Sweet Potato Chicken Meatballs

This is a healthy little snack or light main that’s high in nutrients and can really help to stretch a pound of ground meat further. A win-win in my book.

gluten-free, paleo, Whole30

Sweet Potato Chicken Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

1.5 cups grated sweet potato

2 Tbsp. flour (as a binder – potato starch or tapioca flour would work well)

2 scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. onion powder

2 tsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

2 Tbsp. light oil – I used turmeric olive oil; coconut or nut oil would be fine

2 Tbsp. cornstarch (arrowroot powder is fine)

2 tsp. ground cumin

Combine all ingredients and mix until incorporated. Parcel out into golf ball sized meatballs and bake at 200C/375F 10 minutes; flip, bake an additional 10 minutes.

Serves 4 as a main and more as a snack

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

Hummus

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

Salt

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

Salt

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

Sweet & Sour Eggplant Hummus

This sounds like a weird one, but is addictive. This dish is based on a crazy good hummus a girlfriend and I (hello, Val @hellotinywonder) had at the staple ‘bring your out-of-town guests’ place Damasca One, a stunning mostly-Syrian restaurant in Souq Waqif.

The dish we had tasted like vegan sloppy joes in the best possible way – sweet and tangy eggplant nestled in luscious kibbeh on a bed of silky hummus. It was a stunner, and the stand-out of the night (at least for me – there was also a fantastic lentil dish I couldn’t eat enough of to parse).

My recreation is solid (as attested by another girlfriend, who I had the chance to make it for – Annmarie of last weeks’ Za’atar Eggplant fame). No kibbeh in mine, and longer cooking is definitely better – but it’s super freaking good and probably a touch healthier.

I’m super pumped that I have leftovers!

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Sweet & Sour Eggplant Hummus

Sauce:

1 large purple eggplant
1 red pepper
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
Neutral oil
Salt & pepper
Ground cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano

Hummus:

1 can chickpeas
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. tahini
1/2 tsp. cumin
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper

Toppers:

Pomegranate arils
Toasted pine nuts

First, roast the veg. Preheat your oven to 200C/375F. Prep a baking sheet.

Chop the pepper into big chunks and put to 1 side of the tray.

Chop the eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces and put to the other side of the tray.

Sprinkle both with neutral oil, salt, pepper & ground cumin.

Bake for 30-ish minutes or until soft and blackened lightly in spots. Set aside to cool.

While that’s going, slice the onion as thinly as possible. Mince the garlic. Add to a saucepan with 3 Tbsp. neutral oil over low heat. Add some salt & pepper.

Let gently cook, stirring occasionally, 30 – 45 minutes or until the onions are deeply caramelized.

While those are both working, whiz all hummus ingredients together. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid if necessary. Set aside.

When the veggies are baked, whiz the peppers a bit to break them up some.

Add the whizzed pepper, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. oregano, and 3 Tablespoons water into the onion mixture. Let cook a few minutes to combine.

Whiz to combine a bit better, dump back into the pan, fold in the eggplant, and cook an additional 10 minutes to reduce back down a bit and let the flavors mature.

To serve, lay the hummus down, top with the eggplant mixture and sprinkle with the toppers.

Serves a few

Indian Eggy Wrap

This recipe was inspired by the power of Instagram and has straight up become an obsession. This is half of what I’ve eaten in the last week, and I’m super bummed that I’m now out of wraps. I may just have to go to the store this afternoon for a resupply.

My version of this recipe is a blend of a Kolkata Egg Wrap posted by @playfulcooking and a good excuse to grab some of the ingredients for a Mumbai Street Sandwich posted one many forms by @saffrontrail. (Sidebar: if you love Indian food and beautiful photography, follow these ladies. They make some really inspiring dishes).

I took the eggy wrap constrict from one and just happened to run across a jar of Bombay Sandwich Sauce (a spicy mint chutney) in my local grocery, and bam. This lovely concoction that I currently can’t get enough of.

(lacto ovo) vegetarian

Indian Eggy Wrap

1 Chapati or paratha (fresh would obvs be best, but I happened to run across a whole wheat Chapati by Mission, and it wasn’t half bad) per sandwich

1-2 eggs per sandwich

A few thin slices cucumber per sandwich

A few thin strands of scallion per sandwich

2 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. Bombay Sandwich Sauce or mint chutney per sandwich

Salt & pepper

1 tsp. butter

Heat a small pan (roughly the same size as your bread) over medium heat. Add the butter and melt.

While the butter is melting, scramble the egg(s). If you are making more than 1 sandwich, make each batch separately.

Pour the egg into the pan, swirling to the edges to form a thin pancake. Season with salt and pepper and cook until solid on the bottom and still wet on top.

Nestle the chapati on top of the egg, pushing gently down to glue together.

While the egg fully cooks, slice the cucumber as thin as possible.

When the chapati starts puffing up a bit in the center, it’s time to flip. Flip carefully.

Back to finishing the cucumber and slicing the scallion thinly (I like mine lengthwise, but this is kind of a pain. You do you.).

Add a few cucumber strips and scallions down just to the side of the middle of the pancake. Drizzle your desired amount of sauce. Fold one side over to form a quesadilla-looking sandwich. Smash down with your spatula so it stays closed. Let cook another minute or so if the flipped side of the chapati doesn’t look burnt.

Best enjoyed wrapped in a paper towel to catch the sauce that will inevitably shoot out the end.

Serves 1

Sweet Potato Toasts with Vegan Labneh

This is another recipe inspired by the talented Sukkari Life – who, I’m happy to say, has inspired me to get off my butt and finally start buying bulk nuts & spices – and to focus on reorganizing my pantry with a focus on reusable containers that aren’t a pain to use and that actually fit into my space and how I use it.

I’ve only been here 6 months – it’s about freaking time.

gluten-free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian

Sweet Potato Toasts with Vegan Labneh

Inspired by Vegan Labneh from Sukkari Life

1 sweet potato
1 c. cashews (soaked in warm water for at least 20 minutes)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt
1 – 2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 – 2 Tbsp. water
Dash white pepper
1 small garlic clove
Pomegranate arils
Pomegranate molasses (make sure to grab one with no sugar added!)

Preheat your oven to 200C. Wash your sweet potato and cut into “toasts” about 1/4 inch thick (or thinner if you happen to have a mandoline and want to make your life easier).

Arrange on a baking sheet, rub with a little oil, and hit with salt and black pepper.

Bake 25 – 35 minutes or until browned and blistered in spots – your thinner slices will be crispy and the thicker ones will still be good. Keep in mind that if you save some for tomorrow, your tomorrow toasts will not be shatter crisp like today’s. Which is still fine. I ate mine over 3 days and loved them cold and a touch floppy for breakfast on day 3.

While the toasts are toasting, blend everything else but the pomegranate products to form a thick paste not unlike a thick yogurt that happens to taste tangy.

To serve, spread the labneh on the toast and top with double pomegranate. Would also be delicious with a sprinkle of fresh thyme if you have it. I did not.

Serves a few, depending on the size of your potato

Chile Dusted Summer Fruit

This week’s recipe is not so much a recipe as a suggestion. After a tiring but great vacation, I just couldn’t bring myself to focus on the menu for last week – or on making something interesting and/or tasty enough to share with you guys. I made a bunch of thrown-together meals that were really simple and light- nothing terribly inspiring or particularly out of the box.

I still have a wicked fruit craving going on (it’s all I’ve wanted to eat the past 3 weeks) and am happy to say I’ve finally started branching out from the standard fruit in a bowl with nothing on it except for salt on melons. It turns out there *is* enough fruit existing in the summer that I *can* do something different and I won’t miss out. A good lesson to learn in one’s 30s.

This week, I experimented with chili powder + salt on a little mixed fruit salad and it was fan-freakin-tastic. And dead easy. Just sprinkle the spices and go. For a cup of fruit, I used 1/2 – 1 tsp. of chili powder and a liberal sprinkle (or two) of kosher salt.

Also fantastic: aged balsamic vinegar & cracked black pepper on fresh strawberries, mint on any fruit, cucumbers mixed in your fruit bowl, the possibility of basil making an appearance, and lime juice on pretty much all fruits.

The tomato harvest had better hurry up, lest I eat nothing but sweet fruit this season.

 

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Macadamia Nut Ricotta Dessert Snacks – 2 Ways

Even though these two variations on a theme are kind of like incomplete thoughts, I thought they warranted a blog post because they are both so good. I happily munched on both for an afternoon snack – and they would have both been great bulked up by, say, a sliced apple.

Or maybe with some sort of baked good in a dessert?

For either dessert snack, scale up as appropriate. I had 1/4 cup left to play with, so ended up making two amuse sizes.

However you slice it, delicious stuff.

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, and Whole30-compliant (basil lime version only)

Macadamia Nut Ricotta

2 cups raw macadamia nuts
Big pinch Kosher salt
1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice (juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water

Blend the macadamia nuts, salt, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice & half a cup of water until smooth, adding more water if necessary to hit the right consistency. Taste for acidity and salt, adding more lemon juice or salt as needed.

This recipe seems to be everywhere on the Internet. I was finally spurred on to action by Nom Nom Paleo’s Food For Humans book – but have seen it 999 other places.

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Macadamia Nut Ricotta with Lime and Basil

2 Tbsp. macadamia ricotta

Zest of half a lime

2 tsp. fresh lime juice

1 basil leaf, chiffonade

Combine the ricotta, lime juice and lime zest. Top with basil and more zest. Serve … on a spoon? I ate this one plain happily.

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Macadamia Nut Ricotta with Orange and Honey

2 Tbsp. macadamia ricotta

2 tsp. orange juice (I used tangelo)

Zest of 1/4 an orange (or tangelo, which is what I used)

1/2 tsp. honey

Orange segments to serve

Honey to drizzle

Combine the ricotta, juice, zest and honey. Top with more zest and a drizzle of honey. Serve with orange segments.

Game Day Nibbles: Paleo-Friendly Slider Meatballs

As I said last week, I know nothing about football, but I sure do like snacks. So when the Superbowl rolled around, I was more than happy to stay home eating “man food”.

The paleo nachos I posted last weekend were fabulous, but my DH was lamenting the bread hiatus in this house come game time (two of his favorite game snacks are on a bun: sliders and my mom’s ham & cheese sammitches), so I tried my hand at making that same great slider taste; just in a more paleo-friendly format. I think I did pretty well. The meatballs were very tasty – I had mine with some of my favorite tomato jam*; he had his with some store-bought pub cheese.

*If you’re going strict paleo and want to make this jam, substitute maple syrup for the sugar (I’d use about half the amount). You could probably also swap out the apple cider vinegar for some extra citrus juice, but I love the taste too much to do without. As always, check your labels for gluten if you’re intolerant.

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Paleo-Friendly Slider Meatballs

1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 lb. ground beef (grass fed)
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic powder
1 Tbsp. umami paste (or Worcestershire)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Add all ingredients but the coconut oil to a medium sized bowl.

In a large pan over medium heat, warm the coconut oil.

While the coconut oil warms, combine the bowl ingredients (I used my hands). When the oil is ready, form the beef into ping pong sized balls, placing into the pan as you go. I got about 13 out of my beef.

Brown on both sides and serve with everything you’d serve a slider with – pickles, cheese if you’re partaking, ketchup (or tomato relish), mustard … the toppings are endless.

Game Day Nibbles: Paleo Nachos

I know nothing about sports, despite growing up in not 1, but 2 households full of baseball watching, baseball listening to, baseball game visiting, and even softball playing sport people (my mother was also very into college basketball, but not until after I left for college and my cousin started attending Duke University). Also, I come from a big football state. And I spent an awful lot of my formative years in a college basketball obsessed state. Pig ball I know not. (I do however, enjoy the occasional baseball game – even though I only know the very basic rules. And hockey. No idea what’s happening, but I like the drama)

Needless to say, I couldn’t give two rats’ asses about the Superbowl. It happened last weekend, and all I remember about the game was Beyonce, some amount of complaining about a blackout, and that we were ostensibly rooting for the Ravens due to a: their proximity, and b: someone on the other team recently coming under fire for homophobic remarks.

But snacks, snacks I like; and any excuse to make “man snacks” is a-okay in my book. This year, I made a variation of one of my staples (sliders) and what has become a new favorite – paleo nachos. During the game, I managed to finish planning our spring vacation (go me!) and design a few cards for upcoming holidays.

The nacho recipe is below. Sliders to come soon.

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Paleo Nachos

1 lb. ground beef (grass fed)
2 tsp. coconut oil
4 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. chipotle powder
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. sea salt
Black pepper
TJ Guacamole (recipe follows)
Salsa (optional)
2 scallions
Sweet potato chips (I used store bought because I failed at home made)

In a large pan, warm the coconut oil over medium – medium-high heat. Add the beef and break up with a spoon. Add the spices, salt & pepper and cook until deeply browned. Drain.

While this is cooking, make your guacamole and slice the scallions into thin medallions.

When the beef is browned and drained, assemble your nachos. 1st layer chips, 2nd layer beef, top with guacamole, scallions and salsa (if using). Enjoy.

Serves 4-6 easily. We took down a bag of chips and still had enough leftover meat and guac that we could both have another big plate.

TJ Guacamole

This guacamole is straight from Trader Joe’s guacamole kit. I originally added 3 strips of applewood smoked bacon to mine, but couldn’t taste it in the final product at all. If you want some porky goodness, try upping the quotient to 5 strips of bacon.

2 ripe avocados
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tiny onion, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Big pinch salt

Mash all ingredients together with a potato masher (or fork, if you want a workout).