Beet Carpaccio

April 20, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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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).

Roasted Cabbage with Cracked Caraway and Coriander

April 8, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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Oh, “whoops”… it’s another cabbage recipe. This time the big ol’ thing is sliced into large rounds, pampered with oils and spices and shown to the oven. Allow myself to… introduce myself, sweet roasted planks of veg. You are so good to me!

Roasted Cabbage with Cracked Caraway and Coriander
1 head cabbage
3-4 tablespoons oil or fat of your choice (I… again… used melted bacon fat. olive oil, coconut oil, butter or lard are all options!)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 400 degree. Lightly oil two baking sheets with the oil/fat of your choice. Either in a spice grinder, a ziplock baggie or a pestle and mortar, gently grind the spices, salt and pepper until all the spices are cracked. With a large knife and steady hand, slice the head of cabbage into large rounds, from top to bottom (so each slice has a bit of the core at the bottom to help it stay together). Place rounds on the baking trays and oil each. Generously sprinkle each round with the spice mixture and pop the trays in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with the lemon wedges and allow your dining patrons to take fate into their own hands. Serves 4.

Fresh Ginger Applesauce

March 24, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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Mealy, spotty and beat up apples. I won’t tell you how much money I shelled out for a bag of organic apples only to be disappointed by the poor taste and texture. Bummer yuck! Anyway, little brother (well, little is ironic seeing as how he’s 6’5″) suggested applesauce and this Sunday I did just that. Oh, how it had much too long since I’d made applesauce! Can I call up all the local co-ops and ask for their worst apples? Could I get them free if they have a worm or two in ‘em? Because bad apples make the best applesauce.

Fresh Ginger Applesauce
3 pounds apples, peeled cored and chopped into big hunks
1 cup water
3 inches fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add the apples and water. Cover and allow to simmer and soften for about 30 minutes. Mash in the pot with a potato masher or immersion blender, or allow to cool a bit and blend to a smooth puree in a food processor or blender. Allow to cool completely. Meanwhile, squeeze the grated ginger into a bowl. Combine the ginger juice and vanilla extract into the room temperature applesauce. Now, for the spoon. Serves 6-8.

Smokey Cabbage

March 13, 2014 by Lucia | 5 Comments

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Oh, hi blogkin! My icy little heart is melting along with the real stuff outside and I’m back in the kitchen, feeling less stressed and happier. Why? I don’t quite know. Last week I was coming home and as I walked up the front steps of my house the smell of a charcoal-y and smokey fire stopped me in my tracks (hard to do while standing on a step covered with ice). I inhaled deeply and varying moments rushed back to me. Times on the farm, sitting around a fire, tired and sharing the dumbest jokes with friends. Memories from the family cabin, sitting around a fire again, making s’mores and finding the right stick to impale my marshmallows. Grilling chicken with my mom. September birthday parties in parks with bacon sizzling away. The olfactory system leads directly to the brain, and last week that burning caught me off guard and there I was, just breathing, taking the biggest breaths of fresh air. Here’s hoping that fire was intentional, wherever it was, and thanks for bringing some intention to my breath.

Smokey Cabbage
1/2 medium head of cabbage, core removed and finely shaved
1 tablespoon smokey seasoning (see below)
2 tablespoons fat of your choice (coconut, butter, lard)

Heat the fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When quite warm, toss in the shredded cabbage (the finer the slices of cabbage are, the more quickly they will caramelize, yep). Stir and allow to wilt and pick up some nice, toasty color. Sprinkle over the smokey seasoning and toss to combine. Eat. Now.

Smokey Seasoning
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried basil (optional, but nice)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Briefly toast the coriander and fennel seeds over medium heat in a small pan. Allow to cool, then combine with the remaining ingredients in a spice grinder and whiz dat thang until finely ground. Makes 1/4 cup of seasoning–you can easily double, triple or quadruple this recipe for more smokey moments.

Five Spice Butternut Squash

February 16, 2014 by Lucia | 2 Comments

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It really is amazing; in almost every recipe I post I end up writing about the weather. Add this one to the list, then. The warm and invigorating pureed squash still fits the winter bill, and the lard is in there for a reason (though, no fear… it will be still be delicious no matter which fat you choose if lard isn’t an option). I, for one, have felt the effects of this dark winter. With every day that brings one more bright minute to the evening, I feel my spirits lift. I realize my priorities have fallen to the wayside, and hey–I need to practice what I preach. Translation: I’m going to eat my vitamin D (copious, fat-soluable amounts found within the precious lard!) while standing outside in the sunny snow with as much skin as I can possibly bare, because I think my body is telling me that D is nowhere to be found and it’s been getting me down. Another reason I have affectionately nicknamed my rendered lard liquid sunshine. It’s golden.

Five Spice Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon five spice powder (recipe below)
3 tablespoons lard (or fat of your choice–butter, coconut oil, palm oil, heck, even bacon fat)
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
additional black pepper/cayenne to taste (optional)

Fill a large pot with a few inches of water. If using a steam basket, place in the pot and dump all the squash cubes on top. If not, place squash cubes directly into the water–you’re trying to steam, not boil, so the least amount of water directly on the squash is best. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat, until the squash is very soft, about ten minutes. Transfer squash to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until quite smooth. Serve with additional spices and heat sources on top. Serves 4-6 as a side.

Five Spice Powder
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
5 star anise or 2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves or 4 whole cloves.

Combine all ingredients in a spice (or cleaned out coffee) grinder. Blend to a fine powder. Makes more than the recipe above calls for, so store in a cool cupboard with your growing collection of spices!

Breadless Bread

February 3, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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Bread: \ˈbred\ a baked food made from a mixture of flour and water.

So, if this loaf doesn’t contain any flour, of any sort, shall it still be deemed “bread”? I think so. If only I had thought up this recipe… good thing the delightful blog My New Roots got that covered and Sarah B. thought up this fun take on the same ol’, same ol’. It is her creation, so go admire her recipes and the real food she pays homage to in every recipe. If, or when, you do choose to bake this bread, I have three suggestions:

1. Line the bottom of your loaf pan with a little oiled parchment paper… it makes the recipe a breeze.

2. Use 1/2 teaspoon finely ground salt and mix it in with the liquid ingredients so every bite of the finished bread is perfectly seasoned.

3. Change things up with the nuts and seeds and get back to me–I want variations on a theme (always a fan favorite here at Essential Omnivore). Or maybe you find yourself with a bit of orange zest… in it goes. Or you want something savory and a few slices of onions are stirred within. Or you have caraway in the cupboard and are feeling especially Norske in these dark, cold days. You know what I mean.

It was kind of a big deal for a split second to post this recipe. I’ve been adamant about posting only grain-free recipes for a long time. Don’t worry–this recipe is still gluten-free, and I don’t see anything changing on that front (5.5 years and going strong!)… but I’m loosening up around here. This blog was getting STUFFY and to be frank, I love good food that makes me feel good. And this bread (bread!!) does that.

Life-Changing Loaf of Bread
Why, recipe is to be found at My New Roots!

Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise

January 27, 2014 by Lucia | 0 comments

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The polar vortex asked me to turn the oven on today and I respect polar vortexes. They make my rear-view mirror fall off my windshield, they make my dog disdain the outdoors and they make me tuckered out from talking about them–a hard feat for a Minnesotan. So let’s not chat about outside… I’d rather you appear at my doorstep right about now and chow down on a few smoky stalks of asparagus with me. After we dip them in hollandaise, of course.

Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus stalks
2 tablespoons olive oil
large pinch sea salt
black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Meanwhile on a baking sheet, toss asparagus with the olive oil. Arrange stalks evenly on the pan, then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through for even delicious browning.

Hollandaise for Two
2 eggs yolks
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, melted
pinch sea salt
pinch black cracked pepper

There are lots of methods to use when making hollandaise. While I want to be a purist and use a double-boiler, I must say… I have an immersion blender and it is pretty fool proof. These recipes easily double, triple, quadruple. Make hollandaise for a crowd, by golly. Whichever method you use, here are your options:

Immersion Blender: Place egg yolks and lemon juice in a tall-sided container that isn’t too wide (think a quart-sized soup container). With the immersion blender, combine the egg yolk and lemon juice briefly. Continue to run the immersion blender and dribble in the melted butter. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

Blender: Place egg yolks and lemon juice in the blender. Pulse briefly to combine. Turn the blender on a low setting, take either the whole lid or just that little plastic part in the top off and slow drizzle in the melted butter. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

Double-boiler: Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water. Set on medium-high heat. Place a bowl over the top of the pot, making sure its large enough that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water underneath. Place egg yolks and lemon juice in the bowl. Begin whisking until combined. Slowly dribble melted butter in, whisking continuously. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

Stove-top: NOTE: don’t pre-melt your butter! Simply cut the butter into little pads. Set a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Moving quickly, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in the pan. Slowly add a pad or two of butter at a time, whisking continuously and removing the pan from the heat if you feel a curdle coming on. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

If you’re NOT done, and your hollandaise broke and isn’t one gloriously smooth sauce, beat an additional egg yolk in a separate bowl and slowly whisk in the broken sauce, bit by bit. That should do the trick.

Almond Flour

January 19, 2014 by Lucia | 1 Comment

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Homemade almond flour… sounds like intense kitchen work, right? Intensely satisfying! Intensely easy! Intensely inexpensive! How’s that for intense? Though I will say I think the only intense thing about almond flour, or any flour, is the ease in which one may eat it. So, take care of your little stomachs, and if you are sensitive like me, perhaps stray away from nut flours. But try this once, or twice, and know that you wield the ability to make any nut or seed flour you choose.

Almond Flour
2 cups almonds, soaked at least 8 hours in 4 cups water

If using your oven, preheat to 200. If using your dehydrator, get it out from under the shoes in your closet. Drain and rinse soaked almonds. Proceed to make almond milk. Save the strained almond pulp in your dishcloth. On either a baking tray or dehydrator tray evenly distribute the pulp. If using your oven, turn off and allow the almond meal to sit and dry out over night. If using the dehydrator, set to 145 degrees and let dry for 4-8 hours, or over night. Regrind in a food processor for a fine texture, then store in an airtight container in a cool cupboard or your freezer. Makes approximately 1.5-2 cups of almond flour.

Almond Milk

January 19, 2014 by Lucia | 5 Comments

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It takes just a little planning, baby. Feel free to be crunchy, hip, healthy, indulgent, cost-effective, nuts, it’s up to you. All I know is that making nut and seed milk is easy breezy.

Almond Milk
2 cups raw almonds (or any nut or seed you desire)
4 cups water (for soaking)
8 cups water (for blending, preferably filtered)
sweetener such as honey or maple syrup (optional, and amounts will depend on your desired level of sweetness)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

In a large bowl, combine almonds and water. Allow to sit for 8 hours or overnight. Drain soaking water, rinse the almonds, then place one cup of almonds in the blender (you’ll do this in two batches). Add 4 cups filtered water. Blend on high (with your hand keeping the lid on your blender!) for two minutes. Place a clean dishcloth or cheesecloth over the rinsed and clean large bowl and pour the blended almond water in. Slowly gather the edges of the cloth and begin to twist, only allowing the strained liquid into the bowl. Remove the nut pulp and reserve to make almond flour. Repeat this process with your second cup of soaked almonds and remaining 4 cups of water. Taste, and add the optional sweetener and vanilla extract. Though you very well may need to skip that step, this stuff is darn tasty in its solitude. Makes 8 cups.

Dog Biscuits

January 12, 2014 by Lucia | 2 Comments

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As a young child, my imagination constructed the perfect dog as this: medium-sized, playful, golden in color and named Biscuit. We romped in imaginary fields together and also spent a good amount of time hanging out with Mr. Snuffleupagus–ah, the good old days. While I now own a wild-child of a dog who only shares the “medium-sized” part of that ancient ideal, I love my real life pooch dearly. When Hannah of Femininja and I got talking about eating, drinking and dogs, we decided we could easily make a safely digestible, tasty treat for them. And yes, both pooch and person may eat these. Dare I mention their similarity to my sweet potato crackers? Go forth and bake, knowing Hannah and I taste-tested these… just for you guys.

Dog Biscuits
1 cup cooked turkey breast (or other lean meat)
1 cup frozen peas (or other vegetable, such as cooked sweet potato or cooked broccoli)
2 eggs
1/3 cup coconut flour

Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor, combine all ingredients until a smooth thick dough is created. Form whichever shapes you desire, or go for the classic bone shape, about 1 and 1/2 inches long. Bake for 20 minutes or until just browning all over. Allow to cool, then give your dog a bone. Makes about 20-30 biscuits.

Note: coconut flour is very fibrous. While you can feed your dog quite a few of these, remember they are filling!