We all know we should be eating more cold water, wild-caught, fatty fish. Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Anchovy, Herring, Tuna and Black Cod are a few popular examples. These fish, among others, are good sources of Omega-3, an essential fatty acid and a nutrient that far too many people are lacking in their diets. As a nation, Americans eat an enormous excess of Omega-6 (currently about 9% of the average American’s energy comes form rancid oils like soybean oil – yuck!). This is the result of high intake of industrial, rancid (yes, it is rancid as soon as it is processed), seed oils. Guess what? Your vegetable oil is BAD for you!! I won’t go into the science in this blog post, but for an excellent explanation, see Chris Kresser’s article here.
I think one of the reasons more people don’t prepare fish at home is that they just don’t know how. Or they have tried and failed. Have you ever ended up with over or under cooked fish? I have and it sucks. That’s why I love cooking fish in parchment. The fish and veggies steam together in the packets and everything comes out tender, juicy, and perfect! This is my second fish in parchment recipe. My other favorite is: Spicy Salmon with Lime in Parchment. Give it a try and enjoy!
Salmon with Artichokes and Tomatoes in Parchment
- 1 to 1.5 pounds wild-caught Salmon fillet, cut crosswise into four pieces
- 1 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts in water, drained well and quartered
- 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, cut into 8 slices
- 4 teaspoons capers, drained
- 4 teaspoons melted ghee, butter, tallow, lard, or bacon fat
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 large basil leaves, sliced thinly (chiffonade)
- 4 pieces of parchment paper measuring 12″x12″
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay out the parchment sheets and form a little assembly line. Lay one piece of fish in the middle of each sheet of parchment. Then sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay 2 slices of lemon on top of each piece of fish. Scatter the artichokes, tomatoes, and shallots evenly over each of the 4 pieces of fish. Sprinkle one teaspoon of capers and one teaspoon of melted fat over each of the fish and veggies. Fold the parchment over to seal the seams and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove once they are done baking and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Be careful when opening the packets as a lot of steam will escape! When serving, don’t toss the delicious juices that have formed under and around the fish – pour it over the finished product. We served this dish with white rice. If you don’t do rice, I think roasted spaghetti squash would also be fantastic.
Yield 4 servings.
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I’ll get back to new recipes and book reviews soon. I have a quick favor to ask of all of you and it will literally take 10 seconds. I’ve entered a recipe contest on the Gardenista facebook page. The recipe with the most likes wins a vertical herb garden, but even more exciting – a recipe feature in a future article! All you have to do is click the following link and “like” the photo. Much thanks to those of you who take the time to help!
The recipe I entered is my Mustard and Herb Marinated Chicken Kebobs. Great for summer grilling and only uses real food ingredients. Part of why I would love to win this contest is to promote eating and preparing delicious meals from whole foods!
Thanks again for helping me out!
To me, there are certain meals that exude the meaning “comfort food”. Casseroles, stews, and braised meats make my list. If you have followed this blog for awhile, you will know that I have not always been a fan of lamb. It took finding a good, local source of pastured and humanely raised lamb for me to get on board. Now I actually really love the taste of lamb.
I make this recipe every time I pick up lamb shanks from our farm share. It comes out perfect every time! The recipe is a variation of a lamb shanks recipe found in the April/May 2011 edition of Fine Cooking. Like I do with most recipes, I tweaked it to make it my own and add in more flavor. If you get your hands on some lambs shanks, give this a try. It’s not complicated and you will be a happy camper come dinner time.
Braised Lamb Shanks
- 3 pounds lamb shanks
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 leeks, halved lengthwise and cleaned, then cut into 1 inch slices
- 6 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed with the slide of a knife
- Grass-fed butter or ghee
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth (Optional – just add more stock if you want to skip the alcohol)
- 2 cups homemade stock (I used lamb, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand – chicken or beef works just fine)
- Zest of one large orange (Use a vegetable peeler to get 1×3 inch slices of peel)
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a large Dutch oven, melt a few Tablespoons of butter or ghee. Season the lamb shanks with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Working in batches if needed, brown the shanks on all sides (4-5 minutes per side). Remove the shanks to a plate and add the leeks, carrots, and garlic to the Dutch oven. If the pan is a little dry, add more butter or ghee. Saute the veggies for 7-8 minutes, just until the leeks soften up a little. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth or 1/4 cup stock. Use a wooden spoon to scrap all the little brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add in the orange zest, rosemary, and bay leaves. Nestle the shanks amongst the vegetables and pour 2 cups of stock over the meat. Bring to a boil, cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for 3 hours. Halfway through the cooking time, use tongs to turn the shanks and ladle some of the stock over the meat. Note that you will not have enough liquid to cover the meat, which is why it is important to have a covered cooking vessel. The steam will condense on the lid and drip back down on the meat, concentrating with time and giving the meat a rich flavor and fall off the bone tenderness.
After 3 hours, you can skim any extra fat off the surface of the veggies. I didn’t bother as my lamb was very lean and I don’t fear the fat! You may wish to remove the rosemary stems and bay leaves before serving, but go ahead and eat the orange zest – it will melt in your mouth.
Serve the shanks topped with veggies and sauce.
My house smells so amazing right now! Like a super fantastic mixture of apple and pumpkin pies – yum!!
Next week my parents are taking off on their annual winter escape. They are usually gone for around 6 weeks, so we like to get together for a family dinner before they leave. Tonight’s main course is a pork loin roast and I’ve decided to bring along a tasty side dish. I’ve made this dish a few times before, most recently for Thanksgiving, and it was a huge hit. The great thing about this recipe is that you can play with the proportions and change out ingredients based on what you have on hand. Don’t like squash, add more sweet potatoes or vice versa. Don’t have any apples, use a few pears. Don’t want to make too much, cut the recipe in half (although leftovers are just as delicious!). It’s all good when mashed up with the warm, sweet flavors of the spices.
Roasted Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, and Apple Mash
- 2 large apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces (Braeburn or Gala work well)
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- Coconut milk or maple syrup (optional)
What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
In a large bowl, combine all of the above ingredients and mix to evenly coat the pieces with spices and coconut oil. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet. Don’t worry if it doesn’t form a single layer.
Place the baking sheet into the oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, stir the mixture around, getting the bottom pieces to the top and spreading it evenly again. Place it back into the oven and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the squash and sweet potatoes are soft when poked with the tip of a knife.
Remove from the oven and let the mixture cool slightly. Set up your food processor and puree in batches. If the mixture is dry, add a little more coconut oil or even a splash of coconut milk or maple syrup. Place the mashed veggies and apples into a baking dish and sprinkle with chopped pecans if you are ready to serve it. At this point, the dish may be served immediately. Or leaving the pecans off, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days and then re-heat in a 350 degree oven until warmed through, topping with pecans before serving.
Oh yum! I love me some plantains!! I don’t really care how you prepare them, they are flat out delicious. I’m always on the hunt for a good plantain recipe, so while scouring Pinterest the other day, I came across a link for Pastelón. It was described as Puerto Rican Lasagna or Shepard’s Pie. Interesting… I’ve thought about using plantains as a substitution for bread, but never for noodles. This had to be tried and this is the perfect week to do it as we just picked up 70# of grass-fed ground beef from our farm share.
I did a little recipe searching and found there are a number of variations on this dish, so doing what I do, I mashed them all together and came up with this recipe. Do not get intimidated by the ingredient list. Make it. Seriously. Soon.
Pastelón (Puerto Rican Lasagna with Plantains)
- Coconut oil for sauteing and frying
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced (I saw variations that called for green pepper or half red and half green. I only had a red one, so that’s what I went with.)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 pounds of grass-fed ground beef
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup of homemade stock
- 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
- 1/3 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of raisins
- 12 olives, sliced (Most recipes called for green olives with pimentos, I only had black olives and they were a fine substitute.)
- 6 ripe plantains
- 8 eggs
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, melt a Tablespoon or two of coconut oil over medium heat. Add in the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for 4-5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add in the ground beef and break it up with a spoon or spatula. Add in your spices (sea salt through crushed red pepper flakes) and mix well. Continue cooking until the beef is browned, about 9-10 minutes.
Add the bay leaves, stock, and tomato paste, mixing well. Simmer uncovered over medium low heat until the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally.
While the beef mixture is simmering, prep your plantains. Peel them (see here for demo), cut them in half widthwise, and then cut each half into four slices lengthwise.
In a large frying pan, melt several Tablespoons of coconut oil. Lay the slices of plantain in the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes per side or until lightly browned. You will probably have to do this in batches.
In a 9 x 13 (approximately) baking dish, layer half of the plantains in a single layer. Because I’m a tad bit OCD, I did the math and that comes out to 24 slices If you are using a glass dish or a Corningware style dish, you probably do not have to grease the pan (I didn’t). If you are using a metal pan, I would suggest greasing the pan for easier removal.
Whisk 4 eggs with a dash of salt and pepper and then pour them over the plantain layer. Remove the bay leaves from the beef mixture and stir in the cilantro, olives, and raisins. Carefully spread the beef over the plantains. Pack it down a little, it will help the Pastelón hold together better when you slice it. Next layer the rest of the plantains on top of the beef in a single layer. Whisk the remaining four eggs with a dash of salt and pepper and pour it over the top. Spread the eggs so they cover all of the plantains and seep into the beef a bit.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the eggs are set and the top is a golden brown color. I highly recommend letting the Pastelón sit for 5-10 minutes to help it firm up for cutting.
This recipe was shared at Food Renegade.
I LOVE all things chocolate. Sweet and savory alike, I love the deep, delicious flavors found in cacao. A few months ago, I posted a recipe for Roasted Poblano and Pumpkin Chili in which I seasoned it with cocoa powder. So delicious! Today’s recipe also draws from the earthy and smokey flavors present in unsweetened chocolate.
In August of last year we headed to Boston to attend AHS 2012. What an awesome event! A number of amazingly generous vendors set up booths outside of the lecture halls and offered plenty of samples to attendees. One of our frequently visited booths was Taza Chocolate. We first came across their products on a trip to St. John, USVI a few months earlier. We were grocery shopping and were enticed by little rounds of dark chocolate with intriguing flavors like salt and pepper, salted almond, and cinnamon. We were so excited to see Taza at AHS and sample more of their products as well as learn how the chocolate is made. One of the products we picked up was Organic Roasted Cacao Nibs. Mmm!
Yesterday was a quick meal night – no time for an hour or more of prepping and cooking. Pork chops are my go to in this case. They fry up super quick and you can pair them with just about anything and it will be delicious. I’d say my little experiment with cacao nibs was a success. Hope you agree!
Smokey Cacao Nibs Encrusted Pork Chops
- 2 Tablespoons Cacao Nibs
- 1/2 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 pork chops (we prefer pastured and bone-in when available)
- 1-2 Tablespoons of fat of your choosing to fry the pork chops – I used ghee, but butter, bacon fat, or coconut oil would also be delicious
What to do:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, crush the nibs to the size of tiny pebbles. Careful if you use a spice grinder – only 1 or 2 pulses! Then combine with the paprika, sea salt, and cayenne. Rub the pork chops with half of the mixture, saving the other half for the second side of the chops when they are in the pan. Let the chops sit for about 15 minutes to come to room temperature. In the meantime, prepare a salad or check your email.
When you are ready to fry the chops, melt the fat in a oven-proof skillet. Let it get nice and hot and then place the pork chops seasoned side down in the pan. Fry for 2 minutes. While they are frying, coat the bare side of the chops with the remaining cacao nibs mixture. After 2 minutes, the chops should lift easily from the pan with some tongs. If they are sticking, give them 30 seconds to a minute more. Flip and fry the second side for 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the chops from the oven and place them on a warm platter or plate to rest. Do not leave them in the pan as they will continue to cook and be way to tough and dry!
The recipe was shared at Food Renegade.
The most popular post on this blog to date is “WHAT?! No shampoo!! Why I use coconut oil, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar for body care…”. So I guess I’m not the only crazy hippie out there wanting to avoid unknown ingredients and nasty chemicals in my body care routine! Although I’ve dumped a lot of those products, one thing I was hanging on to was a “natural” and organic face wash. Not sure why it took me so long to jump on board with the oil cleansing method, but about 8 weeks ago I gave it a try and I will NEVER look back!
I will admit that I am very lucky in the breakouts/acne department. I rarely have an issue, but I often deal with very dry and/or flaky skin. Probably related to a history of eczema, although I’ve never had it pop up on my face. My dry skin improved somewhat when I changed my diet to a Paleo/Ancestral style of eating, but I still deal with occasional flare ups of eczema. I’ve done several rounds of very strict elimination diets and have not really seen much change. At this point I’ve come to realize that I am likely reacting to external forces (dry and cold weather, medical grade surface cleaners at work, and other chemicals), and that the best thing I can do for myself is ditch as much of that stuff from my daily routine/home life as possible. So out with the facial cleanser and in with the oil cleansing method.
Here’s what you need:
Castor oil – known for it’s potent anti-inflammatory properties, it is excellent for healing and cleansing the skin. Castor oil on it’s own is drying, so it must be diluted with a secondary oil.
A secondary oil of your choosing to dilute the castor oil.
- Jojoba oil – has anti-microbial properties to help keep acne bacteria at bay
- Coconut oil – is also full of good anti-microbials
- Avocado oil – nourishing for dry skin
- Olive oil, sunflower seed oil, or grape seed oil – good for oily skin
A soft, cotton washcloth.
Here’s how I do it:
Combine the castor oil and the secondary oil of your choosing. You want a smaller portion of castor oil to secondary oil. I do about 10-20% (use less for dry skin, more for oily skin) castor oil and the remainder secondary oil. Total oil is about the size of a quarter in my palm. Rub the oils between your hands to warm them and then gently massage into your skin. I use firm, but light pressure and move in small circles. Massage for 2-3 minutes. Run a washcloth under hot water and then place it over your face to steam. Keep the cloth on until it cools and then repeat. After the second steaming, I gently wipe the oil from my face with a wet washcloth and warm water. Pat your face dry and apply a light layer of oil to moisturize. I use coconut oil or jojoba oil. In the morning I do a quick rinse with warm water and then a light application of coconut oil. If it’s a makeup day, I will let the coconut oil sink in for awhile before applying (10-30 minutes).
That’s it. And it works! I love how soft, smooth, and dewy my skin looks and feels. And without crappy chemicals – yay!
When I’m short on time, I’ll apply the castor oil blend and then jump in the shower. I let my face steam in the shower and then gently wipe off the oil at the end of the shower. Apply some coconut oil and hit the bed. Easy peasy.
Here are some of my go to sources for the OCM:
I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to Natural Home and Beauty that you might enjoy! Check it out.
There are a few other musts (in my opinion) for good skin:
- Good hydration – I’m not crazy about the 8 glasses of water a day thing, but when I skimp on my water, my skin feels dryer and doesn’t look as nice. Drink when you’re thirsty and maybe a little extra for good measure.
- Fermented cod liver oil and butter oil from Green Pastures – Contains Vitamin A in an appropriate ratio to Vitamin D and both are important for beautiful, healthy skin. Stop wincing and complaining. Buy it and use it. It’s not so bad.
- Homemade bone broth – Oh so many goodies in this liquid gold. Minerals, collagen components, gelatin – all needed for healthy tissues in the body. I’ll admit I don’t get enough of this stuff, but when I do, can see and feel the difference in my skin.
Have any of you tried the OCM? Let me know your thoughts and experiences!
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