Zesty Heirloom Tomato Taco Salad {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

One of the best parts of summer is the amazing produce that’s available in Chicago — especially fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes (or fresh-from-the-CSA in my case).

Top those tomatoes with deliciousness in the form of taco-seasoned lean ground beef (plus some other goodies), and you’ve got a light summer meal.

heirloom_tomato_taco_salad

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Now, I am not a chicken breast all day, every day kind of girl. I love beef, whether it’s a perfectly-grilled steak, juicy burger, tacos, meatballs or meatloaf, beef frequents my table.

Beyond the delicious flavor of beef, it’s got loads of nutrition. First off, let’s talk protein. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 25 grams of protein and 10 essential nutrients.

Emerging research indicates that evenly distributing daily protein intake at meals and snacks throughout the day (~20 to 30g/eating occasion) may potentially contribute to benefits for body weight management and appetite control.

On a related note, protein-packed foods — like beef — promote satiety which can help cut down on mindless eating. I’ve found that my clients who eat more high-quality protein and fats are better able to cut down on sweets and snacking throughout the day.

I especially love grass-fed beef, as it contains a better fat ratio (more conjugated linoleic acids, which function similar to omega-3s). You can find great grass-fed options at most grocery stores and your local farmers market.

To find out more about grass-fed and grain-fed beef, check out the Beef Checkoff’s infographic.

zesty_heirloom_tomato_taco_salad

The Beef Checkoff program also offers a great interactive Butcher Counter where you can learn all about the cuts of beef, including which options are considered lean.

Zesty Heirloom Tomato Taco Salad

Salads don’t have to be made with greens! Top fresh tomatoes with all the toppings for a nice, light dinner. Heirloom tomatoes are super-delicious here, but cherry or regular tomatoes would also work great.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (90% or better), preferably grass-fed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 4 tomatoes, preferably locally-grown (because they taste soooo much better)
  • 1 avocado, washed, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 green onion, sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1 Tbsp. each lemon and lime zest
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add lean beef to medium skillet and sprinkle with cumin, ground pepper and chili powder. Saute until cooked through.
  2. While beef is cooking, wash and core tomatoes, then cut into 8 wedges. Prepare avocado, green onions, lemon and lime zest and cut lime into 4 wedges.
  3. Lay tomatoes onto four separate plates, then sprinkle cooked ground beef over tomatoes, and garnish with avocados, green onions and zest. Sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze a lime over each serving. Add a few dollops of optional plain Greek yogurt if desired.

zesty_tomato_taco_salad

For more awesome lean beef recipes, check out the link below! 

Miso Mustard Green Beans {Recipe ReDux}

If you follow me on Instagram (@danaartinyanRD), you know that I’m kind of obsessed with my CSA from Green Acres. It’s organic, locally grown and always exciting to see what treasures I’ll get in the week’s haul. I especially love all the weird exotic stuff, e.g. nettles (have to wear gloves when you handle them/cook them so that you don’t get a rash), Scarlet turnips, all colors of carrots and Swiss chard — though I guess that’s not so exotic, depending on who you ask.

I have a special place in my heart for vegetables that are “abnormal” in color: yellow cauliflower, purple asparagus, red carrots and so on. Growing up, my mom always made a point to make sure our meals were colorful, which I’ve carried into my own cooking. So the crazy-colored veggies fit in perfectly. Last week, I got these rainbow green beans and was thrilled to use them in this month’s “Fresh From the Garden” Recipe ReDux:

The season of bountiful produce has arrived. Whether your produce comes from the Farmers Market, a CSA share, or a plot of dirt out back, show how you are using fresh July fruits or veggies. And if you have gardening successes – or failures – please share!

rainbow_green_beans

I can thank a former Recipe ReDux for my love for miso paste. It lends a savory flavor complexity that I get really geeked about. A couple months ago, I was cooking with friends and made some roasted green beans with a miso-mustard sauce, so this recipe is a play on that. It might sound simple or maybe even strange, but trust me, you will be DREAMING about these miso mustard green beans for days. You’re welcome.

miso_green_beans

Miso Mustard Green Beans

Try these with chicken, steak or grilled tofu. If you don’t have green beans, I’m pretty sure this sauce would be amazing on whatever you put it on, so not to worry. I especially recommend cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. green beans (multi-color if available), preferably locally-grown and organic
  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. miso paste (I used a chickpea-based, soy-free version from Miso Master)
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. local honey

Directions:

  1. Wash green beans and carrots well. Cut ends off of green beans and carrots. Julienne carrots (into small matchsticks).
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet for 2-3 minutes. Add green beans and carrots and saute for 10-12 minutes, or until desired level of char is reached.
  3. While the vegetables are sauteeing, add remaining ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well-combined.
  4. Toss vegetables in miso mixture and serve warm.

miso_mustard_green_beans

Who else is obsessed with their CSA? What’s your favorite CSA treasure thus far?

For more great locally-grown recipes, click the link below!

Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie {Recipe ReDux}

When I say PIE, you say…

Shepherd’s Pie (??)

To be honest, I’ve never actually had Shepherd’s Pie until today, but when the ladies of Recipe ReDux tasked us with showing our “Pie Love,” I wanted to go savory. And that’s where Shepherd’s Pie comes in.

I have been taking more of a paleo approach to my eating as of late, and eating more healthy fats and less carbohydrates. Most importantly, though, I’ve been trying to cut sugary foods out of my diet. At one point in my life, I was very addicted to sugar, and felt that I had to have dessert after every meal, with my snacks and really any time I could get my hands on sweets. While I still like sweeter foods, I’ve been working to cut junk out of my diet and eat real foods — e.g. fruit instead of cookies and donuts. I found that when I stopped eating a low fat/high carb diet and learned to embrace healthy fats, my sugar cravings naturally improved.

Thus, this is less of a traditional “pie” and more of a meal that you can eat time and time again, switching up the protein, seasoning, or mash (in this case, an amazing sweet potato-parsnip mash that is delicious in its own right).

mediterranean_shepherds_pie

Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie (Gluten-Free, Paleo)

Grass-fed lamb adds a delicious flavor, and is pure perfection when combined with the natural sweetness of raisins and the freshness of mint, then topped with a delicious sweet potato-parsnip mash. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 Tbsp. grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 lbs. grass-fed lamb
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash sweet potato and parsnips well and cut into ~1/2″ cubes. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, and roast (I roasted mine in a cast iron skillet) for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Add roasted sweet potato and parsnips to a food processor, add butter (it should melt from the heat of the roasted vegetables) and process 2-3 minutes. Add beef stock and seasoning (cumin, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper) and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  4. In an oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron skillet, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add diced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the lamb and saute until the cooked through. Add in the canned tomatoes and raisins and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
  5. Turn the heat off, and stir in the mint. Level out the lamb mixture.
  6. Spread the sweet potato-parsnip mash in a thin layer over the lamb, making sure the mash reaches the sides of the skillet. If desired, use a fork to make a design or write a message in the mash. Sprinkle the green onions around the outside of the skillet and press them into the mash slightly.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.

paleo_shepherds_pie

This is a great dish to make when you’re having company (a set and forget kind of thing) or as a part of meal prep, for a satisfying dish that will last you the whole week! Serve with green veggies, such as sauteed green beans or spinach, and you have yourself a complete meal!

For more PIE LOVE, click the link below!

Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter {Recipe ReDux}

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already May 21. That means t-minus one week until yours truly’s birthday AND it’s Recipe ReDux time! This month we were tasked with showcasing kitchen staples that we now make from scratch – but in the past purchased.

For me, that’s got to be nut butters. Ever since discovering how easy it was to make nut butter thanks to my Homemade Nutella recipe from a previous Recipe ReDux, I’ve been making a new type of nut butter weekly.

And I literally have to make a new jar weekly. The boyfriend likes to eat massive spoonfuls straight out of the jar, so we go through nut butters pretty quickly in our household. [I also eat it straight from the jar but in much smaller, daintier bites.]

coconut_cashew_butter

After making some bomb almond butter (#nerd) and delicious peanut butter, it was time for the big dog: CASHEW BUTTER.

This started out as one-ingredient cashew butter, but as the butter was “churning” in my food processor, the evil genius in me came out and I felt compelled to elevate the butta’ with, what else but unsweetened shredded coconut. Because coconut is delicious and full of healthy fat (yes, saturated fats can be healthy too). And because I’ve been wanting coconut in everything lately.

Whatever you do, please, pleeaasseee don’t be intimidated by “homemade nut butter” — it’s super-easy and while it takes about 10 minutes to get all dreamy and creamy, it only takes about 2 minutes of hands-on time and the flavor combinations are endless. Add some cinnamon, smoked sea salt, ginger or go savory with paprika, curry or rosemary. This is your nut butter party and you’ll add what you want to.

Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter

This really is amazing straight out of the jar, but is also fantastic drizzled over Greek yogurt, as a dip for fruit (pears are especially delicious) or as part of the most insane-good cashew butter and jelly sandwich known to man.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay cashews on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. toasted_coconut_cashew_butter
  2. Let cashews cool for about 15 minutes (or longer) — they get hot in the food processor so the cooler they are, the better.
  3. Add to food processor and process for about 10 minutes, or until it forms a creamy butter. See stages of nut butter chart below.
  4. Once cashews form a creamy butter, add coconut and sea salt and process another 2-3 minutes.

stages_nut_butter

STAGES OF NUT BUTTER

  1. Intact Nuts
  2. Nut Meal/Flour
  3. Giant blob of nut butter (it helps to smash this apart a couple times)
  4. Creamy, dreamy nut butter

Check out more amazing homemade creations from the talented Recipe ReDuxers by clicking the icon below. Enjoy!

Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Happy May, everyone! May is a beautiful month — flowers blooming, temperatures heating up, my birthday…(#justsayin).

Before the weather gets too warm to use the oven, I have been trying to cram in all the delicious roasted meats and vegetables I can. And delicious they are.

Stuffed chicken is always tasty, but for whatever reason, I find myself making my stand-by of baked chicken with BBQ or teriyaki sauce most of the time. Maybe stuffed chicken, meat, etc. just seems more complicated (even though it’s not), which also makes it look all-the-more impressive when you do break out a recipe like this one.

goat cheese_dried plum_rosemary_chicken

I owe the inspiration for this recipe to the California Dried Plum Board, who tasked us Recipe ReDuxers with developing creative ways to use dried plums — formerly known as prunes — in everyday cooking.

Besides May being my birth month, it’s also National Osteoporosis Month, something that we all should care about. I think so many times, we forget about bone health, but it is so crucial to health, especially as we age. Strength training and other weight-bearing activities can have a huge positive impact on bone health, not to mention overall health. Food is also important — and not just dairy! Enter, dried plums.

Emerging research shows that eating dried plums may have positive effects on bone health. Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 8- 10 dried plums) of dried plums for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. Another study indicated that one serving of dried plums may be as effective in preventing bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women. You can read more about dried plums and bone health here.

BUT, as well all know, if we don’t enjoy the food being recommended, then we probably won’t eat it.

Fortunately, this is not a concern with dried plums, because they are DELICIOUS and super-verstile in the kitchen. I prefer to use mine in a savory way, as seen here.

I’ve also been trying to cut down on and eventually eliminate added sugars from my diet, so I was thrilled to know that dried plums can be pureed and used as a replacement for refined sugar in recipes. Dried plums are naturally sweet but not as cloyingly sweet as straight sugar, which is a major win in my book. No need for uber-sweet desserts here, folks.

goat cheese_dried plum_chicken

Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

You can choose to make just the chicken and pair it with another side, but the combination of the vegetables with hazelnuts and this chicken is scrumptious. Feel free to change up the vegetables used if you’d like — sautéed kale and other greens would pair also pair nicely.

Ingredients:

Stuffed Chicken

  • 1.5 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, pounded
  • 3/4 cup California Dried Plums, puréed or finely mashed
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Vegetable/Hazelnut Sauté

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed
  • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, thinly sliced into ribbons (you can also use a peeler to get this effect)
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. Using a fork, mash California Dried Plums, goat cheese and rosemary together. Lay pounded chicken thighs on a baking sheet and evenly distribute goat cheese and dried plum mixture onto half of chicken thigh. Fold the other half of the chicken thigh over the mixture. If this sounds confusing, imagine the filling as a hot dog and the chicken as the bun.
  3. Brush the stuffed chicken with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches a temperature of 165 degrees. About 30 minutes in, brush with remaining balsamic vinegar.
  4. Meanwhile, while the chicken is baking, heat olive oil in a large skillet for 1-2 minutes, then add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the carrots and saute about 10 minutes, or until desired doneness. Add in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just wilted. Turn stove off then add balsamic vinegar and sea salt and toss.
  5. Chop cooled toasted hazelnuts. Sprinkle over vegetables.

To see more ways in which Recipe ReDuxers use naturally sweet, convenient and nutrient-dense California Dried Plums, check out the link below.

6-Ingredient Miso Honey Roasted Chickpeas {Recipe ReDux}

Do you ever rummage through your fridge or pantry and think, ‘I really have to use up x before it goes bad’? It could be a random spice at the back of your spice cabinet, a condiment on your fridge door, a special kind of grain you only needed once (hello, arborio rice!), etc. Well, it’s spring which means it’s spring cleaning time! And spring cleaning should definitely involve food items too — which is why we’ve been tasked with doing just that for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Spring cleaning: Go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge; what ‘treasures’ have you found? Pick an ingredient/spice/condiment that’s been hanging out for a while and give it the attention it needs. Share a healthy recipe made using your new-found pantry prize.

Roasted_Miso_chickpeas

I had almost too much inspiration this month so I decided to combine two neglected ingredients into this recipe, which I have to give myself kudos for since this recipe only involves six ingredients total (for all you math nerds, that means 1/3 of the ingredients).

The first: chickpeas. I pretty much always have either canned or dried chickpeas — AKA garbanzo beans — in my pantry. For the most part, I end up hummus-izing them (yep, I just invented a new word). But then I found miso hanging in the fridge and thought, ‘hey, these could go together’.

Miso has such an amazing, umami flavor and adds a really interesting depth to recipes. I personally like to hit as many different taste buds with my recipes as possible, so added some sea salt, honey and citrus (lemon) to round things out.

This recipe’s beauty comes not just from its taste but also from its simple ingredient list and very hands-off preparation. Hope you enjoy!

miso_honey_roasted_garbanzo_beans

Miso Honey Roasted Chickpeas

These roasted chickpeas get super crunchy — almost like nuts or croutons — and make a great topping for salads and stir fries and are equally as delicious on their own!

miso_honey_garbanzos

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chickpeas (about 4 cups), preferably organic, no salt added
  • 2 Tbsp. Miso (use a soy-free, chickpea-based version like the one pictured above if you want to go soy-free)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably unfiltered, cold-pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Add miso, olive oil, lemon juice and honey to a bowl and whisk until well combined.
  2. Add chickpeas to the miso mixture and toss to coat. Lay on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
  3. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until chickpeas are crunchy. (I like mine nice and charred as you can see from the photos). Note: the chickpeas will continue to harden after you take them out of the oven.

Warning: these are extremely addicting so try to control yourself when they come out of the oven. If you can’t, though — no worries. They’re not exactly junk food. ;)

To find out how other Recipe ReDuxers use buried food “treasures,” click the link below. Happy eating!

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Coconut Curry Beet Sauce {Recipe ReDux}

Who doesn’t love leftovers? Cook once, eat twice…or three, or four times.

Instead of just reheating the leftovers, though — c’mon, you know that gets boring — why not repurpose them into a completely new and delicious dish?

That’s what we were tasked with doing for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Two for One

We’re all about cooking once and eating twice. In short, double dinners are better. Show us how you take a favorite recipe already on your blog – and ReDux the leftovers into a new dish. Or, whip up a new healthy recipe and give suggestions on how to make it a second meal. For example, slow cooker pot roast could become shredded beef tacos; or grilled chicken breasts might morph into chicken salad.

roasted_carrots_coconut_curry_beet_sauce

A few weeks ago I made this delicious {vegan} Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup, and I packaged the leftover soup into individual containers and then stuck the containers in my freezer for future soup-eating occasions.

Now, the soup was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but after eating it for a week straight, I was completely beet souped out. And I still had a couple containers left.

What’s a girl to do??

(#firstworldproblems)

roasted_carrots_beet_sauce

MAKE IT INTO A SAUCE! And drizzle that sauce onto the most perfectly-roasted rainbow carrots.

Did you know that carrots started off as PURPLE — not orange? Some think that orange carrots were first bred in the Netherlands to honor King William of Orange, but whatever the real story, the orange color has seemingly stuck since that time.

I like all carrots, but rainbow carrots are just so gorgeous! And the different colors mean that they have a variety of nutrients — beta-carotene (vitamin A) in the orange carrots, anthocyanins (powerful antioxidants) in the purple carrots and Xanthophykks and lutein (linked with cancer prevention and eye health) in the yellow carrots.

Roasting them brings out their natural sweetness and earthiness. I could eat them straight out of the oven (with a little sea salt), but the addition of this beet sauce completely elevates them and will totally impress your dinner guests.

roasted_carrots

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Coconut Curry Beet Sauce

Serve this delicious veggie dish with grilled chicken or steak — or keep things vegan with marinated/roasted tofu. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. carrots, preferably organic rainbow carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup leftover Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup
  • 1 Tbsp. lime zest (from organic limes)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked sea salt (regular, non-smoked sea salt would also work)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash/scrub carrots and cut the ends off. Lay carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil. Toss the carrots a few times to evenly coat them with oil.
  2. Roast carrots for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Transfer the carrots to your serving platter.roasted_coconut_carrotsroasted_rainbow_carrots
  3. Using a spoon, drizzle carrots with leftover beet soup, then sprinkle with lime zest and pecans.

roasted_carrots_coconut_curry_beet_sauce

Check out the link below for infinite leftover meal ideas from the members of Recipe ReDux. Enjoy!

Homemade Nutella {Recipe ReDux}

It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day for me to want chocolate.

In fact, every day is a chocolate day. Just like I need coffee every morning, I enjoy a square of dark chocolate every night. It goes really well with the red wine that I drink every night, but that’s a different blog post. [insert red wine emoji here]

clean nutella

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, that doesn’t mean I can’t be smitten with the ladies behind Recipe ReDux. They clearly know the way to my heart with this month’s theme — CHOCOLATE!

Favorite Chocolate Matches
Does your chocolate need a friend? This month’s posting will be after Valentine’s Day, so you may have a bit of extra chocolate around. What’s your favorite chocolate match? Be it traditional peanut butter or something more exotic like cayenne + chocolate. Show us your favorite healthy chocolate combo recipe.

I do love cinnamon + chocolate + cayenne à la Mexican Hot Chocolate and will gobble up pretty much anything with chocolate and peanut butter.

homemade nutella

But once Nutella comes into the picture, ALL BETS ARE OFF.

Nutella is like candy, though. In fact, the first — AKA main — ingredient in brand-name Nutella is sugar, then palm oil.

nutella_ingredients

No thanks.

I’ve been wanting to make my own Nutella using REAL ingredients, and this seemed like a sign from the gods that now was the time.

This Chocolate Hazelnut spread’s number one ingredient is………..

DSCN0707

HAZELNUTS! Then comes chocolate. Who would guess that the first two ingredients in a chocolate-hazelnut spread are hazelnuts and chocolate?

Well, now you can feel a little better about smothering this stuff on everything — or just eating straight, which is my preferred method of ingestion. This “Nutella” contains only 7 ingredients, is a clean recipe, contains only 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup as a sweetener and is super-chocolately thanks to 72% dark chocolate.

Homemade Nutella {paleo, gluten-free}

You’ll think that the hazelnut “powder” will never turn into a smooth, dreamy hazelnut butter, but have patience young grasshopper and stand and watch as it slowly becomes smoother and creamier.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • 3.5 oz. dark chocolate (70% or higher is best)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (the one in the carton, not the can)
  • 1/4 cup dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or more if you want it a little sweeter)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Toast hazelnuts for 10-15 minutes, until they are fragrant and start to look toasty.
  2. Wet a large cloth and pour toasted hazelnuts on top of the cloth. Fold the cloth over and keep rubbing until most of the hazelnut skins have come off (don’t worry if you feel like there’s still a lot on — I did too and my Nutella still turned out super smooth and creamy)
  3. Add toasted, skinned hazelnuts to food processer and process for about 10 minutes, until “butter” forms.DSCN0709
  4. While hazelnut butter is forming, melt dark chocolate in the microwave.
  5. Add melted dark chocolate and remaining ingredients and process until well-blended.

DSCN0710

Enjoy with bananas, apple slices or straight out of the jar. I’m not a big bread-eater, but if that’s your thing, this would be delicious spread on toasted bread.

paleo nutella

For more chocolatey deliciousness, follow the link below.

Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro-Lime Pesto {Vegan}

Because you know I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. Hey!

I’m bringing beet soup baaaaacccckkk!

I could totally continue on with my Meghan Trainor/beet soup song, but I have an important recipe that needs sharing. For soup, no less. And while this soup is totally about the beets, it’s also about the butternut squash, coconut, curry and THE PESTO. [Vegan] Cilantro Lime Pesto that I posted yesterday. The combination of that pesto and this soup is money.

coconut_curry_butternut_squash_beet_soup_vegan

Who calls a soup + pesto combination “money”? I called a sandwich “money” the other day while out to eat with the boy, who proceeded to tease me about using the phrase to describe food.

I guess that’s just how I roll.

Okay, back to soup.

I’m not generally a soup maker. I make big batches of chili all the time but for some reason I’ve neglected soup.

I think it’s because, until now, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of soup. Soup is a fantastic way to use up ingredients — produce, proteins, etc. — that are on the verge of going bad. While soups can take a little longer to prepare, they yield a giant pot of deliciousness that can then feed you for days. Soups also let you play around with flavor combinations and can be relatively fool-proof.

The curry-coconut-cilantro combo (with beets + butternut squash) is seriously delicious. The richness from the coconut is perfectly balanced by the acidity and freshness of the Cilantro Lime Pesto.

And while I’m not a vegan, the vegan principle of using real, whole ingredients is one that I totally get behind. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really do processed foods.

coconut_curry_beet_squash_soup_vegan

Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro Lime Pesto

This soup would be perfect to serve at parties, for the holidays or just make whenever you want a warming, delicious and satisfying meal. If you’re not a vegan, I suggest pairing this with a grilled chicken breast for some protein.

Servings: 6, 10 oz. cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 large, fresh beets
  • 1 can (13.6 oz.) light coconut milk + 1 can (13.6 oz.) water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • Cilantro Lime Pesto for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut butternut squash in quarters. Cut the ends off (the little nub at the top and tough part at the bottom). Scoop out the seeds (save these for delicious roasted squash seeds if you feel inclined).
  3. Wash/scrub beets well. Cut off top and bottom of each beet, then cut into quarters. No need to peel the beets — just make sure you scrub them well.
  4. Lay butternut squash, cut side down, and beets on a sheet pan and roast for about an hour, until they are soft. Peel the skin of the butternut squash off (it should easily come off). Let the squash and beets cool slightly.
  5. When beets and squash slightly cooled, add to a food processor and pulse mixture until smooth.
  6. Add blended mixture to a large pot, along with coconut milk, water, curry powder, salt, pepper and optional chili powder.
  7. Heat over medium until mixture starts to boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Top each serving with a spoonful of cilantro pesto and serve warm.

vegan_beet_squash_soup_with_pesto

Five-Minute Cilantro Lime Pesto {Vegan}

My memories of pesto go back to being a kid, when my mom grew basil in the herb garden and would make big batches of amazing pesto throughout the summer. Have you ever frozen extra pesto (or any sauce for that matter) in ice cube trays? My mom would do this and it’s brilliant — you can just pop out a cube anytime you need some pesto in your life.

Which is often.

vegan_cilantro_lime_pesto

Since getting the best gift ever — AKA my food processor — I have been known to make pesto out of any and everything. So, when I had some leftover cilantro from these Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese, I made the obvious decision.

The only problem was that I didn’t have enough left to make full-blown cilantro pesto. Then I realized I had baby spinach in the fridge, and I could use it to extend the cilantro. And life was good again.

SIDE NOTE: I always have a giant box of organic spinach (I use Earthbound Organic) in my fridge and I recommend you do the same. I add it to eggs, use it as a salad base, add it to smoothies, soups and stir-fries, and more. It’s a great way to amp up the nutrition of your food and I find that the spinach in the plastic “boxes” stays fresh much longer than the kind packaged in bags.

Admittedly, this pesto was made to be a topper to a Coconut Curry Butternut Squash & Beet Soup that I’ll be posting later this week — I know, such a tease — but it is seriously delicious and can stand completely on it’s own. As in, I’ve been eating pesto by the spoonful. I’m not ashamed, though. You totally would do it too.

Vegan Cilantro Lime Pesto

Mix this in with eggs, add vinegar and serve as a dressing, use as a dip for veggies, eat it plain OR drizzle it over the Coconut Curry Butternut Squash & Beet Soup recipe I’ll be posting in a few days.

cilanro_lime_pesto_vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (such as Earthbound Organic)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (raw or roasted, whatever you fancy)
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 2 tsp. lime zest (about 1/2 a lime worth)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. lemon peper (or ground black pepper)

vegan_cilantro_pesto_lime

Directions:

  1. Wash cilantro and remove last 2″ of the stems (you can keep some of the stems on — they’ll all get ground up anyway)
  2. Add cilantro and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Process until smooth.

vegan_cilantro_lime_pesto

This Thursday, I’ll be posting the most perfect, six-ingredient vegan soup recipe that is even better when topped with Cilantro Lime Pesto. Get ready, kids.