Essential Omnivore

Chocolate Spiced Walnut Butter

November 6, 2015 by Lucia | 0 comments


Ah, fall. Finding its way down the block, leaves fluttering by with big gusts of strangely warm wind. Hey, I’ll take it. Now that we’re in November, even as it isn’t icy cold yet (thank you, Minnesota), I’m still drawn more and more to warming, cozy foods. Quarts of chicken stock? Check. A large sheet tray of roasted sweet potatoes? Oh, behave. Naturally, a freshly ground walnut butter is next in line, right? Sure.

Today’s flavors are inspired by “Mexican” hot chocolate, or at least, the general idea as found in the United States today. Chocolate, chiles, cinnamon and a healthy pinch of sea salt for good measure, all throw in the food processor with toasted and still warm walnuts. It really isn’t too bad, if I do say so myself.

Chocolate Spiced Walnut Butter
1.5 cups walnuts
1/4 cup coconut oil (if you have a high powered blender, you may omit or use less coconut oil)
up to 1/4 cup sweetener of your choice (raw honey, maple syrup or even a few dates thrown in would do the trick)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less depending on how spicy you’d like this to be!)

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, gently toast the walnuts, stirring frequently so they don’t burn, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. In a food processor or blender (or, high powered blender, you lucky creature), combine all ingredients (omitting or using less coconut oil if you have that high powered blender). Allow to process until your desired consistency, scraping the edges of the processor or blender as needed–roughly 3 minutes or so. Take a spoonful now and revel in your creation. Makes about 1 cup of walnut butter.

Roasted Cannellini Beans with Thyme

July 8, 2015 by Lucia | 0 comments


Pan roasted, of course! No ovens this month, or next month if I can help it. Too hot. Too steamy. I made some banana bread yesterday due to the cooler, less humid morning that fell in my lap, but now? Stove top or bust, my friends. And look! Beans. Yes, beans. The magical fruit. Another beautiful, real food. Here’s to getting older, because I just attempted to write “beans are fun!” and we all know that young, vivacious people don’t label beans as fun. Maybe it’s time that changes. In the meantime, here’s a fu–nice recipe.

Roasted Cannellini Beans with Thyme
2 cups cannellini beans, cooked (of your own doing, from a can, from a tetra pak, you know. options!)
2 tablespoons bacon fat (or fat of your choosing–coconut oil, butter, lard, etc.)
4 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt (depends if the beans you are using are already salted)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped bacon bits (not pictured, though they were delicious) (and optional)

Heat the fat in a large skillet over high heat. While that’s heating up, rinse your beans and lay them out over a dishtowel, and gingerly move them around and pat them so they’re a bit drier. Place thyme sprigs in hot fat–watch out! They will sputter a bit briefly. Then add the beans to the pan, and don’t move them. Turn the heat to medium high. Don’t move them still. Let them cook on that one side until nicely browned, about 2 or 3 minutes. Then shake the pan and add the garlic, taking care not to crush the beans, yet making sure the garlic is hitting the hot fat to cook. Let cook for another minute or so, until nicely colored on the other side and the garlic is no longer raw. Take off heat and add the salt and pepper. Serve warm. Serves 4 as a side.

Braised Kale with Lemon and Anchovies

June 29, 2015 by Lucia | 0 comments

I’m an anchovy FREAK. I really noticed it when I was about 13 years old and went gaga for a certain restaurant’s Caesar salad. When I was 17 and saw Jamie Oliver throw anchovy fillets into some hot olive oil and watched them dissolve and flavor that oil, the freak got geek. When I ordered pizza with extra cheese and saw I could get anchovy fillets for a few cents more, I solidified the fact: anchovies. are. the. bomb. So when I put anchovies in butter, when I sneak them into persillade, when I feel happiness knowing there’s a tube of them in the fridge (perfection), and a tin of them in the cupboard (amaze), I revel in letting my freak flag fly. And then I remember–it’s really not that freaky at all. It’s incredibly wholesome, eating a tiny fish. It gives me all those tasty nutrients just like the big catches. I think that’s what keeps me coming back, what I realize–you crave what they can give you. There’s nothing fancy about this dish. There can’t be. It is what it is. Thank goodness.

Braised Kale with Lemon and Anchovies
1 head kale, any variety, stems removed and leaves roughly torn
2 tablespoons fat of choice (I used duck fat–butter, lard or coconut would be great, too)
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (or 4 anchovy fillets from a tin)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped and smashed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon

In a large skillet, heat your fat of choice over medium high. Add in the anchovies, stirring around the hot fat until the anchovies have melted and incorporated themselves. Add in the torn kale leaves, gently tossing as they wilt from the heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, sea salt and black pepper. Turn the heat up to high and cook for another minute or two, until some of the kale leaves get crispy. Take the skillet off the heat, then add the lemon juice and zest. Toss to evenly coat. Serves 4. It might not hurt to sprinkle some toasted and finely chopped nuts over this, but I’m not in charge here.

Curried Cauliflower Rice

January 22, 2015 by Lucia | 0 comments


Oh, good grief! A recipe. And a very simple one at that. Somehow, the monthly post I had intended to create for December slipped past me. Ah, such is life! I hadn’t felt that certain intrigue from a recipe until this one and I just happened to find each other one cozy night a few weeks ago. I threw some spices together, a makeshift curry powder… I was hungry and not in the right mind. Hah! The lighting was glowing and soft–not so great for the harried attempt at a photo (it’s over on Instagram) As soon as I was done rushing together such a silly dish, it happened. The curried rice soothed whatever frenetic energy was buzzing through me. I slowed down. I appreciated the flavors. I felt like I was back, back to me. Funny how a food can do that, huh? I vowed I would recreate it, and so I have. Thankfully, let me tell you, it’s just as spicy and cozy as ever. Whew!

Curried Cauliflower Rice
1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter, or ghee, or fat of your choice)
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons curry powder, of your own choosing (I like this iteration)
1 small head cauliflower, grated or pulverized (“riced”) in a food processor

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add in the mustard seeds and allow to roast for about a minute, or until they gently begin to sizzle and pop. Stir in the curry powder, then add the riced cauliflower. Stir to incorporate all of the spiced oil and the cauliflower, turn the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and allow to steam for about five minutes, maybe stirring once or twice during the process. Up to you! Serves 4 as a side.

Braised Fennel with Lemon Zest

November 14, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments


Hmm, where does the time go? October came and went, and here the little blog was, missing an entry. I do have a confession to make–I’ve been cooking, and I’ve been posting, but it’s over on Instagram (gasp! sigh! the horror!). Give it a go, folks. Add me. Let’s be friends. Other news? I’ve partnered with Solcana Crossfit and will be talking up a storm over there about all things health and nutrition related.

But, let’s move on. We have fennel to discuss. If you haven’t been a fan of fennel in the past, might I suggest this preparation? Its powerful licorice-y/anise-y flavor when raw subsides into something delicate during this braise. I’d call it sexy, but I may just need to get out of the house more often.

Braised Fennel with Lemon
2 fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons cooking fat of your choice (butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil)
1/2 cup chicken stock
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Chop both fennel bulbs into quarters, and slice on an angle to remove the core from each quarter. Finely slice all fennel, either practicing your fine knife skills or using a mandoline set for a thin slice. In a large skillet, heat your fat over high heat. Add the fennel slices and sea salt and allow to cook for a minute or two. When the skillet seems dry, add the chicken stock, stir, turn the heat to medium-high, cover and allow to cook for about five minutes. After, remove the lid, turn the heat back up to high and continue to cook until the fennel gently begins to caramelize. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, lemon zest and cracked black pepper. Serves 4.

Stone Fruit Compotes

September 25, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

compotetrio1000from left to right: nectarine & chile, pear & thyme, peach & ginger



…oh, and pear, too! According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, eating stewed stone fruit is a very good healthy (and delicious) endeavor this fall. Amy K Acupuncture discusses the details in her newest blog post, Acupuncture Tips for Staying Healthy this Fall. Amy and I created three recipes for you to try out this fall; pear and thyme, nectarine and chile, and peach and ginger. All of these are warming to your body in their own way. And aside from the fruit, it’s likely you have the majority of the ingredients in your cupboards! Perhaps now is the time to go out, grab a stone fruit or two and get compote-y!

Pear Thyme Compote
3 pears, seeds removed
juice from ½ a lemon
1 teaspoon dried thyme (1 tablespoon if using fresh herb)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
zest from ½ a lemon (add after cooking)

Peach Ginger Compote
3 large peaches, pitted
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons water

Nectarine Chile Compote
3 nectarines, pitted
1 teaspoon fresh red chili, seeds removed and diced
pinch of clove powder
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder (add after cooking)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (add after cooking)

Choose the recipe you wish to use, then chop your fruit into one inch cubes and combine all following ingredients (except those stating they should be added after cooking). Cook in a medium pot with the lid on over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. After, remove the lid and continue to cook the fruit as it softens for about another 10 minutes; use a masher to work the compote into the texture you desire. Depending on the ripeness of your fruit, the total cooking time can be between 20 to 30 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add in any final ingredients, per the recipe. Allow to cool slightly, then serve however you see fit. These compotes work in both savory and sweet dishes, such as dolloped onto bowlfuls of yogurt, served alongside grilled or roasted meats, stirred into porridge, or simply a few big spoonfuls straight. Each recipe serves 6-8.

Tahini Dressing

September 18, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments


This summer as I was prepping what felt like boatloads of meals for myself to get through each week, I realized I needed something other than my Dijon, garlic and olive oil vinaigrette. And something other than my other olive oil and balsamic combo. Something just a little bit more… enticing. Don’t get me wrong! The classics are just that, classic. But don’t they need a break, too? I’ve added this dressing into my rotation and I’m so glad I did. Hey, you, c’mere (I say this in my head to the dressing. We’re kind of a thing these days)!

Tahini Dressing
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons warm water
1 garlic clove, grated
1 piece ginger root (comparable to the garlic clove in size), grated
1 teaspoon fermented chile paste (or other heat source of your liking)
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
pinch of sea salt (add only if you’re dressing a salad that doesn’t already contain salt, see recipe below)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Add more water if necessary to create a pourable dressing. The pictured salad is massaged kale, quick-pickled onion and cucumber.

Massaged Kale
1 bunch kale, stems removed
1 teaspoon sea salt

Gather a few leaves of kale, roll together as best you can, and finely chop. Repeat until all kale has been shredded. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt. Now use your hands and massage the kale for about a minute, until slightly wilted and delicate.

Quick Onion Pickle
1 small onion
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
few slices of a beet root (optional, not pictured)

Cut the onion in half from tip to root. Remove the papery skin. Finely slice both onions halves and place in a small bowl. Cover with the apple cider vinegar (use more if necessary). Gently massage (oh, yes, again) the onions in the vinegar. Allow to sit for at least five minutes. Squeeze excess liquid from the onions before plating. As another option, place the sliced fresh onions in a small glass jar, cover with apple cider vinegar and place the beet root in as well. Cover and allow to sit in the fridge for up to two months; your quick pickled onions will become pink, and you can continue to top off the vinegar as needed and add fresh onion slices as you see fit.

Banana Ice Cream with Salted Bacon Fudge Sauce

July 14, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments


Because. Because because. Because it is summer, because it is hot and humid, because you’ve been freezing those too-brown bananas and saving the fat after cooking bacon, right? Phew!

Banana Ice Cream
3 bananas, frozen, peeled and chopped into chunks
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Pulse a few times then allow to blend until smooth. You may need to stop the processor and push down the ice cream around the edges a few times as well.

Salted Bacon Fudge Sauce
1/4 cup 70% (or higher) dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

In a double-boiler (a small bowl set over a small pot with few inches of water boiling but not touching the bottom of the bowl), melt the chocolate while stirring gently. Once melted, add the rest of the ingredients and continue stirring until all ingredients are well incorporated. Allow to cool for a minute or so while plating (or… or bowling, really) your ice cream. Generously pour the salted fudge sauce over each bowlful. And of course, crumbled crispy bacon bits and banana chips are utterly implied as toppings for this dessert. Who do you think I am? Serves 2. Make it romantic.

I Love Fish Sauce

June 28, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments


Don’t you worry, I have quite the post lined up for when I make my own fish sauce. It’s something I’ve been wanting to make for years, yet the slimy, fish head-y opportunity hasn’t risen quite yet. Never fear! Store-bought fish sauce lends itself delightfully to vegetables. I know. Stay with me. And don’t be put off by the mention of mint, either! Try this dish out–you very well may have almost all the ingredients hanging around your kitchen. That’s all I can say right now.

Fish Saucey Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends removed and chopped in half
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari (or if you’re soy free, coconut aminos instead)
1 tablespoon heat of your choice (I used some fermented chile paste, but anything like sriracha is great, or fresh chopped spicy peppers too)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup (completely optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed
1/2 inch knob of peeled ginger, minced

chives or green onions, minced (optional)
mint, finely sliced (optional, but trust me)
cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

Place a large skillet with the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When oil is nice and hot, add the Brussels sprouts. Stir a few times and allow to cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients up through the ginger in a small bowl and stir to combine. Turn heat up to high and dump the liquid mixture over the Brussels sprouts. Continue to cook and stir for another five minutes, or until sticky and caramelized. Plate and serve with the three herbs as garnish. Serves 2.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (GF, EF, DF, V, SF, NF)

June 15, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments


Here’s the kicker about labeling the way you eat to align with a certain dietary prescription… at some point it could very likely stop making sense. All of a sudden, your label needs these little asides and qualifiers. And when you don’t eat something that fits neatly into the equation, then there’s the whole mental piece. And there’s a social piece. And of course, the physical piece. My context is this: I am currently egg-free, nut-free and (for the most part. Ah, there go the qualifiers again!) dairy-free. For a few weeks I was coffee-free and chocolate-free. What a blissful period! And then came my life, in full swing. I think I’m currently grooving on dietary individuality and the liberation from claiming… anything. And this isn’t to kick any method of eating to the ground, oh no. I think growth and knowledge both stem from identifying the foods you eat, negative, neutral and positive. I could go down the rabbit hole of thoughts and feelings on exclusion and inclusion, long-term and short-term regarding food choices. I’ll save that for anyone willing to listen.

Anyway! For all ye looking for a baking project that is dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free (though not technically grain-free), soy-free and nut-free, this is for you. It can be vegan, and definitely vegetarian. It’s not really paleo (hello, oats). It’s almost primal (hello, oats?). It’s really quite tasty.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1 cup ground oats (certified gluten-free if you need)
1 tablespoon psyllium seed husks (find in the spice and bulk at your local co-op)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup bananas, mashed
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup. Feel free to lower the amount of sweetener if you prefer)
1/4 cup coconut oil (or fat of your choice; butter also works!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup chocolate chips (of any sort; if you’re truly dairy-free, then a brand that respects that. Also, these are optional. Also, you could put in a 1/2 cup of whatever floats your boat! Chopped nuts, seeds, berries…)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease your muffin tray (or line with muffin cups). Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix all wet ingredients. Pour wet into the dry and gently stir until just combined. Add chocolate chips if using. Allow to sit for a few minutes to let the psyllium seed husk do it’s thang (read: it’s like, pure fiber, so it’s sucking up all the wet ingredients! Also, keep this in mind when you decide to eat more than just a few!) Dollop muffin batter into your prepared muffin tin, then bake for 18 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.