smoked spicy tuna sushi bowl

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Sushi in my book is edible art. While I think all cooking is an art form in itself, there's something remarkable about sushi. The way it is prepared, served and meant to be enjoyed slowly is ceremonious. It's the kind of food that instantly puts me in a good mood. While the term sushi is ambiguous and somewhat loosely used, for me it encompasses a certain flavor and taste and I take liberties with it.

When the lovely owner of St. Jude Tuna reached out to me about working together again, I was delighted. I don’t believe in product pushing and I’m not interested in just throwing anything at my readers and hoping it sticks. But truthfully when I believe in something, I get pretty excited about it and want to shout it from the roof top or my blog page in this case. 

This time the request was for me to create something with their smoked tuna. Wait a minute, what? I’ve had smoked salmon before but honestly never got my hands on canned smoked tuna so this was a new venture. I could sit here and tell you that just simply eating it out of the can would be pretty damn delicious but I wanted to give you something a little more creative. 

Recipe testing was adventurous and messy and while I had a vision of what I wanted to make, I had to fine tune it along the way. Before the package even arrived, I was set on some form of spicy tuna sushi roll. The combination of creamy salty, spicy and smokey flavors sounded pretty great. 

The caveat with this recipe was that it had to be paleo and Whole 30, which of course works for me. But while paleo is sometimes flexible with rice, Whole 30 is not and grains are strictly off the table. And traditional sushi is well, made with rice. But fear not as in comes cauliflower rice to the rescue. Also, if you're not whole 30, feel free to use regular sriracha but if you're strict, you can find Wildbrine sugar free sriracha. 

I played around with making a sushi roll with the spicy tuna but frankly I wanted more. My vision was a pile of vegetables and lots of flavor so I decided to scrap the roll and just go with the bowl. This would give me the liberty to create exactly what I envisioned. A tuna sushi bowl makes for a perfect lunch or dinner. 

 sushi bowl with vegetables 
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smoked spicy tuna sushi bowl 

  • prep time: 15 minutes 
  • cooking time: none
  • yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

For rice

  • 1 cup cooked cauliflower rice
  • 1/8 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp coconut aminos
  • 1/4 tsp toasted sesame seeds

For smoked spicy tuna: 

For vegetables 

  • 1/2 sliced avocado
  • 1/4 peeled cucumber cut into slivers
  • 1/2 carrot cut into slivers
  • 3-4 sliced radishes
  • 1/4 red bell pepper sliced
  • optional: pickled ginger
  • optional: sprouts of your choice 
  • optional: toasted sesame seeds
  • optional: scallions for garnish

For speedy spicy mayo: 

  • 4.5 tsp mayo
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp coconut aminos

Equipment

  • small mixing bowl 
  • medium mixing bowl

Directions

For rice: If you're not whole 30 or paleo, feel free to use regular rice. But otherwise, combine all ingredients under rice and set aside.

For spicy mayo: Combine all ingredients under spicy mayo in a small bowl and set aside. 

For smoked spicy tuna: In medium mixing bowl break up the tuna with a fork until flaky. Add the rest of ingredients and mix well. 

To assemble: Layer the rice on the bottom of the serving bowl. Add tuna and vegetables in any fashion you wish and drizzle with spicy mayo and top with toasted sesame seeds. 

5 ingredient paleo salted chocolate

 4 ingredient paleo chocolate 
 4 ingredient paleo chocolate
 4 ingredient paleo chocolate 

I thought I could wait to share this recipe with you all but I can't, I'm just too hyped about it. 

The idea for the post was inspired by one of my dearest friends who also happens to be my co-worker. She and I spend copious amounts of time discussing food at work and outside of work. She will often bring one of the latest recipes she's made for me to sample or some new and exciting food she's picked up from one of her local stores. 

This time it was chocolate. But not just any chocolate - it was Icelandic chocolate with sea salt. Describing just how luscious, decadent and mindfuckingly good this chocolate was still wouldn't do it justice. I was at a loss for words. I slowly returned to my desk in awe trying my best to make this chocolate last - eating it a tiny bite at a time. 

While riding this chocolate high, I thought about some of my favorite Icelandic musicians and how I wish I could see Iceland and how much I didn't want to be sitting in my cubicle at that moment. But as I sat there, licking the last of the chocolate of my fingers, I wondered; couldn't I make my own chocolate? It may not be the Bjork of chocolate but I could try.

The trouble with regular chocolate is that it needs a binding agent typically in the form of soy lechitin to make it shelf stable. I'm guessing chocolate companies wouldn't make it too far if their products had to be frozen. But since I'm not most companies but just a woman with a sweet tooth and a particular sweet tooth for chocolate, I set out to recipe test my own. 

After several batches, some very excited children and more chocolate than I've eaten in about 5 months, I finally settled on a recipe. I still can't believe how easy it is to make. The caveat is you have to like coconut and you have to not mind keeping your chocolate in the freezer. If you're cool with those, read on. 

The only thing you'll need is cocoa powder, unrefined coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup. You can use either stovetop to heat the coconut oil or micro. The end result will be a silky smooth chocolate that you won't be able to stop eating. Sorry not sorry. 

 4 ingredient paleo chocolate
 4 ingredient paleo chocolate 

5  ingredient paleo chocolate

  • prep time: 2 minutes
  • cooking time: 1-2 minutes
  • freezing time: at least 1.5 - 2 hours
  • makes: 1 chocolate bar

Ingredients

Equipment:

Directions

Line your loaf pan with two crossing pieces of parchment paper (for easy removal)

Depending on what you'd like to use, either melt the coconut oil in a pan over the stove top, or heat the coconut oil in the microwave for 1 minute

Stir in cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix well to combine until the chocolate mixture is smooth.

Pour chocolate mixture in your prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with salt. Freeze for at least 1.5 hours. 

Once chocolate is set, cut into chunks and store in freezer. 

paleo mayo two ways

 paleo mayo and chipotle lime paleo mayo
 chipotle lime paleo mayo
 basic paleo mayo and chipotle lime paleo mayo

The name of my blog is calm eats. The images shared are carefully curated to represent a life of calm, slow moments and lots and lots of free time. Which is exactly what I'm dreaming of when I suddenly see a minion toy fly in my direction and quickly snap out of it. 

Yes, it's ideal but it's not reality. Anyone who has young kids and says otherwise is a liar, a lunatic or has discovered nirvana. No, as any parent knows, life is packed with toys, chaos, crying, fighting and the like along with being wondrous. 

It was a day like any other day, going about the usual stuff and preparing lunches, when it dawned on me that I was missing the key ingredient - mayo. Yes, I could have gone the vegan route and worked on making a vegan version with avocado but my son, after years of loving it decided he's done with avocado "forever", so plan B. Make my own. 

The problem though? I didn't have 2+ hours to let an egg come to room temperature and had about 20 minutes to work with. So, I took a shortcut. I placed an egg (please only use pasteurized eggs) in a cup of warm (not hot) water and let it sit for 10 minutes. It was the exact consistency I was looking for. 

So I got to work. Well, correction, my food processor got to work. This paleo mayo recipe is uncomplicated and there's hardly any effort involved. I used Dijon mustard, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, a sprinkle of paprika, the room temperature egg and slowly drizzled a cup of light tasting olive oil. I have to add that I prefer light tasting olive oil over avocado oil or regular olive oil as the taste is just too intense. I've tried it with both in the past and just wasn't impressed. 

This mayo is foolproof and takes only a couple minutes to whip up. Needless to say, lunch was saved. 

But why stop there? I decided to use half the mayo and make myself some chipotle lime mayo, which I have a serious weakness for. All I did was add chipotle powder, lime zest, lime juice and oh my god, I could eat the whole thing straight out of the food processor (sans utensil). It's fantastic on roasted vegetables, grilled meat of any kind or as a snack for your 2 year old. True story - my daughter loves it.

There you have it - two ridiculously easy paleo mayo recipes that take just minutes to prepare. Both store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.  

 basic paleo mayo
 lemon slices
 paleo chipotle lime mayo

paleo mayo two ways

  • prep time: 2 minutes (if using cold egg 12 minutes)
  • blending time: 2 minutes
  • makes: 1.5 cups 

Ingredients

Basic paleo mayo

  • 1 pasteurized room temperature egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup light tasting olive oil

Chipotle lime paleo mayo

  • 1/2 cup basic paleo mayo 
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder 

Equipment

  • Food processor 

Directions

If you don't have a room temperature egg, simply take a refrigerated, pasteurized egg and place it in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes. 

For basic paleo mayo: Add all ingredients aside from olive oil, turn on food processor and very slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Turn off food processor when the mayo has reached consistency. The whole process should take about 2 minutes. 

For chipotle lime paleo mayo: Combine all ingredients in either the food processor or simply in a bowl and stir until well incorporated. 

arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinaigrette

 arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinigrette

Do I really open a blog post by talking about the weather? How cliche. But I think we can all agree that weather affects mood. It certainly affects mine. This past week we've had some blazing hot days - quite unusual for May. I have no room to complain though, as winter was long here and lingered on. It felt good to be outside, laying in the grass, searching for four leaf clovers and almost expecting the chorus cicadas to begin their song. But it's too soon.

 arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinigrette
 arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinigrette

When it's impossibly hot and out of character for the time of year, I try to match my food to the weather. Simmering meatballs for 3 hours on a 94 degree day, not so good. A nice refreshing salad with lots of greens and fruit - a very good idea. I used whatever fruit I had on hand, a nice handful of arugula and made a very simple dressing to go along with it. 

Once upon a time, a salad for me was defined by iceberg lettuce, ranch dressing and an almost sickening amount of croutons. Sounds alright though and I really did enjoy it. It was more like bread and sour cream and some greens, but that's beside the point. As the years passed, I opened up to the idea of using ingredients that one wouldn't necessarily expect to show up in a salad. 

With strawberry season quickly approaching, I decided to create a salad that uses plenty of them. After all, they're most luscious, juicy and flavorful when in season. In addition to strawberries this salad is loaded with blueberries, mango and avocado. A sprinkle of crunchy walnuts and a drizzle of cayenne lemon vinaigrette, over peppery arugula, is a warm day's companion. Don't get me wrong, you could absolutely eat this in the dead of winter, but there's something about matching a sticky hot day to a cooling salad. It's also a breeze to throw together, it's vegan, paleo and if you skip the honey, whole 30 as well. 

 arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinigrette
 arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinigrette 
 arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinigrette

arugula and strawberry salad with cayenne lemon vinaigrette 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: none
  • Serves 2

Ingredients: 

Salad:

  • 2 cups arugula, baby spinach or greens of your choice
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp cubed mango
  • 3-4 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado
  • toasted walnuts

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp honey (skip for whole 30)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Equipment

  • tongs
  • small mixing bowl
  • large bowl

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients for dressing and set aside.

Next, assemble all ingredients under salad on plate and sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with dressing.


brussels sprouts salad with purple cabbage and sweet chili sauce

 Brussels sprouts salad with red cabbage and sweet chili sauce
 Brussels sprouts salad with red cabbage and sweet chili sauce

It was a crisp night. The clicking of our boots and laughter nearly drowning out the city noise. The energy and roar of the night was palpable. Philadelphia, people, life. Maybe it had to do with the few glasses of wine we'd had beforehand but I was dizzyingly giddy. A strange reunion with myself.  

I have children...small ones. Life is usually pretty chaotic. Not necessarily in a bad way but in a "day is filled with crying, laughter, tantrums, messy and beautiful moments" way. It's how life with kids is. I wouldn't change any part of it. 

But every now and again, I get the opportunity to jump ship for a night, and reconnect with the person I used to be prior to kids. That one generally wants to have a few drinks and dance until her legs give out. I'm completely unapologetic for wanting the mom in me and the me in me to coexist. There's room for both and I don't want to neglect the me self at the expense of my mom self. There's enough room for both. 

We arrived at the restaurant, the host lining up the flutes shortly after noticing our champagne bottle. BYO is wonderful. It was late. I couldn't recall the last time I had dinner at 10 o'clock but it didn't matter. Hungry, excited and appreciative of every moment of the evening, I took it all in. Sushi chefs assiduously preparing rolls; fluidly laying out rice, fish and vegetables. People walking in and out, and my group discussing various topics...

Our table was ready. Going out to eat is not challenging but it requires a bit of inquiry about the way food is prepared. A Brussels sprout salad with sweet chili sauce and sushi were going to do it for me. 

The provocative conversation and luscious champagne temporarily faded in the background once I took the first bite of the Brussels sprouts. My friend looked at me all smiles, knowing that I'd love it. While everyone was eating and chatting, I took it upon myself to disect the salad. Notes were in order. I couldn't stop thinking or talking about how insanely delicious this Brussels sprouts salad was. Everyone agreed...it was spectacular. 

We stayed up late, danced until we couldn't anymore and at close to 3am I found myself thinking about how potentially awful I would feel the next day/the Brussels sprout salad. 

When you're into food, you sort of really geek out on that kind of thing. I own it...

So it had to be recreated. I took shortcuts. I didn't make my own sweet chili sauce from scratch but it is on my to do list.  For now a bottle of the deliciously pre-made stuff did the job. 

From what I was able to pick apart at the restaurant, there were red onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots, purple cabbage, shallots and scallions. And of course that delicious sticky sauce. I made it, I swooned and now I want to share it with you. 

 Brussels sprouts salad with red cabbage and sweet chili sauce
 Brussels sprouts salad with red cabbage and sweet chili sauce
 Brussels sprouts salad with red cabbage and sweet chili sauce

brussels sprouts salad with purple cabbage and sweet chili sauce

  • prep time: 10 minutes
  • cook time: 25 minutes
  • total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bag of Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 3 small carrots peeled and cut into small strips
  • 1/8 purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce

Equipment:

  • large cast iron frying pan

Directions:

Preheat cast iron pan. Add 1 tbsp coconut oil, shallot and a pinch of salt and cook on medium until shallots are crispy but not burned - about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining coconut oil along with red onion. Cook for 5 minutes until onion is soft, stirring regularly. Add Brussels sprouts, carrots, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add purple cabbage and cook for another 5. 

Next turn off heat and add sweet chili sauce. Combine well. Top with crispy shallots.