Refreshing Summer Salad

Do you have a 4th of July BBQ, picnic, or potluck tomorrow for which you have no idea what to make? Well you’re in luck. 

This salad is the opposite of boring. It has no lettuce, for one, and it had a ton of different textures. Another added bonus? You can make it tonight! 🙂

Refreshing Summer Salad

Veggies:

1lb green beans, trimmed (super strict paleo people, try asparagus)

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 dry pint of grape/cherry/or baby heirloom tomatoes, halved

1 belgian endive, chiffonaded

1 bell pepper, sliced into strips

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/4 tsp Flavorgod Garlic Lovers Seasoning (or 1/8 tsp granulated garlic and 1/8 tsp Italian Herbs/Seasoning)

Pinch of Sea Salt and Pepper

2tsp-1Tbsp honey

Set some salted water to boil as you prep your veggies.

Once the water has come to a boil, toss your trimmed green beans in there.

As soon as your green beans are bright green and al dente, pull them out and rinse under cold water or shock them in an ice bath. Let them drain/dry off fully. 

In a large bowl (could be your serving bowl if you want) combine and whisk together all dressing ingredients. 

Add all vegetables to that bowl and toss. Check/adjust seasonings to taste.

Keep in fridge or on ice until it’s time to eat 🙂

  

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

I will preface this recipe by saying that these brussel sprouts are peppery. Like very peppery. If that’s not your thing, start with 1 teaspoon of pepper. You can always add more, but once it’s been added, there’s little you can do. 

1 tbsp bacon fat (or cooking fat of choice)

2 lbs brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 tbsp pepper

1 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste if necessary

1/2 tsp each granulated onion, granulated garlic

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Prep your brussel sprouts.

  
Heat 1/2 the cooking fat in a pan (I accidently used it all at once, but you should split it. Do as I say, not as I did).

  
Add your prepped brussel sprouts and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

  
Allow to heat over low-medium heat for a few minutes. Do not disturb.
When the brussels at the bottom start to brown, stir them around and redistribute. Add the remaining cooking fat. 

  
Let sit for a few more minutes. 

Deglaze with balsamic vinegar and turn off heat. 

Let brussels sit for a minute, then check flavor and adjust seasonings to taste. 

Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein

I’m not a huge fan of Asian food. Supposedly, when my mother was expecting me, she got cravings for this one dish–Buddha’s Cushion–from a local Chinese place all the time. My theory is that she overdid it 🙂 Regardless, before I knew about paleo, there was this one local place that had great Chow Mein that I could have eaten all the time. It just had noodles, cabbage and onion, and a really peppery flavor. 

That chow mein was my point of reference and I used my recollection of it to make this dish. The seasonings are estimates, as always, adjust to your family’s own personal preferences. This is peppery, so you may want to tone it down.

Ingredients:

2lb spaghetti squash 

Asian chopped salad kit (I used Taylor Farms and tossed the dressing, or about 10oz of a mix of cabbage, cilantro, celery, green onions)

1/2 sliced yellow onion

1 Tbsp cooking fat of choice

Seasonings: ground ginger, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, ground black pepper, chile flakes, chili powder, sea salt, coconut aminos (or gluten-free soy sauce)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

2. Slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Sprinkle black pepper inside. Bake cut side down for about 30 min and allow to cool. It should be a little al dente still. 

3. Prep veggies (slice onions and others if you didn’t buy a package)

4. When spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, take a fork to it and make spaghetti squash strands. Set aside. 

5. Heat your cooking fat. Add onions. Sauté onions. Add about a teaspoon of each seasoning to start. Add the rest of the veggies (not the spaghetti squash yet).

6. Continue sautéing until veggies are mostly translucent. Add more seasonings and your cooked, shredded spaghetti squash. 

7. Continue sautéing and check seasonings one last time. Finish with a splash of coconut aminos. 
Enjoy 🙂 Serve with your protein of choice. We had ours with beef broccoli. 
   
 

Sides and Snacks

I was planning to share a stuffed bell pepper recipe yesterday, but I’ve opted for something simpler (for my own sake). Next week I will be in Northern California for some research and I was so busy taking care of last minute stuff. I’ll share two simple sides with you today: Lemon broccoli with shallots, and fruit salad.

I’ll start with the fruit salad. During the summer, I don’t have much of an appetite, and I don’t care for much cooking that involves heat (unless it’s outdoor grilling). As a result, during the summer, I like to prepare a fruit salad on Friday nights and then munch on it all weekend. It’s a quick snack and since it’s already made, just serve and enjoy!

Fruit Salad
(Only suggestions! You can add or eliminate fruits to suit the tastes of your guests, just cut everything into roughly the same size chunks)
-Half a baby, seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
-1 whole pineapple, cut into cubes
-1 granny smith apple, diced
-1 gala apple, diced
-1 cup sliced strawberries
-Handful of raspberries
-Juice from half a lemon

Throw all ingredients into a storage bowl or a serving bowl and mix. Drizzle with lemon juice to prevent apples from turning brown.

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I know some people like their fruit salad with some kind of creamy sauce. Here’s a simple one:

-Cream from one can of coconut milk
-Zest from a whole lemon
-Drizzle of honey (optional)

Mix all ingredients and serve over your fruit salad.

Lemon Broccoli with Shallots
-2 medium broccoli crowns, cut into florets
-1 shallot, sliced thinly
-Juice and zest from one lemon
-Sea salt, pepper
-Fat of choice

Heat your fat of choice in a large skillet or wok. Add shallots and allow to caramelize.

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(Excuse the not-so-great picture)

Add broccoli, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Heat until broccoli is slightly tender, but still has a bite to it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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This broccoli dish would go wonderfully with steak, chicken, or shrimp. Enjoy!

Broccoli Variations
-Mix all ingredients, place on a cookie sheet, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees F.

Eggplant

It’s my last day off before school begins again next week. Tomorrow it’s orientation/collaboration between the professor, writing instructors and other TA’s I work with. It appears I will be on campus Tuesday-Friday this semester, but I may add on another class. I’m hoping I can juggle everything fairly efficiently this semester.

I decided to make this dish because I had leftover meat sauce from a zucchini pasta dish I made the other day. I really wanted to use up the rest before it went bad, so I bought an eggplant from Sprouts.

Sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • Ground beef
  • Seasonings to taste: Italian seasonings, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper
  • Canned/jarred diced tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste

Heat pan with a little olive oil, and add ground beef and seasonings. When the beef is fully cooked, add the tomatoes, sauce and paste. If the consistency is too thick, add water. If it’s too thin, add more tomato sauce or paste. Add more seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Eggplant:

  • 1 smallish eggplant (I got  9 medallions out of mine)
  • Almond meal or coconut flour (I used coconut flour)
  • An egg (or two depending on the size of your eggplant)
  • Seasonings to taste: Italian seasonings, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash and cut the ends off of the eggplant. I peel the eggplant every inch or so around it (sometimes I find the skin too tough to cut through).

Cut the eggplant into (approximately) 1/2″ medallions.

Lay them on a cutting board and salt them to bring out some of the moisture.

Meanwhile, set up your other ingredients. You’ll need an egg, mixed with a little water in one shallow bowl or dish and in another shallow bowl or dish, place your almond meal or coconut flour with a generous mix of your seasonings (distribute with a fork).

Dip you eggplant medallions into the egg, then into your coconut flour mixture. Place the “breaded” medallion onto a cookie sheet. Repeat.

Once you’ve finished “breading” your eggplant, drizzle with a little olive oil (to help with crisping) and place into the oven for about 20-30 minutes (flip medallions about halfway through the cooking time).

Top with your meat sauce, then dinner’s done!

*Note. This was my first time making eggplant with coconut flour. Initially, I was thrilled that it had a texture more like flour, but I found that too much coconut flour caked on the eggplant does not cook well in the oven. If I were to use coconut flour again, I would probably pan fry. Almond meal works great either way, but it imparts a grainy texture that I don’t always appreciate. Try both and see which you prefer.

Variations:

Cook on the stove top. Heat a pan with your fat of choice and pan fry the eggplant medallions. This will usually get them a little more crispy. But unless you feel like babysitting a hot pan, putting the eggplant in the oven allows you to get some other things done.

For your vegetarian friends/family: Simply use a meat-free marinara sauce. Just don’t add the meat.

For chicken: Prepare the chicken breast just as you would the eggplant for a delicious main course option (I would probably use a meat-free marinara sauce if I was eating the chicken). This would go great with zucchini pasta!