grilled radicchio salad with fennel and soft boiled egg

radicchio salad-14.jpg
radicchio and fennel
endive
radicchio and red onion
grilled radicchio, fennel and soft boiled egg salad

All recipes start with an idea, an ingredient, a spark of inspiration. For this recipe it was radicchio.

I was’t sure it would work and was going to shoot straight for the tried and true romaine as the base, but instead spotted the beautiful small, leafy, red radicchio and decided it would be my ingredient du jour. My thinking was, I’d toss it in the oven along with red onion (because let’s face it, red onion makes everything better) and sliced fennel. To add some crunch and fresh texture, a few endive leaves and toasted walnuts. And for a little creaminess, soft boiled eggs. I was going to even toss in some roasted potatoes in the mix and top the whole thing with a tangy mustardy vinaigrette.

I was all set, ready to get on with the new recipe. So I opened the oven, reached in and pulled out my trusty oversized tray, which lives there. As I grabbed the tray, I suddenly recalled turning off the oven but never pulling out the almonds I’d roasted several minutes prior.

Everything happened quickly. I burned my hand, knocked the entire tray of almonds all over the oven, floor, etc. No problem - cleaned the mess up and was really ready to start.

Oven on for preheat, I was blissfully chopping away at vegetables, eager to see how everything would turn out. That was until I smelled burning. And I mean burning burning, not like I’m burning food. A quick peak in the oven made me realize the almonds I’d previously spilled made their way to the pilot light and now my oven was on fire. Panicked and not wanting to make a heinous mess, I resorted to water and baking soda to put out the flames.

Frustrated beyond belief, my kitchen a disaster, I decided the roasting was off until I could take apart the oven and remove the culprit. But I wasn’t giving up. After all that mess, it was on to plan B - the grill.

So radicchio, fennel and red onion were now getting the grilling treatment. Sure part of me wanted to give up and just repeat the whole thing the next day but I’m stubborn and wasn’t going to let a little fire get in the way of my radicchio salad dreams.

Grilled vs. roasted radicchio

Since the incident, I tried both. Honestly it comes down to personal preference. I really like the way food tastes on the open flame but roasting it also allows it to cook in its own juices so it’s kind of a win win no matter which way you go with the process.

Red onion and fennel also hold up surprisingly well on the grill, so you’re good there too if you decide to grill.

Potatoes or no potatoes?

That is entirely up to you. If you want it paleo skip the potatoes, if you’re whole 30 or vegetarian and want to make it a heartier meal, get those potatoes in there and this salad will become more like a filling dinner than simply a salad. I kept it low carb but it tastes spectacular with potatoes too! And sweet potatoes are a great alternative too!

The perfect egg

Okay the word “perfect” is awfully subjective but in my “egg” book, the sweet spot is between 6-7 minutes depending on the kind of texture I’m after. For this salad, I wanted a little more bite but still a little jammy-ness so 7 minutes exactly it was. The key is to shock the eggs in ice water as soon as they’ve finished cooking.

grilled radicchio, fennel and soft boiled egg salad
grilled radicchio, fennel and soft boiled egg salad
grilled radicchio, fennel and soft boiled egg salad
grilled radicchio, fennel and soft boiled egg salad
grilled radicchio, fennel and soft boiled egg salad

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  • prep time: 5 minutes

  • cooking time: 10-20 minutes

  • makes: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 head radicchio, sliced into 8 pieces

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced

  • 1 endive, leaves peeled

  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into thick pieces

  • 2-4 eggs

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 3/4 tsp salt divided

  • 1/2 tsp pepper divided

  • 1/4 tsp lemon

  • 1/2 tsp honey

  • 2 tsp ricewine vinegar

  • 1 tsp quality dijon mustard

  • 2 tbsp toasted walnuts

  • optional: roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes


Equipment:

  • grill if not using oven

  • medium pot

  • small mixing bowl

  • large roasting sheel

  • small roasting sheet

  • parchment paper

Directions:

If using potatoes, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and chop potatoes. On parchment paper lined sheet, potatoes, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and toss together. Roast potatoes for 25-30 minutes stirring once, and set aside.

Combine radicchio, red onion, and fennel with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and toss to combine. Either roast for 20 minutes (turning vegetables after 10 minutes) or grill on medium heat for 5-10 minutes per side until radicchio, fennel and red onion have softened.

Add walnuts to small tray and toast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring pot with 4 cups of water to boil. Add eggs and boil with lid on for 7 minutes. Immediately remove pot from heat and run eggs under cold water for a minute. Peel and cut in half.

In small bowl, combine remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, rice wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and mix well.

In large bowl or plate, peel endive leaves and layer on the bottom. Once radicchio, onion and fennel have finished roasting, add them to bowl with potatoes (if using), pour dressing over and top with eggs and walnuts. Serve right away.


If you’re looking for a delicious salad without the lettuce, check out this grilled radicchio and fennel salad with endives, soft boiled eggs, toasted walnuts and a tangy vinaigrette. It’s simple yet delicious! #paleo #whole30 #vegetarian #calmeats #salad #radicchio #fennel #softboiledeggs #endive #whole30salad #paleosalad #saladrecipe #summerrecipe



vegan tacos with chipotle lime mayo

vegan tacos
vegan tacos
vegan tacos
vegan tacos

At last, spring is here. I feel safe writing it now; even certain that we might be safely past the bi-polar days of early spring.

This season I fell in love with nature more than at perhaps any point in my life. I can’t get enough of it. I crave walking barefoot on dewey morning grass, watching petals glide through the air making their descent while listening to the symphony of birds.

Spring feels like a sensory orgasm of sorts; maddening beauty all around…colors, vibrancy, crisp air. There is a feeling of aliveness in my body every time I step outside and I simultaneous curse myself for not having noticed this breathtaking beauty in springs past. Or at least not on such a fervent level.

So in honor of all things alive and colorful, I wanted to make a simple recipe that’s fresh, full of vegetables and rich in flavor; a dish that would do to tastebuds what spring does to the senses. After all, when the weather warms up, I think most of us naturally gravitate towards lighter food and a good amount of vegetables .

And one of my favorite ways of eating loads of vegetables is in the form of tacos. While I do like raw vegetables just fine, frankly I prefer them roasted and/or sautéed. I find they’re far better on digestion too despite potentially losing some of their nutrients. And the best part? You get to wrap them in a delicious tortilla and pile on your favorite toppings which will hopefully include a plethora of chipotle lime mayo.

These vegan tacos are staples in my house and never disappoint. The combination of sweet potatoes, zucchini, bell pepper sweet corn and black beans tossed with spices, garlic, honey and lime hit just the right spot for me. I don’t eat beans and corn often but I make an exception for these tacos. If you’re strict whole 30 or paleo, no sweat - skip the corn and beans and they will still taste fantastic.

Now you can certainly skip the MYOT (make your own tortillas) but to me cassava tortillas truly round out this dish. Yes, it’s a little extra work but oh so worth it. You can find the recipe for these easy to make tacos here.

Whether you’re enthralled with spring or just enjoy vegan tacos, check out this simple weeknight or any night dinner.

vegan tacos
vegan tacos
vegan tacos

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  • prep time: 10 minutes

  • cooking time: 30 minutes

  • makes: 10 tacos

Ingredients:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1” pieces

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 cup cooked black beans (skip for paleo and whole 30)

  • 1 cup defrosted organic corn (skip for paleo and whole 30)

  • 1 tsp ground paprika

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

  • zest of 1 lime

  • juice of 1/2 lime (if not juicy use 1 lime)

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro plus extra

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • cassava tortillas (recipe here) or buy this brand

  • spicy mayo (recipe here) or buy this brand (for vegan mayo try this)

  • optional: avocado slices

  • optional: sliced radish

  • optional: sliced red cabbage

  • optional: additional chopped cilantro

Equipment:

  • large cast iron pan

  • roasting tray

  • parchment paper


Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add sweet potatoes, zucchini and bell pepper, all spices, salt and pepper to parchment paper lined roasting tray. Roast for 25-30 minutes until vegetables are soft.

If making tortillas, make them now. Recipe here.

Meanwhile, shortly before vegetables have finished roasting, preheat cast iron pan on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds stirring continuously. Lower heat, add corn and black beans and warm through for 5 minutes stirring continuously. Turn off heat, add lime zest, lime juice and honey and add roasted vegetables and chopped cilantro. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop vegetable mixture on tortillas, top with spicy mayo, avocado, radishes and cabbage and additional cilantro if you wish.


If you’re looking for a delicious dinner you can whip up in 30 minutes, try these roasted vegetable vegan tacos. The great thing is they can be customized for whole 30 and paleo lifestyles, are completely vegan . #tacos #paleotacos #whole30tacos #vegantacos #vegan #vegetarian #roastedvegetables #calmeats #veganmexicanfood #dinner #healthyrecipes

nutrient dense blueberry smoothie

nutrient dense blueberry smoothie
dried rose petals
nutrient dense blueberry smoothie
nutrient dense blueberry smoothie

So here’s a funny thing. As is the case with many foods, I tried my very first blueberry when I was close to 15. Not because I didn’t like them, but because I had never heard of them. Other than strawberries, I don’t recall having access to many berries growing up.

I was rather suspicious the first time my then step-sister insisted I try them. They reminded me of something poisonous so I passed the first few times they were offered. I don’t easily crack under pressure but eventually curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give them a shot.

And of course, it was love at first bite, okay, handful…no, bowlful. Without shame, I ate until I was stuffed. To this day that’s still the case. Blueberries probably rank as one of my favorite fruits next to cherries and watermelon. These three make me lose my mind and I will happily go into a fruit coma for them.

But in all seriousness, besides tasting wonderful, blueberries are packed with antioxidants and nutrients we could all use more of. And sure we are fortunate enough to be entering blueberry season, but it is awfully short and before we know it, it’s nothing but a memory. Though the great thing is, you can always (we are so very lucky) find organic frozen blueberries which have been picked at their peak.

And oh right, this post is about a nutrient dense smoothie. I wanted something that could be used as an actual meal, that would provide nutrients, give you energy and prevent sugar drops. So I kept this low in sugar but I promise you won’t miss it because the flavor makes up for it! Though if you’re trying to satisfy your sweet tooth, feel free to add 1-2 tsp of honey to the mix and a pinch of salt.

So here’s what goes into this smoothie: Nut milk of your choice, collagen, avocado, coconut oil, almond butter and frozen blueberries. A quick blend and you’ve got yourself a tasty nutrient dense blueberry smoothie to keep you full and satisfied for hours. If you wanted to, add the smoothie to a bowl and dress it up a bit with additional blueberries, chia seeds and toasted coconut flakes would match up perfectly.

nutrient dense smoothie
nutrient dense blueberry smoothie
smoothie lighter-6.jpg

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  • prep time: 5 minutes

  • blend: 1 minute

  • makes: 1-2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen bluebrries

  • 1/2 rupe avocado

  • 1 tbsp cacao

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1 tbsp almond butter

  • 1 scoop collagen (skip for vegan)

  • 1.5 cups almond, cashew or coconut milk


Equipment:

  • blender


Directions:

Combine all ingredients and blend well for one minute. Serve right away.

* For a more liquid consistency, add in 1/2 cup more nut milk.


Smoothies are a perfect way to start the day, but even better when they’re rich in nutrients, low in sugar and keep you full and satisfied for hours. Frozen blueberries are mixed with almond butter, coconut oil, cacao, cashew milk, collagen (skip if vegan), and avocado. #vegan #smoothie #breakfastsmoothie #nutrientdensesmoothie #blueberries #calmeats #nutrientdense #whole30 #paleo #breakfast #snack #whole30breakfast #whole30snack #paleobreakfast #paleosnack













rutabaga noodles with tahini sauce and cashew crumble

rutabaga noodles with tahini sauce and cashew crumble
rutabaga noodles with tahini sauce and cashew crumble
rutabaga noodles with tahini sauce and cashew crumble

I grew up only a sea away from a country rich in flavors and spices. Some traditional recipes made their way onto our table but not nearly enough given the proximity.

My mom would frequently travel to Turkey for work and would come back baring delicious foods that we’d never dream of having access to in Romania. One of them was halva. Funny because I’d had it my whole life but Romanians always made it with pressed sunflowers and never tahini.

That was my very first introduction to a flavor I would come to revere as an adult. It is unmistakable - an ingredient used in Middle Eastern and Asian dishes alike. Truthfully one that can’t be substituted.

So a few moths ago while stocking up on tahini I had a burning desire to make a quick sauce. The only problem was, I now had a tasty sauce on my hands but hadn’t quite thought about what I’d do with it. Sure, roasted carrots or sweet potatoes would always be good options for dipping but I was in the mood for something new. Something that would wake up my taste buds.

Rutabaga already had its moment in a previous post where I gushed about its versatility and distinctive taste, but I feel the need to reiterate just how delightful this unassuming root is. While raw it tastes somewhere between a turnip and cabbage, when cooked its essence is revealed. Everything that’s been hidden beneath the waxy surface comes to life when this noble root has just a few minutes in the heat.

To top it all off, I wanted something to complete the taste I was after - something intense but not overpowering. A sprinkling of cashew crumble is exactly what this dish needed. It is one of the simplest and most delicious ones I’ve had. Flavorful, intense and satisfying.

rutabaga noodles with tahini sauce and cashew crumble
rutabaga noodles with tahini sauce and cashew crumble
rutabaga noodles with tahini sauce and cashew crumble

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prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 5 minutes
makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and spiralized

  • 1/2 cup runny tahini

  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews

  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided

  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

  • 2 tsp coconut aminos

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 2 tsp lemon juice

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • a handful of very thinly sliced carrots

  • handful of very thinly sliced cucumber

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (optional)

  • 1 green onion, green parts only (optional)

Equipment:

  • blender

  • large mixing bowl

  • small mixing bowl

  • spiralizer

  • large non stick frying pan

Directions:

Combine tahini, water, lemon juice, coconut aminos, salt and sesame oil in large bowl and set aside.

In blender finely grind cashews until they’re fine. In small bowl, combine them with 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and mix well with your fingers by pinching the mixture until it becomes crumbly - set aside.

Preheat pan on medium heat. Add 1 tsp olive oil and rutabaga noodles and toss frequently for 5 minutes until they begin to soften but are not mushy.

Remove from heat and add to bowl with tahini sauce. Toss to combine.

Place noodles on plates and add carrot and cucumber slices along with as much cashew crumble as you wish. Top with cilantro and green onion and serve.

If you’re looking for a flavorful noodle bowl but are following a grain free lifestyle, look no further than this tasty rutabaga recipe with tahini sauce and cashew crumble. It’s a satisfying, creamy and you won’t miss the pasta. #veganrecipes #vegan #tahini #rutabaga #paleorecipes #paleo #plantabased #whole30recipes #whole30 #paleonoodles #whole30noodles #cashews #tahinisauce #calmeats #veganfood #rutabaganoodles

roasted artichokes with lemon aioli

roasted artichokes with lemon aioli
roasted artichokes with lemon aioli
roasted artichokes with lemon aioli
roasted artichokes with lemon aioli

I’m no stranger to life’s dark moods, to anxious thoughts, doubts, fears and unmet expectations. I’m no more or less human than anyone else. But I believe in pleasure too and love and the beauty of small things. Like watching a bee burrow itself into a flower, drinking the sweet nectar only to happily make its way out and buzz about to the next one. Small, beautiful, unnoticed.

Then there is the artichoke, maybe not necessarily small, but beautiful and previously unnoticed by my eyes. In my far too frequent trips to the market, I never stopped to pay much attention to it. I found it intimidating; those pointy leaves, a little closed off - perhaps a defense mechanism? After all, the goal is to just get to the very best part - the heart and the only way to do that is to peel layer after rough layer.

But one day, while making my typical rounds I suddenly stopped short when spotting the artichoke bin. I had one thought and one thought only. I want to photograph it! I never thought beyond that, like maybe I’d actually eat it? And like it…a lot?

I returned home, dropped my shopping and got to work. Nothing else mattered, just the beautiful artichokes. And so it began; one thing led to another and then next thing I know, I’m siting at my kitchen counter with a plate of artichokes, about to eat them for the first time. So I sat, mesmerized and sucked into the moment, enjoying bite after bite, slowly, meditatively even, dipping, and biting, dipping and biting until I got to the very best part, the essence of the choke.

As for the dip, since mayo and aioli are staples in my house, it wasn’t a difficult decision. And a simple lemony aioli was the ideal companion for these mysterious, divine leaves.

I’ve eaten many things in my life, but I don’t believe anything has brought me quite as much pleasure as photographing, preparing and eating an artichoke has. A true delight for the senses, a celebration of life’s small pleasures all in one small, green, rough and yet so delicate vegetable.

roasted artichokes with lemon aioli
roasted artichokes with lemon aioli
roasted artichokes with lemon aioli
roasted artichokes with lemon aioli
roasted artichokes with lemon aioli

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roasted artichokes with lemon aioli

  • prep time: 5 minutes

  • cooking time: 35-40 minutes

  • makes: 2 artichokes

Ingredients:

  • 2 artichokes

  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest

  • 1/4 cup good mayo (for vegan option use egg free mayo)

  • 1/4 tsp finely minced garlic

  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice

  • 1/2 lemon

  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tsp salt divided

  • 2 tbsp olive oil


Equipment:

  • roasting sheet

  • parchment paper

  • small mixing bowl

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim artichoke leaves by snipping just the tops with scissors. Cut stem and leave about 1-2”. Cut artichokes in half and rub with lemon half and squeeze juice all over the artichoke halves. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Lay artichokes face down on parchment paper lined roasting sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, combine mayo, mustard, pinch of salt, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice in small mixing bowl and stir well to combine.

When artichokes have finished cooking, remove one leaf at a time and dip bottoms in aioli and enjoy!


Roasting artichokes is one of the easiest way to enjoy them, especially when paired with a tasty lemon aioli. Check out this delicious and simple recipe. #artichokes #roastedartichokes #vegan #calmeats #paleo #whole30 #dairyfree #appetizerrecipe #appetizer #glutenfree #grainfree #lemonaioli #starters