Simple Citrus Kale Salad

“If you hate kale, you’ve been doing it all wrong.” That’s what people used to tell me. And I just thought they were mean people. Then my sister in law showed me how to massage it, and I started to explore the wonderful world of kale. The other trick with kale is that you need an acidic dressing. But, whatever you do, don’t taste the dressing before putting it on the salad.

Simple Citrus Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 10 mins
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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch green kale, stemmed removed and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (don’t use the curly kind)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Sprouts sell them in the produce section)
  • 1 navel orange, cut into bite-size pieces

Directions:

Grab a large bowl, knife, cutting board, and your salad spinner. Remove the stems from the kale, roll each leaf, and chop. Massage the kale with the salt until it lets out liquid, about one minute. Rinse and dry in the salad spinner. Taste the kale to make sure that you rinsed off enough of the salt. If it’s still really salty, rinse and spin a second time. Rinse the bowl and place kale back in it. Add the avocado oil, lemon juice, pepper, and parsley. Add the orange wedges and pomegranate arils right before serving. If you’d like to store this salad, make up until the point of adding parsley, and add orange wedges and pomegranate arils on the day that you’re eating it. This will store nicely for 1-2 days in the fridge.


Enjoy!

Kale Salad with Apples and Blackberries

Meet my new favorite salad. I only recently ventured into the land of kale salad. Until then, I’ve seen it stacked up on salad bars, looking dry and unappetizing. And while I wasn’t afraid of kale, I just never really went out of my way to order it or make it myself. I’d heard of “massaging your kale,” but it sounded like something that I should do after my yoga class before meditating (I don’t do either).

In short, I didn’t realize how easy it was until my sister-in-law Krista showed me a few weeks ago. I had to tweak the recipe she showed me, of course.  Oh, one thing to note: don’t mess with the dressing. The end product is a fine balance of sweet and tart, and that makes the final salad just perfect.

Kale Salad with Apples and Blackberries

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20 mins
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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch green kale, stemmed removed and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (don’t use the curly kind)
  • 1 Gala or Fuji apple, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (Trader Joe’s sells them in a small package in the produce section)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped into bited-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pint blackberries

Directions:

Grab a large bowl, knife, cutting board, and your salad spinner. Remove the stems from the kale, roll each leaf, and chop. Massage the kale with salt until it lets out liquid, about one minute. Rinse and dry in the salad spinner. Rinse the bowl and place kale back in it. (You can also watch the attached video to see how to chop and massage the kale.)  Continue to assemble the salad by adding carrot, parsley, apple, pomegranate, and onion. Add the olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Stir and taste, then adjust seasonings to your liking. This salad will store nicely for 1-2 days in the fridge. Add blackberries right before serving.

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https://youtu.be/kcZFZPofWTo

Enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I think I’m on an official lettuce wrap kick. I decided to develop this recipe to enjoy PF Changs-type lettuce wraps. Did I mention that between gluten free and no egg, that’s about the only dish at PF Changs that I can eat? Almost everything on the menu, even the GF menu, is marinated in something that contains egg.  Sigh… I like these almost as much as the PF Changs variety, and probably more so if I skipped the crispy rice noodles at the restaurant. 🙂

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 20mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup gluten free Teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Garlic Galore, or use 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed oil or grapeseed oil (for the pan)
  • 1.5 lb ground chicken breast
  • 4 oz white mushroom, diced (1/2 package)
  • 1/2 can water chestnuts, diced
  • 1 butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated.
  • Optional additional toppings include: chopped bell peppers, green onions, additional teriyaki sauce for dipping.

Mix the Teriyaki sauce through salt in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat a large frying pan on medium. Cook the ground chicken with the grapeseed oil until no longer pink. While the chicken is browning, prep any optional toppings that you plan to serve with the lettuce wraps. Once the chicken is no longer pink, stir in the mushrooms and water chestnuts and allow to heat through. Stir in the sauce from the small bowl and heat through. I served this with additional teriyaki sauce and sliced green onions on top.

Roasted Chicken Breast “Deli” Meat

Have you ever read the ingredients on deli meat? Thought about the price per pound? Why not make this for dinner one night and then slice it up for lunch for the rest of the week? You could even slice it up and put it alongside other healthy snacks on the anytime shelf (see link). I don’t normally like buying really large chicken breasts, but this is one recipe where I make an exception to that rule. In fact, for this recipe, the larger the better.  Just make sure not to overcook them. When the thermometer reads 165F, you are done. You don’t want this being rubbery and overcooked.

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 mins
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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (2 large chicken breasts)
  • 2 teaspoons Wildtree Lemon Rosemary seasoning (or seasoning of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil or regular grapeseed oil

Directions:

In a large ziploc bag, combine the oil, seasonings, and chicken. Allow to marinate for several hours or up to a day in the refrigerator. You can also freeze this. It’s one of my son’s favorite freezer meals. You can also double this recipe, make some for dinner, and then slice the leftovers for lunch meat for the rest of the week.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grab a sheet pan and some aluminum foil. Line the sheet pan with foil. Place the chicken breasts on the foil-line pan and roast, turning once every 6-8 minutes, until the meat registers 165F. It will take about 20-22 minutes total, depending on your oven. When the meat registers 165F, immediately turn off the oven and allow the chicken to sit for about an hour. Slice thinly and store in a tightly sealed glass container. Use for sandwiches, salads. I especially like this between butter lettuce sandwiches leaves.

Store in the refrigerator for up to several days. It will likely not last that long. You can also freeze this after it’s cooked, but only do that if you didn’t freeze it before cooking.

Feel free to experiment with other seasonings like Cajun Blend, Java Rub, Chipotle Lime, or whatever else you’d like.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Rice

This is a simple dish that can be easy to do well but tricky to do really well. You don’t want cauliflower rice to be soggy, nor do you want it to be sticky. I solve both these problems by processing it while uncooked in my food processor and then baking it (but covered) in the oven. You can tweak this with multiple spices to take it in multiple directions. This recipe is for plain rice. Make sure that you start with a fresh cauliflower. I use frozen cauliflower for my mashed cauliflower, but fresh is really key in this recipe.

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Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 mins
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Ingredients:

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil (or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375F and grab a covered baking dish, cutting board, food processor, and a chef’s knife.

Chop the cauliflower into florets and divide into two batches. Pulse the first batch in your large food processor until the cauliflower reaches the consistency of rice. Repeat with the second batch of cauliflower.

Combine the cauliflower, grapeseed oil, salt, and water in the baking dish and cover.

Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, stir, then cook for another 10 minutes. Taste to see if you like this consistency, and cook longer if you want it more tender.

Serve with your favorite dish just as you would with rice. I’ll follow up next week with a Spanish rice version to serve with Mexican.  Mmmmm….

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Enjoy!

Dairy-free Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

It’s been a week since we got back from Spring Break and somehow I feel like we are still recovering. I finally sat down and did some menu planning this morning and perhaps that’s what I needed to finally feel like we are back on track.

There are few recipes that I develop and immediately plan to make again. There are also very few recipes that I start immediately dreaming about all the things that I’m going to serve it with. This morning I created one of those rare recipes that will become a family favorite and staple. So glad that this will go live tomorrow. Can’t wait to make this into a topping for shepherd’s pie. Also dreaming about braised short ribs with this.

Face it. There are many things that make a great recipe, but they all come down to either ingredients or technique. Ingredients are easy: keep them simple, use good stuff, and don’t buy anything with a giant list of ingredients or things you can’t pronounce. Technique is different. It comes down to knowing about cooking times, which cooking method to use, and when to use which kitchen gadget. It can also mean knowing how to add flavor, what ingredients can impact or achieve a specific texture, and how things will react when they freeze. The technique part of tweaking recipes is sometimes a challenge.  It’s also the part of recipe creation that I enjoy the most. It involves research recipes, reading reviews, thinking about other ways to achieve the same thing using different ingredients. I credit Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen for helping me to learn to think about cooking this way. It probably didn’t hurt that both of my parents are chemists…

Enter the mashed cauliflower challenge. Most dairy-free recipes for mashed cauliflower risk being grainy, watery, or both. And neither of those two adjectives sounds like a good mashed cauliflower recipe to me. So that was the challenge. Most recipes solve these problems by calling on a combination of ingredients (think cream cheese, butter, heavy cream) or technique (such as using a food processor instead of a manual potato masher). While these are all great, I wanted to maximize flavor while keeping the list of ingredients as short as possible. I also wanted to make this dairy free since that is the main challenge. It’s not that hard to make creamy something if you add cream cheese, for example. Where’s the challenge in that?

I use chicken broth to cook the cauliflower, then discard it because I don’t want the extra moisture. If you want to use vegetable broth, go right ahead. The garlic cooks in the liquid, again adding flavor. Many of the little garlic bits will stick to the cauliflower, so don’t despair. I then boost the flavor with salt, pepper, and even more garlic. I wanted to make sure that the texture wouldn’t get soupy or grainy over time, which is why I decided to add just a few tablespoons of potato flakes at the end. I did taste it before and after that addition, and it really makes a world of difference. The dried potato flakes also soak up some more liquid, so they contribute to both texture and flavor.

I portioned this out into two containers, one for tonight to serve with rotisserie chicken, and the other to make a topping for a shepherd’s pie that I’m making in a few days. I lined a disposable baking tray (Dollar Tree is great for these) with plastic wrap, then spooned in the mashed cauliflower, then wrapped it tight to prevent freezer burn. I placed the whole thing in the freezer. In doing so, I am also testing this for potential mass batches to freeze…

Dairy-free Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 mins
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Ingredients:

  • Two 1-lb bags frozen cauliflower. I use the 365 organic bags from Whole Foods.
  • 2 cups organic chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons really good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Wildtree garlic galore seasoning, or use garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant potato flakes. I like the instant mashed potatoes from Whole Foods.

Directions:

Grab a large pot, colander, large mixing bowl, and your big food processor. Put the cauliflower, chicken broth, and chopped garlic into the large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through. I use a paring knife to test whether it’s cooked. The knife should easily slide into the cauliflower. Once cooked, put the colander in the mixing bowl and dump the cauliflower in to drain.  Leave for 15 minutes to make sure that as much liquid as possible leaves the mixture.

Add the cauliflower to the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the olive oil and the other seasonings, and turn on the food processor.  Stop it every 10 seconds or so, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue until the mixture is creamy. Add the potato flakes and mix using the food processor until just combined.

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Note: this is Ideal Protein Phase 1 friendly and Paleo if you skip the potato flakes.

Enjoy!

 

Mac and Cheese Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Zucchini, and Red Peppers

Oh yes I did. So eating low carb and wheat free, I often watch my son eat Mac and Cheese and wonder how I can recreate at least some of that flavor in a food that I can eat.

So, here goes…  These veggies end up with just the right hint of cheesiness.

Mac and Cheese Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Zucchini, and Red Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1.5 hrs
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Ingredients:

  • Brussels sprouts (about 10), chopped in half
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1 half a large zucchini, chopped into 1″ lengths and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed oil (or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Rancher Rub
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Garlic Galore
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Kids Cheez blend (more if you want it cheesier)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F and grab a sheet pan and a gallon ziploc bag.

Chop the vegetables and place them all in the bag. Add the grapeseed oil and seasonings and mix to combine. Dump the vegetables out onto the sheet pan and put it in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes, stir, spritz with water or add 1 tablespoon water to create steam, and cook then cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite protein.

Enjoy!

  

 

Low-Carb Grain-Free Gluten-Free Nachos

Sometimes when you lead a low-carb gluten-free lifestyle you just crave something that sounds completely indulgent and unhealthy. I got this idea when we ate at a Mexican restaurant in Colorado Springs that offered a Paleo menu. They served the guacamole with red bell pepper strips.  It got me thinking…  So here it is! Why not make nachos without the chips?

Low-Carb Grain-Free Gluten-Free Nachos

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20 mins
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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 bell peppers or one 1lb package of mini peppers
  • 1 cup chopped or shredded rotisserie chicken (you can also seasoned taco meat)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp Wildtree fajita seasoning or similar type of seasoning
  • 1 tsp Wildtree garlic galore OR 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • Additional toppings such as tomatoes, black olives, cilantro, and salsa. Optional squeeze of lime and guacamole.

Directions:

Note: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grab a sheet pan, and line it with either parchment paper or aluminum foil. Cut the peppers into thick strips so that they will be able to hold the nacho ingredients and act like a large chip. If using mini peppers, cut them in half and remove the stem and seeds. You may need to press them flat. In a medium bowl mix the chicken, grapeseed oil, fajita seasoning, garlic, cider vinegar and salt. Spoon the chicken mixture onto the pepper slides and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the cheese is melted. Top with tomatoes, olives, and/or cilantro and serve with a side of salsa and/or guacamole. If you feel like it, squeeze with lime before serving.

This is a perfect use for salsa made with fresh tomatoes since the flavors will absolutely shine…  (Picture of nachos coming soon.)

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Enjoy!

Salt and Pepper Zucchini Chips

I was really amazed with how much these shrank in the oven. Start with a gigantic zucchini if you can. This will be a great way to use up the tons of zucchini we plan to grow this summer.

Salt and Pepper Zucchini Chips

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: A few hours (mostly hands off)
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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (about 4 cups) thin sliced Zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper (OR use Hot Chili Pepper and Garlic Blend from Wildtree instead)
  • ½ tsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Note: Preheat oven to 230 degrees F. I cut my zucchini on a mandoline slicer using the thinnest setting. In a medium bowl whisk salt, pepper, grapeseed oil (if used), and vinegar. Add sliced zucchini. Toss with the “dressing” to coat. Arrange slices on sheet trays. Bake for about 1 hour and then turn the oven off.  Allow them to completely dry out.  I used four giant zucchini and they shrank considerably.  See below for a before/after picture.  Make these the day before and store in a bowl covered in foil.

If you want to kick this up a notch, consider substituting Hot Chili Pepper and Garlic Blend from Wildtree instead of the salt and pepper.

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Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Mini Caprese Salad Bites

I love taking a vegetable dish when I’m asked to take an appetizer to a party. I find that most of the dishes end up being heavy or cracker friendly, and I like to keep the carbs low while eating real food.  I’m also a fan of just taking cut-up veggies, and I’ll share a great idea for that in a few days. For now, this is basically a portable caprese salad. These are probably best served with a fork so that you can cut them in half.

Mini Caprese Salad Bites

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 30min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 package Campari tomatoes (larger than cherry tomatoes, smaller than regular tomatoes). Look for these at Trader Joe’s and/or Costco.
  • 8-10 sticks of mozzarella string cheese or 1 container pearl sized buffalo mozzarella.
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Wildtree Tuscan Dipping Oil, or use a combination of grapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar.

Directions:

Rinse and pat dry the tomatoes. Remove all stems. Cut off the top of the tomato. Use a sharp paring knife cut a thin slice off the bottom so that they don’t roll around. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or the paring knife. Discard the seedy centers. Place the tomato cut side down on a paper towel to drain liquid.

Depending on the size of your tomatoes cut the mozzarella sticks into bite size pieces that will fit nicely in to the tomato (or use the pearl-sized mozzarella balls). Rinse and gently pat dry the basil. Hand tear generous pieces to go in the middle of each tomato.

To assemble, line your scooped out tomatoes on a cutting board or cookie sheet. Line each tomato with a piece of basil, gently pushing it to the bottom of the tomato. Top off with a piece of mozzarella. Season to taste with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. Drizzle with Wildree Tuscan Dipping Oil. Best served when cheese is at room temperature.

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Enjoy!