Monday, July 30, 2012

Paleo Beef Meatballs

Want an idea for a quick summer meal?
Reheat a few of these meatballs for a great casual meal on a warm summer night. Have lots of toothpicks on hand for dipping in your favorite marinara sauce. A veggie platter and crackers are all you need for an easy dinner on the back patio.

This is a perfect basic meatball recipe. Most meatballs recipes contain bread crumbs as a binder, so I've come up with a combination of "flours" that hold together the meatballs and have a delicious flavor as well. Although I love the versatility of coconut flour, sometimes the flavor of coconut isn't welcome! You can't taste the coconut flavor in these meatballs, but it still serves wonderfully as a binder. I like to make a triple batch and freeze two servings for later.

For an extra-decadent meal, try creating some Swedish Paleo Meatballs to serve over pasta or Green Spaghetti (Zucchini!).

Paleo Beef Meatballs
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup soft gluten-free bread crumbs (if eating grain free, see the substitution below)
1 egg
2 T. finely minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

1/2 c bread crumb substitution for grain-free diets:
   2T. ground flax seed
   2T. coconut flour
   2T. almond flour
   1/4 c. shredded zucchini (squeeze out water before measuring)
      OR 1/4 c. finely chopped mushrooms

Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together.
Create ~1-1/2" meatballs and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, flipping each ball once half way through cooking.
Drain meatballs on paper towels or newspaper.

Simmer several meatballs in your favorite tomato sauce for 15 minutes for a quick spaghetti night (simmer for an hour to create a richer sauce).

Swedish Paleo Meatballs
1 recipe prepared Paleo Beef meatballs (above)
2/3 cup Cindy's Cashew Cheese
1-1/3 cup beef broth

1/8 t. allspice
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. finely chopped parsley for garnish

Combine cashew cheese, beef broth and spices in a large frying pan.
Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add meatballs and warm them in the "cream" sauce.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve over gluten-free pasta or Green Spaghetti (Zucchini) with a big salad on the side.


Tip: I freeze gluten-free bread heels in a freezer bag, and pulse them in a food processor when I'm in need of bread crumbs.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sour Cherry Sauce

Some things just can't wait.
I'm posting two recipes today, because I just created the most FABULOUS sour cherry sauce from a friend's cherry tree bounty this afternoon. These fruits are so fleeting, that I encourage you to visit your nearest neighbor's sour cherry tree as soon as they are ripe -- possibly now. Pick a few cups of these tart treats to make yourself this easy syrup to serve over ice cream or cake this season.

Make sure you freeze a serving or two for a taste of summer this winter.
Savor summer.

Sour Cherry Sauce
2 cups pitted cherries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/3 c. agave and reduce water to 1/3 c.)
1/2 t. vanilla
1 t. arrow root powder

Pit cherries with a cherry pitter and halve them (this takes about 20 minutes -- put on some favorite summertime music). Discard pits and imperfect cherries. Add water, sugar, vanilla and cherries to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes.

Mix arrowroot powder with 1 t. water. Stir to dissolve. Add mixture to saucepan and stir over low heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. This amount of arrowroot powder will not make a thick syrup -- it will make a sauce just thick enough to coat a spoon. Add 2 t. arrowroot if you'd like a thicker syrup.

Also, you may use more or less sugar to taste. You can still taste the tartness of the cherries with this recipe, but it's not overly sweet. You can use less sugar for an equally delicious, but more tart sauce.

You can try a variety of flavorings that will compliment the cherries and your palette -- some prefer the taste of almond extract with their cherry syrup, others like brandy or kirsch. Experiment and enjoy!

Raw Ice Cream Cones (Dairy-Free!)

There are angels living among us.
And many of them grow, harvest and prepare local, wild and living food for us at Turtle Lake Refuge in Durango. Their mission is to celebrate the connection between personal health and wild lands. . .and they do it deliciously.

On a recent sunny Saturday morning, I visited their booth at the Durango Farmer's Market, and enjoyed the best "ice cream cone" of my life. It was an impossibly delicious raw, dairy-free, gluten-free treat. I'm so glad that Turtle Lake Goddess Katrina Blair gave me permission to rave about their ice cream online! Purchase a copy of their cookbook, Local Wild Life, for more local, wild and living food recipes. Most recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free, and all are raw and super healthy.

Turtle Lake Refuge serves lunch to the community every Tuesday and Friday from 11:11am-2:22pm at 848 E. 3rd Avenue in Durango. Suggested donation of $10-15: includes drink, soup & salad, main entree, and dessert. Visit them soon!

Andy's Raw Vanilla Ice Cream Base
1 Cup cashews (no need to soak)
1.5 Cup water
1/3 Cup honey or raw agave*
1/4 tsp salt (+/-)
1/3 Cup raisins
     Soak raisins for half hour or longer so they blend better. 
     This is the secret ingredient that imparts the rich/buttery flavor, 
     if you want a vanilla color then use golden raisins instead of standard raisins.
1 vanilla bean (or 3 tsp of vanilla extract)
1-2 Tbsp coconut oil

Take all the above ingredients and blend in Vitamix or Blendtec for a couple of minutes...or at least until all the solids have blended away.

Pour the mixture through a sprout bag (or cheesecloth). This will catch all of the tiny cashew/vanilla bean particles, and make the final product much more silky smooth.

At this point, it is best to 'pre-chill' the mixture. If you simply dump the mixture into the ice cream maker now, it won't set up properly, and it will be less firm than even soft serve. Place it in the fridge for a few hours, or if you've gotta gave that ice cream ASAP, put the mixture in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. You want it to be cool, but not to the point where ice crystals are starting to form. (SPECIAL NOTE: do not use the ice cream maker 'bowl' to do the pre-cooling. The base will freeze to the bowl, and the batch will be ruined.)

When the mixture is sufficiently cool, pour it into the ice cream maker, and let it go! After about 20 minutes or so, it should be ready! It makes about a pint.


Ice Cream Cones
3 bananas
1 cup soaked figs and 3 cups fig soak water
1 t. cinnamon

After de-stemming the soaked figs, place them in the blender with the bananas and cinnamon. Ass the fig soak water and blend until smooth

Form circles on the dehydrator teflex sheets and dry overnight, or until they are dry but still flexible. Toll the circular fruit leather into a cone and fill with your favorite flavor of Turtle Ice Dreams.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flax Crackers

Okay, I'll admit. . .I've been intimated by my dehydrator.
I rarely embrace learning new gadgetry or technology, so my enormous new dehydrator loomed in the corner of my pantry for far too long before I tried creating a basic flax cracker.

Recently, I took a deep breath and dove into a few recipes. After some modifications, I've created my ideal, flavorful flax cracker recipe. These simple, nutritious crackers are a delight -- and they were so easy to make!

You can easily dry these crackers in the oven if you don't own a dehydrator. These instructions follow the recipe.

I had a perfect lunch yesterday of a juicy summer peach, and several of these crackers spread with Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Lovely. They're delicious with zucchini hummus, cheese, or any favorite dip.

Flax seeds naturally contain high levels of lignans and Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, soluble fiber, vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E, and many minerals. Enjoy these with gusto!

Snacking on this sage, hummus, olive and flax cracker combination was delicious!

Curry Flax Crackers
1/2 c. whole flax seeds
1-1/2 c. water
2 t. coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari sauce
2 t. agave syrup
1/4 t. curry powder
1/4 t. turmeric
1/8 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. minced, dried onion
1/4 t. paprika
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. salt

Soak flax seeds overnight in water.
Place soaked flax and its water (now a gelatinous goo) into a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients.
Blend for 1-1/2 - 2 minutes to coarsely chop the flax seeds and incorporate all ingredients.
Spoon tablespoonful amounts of batter onto a dehydrator tray lined with a non-stick liner (about 9 crackers per tray). Spread the batter so each cracker is about 1/8" thick and about 3" or 4" wide.

Dehydrate at 110 degrees for 5 hours, then remove crackers from non-stick liner and flip over onto the tray's screen. Dehydrate for about 4 hours more until crisp and delicious. Store in a sealed container. Makes about 18 3" crackers.

If you don't own a dehydrator, simply spread the mixture thinly onto two foil-lined cookie sheets that have been oiled with olive oil (or use a Silpat baking mat if you have one). Bake in an oven for about 2-3 hours at 170 degrees. flip the cracker and the foil liner onto the cookie sheet (leave the foil behind if it's sticking too much) and bake for about 2-3 more hours and let cool in the oven. For a crispier oven cracker, leave the oven door slightly ajar while cooking.

Also, try this recipe variation, prepared like the crackers above, or use your own favorite spice combination:
Italian Flax Crackers
1/2 c. whole flax seeds
1-1/4 c. water
1 t. Italian seasoning
1/2 t. salt

Monday, July 9, 2012

Serviceberry Sauce

Ever heard of Serviceberries?
Neither had I, until a friend recommended that we plant a couple serviceberry bushes in our back yard. They're gorgeous bushes with bouquets of white flowers in the spring and berries in June (They're also known as June Berries, Privets, and Saskatoon Berries).

The species we plant in our yard must be both beautiful and edible (by either animals or us). We assumed the prolific deep violet berries on this plant were simply bird food. Finally, in the third year after planting, my husband decided to try them, and WOW! Why hadn't we snacked on these blueberry-like fruit before?? They were delicious straight off the bush or in sauces or pies.

Try finding some of these berries on your next hike or pick some from a friend's yard to make this delicious sauce. If you can't find any in your neighborhood, blueberries will substitute nicely.

Serviceberry Dessert Sauce:
4 cups serviceberries (or blueberries)
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/3 c agave syrup)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring serviceberries, sugar (or agave) and water to a boil in saucepan. Simmer about 10-15 minutes, until reduced a bit. Add lemon juice. Dissolve 1 teaspoon arrow root powder in 1 Tablespoon water and add to berry sauce. Simmer until thickened, about a minute.

This is delicious served over ice cream, pancakes, waffles, cake, or even atop grilled salmon.
Enjoy the fruits of your yard!

Monday, July 2, 2012

On the Divinity of Greens

I've fallen in love.
This year, our garden has a gorgeous bounty of kale, chard, beets and spinach. I have loved experimenting with different ways to integrate them into our meals.

Greens are a nutritional powerhouse. Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.

Perhaps the star of these nutrients is Vitamin K. A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K, and even a couple of cups of dark salad greens usually provide the minimum all on their own. Recent research has provided evidence that this vitamin may be even more important than we once thought (the current minimum may not be optimal), and many people do not get enough of it. (nutritional information source:

It seems the more leafy greens I eat, the less I crave carbohydrates and other food that are less than optimal in nutrition. Truly! I feel vibrant and satisfied after I eat a salad of greens topped with quality grilled meat and homemade dressing.

In a nutshell, greens are simply divine.

Here are just a few ways I've enjoyed greens lately:

Greens, Red Chile and Eggs
~10 big leaves of kale, chard, spinach or beet greens
1/2 c. Max's Red Chile
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Chop greens to desired size. Quickly saute greens over medium-high heat in olive oil. Place in bowl. Baste two eggs and place atop greens. Warm the red chile in the same pan and pour atop greens. The bitter greens and savory flavor of the red chile are a mouth-watering combination.

Note: Basting is my favorite egg preparation. You simply crack two eggs into a frying pan heated over medium-high heat with a drizzle of your favorite oil, then add about a tablespoon of water. Place a glass lid over the eggs until the whites are set and the yolks still jiggle when the pan is shaken. It makes a pretty cooked egg that isn't as runny as a sunny side up preparation.

Rice, Eggs and Greens
~10 big leaves of kale, chard, spinach or beet greens
3/4 c. leftover sticky rice
2 eggs
1 t. gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
salt and pepper to taste

Heat some leftover rice until steamy. Place in a shallow bowl. Chop greens to desired size. Quickly saute greens over medium-high heat in olive oil. Add soy or coconut aminos as they cook. Place greens atop rice. Baste two eggs and place atop greens. Enjoy!

Greens and Salmon
~10 big leaves of kale, chard, spinach or beet greens
2 radishes
1/4 berries
2 T. Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 piece of Salmon 
2 t. lemon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Salt, pepper, and oil the salmon. Grill until flaky. Chop greens to desired size. Place salmon on top of the greens. Top salad with radishes, berries, and balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy on a sunny patio.

Kid's Green Salad
~10 big leaves of lettuce, kale, chard, spinach hand picked by your kids.
Any other veggie they can pick out of a garden or the fridge and chop themselves.
2 T. of your kiddo's favorite salad dressing

Let your kids play with a dangerous object (a kitchen knife!), and have them chop the greens to their desired size (with supervision). Top with other veggies and salad dressing. Because your kids prepared the salad all by themselves, they will magically savor this dish they might have snubbed the night before!

This nutty, crunchy snack is a favorite of kids and adults alike:

This is a beautiful salad to take to a summer potluck because of its cheery color, quick preparation, and its ability to look crisp and delicious on a buffet during a long outdoor get together:

A quick breakfast shake will start your day energetically!
This shake contains enough fruits, veggies, proteins and high-quality fats to make you feel fulfilled and energized:

This soup is surprisingly bright, yet filling. . .warm and complex with a hint of a sunny tartness:

If you ever crave the sweet-tart flavor of a traditional salad, try this healthier version with some garden kale, navy beans and green beans: