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.  

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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.
 

 

My Paleo Ginger Cookies

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Words can come out honestly and then other times they do anything but stand still.  I feel like this these days.  Staring blankly into the journal, computer screen, chopping board.  In part, it's due to unexpected anxiety attacks turning to panic attacks.  

They've been gripping me and I'm learning to lean into the deep breathing, filling my mind & soul with Scripture truth and asking Jesus to really know him.  I see all these heart felt candle lit nights streaming my Facebook feed, where the donkey & Mary get closer to show up in that stank filled stable.  

Yet, there is an overwhelming sense a panicked self can feel when it realizes how far behind in the Advent keeping it is.  Does this make sense?  

Rather than trying to start where I left off, or try to do one more thing; I've been okay with letting it be.  My word for this year is Peace.  

Peace is a be.  It's a knowing that love surrounds and not fear.  It's that love, which pierces through the darkness, the turmoil, the angst and allows for peace to settle.  Breathe in peace, breathe out chaos.  

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And although it might seem like eliminating a whole list of foods from my diet might not breed peace, I find that it is exactly what I need right now.  I need to clear my body and mind to see if food is causing some of these body aches and mental rages.  So even though I am not eating any Ginger cookies, would you do me a favor and make them?

I had a hankering for all things gingery & molasses last week, which clearly means I needed to revamp my favorite Ginger cookie.  Lucky for you, I have the recipe. What I loved about these is the spice mingled with licorice in blackstrap molasses.  I used Bob's Red Mill almond flour instead of Honeyville, because I wanted a more coarse grind.  I know you won't be disappointed!

Paleo Ginger Cookies (printable recipe)

Using Bob's Red Mill Almond flour works well for this recipe.  

Dry Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups almond flour

4 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

 

Wet Ingredients:

1/3 cup molasses

1 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup honey

3 eggs

1 cup palm shortening

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients into one medium bowl.  Mix either with a whisk until everything is thoroughly combined, or put into a food processor for 30 seconds.  

In an electric stand mixer, combine the palm shortening and coconut sugar.  Mix on medium speed for 1 minute till thoroughly combined.  Scrap down the sides, add the molasses, honey & eggs and mix on low speed to increase to medium speed for about 45 seconds, or till eggs are completely combined.  Scrap down the sides.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture slowly as to avoid it splattering everywhere.  Once the flour is all inside and the majority of it incorporated, increase to medium speed to combine the wet & dry ingredients for another 20 seconds.  Scrap down the beater, and then using a spatula, combine to ensure there is no liquid residue left.  

Using a cookie dough scooper (mine is about 1 1/2 Tb size), scoop and then roll into balls.  I keep my hands wet while rolling as to avoid sticky hands.  Place about 3 inches apart on the parchment lined paper.  Get your hand wet again and flatten the cookie ball till it's about 1/4 inch high.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar or coconut sugar.  

Bake for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool on a wire rack, then transfer to a plate.  Stores covered for a couple days.  

 

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

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Friends, I have tried desperately to like pumpkin pie.  I have heaped mounds of whipped cream a top it; but, maybe it's due to the many bad ones I've been given growing up.  For starters, the crusts were always overcooked.  No, they were burnt.  And then there's the whole pumpkin itself.  

Could it be growing up in Arizona led me astray for the glory of Fall?  It could with no pumpkin patch visits, or homemade pumpkin puree.  I threw it all out.  Everything pumpkin must go, including pumpkin bread.  

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Then, this wayfaring stranger returned to the state of her birth, and discovered the pockets of gladness abounding in the Autumn months.  The crisp, cold air.  The warm drinks and hot soups awakening the damp bones.  Don't even get me started on the sweaters, scarves and hats this displaced Arizonian girl longed for every day it hit below 80.  

I rediscovered pumpkin.  I discovered sweet meat squash actually and how sweet it is after roasting it in the oven, and satisfying to puree it in your own kitchen.  I made a vow to never buy canned pumpkin again.  I'm sure it made a difference, and this pumpkin bread lays claim to it.   However, I've broken in my rainboots trudging through the mucky patch to get me some sweet meat squash for all things pumpkin.  That is except the pumpkin pie.  

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Paleo Pumpkin Bread (printable recipe)

One element I feel which makes this bread come alive is using freshly ground nutmeg & cloves.  I have an old coffee grinder, which I use for grinding flax & chia seeds into meal, or whole spices into ground ones.  Simply wipe the grinder out between uses.  

Dry Ingredients:

3 cups almond flour

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup flax meal

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

3 eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9x5 loaf pan with half sheet of parchment paper and press into the sides with some of it laying over the sides.  

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients of almond flour, coconut sugar, flax meal, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  

In the bowl of a standing mixer, add all the wet ingredients, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, pumpkin puree and vanilla, and mix together for 30 seconds.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.  Increase to medium speed and mix for an additional 45 seconds.  Pour batter into prepared parchment lined pan.  Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  

Allow to sit in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove bread in the parchment from the pan to the cooling rack and cool for another 5 minutes (or slice it right away).  Serve.