This Chilled Zucchini Basil Soup with Lemon Garlic Cream is a summertime dream dish. Great as a starter or add your favorite protein for a perfect, super quick one-bowl meal.
Well, it’s that time again. Zucchini season. The abundance of my favorite veggie at the grocery, farmers markets and home gardens everywhere, means a new year to get creative and find new ways to cook up this tasty little green squash.
I personally find zucchini to be incredibly versatile, stepping in as noodles like spaghetti or fettucini or even rice noodles in Pad Thai. It works well in desserts like cookies or muffins, it makes amazing savory fritters, shoot it’s even amazing in smoothies.
I really enjoy pureeing raw or slightly cooked zucchini, as it brings a really hearty creaminess without the need for dairy, dairy alternatives or nuts.
This skillet meal is ready in just about 15 minutes and it’s loaded with quality protein, fibrous leafy greens and if you top it with avocado, you’ll get some bonus healthy fats. A perfect, low-carb, one pan meal to please all!
I have been loving a good one pan meal these days. Despite the, I am sure, blanket assumptions that when you don’t have kids, you have all the time in the world for meal planning, it can actually be quite hard, even still, in a child-free home. Without the forced structure and routines that comes with having little ones, we can often flail and have to make do.
I am not that great at planning ahead some weeks and I am often not that methodical with our meal planning, so there are always staples that we have around, so there are always those staple-inspired meals. You know the ones – they aren’t all that glamorous and they are more about the function than the fashion.
These Greek Gyro Meatballs aren’t your standard ground meat Greek meatballs, instead we are bringing the flavor and more importantly the texture of gyro meat. So you can skip the multiple steps and the need for delicate, thinly sliced meat and condense the work into these tasty bites!
My love for Greek food runs very very deep, you guys know this. Last year when I created, basically the best homemade gyro ever, I realized that I had been sorely missing out for basically an entire lifetime. Growing up Greek there were loads of recipes and dishes that were handed down from generation to generation, things we just always grew up eating – souvlaki, avgolemono soup, lamb meatballs, pastitsio, leg of lamb, Greek Potato Salad and that list goes on and on.
Though we all loved it very much, gyro wasn’t exactly one of those foods, it just wasn’t part of my family’s Greek food repertoire. Souvlaki was always the go to for this time of meal and if and when gyro was served, at our house, it was the store bought stuff (eeeeek over-processed, gluten-containing and not so good – so, I always passed). When I broke into the homemade gyro game, after years of being without it, it quickly became a dish that is requested every time I am home in NY visiting my family.
These Cast Iron Crispy Chicken Thighs are insanely simple, plus ready in under 30 minutes this super crispy, crackly and epically tasty chicken is a great weeknight dinner option.
In my continued efforts to bring you more of the simple, easy dishes that I cook on the weekly here in our house, along with solid fuss-free options for those of you transitioning to a more whole food focused, real food lifestyle – today, I give you a personal favorite of ours: Cast Iron Crispy Chicken Thighs.
These crispy, crackly-skinned chicken thighs are a staple around here and with varying spices and flavors, along with your desired sides, these are a simple weeknight option that you will never tire of. Plus it’s ready in under 30 minutes.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I am having a bit of a moment right now with Salsa Macha. It’s a very deeply rooted love affair and I have no shame in the fact that every single breakfast for the last week has featured it, among other meals and snacks.
Sleeping in on the weekend, rolling out of the bed at a leisurely pace and enjoying a feast of a brunch, this is something we all long for.
Inspired by local and seasonal fare, the new Saturday brunch buffet at catalina kitchen, at Terranea Resort, goes beyond bacon and eggs to bring you the ultimate weekend brunch experience. A culinary adventure that is sure to satisfy every palate, the epic spread celebrates the best of what California has to offer, through fresh, inspired dishes.
In an effort to ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’, today I am bringing you an effortless, one-pan recipe, perfect for the busy weeknights ahead. Without the overly-styled (not-so-realistic) plates of food and the fussy settings, I want to illustrate just how uncomplicated, yet still super tasty and nourishing, weeknight eating can be.
I have been loving the wide array of creative one pan and one pot meals that flood the internet this time of year. This is precisely the inspiration we all need more of, when life feels so hectic that take out seems the only way. Easy weeknight meals only have to be as complicated as we make them, I find one-pan, one-pot, under 30-minute real food meals to be way to go. Always.
Although it’s back to school time and summer is coming to an end, let’s not rush into the fall foods just quite yet. Zucchini are still abundant and there are lots of great dishes to be made with them. Of course, I am far more likely to make zucchini noodles and more savory dishes, than to bake with zucchini, I also find myself craving at least one zucchini baked good before the summer passes us by.
I am always looking for fun, inspired and unique ways to up my culinary creativity game, without too much extra fuss. Enter tea. I find tea-infusing to take the flavor profiles of recipes to new heights, with little to no extra work and the flavor combinations truly are endless.
This Moroccan Mint Tea infused rice is the perfect example. Beyond boiling some water and infusing the tea for 3-5 minutes, that’s about it for extra work. The rice cooks as usual and you are left with an incredibly flavorful dish, that will knock your socks off.
After sipping on a steamy mug of this flavorful Moroccan Mint Tea from Stash Tea, a beautiful blend of both mint and green teas with a hint of lemongrass flavor, I found I was inspired to create a meal focused on the very essence of the tea. Morocco. The rice is fluffy and fully of subtle Moroccan flavors from the mint to the spices and the flecks of sweet raisins and the crunchy toasted pine nuts. All of this pairs perfectly with the Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Skewers which elevate this to a meal. If you want to go deep into the Moroccan flavors, I recommend adding some preserved lemons when serving.
Did you know that May is Celiac Awareness Month? I shared the following over on my Instagram account but I thought it was worth mentioning here, as well.
While I discovered my own severe gluten intolerance over 11 years ago, I was actually never properly tested for Celiac (until it was too late) and now as many years later, as additional health issues have shown up to the party, many of which you guys have read about right here on the website – I now certainly suspect Celiac to be the underlying cause. (Though I denied this truth for many years)
That said, frankly speaking, my 11 year journey of eating 100% gluten-free and guiding others on their path, no matter the need, it has always been about celebrating food, exploring ingredients and hopefully encouraging others to get excited to be in the kitchen and create. Fresh, seasonal, nutrient-dense whole foods – to me it’s all about the amazing things that are naturally gluten-free, rather than supplementing with overly processed substitutes.
That said, given the nature of my work and the fact that not everyone has the ability to work from home, cook all three meals a day completely from scratch and that many of you have a whole family to feed – I am also always on the look out for gluten-free products that will make life easier, while not being loaded with terrifying ingredients. Read the rest of this entry »
For most of my life, I have always had a (totally rational) fear of fried foods, something I can say I happily accepted and followed. It wasn’t until this past year or so that I finally experimented with for-real frying at home, beyond a simple pan-fry. Besides the occasional french fry indulgence, I never really found myself drawn to deep-fried anything. It just was never my thing. But to be totally honest, beyond the fact that I intuitively never liked how fried foods made me feel, it was mostly because of the scary calories and fat. And while calories and fat should absolutely be a valid concern, in excess, after spending time truly learning about fats and oils in nutritional therapy school program, I have learned what we should really fear more than these numbers, instead are the oils themselves and the havoc that they can wreak on our bodies and our health. That old saying ‘quality not quantity’, has really never been more appropriate.
At most restaurants, even the nicest of places and honestly in most people’s homes, fried foods are generally cooked in denatured vegetable and seed oils. These are usually highly refined polyunsaturated fats that are highly unstable, especially in high heats. Often they are hydrogenated and when exposed to heat they oxidize and go rancid very quickly and form free radicals. “These chaotic, skewed fatty acid molecules, now in the form of free radicals, wreak havoc on the body attacking and damaging DNA and RNA, cell membranes, vascular walls, and red blood cells, all of which cascade into deeper physiological damage such as tumor formation, accelerated aging, arterial plaque accumulation, autoimmune imbalances, and more!” WOAH – just woah, right? My life-long intuition-led opinion on fried foods was definitely not for nothing.
Now, before we get into this recipe, I am certainly not advocating that fried foods, even in healthful oils, are something we should consume often. Like sweets and treats, even of the more healthy variety, this type of cooking falls into the category of once-in-a-while eating. But, being totally afraid of something and never being able to enjoy it, that doesn’t really feel good either and it certainly isn’t a lifestyle I ever want to live or promote. However, these curiosities for a better option, this is usually how I manage to come up with an alternative, a new way to enjoy something one-in-a-while that I never get to, but in a much more health-minded approach.
Despite the fact that we are well into spring now, Southern California has had it a bit twisted. Since I arrived back home from my travels to NY last week, it’s been mostly grey, rainy and cool. While I would have loved this weather in December and January, I will take it now. It’s a really nice change of pace. A great reason to pull out some sweaters and it’s also a great excuse to enjoy some real comforting foods.
Of all things I was craving a casserole. I know. What is it 1985? There is just something so comforting and cozy about a meal you can dump into a pan, bake and enjoy. It’s childhood for those of us in our 30s. I was also dreaming of a good creamy spring risotto, one of my favorite foods. While rice isn’t off limits for me, I do try to be mindful of how many grains I consume. I just feel better when my belly isn’t bloated from the carbs. Hence why I am OBSESSED with cauliflower rice. It’s so crazy versatile, so super easy to make and it’s incredible how delicious it is. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, the Organic Frozen Cauliflower Rice is an amazing quick option for when you don’t want to lug out the food processor. I have used it in this recipe before and it’s perfect!
Being away from my family living in California, it has gotten a bit easier with time and there are less and less tears over random moments, holidays, but one of the things I miss most is Sunday dinner as one a big family.
I grew up eating delicious home cooked Greek food. My family, they know their way around the kitchen. Everyone has their specialties and their things. My mom is an incredible baker, while not Greek herself she has mastered Greek desserts and pastries, baklava, koulourakia cookies. My dad is the king of savory, the grill master, the Greek God of souvlaki, marinated grilled leg of lamb, roasted potatoes among many other specialties. Sadly while my dad makes THE best lamb you’ll ever eat, neither he nor anyone else in our family has ever mastered homemade gyro. Whenever my parents serve up gyro, which isn’t super often, it usually comes already prepared and frozen. Meh. It makes me sad that we aren’t making it ourselves. Also sadly, these pre-made gyro meats tend to be very processed and they almost always contains gluten, so naturally I won’t touch them. Short of going to a more traditional shop, cart or restaurant, where they cook the meat traditionally over a spinning spit or rotisserie – it’s impossible to get the real thing, I haven’t had it in many, many years.
Traditional Greek gyro, from what I have read, is made with whole cuts of pork, slowly cooked rotisserie style, and thinly shaved, while Americanized Greek gyro is the pressed, almost sausage-like, thinly sliced minced beef and/or lamb blend. Usually served in a pita, wrap style it is a meal that I never get to eat, yet I still find myself craving it.
I am home in New York right now, with my family, visiting and meeting my brand new nephew Keaton James, born just three weeks ago. As I was preparing for this trip home to Buffalo, I got giddy at the thought of all the homemade Greek food I would be eating. Greek food is my comfort, it’s what I crave at the holidays, when I am homesick or when I come down with a bug. Greek food from a restaurant is just never the same and somehow making a big feast of Greek food at home, just the two of us, while I do it occasionally, it just never tastes the same to me. This is the food best served with a large group of the people you love most. A big Greek feast needs to come with a side of very loud chatter, tons of laughs, stories from back in the day and it needs kids running around the very same living room that my dad ran around as a little kid.
Something strange has happened in Southern California over the last couple of days…we had weather!! Yes, more than just sunshine and blue skies. We had violent and incredible thunderstorms lighting up the skies, pouring rain with the biggest rain drops you ever did see and heavy winds, bending those strong and sturdy palms, to and fro. It was incredible, chilly and so cozy. I miss days like this. When the skies open up and bathe us in this sweet and necessary rain, I am beyond grateful not only for the obvious, but also for the reminder and the excuse to slow down. I also find myself reminded of the importance of soul-warming, comfort food.
I have been making this comforting mushroom soup on and off throughout this winter. It’s so hearty, rich and earthy without being too heavy or indulgent. I also find that like most of my recipes, it’s also quite versatile. You can make it vegan by utilizing just the flavor of a beautiful mushroom broth and the meatiness of the varying mushrooms as the base, or you can, as we opted to here, add in some beautiful chicken stock and a little shredded dark meat chicken, for additional flavor and a source of protein for a complete meal.
Seafood has become a staple in our house. At least once a week I serve up some type of seafood. Scallops, salmon, tuna, halibut, shrimp, and many others are on regular rotation around here. Since we moved to the West Coast I have found that my love of seafood has reached new heights. Driving by the ocean daily, will do that to you. Additionally, by way of nutritionist school, I have gained an even deeper awareness of the many nutritional benefits of wild caught seafood, including it’s abundance of omega-3 essential fatty acids, obviously quality protein and of course, fat soluble vitamins A and D and various macro and trace minerals including iodine, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Our soils may be depleted of certain trace minerals, but every mineral we need is in the oceans and seafood is our only sure source for obtaining them all. These are just some of the many reasons high quality seafood at the top of the list for our protein choices, around here.
Why Sustainable, Wild Caught Seafood is Your Best Choice:
Regardless of the long list of nutritional benefits, it so very important to always harbor concern for overfishing and sustainability. Selecting your fish should comes with a responsibility, and hopefully, a commitment to supporting sustainably managed fisheries with a focus on best practices and ethics. I personally want to know the fisherman are using ethical catch methods (hook and line) and that at the heart of the business I am supporting, are small boat fishermen who really care and have a high level of pride in what they do. Those nutritional benefits listed above, you can be sure those will only come with wild cause fish. Just an FYI for those who still don’t know, farm raised fish, often receive antibiotics and inappropriate feed, including soy meal containing pesticide residues. Oh and pssst, farm raised salmon are actually given a dye to make their flesh pink!
One Hook, One Fish at a Time
Only a small percentage—less than 5%—of Alaska seafood comes from hook and line methods, but what line-caught fish lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality. Using a small boat, hook and line fishermen catch and process One Hook, One Fish At A Time. This is a traditional way of fishing that results in an extremely high quality fish. Additionally, the knowledgable fishermen who know where to fish and can pinpoint species with the right lures, results in minimal by-catch.
A line-caught fish is a superior product and is the most premium quality fish on the market. No fish is handled with more care from the time it leaves the water until it is delivered to a customer than a line-caught fish. With these practices come the belief that each fish deserves to be treated with a singular devotion to quality and the respect due to a wild creature, all the way to the consumer.
The thing about food is, it all tastes better when enjoyed with someone (or several someones) you love! Food is nourishment, but it is also community, it is celebration and it is love. When you put your passion, care, love and mindfulness into a meal, people will be eating your love. How incredible an idea is that?
If I could, I would give the universe to the people whom I love the most, so in my food, I seek to do just that.
Each Spoonful Contains the Universe
Pay attention to each spoonful of food. As you bring it up to your mouth, use your mindfulness to be aware that this food is the gift of the whole universe. The Earth and the sky have collaborated to bring this spoonful of food to you. While breathing in and out, you only need a second or two to recognize this. We eat in such a way that every morsel of food, every moment of eating has mindfulness in it. It takes only a few seconds to see that the food we’re holding in our spoon is the gift of the whole cosmos. While we chew, we maintain that awareness. When we chew, we know that the whole universe is there in that bite of food.
– Thich Nhat Hanh // How to Eat
The one contains the all. When you pick up a lemon, you can know that the entire universe resides in that lemon. The earth, the sun, the sky. When you enjoy a dish made with the lemon, not only is the love and care of all that came together to grow that food contained within it, the love of the farmer, but also the love of the person who made the meal. What’s more, even with all this talk of sharing your love through the food you make, if you are eating by yourself, you can trust that you are never truly alone. The food becomes the means to connect you with the larger community that helped to grow your food, every meal contains the presence of so many caring people.
Truth me told, the loaded fries and the chicken wings, those are more my husband’s football food. He begs and pleads for junk food on football Sundays, so I have always caved by simply recreating the classics for him, but in a healthier way. It’s a good deal for both of us. Me, I am a bit more uppity when it comes to what I want in a party spread. Give me an epic charcuterie or crudités platter, a little homemade roasted red pepper and feta dip, some tasty, fresh homemade salsa and chips (I reach for the plantain chips these days), a simple, but flavorful chili, the best darn gluten-free soft pretzel bites or these…tasty, crispy salmon cakes!
These Grain-free Salmon Cakes with Old Bay Aioli may seem a more fancy option at your Super Bowl spread, compared to the chips, fries or wings, but don’t let these fool you. They are whipped up in a mere minutes and they are the perfect small bite, party food. A little crispy on the outside with a soft, fluffy, perfect interior. Do not, I repeat do not skip out on the Old Bay Aioli. It’s a must here.
Though salmon cakes aren’t a food I grew up eating, these are comfort food to me. They are totally fuss-free, so they actually make for a very simple weeknight meal or a quick lunch or brunch, even. We almost always have canned salmon on hand, but this recipe is also great for leftover cooked salmon, as well. I love these served over a mixed baby greens salad, but they make an amazing appetizer, as well. Make the patties even bigger and go for more of a burger vibe, if you’d like.
Meal planning for busy weeks can be at times be a challenge, to say the least. Even for someone like me, which is kinda insane considering I like I think about food well over 3/4 of the day. It takes a lot to keep things fun, fresh and interesting, while being healthy, easy and swift. This is all especially important during the mid-week craziness.
If you are a regular reader of Tasty Yummies, you are always seeing the many, fun and unique ways that I prepare my vegetables, it is something I take great pride in, they truly inspire me. Since we eat meat sparingly around here, it’s not an every night thing, so I am always seeking simple ways to prepare different proteins that wow me, the way veggies can.
Truth be told, I never really understood the obsession with boneless skinless chicken breasts. So flavorless, so boring. Blah! Get yourself some (well-raised) chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in and my friends, that’s where all the flavor is at. You get some crispy skin and now we’re talking about succulent goodness. Let’s start a chicken revolution.
Lately I have seen quite a few posts online calling out other greens as “The New Kale” or “The Kale of 2016”. So wait – does this mean kale is out of style? Was kale ever in style? Can veggies be in vogue?
I think I am the wrong person to be talking about any of this, I would still be wearing my flannels, combat boots, chokers and overalls, if I didn’t have the little tiny bit of sense that I do have. Though, seemingly according to my trips to the mall during the holidays all of this is acceptable again. I have NO clue. All I do know is that kale is ALWAYS in my fridge, it’s a favorite around here and for me, it’s always in style.
Kale is a freakin’ nutritional powerhouse, so whether it’s cool or not, I am all about it. While I prefer my kale to be cooked, I do find it makes an amazing salad, when the tough leaves get a massage and it’s given a little time to marinate in the vinaigrette, to break down it’s fibrous nature. The flavor of the sometimes bitter kale mellows out, the texture becomes more palatable and it’s infused with the soft flavors of whatever dressing you choose.
While I am very aware that the holidays, for most of us, usually means a bit more sweets than usual, maybe a tad more alcohol and probably a few other less-than-healthy choices, I also kinda resent the idea that we should all relegate ourselves to spending the entire month of January detoxing, cleansing or Whole-whatevering.
Obviously you guys know me and my mission well enough to know that people making healthier choices and mindful lifestyle changes is always something I can get behind no matter the circumstances and in fact, I constantly encourage this. But, I don’t love this idea of post-holiday shame or guilt, that many feel we should suffer, especially after one of the best and most special times of the year. It just isn’t healthy. I also don’t love the idea often promoted every January, that 30 days of “cleansing” is going to change our lives or fix our wrongdoings and come February we can just jump back into the “old ways of eating”. Done and done.
Once again, it’s that balance I so often talk about. It’s the sustainable lifestyle choices and habit-forming, everyday changes that will endure long term and elicit real shifts in our health and overall well-being and vitality, for the long haul. Sure, more veggies and less junk is what we are all doing right now and I am certainly not condemning that, but I will feel no regret for my holiday choices. I make no apologies for the amazing, “nutritionally imperfect” homemade food I enjoyed with my family or those extra few pieces of the dark chocolate candy that my father and I made together (using my great-grandmother’s recipe) – which may have snuck into my suitcase. So what, I had a few cocktails? I also don’t feel even the slightest bit bad about the extra (of course, gluten-free) refined-carbs that seemed to follow me everywhere these past two weeks. None of these choices were really all that bad. I know, simply put, that it cannot and will not undo all the hard work I have done the rest of the year and consuming those things (or more) under the premise that I will “undo” it in the New Year, feels just plain silly to me.
This tutorial falls under the category of simple, yet sweet. Or should I say, simple, yet savory! This is the perfect weeknight meal solution and as of recent, it is a near weekly occurrence in our house. I grab a fresh 3-4 lb whole pasture-raised chicken at the farmers market or Whole Foods, I rub it down, season it up, pile it atop some root veggies in the Crock Pot and voila, 4 hours later, dinner is ready.
The best part of a weekly whole chicken is how many meals we get from it. The meal from the whole roasted chicken is good for at least 2-3 meals, we enjoy it with the potatoes, as chicken salad, on top of big green salads, etc. Then I make a big pot of stock from the leftover bones and we get another 2-3 meals from that. This is truly a must for any busy family.
The seasonings on your chicken can vary with your preference and your mood. Generally I use this all-purpose herb and seasoning blend, that I love, occasionally I will opt for a spicy, chile pepper rub, it’s also great with lemon zest, garlic and freshly ground black pepper. The possibilities are endless. Seriously, you will never buy that rotisserie chicken from the store, again.