Tahini Dressing

September 18, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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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

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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

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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

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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.

The Baked Potato

June 8, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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Looking for the perfect baked sweet potato? The Freckled Foodie has got your back. Looking for the perfect baked potato? Well, hello! When you find yourself with pounds of potatoes, a cool rainy day and a week of meals to prep, these could fit right in. There’s a lot you can do with a baked potato once cooled–peeled and grated for hash browns, cubed for hash, reheated, peeled and mashed with butter and cream, mashed and mixed with an egg for potato pancakes… or sliced and fried in the fat of your choice. Starchy options = endless.

Baked Potato
10 large russet potatoes, clean and dry
butter, olive oil or bacon fat
flaked sea salt
black pepper

Take oven rack out and set on counter, then preheat oven to 400. Pierce the skin of each potato a few times on each side with the tip of a knife or the tines of a fork. Rub potatoes all over with the fat of your choice (oh, and don’t let me limit you. Did you save those chorizo drippings? Lard? Duck fat?) and set on the oven rack. Sprinkle generously with flaked sea salt and grind profusely with black pepper. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven, and bake for 1 hour.

Crockpot Chicken Thighs

June 3, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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Listen. Nothing about this recipe is avant-garde. Nothing has been recreated with a minor, special twist. Nothing. These thighs are purely utilitarian. These get me through the week, my belly content and full. The only reason I snapped a photo with my phone was because I was by myself and they were really, really good and I wanted to share. No photo styling, no image uploading, resizing and editing. They are unctuous and you don’t need many brain cells to make them happen–my kind of recipe these days!

Crockpot Chicken Thighs
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari (or coconut aminos if you are fermented soy free)
2 tablespoons hot sauce of your choice (this batch included sriracha)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup filtered water

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot. Stir and coat the chicken. Set on low for 8-12 hours. Flip thighs halfway through the process if you want. After cooking, and with forks, pull meat apart and remove bones. Eat with abandon.

Sunflower Seed Spread with Parsley

May 11, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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Ah, Mother’s Day! I welcome the impending afternoon rain today and saw tulips and a few worms on the sidewalk as I walked the pooch. Unopened dandelions in the early morning, tucked fiercely between the cement path and side of the house looked like they were snoozing hard. Every day for the past week, the color scheme of the treetops parallel to the second-floor windows of my apartment shifts. First greys, greys and browns, then out peeked shades of yellow, and today most definitely welcomed chartreuse. Brightness and openness, everywhere. I feel like I can breathe again.

Sunflower Seed Spread with Parsley
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 and 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup parsley, stems removed
1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt

Pour boiling water over the sunflower seeds–allow to sit for a half hour (or simply soak the seeds in room temperature water overnight). Drain water away, then combine the sunflower seeds and the rest of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth; taste and adjust seasonings if need be (especially the jalapeno, you want this spread to have a nick kick to it). Spread upon what you desire, a wrap, a piece of meat, maybe dilute with more lemon juice for a vinaigrette to toss with salads, or dip some vegetables straight in. Whatever vessel pleases you. Serves 4-6.

Beet Kvass

May 5, 2014 by Lucia | 1 Comment

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Hey guys: Today is the last post Amy K and I have co-written in our three-part series about the beautiful beet! Our first post explained why beets are good for your liver and how to prepare a beet carpaccio salad, and our second post included a recipe for beet greens pesto. Check ‘em out and love up your beets!

Kvass is a drink that is lacto-fermented, traditionally made from grains such as wheat, rye or barley. Beet kvass has its roots (hah!) possibly from Lithuania, where kvass is called gira and more variations abound. Lacto-fermentation is the process in which lactobacillus bacteria proliferate in a controlled environment, in this case the salty solution of water, sea salt and beets. After a few days on your counter, the beet kvass liquid is full of good lactobacillus bacteria and is now a probiotic real food, similar to the more popular bottled kombuchas and kefirs out there in stores these days! The good bacteria have been hard at work while they sit on your counter those few days, primarily changing the natural sugars in the beets into lactic acid, an acid which preserves the vegetables and gives fermented liquids and foods that special tang!

But you might be asking yourself “why eat fermented foods?”

Well, not only does the fermentation process break down nutrients into more digestible forms, but it also produces B-vitamins, enzymes, and a variety of healthy probiotic bacteria. Ever wonder why your stomach gets upset and you go running for the bathroom more frequently when you’re taking antibiotics? It’s because those incredibly strong bacteria-fighting machines kill any and all bacteria that get in their way. That means that although the antibiotics annihilated the group A Streptococcus bacteria hanging out in your mouth that was giving you strep throat, they also eradicated the majority of the trillions of healthy bacteria that call your digestive system “home sweet home”. You depend on those healthy bacteria for your digestive system to work properly!

So pour yourself a drink, sit back and relax, and let the good bacteria settle into their new home.

Beet Kvass

2 medium sized beets
1.5 tablespoons sea salt (or 1 tablespoon sea salt and ¼ cup whey (drain about 2 cups of yogurt overnight in the fridge in a cloth lined sieve with a bowl underneath; the liquid that accumulates under is whey, and the yogurt above? Greek yogurt!)
2 quarts filtered water, or a bit less
2 quart-sized mason jars with lids

Wash and peel the beets. Roughly chop into one-inch cubes. Split the beet chunks into both mason jars and evenly sprinkle half the sea salt into each (or, if you are using the whey, split the ¼ cup between the mason jars and note the reduced salt content!). Fill the jars with filtered water, stopping one inch below the lid. Tightly fasten the lids and shake to dissolve the salt in each. Place in a cupboard or on your counter top for two days. Drink approximately four ounces in the morning. After you have consumed the liquid in the jars, you may add more water (no need to add more salt) and make another batch using the same beet chunks two more times.

Pro Tip: Diluted kvass makes a great electrolyte replacement drink with NO sugar!

Beet Carpaccio

April 20, 2014 by Lucia | 1 Comment

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Lucia here: today’s post is co-written by my good friend Amy K, a practicing acupuncturist who is very knowledgeable in traditional Chinese medicine. I’ve learned a lot from her and we have a three-part series of posts we’ve written together to welcome springtime!

As the days get a little longer and the sun shines a bit brighter, signs of spring are popping up all around us (well, aside from that pesky snowstorm the other day). Little green shoots of plant-life are peeking up and out from the earth, awakening from their long winter slumber, and starting to stretch their leaves to the sky.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), springtime is ruled by the wood element. (What are the five elements? Find out here!)

Think of the wood element as new signs of life. The energy of the world is rising up and out, ready for a fresh start – a rebirth if you will. This energy is reflected in all of us this time of year – that undeniable urge to go outside and get your hands dirty in the garden, start a new project, or get the dust-rag out for some spring-cleaning.

While all that rising energy is great when you have a to-do list the length of your arm, it can sometimes rise too quickly and lead to trouble. Typical signs of an over controlling wood element are:

  • perpetual irritability or anger
  • migraines
  • insomnia
  • red, painful eyes

On the other hand, if the wood element in a person isn’t strong enough, they might exhibit any of these signs:

  • mild dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • muscle twitches
  • light menstrual flow

The wood element is energetically related to the liver. The liver not only rids our body of toxins we ingest and inhale, but according to TCM, the liver also does the heavy lifting of detoxifying our emotions–what a powerhouse! Wanna know one of my favorite ways to balance the wood element and give my liver the help it so truly deserves?

Eating beets!

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All foods have different energetic properties that help categorize them into one of the five elements. Have you ever noticed the beautiful pattern of rings in a cut beet? The similarities between the cross-sections of beets and tree trunks are astonishing. Beets are practically shouting their association with the wood element from the rooftop!

To help keep your wood element in balance this spring, Lucia and I will be sharing with you three delicious and nutritious recipes over the next few weeks using the grandmother of all wood element foods: the mighty beet.

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Beet Carpaccio with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Salad Ingredients
1 medium beet
1 grapefruit
2-3 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 tablespoon green onions
freshly cracked black or white pepper

After washing and peeling your beet, use a mandoline to very, very thinly slice the beet into delicate wafers. Set aside slices. Now, cut both ends off the grapefruit and sit the grapefruit upright. Using your knife, cut away all the rind and white pith. With care, you will now supreme the grapefruit, cutting along the side of each segment until all have been released from the core. Squeeze the remaining grapefruit innards into a bowl–this will be for your vinaigrette. On a large plate, begin arranging your beet slices, topping with the grapefruit segments. Drop dollops of the goat cheese on top, drizzle the vinaigrette (see below) and scissor or chop some fresh dill tops and green onions over as well. Finish with a crack or two of fresh black pepper.

Vinaigrette Ingredients
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed (this will depend on the sweetness and acidity of your grapefruit).