maple dijon thyme roasted vegetables

 carrots and brussels sprouts
 vegetables on roasting tray
 roasted vegetables in bowl
 carrots and brussels sprouts on cutting board

A tiny hand escaped from mine as her feet searched gleefully for a bare spot. She couldn’t find it. Leaves of every color blanketed the uneven pavement making it nearly unrecognizable. She hopped about kicking some in hopes that it would reveal itself. It was enchanting in a way standing on the familiar but not discerning any of it. I watched her do this for some time until she grew bored with the activity and moved on.

Nature is beguiling. I feel bewitched by the display before me. So many leaves, not one like the other, swaying about in the occasional gust of wind. I take her hand as we continue on our walk.

Fall is a feast for the senses. It puts a spell on me every year and I long for it to last. Everything is beautiful, rich, draped in every shade of yellow, orange and red. A trace of green still cutting through reminds me of what was and what will be in another 5 months.

Saddened by the realization that soon all will be bare and bleak, I walk a little slower feeling melancholy. But the bouncy, blonde haired, blue eyed girl beside me, dragging a stick in the pile of leaves, screaming with delight, jolts me out of it.

I wanted to pay homage to this season of gold and make a dish reminiscent of the very colors draping our lawns and sidewalks. Because not only are the leaves exquisite during this time of year but so is the produce. Beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts wed with tangy apple, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and thyme to create an earthy autumn inspired dish.

Even though beets tend to be selfish, enveloping everything around them in their deep red color, the taste these vegetables take on when roasted together is everything I want out of a fall dish. You can put them on salad, as a side for your Thanksgiving dinner, or top them with a delicious runny egg and make a meal out of them.

It’s undeniable that fall is the most dramatic and beautiful season and during this time I find my food is often inspired by it.

 brussels sprouts and string
 roasted vegetables in bowl
 vegetables napkin brussels sprouts carrots

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maple dijon thyme roasted vegetables

  • prep time: 10

  • cooking time: 30

  • makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium carrots peeled and cut into 2 inch sticks

  • 1 large beet or 2 medium peeled and cut into 4 and sliced

  • 12 oz of Brussels sprouts cut in half

  • 1 large apple peeled and sliced

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup plus 1 tsp (skip for whole 30)

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

Equipment:

  • 2 roasting trays

  • parchment paper

  • large bowl

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line roasting trays with parchment paper.

In large bowl, add all vegetables and apple, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp maple syrup, salt, pepper and thyme and toss to combine.

Spread evenly on roasting trays and roast for 30 minutes, rotating the trays half way through and tossing the vegetables for even roasting.

Meanwhile, in same bowl whisk together leftover tbsp olive oil, Dijon mustard and and leftover tsp of maple syrup.

When vegetables have finished roasting, add them to bowl and toss to combine with the Dijon maple dressing and serve right away.

  • Note: You can skip the Dijon if you prefer without and if whole 30, skip the maple syrup.


 Experience all of fall’s produce in one delicious side dish. Roasted beets, apple, carrots and Brussels sprouts work perfectly with maple syrup and dijon mustard to create a delicious, festive Thanksgiving, holiday or every day side dish. It’s vegan, paleo with a whole 30 option as well. #vegan #calmeats #thanksgivingsides #fallsides #fallproduce #sidedishes #beets #carrots #brusselssprouts #paleosides #paleothanksgiving #whole30sides #whole30thankgiving

almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt

 almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt
 almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt
 almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt

It all begins with salt. You may be thinking that that’s a pretty strange intro for almond butter chocolate bars but the magical ingredient in this recipe happens to be salt.

Last week I started watching the Netflix series “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” and was immediately hooked. It was the salt episode that really had me in awe. It was mesmerizing seeing the work and love that goes into producing such an unpretentious mineral that ends up in our kitchen, which is often taken for granted. I realized I was smiling at the television from ear to ear because it just got me in the heart. Suddenly everything made sense.

Salt is everything. Consider all the delicious food we eat every day, the taste and intensity of flavor in our mouth. Salt has the capacity to turn every single dish we eat into something spectacular. We would’t be able to experience and appreciate food without the essence that is salt.

When I first tested this recipe, I made it simply with a pinch of salt in the chocolate and almond butter mixture but that’s it. It was good but not quite the taste I was looking for. I wanted something more. A certain intensity that was lacking.

Then I tried again and it dawned on me. What I needed to highlight the sweetness and simplicity of the almond butter and chocolate and bring out its sweetness in a subtle way, was salt. It’s a modest and yet transformative ingredient.

I’m sure most of you who spend time in the kitchen know just how important that pinch of salt is in almost any dessert as it brings out its sweetness. Well the same concept applies here. The melted chocolate chips used for these almond butter chocolate bars, take on an entirely new flavor profile when combined with almond butter and sprinkled with sea salt.

And this recipe is impossibly easy to make. You need 7 ingredients and there is no baking involved. Almond butter, coconut flour, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla create a nice thick base for the layer of luscious chocolate and almond butter that’s finished with a few generous pinches of salt.

It’s undeniable that sweet and salty compliment each other, bringing out the best in any sweet recipe. So check out this easy dessert, let your taste buds celebrate and let’s give a round of applause to salt!

 almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt
 almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt
 almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt

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almond butter chocolate bars with sea salt

  • prep time: 5 minutes

  • refrigeration time: 4 hours

  • makes: 16

Ingredients:

Equipment:

  • 8x8 metal cake tin

  • parchment paper

  • medium bowl

  • large bowl

Directions:

Line cake pan with parchment paper.

In large bowl combine 1 cup almond butter, coconut flour, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Stir until well incorporated.

Add mixture to parchment paper lined tin and even out with spatula and/or hand until you have an even layer.

Next you can create a water bath (see below) for your chocolate chips or simply take the lazy route like I do and pour the chocolate chips into medium bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir until all chips are melted. Add 1/4 cup almond butter and stir until combined.

Pour chocolaté mixture over almond butter base and even out. Sprinkle with as much salt as you’d like.

  • For water bath add one cup water to medium pan, bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer, add bowl with chocolate chips and stir continuously until completely melted.


 Here’s a delicious 7 ingredient no bake vegan and paleo almond butter chocolate bar recipe with sea salt. They much remind me of peanut butter cups but in healthier and more nutritious form. #dessert #vegan #paleo #vegetarian #chocolatebars #chocolatealmondbars #seasalt #chocolateseasalt #paleodessert #sweets #nobake #vegandesserr






curried butternut squash soup

 curried butternut squash soup
 butternut squash, onion, garlic, sweet potato and thyme
 garlic and thyme
 curried butternut squash soup

This past week has been a strange one of sorts. The beating heart of my entire cooking operation is undergoing some cosmetic changes. Frankly I’ve been putting this project off for years because I knew what it would entail. Chaos. And for someone with anxiety, chaos in the house means chaos in the head.

I prefer order or at least some form of it. Call me crazy but if my surroundings are in a state of disarray, so is the general state of my mind. I’ve never been good at the compartmentalization business and just find myself wanting to escape from crazy messes or ignore them all together (and watch 2 hours of Chvrches videos instead). And by no means am I a neat freak or even overly organized. Hardly! But I need some sort of order, I need things to be as Anthony Bourdain so famously liked to say, mis-en-place. And I agree, I just like my shit to be in its right place so I can easily access it.

So right now, everything is everywhere and life with two small children and a husband who’s been knee deep in paint most of the day, has been trying. But I’m adapting; managing to cook as best as I can in the shell that used to be the kitchen.

I’m sticking with dishes that can be made simply without a ton of pots, without a lot of space, without a lot of fuss. For me, that’s always been soup. Soup is not a fussy food and it’s almost impossible to screw it up.

And since it’s fall and already too cold for my liking, I decided a warming, curried butternut squash soup would do. The effort required for this one is pretty minimal. You cut some vegetables, throw them in the oven, roast them for a while, toss them in a pot of broth and when finished cooking, puree the whole thing. Voila!

So whether you have an upside down kitchen or a perfectly organized one, you’ll be able to successfully make this curried butternut squash soup in under an hour.

 curried butternut squash soup
 curried butternut squash soup

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curried butternut squash soup

  • Prep time: 5-10 minutes

  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes

  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and cut into large chunks 

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled - left whole

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into large chunks 

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil

  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 dry) 

  • 1/2 tsp salt (you can always add more later)

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1/4 tsp ginger

  • 1/8 tsp curry powder

  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (I like this one

  • optional: pumpkin seeds and almond slices

  • optional: coconut milk

Equipment:

  • roasting sheet

  • large soup pan

  • food processor or blender

  • foil or parchment paper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add vegetables to parchment paper lined roasting sheet. Add thyme, avocado oil, salt and pepper and toss everything together. Roast for 25-30 minutes stirring once half way through. Cook until all vegetables are soft.

Meanwhile, add broth to soup pan and start heating it. Once vegetables are finished roasting, remove garlic clove and discard, add all veggies to broth along with ginger and curry powder and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Let cool for a few minutes before adding to blender or food processor. Add a little at a time as adding to much of the soup to the food processor/blender creates quite the mess.

Serve on its own or with a splash of coconut milk, almond slices and pumpkin seeds.


 Here is a simple, warming butternut squash soup recipe that’s you’re going to love. Roasting the vegetables first, gives them a delicious, hearty flavor. This butternut squash soup is paleo, vegan and whole 30 approved too and just plain delicious! #soup, #fall, #calmeats, #butternutsquashsoup, #vegan, #whole30, #grainfree, #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #fallsoup, #whole30soup, #vegansoup, #paleosoup, #curriedsoup, #curriedbutternutsquash

paleo maple cardamom candied walnuts

 maple cardamom candied walnuts
 maple cardamom candied walnuts
 maple cardamom candied walnuts
 maple cardamom candied walnuts

I always liked swimming. When I was in 5th grade, I decided to try out for the team. I loved it but sucked at the competition part. Recreationally I could have done it for hours but me in a competition was a bad scene. I would literally choke and sink. Anxiety gripping even back then hindered me from ever successfully going through with competing long term, so I eventually stopped that affair. Though admittedly, I truly enjoyed practice and hanging out with friends.

But what I liked most was the ritual that took place after nearly every practice. There was a bit of time before our bus trip back to our tiny German village so my friends and I would hit up the, I guess what Americans would refer to as, penny candy store. It was thrilling. The anticipation, the lively debate over which gummy candy was best and which ones would be the choices du jour. Little gummy coke bottles, multicolored worms, sugar covered bears and spaghetti strings would make for a buzzy return trip home. I still wonder how the bus driver put up with us time after time.

But things have changed. These days I’m hardly the candy person I once was. And no it’s not just because I eat in a healthier way. Even prior to my paleo ways, one could put an entire bowl of gummy or other candy in front of me and they would be left untouched to eventually dry out and end up in the garbage. Candy just doesn’t do what it used to.

Nowadays what gets my brain doing a happy dance involves a combination of fat, sweet and salty, in the form of roasted sweet and salty nuts, particularly walnuts. I mean I have some self control but when it comes to candied walnuts, all hope is lost. So many nooks and crannies where the delicious sweet and salty goodness can sneak into, that even as I write this my dopamine levels are on the rise.

You may think I’m exaggerating but I’m not. I recipe tested these maple cardamom candied walnuts several times and tried really hard not to eat them all. I was marginally successful. What I love about them is just how simple they are to make and truthfully, compared to conventional candied nuts, are far less sweet and use only quality ingredients. You need maple syrup, coconut sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and obviously walnuts. The rest of the magic happens in the oven. I also recommend letting them cool completely before eating them (all).

 maple cardamom candied walnuts
 paleo maple cardamom candied walnuts

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paleo maple cardamom candied walnuts

  • prep time: 2 minutes

  • roasting time: 10-15

  • yields: 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnut halves

  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like them)

  • 1 tsp coconut sugar

  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp salt

Equipment:

  • roasting sheet

  • parchment paper

  • medium mixing bowl

  • spatula

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In mixing bowl combine all ingredients aside from walnuts and stir well. Add walnuts and stir until evenly coated.

Spread walnuts on parchment paper lined roasting sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes on top rack stirring once.

Let cool completely before eating.


 Satisfy your sweet tooth with these delicious, crunchy, sweet and salty paleo maple cardamom candied walnuts. They’re incredibly easy to make and only require 6 ingredients. #candiedwalnuts, #candiednuts, #vegansnacks, #paleosnacks, #healthysnacks, #vegan, #paleo, #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #calmeats, #roastednuts, #mapleroastednuts


bolognese sauce over zucchini noodles

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I like meat, I like sauce - so here is meat sauce. Sometimes it would be nice if blog posts that simple would fly. I know some people dearly wish they would but no such luck in this case. You have to endure either the reading or the scrolling past the rambling to get to the actual recipe. The truth is I like the writing part because through it I hope to share a bit of my life/neurosis with you (mostly the latter).

But back to bolognese sauce. This bolognese sauce is good - no, it’s great! It’s a foolproof recipe that was born in my cast iron skillet several years back. If you’ve been following me for a bit, you know well that I have a bit of an infatuation with my cast iron skillet. I’m sure this sauce would turn out perfectly fine in any other pan but for me it’s cast iron all the way. There’s something inexplicable about it; the way it infuses each ingredient it touches with an almost ethereal quality. Here I go again, professing my love for my cast iron skillet. But seriously if you haven’t gotten your hands on one, it’s a worthy investment. One you’ll forever treasure.

But as usual I’ve digressed. This time, really back to this bolognese sauce. Any recipe that starts with bacon has to be good, am I right? And if there’s wine involved, I’m pretty much going to burst into song and dance. In my opinion these two ingredients make any dish spectacular. It doesn’t have to be a fancy, expensive wine either, just one you would want to actually drink. I learned that early on from the experts. Good wine makes good food.

This speedy bolognese is a hearty recipe you can make on any weeknight. Traditional bolognese is cooked slowly for hours but I’ve decided to make a speedier version that’s heavenly every single time. And if you have a food processor in your possession, you’re in luck. Sure you can cut the vegetables by hand and enjoy the process while doing so, but on a busy weeknight a few pulses of the food processor are a welcoming aid.

You have a few options for what to serve this sauce with. If you’re not paleo or whole 30, you could go with rice pasta or regular but I like sticking with zucchini noodles as they work exceptionally well with it. So grab a glass of wine for the bolognese, one for yourself and get cooking!

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bolognese sauce (10 of 21)-2.jpg
bolognese sauce (14 of 21)-2.jpg

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bolognese sauce over zucchini noodles

  • Prep time: 10 mins

  • Cook time: 45 mins

  • Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 large carrots peeled and roughly chopped

  • 2 celery stalks roughly chopped

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters

  • 1/2 pint mushrooms baby portabella or white mushrooms, finely chopped

  • 1 large clove minced garlic

  • 3 slices bacon diced

  • 1 lb grass fed beef (I like 85%)

  • 1/2 cup red wine (use broth for whole 30)

  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 tbsp oregano

  • 1/2 tsp salt divided

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped italian parsley

  • 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar or maple syrup (skip for whole 30)

  • 2-3 zucchini (zoodles for serving or spaghetti if not gluten free)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1/2 cup bone or chicken broth (optional)

Equipment:

Directions:

In a food processor, add carrots, onion and celery and pulse a few times. You still want to be able to recognize the vegetables. Small but not granular is ideal. (Alternatively chop all vegetables small by hand).

Preheat cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. About 3-5 minutes. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel lined plate and set aside. In the same pan, add onion, carrot, celery and 1/4 tsp salt cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add beef, stirring contentiously and breaking it up into smaller pieces. Cook until browned (about 8 minutes).

When meat is fully cooked, add wine and turn heat up to scrape any bits off the skillet. Cook until most of the wine is evaporated. Add tomato sauce and paste, oregano, mushrooms, salt, pepper and coconut sugar. Add bacon, basil, parsley and lower the heat to low. Let cook for 25 minutes stirring occasionally. If you want to thin out the sauce, feel free to use some or all of the broth. But this is optional. I like my sauce thick.

Heat frying pan, 1 tbsp of oil olive oil and add zucchini noodles. Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat, stirring continuously. The noodles should still have a bite to them just slightly softened.

To assemble, place zoodles on plate, top with the bolognese sauce and add additional basil if you so desire. This will pair exceptionally well with a Nebiolo or Pinot Noir.

 Want the ultimate comfort food? Bolognese sauce does it for me and I think you'll agree! With a few shortcuts this sauce can be ready in 45 minutes. It's loaded with vegetables, when served over zucchini noodles, it's low carb, paleo and whole 30. Check it out! #bolognesesauce, #bolognese, #paleo, #whole30, #meatsauce, #realfood, #calmeats, #lowcarb, #keto, #dairyfree, #glutenfree, #zucchininoodles, #zoodles