eating your superfoods is easy – with this vibrant kale + golden beet salad

superfood salad

People tend to either love or loathe kale salads — me? I’m firmly in the ‘love’ camp – so long as it’s prepared properly. The trick to making a killer kale salad is to marinate it. As kale can be a tough, fibrous green it requires acid + salt to properly tenderize.

Also adding to kale salad’s virtues is that they couldn’t be easier. They’re pretty fool proof – and it’s a true ‘one bowl’ meal. No need to prepare a separate dressing, you just add the acid, oil, and seasonings directly to the greens.

I also love that they can not only be made ahead of time – but they get better the longer they sit. It’s perfect to make ahead of time to work for a convenient lunch or to keep in your fridge for a grab and go meal.

I call this version a ‘superfood’ salad as it’s packed with nutrient dense ingredients like goji berries, hemp seeds, and microgreens. Goji berries are packed with antioxidants and add a little sweetness to offset the kale. I like that they will plump up as the dressing marinates. The hemp seeds also add a hefty protein dose that transforms this from a side salad to a complete meal. As a side note – adding hemp seeds to salads, bowls, and vegetables is a great way to up protein intake for those eating a largely plant-based diet.

Using a hand slicer to thinly slice the beets makes this a super simple and fast. Don’t have one? Try grating them with a box grater instead.

Kale Salad with Goji Berries + Golden Beets

Ingredients:

1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
½ avocado
2 tablespoons goji berries
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (from one lemon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 small golden beets, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 scallion, chopped
2 tablespoons microgreens (optional)

Procedure:

Add kale, avocado, goji berries lemon, olive oil, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes to a large bowl. Use clean hands to ‘massage’ kale. This will also smash the avocado – the point being to combine with the lemon, oil, and salt to create a dressing.

Add beets, hemp seeds; mix together. It’s ideal to let this salad sit for at least 10 minutes – or even overnight. The longer it sits, the more the kale will tenderize and get increasingly flavorful.

Top with chopped scallion and microgreens if using.

make your mornings better — with this simple paleo granola recipe

best simple paleo granola recipe

Most people I know, love granola. When it’s done right, it’s crunchy, savory, sweet, and satisfying. The problem with most granolas is that they are usually pretty carbohydrate and sugar heavy. As more people are adopting elements of a paleo diet (gluten and grain-free), so I set out to create a granola recipe to compliment the lifestyle.

The problem that I’ve found with many of the store bought paleo granolas is that they are too clustery – great for snacking, but not really as a topping. They’re often pretty dried out and tough to chew. I used my beloved best ever granola recipe as a guide, but swapped out the grains with nuts, seeds, and coconut. The result may be even better than the original — and easier to make (no popping amaranth).

I love using sunflower seeds in this recipe, because their shape naturally mimics that of an oat. By cooking them low and slow, they get golden, crunchy and delicious. I also pulse the nuts in the food processor so they have a smaller, more uniform shape. I like using almonds and pecans (I think it was what I had on hand), but feel free to swap in any of your favorites. Hazelnuts or cashews would both be good options.

I shared this recipe with my ‘Paleo 101’ cooking class last month and it was a clear winner. Hope you enjoy it the same.

Cinnamon Spiced Almond-Coconut Granola
 
Ingredients:
 
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil (liquefied)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup almonds
½ cup pecans
1 cup large coconut flakes
 
Procedure:
 
Preheat oven to 275 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 
 
Mix maple syrup, coconut oil, chia seeds, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside. 
 
Add sunflower seeds to a large bowl.  Add almonds and pecans to a food processor.  Pulse to rough chop.  Add coconut flakes and pulse again until broken down.  Add to sunflower seeds.
 
Pour chia seed mixture over seeds and nuts, mix well to coat.  Spread in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. 
 
Bake for 20 minutes.  Use a wooden spoon to stir on baking sheet.  Bake an additional 10-15 minutes.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes, as the granola will get crispy as it sits.

experiment with plant protein — try this chickpea skillet bread

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My favorite recipes are usually quick, easy, and have minimal ingredients. With those requirements, this is at the top of my go-to list. Making it even better? It’s a great mix of protein + fiber + healthy fat which will keep you satisfied and ward off junk food and carby cravings.

Chickpea flour is simply milled chickpeas — by soaking the flour with water, oil, and salt — it soaks up flavor and creates a creamy, thick texture. Simply heat up your trust cast-iron skillet (I’ve shared why I love them so much HERE) swirl in a bit of olive oil, add batter, and place in oven. 10 minutes later you have a dense flatbread that has a crispy, caramelized crust.

This recipe is the most basic version — but feel free to add chopped herbs, vegetables, or cheese to the batter. I like to top the skillet bread with an arugula salad, and sometimes throw a fried egg on top. It also works well with your favorite pizza toppings.

I use Bob’s Red Mill chickpea flour which is pretty easy to find at natural foods stores and traditional markets alike.

Chickpea Skillet Bread

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chickpea flour
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
½ teaspoon sea salt

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 450. Whisk together chickpea flour, water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat an 8-10 inch cast iron skillet in oven for 5 minutes. Remove, and swirl in remaining tablespoon of olive oil to coat pan. Add chickpea mixture. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes until firm and cooked through. Option to broil for 2-3 minutes to blister the top. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, carefully loosen bread around edges with a spatula, remove from skillet and serve.

coconut hot cocoa mix — for your DIY healthy holiday giving

diy hot cocoa mix

There’s nothing quite like coming home on a cold day and curling up with a cup of hot cocoa. It hits all the right creamy, warm, and chocolatey notes to satisfy and savor all winter long. I’ve tried making non-dairy cocoa mixes before, and stirred them into warm almond or coconut milk — but they always turned out a little powdery and underwhelming. When I saw coconut milk powder in the baking section of Whole Foods, I knew it was the secret ingredient needed to make a perfect dairy free cocoa mix.

Luckily, I was right. The resulting cup of hot cocoa, is creamy, rich, decadent and just sweet enough. If you make a big batch ahead of time, it eliminates the need for processed store-bought cocoa mixes that are full of refined sugar, chemicals, and stabilizers.

Feel free to customize the mix to your liking. Add a little more coconut sugar if you prefer a sweet cup of cocoa. I love using coconut sugar in this mix as it’s mineral rich, low-glycemic, and subtly sweet. You can also spice things up a bit by adding in ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger – or even a pinch of cayenne pepper for a twist on a Mexican hot chocolate.

Make a cup for yourself, or better yet, whip up a big batch to share with your nearest and dearest. Tis the season!

Coconut Hot Cocoa Mix – Single Serving

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut milk powder
1 tablespoon coconut sugar

Procedure:

Add all ingredients to a mug and add 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve.

+ To make in large quantities, whisk together equal parts cocoa powder, coconut milk powder, and coconut sugar. Store in an airtight container.

+ Customize your cocoa by adding cinnamon, cardamom and/or a pinch of cayenne pepper for a kick.

cauliflower is the new kale — try it in this 4 ingredient soup

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Truth be told, cauliflower is my favorite vegetable. I particularly love to roast it with olive oil and salt until it becomes a caramelized, crispy treat. But what makes it so great, is its versatility. You can mash it, rice it, and recently I have even made grain-free tortillas with it. So while cauliflower may not have the same rich nutrient density as kale, its definitely becoming a culinary darling as of late by starring on restaurant menus, in cookbooks, and hopefully – in your kitchen.

I always start making more soups come fall, and wanted to make a creamy, comforting soup without all the starch and cream. I made this recipe with all the ‘optional’ elements, so it technically was more than three ingredients… but the point is you can make a super simple and flavorful version with an onion, cauliflower, and a bit of olive oil and salt. I also think this soup would be delicious by adding a few teaspoons of curry powder when sauteeing the onion.

I prefer soups with a little texture, so I puree about half of the soup so there are still some chunks of cauliflower throughout. But if you’d like, you can puree the whole pot.

If you’re looking for a heartier seasonal soup, try this cauliflower and kale soup I shared last year.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:

2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, chopped
5-6 cups water
splash of sherry, sherry vinegar or fresh lemon juice (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped + more for garnish (optional)
fresh ground pepper, turkish crushed red peppers (maras or allepo) for garnish (optional)

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 425. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange the florets from 1 head of cauliflower on baking sheet, coat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until florets are caramelized and cooked through.

Meanwhile, begin to prepare soup. Heat a large stockpot and add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add remaining head of cauliflower, stir, and add water. Occasionally stir and break up florets with a wooden spoon. Let simmer until cauliflower softens.

When roasted cauliflower is finished, add it to the pot and sitr. Turn off heat, and add a splash of sherry, vinegar, or lemon. Carefully add 3 cups of soup to blender. Blend until creamy and return to pot. Add in chopped fresh thyme. Serve in bowl and garnish if desired.

If you’d like a creamier soup, puree the whole pot.

Yield: 6-8 servings

chocolate chip cookies – to cure your cravings

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When I created this ‘chewy chocolate cookie‘ recipe – I received a lot of fan fare. I’ve heard that it’s been the winner in cookie contests (that featured traditional sweets) – and kids (of all ages) love them. One such fan requested a more basic chocolate chip cookie recipe that would satisfy cravings for the classic, all-time favorite treat. There’s nothing like warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven, right?

So, I got to experimenting and came out with this winning recipe on the first try (which NEVER happens!) – and I’m so excited to share it with you.

Like most of my treats, these cookies feature whole-grain oat flour and high-protein almond flour. They’re naturally sweetened with low-glycemic coconut sugar, and get richness from coconut oil . But most importantly, they taste pretty amazing.

They will make a great addition to your holiday baking line up and will appeal to your friends and family with special diets and/or healthy lifestyles.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour, packed
1 cup oat flour
¾ cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons ground flax
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup liquid coconut oil*
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk almond flour, oat flour palm sugar, flax, baking powder, soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until evenly mixed. Add in chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Using a scant tablespoon, form dough into balls on baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.

NOTE: If your coconut oil is solid, place it on the stove in a saucepan filled a few inches with simmering water until it liquifies. If you (or your tasters) don’t love the taste of coconut oil – substitute grapeseed oil.

Want more holiday baking inspiration? Try some of my other favorites perfect for sharing:

Jam Dot Cookies
Granola
Sesame Seed Brittle
Maple-Pecan Cookies

kale salad with roasted carrots, chickpeas + spiced tahini dressing

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I’m no stranger to a kale salad (or two, or three), but I haven’t given them much love over the past few months. I spent the summer enjoying lighter, brighter greens like butter lettuces, napa cabbage, romaine and pea shoots. But as we ease into winter, dainty lettuces won’t suffice: only kale can cure my salad cravings.

Sure, kale can have a bit of a bitter taste, but the sweetness of the caramelized, oven-roasted carrots pairs perfectly, and creates a winning flavor combination. I added a big handful of cooked chickpeas to transform this salad into a balanced meal. For the finishing touch, drizzle the spiced tahini dressing on top to add richness and warmth that will combat winter’s cold.

I picked up a container or Turkish maras peppers at a local Middle Eastern Bakery. I’ve enjoyed adding a pinch of these beautiful, red specks on eggs, avocado toast, meats, fish – and in dressings like this one. If you can’t find the peppers, or don’t have on hand, you can substitute paprika and crushed red peppers.

Kale Salad with Roasted Carrots + Chickpeas

Ingredients:

1 bunch of carrots, peeled and cut on a large bias
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Spiced tahini dressing (recipe below!)

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 425. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add carrots to baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Roast until carrots are tender and caramelized – about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place torn kale in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Gently ‘massage’ kale with clean hands. Kale should turn bright green and begin to tenderize. Toss in chickpeas and cooked carrots. Drizzle with tahini dressing and serve extra on the side.

Spiced Tahini Dressing

Ingredients:

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon turkish maras peppers (or 2 teaspoons paprika and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes)

Procedure:

Whisk all ingredients together. Depending on the consistency of the tahini (whether oily or solid) you may need to add a bit of extra water until you reach desired consistency.

craving a burger? try this veggie version made with white beans, quinoa + roasted garlic

white bean burgers  

Sure, I love to cook. But when it comes to doing so at home for myself, I like to make something that’s easy, will last awhile, and lends to simple reheating and preparation. I like to be able to grab something from the fridge and have a healthy balanced meal ready in minutes. A veggie bean-based burger fits the bill. They take about 30 minutes – from start to finish (clean up included!) – to make, and will be welcome additions to your fridge – or freezer – when hunger strikes.

This particular ‘burger’ has been a favorite of mine this summer. Seasoned with roasted garlic , anise, and oregano, this white bean + quinoa burger is full of flavor and ‘meaty’ texture. Serve in a traditional burger fashion on a bun, in a pita, or lettuce wrap – or crumble on a salad.

Feel free to add in fresh herbs like basil or parsley. They would be delicious pulsed into the mixture (with the quinoa and chia).

White Bean + Quinoa ‘Burgers’

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
2 cups cooked cannelini beans (if using canned, choose unsalted)
1 head garlic, roasted (directions below)
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons chia seeds

Procedure:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Saute onions, stirring occasionally until softened; about 5-6 minutes. Add anise seeds, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes; stir, until fragrant for 1-2 minutes.

Add cannelinni beans to food processor. Squeeze the head of roasted garlic into food processor and add the sauteed onion. Blend until smooth. Pulse in quinoa and chia seeds.

Transfer mixture to bowl, and let sit for 5-10 minutes until the burger mixture thickens.

Use a quarter cup to evenly portion into patty shapes.

Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet on high heat. Lightly grease. Cook patties for 5 minutes on one side. Gently flip, and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.

Serve on a bun of choice, or in a pita. Top with avocado, whole-grain mustard, tomato, roasted pepper, lettuce, arugula…. or anything your heart desires!

Yield: 9 burgers

Roasted Garlic

Ingredients:

1 head garlic
small amount of olive oil

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375.

Chop the top 1/4 off of the garlic head. Place garlic in the center of a small piece of parchment paper (or foil) and drizzle with a little olive oil. Wrap up the garlic, and place in oven for 45-60 minutes.

Remove garlic and let cool. Garlic should be golden and aromatic.

sweet potato chocolate chip cookies

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As we all know, sweet potatoes are, well, pretty sweet. I’ve never really understood the standard Thanksgiving casserole that piles this already sweet vegetable with brown sugar and marshmallows. Shouldn’t it go on the dessert table rather than count as a vegetable?

It was this line of thinking that was the inspiration for creating this cookie recipe. Sure, we’ve heard of sweet potato pie and I’ve even seen recipes for sweet potato brownies, so it should work as the base for a cookie, too. Right?

My experiments resulted in a soft, cakey cookie that pairs perfectly with a cup of tea or glass of almond milk. These are also a great treat for little ones – I shared the recipe at my Bump Club Chicago healthy toddler cooking class and it received rave reviews.

I love that most of the sweetness comes from the sweet potato – and there is only 1/4 cup of added maple syrup. The pinch of cinnamon adds a sweet, earthy, warm kick that makes them a perfect fall treat. Use leftover sweet potato puree from yesterday’s dinner for extra convenience.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup sweet potato puree (from about 2 medium sweet potatoes)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup liquid coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup oat flour*
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

Mix together sweet potato, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, arrowroot, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt..

Add dry ingredients to wet until fully combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Portion the cookie dough using a level tablespoon until finished. Gently press each portion with back of a spoon.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Note: If you have a gluten sensitivity opt for gluten free oat flour

citrus beet + walnut dip

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Beets: Most people love them, or loathe them. I happen to fall into the ‘love’ camp. When I was creating recipes for my recent ‘Seasonal Spotlight: Root Vegetables + Squash’ class, I knew I wanted to feature beets, but was unsure whether the participants would love or hate these brightly colored roots.

Lucky for me, the entire class happened to be beet lovers – and they devoured this flavorful dip. What’s great about this citrus beet + walnut dip is that I’m pretty sure it could even satisfy beet haters. Adding citrus juice and zest really brightens up the earthy flavor, and the toasted walnuts adds a rich, nutty flavor.

Try this dip to entertain with or bring to a party. The beautiful, rich magenta hue will pop against a spread of boring, beige hummus. I love serving this dip with sweet potato chips. Food Should Taste Good makes a great version.

I boiled the beets, but feel free to roast, bake, steam – or use pre-cooked beets to save a step.

Citrus Beet + Walnut Dip

Ingredients:

3 medium beets
1 teaspoon raw honey
zest of 1 lemon + 1 orange
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup toasted walnuts
½ teaspoon sea salt
ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

Procedure:

Place washed beets in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 30-40 minutes, or until beets are tender and a knife is easily inserted. Remove from pot, rinse under cool water. Skins should easily peel off beets under running water. Cut beets in large chunks and add to a blender.

Add remaining ingredients to blender and process until smooth. Garnish with finely chopped chives. Serve with sweet potato chips, endive cups, or crackers.