Whole 30 Approved Kale, Apple, & Carrot Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing

Two fried eggs served alongside buttered toast with their drippy yolks.  Just enough salt and pepper atop inviting me for another taste.  My first meal after returning home from the hospital with my firstborn.

Bean and bacon soup with far too much sodium gingerly biting down.  Sitting in my bed watching tv, and being nursed after the removal of my wisdom teeth.  

Whole wheat bread lightly toasted.  Mayonnaise spread over with a generous amount of pepper and slices of avocados.  Sitting at the table with my dad, and reveling over this simple meal; yet, one of my most favorite. 

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This fall and early winter felt their pain in my kitchen.  I had forgotten these tastes.  My knife beckoned me often like an old friend; but, all I could say, "Not now, I can't."  Taste buds on hiatus, seemingly like a permanent hiatus. I shuddered.  Food, my companion, my artist palette...depleted.  Grief set in deep, and what was my place of creating and providing I cursed.  

When you lose a beloved brother so suddenly, so tragically, you don't care about food.  You can't taste it's vibrancy like you once could.  Nothing came alive and I resolved to not being able to sing again to the tune of chop, sizzle, sprinkle.  In my belly, deep in the trenches of my gut, there served a hopeless plate of overcooked canned peas and carrots floating in salt ridden wretchedness.  

****

I stood on the scale, assessed my jeans, and the way of the family dinner table being far from what I wanted and what I deserved.  But, sometimes when you're neck deep in the life of swimming peas and carrots, you don't know how to free yourself.  Despair, anxiety, and stress creeps it's head in the form of arsenic chocolate.  Looks delicious but kills you.

Slowly, I'm beginning to remember those yolky eggs.  The joy of simmered shallots mixed with farm fresh eggs, sprinkled with fresh tarragon and black truffle salt is rising.  My chef knife has come out from hiding and happily skating across my board.  

The only reason is choosing life amidst death.  

So, I have chosen a Whole 30 to restart my taste buds, my body, my life, because I want my life.  

Picking up my kale and washing it under clean water, as it collects a pool on the counter.  Slicing out the rib, leaf by leaf.  Quartering my apples, slicing them and swooshing with the blade to create little batons.  Peeling carrots to show off their clean side creates newness in me.  "Oh old friend, it's good to be back," I whisper.  And as I slice through a lemon and garlic, it becomes apparent how habits with my sweet friend have never been forgotten.

Creating a kale salad with such vibrancy and health gives life to me and my family.  It signifies hope worth believing in, one I am humbled to share with you.  

                           Lacinto kale  

                           Lacinto kale

 

                           Chef knife in the ready with one leaf of kale before we remove the rib.

                           Chef knife in the ready with one leaf of kale before we remove the rib.

     Fold the leaf in half to expose the rib.  Since I didn't have my knife right there while cutting I had my thumb exposed.  This is a "no No" when cutting.  Tuck that thumb behind your fingers.  

     Fold the leaf in half to expose the rib.  Since I didn't have my knife right there while cutting I had my thumb exposed.  This is a "no No" when cutting.  Tuck that thumb behind your fingers.  

  You can see where the knife begins and then cut along the rib as close as possible to keep as much of the leaf.

  You can see where the knife begins and then cut along the rib as close as possible to keep as much of the leaf.

                            The rib has been removed and we are left with....

                            The rib has been removed and we are left with....

                           ...what looks like a pair of legs.

                           ...what looks like a pair of legs.

                            Now cut down the middle making two leaves.

                            Now cut down the middle making two leaves.

                            Put one on top of another like so.

                            Put one on top of another like so.

                           Take your chef knife and cut in 1/2 inch slices.

                           Take your chef knife and cut in 1/2 inch slices.

   Quarter and core your apple.  I used Orion apples, which are nothing like Granny smith.  They are slightly tart, but also sweet.

   Quarter and core your apple.  I used Orion apples, which are nothing like Granny smith.  They are slightly tart, but also sweet.

         Using your chef knife, cut each quartered apple into slices, about 1/4 in thick.

         Using your chef knife, cut each quartered apple into slices, about 1/4 in thick.

        Take two of the apple slices and put them on top of one another and cut them into Batons, which is what you see.  These are 1/4 inch

        Take two of the apple slices and put them on top of one another and cut them into Batons, which is what you see.  These are 1/4 inch

                           Different angle, same idea.

                           Different angle, same idea.

  For the dressing, you will need Olive oil, fresh lemon juice, jalapeno, Garlic (not shown) salt, cashews, & apple cider vinegar.

  For the dressing, you will need Olive oil, fresh lemon juice, jalapeno, Garlic (not shown) salt, cashews, & apple cider vinegar.

  I use chopped cashews, because they are infinitely cheaper to buy from Azure Standard.  So when they are chopped up I use 1/2 cup.  If you were using whole cashews, I would only do 1/4-1/3 cup.

  I use chopped cashews, because they are infinitely cheaper to buy from Azure Standard.  So when they are chopped up I use 1/2 cup.  If you were using whole cashews, I would only do 1/4-1/3 cup.

 Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, aCV into a high powered blender and blend to emulsify.  Then after 10 seconds or so, add the cashews and jalapeno and blend more.  It should look like this.

 Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, aCV into a high powered blender and blend to emulsify.  Then after 10 seconds or so, add the cashews and jalapeno and blend more.  It should look like this.

 Put all that chopped up Kale into a bowl, add the dressing and mix it into the kale.  I use my clean hands to  massage it into it.  Take a peeled carrot and shred it on a cheese grater, put it on top of kale. take your apple batons and put those on top as well.

 Put all that chopped up Kale into a bowl, add the dressing and mix it into the kale.  I use my clean hands to  massage it into it.  Take a peeled carrot and shred it on a cheese grater, put it on top of kale. take your apple batons and put those on top as well.

Mix it all together, take toasted hazelnuts and chop them up and pour them over the salad.  Zest some lemon if you'd like. 

Mix it all together, take toasted hazelnuts and chop them up and pour them over the salad.  Zest some lemon if you'd like. 

Kale, Apple & Carrot Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing (Whole 30 friendly & Vegan) (Printable Recipe)

Ingredients

2 heads of Lacinto kale (or whatever kale you like)

2 carrots

2 Orion apples, or one which is sweet & tart

1 lemon

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp jalapeno, minced

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup chopped cashews

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, then chop afterwards

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350, place your hazelnuts on a pan lined with parchment.  Toast for about 7-9 minutes.  Truth, I never time them.  I use my olfactory on them.  They should begin to release a toasty smell and when you open the oven, the skins will turn a darker brown, while the inside will become light brown.  Once they are done, put them on a clean kitchen towel and wrap them up.  Allow them to sit in the covered towel for about 5 minutes.  Then, begin vigorously rubbing the hazelnuts while in the towel to rub off the skins.  

Separate the nuts from the rubbed off skins and set aside.

Wash your kale.  With a chopping board and a chef knife, take one leaf and place it right side up.  Now, fold the leaf in half where you can see the exposed rib.  The rib is the thick middle running lengthwise of the kale leaf.  Take your knife and put the point end, place it at the base of the leaf and rib (where the rib is the thickest).  Begin to slice along the rib and leaf to remove the rib, while leaving 1/3 of the top in tact.  

Set the rib aside (or if you have chickens gather them up and feed them the scraps), which leaves you with a half in tact kale leaf minus the fibrous rib.  Slice right down the middle, in order to leave you with two smaller kale leaves.  Put one leave on top of another.  With your knife, begin to cut 1/2 inch slices crosswise.  Repeat till all the kale is cut into 1/2 inch crosswise slices.  Put into a large salad bowl.

Cut your apples into quarters.  Remove the cores.  With your knife, slice your apples into 1/4 inch slices.  Stack two apple slices on top of one another.  Begin to cut 1/4 inch batons from those slices.  Set aside.

Peel two carrots and cut off both ends.  With a cheese grater, shred the carrots.  Set aside.

In a high powered blender (or whatever you have).  Add juice from one lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic cloves and salt.  Begin to blend until it has emulsified.  On my Vitamix this takes 10-15 seconds.  Add the cashews and jalapeno to blend for 45 seconds or so.  You are wanting to create a creamy dressing, which might resemble a watered down hummus.

Pour all of the dressing onto the kale and massage it into the leaves, ensuring you have evenly distributed it.  Put the shredded carrots and apple batons on top.  Toss it together.  Take your toasted hazelnuts and chop them.  Or do what I do and put them into a bag, use the bottom of a canning far and pound them so they're roughly chopped.  Sprinkle them on top.  If you want, add some lemon zest.  In order to get the lemon zest, be sure to zest your lemon before you slice it to get the juice out.  Serves an army.
 

 

Grain & Dairy Free Peach-Blueberry Cobbler

It's still officially summer here, which means the girls have not returned to school, and we are still enjoying the peak of seasonal bounty in the form of blueberries and peaches.  I have to say when I see others IG accounts boasting of peaches in early July my heart sings a sad song.  That is until August comes here, when it's peaches in smoothies, peaches in pies, and peach juice dribbling down my chin.  

Add to that the ever present tang and sweetness culminated in a perfect, straight from the bush blueberry.  The girls and I went to Ben's work last Friday, where there are blueberry bushes to eat from.  Needless to say, we enjoyed a few ourselves.  

It reminded me how eating fruit should be.  The taste is unadulterated and waiting out in the winter months to eat to my hearts content in the summer months is sure worth it.  

Try this simple grain free, dairy free and refined sugar free cobbler.  It's not overly sweet, and perfect for dessert to a morning treat.  

Grain & Dairy Free Peach-Blueberry Cobbler (printable recipe)

Ingredients:

Filling:

1 pint blueberries

5-6 peaches, peeled and cut into slices

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

juice from half of a lemon

2 Tb arrowroot powder

Crust:

2 cups blanched almond flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup arrowroot powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 egg

Plus another egg for a wash

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine blueberries and peaches.  Add maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon juice and gently mix.  Sprinkle the arrowroot powder over and gently mix in.  Allow to sit for 10-30 minutes.

In another large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and arrowroot powder till it is thoroughly disbursed.  Add the coconut sugar and mix throughout.  With a fork or pastry blender, combine the coconut oil into the dry ingredients.  Once the coconut oil is broken down into small pea size pieces, add the beaten up egg to the crust.  Combine until the dough is wet.  

In a 9x9 pan add the filling.  Set it aside.

With your hands, form the dough into patties or discs.  They should measure roughly 1/8 to 1/4 inch in height.  You should be able to make six discs of dough.  Place each disc on top of the filling so as to cover the entire surface. Try your best to not overlap them.

Take your last egg and lightly beat it.  With a pastry brush, brush the tops of the dough.  Put into the oven to bake for 30 minutes.  

Allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  

***The maple syrup in the filling is adjustable.  For less sweet, only use 1/4 cup.  For more sweet, use 1/2 cup.  

***This pairs lovely with full fat plain yogurt as well.   

Easy Peasy Limey Squeezy Carne Asada

If you're familiar with cuts of a cow; then, you know you are only alloted two flanks in one beef cow.  There are so many recipes, which call for a flank.  Prior to ever buying our own cow I had never given it much thought. Like most Americans, you simply go to the store and choose the cut of meat you need for the desired recipe.  

Now, I don't think this is bad. What I do value is knowing where our food comes from and being a bit educated about the various cuts, in order to be an ethical, mindful eater.  I want to be more than a consumer.  So, when we buy our half a cow, I am rather picky about what I do with these rare cuts (brisket, tenderloin are some others).  

So you can imagine how I felt when I walked into the kitchen one day to see my selfless husband making dinner for us; but, to my dismay the flank steak had been used in the process.  See, I pine over what exactly I'm going to make with that cut. I stow it away using the plethora of hamburger until my salivating can no longer be subdued. 

It's very possible I cried inside and worked through loving in spite of it; because, truly he's so good. And, truth be told, I would most likely never use the flank for any of those fancy recipes. We know I would use it for the days of my Arizona youth...carne asada. 

Carne asada means "grilled meat." This is one of the most popular dishes served up on weekends in Arizona.  Add a couple Corona beers with lime, and it's a complete fiesta.  It's best to keep it simple. 

A word on flank steak and carne asada:

Flank is a tough, slender piece from the abdominal section of a beef cow.  This means, in order for it to become tender, a good marinade is necessary to tenderize it.  Marinating flank or a London Broil doesn't have to be fancy.  For the carne asada, I use minimal ingredients and salt is NOT one of them.  You don't need to add salt to your marinade.  In fact, using salt in a marinade for grass-fed beef specifically can dry it out. 

All you need is a tupperware container, or in my instance, two plastic bags (one being an old bread bag) to put the meat inside to sit in the marinade.  I used red onions, because it was already on my counter.  If you only have yellow, go for it.  You could use lemon in place of lime; but, really--why? Olive oil for the fat, lime juice for the acid, garlic and onions for added flavor.  Couple turns of the black pepper grinder should work nicely.  Let it marinade in the fridge for 6-8 hours.  Remove excess oil, add some coarse salt before grilling on both sides and grill it up.  

You'll want to serve it up with extra lime wedges & sliced radishes.  If you're avoiding grains, and the idea of making grain-free tortillas sounds exhausting (can I get an amen?); then, bake some sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for an hour (depending on size).  

Carne Asada Paleo Style (printable recipe)

Be sure to make my Mango-Avocado salsa salad with this, as it's perfect pairing

Ingredients: 

one flank steak

half red onion or yellow onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil


Additional ingredients:

coarse salt

Directions:

In a sealable bag, or tupperware container, place your flank steak inside.  Add the garlic, onions, lime juice, olive oil and ground pepper.  Be sure to completely cover the flank with the marinade and allowing it to sit in the juices.  Place in your fridge to marinate for 6-8 hours.

Heat up your grill to high. Take your flank out of the marinade, and ensure that it's not completely coated with the marinade.  You're looking for it to not be sopping with oil as to avoid grease fires and burning of the meat.  Sprinkle coarse salt liberally on each side of the flank.  Place on the hot grill, close the lid, and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side.  I cooked mine for 6 minutes on each side and it was done. If you like a more medium rare flank, then cook for 4 minutes on each side.  

One thing to keep in mind is there can be a thicker part and a thinner part to the flank, which would affect cooking times. Once done, remove to a platter and place foil over it to rest for 10 minutes, so the juices don't run out and result in a dry steak.

Once it is has rested, you will want to cut it against the grain in thin slices. Serves 6-8.