jalapeño tuna salad

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I think about simplicity often. It’s a sort of longing for something calm and slow, something I don’t always have access to but vehemently long for. Maybe this is why I enjoy making uncomplicated food but food that nonetheless tastes delicious, by taking one or two ingredients and letting them shine.

As I’ve grown older, especially in recent years, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the food before me. An unparalleled appreciation for a juicy, sweet tomato and the sheer excitement of cutting into a perfectly ripe, vibrantly green avocado is something that’s become essential to cooking. Not just cooking for the sake of it but cooking with love and honor for each ingredient.

When I heard again from Joyce, the owner of St. Jude Tuna in Washington, I was ecstatic. In the last year, I learned a bit about Joyce and her husband, Joe who run the company. I found out about the way they source their tuna, about the love and gratitude that goes into every single can and about the respect for the ocean and environment. That immediately drew me to them.

Their tuna is wild caught, organic and ethically sourced and their philosophy, appreciation and care for their product is palpable. There’s not a lot of fuss aside from exceptionally tasty tuna, Jalapeño and salt that goes into each can.

So when Joyce asked me to create a recipe with this exquisite tuna, I knew it had to be something that takes nothing away from the fish but highlights it all the more. I wanted to use every single bit of the can minus the actual can and so this recipe wastes nothing.

I kept this dish fresh and light by combining ripe baby tomatoes with corn, black beans, avocado, adding chunks of this beautiful Jalapeño tuna and using the liquid to create a simple refreshing dressing with olive oil, cumin, coriander, lemon and oregano. It’s a burst of flavor in every bite and the tuna truly adds an unmatched flavor to this salad.

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jalapeno tuna salad

  • prep time: 10 mintues

  • cook time: 0 minutes

  • makes: 2 servings


  • 1 can St. Jude Organic Jalapeño Tuna (reserve liquid)

  • 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered

  • 1 ripe avocado cut into chunks

  • 1/4 cup organic canned corn, rinsed (skip for paleo and W30)

  • 1/4 cup organic canned black beans, rinsed (skip for paleo and W30)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander

  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper

  • 1 tsp lemon juice

  • 1 rounded tsp green onion

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro plus extra


  • medium mixing bowl

  • small mixing bowl


In small bowl, drain Jalapeño Tuna liquid. Add olive oil, herbs, cumin, coriander, oregano salt, lemon and pepper. Whisk well and set aside.

In medium bowl combine, tomatoes, avocado, corn and beans and gently break up chunks of tuna on top.

Add dressing, cilantro and green onion and toss until all ingredients are incorporated. Serve right away.

 When it comes to making salads, sourcing the best possible ingredients is key, this is why I chose this tasty organic Jalapeño Tuna from St. Jude Tuna for this refreshing, vibrant tuna salad. If you’re following a paleo or whole 30 lifestyle, feel free to skip the beans and corn and have this be just as tasty! It’s gluten and dairy free as well. #ad #glutenfree #stjudetuna @joemalley #cameats #jalapenotuna #tuna #glutenfree #dairyfree #salad #paleo #whole30 #seafood #cannedtuna

apple and beet salad with candied walnuts and cashew cheese

 roasted beet salad with apple and candied walnuts
 roasted beet salad with apple and candied walnuts

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. Fall represents a lot of things for me, but among them what stands out in my mind most is our move to the United States. That may sound glorious and exciting to some but it wasn’t that for me. When torn from everything you know - family, friends, school, language, lifestyle and routine, suddenly your identity is compromised. Who are you? Who was I? Life was dismal for a long time. Living between two languages - one of security and family and one I desperately wanted to know, to understand to bury into. One of possibility.

But we humans are adaptable and though challenging and frightening for a long time, life slowly became tolerable again. In fact it became good. There were new friends, the language I was slowly learning day by day, there was Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and Bush that kept me company on many days. There was new and exciting food, but most of all there were people I felt I could trust who would be there when I needed them. Not something I took lightly. In a matter of a year my old life was a distant memory and though I missed it at times, I knew I could never go back to what was. There was only forward.

So fall has always been a time of change for me, a rebirth of sorts. With summer’s oppressive heat and humidity gone, I feel some renewed energy and enthusiasm for fall. I find myself making playlists that take me back to my younger days and just for a short time I can be teleported to those defining moments which forever changed who I would become.

With a new season comes seasonal food and though I’ve eaten apples my whole life, I found them to be particularly wonderful in the US. That first autumn, I ate a boatload of them. They tasted exceptional and quite different from what I was used to in Romania. There were so many varieties and flavors. There were tart ones, sweet, crispy and juicy ones and I couldn’t get enough of them.

With nostalgia spilling into everything including food, I thought I would make a recipe with this beloved fruit. I wanted to keep it light, simple and pull in autumn’s flavors into a simple yet complex salad with earthy flavors aplenty.

If you’re not up for making cashew cheese, feel free to skip it but I highly recommend it as it adds a layer of creaminess to the salad, plus you’ll have extra left over and can whip up this delicious recipe. So check out this combination of roasted beets, cashew cheese, candied walnuts, crispy apple slices and spinach, drizzled with a bright dressing. You won’t be dissapointed.

 roasted beet salad with apple and candied walnuts
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 roasted beet salad with apple and candied walnuts

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apple and beet salad with candied walnuts and cashew cheese

  • Prep time: 10 minutes

  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Serves 4


For dressing: 

  • 2 tbsp orange juice

  • 2 tsp lemon juice

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • pinch of salt

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

For salad: 

  • 2 large or 4 small yellow and red beets

  • 1 apple, thinly sliced

  • candied walnuts (recipe below)

  • a few handfuls of spinach

  • optional: cashew cheese (recipe here)

For candied walnuts:

  • 1 cup raw walnuts

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 tsp coconut sugar

  • 1/8 tsp Himalayan or sea salt


  • aluminum foil

  • parchment paper

  • roasting sheet

  • medium mixing bowl

  • small mixing bowl


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash beets and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 1 hour or until soft. Let cool slightly. Peel and slice beets and set aside. (Wear kitchen gloves if you don’t want stained hands)

Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for candied walnuts, place on parchment paper lined sheet and roast for 15 minutes, tossing once half way. Remove and let cool. (Try not to eat them all)

Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until incorporated.

To plate; add spinach, apple and beet slices, cashew cheese and candied walnuts and drizzle with dressing.

 Make your tastebuds happy with this delicious and hearty roasted beet salad with apple, candied walnuts and cashew cheese. It's a fantastic combination that won't disappoint. If you're whole 30, you can still make this by simply using regular walnuts instead of candied. #salad, #fall, #beets, #apple, #calmeats, #vegan, #cashewcheese, #paleo, #whole30, #realfood, #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #dairyfreecheese, #paleocheese

paleo thai noodles

 paleo thai noodles
 red cabbage
 red cabbage and cilantro
 paleo thai noodles

It was a balmy August night. New York summers are unlike any other. The city seems to swallow up all of the sun's energy during the day and slowly release it at night, engulfing its residents in a veil of heat. But it didn't matter, the city's lights were brightly gliding by as we crossed the Brooklyn bridge. The cool cab was a welcoming respite from the temperature and I took it all in eagerly anticipating the screening of Donnie Darko at the Brooklyn Brewery. 

During my college years I went through a pretty intense movie obsession phase. When I wasn't buried in books and between nights out, I was getting my movie fix. I mostly had a thing for foreign and indie films. Sure blockbusters were cool, but I liked losing myself in character's lives and more often than not, those intense, complex stories were found in independent films. It seemed to fit my escapist nature. 

One day a friend mentioned that I really needed to see the movie Donnie Darko. I tend to be hesitant when someone tells me that I "have to" see or read something but decided to give it a shot anyway. And so my sheer infatuation with this film began. I can't say with certainty what did it. It may have been the time in my life, the soundtrack, story or simply the character's lives that had me hooked. It wasn't called a cult film for nothing.

We'd arrived and as is typical in my nature, I get overly excited about things I'm into and go overboard. Before the movie even started, I'd had several beers and was busy chatting and chain smoking when the wave of nausea came over me. I caught the opening scene only to spend the next hour or so in the bathroom. Empty stomachs and strong beers are not a good match, I learned. But somehow I miraculously pulled through and managed to catch the last part of the film. In my 20s, I had an absurd ability to hang and recover. That is no longer the case, but those were good days. 

Despite the earlier episode, I was fine, in fact, I was more than fine - I was starving and felt like I'd gotten a second chance at the night. We decided some food would probably do everyone good. Nearby we spotted a Thai restaurant and decided to make our way over. It was one of the prettiest spaces I'd been in. Whether it was my feeling better and functioning at that point or if the place really was that special, I can't recall, but the colors, shapes and energy were palpable. Everything had a mystifying glow. 

It was my first time trying Thai food and I distinctly remember that noodle dish. Entering unknown territory is scary but so exciting - a matter of perspective I suppose. That night, my love affair with Thai food began. The noodle dish in front of me had so many layers of flavor and textures that my tastebuds were experiencing nirvana. 

While today's dish will likely not bring on any such feelings, I try to play around with Thai recipes as much as I can and made a paleo version for you. The crunch from the vegetables and cashews mixed with the gooey creaminess from the almond butter and tahini, will hopefully make you swoon the way it makes me. 

*If you're not paleo, you can easily substitute peanut butter for almond butter, pad Thai noodles for the carrots and zucchini and peanuts for cashews.

 paleo thai noodles
 paleo thai noodles
 chopsticks and cilantro
 paleo thai noodles
 paleo thai noodles

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paleo thai noodles

  • prep time: 10 minutes

  • cooking time: 2 minutes

  • makes: 2 servings




  • 1 tsp coconut oil

  • 1 large zucchini or 2 small, spiralized

  • 1 large carrot, spiralized

  • 1 cup red cabbage, sliced

  • 1/4 red pepper, thinly sliced

  • 1 tbsp chopped toasted cashews

  • 1 tbsp sliced scallion (green part only)

  • optional: a few leaves of thai basil or regular basil chopped


  • small frying pan

  • large bowl

  • spiralizer of your choice


In frying pan add coconut oil, zucchini and carrot spirals and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes on medium until the noodles are warm and slightly soft. Remove from heat and set on plate to cool.

In mixing bowl combine all ingredients for sauce and mix well. Don't worry if the sauce is a bit thick. Zucchini contains a lot of water and will thin it out. 

Add zucchini and carrot noodles to sauce as well as cabbage, red pepper, cashews, scallions, cilantro if you'd like Thai or regular basil. Serve right away.

 If you're in the mood for a quick Thai dish, try this paleo version of Thai noodles. It's an explosion of flavor in your mouth and your body will be grateful for vegetable overload. It takes just 10 minutes to throw this quick dish together. #paleo, #vegan, #calmeats, #thainoodles, #paleothaifood, #thai, #salad, #dinner, #glutenfree, #grainfree, #dairyfree, #10minutemeals



tomato salad with black beans, corn and avocado

 tomato salad with black beans, corn and avocado
 tomato salad with black beans, corn and avocado

Today is my daughter's birthday - her second to be exact. My son's is in 2 days. A mix of crippling fear and excitement tends to pulse through me around birthdays. It's a celebration but also a reminder of the inevitable impermanence of life. It may be a rather pessimistic way of looking at things but it tends to simultaneously be a reminder of how fleeting life is and how appreciating the small things can go a long way.

Yesterday we celebrated. Our children are born only 2 days apart and while still young, we take full advantage of the combined birthday party. We kept it small - family only. Everyone travelled from their respective locations and we congregated on a steamy afternoon for food, chats and a good amount of sweating. 

My mom, who inevitably shows up loaded with food of various kinds, arrived with a pound of mixed baby tomatoes. Their lovely colors made them look a bit like little jewels and on the spot I decided they had to make their way into the day's menu. And with just hours left before the party, I had to quickly come up with something everyone would enjoy. It had to be easy to throw together yet filling enough to act as a companion to burgers and pulled pork. 

A quick look in the pantry and I had my recipe. I wanted a tomato salad but with a bit of a twist. A can of black beans, a can of corn along with red onion, a cumin honey lime vinaigrette, plenty of cilantro and some creamy avocado would do. 

To my surprise it was one of those recipes that needed little retesting. Everything just worked and after I decided to make another batch and eat if for every meal today, it was time for it to make its way onto the blog. 

It's an ideal tomato salad with ingredients that scream summertime. 

 tomato salad with black beans, corn and avocado
 tomato salad with black beans, corn and avocado

tomato salad with black beans, corn and avocado

  • prep time: 10 minutes
  • cooking time: 10 minutes
  • yields: 8-10 servings


  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 can organic sweet corn 
  • 1 can organic black beans
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 lb baby tomatoes of your choice cut in half or quarters 
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado cut into chunks 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  • cast iron frying pan or regular
  • large bowl


Drain and rinse corn very well. Shake off excess water. 

In large bowl, add 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, honey, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk well. Set aside. 

Preheat frying pan and add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add corn and cook stirring regularly until all the liquid is drained and the corn starts to get some color - about 10 minutes. 

Add finely chopped red onion and cook for 1 minute. Remove corn and onion from pan and add to bowl. Add beans, tomatoes, cilantro and combine everything well until the salad is coated with dressing. You can refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Right before serving, add avocado and top with additional cilantro if you wish. 

* Note, don't add the avocado right away as it will oxidize and turn brown. 

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


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


  • small mixing bowl 
  • medium mixing bowl


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.