Greek food is hard to find in the town I live in…while that’s a true statement, it’s also my lame excuse for completely forgetting how delicious it is! After making this flavorful and fuss-free dish, I racked my brain wondering why I don’t make more Greek-inspired food…and I’m determined it won’t be the last!
I was given the blog Hapa-tite for this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment, and what fun I had getting to know Nicole. I searched through oodles of sweet treats that called my name…Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee and Rhubarb Ginger Crumble Bars to name a couple. With the sunny weather peaking through on occasion, I was fishing for recipes to utilize the grill in order to catapult me out of this rainy Spring and into summer and warmth. Nicole’s recipe’s did just that, and how appropriate for a Memorial Day cookout! I was choosing between her Curried Chicken Skewers with Lime-Apricot Glaze and her Pork Souvlaki to coerce me to fire up the grill. I was really intrigued by her Tomato Petit-Fours with Mango Glaze but didn’t want to alter the recipe too much to fit my dietary needs for this month’s reveal, but I’d like to explore that flavor combination soon. Ultimately, I opted for Souvlaki, that was marinated overnight to infuse some zesty flavor and tenderize the meat from the acidity of the vinegar and lemon. Oh My Yum!
Nicole recommends serving this with toasted naan wedges along with the Tzatiki sauce, but I switched up a few things to cater to my current grain-free elimination diet. I wound up serving this in a lettuce wrap for a fresh, light dinner that is delicious served warm or chilled for a lovely lunch of leftovers.
The protein in this dish is versatile – make it with pork like Nicole suggested, cube some chicken or beef, substitute in cubed ahi tuna or swordfish or even marinate pressed tofu or veggies with this recipe. Stuff the protein (or veggies) sandwich-style in naan or a pita, serve over a salad or in a bowl with rice (or cauliflower rice – pictured) for a little versatility…all are SO super delicious with this dairy free cucumber-yogurt sauce. I’d never made Tzatziki before, but I sure will again!
I made a few little changes to the recipe based on dietary necessity: I swapped out chicken for the pork loin for the protein. For the tzatiki sauce, I used dairy-free, unsweetened coconut milk yogurt and a few spoonfuls of full-fat coconut cream (for richness) in lieu of the Greek yogurt and opted not to peel cucumber for added color. I squeezed the grated cucumber to remove excess liquid in order to thicken the sauce. In the marinade, I used apple cider vinegar in place of the red wine vinegar and added an extra garlic punch by using garlic-infused sea salt. I purchased some Mediterranean leaf oregano from the bulk herb section of our local natural food store…I thought that option was more appropriate in this Greek dish as opposed to Mexican leaf oregano. The Mediterranean oregano had a lemon citrus scent as opposed to the Mexican variety, which paired nicely with the lemon, garlic and olive oil marinade. This dish is crazy flavorful and easy, plus if you do a little prep work dinner can be thrown together in a flash!
Greek Souvlaki Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce (lightly adapted from Hapa-tite)
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Paleo & AIP-friendly, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Soy-free, Nut-free, Vegan/Vegetarian Option, Sugar-free
For the Marinade:
½ cup olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic cloves, minced (could probably sub 1/4 tsp garlic powder if necessary)
4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 tsp oregano (I used Mediterranean oregano)
sea salt to taste (I used a rounded 1/4 tsp of garlic salt)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ pounds pork loin, chicken or beef, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1 (for vegetarian/vegan see notes below*)
For the Dairy-free Tzatziki Sauce:
1 cup unsweetened plain coconut milk yogurt (can use 2% greek yogurt if you can do dairy)
1/2 cup full-fat coconut cream (the thick cream on the top of the can. I use Natural Value brand without gums)
1 English cucumber, grated and squeezed well to release extra water (can peel but not necessary)
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of sea salt
wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes before use OR metal skewers
For Serving (Options):
cooked grain of choice or grain-free cauliflower rice (pictured)
sliced cucumber, de-pitted and sliced Kalamata olives, diced tomato (not AIP-friendly or nightshade free)
Lettuce leaves (for lettuce wraps) or chopped greens for a salad (pictured)
Grilled or roasted vegetables (pictured)
Gluten-free naan or gluten-free pita bread
- Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Place pork/chicken/etc cubes in a Ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and toss to coat evenly with the marinade, then open the bag and reseal, removing as much air as possible. Place bag in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight (overnight recommended for optimal flavor!).
- Mix all the tzatziki ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight (overnight is preferable).
- Put pork/chicken/protein on skewers and grill until they are browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 to 12 minutes, turning 4 times during cooking. Remove the skewers to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- While the meat rests, prep your serving options: salad greens, veggies, heat grains/bread/cauliflower rice then serve with a large dollop of tzatziki sauce and enjoy!
*Vegetarian/Vegan options: If you want to use tofu in place of the protein (will not be soy-free/paleo or AIP if so), use pressed, drained firm tofu. Marinate overnight or atleast a few hours. If you prefer vegetables instead, they will not need to marinate overnight, slice your favorite veggies (I used yellow squash, zucchini and red onion, but mushrooms/tomatoes/eggplant/bell peppers (if allowed) would all be good options). Toss the marinade with the veggies, let sit for 30 minutes then cook.
If using swordfish or ahi, you will not need to marinate the fish as long, otherwise the lemon juice will “cook” the fish. Set aside a bit of the marinade prior to adding the fish so you can use that to drizzle on top after cooking. Marinate fish for about 20 minutes and cook until flaky.
For other recipes from this month’s reveal, click the link below!
Tomato-free ketchup…is that a thing? YES! It looks like the real thing with a deep red hue and a tangy yet sweet taste. I’ve been eliminating nightshades amongst a few others food groups from my diet as recommended from my naturopath to see if some of my digestive issues and aches and pains subside. As things progress, I’ll be sharing a bit about my journey but for now you might be seeing some alternative recipes.
I love how that forces me to think outside the box…experiment a little, and switch up my routine. I’d be fibbing if I said it comes with great ease for my type-A, routine-driven, planner personality but it’s a great lesson (once again) in flexibility. Plus, if something isn’t working or feels “off”, then change is a must, and just the nudge I needed :)
If you aren’t familiar with the nightshade family, Jane’s Healthy Kitchen has an easy-to-understand yet comprehensive post…. click here for more information. To give you a short rundown, nightshades are part of the Solanaceae family and consist of foods such as tomatoes, white potatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos as well as goji berries, ashwagandha, paprika, and even tobacco.
While I am avoid nightshades, I am looking for alternatives and substitutes in the meantime, and I thought I’d experiment with No-tomato Ketchup to start…after all, it is America’s favorite condiment…or has Sriracha replaced that? :)
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
2/3 cup red beet (can use golden but won’t have red ketchup color), peeled and diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey, agave or date syrup for vegan
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp allspice
- Bring water to boil in medium sauce pan. Add beets, carrots and onion. Boil for 10-15 minutes, until tender.
- While vegetables are boiling, add remaining ingredients to blender (high speed like a Vitamix is recommended for silky smooth texture). Strain and add vegetables to blender when they are through cooking.
- Carefully blend on high until liquefied.
- Return blended mixture to sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Use a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries, as a base for a tomato-free BBQ sauce, slathered on meatloaf, a sandwich or a burger!
Sauerkraut and avocado…I didn’t think that pairing would come out of my mouth, errr computer, as a go-to snack…but I’m learning to be very flexible and creative with my food choices lately. There are always stranger combinations — Pickles and ice cream? (cough, cough).
I’ve always had a deep love and appreciation for food…but my body doesn’t seem to share the same sentiment, particularly in the last eight months. Almost anything I eat doesn’t agree with me — I’ve tried all types of “diets”, from vegan to raw food to paleo. I have been gluten free since 2009 and at different times I’ve avoided nuts, dairy, sugar, beans, eggs and meat…I’ve eaten super-duper healthy but it turns out there’s more to the equation.
In short, after multiple doctors and months and months of not feeling well, I discovered that I am not absorbing any of the nutrients from my food. My body revolted and doesn’t break down fats, proteins, carbs or sugars well, which led to a plethora of deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, sore joints, muscle weakness, massive and painful digestive issues, dry skin and constantly getting sick. I’ll be sharing a bit about what I learn as I continue along… just recently I’ve had the energy again to blog again during my healing process which is a relief and a breath of fresh air.
I’ve joked that this Spring I’ve really embraced the idea of “Spring Cleaning” – physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s gut-check time and I’m determined to be a lighter, brighter and healthier version of myself at the end of this whole journey.
Now, back to the food! I am not sure you can call this a recipe; it’s more like a combination of ingredients that pair well together yet I am sharing it here as a quick snack idea, side dish for a meal or even as an accompaniment or filling for sandwich or fresh lettuce wrap, or served with grilled protein of your choice. Simple, quick and incredibly tasty!
5-Minute Avocado and Sauerkraut Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, AIP-friendly, Soy-free, Nut-free, Dairy-free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Sugar-free
1 ripe avocado, de-pitted and thinly sliced
2/3 cup – 1 cup sauerkraut or fermented veggies (beet and cabbage pictured)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice or lime juice
splash of apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar (or your favorite…I love acidity to it’s up to you)
1-2 Tbsp fresh basil, sliced thinly or chopped cilantro or parsley
sea salt to taste (I’ve used pink Himalayan as well as lime-infused salt, ginger-infused salt)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients. Taste and season accordingly to your preference; add more salt, pepper, basil/herbs, lemon juice, vinegar or more veggies. Enjoy on it’s own, in a wrap, as a bed for your favorite grilled or baked protein or mixed with quinoa or your favorite grain!
I’ve always been a big fan of nut butters but SEED butter is something I’ve really been loving on lately. I can’t get enough sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tahini and hemp seeds being sprinkled or drizzled on all types of sweet and savory dishes.
Tahini is so versatile…whether it’s used in hummus, drizzled as a sauce, added to bread, used as a base for this ice cream flavor or featured in these cookies. Little bitty sesame seeds add a fun texture and nutty undertones to recipes and these two-bite treats are no exception! These cookies aren’t as sweet as if you used peanut or almond butter; tahini has a stronger flavor that’s both intriguing and addicting in my opinion.
These cookies came about when I was hankering for a treat…I was running low on time and I was craving something baked. No-fuss cookies that can be ready for devouring in less than 20 minutes…sign me up :)
Flourless Double Sesame Cookies (slightly adapted from my Chunky Monkey Chip Cookies)
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Nut-Free, Soy-free, Paleo-friendly, Refined Sugar-Free, Easy, Quick
1 cup of tahini* (sesame seed butter – make sure its a thick)
3/4 cup -1 cup of granulated sweetener**
1 egg, well beaten
pinch of sea salt (omit if your tahini is salted)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
1/4 cup sesame seeds (white, black or a combo)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a medium size bowl, add tahini, sweetener, egg, baking soda, vanilla and stir well to combine until forms a dough.
3. Form dough balls (I use a tablespoon), roll into sesame seeds and place onto lined cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown – ovens vary so keep an eye on them – then let cool completely before moving (they break apart easily when warm) and enjoy!
*Make sure your tahini isn’t really runny or you won’t be able to form balls of dough. This is especially important if you are using a liquid sweetener!
**I used coconut palm sugar, and if yours is really coarse, pulse for a few seconds in a blender to break up slightly (mine was really clumpy). You could also use Sucanat, brown sugar, or could even try xylitol for sugar-free (please report back with those results!) If you prefer using honey or agave, substitute the granulated sweetener for 1/2-2/3 cup of liquid sweetener.