you’ll need to whirl up a batch of traditional hummus

1 15 oz can of Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas in water, drained.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh garlic
1 teaspoon tahini (sesame paste) —this last one is optional and I find that the flavor doesn’t change a great deal if it is omitted. It’s not a typical pantry staple, so no worries if you don’t have it on hand.

Toss all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, whirl on high until smooth. scrape down sides and whirl again.
Serve with cut up veggies of any kind or pretzels, pita bread, or other firm cracker.

Enjoy!

spicy coconut chicken soup

In the Midwest, we are really good at winter. We’ve got that department mastered like it’s our JOB. I’d much rather be known for summer, but that’s what places like Florida and California and Georgia are good at. Someone’s got to do winter. *sigh*
Also, in the midwest, we are good at thick creamy soups. Because we are trying to stay warm. Anything with cream, or milk, or butter, or cream-of-anything additions to rice and chicken and broccoli and potatoes . . . Yah. You get the idea. Hey, it was -15 for the past week where I live (-25 and lower with wind chills). I’ve got cold on the brain. And also thick creamy soup.

But what happens when you crave that sort of thing but you’re all, “Oh shoot. Whole 30. No dairy . . .”?

Well, then you turn to the glorious creamy sweetness that is coconut milk. No lie, this stuff really is amazing. Chilled in the fridge overnight it separates and all the heavy vegetarian fat rises to the top and thickens. You can scoop it out with a spoon and drop it in your coffee. Or if you whip it (like with a hand-mixer) the consistency changes to something reminiscent of whipped cream. Great for topping pumpkin pie, brownies, or yaknow, coffee. And in this case, it provides an exotic note to an otherwise ordinary soup. Paired with the heat of some Sriracha sauce it’s the perfect blend of east and west—Midwest, in this case. Midwest on Whole30. In winter. Burrrrrr.
Enjoy!

SPICY COCONUT CHICKEN SOUP

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1 quart chicken stock
1 tablespoon clarified butter
¼ cup diced onion
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup Celery, diced
2 cups yellow summer squash, cut in rounds
2 cups of arugula
bean thread noodles
1  13.5 oz can of coconut milk
Sriracha sauce

In a stockpot, over medium high heat, melt clarified butter and cook onions and celery until caramelized. Add chicken stock and heat until boiling. Carrots, diced, can be added next. Turn down the heat and scoop the coconut milk/cream into the broth and whisk until well incorporated. The broth will have a sweet-savory flavor at this point. How much sriracha you add is totally dependent upon preference. I like enough heat to warm my soul. —Not burning, but I want my mouth to remember what it feels like to be warm during a mid January freeze in northern Minnesota.

The noodles can be dropped into the soup and the heat raised again to boiling. Cook them through—they’ll be translucent and soft, but shouldn’t be chewy. Bean thread noodles are my new fav. Their texture is unique and a nice alternatives to egg noddles or a standard pasta.

Lastly, add the squash and arugula as these two soften quickly.

Serve in hot steaming bowls on a cold day.

coconut-cream sweet potatoes and sausage with spinach pesto

I gave this dish a skeptical eye the first time I made it. It was one of those, “Well, the flavors all work together, technically” situations.  Sweet potatoes, salty meat, cool and refreshing pesto. Match made in . . . I don’t know . . . Candyland?
But you guys. You. Guys.
This tastes so much more amazing than I ever planed.
For real. I need to figure out a better presentation, perhaps. Something molded or towering. Because the pile-on-a-plate just doesn’t do this thing justice.

“What are you calling this?” my husband asked, mowing down his second helping.
“Don’t know,” I said. He nodded.
“Maybe go with something more descriptive than that?”
“Suggestions?”
“Candy.” He said. And he heaped another plate.
And there you go.
Enjoy!

COCONUT-CREAM SWEET POTATOES AND SAUSAGE WITH SPINICH PESTO

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*Note: This is another one of those two-for-one recipes. I’ve linked the pesto recipe here.

2 large sweet potatoes
¼ coconut cream
a dash of salt
1 lb mild Italian sausage
4 tablespoons lemon-balsamic spinach pesto

Scrub 2 sweet potatoes and pierce skin with a sharp knife, allowing them to breathe while baking (so much better than exploding inside your oven). Place potatoes directly on the rack of a 400-degree preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Make sure the burner is lined with foil as the potatoes will drip while baking.

In a flat bottom pan, cook 1 pound of mild Italian sausage until browned and crumbly. Drain and set aside.

Mix up a batch of lemon-balsamic spinach pesto.

When the potatoes are finished baking, allow them to cool, and then slice lengthwise and scoop out the baked interiors into a mixing bowl. Dispose of the peels. Add coconut cream and a dash of salt to the potatoes, and then with a hand mixer, blend until will incorporated and smooth.

Plate up in layers—potatoes on the bottom with Italian sausage spooned generously over top, and finished with the pesto.

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bone broth & veggie soup with bean thread noodles

It’s no secret I have a thing for soup. We’re friends. It could be because winter around here hangs out for like 9 out of 12 months. So. Much. Fun. Ahem. It’s great for soup though.

Bone broth is a relatively new discovery for me. By name, anyway. I’ve been guilty of over-cooking a soup stock until, when cooled, it turned gelatinous. Gross. Or so I thought. Little did I know it was liquid gold, and one of the best things I could possibly consume for gut health. I’m not going to go into detail here about the creation of, variations on, or nutritional benefits of bone broth. I’ll let Lauren Matheson guest posting at Kitchen Stewardship do that for me because she does such a marvelous job. You can read up on it here

The gist: Bone broth is made from simmering meat bones (chicken/fish/beef/pork) for an extended period of time (8+ hours), until all of the nutrients condensed in the bone marrow, joints and meat are leached out into the broth. Including the gelatin from the bone joins. It all sounds gristly, I know, but it is far less macabre than you might think. I’m not one for being in love with the process, but I sure love the product, and isn’t that they way with most things? And what remains in your soup pot once the simmering process is finished, is the most beautiful broth you’ve ever tasted.

The soup in this recipe is made from a base of pork bone broth, but you could use fish/beef/or chicken as well.

BONE BROTH AND VEGETABLE SOUP WITH BEAN THREAD NOODLES

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1 quart homemade bone broth (Pork/chicken/beef/fish)
Whatever meat remains on bones (removed from bones of course)  once the broth has cooked. Approximately 1 cup or so.
1 cup carrots
2 small zucchini
1 package mushrooms (portabella or chanterelle)
2 large handfuls of baby kale greens
1 package of bean thread noodles
1 teaspoon salt

Take one quart of bone broth and heat to boiling. Add the meat remaining from the bones you simmered and add them to the heated broth. Sprinkle salt into the broth and taste—adjust salt to your liking.

Once the broth is boiling add carrots and cook in the broth until they are fork-tender. Then, add zucchini—sliced into rounds and then half-rounds—and cook for one minute. Add the bean thread noodles followed by the remaining veggies and simmer gently until the noodles are cooked through and tender, but not mushy.

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