Roasted Butternut and Broccoli

Roasted Butternut and Broccoli

When it comes to weeknight dinners I tend to keep it pretty simple.  Especially during the winter and early spring when seasonal veggies can get a bit monotonous this often means roasting whatever I have on hand.  Tossed with some coconut oil and flavored with garlic powder and aleppo pepper is one of my favorite ways to do it.

You can really use this technique for almost any vegetable you have on hand – carrot, sweet potato, zucchini, cauliflower, pumpkin, potato, apple, you name it!  And play around with the flavors too.  I’ve roasted broccoli with sweet flavors as well as curry powder and I’ve found it’s really hard to mess up.  Try your own combination and let me know how it goes!

 

Ingredients
Top of a 2-3 lb butternut squash
1 large head of broccoli
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp real sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp aleppo pepper (or sub smoked paprika)
A sprinkle of Maldon’s finishing salt or some Parmesan for topping
 
Butternut SquashPreheat your oven to 375F.

If you have a 2-3 lb butternut squash then it is easy to cut off the neck of it (the skinny end) and use that for cubing and roasting. The bulb is harder to peel so I like to save it for later when I usually half, seed, brush with oil and roast until tender. The soft butternut is great for soups, stews, or sauces.

Butternut Squash

With the neck of the butternut you want to remove the stem and then the peel. I’ve done with with a peeler as well as a sharp knife and I prefer a knife.  Just be careful because the butternut skin if very tough and hard to get off.

Butternut Squash

Then cube the butternut into about 1/2 inch cubes.

BroccoliBroccoli

Rinse your head of broccoli and shake dry. Cut all the florets off and cut the larger ones in half. Save the broccoli stem and cut that up as well, roughly as large as the butternut cubes.

You can toss all your veggies with the oil in a separate bowl and transfer to a roasting pan, I did that for years, but recently I’ve just started doing it all on the roasting pan. This saves me from washing an extra bowl and I haven’t noticed any difference.

I like to roast my vegetables with coconut oil because it is one of the most stable oils at high temperatures.  I used olive oil for a long time before learning that most of its beneficial qualities are destroyed at high temperatures. Now I use olive oil cold in things like dressings, sauces and a light drizzle over salads.  I use coconut oil for high heat cooking like frying and roasting. The flavor of the coconut oil is subtle so I don’t mind it.

Aleppo

Melt your coconut oil if it’s not already liquid. You can do this by setting it on top of a warm oven or putting it in a double boiler. If the container your coconut oil is in is plastic then transfer to a ceramic or glass dish for melting as plastic gives off toxic chemical when heated.  Add your spices into the coconut oil while warm so they incorporate their flavors.  You don’t have to use garlic powder and aleppo, I also like ground cumin seeds or something spicier like dash of cayenne with veggies like this.

Roast for 40 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during the cooking process so all the veggies cook evenly.

Before and After Roasting

Once everything’s cooked enjoy as a side with dinner.  I ate this paired with a beautiful hanger steak grilled rare and I topped the veggies with just a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese but you can leave it out to keep this dish vegan and paleo if you’d like.

Roasted Butternut and Broccoli

Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

I find that holiday foods are often overly indulgent and rich, and with good reason, we’re celebrating!  But it’s nice to get a break when holidays feature traditional foods that don’t necessarily have to be unhealthy.

My maternal grandmother was Irish so my mom used to make corned beef and cabbage every St. Patrick’s Day growing up.  It was one of the few ways I would actually eat carrots, which I hated growing up but loved when they were soft and beef-flavored.  For the first few years of my young adult life I was vegetarian and vegan, so I skipped a few years corned beef, but ever since I went back to being an omnivore I don’t think I’ve missed one year, it doesn’t feel like St. Patrick’s Day without it!

I’ll openly admit that I don’t go to the lengths of brining my own brisket, I save myself the stress of that step considering I do have to cook the thing all day.  But besides the time it takes to cook it, the whole process is surprisingly easy.  Give it a try if you’re looking for a real food way to celebrate everyone’s favorite Irish holiday.

 

Ingredients
Beef brisket (pre-brined with corned beef seasonings)
Baby potatoes
Carrots
Cabbage
 

Cabbage

Carrots

Potatoes

I try to get the most natural meat I can, so I look for products that are antibiotic and hormone-free and made with natural ingredients.  As you can see this cut is between 1 3/4 and 2 lbs, it shrinks a bit when cooked so the finished product fed 3 hungry adults.

Brisket

The instructions are for stove top and say you can simmer it for 2-3 hours, but I prefer to use my slow cooked and cook it for longer.  I simply cover the brisket in liquid, which could be water or I used a mixture of homemade bone broth and water.  Then I cooked it for 8 hours to give it plenty of time to get nice and tender, but you can cook it even a few hours longer if you’d like.

Chopped Potatoes

Towards the end of cooking it’s time to prep the veggies.  I used baby potatoes, carrots and a head of cabbage, each of which were roughly 1 lb.  Just rinse clean the potatoes and carrots, trim them and cut in half.  These should be added in 2 hours before the end of cooking.

Chopped Cabbage

The cabbage should be cut into small thin strips, also be sure to cut around the core so there aren’t any thick tough pieces.  Add the cabbage about an hour before the end of cooking, it doesn’t need long.

Cooked Brisket

Shredded Brisket

Shredded Brisket

Once everything’s cooked take the brisket out and either slice or pull apart with a fork.  Spoon the veggies out with a slotted spoon and serve up immediately, I especially like mine with some brown mustard!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Home Remedy for Dry Cough

Home Remedy for a Dry Cough

This time of year it seems like most people are over the hump of cold and flu season but many people still have coughs that linger for weeks on end.  Dry coughs especially can be hard to recover from without the proper support.  There are herbs you can take and acupuncture is important too, but whenever a patient is trying to kick a dry cough I always recommend adding steamed pear to their diet until the cough subsides.

Pears and apples in Chinese Medicine are considered natural tonics for moistening the lungs, Asian pears in particular are prized for this quality.  If you’ve never had an Asian pear, they have a similar flavor to other varieties but a crunchier texture.  I love enjoying them as a regular part of my diet in the fall and winter during the most important time of year for lung health.

Raw fruit is cold and damp in nature which can make it hard for the body to digest and assimilate, so warming it up by lightly steaming helps the body to get all the healing benefits from the pear.  The recipe below is one of the simplest ways to cook pear, by simply steaming it.  But you can really get creative with how you introduce pears into your diet, they can be part of breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert!

 

Ingredients
Asian pear (or any pear variety you can find – organic)
Water
Cinnamon (optional)
 

Peel and core your pear, then slice up into thin slices.  I don’t like the texture of the thick skin when the rest of the pear is tender, that’s why I remove it before steaming but you can leave it on if you prefer.  A small pear is enough for 1 serving, if you have a bigger one and don’t want to eat it all you can cut off a portion and save the rest in a sealed container in the fridge.

You can steam your pear in a bamboo or basket steamer until tender, or you can also just toss it in a pan with a splash of water, cover and cook over medium heat.  It should only take about 5 minutes or so.

In the picture above I served the steamed pear over oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon, just don’t add too much cinnamon as it is warming and in excess can further dry your cough.  You can also top with a touch of honey or maple syrup if you’d like, it makes a great addition to breakfast.  As I mentioned above you can use it however you’d like.  How about on top of a warm winter salad, blended into a soup or enjoyed as a low sugar dessert?

Home Remedy for a Dry Cough

Farmers’ Market Haul – March 2nd, 2014 – Los Feliz Market

Farmers' Market Haul - March 2nd, 2014 - Los Feliz Market

The Los Feliz Sunday Market is one of my favorites.  It’s quiet and small, but still has most everything I need.  I used to live within walking distance but it’s still just a short drive away so I end up there most Sundays.  The only thing they don’t really have is a meat vendor, but in a pinch I can pick up a chicken from La Bahn Ranch where I always get my pasture-raised eggs.

Green Veggies

Green Veggies, broccoli, kale, asparagus

These are my go-to side dishes for dinner during the week.  I usually make sure to get enough to make 2-3 dinners before I can make it to a mid-week market.  This week I got kale, broccoli and asparagus.  While you can get kale and broccoli pretty much year round here in Southern California, asparagus is more plentiful in the spring.  Since we’ve had an unusually warm winter, spring has come early this year.

 

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

I’ve got to grab these while I can.  Butternuts are part of the winter squash family, but you can usually find them starting in the fall and lingering into the spring.  I usually cut it in half, take out the seeds, rub with oil and bake until soft.  Once it’s fork tender it is so easy to make into soup or a spread.  But I’ve been really curious about making noodles out of butternut, so that might be my next experiment.

 

Staples

avocado, onion and garlic

I go through so many avocados, onions and garlic bulbs that I usually just get a bunch to stock up, without a real clear idea of how I’ll exactly I’ll use them.  As you can see, avocados were on sale, so I got extra.

 

Ginger

Ginger

I go through a lot of ginger, more than most people, sometimes a pound a week.  I either juice it or make tea out of it, both are great ways to reap the benefits of fresh ginger but the juice is much more concentrated so you only need small amounts.

Ginger, called Sheng Jiang in Chinese, has been used for thousands of years to treat stomach disorders like persistent nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness, loss of appetite or anorexia.  but it also treats mild lung disorders, like upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis or a simple cold and cough.  It reduces toxicity which means it is anti-bacterial, and explains why ginger is always served with sushi.  Because of ginger’s warm nature it is used to treat pain caused by cold, as seen in most cases of menstrual cramps, stiff muscles and indigestion caused by cold.  Western Medicine prizes the rhizome nearly just as much, labeling it with words like anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, antioxidant and anti-cancer.

 

Jujubes

Jujube

Jujubes are truly a special fruit.  In their fresh form they are called Chinese apples, which you can find in season for only about a month and a half in the fall.  They start a pale green color, turn a golden brown when ripe and eventually red when they are dried.

The dried version, called Da Zao in Chinese Medicine, is paired with ginger and used in countless herbal formulas to benefit digestion and mediate the effects of other herbs.  While ginger is pungent and dispersing, jujube is much more tonic and soothing, so they make a balanced team.  On it’s own, jujubes can be used to increase energy, benefit digestion, calm the spirit, prevent insomnia and build blood.

I can usually find them from Asian vendors at the market or some fruit vendors who carry a wide variety.  The dried ones are available for months after the fresh ones come into season around October.

 

Hummus & Garlic Sauce

Hummus and Garlic Spread - Brothers Products

 I go to the Los Feliz market specifically for this stuff.  The hummus is really good, it’s so much fresher than the store-bought versions and therefore doesn’t require preservatives.  But the real star of the show is the garlic spread.  It’s so rich and garlicy by itself it’s delicious used in moderation as a spread, but it also makes for a great starter for dressings or soups – without peeling all those cloves of garlic.  Now that they make the garlic spread in several flavors I like to have a few on hand depending on what I’m in the mood for.  Not quite sure why the Rosemary/Ginger flavor says “Fresh N Delish Pasta” but that sounds like an awesome recommendation!

My Favorite Paleo Pancakes

Easy Peasy Paleo Pancakes

I must admit, a lot of the recipes on Pinterest sound too good to be true, often it’s because they are.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found some gems on there, but they definitely aren’t all winners.

For example, I kept seeing pin after pin tout that 1 banana and 2 eggs is all you needed to make paleo pancakes, unfortunately I found that combination to be more like banana flavored omelet cakes.  They were simply too eggy and spongy, not like the fluffy pancakes I was hoping for.  But not to worry, my tinkering brain will almost never let a failed recipe be, I have to fix it!  And that’s exactly what I did.

Much to my surprise, all this recipe needed was a little ground flax and chia to hold it together, plus a pinch of salt and cinnamon to lend some flavor.  The recipe is still simple, but now has a lovely texture and tastes good too!

Ingredients
1 ripe banana
2 large pasture-raised eggs
2 tbsp flax seeds (ground)
2 tbsp chia seeds (ground – or use 4 tbsp flax if you don’t have chia)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt

Banana and Eggs

This recipe is pretty simple, the only slightly complicated step is to grind up the flax and chia seeds.  I like to do this fresh in a coffee grinder that I use almost exclusively for grinding nuts and seeds, but you can do it in batches ahead of time.  Keep in mind that the delicate omega 3 fatty acids in flax and chia will oxidized in their ground form, this doesn’t happen immediately, but within 3 months or so.  That’s why I never recommend to get pre-ground flax or chia from the grocery store, you simply don’t know how long ago it was processed.

If you only have flax or only have chia, then you can use twice as much to make up for the other, I haven’t tried it for this particular recipe but it usually works for me.

Once you’ve got your seeds ground, peel your banana, crack your eggs and get all the ingredients into the blender.  Blend on high speed until no large chunks remain and there you go!  You’re batter is done.

Paleo Pancakes on a Cast Iron Griddle

When it comes to cooking pancakes I like to use a large cast iron griddle that covers two burners.  I use cast iron a lot because I simply love the flavor it adds to food and it holds heat really evenly.  While I also have a cast iron skillet and dutch oven, the griddle is great for doing big batches of things like pancakes, bacon, burgers, paninis and other grilled goodies.  The opposite side has ridges for things like steak and veggies that you want grill marks on.  By all means you can use a frying pan for cooking the pancakes, but you might have to do them in batches depending on how large it is.

I find med-high heat is best for pancakes.  Heat up your griddle or pan for at least a few minutes before adding the batter to ensure it’s evenly warmed.  Pour the batter into roughly even little rounds, I got about 5 small pancakes out of this recipe.  Cook until you can see small bubbles coming up on the uncooked side, then flip.  The second side usually only needs a minute or two to cook, you can check by gently lifting the edge with a spatula and peeking.

Serve right away or store in a 200F oven on a ceramic plate to keep warm.  They are lovely topped with some butter and maple syrup if you have it, I used raw honey instead and liked it nearly as much.

Bite of Paleo Pancakes