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I did not drop off the face of the earth, but it has been ages since I’ve posted anything here. The past few months have challenged me physically as well as emotionally. Making the decision to move from my comfortable life in northern California to the massive city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in order to support my husband’s work was incredibly difficult. Convincing the children to go along with the decision was equally difficult. Packing up a significant part of our home (where the expression “pack-rat” got redefined) took far more time than I could have imagined. Getting all the paperwork in order and loose ends tied up–bank accounts, visas, residence permits, nearly drove us insane. Finding homes for some of our beloved pets–since we only brought two to Brazil, I found particularly difficult, and at the end, heartbreaking, since I consider our animals family.

Fortunately, the expat community in Sao Paulo, although relatively small, is wonderfully supportive, and Brazilians in general are friendly and kind. We live adventure nearly every day, and grow from it–personally and as world citizens. On top of requiring me to learn another language, the move has required dietary changes, such as regular servings of pineapple, papaya and watermelon instead of my daily helpings of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Chard remains elusive, and rice and beans abound. My cooking has not been spectacular, but a few dishes, and some of my travels definitely warrant sharing.

This dish I made back home, but never got around to posting until now. I call this my “breakfast (or lunch) of champions” because it is full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and it’s packed with flavor. In reality, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend eating bacon right before you head out for a 6-kilometer run. But if you have an important meeting, need to run a few hours worth of errands, or are going on a big hike and want sustained energy for 4-5 hours, this dish is perfect.

Like many people, my body doesn’t tolerate most types of beans as well as I would like, but garbanzo beans appear to be the exception, and garbanzo bean flour is the main ingredient in the crepes. I couldn’t be more thankful, because garbanzo beans are a great source of insoluble fiber (important for keeping our colons healthy!), protein, and several vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium and folate.

 

Ingredients

For the crepes, whisk together the following until you get a smooth, runny batter consistency:

1 cup sprouted garbanzo bean flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

3/4-1 cup water

Pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp of avocado oil, plus more for the pan

 

Preparation

Swirl a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour in half of the batter and swirl the pan gently to spread the batter evenly across the bottom of the pan. Cook until set and the bottom is just starting to turn golden brown–approximately 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip the crepe over and cook another 2 minutes.

Repeat. This recipe makes 4-6 crepes depending on how thick you make them.

 

Ingredients

For the wrap I call “breakfast of champions,” I place the following ingredients on each crepe and fold in half or in thirds for serving.

2-3 strips of bacon, cooked

1 egg, fried sunny side up

Two leaves of curly kale (tough stocks removed, and lightly braised)

1/2 an avocado, peeled and sliced

Coarse-ground sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

This combination tastes insanely good and flavorful, but you can experiment with whatever you like. I cook the bacon in a cast-iron pan first. After removing the cooked bacon, I drain off the excess fat and lightly braise the kale leaves in the same pan so they pick up all the delicious bits and pieces left from cooking the bacon.

Note: These crepes are super easy and quick to make, but you can double or triple the crepe batter recipe and make a batch so you have them handy. Just be sure to put a sheet of parchment paper between crepes and store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Please note that they are best fresh and warm, as can stiffen slightly if refrigerated or left out for any length of time.

Enjoy!

 

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Green Paleo Pancakes

 

I’m in the midst of moving, surrounded by boxes, so I won’t spend too much time writing here. However, several people who follow me on Instagram have asked me to share my recipe for the green paleo pancakes I’ve shared pics of several times.

My sister made these for me while I was visiting her in May. I tweaked the recipe just a bit for better consistency (sorry, Sis!), and more consistent results. Several other bloggers have shared green pancake recipes, but many include small amounts of greens, where the greens are used more to color the pancakes as opposed to providing real nutritional value. I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate greens in my mornings, and if you’re like me, you can only handle so many green shakes.

These pancakes blend up easily in any high-powered blender (e.g., Vitamix). They’re packed with protein, fiber, minerals and anti-oxidants. These pancakes also use tiger nut flour (made from tubers, not nuts), which is an excellent source of prebiotics–the energy source for the good bacteria in our guts which keeps our health humming.

 

Ingredients (per person)

1 ripe banana

1 organic egg

2 leaves of leafy greens (such as chard, collards, kale)

1/8 cup almond flour

1/8 cup tigernut flour

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch sea salt

 

Preparation

Blend everything together in a high-powered blender.

Put a non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast-iron pan on medium to medium-high heat. Melt a little coconut oil or butter in the pan, and pour the pancake batter in approximately 4-inch diameter circles. Cook until browned and any bubbles around the edges have popped, roughly 3-4 minutes. Flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes until browned. Place on a plate and allow to sit at least 3 minutes. (The pancakes will continue “cooking” while they sit.)

Serve with raspberries or sliced strawberries. These pancakes are plenty sweet due to the banana, but if you want a little more sweetness, drizzle raw honey over them. Do not use maple syrup. As much as I love maple syrup, the flavor does not go with the pancake!

Makes 3-4 pancakes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World! It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything, but for those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know I’m still around–cooking and eating. On top of working my “day job”–empowering communities with renewable energy, I decided to move to Brazil with my husband and children. That’s right, at an age when most people plan to stay put at least until their children have graduated from high school, I am moving to a place I’ve only ever visited once (just last month!). And yes, I do wonder if I’m crazy–regularly, these days. There is an insane amount of work involved in moving to another country, particularly when you’re moving as part of a start-up, not as part of taking a new assignment abroad within a large multi-national corporation (that handles all the nitty gritty details for you). I’ve been filling out pages and pages of paperwork in order for our children to attend school in another country, and trying to declutter a house I had no plans of moving out until two months ago, and packing and sorting, packing and sorting, repeat, repeat again. However, my husband and I have always wanted to live abroad with our children–even for just a year or two. We firmly believe it dramatically helps children become world citizens, not just little privileged beings growing up comfortably in their little American community.

Not surprisingly, I’ve been somewhat stressed out, so for those of you who know me well, you know I’ve been baking up a storm. Nothing fancy–just the usual. Fast and easy, gluten-free muffins or breads. The mixing and stirring relaxes me, and the eating of warm, cake-like bread comforts me–at least for a short while.

This recipe for Coconut Sesame Almond Muffins came about because I’ve also been trying to incorporate more seeds into our food. Seeds, particularly pumpkin, sesame and chia, are so nutritious, but I always feel like a bird eating seeds on their own. Lately, I sprinkle them on every salad, and in this recipe, I bake them in!

These muffins use so little added sugar, but they come out sweet, incredibly moist, and with a cake-like texture (“crumb” as my English friends say). You can whip them up in about 10 minutes plus cooking time, and they keep well stored in an airtight container (once they cool completely) for at least 3 days.

 

Ingredients

2 eggs

2/3 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I like this brand)

1 cup desiccated coconut

1/3 cup cane sugar

1/4 cup white raw sesame seeds

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp baking powder

 

Preparation

Heat oven to 350F. Grease a standard, 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until even in color. Whisk in the milk, vanilla extract and oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold in using a spatula until just blended. Spoon evenly into the muffin pan. Put in the middle of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins have just a hint of gold, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool at least 10 minutes.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature (although these are so delicious warm, that you may devour immediately and share the still-warm muffins with friends and neighbors!). Store for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

I love the natural whiteness of these muffins, but for fun, you can fold in 1/4 cup of mini dark chocolate chips before baking.

Enjoy!

 

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Spinach walnut pesto pasta

 

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love a bowl of pasta. I think the vast majority of us are engineered to love the stuff. In fact, I’m willing to bet that even those who have shunned all pasta, including gluten-free versions, still have fond memories of big bowls of the oh-so comforting food.

I’ve never been a big pasta eater since somehow I’ve always known deep down that it’s not the healthiest option. Or maybe it’s just that my Japanese mother cooked primarily with rice, and I just didn’t get a lot of face time (mouth time) with pasta until I recognized it for what it is. Let’s be honest, it’s a “carrier” food. At least that’s what I tell my kids. There’s nothing redeeming about the pasta itself, but it serves as an excellent carrier for all sorts of sauces. They get that, and that’s why they happily gobble up my spinach walnut pesto pasta.

This dish gives you all the flavor of pesto sauce, but with the added nutritional benefits of spinach and walnuts, and you get to enjoy pasta on top of it. It’s become one of our Meatless Monday favorites. I usually use a gluten-free capellini pasta made from organic brown rice, but rotini pasta holds the sauce really well, and that particular pasta shape is a favorite with most kids. I’m sure it’s not the same as traditional semolina noodles, but we’re so accustomed to it, that we don’t miss the old stuff.

 

Ingredients

2 large handfuls baby spinach

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (stems removed)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, extra if needed

1 garlic clove, finely minced

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or parm-reggiano blend)

Sea salt to taste

Fresh-ground pepper

 

Preparation

Put the first six ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Note: The mixture typically isn’t liquid enough to blend down completely on its own, so I use the plunger tool for my Vitamix to make sure everything gets down into where the blades are spinning. You can add a bit more olive oil if necessary.

Spoon out into a medium bowl. Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper and adjust to taste.

Cook pasta noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain. Top with sauce and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Why not publish a post of a dessert fit for Valentine’s Day, the day after Valentine’s Day? That’s exactly how my life has been going as of late. I’ve been so swamped at work, and with raising the children, that I haven’t found time to post. But the great news is, I’m posting this dessert which is absolutely delicious, nearly guilt-free, and super easy to make. You don’t even need to turn on the oven. You just need a few ingredients, a refrigerator and a little time to allow everything to work its magic. And although I think raspberries and chocolate are perfect partners, you could easily use other fruit as a substitute.

If you use raspberry preserves made without refined sugar, this recipe would also qualify as Paleo. However, I like to use Bonne Mamam Raspberry Preserve because the raspberry flavor is really intense and I like a bit more sweetness.

(Recipe modified from Bakerita’s Paleo Vegan Raspberry Chocolate No-bake tart.)

 

Crust Ingredients

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup pecans, very finely chopped (I use the mini-processor)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

 

Filling

3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk

5-6 oz  bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I use Green & Black’s Organic 70% bar)

¼ cup raspberry spread (use 100% pure fruit if you have it, otherwise use a low-sugar raspberry preserve

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch salt

2 cups fresh raspberries

 

Directions

Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with coconut oil. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust and stir together until fully incorporated. Press evenly into the prepared tart pan and set aside.

Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until it’s just about to boil. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate and let stand 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in raspberry preserves, vanilla extract and salt. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. (The filling mixture should be “runny” enough that it evenly fills the tart shell.)

Place tart in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour.

Garnish the top with raspberries, and return to the refrigerator for 1-2 hours until completely set.

Slice and serve.

Store leftovers–if there are any(!), in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Pistachio Cranberry Shortbread

 

I’ve been trying to keep my mother’s tradition of making “Star Cookies” every holiday season. If you didn’t see that post and/or haven’t made those cookies, check it out here.

But this year I wanted to make something different and equally festive, so I started recipe testing pistachio cranberry shortbread cookies. Like with most of my favorite recipes, these are easy to prepare, simple and relatively low-sugar–especially for a dessert!

 

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup cane sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp finely grated fresh orange zest

1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

3 tbsp coarse ground sugar, such as turbinado

 

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Blend in the vanilla extract and orange zest. Blend in the flour mixture one-third at a time until fully incorporated. Fold in the chopped cranberries and pistachios. Scrape the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Carefully form it into a roll with flat ends. Note: You can put a little extra flour on the palms of your hands if the dough wants to stick to your hands. Wrap up the paper and place in the refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours.

 

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the roll out of the refrigerator and unwrap. Brush the outside (not ends) of the roll with the egg yolk, and sprinkle generously with the coarse sugar. Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/4-1/3-inch slices. Place on the parchment-lined sheet approximately 1/2-inch apart. Bake 15-18 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are starting to golden. Let cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days.

Enjoy!

 

Chicken in lettuce cups

Challenging to photo, but delicious to eat, this easy to prepare dish has become another family favorite (like the Gado Gado salad recipe I posted earlier this week).

Loaded with flavor and fun to eat, it takes about 20 minutes,  to make–start to finish. I also love that it makes a perfect meal as is, but you can easily dress it up and make a more substantial meal by serving it with a complementary side dish. The one I show below is fresh corn with shiitake mushrooms cooked in chicken or vegetable stock.

When I make this dish, I usually split the chicken mixture into two bowls right before serving–one for the kids, and one for the adult into which I mix the red pepper flakes and a squirt of Sriracha.

 

Ingredients

3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp chicken broth

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp sugar

1 lb. ground chicken or turkey

2 tbsp avocado oil

2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

About 15 cup-shaped lettuce leaves (I use Bibb or butter lettuce), washed and dried

Cilantro sprigs for garnish

 

Preparation

Whisk together soy sauce (or tamarin), broth, cornstarch, and sugar until smooth. Place ground meat in a medium-size bowl and separate into several lumps. Pour about half the soy mixture over the meat; mix and set aside.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add ginger, garlic, and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 2-3 minutes. Add seasoned meat, using a wooden spoon to spread into an even layer. Let cook for 1-2 minutes or until the underside has begun to brown. Turn to cook the other side until browned; break into chunks.

Turn off heat. Add remaining soy mixture to skillet or wok. Add red pepper flakes if using, green onion, sesame oil, and cilantro. Mix well. To serve family style, serve the meat mixture in a bowl with cilantro sprigs for garnish with the lettuce leaves on a separate platter.

Enjoy!

 

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