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. 

****

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.
 

 

One Bowl Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Many, many years ago I baked some peanut butter cookies for my dad.  My mom would always make chocolate chip cookies; but, I somehow thought peanut butter was more fitting.  Upon eating them he mentions to my mom how peanut butter cookies were his favorite.  Much to my mother's chagrin, as she was always told chocolate chip was his favorite, she replied, "You said chocolate chip was your favorite?!"  

"Well, yes, I like chocolate chip cookies; but, peanut butter cookies are my favorite," my dad replied.  

Come to find out he passed this peanut butter gene onto my brothers, both of whom did not care for chocolate; hence, chocolate chip cookies became a mute point.  I would bake some grain-free peanut butter cookies for my brother and have Ben bring them down to Arizona with him years ago while on a business trip.  

Sidenote on peanut butter cookies and while we're at it, snickerdoodles.  I have never been a huge fan of either for the sheer crunch factor.  I am not a fan of crunchy cookies unless it's sandwich cookie in the form of an Oreo.  Most peanut butter cookies are crunchy and crumbly.  No thank you!  

Fast forward, I made my peanut butter cookies soft for my brother, and then I added chocolate for me.  Oh heavens, it took me back to my junior high days eating peanut butter blossom cookies at Christmas time (you know the peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's Kiss in the center--they're soft).  

Those ones used regular ole Jif peanut butter, which really did enhance the "wow" factor.  However, I buy this relatively cheap organic peanut butter at Costco without any added sugar.  And they taste just as good in my opinion.  This recipe could easily be turned into cookies.  Adjust the baking time to 12-14 minutes and drop tablespoons of dough onto a pan.  Press them down with a fork to make the traditional crisscross design.  

But, since we know I prefer soft cookies, and typically don't have a whole bunch of time, I prefer the bar cookies.  You get the softness factor and the ease factor in one batch.  Adding the chocolate in my mind sends it over the top; because, if you don't see how peanut butter and chocolate marry more than peanut butter and jelly...well, I feel bad for you.  

Grain-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars (printable recipe)

Ingredients: 

1 cup peanut butter, no sugar added kind

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cup blanched almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup to 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  

Get an 8x11 pan out and set it aside, no need to grease the pan if using a glass pan.

In a large bowl, add peanut butter, butter, and sugar and mix together until they are fairly combined.  Add the egg & vanilla and mix it throughout, but it doesn't have to be perfectly mixed in.  

Add the almond flour, baking soda, & salt and mix until the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed into the wet ingredients.  You are trying to achieve the wonderful consistency of playdoh.  Once you have achieved this, put the dough into your 8x11 pan and press it into the pan, corners and sides.  It will look rather shallow in depth; but, it will rise.  

Take your chocolate chips and sprinkle them on top and lightly press them into the dough.  

Bake for 25-28 minutes.  Bake depending on how soft or not you like your bar cookies.  At about 25 minutes you will have nice browned edges with a soft center.  At 28 minutes it will still be soft, just a bit more firm.  

Allow it to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before slicing into them.  The longer you allow them to cool the better they will taste, which also allows them to firm up without chocolate chips being melted.  

 

Paleo Zucchini Brownie Bread for Willy

This post will be short. 

I made this zucchini brownie bread while I was in Arizona this summer.  It's gluten-free, actually it's grain-free.  In fact, it doesn't rely on nut flours to bake.  I made this and decided the rest should go to my older brother Willy as he couldn't have gluten.  

I have had this recipe sitting in my file to hit publish for a while.  I simply haven't had time, or made time to write and post about it.  

Then, it's way past my bedtime and some how I needed to hit publish just to get it out of my draft box.  I needed to write about missing my older brother.  I want to write about it; but, sometimes it's best to grieve in the way it comes.  


My brother, my only older brother died on August 28th, two weeks ago.  He died horrifically and my heart hurts right now.  I know I'll write more about it; but, for now I offer you this bread.  Zucchini is still prevalent in Bellingham and to bake something simple like this as an expression of love toward someone--do it.  You never know how many days you will get with the ones you love.


Paleo Zucchini Brownie Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched almond butter

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

2 eggs, large

1/4 cup raw honey

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a standard loaf baking pan with parchment paper, ensuring it goes into each crevice of the pan.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the almond butter, baking soda, salt and cinnamon till thoroughly mixed.  Add the eggs and mix, scraping down the sides.  Next, add the honey, apple cider vinegar & vanilla and mix for 30 seconds.  Add the cocoa and mix while scraping down the sides.  Next, add the zucchini and mix through out.  If adding chocolate chips, add them now.  

Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.  This will bake much more quickly than your typical loaf bread.  Allow it to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Remove it from pan with parchment paper still sticking to it's sides and allow to cool on wire rack for an additional 5-7 minutes.

Remove the parchment paper and slice into it.