toasted coconut + persimmon salad with cranberries

appetizer, dressing, mains, recipes, salads

Weekends are the best.

Weekends for us mean that we get to slow down. We look forward to long brunches and multiple cups of coffee. I like getting my apron a little messy and experimenting with new recipes. There are a gazillion more reasons that I love weekends, but high up on the list is just being in the kitchen.

After a long and wonderful holiday visit in the States, let’s just say that my body has been craving/demanding/needing some very colourful and nutrient dense food as we indulged/celebrated/feasted on all the delicious comforts from home.

This recipe was not on my meal plan for the week. It came together, because I just started grabbing for things I had on hand. I felt like a true (salad) artist. A little bit of this… a little bit of that… mixing in this…I even had to google if it was okay to eat raw cranberries. Have you ever had a raw cranberry?!

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Alone, a raw cranberry is super tart. I definitely made a baby eating a lemon face, for sure. But… I tried it and I liked it. I liked it even more after reading about all the health benefits: an antioxidant powerhouse, a low-calorie flavour booster, UTI preventer, full of vitamin C, high in fiber and loaded with phytonutrients!  I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the combination of flavours when I topped them on the salad.

Coconut is also all the rage in the paleo world. It adds a healthy fat and nice crunch along with a good dose of fiber. The dark leafy greens have loads of vitamins and minerals and paired with healthy fats from the dressing your body will actually absorb more of their nutrients.

In addition to the cranberries, the persimmon gives this salad the most amazing flavour explosion on your tastebuds. Persimmon, also known as sharon fruit, are a winter fruit and in season October – February. They are the perfect way to boost the immune system and aid in digestion.

My love for salads is intense, as you probably know by now, and I love how much there is going on in this bowl.

tart + sweet
filling + flavourful
super healthy + crunchy
loaded with super foods+ fiber

The dressing is simple: apple cider vinegar, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, and any sweetener of your choice with a little sea salt….simple, but oh so delicious.

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Toasted Coconut + Persimmon Salad with Cranberries

Prep time: 15 minutes // Serves: 2 mains // 4 sides 

Salad Ingredients

  • 6 cups mixed greens, I also through in some kale
  • 2 persimmons, quartered and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup organic dried coconut chips
  • Optional protein: grilled chicken breast, green lentils, tofu/tempeh

Dressing Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Go with Braggs!)
  • 1/2 cup quality olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • sea salt to taste
  • Optional sweetener: honey, coconut crystals or agave nectar

You can serve this salad cold or at room temperature, but I really enjoyed the greens and persimmons cold and everything else warm. It is oddly the perfect balance.

This would make the perfect weeknight meal when you are craving something quick and healthy. Bonus? I think this would please vegans and non-vegans alike as it is easy to toss some lean protein on board and the leftovers make a great lunch for the next day.

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What recipes have you accidentally made and loved? Do you have any advice for unique flavour combos?

Have a delicious week! x

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a healthy thanksgiving roundup

holidays, mains, recipes, sides

I eagerly collect recipes starting in what seems like, July… clipping things from food magazines and adding all the beautiful and inspiring food images to my Pinterest boards (drool). This year, we are celebrating Thanksgiving in Belfast, Northern Island and we are really looking forward to gathering around a table with dear friends and some of our favorite comfort foods that this season has to offer.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, just a few days away, it is time for the big feast!

As anyone who follows an AIP lifestyle or any restrictive diet knows, the holidays can be a tough time. Finding delicious holiday recipes made of whole foods that do not use any dairy, gluten or grains, and nightshades this time of year can be a struggle. It can make social situations feel a bit awkward at times but there is no reason why it cannot be a celebration that includes all of us, and deliciously so, with recipes that do not sacrifice on taste or ‘specialness’. I found this article from the gals at autoimmune-paleo.com to be really helpful for this time of year, a wee guide on how to navigate the holidays and social situations when managing your disease through diet and lifestyle.

We do not have to give up on a holiday feast just because do or do not eat certain foods. In fact, many of the food most commonly enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day are perfectly fine, and just require an attention to quality, the removal of a few ingredients, and creative substitutions of others.

Here is a roundup of Thanksgiving recipes that can help make this year the most delicious, and nutritious, yet. These dishes are so tasty, you and your fellow diners may not even notice they are eating healthier a variation of their favorites!

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Bring on the Stuffing: Rather than relying on expensive gluten-free breads or flours, these two types of grain-free stuffing are made with a bounty of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs. They feature all of the flavors you love in traditional stuffing, without leaving you feeling too “stuffed” afterward.

Grain-Free Stuffing

Cranberry Holiday Stuffing

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This recipe uses cauliflower rice as the base and includes fresh green apples, cranberries, bacon, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and celery, spiced with cinnamon and rosemary. The texture of this stuffing is great, and it has the perfect blend of sweet holiday spice and tart flavors.

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Bring on the Mash:  It is hard to beat a bowl of creamy, buttery, mashed potatoes. I have found that lots of mashed vegetables can be oh-so-delicious and great addition to a properly combined Thanksgiving dinner.  Over the years, mashed cauliflower has become a popular low-carb/ Paleo alternative, but it has not been high on my list. I prefer mashed carrot and parsnip, or mashed sweet potato. Have fun experimenting with different root vegetables.

Roasted Garlic Vegetable Mash

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Mashed Cauliflower “Potatoes”

Celeriac Mash

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Bring on the Sauce: Because sometimes you need to give all those sides a bit-o sauce love and get your plate a spot at the flavour disco. And unlike many of the canned cranberry sauce options, these two recipes below are naturally sweetened with honey and bursting with Fall spices. They are quite the upgrade and will make a delicious addition to your feast.

Starch-Free Gravy 

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Basil Vinaigrette Dressing 

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Cranberry and Orange Relish

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Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce – Cranberries, cherries, ginger: it is a delicious high-five of powerful antioxidants that happens to go well with roasted turkey.

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Bring on the Veg: If there are sides that I get seconds…  okay, thirds of, they are the veg. I love all the seasonal sides our family contributes. These are healthy alternatives to certain casserole dishes and there is no limit on how many to include. The amazing thing about veg, especially autumn harvests, is the variety. The colors, the flavors, the nutrient-density and deliciousness we can get from plant-based sources is something to be grateful for.

Clean Green Bean Casserole

This fresh green beans and caramelized onions from The Dextoxinista is just about as clean as it gets. Rather than relying on a cream-based soup, it is held together by a creamy puree of parsnips and mushrooms.

Green Bean Almondine

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Holiday Slaw with Roasted Shallot Dressing

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Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

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Brussels sprouts can be a bit intimidating on their own, but when roasted with a splash of balsamic vinegar, they become a delectable treat! Tender on the inside, and crispy on the outside, these veggies are a quick and easy addition to any Fall meal.

 

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash with Cranberries

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Cabbage, Orange + Date Salad 

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Roasted Root Vegetables 

Why limit yourself to one or two vegetable varieties? Treat your guests to the full spread of fall veggies, simply roasted and allowed to succeed on their own merits.

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Roasted Squash, Pecan + Pomegranate Salad

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Bring on the Dessert: With all of the work involved in preparing Thanksgiving dinner, we could all use simple dessert recipes that do not involve to much work or have so much sugar it feels impossible to enjoy them after a hearty meal like Thanksgiving dinner. These following recipes are all easy to prepare, and taste so decadent– with surprising amounts of nutrients and no refined sugars or unhealthy oils.

No-Bake Pecan Pie Bars

 

Pumpkin is my favorite. Always. The textures, flavors and overall satisfaction of this collection of pumpkin recipes is over. the. top. so. good. They all have the taste and texture similar to pumpkin pie, but better for you! Whether you prefer almond butter or coconut flour recipes, these have got you covered!

Grain-free Pumpkin Bars

 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins 

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Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bars

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No-Bake Pumpkin Tarts

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This recipe features a sweet pumpkin filling and a grain-free crust. These mini tarts are a quick and easy seasonal dessert. Naturally sweetened with fiber-rich dates, they can be whipped up in a blender in minutes.

I have also included some additional recipes for those that would like to incorporate some seasonal fruit into the holiday mix.

Honey Roasted Pears with Sea Salt + Rosemary Cream 

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Paleo Apple Crisp

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Citrus + Pomegranate Mint Salad 

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I wish that Thanksgiving did not come only once a year. Not just for the food (but close…) but also for the spirit of gratitude and thankfulness that spreads through the season. I am thankful for this season of our life. I am grateful for a God that is faithful when I am less than worthy. I am thankful for supportive family and friends that continue to pray for us and give of themselves generously. I am thankful for my job and the young people I work with. I am thankful for the Autoimmune Protocol community. I am thankful for better health, especially when I compare it to how awful I felt one year ago. I am especially thankful for my husband who supports me wholeheartedly on this healing journey and who I get to share life with everyday.

Whatever you choose to serve this Thanksgiving, I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday celebrating good food and all the things you are grateful for.

As always, let me know what your favorite holiday recipes are?  Will you be making any modifications this year?

Happy Thanksgiving, x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

roasted beet + blackberry salad with balsamic dressing

appetizer, dressing, mains, salads

 

I have a wildly delicious food spectrum this time of year.

My favourite thing to eat is a big, warm, bowl of comfort food from the slow cooker. My second favourite, on the other end of the spectrum, is a huge fall harvest salad.

Harvest salads are full of foods that are sweet and earthy, like beets, mushrooms, varieties of squash, pumpkin and root vegetables… If you are not a beet fan, I think that this salad could possibly change your mind. Roasting beets brings out their stunning colour and a natural sweetness that is hard to resist.

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What I love about this recipe is the mix of earthy beetroot with sweet blackberries – a flavour pairing that is gorgeous, not just visually (look at those deep gemlike colours!) but also in the way they balance each other. There is a lot of room for texture pairing here as well. A crunchy seed or nut with the softness of crumbled cheese or the soft roasted beets tastes right on.

But really, the fusion of blackberry and the balsamic dressing is truly where the tastebud disco takes place.  This dressing is so easy and we always keep a jar of it handy.

As I become more passionate about eating seasonally, we save money and it makes meal planning easier because I know what produce to expect at the store, and they’re usually on sale (one of the beautiful things about buying seasonal/local is that the item is usually in surplus!)

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ROASTED BEET + BLACKBERRY SALAD WITH BALSAMIC DRESSING

Ingredients

Serves 2 Main or 4 sides | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 50 minutes

For the salad:

  • 6 cups of fresh greens (your pick, I had kale and spinach on hand)
  • 2 shredded fennel (watch this YouTube clip)
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted beets (approx 4 large)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 4 tablespoons crumbled cheese (if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, or toasted seeds

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoon honey
  • Pinch of sea salt

 

Instructions

1. Roast the beets: Preheat your oven to 425°F /220 °C. With a sharp vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the beets and chop them into small pieces, about 1/2 inch in size. In an oven safe dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast them in their packet for 45-60 minutes, or until soft. Allow the beets to cool.

2. While the beets are cooking prepare the fennel. I found this YouTube video most helpful because this was the first time I cooked fennel. Be sure you put the ‘furry stuff’, aka dill, to the side, you can garnish your salad with it.

3. The dressing is super easy.  In a small jar, or other glass container, whisk all the ingredients together. Tighten lid + shake the dressing together.

4.The presentation and assembly of your salad- my favorite part. Divide the greens between two plates. Sprinkle each plate with half the beets, half the blueberries, half the fennel, half the cheese (if you are going for it), and top with half the crunchy seeds or nut. Drizzle the salad with the dressing or serve on the side.

5. Enjoy the tastebud disco!

As always, I hope you have a delicious week. Let me know if you try the salad and what your favourite fall recipes are! x

 

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