Summer Squash “Cheese”

Just when I thought zucchini and yellow squash couldn’t get any more versatile, I stumbled across this recipe for “Zucchini Cheese” and I squealed. Yup…mind-blown! I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and test this out! Turns out you can swap other veggies for the zucchini as well, so this won’t be the other time I make a variation of this recipe.

zucchini squash cheese slice

A quick and EASY cheese substitute that is nut-free and made from veggies?!? This “cheese” makes a great snack on the go or a unique dairy substitute on a sandwich or lettuce wrap. You can even serve over warm soup for a cheesy swirl or top sauteed asparagus or other veggies for a saucy flavor boost.

zucchini squash cheese 1

It even MELTS (thank you coconut oil and gelatin), well kind of melt…it becomes more of a sauce with a cheesy flavor if you serve this over anything warm. I added it to a bowl of warm spaghetti squash with sauteed chard and it had a cheesy pasta feel to it. If you are looking for a 100% cheese fix, you might be a tad disappointed but I was open-minded about the results and loved it!

zucchini squash cheese cubes 1

Summer Squash “Cheese” (lightly adapted from AIP Lifestyle)
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Nut-free, Egg-free, Paleo-friendly, Sugar-free, Anti-Candida Friendly 

Ingredients

1 cup zucchini, chopped into 1-inch cubes (peel first if you don’t want the green color, I left peels on)
1 cup yellow squash, chopped into 1-inch cubes (can use more zucchini if desired)
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp coconut oil (olive oil, ghee/butter can also be used)*
1 1/2 – 2 tsp raw coconut vinegar (can use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar if preferred)
3/4 – 1 tsp sea salt (I used fine hickory smoked salt)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (optional but brightens up the color a bit + it’s anti-inflammatory)
3 1/2- 4 Tbsp gelatin (I used Great Lakes in a the red can)
contents from 1 probiotic capsule (optional but I used this)

Directions

1. Line a bread pan with non-bleached parchment paper or a silicone baking pan may be use without a need for parchment paper.
2. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add squash and zucchini, then cover and simmer on medium low heat for 5 – 8 minutes. Drain off the water completely (You can save the water to sip or to cook with vegetables).
3. Add your veggies to a blender then add the oil, vinegar/lemon juice, tumeric and sea salt. Blend on high speed.
4. With your blender set on low speed, sprinkle the gelatin into the mixture. Blend on high for one last whizz until smooth.
5. If you want to add probiotics to your ‘cheese’ wait for the mixture to cool so that it is no longer hot to touch in the blender. Add the probiotics and blend on low.
6. Pour into your prepared pan and refrigerate overnight or for at least three hours to set. Alternatively to speed things up you can freeze to set, for about an hour.
7. Cut into squares, cheese slice, dice, melt, or grate. Use on protein patty’s, with veggies, in salads, and use incorporated into snack plates.
8. Wrap and refrigerate, or store slices in an airtight container. For best flavor, consume within 10 days. 

*If you are using extra virgin olive oil, wait until your mixture has cooled slightly so that the heat does not oxidize or morph the structure of the delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Notes: If you want a more cheesy flavor, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, however it’s not AIP-friendly so I haven’t tried it yet! 
zucchini squash cheese slice2

June 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa (SRC)

All this hot summer weather makes me crave three things: crisp salads, fresh fruits and food with a Mexican flare. It brings me back to my Texas roots where Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican restaurants are everywhere. Chips with table-side guacamole and tacos or fajitas are my go-to so I am always up for a new twist on an old favorite to “get my fix”. Enter this tacos!

cauliflower tacos mango salsaFruit + avocado + crunchy cabbage and crisp cauliflower in handheld form – hello summer!  There’s something fun about eating with your hands, right? This flavor combination is a total win! I was blown away by it’s complexity – zesty lime juice, sweet fresh mango, warm and almost nutty cauliflower with crunchy cabbage and velvety avocado topped off with a tangy yogurt drizzle…wow.  
cauliflower tacos mango salsa2

This taco recipe was lightly adapted from Fried Ice and Donut Holes blog that I was assigned for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal. Talk about a fun name for a site! I LOVED scanning through Melissa’s blog…her food style is right up my alley: lots of vegetarian options, salads and yummy breakfasts. I searched her recipes multiple times while I was hungry…mmmm, a bad (but oh-so-good) idea since I wanted to eat my computer screen :)

At first peek, both Melissa’s Crispy Avocado and BLT Salad and Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Spicy Celery Slaw called my name (who doesn’t love avocado, bacon and tomato?) but without eating nightshades, these recipes are “on hold” for now. Oh, and her Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans looked and sounded sinfully delicious! I ultimately chose her Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa— love the concept, love the taste and YES, I will be making these again for sure!

cauliflower tacos mango salsa 3Based on my dietary restrictions, I switched up a few things. I made my own grain-free cauliflower tortillas but any tortillas can be subbed here (corn, gluten-free etc). I reduced the amount of oil bit and subbed finely crushed plantain chips for a grain-free swap for the breadcrumbs. I sliced the avocado instead if mashing and used dairy-free coconut milk yogurt in place of the the sour cream. In the mango salsa, I eliminated the jalapeño (nightshade) and didn’t miss it at all!

cauliflower tacos mango salsa1

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa (Adapted from Fried Ice and Donut Holes’ recipe)
Grain-free option, Gluten-free, Egg-free option, Vegetarian, Vegan Option, Dairy-free, Nut-free, Nightshade free option, Soy-free, Paleo and AIP friendly  

Ingredients
For the Mango Salsa
1 Mango, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 Red Onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
1 Jalapeño, seeded and finely diced (omit for AIP and Nightshade-free)
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 Lime, juiced
1/2 cup Cilantro, coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Crispy Cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 head Cauliflower, cut into small florets
6 Tbsp gluten-fee Panko breadcrumbs, divided OR crushed plantain chips or sweet potato chips (AIP/Paleo/Grain-free)
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Tacos
8-10 Small Tortillas (I made Grain-free Cauliflower Tortillas)*
1 Avocado
1/2 Lime, juiced
1 cup Shredded Cabbage (I used green but red would be great too)
Dairy-free Yogurt or AIP Friendly mayo (or Sour Cream if you can do dairy)

Directions

For the Mango Salsa
1. Combine the mango, onion, jalapeño (if using), and garlic in a bowl. Toss with lime juice and fold in cilantro.
2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and set aside.

For the Cauliflower
1. Working in batches, heat half of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes.
2. Toss with half of the panko/plantain/chips and cook until have become golden brown, 2-3 minutes.
3. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the cauliflower from the skillet into a bowl and repeat with the remaining oil, cauliflower, and panko/plaintain/chips.

For the Tacos and Serving
1. To assemble tacos, mash the avocado with the lime juice.
2. Spread some avocado onto a tortilla and top with cabbage, cauliflower, salsa, and sour cream.

Serves 4 (2 tacos each)

cauliflower tacos mango salsa hand

For other recipes from this month’s reveal, please click the link below!

June 21, 2015 at 10:00 pm 15 comments

Frosty Vanilla Fig Smoothie

I forget how much I LOVE summer! Sunny mornings and brisk afternoon showers…the grass is bright green and flowers are in full bloom. I sleep with my windows open, and I wake up to the sun peaking in my window and sound of birds chirping…so flippin’ cool. Does that almost sound like an opening to a Disney movie?! Let’s not forget all the fresh produce as well – juicy melons, spicy crisp radishes, sweet cherries and loads of zucchini just to name a few – YUM.

Fig smoothie 1I have really been craving fresh foods and cold, refreshing dishes, especially after sitting out in the sun to soak up some Vitamin D for a bit. I’ve also recently discovered my love of frozen figs…yep, frozen ones. They were selling a huge bag of organic green figs at Costco, and I’ve had them stashed in the freezer for a couple months since limiting my fruit intake on my elimination diet. I was craving something sweet and cold the other night, and I thought I’d give these a try on my stomach. Tummy approved and WOW, are they delicious!

I let a couple figs sit out on the counter for a few minutes, then nibbled at a frozen one…a little bite of heaven! Ever since, I’ve been incorporating them in a variety of recipes (and trying to eat them in moderation as I am reintroducing fruits). First up, this frosty fig and vanilla smoothie is one of my favorites…I’ve had it for dessert a couple times too! This smoothie is perfect as an afternoon pick-me-up or a quick breakfast to start your day with loads of energy :)

Fig smoothie

Frosty Vanilla Fig Smoothie 
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Paleo & AIP-friendly, Nut-free, Vegan, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Refined Sugar Free, Nightshade-free

Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk (I used from a can, but any milk would work based on preference/allergy)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract (alcohol free for AIP) or vanilla powder
a couple shakes of ground cinnamon
2-3 medium green figs, frozen and rough chopped (can use other color and varieties)
*If you’re sensitive to sugars, add 1/4 avocado for creaminess and use 1-2 figs, but will be less sweet

Optional add-ins:
handful of leafy greens (baby spinach, chard, kale)
1/2 cup of frozen banana, your favorite berry or mango for a different flavor

Directions

1. Add ingredients in order as they are listed to a high-powered blender (such as a Vitamix). Blend on high until smooth.

Notes: If you do not have a high-powered blender, you might need to let your figs de-frost for 15 minutes or so and chop them smaller OR add more liquid.

Fig smoothie 2

June 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment

Triple Squash Veggie Soup

Squash is an everyday staple at the moment – from zucchini and yellow squash to butternut, acorn and kabocha, I eat it all…all the time. Im finding it interesting that some of my favorite foods that used to agree with me are simply off-limits for now. Take peanut butter and nuts for example, I had several varieties on a daily basis and now my stomach just can’t handle it. Gluten-free grains such as rice and quinoa fall into the same category.

triple squash soup close1

Starchy vegetables have been the easiest for my body to accept – carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash, and beets are being consumed by the pounds. I wish I could tell you I was joking! I never thought I could eat so many foods with an orange hue…and I can’t tell if my hands are tinted orange from the constant prep of these ingredients or if it’s a result of all the Vitamin A I am consuming. However, orange is better than a green or purple glow so I won’t complain too much ;)

triple squash soup1

A variation of this soup is made on a weekly basis as a back-up option for quick lunches, last minutes dinners or an easy snack. Sometimes I’ll throw in some sweet potatoes in place of the cauliflower or add some coconut cream for richness with some spices for a different flavor. This soup is versatile and comforting, feel free to experiment with add-ins for serving to jazz it up a bit — Avocado, baby greens, infused oils, more roasted carrots or squash cubes (if you like a bit of texture in your soup) and caramelized onions are all great options. If you’re looking to bump up the protein, I imagine cooked white beans, quinoa, shredded chicken or hemp seeds would compliment this soup quite well. If you like to make dishes ahead, whip up a big pot of this soup and reheat throughout the week!

triple squash soup close

Triple Squash Veggie Soup
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Vegan/Vegetarian option, Nightshade-free, Paleo/AIP-friendly

Ingredients

2-3 cups cauliflower florets*
3 medium carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups bone broth, low-sodium veggie broth or chicken stock (use veggie stock for vegetarian/vegan)
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 medium onion or 1 leek, rough chopped (optional but adds flavor)
1 medium zucchini, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 medium yellow squash, chopped into 1 inch cubes
cooked flesh from 1/2 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 cups)**(see notes below)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 – 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper to taste
Drizzle of olive oil (about 1-2 Tbsp, I used garlic-infused oil)
fresh juice from 1 lemon
drizzle of apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar (or more lemon juice. I like a generous drizzle but I enjoy the acidity)

For serving (optional)
drizzle of olive oil (I used garlic Italian herb infused oil) – pictured
handful of leafy greens (baby spinach, kale, swiss chard) – pictured
zucchini cheese (recipe to come) or your favorite cheese
coconut cream
fresh avocado, cubed or sliced
fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro)
lemon zest

Directions

1. In a medium dutch oven or soup pot filled with 3 inches of water over high heat, add cauliflower, carrots, celery and onion to a steamer basket and cook until almost tender (roughly 5-7 minutes).
2. Add zucchini and yellow squash on top and steam for another 2 minutes or so until tender and let cool slightly. Reserve some of the cooking water just in case you need to add it to a blender.
3. Add broth, rosemary, olive oil, lemon, vinegar, salt and pepper to a high-powered blender (such as a Vitamix). Top with steamed veggies and puree in a until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. If you have a smaller blender, you may need to do this in batches, please be careful with hot contents in a closed blender!
4. If you want the soup thinner, add a bit of reserved cooking liquid. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, lemon juice etc and serve!

*Cauliflower adds creaminess to the soup, but you can swap this out for cooked sweet potato (Japanese sweet potatoes are a favorite!) or even white potato if you can eat them. White potatoes are not nightshade-free, paleo or AIP friendly (just in case you need to follow that eating style).

**To cook a spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the strings and the seeds. Cook cut-side down at 350F for 30-40 minutes until tender, based on the size of the squash. Sometimes I will put a couple tablespoons of water to steam in the bottom of a baking pan to steam it a bit while baking. After you remove the squash from the oven, let cool and take a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti” looking strands/flesh. If you like soup with some texture, don’t blend the spaghetti squash and add it in at the end for serving.

Notes: if you want to bump up the protein, feel free to add your favorite protein of choice – cooked beans, shredded chicken, hemp seeds or cooked quinoa if you’d like!

triple squash soup spoon

May 31, 2015 at 11:21 pm 2 comments

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