scallops with butternut squash and snow peas

Scallops with butternut squash puree and snow peas
Scallops with butternut squash puree and snow peas

I try to use the word perfect carefully. It's an absolute and my absolutes most certainly won't match up with your absolutes. But when it comes to scallops, I will drop that word left and freaking right. They are perfect - a utopian food. I mean that so much so that I'd even capitalize, bold and italicize the word for emphasis. 

I wish I had some grand story to take you back to the first time I had them but truth be told, it wasn't love at first taste. Scallops are a scrupulous food. Pair them with the wrong ingredients and the whole dish flops. My first encounter with scallops was mehhh. I liked them fine, but it wasn't a divine experience by any means.

But over the years as I've taken it in my own hands to make them at home, I realized that scallops are goddess like. They need to stand on their own and every other ingredient paired with them has to in some way compliment but not take anything away otherwise you'll be sorry. 

Evidently I'm in a mythological mood but scallops do that to me. They really hold eminence over other food. They are on the expensive side and unquestionably not an every day food. But on those occasions when I make them, I appreciate every step of the cooking and eating process. 

For this dish, in order to not take anything nothing away from the scallops but compliment or even elevate them, I decided to go with a butternut squash puree and snow peas. The combination is euphoric! If you want to take this whole dish to an orgasmic level, I recommend pairing it with a Picpoul, Dry Riesling, Chablis or Sancerre. You are welcome! 

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  • prep time: 10

  • cooking time: 30

  • makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash peeled and cubed

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cashew or almond milk

  • 1/2 salt plus additional for scallops

  • 1/4 tsp pepper plus additional for scallops

  • 4-6 scallops per person

  • 1 tbsp ghee

  • 1/2 lb snow peas

  • 1/2 cup water

Equipment:

  • large baking sheet

  • large cast iron or non stick frying pan

  • parchment paper

  • medium sauce pan

  • food processor

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread cut squash into an even layer. Combine with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix well and roast for 25-30 minutes ensuring that you toss the squash from time to time.

Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels (This step is important otherwise you'll end up with excess water in the pan). Season both sides pf the scallops with salt and pepper and set aside.

Once butternut squash is fork tender, transfer to a food processor along with vanilla, almond or cashew milk and a pinch of salt and puree until creamy.

Meanwhile, trim your snow peas and add them to sauce pan along with water. Steam for about 5 minutes, drain and return to pan along with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and cover keep warm.

Pre-heat cast iron pan over medium-high heat, add ghee and scallops and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, depending how well you like your scallops cooked. Near the end, add lemon juice and cook for another minute.

To assemble, layer the snow peas, squash puree and scallops. You can top with micro greens if you want it extra pretty.

Scallops with butternut squash and snow peas is a delicious and quick to do dinner you can whip up for any occasion or on any weeknight. It's paleo as well as whole 30. #paleodinner, #scallops, #butternutsquash, #calmeats, #whole30dinner, #whole30entree, #glutenfreedinner, #dairyfree

tuna cakes with blackberry peach salsa

tuna cakes with blackberry peach salsa
tuna cakes with blackberry peach salsa

Fresh blades of green popping up through the decaying remnant of last year's grass.  The rocky soil peppered with sticks hurt my feet. It didn't matter. Being barefoot outside is what I've been dreaming of for months. I felt acutely aware of every step, every stick, every soft blade as I made my way to the hammock. Concious of how unusual 84 degrees was in April, I wanted to take it all in. There was an appreciation and connection to the moment that I don't often experience with such intensity. 

Everything felt just a little bit simpler dangling suspended above the ground, face to the sun. A lawnmower hummed in the distance, mingled with lively sound of chirping birds. The rustling of budding branches swaying in the wind felt cleansing, restorative even. 

The wonderful thing about living in a place with seasons is getting to experience them to the fullest until ultimately wishing for the next one. Admittedly, I'm not a winter person. I don't much care for snow and limited daylight while being stuck inside feels emotionally crippling. But - but, it's transient, no matter how long it may seem in the moment. And the anticipation of steady warm weather had me thinking about spring and summer food. 

When I think of spring and summer food, inevitably fresh fruit comes to mind. Local peaches, blackberries etc. Those would make ideal companion for tuna cakes, which I had been itching to make. 

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Now tuna cakes are easy to throw together and even easier to eat. But I have to say, not all tuna is created equal. I prefer canned to fresh when making tuna cakes and a brand that truly makes me swoon is St. Jude Tuna. Besides the fact that it's the best canned tuna I've had, I appreciate the owner's passion for only using sustainably caught tuna that's dolphin free. I was immediately drawn to their philosophy and dedication. 

So aside from the several cans I've devoured on their own, I decided to make this simple recipe that's packed with flavor. Making tuna cakes is impossibly easy. I use almond flour, eggs, dill, lemon and their Mediterranean style tuna in olive oil. For a topping, I decided to stick to fresh flavors and make a blackberry peach salsa with red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro in a lemony dressing. I honestly flipped over the combination. The synergy between the ingredients is beautiful and a dish hasn't brought me this much joy in a long time. You'll be able to put dinner on the table in 20 minutes from start to finish. These tuna cakes will not disappoint!

tuna cakes with blackberry peach salsa
tuna cakes with blackberry peach salsa
tuna cakes with blackberry peach salsa
  • prep time: 10 minutes

  • cooking time: 8 minutes

  • makes: 6 tuna cakes

Ingredients: 

For tuna cakes

For blackberry peach salsa

  • 1 peeled organic peach (look for somewhat firm) chopped

  • 6 oz blackberries (one container) cut into 2 or 4 pieces

  • 1 tbsp very finely chopped red onion

  • 1 tsp lemon juice

  • 1 organic red bell pepper chopped

  • 1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Equipment: 

  • large cast iron frying pan

  • large mixing bowl

  • medium mixning bowl

  • whisk

Directions

In medium bowl, add lemon juice, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and whisk well until the dressing is thick. Add peach pieces, pepper, onion and cilantro and stir well. Last, add the blackberries but gently toss them around. They will discolor the peaches a bit but don't stress, it's supposed to happen. Once all the ingredients are mixed well, cover the bowl and set aside. 

Combine all ingredients under tuna cakes in large bowl and form into 6 patties. Preheat frying pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil to pan and slowly add tuna cakes in one layer. 

Cook tuna cakes for 3-4 minutes per side until golden. 

Once tuna cakes are done, you can let them rest of a paper towel lined plate for a minute then serve with blackberry peach salsa. 

This post is sponsored by St. Jude Tuna.

mini frittata recipe

When it comes to a food that's been misunderstood for many years, eggs generally come to mind. At one point, eating eggs was considered to be as bad as smoking cigarettes. CRAZY! 

But luckily science and research has improved over the years and accurate information has slowly made its way into the mainstream. Though there are plenty of people who will shun egg yolks in favor for the egg white, the majority understand the benefits and nutrients obtained from the whole egg. 

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In years past, eggs were associated with heart disease due to its high cholesterol level but as we've learned, cholesterol alone does not lead to blocked arteries and heart disease. 

Eggs are a fantastic source of key nutrients aside from just being versatile and delicious. But it's important to consider the source of the egg. Ideally, whenever possible consider purchasing eggs that come from pasture raised chickens. The below chart will outline why this is important. 

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Benefits of pastured eggs:

High in cholesterol: Your brain requires cholesterol in order to function. "While your brain represents about 2-3% of your total body weight, 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain, where it plays important roles in such things as membrane function, acts as an antioxidant, and serves as the raw material from which we are able to make things like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, testosterone and even vitamin D." Research has concluded better memory function in the elderly population who consumed a diet high in cholesterol. Eggs contain HDL cholesterol, which is the one we want. 

High in Omega 3s: While all egg yolks contain some level of omega 3 fatty acids, the feed that chickens ingest plays a role, as you see in the above chart. Free range eggs contain nearly 3 times more omega 3s that conventional eggs from caged chickens. As I've talked about in previous posts, a diet rich in omega 3s, can decrease inflammation in the body, prevent heart disease and supports joint and brain health. 

Good source of choline: The recommended dose for choline is 550 mg/day men and 425 mg/day for women. Just one egg yolk provides 115 mg of choline. Choline is important as it helps the body absorb fat. Fat is critical for the creation of cells and cell membranes. It also supports brain function and leads to improved cognitive function. It also aids with muscle performance and heart function among other things. "Choline deficiency causes muscle damage and abnormal deposition of fat in the liver, which results in a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Genetic predispositions and gender can influence individual variation in choline requirements and thus the susceptibility to choline deficiency-induced fatty liver disease." 

Support eye health: Eggs contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are powerful antioxidants that build up in the retina. They help protect against oxidative stress and may protect against macular degeneration, that so often happens particularly as we age. 

Great source of protein: Just one egg contains 6 grams of protein, which is essential for all tissues and structural functions in our body. The recommended daily intake is "0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary womanAside from getting enough protein, it's important to note that getting too much protein can have a negative effect on renal, vascular and digestive health. So it is vital that we find an optimal balance from a high quality source, such as pasture raised eggs. 

Aside from the fact that eggs are nutritious, widely available and delicious, eggs are versatile and our family eats them every single day in one form or another. This is a favorite way to fancy up the every day egg and make it a little more special. It's perfect for brunch!

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mini frittata recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes

  • Cooking time: 15-20

  • Makes: 24 frittatas

Equipment needed: 

  • mini muffin tin

  • mixing bowl

  • whisk

Ingredients

  • 8 pastured eggs

  • 1/2 cup cooked broccoli cut into small pieces

  • 1/4 cup red pepper finely chopped

  • 3 strips bacon

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley

Directions

Start by cooking your bacon. I took the easy way and cooked it in the mirco for 2.5-3 minutes depending on the strength of your micro. I layer paper towels on the bottom and top of a microwave safe plate. If you're not a fan of the microwave, cook it in the pan until fully cooked. Either way, don't discard the bacon fat if you cooked on the stove top and don't discard the greasy paper towels, if you cooked it in the micro. Finely chop the bacon and set aside. 

Next beat your eggs with the whisk until they're fully incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk again until fully combined. Set aside. 

Grease your muffin tin with the bacon fat and slowly scoop out a little of the egg mixture into the muffin tin. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until set. The way to check is to press with your finger and see if the egg has hardened. Once fully cooked, let cool for 5 minutes (if you can resist). Best way to remove them is to cover them with a cutting board and turn upside down so they all pop out. If any of them stick, you can slide a small spatula or butter knife along the side and loosen them up. They're also fantastic at room temperature and store well in the fridge for the next day. 


What's not to love about frittatas? And even better mini frittatas! These little bites of goodness are a great breakfast, brunch or snack and are ready in 15 minutes. Bacon, eggs, broccoli and red pepper work together beautifully to create this scrumptious recipe. Check it out! #frittata, #whole30, #paleo, #whole30breakfast, #paleobreakfast, #calmeats, #glutenfree, #grainfree, #dairyfree, #breakfast, #brunch, #realfood, #snack, #keto, #ketobreakfast

roasted vegetables over quinoa with honey lime dressing

We all get stuck in ruts from time to time. Same breakfast, same lunches and a few dinners that are on rotation from week to week. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating the same thing, but our bodies very much benefit from variety. Aside from just the basic nutrients that our bodies receive from eating a wide array of foods, our guts are the ones that require it in order to do their job properly. As we've come to understand, we're actually feeding our gut and in particular the bacteria residing in it. These little bacteria basically dictate our health and well being.  

Our bodies contains 100 trillion of them with an estimated 7000 different species. Like fingerprints, no two individuals have the same combination of bacteria. These reside on every surface on our skin, our urogenital tract but the majority reside in our gut. If that's not impressive enough, 80% of our immune system is located in our gut as well, so it is no surprise that a deficiency in proper nutrients, and consumption of processed food and refined sugar, wreaks havoc on our health.

Very few of us stop and think about this on a daily basis, unless we're driven to the point where we have to question the very act of how what we put in your bodies truly affects our health. 

This is where variety comes in. Eating a wide range of foods, not only fuels the body but fuels the gut bacteria, which are responsible for either keeping us healthy or making us sick. Evidence shows that a diet full of varied vegetables and fruits, with good sources of fat and protein, provide a larger nutritional profile which boosts the body's ability to heal. On the other hand, a diet consisting of processed food, sugar and high in trans fats, negatively impacts and feeds pathogenic bacteria causing a host of problems. Everything from autoimmune diseases to, mental health disorders, heart conditions and cancers, can all be traced back to the gut. As Hippocrates so wisely said some 2000 years ago: "All disease begins in the gut"

One of my favorite ways of incorporating a wide range of vegetables and flavors is by roasting them with spices. Here is one of my favorite lunches, which incorporates raw and roasted veggies.

Roasted Vegetables over Quinoa with Honey Lime Dressing

Roasted Vegetables Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 red pepper chopped 
  • 1 zucchini chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil or more
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

Quinoa Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa rinsed 
  • 2 cups water or broth (I used bone broth)

Honey Lime Dressing:

  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

Raw additions:

  • avocado cut into small pieces
  • mixed greens
  • toasted flax seeds
  • chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss veggies with spices and olive oil and roast for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Be sure to toss them from time to time. Meanwhile, rinse your quinoa and add to a pot with 2 cups broth or water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed. Prepare your greens and cut avocado into small pieces. 

In a small mixing bowl mix lime juice, honey, cumin and salt and set aside. Add avocado, and drizzle with dressing, and top with seeds and nuts. 

To assemble, create a bed of greens, place quinoa on top, add your veggies, avocado and drizzle with dressing. Top with seeds and nuts. 

gluten and dairy free meatballs in sauce

paleo meatballs
gluten free meatballs
paleo meatballs

I first published this recipe early in my blogging. The photos were painful to look at and I felt it was time for a do-over. The recipe is intact - nothing has changed, but the photography needed a facelift. That's the nice thing about growth, things change, I change...

But let's talk meatballs in sauce. If I have just one recipe that's made frequently in my house, it's this one. Some people find making sauce intimidating but for me, it's an opportunity to hang close to the stove, glass of wine in hand and enjoy the slow rhythm. The ingredients for it are simple and require hardly any work. Cutting onion and garlic, chopping basil and opening cans is the extent of it. The only effort is stirring the sauce once in a while to prevent it from sticking. 

The meatballs themselves require a meager tossing of ingredients in a bowl, mixing and rolling them out. Making this dish from beginning to end will take about 2 hours. For me, making meatballs in sauce is always special. Don't get me wrong, I love quick to do meals but once in a while I truly enjoy hovering around the stove for some time and getting lost in the process. 

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes

  • Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours

  • Serves 8

Ingredients: 

For the Meatballs:

  • 1lb grass fed beef

  • 3/4 cup almond flour (I use this one)

  • 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley finely chopped or 1 tbsp dry

  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 tsp olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 beaten egg

For the Sauce:

  • one large onion

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand

  • 1/2 cup Chianti or red wine of your choice (not sweet)

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 2 tbsp fresh basil plus extra for the end

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt divided

  • 1-2 tsp sugar (skip if strict paleo or whole 30)

Directions: 

Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion and saute until translucent. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to sweat the onion - about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, add the wine and deglaze. Next, break the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot and include the juices as well. Add the sugar, rest of the salt, pepper, oregano, basil and bay leaf. Simmer for 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally, while breaking up the tomatoes with a slotted spoon.

While the sauce is simmering, get to work on the meatballs. 

For the almonds, I used my NutriBullet to pulverize them or you can use a food processor. Almond meal will be even quicker if you want to skip grinding your own. Combine all meatball ingredients without overworking the meat. Form into 1" meatballs. Next add the tomato paste and nestle the meatballs in the sauce and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Finish with additional fresh basil. Serve over top of zoodles or gluten free pasta of your choice.