Cool fall mornings are my favorite…when my cozy bed tries to lure me back in, yet I slip on sweats and slippers and head to the kitchen to brew a warm cup of tea. I find it energizing and invigorating! While I love my morning smoothies, I need to heat up first with something hot when it’s chilly in the house.
Why not make something nourishing and comforting at the same time? This minty latte has healthy fats from the hemp and cacao butter, peppermint that is soothing for your tummy and digestion, and contains a little protein and fiber from the hemp hearts. This latte is also caffeine-free (unless you use a green or black tea) so you can enjoy a cuppa as a treat after dinner if you’d like!
This quick and easy drink is ideal for sipping while you’re curled up on the couch reading a book, watching tv or having some downtime. If you aren’t a fan of white chocolate, feel substitute carob powder (for AIP) or raw cacao powder for a darker chocolate version and add a touch of coconut cream for richness.
White Chocolate Mint Tea Latte
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Caffeine-free option, Paleo-friendly, AIP-friendly option, Soy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free, Egg-free, Vegetarian, Vegan
16 oz boiling water
2-3 bags of herbal peppermint tea (I have some brands of mint tea that are stronger than others, if you prefer a more prominent flavor, use 3)
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsp raw cacao butter*
2 Tbsp hemp hearts (omit for AIP, and substitute 2-3 Tbsp coconut cream)
2 tsp agave, coconut nectar, honey (don’t use if vegan) or a pinch of stevia (adjust sweetener to taste)
1. Steep tea bags in boiling water until desired strength, usually 3-5 minutes for herbal tea.
2. Add prepared tea along with the remaining ingredients in a blender (I use a high-powered blender such as Vitamix) and blend until smooth. Enjoy while hot or warm!
*For a chocolately version, use raw cacao powder or carob (for AIP and caffeine-free). For a thicker, creamier result add a couple tablespoons of coconut cream.
Slow cooker meals are a lifesaver after a long day of work. I get home, I’m hungry and I’d prefer not to spend a couple hours in the kitchen. I’d rather heat up or whip up something quick to eat and be able to enjoy “free time” outside of work in the evenings. While cooking is certainly a passion, it can seem more like a chore at the end of a busy day.
When I find a recipe that can be used as a base for multiple meals, it’s a definite winner. This slow cooker pulled chicken is just that. I served this dish as a filling snack over a half of an avocado, over a bowl of cooked grains and lentils with green onions, as an add-in to a smoky veggie soup and as the main dish with some cabbage slaw and pickled onions. You can also serve this in a wrap, over a salad, in a panini, as a pizza topping or as a topping to a baked potato or yam. Can you say endless possibilities?
Let’s not forget the BBQ sauce — Apple cider vinegar is such a versatile ingredient and I love love LOVE the taste! It’s bold and tangy, and adds a lovely zip to dishes from soups and salad dressings to marinades and main dishes. While lemon and lime juice have their places, apple cider vinegar has a place in my heart all it’s own. Naturally, when I came across Lauren’s recipe for a Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken and Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar BBQ sauce, I knew I had to make it.
This month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment was Lauren’s delicious and crafty blog Sew You Think You Can Cook. I knew Lauren was a great match when I came across fun flavor combos such as her Hummus Waffles with Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sweet Potato and Chorizo Hand Pies, Coconut Shrimp with Bloody Mary Dip and Parsnip and Blueberry Baked Oatmeal. While I chose her Pulled Chicken and Apple Cider BBQ Sauce, with my newfound love for parsnips, you can be sure Lauren’s baked oatmeal will be made in the next week or so!
I made a few changes to Lauren’s recipe based on what I had on hand. I had a combo or chicken breasts and boneless, skinless chicken thighs and I really loved the flavor that the richer thigh meat lent to this dish. I swapped out the sweetener for maple sugar and used smoked salt instead of regular sea salt. I made a special grocery store run to buy gluten-free beer…I didn’t want to swap that out so I could stay true to the recipe, though now I have several bottles of beer to experiment in other recipes :) Thanks Lauren for this recipe, I’ll be making this again!
Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken (recipe adapted from Sew You Think You Can Cook)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo-friendly, Soy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or a combo (I used 2 chicken breasts, 4 chicken thighs)
1 1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp granulated sweetener (maple sugar, sucanat, coconut sugar)
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard powder
1 tsp cayenne (can reduce if you are sensitive to spicy food)
1 bottle or can (12 oz) gluten-free beer
sea salt and pepper to taste (I used smoked salt)
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper generously. Place in the bottom of a slow cooker.
2. In a small bowl combine paprika, garlic powder, sweetener, mustard powder, and cayenne. Sprinkle over the chicken.
3. Pour beer into the slow cooker. Cook on LOW 5-7 hours until the chicken shreds easily.
4. Serve as a sandwich, wrap, over grains, over avocado, as a pizza topping, on top of a salad and drizzle withe apple cider vinegar BBQ sauce (recipe below).
Apple Cider Vinegar BBQ Sauce (recipe adapted from Sew You Think You Can Cook)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo-friendly, Soy-free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free
1 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 Fresno chili pepper, deseeded and halved
2 tbsp sweetener (coconut sugar, maple sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook 20 – 30 minutes, or until a desired consistency is achieved. Remove the garlic and chili pepper, if used.
I’m notorious for grabbing the quickest, easiest option in the fridge to snack on when I’m hungry. Just like shopping at the grocery store on an empty stomach, my least healthy food choices are made when my blood sugar is low and/or I am unprepared. If I wash and pre-cut veggies, there’s a much better chance of grabbing them than if I had to wash and prep them, and same goes for an accompanying dip.
As much as I’d like to smother EVERYTHING in traditional hummus, legumes haven’t been sitting too well with me. I’ll indulge on occasion — just because they are SO good… and meaty, velvety beans are an ingredient I really enjoy. Instead, I reserve beans for a rare occasion, and have tried different versions of hummus for an alternative veggie dip.
When I found myself needing to prep veggies and make a dip for the week for lunch, I knew I had to whip up something to satisfy my hummus craving. I blended some leftover roasted parsnips with some raw zucchini, and I was surprised at how addicting this dip is! I took the traditional flavors of hummus and spiced it up a bit with a chile-infused oil from our lovely Just Tapped oil and vinegar store (love these owners!). You can use plain olive oil or avocado oil if you’d like and sprinkle in some crushed red pepper or omit the pepper altogether and add a bit of lemon zest and extra lemon juice for a nice zing.
If you haven’t experimented much with parsnips, they are the BOMB! A sweeter, yet slightly spicy cousin of the carrot, parsnips have a velvety texture when they are roasted much like a winter squash. Simply roasting parsnips with a little oil and sea salt make some epic “parsnip fries” and a great side at dinner or a hearty snack when you need a starch fix.
This parsnip hummus is slightly sweet yet spicy with a smooth creamy texture, perfect for a filling snack or as part of a meal. Serve with your favorite chopped veggies, use in your favorite wrap, smear over gluten-free crackers, or dip with plantain chips or sweet potato chips!
Parsnip-Zucchini Hummus (Bean-free)
Nut-free, Paleo-friendly, Nightshade-free option, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Sugar-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Vegetarian, Vegan
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 medium zucchini, peeled and cubed (can use yellow squash as well)
2 Tbsp tahini*
2 1/2 Tbsp olive or avocado oil, divided (I used chile-infused)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cumin
juice from one lemon
dash of cayenne pepper (omit if you don’t like spicy)
1/4 tsp sea salt plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F. Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and place cubed parsnips in the center. Drizzle 1/2 Tbsp of oil over the top, then create a foil or parchment packet and roast 25-30 minutes until tender and lightly golden brown. Remove from heat.
- In the bowl of food processor or a high-powered blender (ie. Vitamix), add the following in order: lemon juice, garlic, tahini, 2 Tbsp oil, spices and zucchini. Blend until smooth. If you are using a blender, you may need to use the tamper.
- Add the roasted parsnips and process until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier hummus, pulse to desired texture. Season with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice if preferred. Refrigerate to chill for an hour or two, then enjoy!Notes:*The tahini I buy (in bulk) is really runny, if yours is thicker than a creamy salad dressing, you may need to add an extra drizzle of olive oil.
Our local health food store has this luscious West African Peanut Soup that they feature in their hot bar on occasion. There’s something about the soup that screams “comfort” (…and eat me of course!). It combines some of my favorite foods in one dish- sweet potatoes, nut or seed butters, greens and coconut milk.
After inquiring about the ingredients used in their soup, I knew I could come up with my own version that I could make anytime…without having to wait whether it’s offered on the menu that day. Dare I say that I might even like this version better? Maybe because I added some of my favorite veggies and punched up the creaminess with the coconut milk…I even enjoyed this cold right from the fridge for lunch one day when I didn’t have a way to heat up the soup at work.
This stew (or hearty soup) is a great way to kick off this Fall season and warm up on chilly evenings :)
If you aren’t familiar with Berbere, it’s a lovely warm Ethiopian spice mixture with a bit of heat made with chile powder, paprika, ginger, coriander and several other spices. It pairs really well with the sweet potatoes, tomato, nut butter and veggies and can be used in a variety of ingredients – . I purchased this spice mix in bulk, but if you are looking to make your own, try this homemade mix.
West African Stew
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Nut-free Option, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Sugar-free, Paleo-Friendly
1 Tbsp coconut oil or other neutral oil
1-2 medium carrots, small diced
1 large or 2 small stalks of celery, diced
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled (if desired and cubed, about 4-5 cups, I used a combo of white and orange flesh)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and minced (omit if you don’t like spicy)
1 14.5oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can full-fat coconut milk
32 oz low-sodium vegetable broth or stock
2 tbsp Berbere spice mix (I like the flavor punch, but you can use 1 tbsp if you like less spicy, mild flavors)
1-2 tbsp Braggs liquid aminos, gluten-free soy sauce tamari or coconut aminos (use coconut aminos for soy-free & paleo)
3/4 cup chunky or creamy peanut butter, sunflower seed butter (for nut-free) OR almond butter* (I’ve tried all 3 versions)
2-3 cups greens, rough chopped (chard, collards, kale, spinach)-optional
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice from one small lime
For serving (Optional but oh-so-good)
Cooked rice, quinoa or your favorite grain (omit for grain-free and/or Paleo)
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Chopped green onion
Chopped peanuts, slivered almonds or sunflower seeds
- In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic, sweet potato chunks, and jalapeño and saute another 3-4 minutes until onions are cooked through, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in broth, coconut milk, tomatoes (undrained), Berbere spice mix, and Braggs/aminos and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, roughly 20 minutes.
- Remove 1/2 cup of the hot soup broth and place in a small bowl. Stir in the nut/seed butter and whisk until smooth (this helps prevent clumping and even distribution), then add back to the soup and stir again.
- Toss in the chopped greens and cook for a few minutes wilted.
- Stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Taste and season with additional lime juice, liquid aminos, salt and pepper if desired.
- Ladle into bowls, garnish with grains, green onions, chopped nuts/seeds and additional cilantro. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top and enjoy!
*I’ve made variations of this soup…feel free to make it your own! I’ll add in sliced mushrooms, swap out orange for purple sweet potatoes, add in greens, throw in some leftover cooked grains if I need to use some up, etc.