Salad Anatomy 101.

20160831_195731 I know it’s sort of late in the season to be writing about salads, but we’ve been eating a ton of them lately in an effort to be budget friendly. So I thought I’d share some tips for making a salad worth being a main course.

Mix greens.
I buy a head each of organic red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and romaine. I take them home, rinse them off, chop them up, and mix them well in a large bowl. This usually lasts me for a week and a half or more, depending on hubby’s work schedule. But, how do you keep your lettuce from browning? you ask. Storing chopped lettuce in a mason jar with a standard canning lid set (not a plastic lid) and a paper towel on the bottom really works. The lettuce will stay fresh for as long as 2 weeks.

I don’t recommend adding spinach greens to your salad raw because of their high oxalate content which prevents absorption of calcium. Beet greens are a bit problematic as well. If you have a yard that you don’t treat with chemicals, you can grab some dandelion greens for your salad. I wouldn’t recommend buying them: they cost almost $3 for a small bunch where I am, and that seems like a ridiculous price to pay for something that grows everywhere. Just be sure to pick leaves from plants that haven’t bolted yet (started growing a flower) so you’re greens aren’t overly bitter.

20160903_124044Multiple sources of protein.
I try to have meat of some form on my salads if I’m making one for dinner. I’ll put less meat or no meat at all on lunchtime salads because I usually want a lighter meal for lunch.
Other than meat I like to add different kinds of sprouted beans. You can use whatever kind of beans you like; they don’t necessarily need to be sprouted. I sprout mine for better nutrient absorption, and I like the way they taste, but it’s totally optional. A bonus with using cooked and cooled beans is that you get some resistant starch with your salad, which helps your digestion.
Soaked and dried nuts are also a great addition to salads because they add a delightful crunch.

Something raw other than the greens.
Think sliced tomatoes, shredded carrots, avocados, etc. If you’re struggling with thyroid issues, avoid eating raw cruciferous veggies.

Fermented veggies or pickled veggies.
I like to top my salads with some purple cabbage cortido, because it’s delicious (even though I hate sauerkraut) and crunchy. It also adds a delightful tang to your salad. If I don’t have any on hand I like to chop up some pickles, pickled okra is good as well, or artichoke hearts. Olives are also delicious.

Sprouted seeds.
I love putting sprouted and dried sunflower seeds on top of my salad. This is something I picked up from my awesome mother-in-law. She makes incredible salads.

Dressing.
I find that sometimes I don’t even need dressing if I’ve put enough stuff on the salad, but my go-to dressing recipe is below (this is a good dressing if you’re fighting a candida overgrowth):

Lemon Salad Dressing

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake well. Serve.

Really, the possibilities are endless. These are just some suggestions based on things that I have found to take a salad from good to great.

What do you usually put on your salads?

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Paleo Carrot Cake.

084The first thing you need for this recipe is homemade almond milk. Specifically the almond meal left from making the milk. To make the almond milk, soak 2 cups of almonds overnight. Strain and rinse the almonds then put them into a blender, one cup at a time with 2 cups of warm water. Blend for at least 1 minute. Strain through a muslin cloth. Dry the pulp for 12 hours in a warm oven. Once dry, run the pulp through a food processor until it is the consistency of flour. This should give you enough to make the cake.

When you use the leftover almond meal form making almond milk you get the bonus of having soaked almond flour. This will give you a better flavor and more nutrients.

This cake is worth the extra effort, but you could also use regular almond meal or flour.

There are no eggs in this, so if you switch the sweetener it would be vegan.

Paleo Carrot Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup shredded coconut
3 flax eggs
1/4 cup coconut butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Oil an 8×8 cake pan.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the flax eggs and allow to sit.
  3. Combine dry ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flax eggs and combine well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in the carrots.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan.

You can top this with a slice of Kerrygold butter and some honey for an extra amazing treat!

No-Bake Vegan Mini “Cheesecake”

IMG_0726I’m generally not a fan of vegan things because, in my opinion, the vegan diet is unsustainable health wise. I think it’s an awesome reset diet, but not something that should be practiced long-term, and certainly not something you should be doing while pregnant. But that’s just my opinion. The reason I made these this Christmas is there are people in my family who have a hard time with dairy and eggs. I wanted to make a cheesecake, but I wanted everyone to be able to eat it. I had made a cashew-based “cheesecake” before with decent results, so I found a different recipe and modified it a bit.

These desserts are pretty amazing, because even vegan food can be amazing if you know what you’re doing. To top that off, they’re also really easy to make. All you need is a food processor and a little time.

Vegan Mini Cheesecake

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Crust:
1 cup pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
1 cup soaked and dried almonds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
Filling:
1 1/2 cups “raw” cashew pieces
Juice of 1 medium-sized lemon
Generous 1/2 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Ganache:
Equal parts coconut cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

  1. Soak almonds in salt water overnight. Drain and dry in a 170 °F oven until crispy (about 8 hours).
  2. Pour boiling water over the cashew pieces and let soak for 1 hour.
  3. Process almonds and cinnamon in food processor until you have a very coarse meal and add the drained dates. Process until a loose dough forms. Add dates or almonds as needed to adjust the consistency. As a general rule, start with more almonds/less dates and add dates if the dough is too dry.
  4. Grease a muffin pan (and a half, there will be extra batter) or line with paper liners. The paper liners are easier to remove, but greasing works reasonably well, just make sure your muffin pans fit in your freezer.
  5. Pack about 1/2 tablespoon of the crust into the bottom of the muffin cups. A spoon works really well for this.
  6. Rinse the food processor bowl and add the drained cashew pieces. Process until they start to form a dough.
  7. Add the lemon juice and process until smooth. Repeat with each ingredient, one at a time. This helps the texture of the final product. If you add everything at once you have a greater chance that the cheesecakes will be mealy rather than smooth.
  8. Pour into muffin cups, leaving some room on top.
  9. In a small saucepan add the coconut cream and heat until barely hot. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Using a small spoon (I used a sugar spoon, or a baby food spoon works as well) portion the ganache onto the cakes. Swirl with a toothpick.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 4 hours in the freezer (8 in the fridge, overnight is even better). If you just greased your muffin tins (no paper liners) you need to freeze these for removal. To remove the frozen cakes, just slide a butter knife in the edge and pop them out. If some of the crust stays behind, scrape it out and re-squish it to the bottom of the cake.
  11. Enjoy!

I used what was left of my coconut cream from the can I bought for the ganache: the solid contents of the can were slightly more than what I needed for the filling. I just weighed it on my kitchen scale. If I remember correctly I had about 1.6 ounces of cream. That was the perfect amount for all of the cakes and a little extra for me to enjoy after I was finished making them.

For this recipe, do not mix the coconut cream with the water in the can. Only use the solid part. If you shake your can and it sounds like the entire thing is liquid, pop it in the fridge while the almonds are soaking/drying (at least overnight) and it will separate nicely.

IMG_0722

This recipe is adapted from here.

Almond Butter.

IMG_0677I will never buy almond butter from the store again, or any kind of nut butter for that matter. Nut butters are so easy to make in a food processor and making your own saves you a fairly significant amount of money. Especially if you buy your nuts on sale in bulk.

I picked up almonds while at Natural Grocers and I noticed that they have raw Spanish almonds. They were nearly $14 a pound so I didn’t buy them, but it’s nice to know that I can buy raw almonds that are actually raw.

Almond Butter

4 cups raw almonds
Non-iodized sea salt
Water to soak
.5-1 ounce cocoa butter, melted (roughly 1-2 Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
pinch of salt

  1. Place the almonds in a bowl and shake a moderate amount of non-iodized salt on top. Cover the almonds with water, making sure there is at least an inch of extra water on top. Let sit for 12 hours.
  2. Drain the almonds, place on a jellyroll pan (or other dish with sides) and dry in the oven on the lowest temperature setting for 12-24 hours, until they are no longer soggy when you bite them. You’ll be able to tell.
  3. Put the dry almonds in a food processor with an S blade and turn it on. Process for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Depending on the consistency of the resulting almond butter add in the .5-1 ounce of cocoa butter and coconut oil while the food processor is running.
  5. Enjoy.