Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

This is a surprisingly light tasting salad for having not only chewy pearl barley but roasted pumpkin. I think it’s the dressing and all the fresh spinach.

If you make extra dressing, and I suggest that you do – it pairs great with a more traditional salad, simple cold noodles, and even as a dip for chicken or shrimp. It’s delicious.

vegetarian, vegan

Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

1 big wedge pumpkin or a butternut squash

Baby spinach

2 large scallions

1/2 cup basil

2 cloves garlic

4 Tablespoons lime juice

2 green chilis

1/2 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup stock

1.5 cups water

Olive oil

Neutral oil

Smoked paprika

Garlic powder


Salt & pepper

Optional: crispy chickpeas (this is one of my favorite brands)

First, get your pumpkin and barley working.

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.

Peel the pumpkin and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with a few good glugs neutral oil and liberal sprinkles of the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Roast 25 mins or until soft and your desired brownness is reached. I could have let mine go another 5 – 10 mins, but I was impatient so mine turned out soft and only a little browned.

Put the barley in your cooking vessel of choice with the stock and water + a liberal sprinkle of salt. If your stock doesn’t have any fat in it, a Tablespoon of olive oil is good here. Cook according to package directions. I cooked mine in a rice cooker by hitting the ‘rice’ button.

While both those are working, slice the scallions thin. Add half to your blender or food processor.

Add the spinach, basil, garlic cloves, lime juice, chilis (rough chopped and de-seeded if necessary), 5 Tablespoons olive oil, and liberal sprinkles salt and pepper. Whiz to combine, adding a few Tablespoons of water if your mixture is too dry for your appliance. I ended up adding about 3 Tablespoons.

Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if needed.

To assemble, toss the pumpkin and second half of the scallions together. Add the spinach and toss. Add the barley to the top while still warm to semi-wilt the spinach. Toss, adding the dressing halfway through.

Taste the whole mix together, adding any salt or pepper if necessary. I added a big sprinkle of finishing salt to mine. I also finished each serving with a generous sprinkle of crunchy spiced chickpeas. This salad makes an excellent chickpea delivery service. Bonus: added protein!

Makes enough to serve as a side for a party or for 4 for dinner

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

This dish is great warm, room temperature or slightly chilled – making it perfect for your next get-together.

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

1.5 cups chopped pumpkin (or any variety orangey squash)

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, ribboned

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 cups wild rice mix (quinoa would also be good – you want something with a bit of body to it)

Crispy fried chickpeas (mine were pre-seasoned and halved)

2 scallions, chopped

1 Tbsp. turmeric olive oil (substitute with adding a little turmeric to your favorite oil )

2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. curry powder


1/4 cup turmeric olive oil

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. dijon or whole grain mustard

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

Lay your chopped pumpkin out on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the Tablespoon of oil over top and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 Tablespoon curry powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 200C/375F for 30 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown. Remove.

While the pumpkin is working, cook your rice or other grains however you cook rice. Set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk.

To assemble, combine all but the crispy chickpeas in a large bowl, adding the chickpeas as you serve so they don’t get soggy.

Serves 4 for dinner and more as a light lunch

Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto

This is a fantastic way to hide some eggplant and use up a big hunk of pesto. I’ve served this on toast, with eggs, as the base of a sandwich, and would absolutely love the pesto swirled into some mashed potatoes. The hummus, too, tbh. Ooh. Would also be nice thinned with a bit of oil or water and tossed with pasta. I need to make a second batch.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto


1 smallish eggplant, roasted

1 can chickpeas, drained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. tahini

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. red pepper


To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Dill Pesto

1 huge hand dill (about 1/3 of a cup packed)

About 1/3 of a cup smoked almonds, chopped

1 big clove garlic

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. water

Zest of 1 lemon


To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Makes about a cup of hummus and half – 3/4 a cup of pesto

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

This recipe started off as a way to use up some fresh dill that wasn’t my favorite egg salad and somehow ended up morphing into a riff of an old Summer family favorite: seafood salad. Which I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe with y’all for yet. I c-r-a-v-e it every tomato season.

The original (to my family at least) salad included Krab, shrimp, hard boiled eggs & lots of mayo. Sometimes, depending upon which Aunt got a wild hair, chopped up bits of lettuce. Which is weird, but good.

Anyways. I gave myself an aversion to fake crab my first Summer out of high school (reminder, kids: check your expiration dates), so that was out. I swapped with flaked salmon but kept the shrimp in this version; I also sadly forgot the egg until I was eating trying to figure out what was missing. I was also wanting a little more mustard punch, so adjust yours as necessary.

And a note on seasoning: I happen to love this salad with way too much pepper and salt, because that’s how my family usually served it. This recipe includes a normal amount of each (depending on how HAM you go with the cracked pepper); I had to go back twice for more after the salad hit the fridge.

gluten-free, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan with substitutions

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad


1 avocado (mine was small and I could have gone for more)

2 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon


4 – 6 cups pasta of choice (I used rice spirals)

15 cherry tomatoes

1 smallish cucumber (about 2/3 cup chopped)

1 smallish bell pepper (about 1 cup chopped)

2 – 4 stalks celery (about 3/4 cup chopped)

1/2 shallot, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if using celery salt instead, you may not need to salt the salad – taste, taste, taste)

Loads of fresh cracked black pepper


Shrimp (I used 13 medium), peeled, cooked & chopped (optional)

Krab, crab or salmon (also optional)

2 – 3 Tbsp. your favorite mayo (optional)

Start you pasta boiling according to package directions, taking care to salt the water. When almost done, chuck your shrimp in to cook. Drain and set aside.

Pull the shrimp and chop. Add to a large bowl.

Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, celery, scallion and parsley. Add to the big bowl.

Mince the shallot and add. Halve the tomatoes and add those too. Add the celery seed.

In a blender or food processor, blitz all dressing ingredients until smooth. If you want your dressing a little runny, add more water until desired consistency is reached. Mine turned out a bit thick, which I liked, but I ended up adding 2 – 3 Tbsp. Kewpie mayo to the salad to loosen it a bit.

Add the cooled-ish pasta and dressing to the bowl. Mix well to combine. Hit with a bunch of pepper. Taste. Add more salt, lemon juice or some mayo to finish off.

Stash in the fridge for a bit to chill and let the flavors get acquainted.

Serves 4 – 6 for a meal or more if a side

Brunch Yogurt 3 Ways

Here are three super simple but impressive ways to serve yogurt to your guests as part of a brunch spread. All are at least gluten-free, paleo and (lacto ovo) vegetarian; and all can be made vegan.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian

Simple Peanut Butter Granola

1/4 c. date molasses
1/3 c. peanut butter
1 – 1.5 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch salt

Melt the date molasses and peanut butter together in a glass measuring cup or small pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until all the oats have been incorporated.

Spread evenly over a baking sheet lined with a silpat or baking paper, making sure to leave some clumps.

Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes or so or until starting to brown. Let sit on the pan until cool. Transfer to a jar or bowl.

Citrus Curd

1 c. citrus juice (I used a combo of grapefruit, blood orange & lemon)
Zest of 1 of those fruits
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. honey
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Pinch salt

Bring the juice to a simmer in a small pan over medium-high heat. Simmer until liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup. Transfer to a glass cup to cool. Add zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, yolks and honey.

Drizzle the cooled juice into the mixture in a steady stream while whisking.

Pour the eggy juice back into the pan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens to the texture of pudding.

Strain to remove any little bits of egg that cooked and transfer to a jar or bowl. Refrigerate to set.

Quick Berry Chia Jam

500g bag frozen mixed berries
1/4 c. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. orange juice
4 Tbsp. date molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients. Sit on the counter to defrost for 3 hours or in the fridge overnight. Mash with a potato masher until desired chunkiness is achieved. Chill 20 – 30 minutes to set.

Roasted Citrus Galettes

This is a super simple and beautiful way to serve up some late winter/Spring citrus fruits – and yes, you can eat the peels!

Makes a great brunch spread centerpiece- stay tuned next week for 3 quick and easy yogurt additions to serve alongside.

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Citrus Galettes

Grapefruits, blood oranges, clementines – whatever looks good at the grocery
Olive or neutral oil
Rosemary or thyme (preferably fresh, but work with what you have)
Date molasses or honey
Phyllo dough squares or toast or some other hand-to-mouth vehicle (gluten free if you need!)
Optional: goat cheese or vegan spreadable cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 F and prep a sheet pan with silpat or baking paper.

Scrub your citrus and slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Quarter the slices and arrange on the baking tray.

Sprinkle with herbs, oil, and a little salt.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until nicely browned and caramelized. In the last 5 minutes or so if cooking, drizzle a little honey or date molasses over top.

Bake your dough squares, toast your toast, or prep whatever eating vehicle you are using.

To serve, spread the base with cheese if you want and tip with a tangle of caramelized sweet and tangy and bitter all at once citrus.

Bacon and Egg Stuffed Paleo Pancakes

This majesty started with an Instagram shot posted by my brother in law.



This bananas stack of fabulosity was had at SuperChef’s Breakfast and More, a superhero-themed restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. 

To say this photo made me jealous is an understatement. I’ve been inexplicably craving pancakes for weeks (I don’t even *like* pancakes generally – sugar is not really my thing), and then this shot came into my life – pancakes where I can replace the syrup with egg yolk. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? 

In a shower of blessed cosmic benevolence, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen also happened to post a really good looking fluffy paleo pancake recipe around the same time. 

Call this spectacular convergence divine intervention, synchronicity, or something else entirely – I call it a damn good dinner. 

 And let me just say these pancakes aren’t just ‘as good’ as “regular” pancakes — they’re better. My pancake loving hubby inhaled his (his only complaint was that I used only 1 tsp. maple syrup for the drizzle). I had no idea pancakes could be this satisfying.



Gluten-free, paleo 

Bacon and Egg Stuffed Paleo Pancakes 

6 eggs 
4-8 slices bacon 
Grass fed butter 
Drizzle maple syrup or honey 
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled 
1/2 cup almond flour 
1/2 cup tapioca flour 
1 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
Kosher salt & black pepper 

First, make some quick applesauce. If you happen to have unsweetened applesauce on hand, cool, use that – I did not. 

Peel and chop your apple. Place in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. water, cover, and microwave on high 4-7 minutes, or until very tender. 

Remove from the bowl and puree until smooth (I used a stick blender).  Let cool a bit before assembling your pancakes. 

When the apples are coolish, blend 1/4 cup of the applesauce with the almond flour, tapioca flour, 2 eggs, baking powder, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Whisk to break up any clumps. 

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium – medium-high heat. Add batter by big spoonfuls (small pancake size) and let cook 3-4 minutes until the batter bubbles (just like with regular pancakes). Flip. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Continue on. My batch made seven 3-4 inch pancakes. 

When the pancakes are done, crisp the bacon and fry the eggs. 

To serve, make stacks: pancake, egg, bacon, pancake, egg, bacon, pancake, bacon & drizzle with maple syrup. 

Serves 2 for dinner

Breakfast of Champions: Green Smoothie

It seems like the whole (healthy eating) world has jumped on the smoothie bandwagon. Internet fisticuffs have broken out over the relative merits of blending vs. juicing. Crazy eyed evangelists for both warring factions spout suspicious claims from the rooftops. Pinterest orgy groups have formed.

So, what am I doing? Adding to the noise by posting a smoothie recipe. I can’t help it; this recipe is good. Like really good. And I can’t find any fault with the health content.

My DH and I got started on smoothies innocently enough: he’d been listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast (check it out if you haven’t – he’s not a douche like I had feared he would be; he actually has some really great guests and some interesting nutrition “experts”. Plus, he’s really kind of hilarious) and Rogan mentioned how much he really likes his morning green smoothie. And then he had nutritionists on talking about smoothies and although they might argue about how you get the juice in the glass, they couldn’t argue (much) about more vegetables being good for you. Some guests cautioned about fat soluble vs. water soluble vitamins, sugar content, and whether liquid veggies were better than veggies you chew; but the overall consensus was veggies = good and controlling where those veggies come from = even better.

Needless to say, we were intrigued (and visions of a crazy high-powered blender danced in my DH’s head). We started small – 1 blended smoothie from the health store down the road (which we split, because ack! $10!). Both of us absolutely loved it, so we did the (relatively) cost-conscious thing and started buying Naked Juice. But we felt bad about it because of the pasteurization and the sweet taste and we were pretty sure it was really bad for you. So we hemmed and we hawwed and we argued and we justified and finally we sprung for a refurbished Vitamix blender. And now that $7 a day smoothie habit costs around $5 and we are a month in to making back enough dough to break even on the monster that now sits in a place of honor in our kitchen.

My DH is the smoothie mix master in the family – he gets up first, and enjoys the mad scientist aspect of creating mixes. I don’t mind, it gets him to clean the kitchen more often. That, and he’s great at it. 🙂


Big Green Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 2

1 apple
1 banana
4 stalks kale
1/2 c. fresh spinach
2 stalks celery
Small hand full cilantro
1 tsp. spirulina
1/2 c. orange juice (the healthiest 100% juice you can find)
1 c. coconut water (100% pure – if you can’t find a brand with no additives, use regular water)
1/2 avocado
1 inch ginger

Whiz everything up until smooth. This is a thick shake-like smoothie that fills you up until lunch.

Added bonus for metric nerds: Self Magazine’s site has a really good nutrition calculator. I ran this smoothie through it, and this is what came up for nutritional value:

289 calories, 56 from fat (7g total)
213mg sodium
59g carbohydrates (11g dietary fiber)
6g protein
131% Vitamin A
152% Vitamin C
13% Calcium
13% Iron

How awesome is that?

Full metrics with goodies like nutritional targets, fullness factor, glycemic load, inflammation factor, nutrient balance, protein quality, calories, carbs, vitamins, fats, minerals, sterols & other substance breakouts here. *nerd squee*