Shaking Up Traditional Nicoise/Shaking Off 2016

This year was a rough one. Whew doggie! For a lot of people. On a macro level there was the seemingly never-ending execution of my childhood heroes by the powers to be. Oh and that whole election thing, there was that. The anxieties of the world were heavy on all of our shoulders this year. So many shoulders. Shoulders big and small.

And then there was me dealing with the stuff that was mine alone. I can honestly say 2016 was one of the most difficult, challenging, sanity-testing years of my entire life. And that is saying a lot. Cause my life has been pretty weird and extraordinary so far. However it was also the year that I made a decision to change everything. I changed my entire lifestyle, my social circle, my spiritual life. I left a 15 year career behind that was doing me more harm than good at this point. I worked incredibly hard to heal my body from a lifetime of various abuses including disordered eating and body image. I left behind an identity I had fought hard to create, and did successfully….mostly to avoid having to face all the things I now have no choice but to face. But I see now how everything falling apart earlier this year was such a tremendous gift from the universe. Dare I say, from God? I hope to one day look back on this year, reflect on the painful moments, and feel true gratitude for the person I’ve become *because* of that pain. I’m not quite there yet but I work hard EVERY SINGLE DAY to be a better person than I have been in the past. And there are many times I have been a less than good person. So this New Years Eve is bittersweet for me…BUT…I am so so SO excited for this new chapter in my life that I am about to surf, with my new longing for grace and humility. And prehaps a little moxy because duh, i’m me.

Ok so back to FOOD. If your holiday went anything like mine, it was a full on empty carb and sugar BONANZA. It was worth it, believe that, but now my body is crying for all the greens and antioxidants and protein and superfoods and yeah maybe still a Red Velvet cupcake but I must ignore that for now. I have been focused on injecting vegetables straight in to my veins. So the day after Christmas when deciding what to make for dinner I knew that all I really needed to get back on track was a big ol’ bomb ass salad.

I hadn’t ever made a Nicoise salad. I have eaten them. I liked the simplicity of the dressing, the various colors, the high protein and I love me some fishy flavors. But of course I had to do something a little different for the blog, because there are already a million proper recipes out there already. So I switched out the cold potatoes for cold golden beet and I wasn’t really feeling boring ol’ tuna and olives so I whipped up this variation with smoked salmon and capers. I toyed with the idea of doing crab meat but I wanted that lox/capers combination in my mouf bad. Needless to say, it was amazing.

I used Vital Farm eggs which are the best eggs I have ever had. Thanks for the recommendation mom!

This recipe also happens to be by default, gluten free, dairy free, oil free and Paleo friendly.

Lox & Golden Beet Nicoise Salad (For Two) 

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Ingredients 

  • 2 golden beets, boiled and cubed (you can buy them pre-cooked at Whole Foods)
  • 2 organic cage-free eggs
  • 5 ounces, french green beans
  • 4 large radishes, sliced
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups green leaf lettuce
  • 4 slices lox
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • fresh parsley for topping

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Hard-boil two eggs. Peel and set aside. Steam green beans. Set aside.

Cut and wash other veggies and set aside ready for assembly.

In a small bowl combine all dressing ingredients and wisk well.

In two bowls assemble starting with the chopped/cleaned lettuce at the bottom of the bowl, tossed in the homemade dressing.

Add the chilled, steamed green beans to the top and split the hard-boiled eggs. Arrange around the edges of the bowls, cold beets, tomatoes, radishes.

Slice the salmon and roll up to created “roses” in the middle of the bowl. Top with a spoon full of capers.

Sprinkle entire salad with chopped parsley. Grub down.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Thank you SO much for following me! I will be working hard to amp up this little blog in 2017.

xoxoxo

KA

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Kale Parmigiano Pasta


The recipe is so KILLER because it’s not only incredibly nutrient dense, it also tastes like cheesy comfort food heaven.

One of my top comfort foods as a young one was pasta and Parmesan cheese, nothing else, no butter, nothing. Dry pasta. Parmesan cheese. This is a way healthier version. The pasta I used is fiber, omega 3 and more nutrient packed SPELT pasta. I usually use brown rice pasta but spelt is my new jam and I like it even better. Add super powered kale, lots of fresh garlic and healthy fat olive oil. Fresh grated Parmesan cheese tips this to the point of maaaadddddnesssss!

But seriously it’s too easy to even write a formal recipe for this…


Simply:

Boil some spelt (or whatever) pasta according to box and run under cold water. Set aside.

Sauté some fresh chopped garlic in olive oil. Add chopped & rinsed organic kale and sauté until kale is soft. Add salt, pepper. Add 1/4 cup pine nuts and lightly brown in pan with kale.

Add 1/4 cup white wine until dissolves. Toss in cooked pasta and add more olive oil to coat.
Add in about 1/2 cup Parmesan (adjust to cheesy desires) and mix. Turn up heat until slightly browns/crisps then flip and cook again until same.

Serve. Get seconds. Dream about.

xoxoxo

KA

Meditating on Winter Soup w/Purple Potatoes

So a couple of weeks ago I went on my first daylong meditation retreat. I have been meditating seriously ( very serious, man) for about 8 months now. I tried a few different schools and techniques, including Zen Buddhist meditation before stumbling upon Perfectly Here Mindfulness Center in the SFV, CA. What I liked about it was it seemed like a science-based approach to meditation and I am all about science. Science is cool. I wanted to learn exactly WHY the brain benefits from meditation, not just left alone to stare at a wall for 45 minutes when I had no idea what I was doing. I started with the level 1 class and I have just wrapped up the level 2. I have definitely picked up some positive habits taking these two courses and noticed that I have been handling STRESSFUL SITUATIONS…a lot better. So I figured the next step was to attend a daylong.

I had ZERO idea what to expect but I knew it would involve a lot of meditating, for a long time…like all day…hence, daylong. I was really worried that it would be too much for me, that I would run out screaming, interrupting everyone else’s journey to serenity. Luckily that totally didn’t happen. The time flew by and we changed up the meditation styles so frequently I never got bored. And I found the group meditation environment actually helped me meditate better, which is weird, right?

My favorite part was lunch. Obviously, yeah, cause food. But this wasn’t just regular eating this was MINDFUL eating. Everyone prepared and set up for lunch in complete silence, and we all sat together in complete silence. It was a little weird at first (especially hearing everyone chew) but it was also strangely intimate. We were served a vegetable stew that was so comforting and belly warming in it’s simplicity. Especially on a chilly, dark day. And keeping with the mindful teachings I thought about the journey of the vegetables…growing in the dirt, being picked by farm workers, riding in the truck, being displayed in the stores. I thought about another woman at the retreat who I knew had been given the task of chopping the vegetables for the soup. How we were all eating the outcome of her labor. And suddenly the moment became beautiful and exciting. Not to mention the soup was fabulous.

I decided then that I was going to make a veggie soup too! I wanted it to be colorful and comforting and belly warming and encourage the same thoughts of gratitude the retreat soup had given me. The perfect soup for the crisp December weather.

I knew I wanted to have sweet potatoes in the soup because that was my favorite part about the retreat soup. When I went to church (aka Whole Foods Market) to buy supplies I came across these gorgeous Japanese PURPLE sweet potatoes. I fell in love with the vibrant color and felt like it radiated the vibes I wanted my soup to have. So I picked up some purple baby reg potatoes too, you know, to double the purple power. Two kinds of purple potatoes and kale provide the OOMF for this hearty soup. I hope you love is as much as we did in my home. We served it with some dark, crusty rustic bread.

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Ingredients

2 cups Japanese purple sweet potatoes, cut

1 1/2 cup purple baby potatoes

2 bunches kale, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 cup white mushrooms, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can white beans (or kidney beans), drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons organic miso

6 cups veggie broth

2 cups water

1 tablespoon turmeric

salt, pepper to taste

Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 1 hour

In a large pot, combine veggies, water and broth. Bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat.

Add spices and let cook on low about 45 minutes or until potatoes are begin to get tender. Add the miso and beans and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serve alone or with crusty bread. Keeps excellent in the fridge for leftovers. Grub down!

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Snack Attack: Favs of 2016

Snacks are a very hot topic…a sensitive, deeply personal subject. So obviously this is just my opinion. It’s personal, man. I’m not a hardcore snacker but I am only human and a woman with hormones so sometimes I NEED crunchy or I NEED salty or I NEED chocolate and that’s just the way it is. I believe in listening to your body…that’s all the justification I need. Works for me! Here are some snacky snacks I munched on this year that I found exceptional, the snackiest of all.

Salty

 

I asked friends on FB what their favorite snacks were and though only 3 answered me (thanks guys) they all had one grub in common. Popcorn. Popcorn is awesome and fun to eat. It makes movies better and if it’s not soaked in mystery oils, you can eat a lot with a low caloric consequence. Like BOOM CHICKA POP is only 70 calories a cup for the Sweet and Salty flavor. The problem is it’s so freaking good and addictive you really can’t eat just one cup. So I have vowed to never buy it again. But I probably will because seriously it’s so freaking good.

I went to Cost Plus World Market to look for interesting foods from all around the world because Cost Plus has the most awesome inventory of interesting foods from all around the world. I could live there, it has everything you need, seriously. I find the most ridiculous things there. Like these Marmite Cashews. I’ve never been into Marmite or Vegemite but I do love cashews with just about anything on it. I bought it as a wacky experiment but it ended up being super good. Salty…in a good way. And the cashews are oven baked. I find myself randomly craving these and will definitely pick more up when I go back for Christmas shopping.

Sweet

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Alter Eco sea-salt truffles. Holy shit. Are you kidding me? I am in love with this company. They are organic, made with coconut oil, gluten-free, fair trade…this is my new favorite chocolate, ever. The best part is that one serving is three…so if you eat one you can be like “oh hell yeah I didn’t even eat a whole serving” and still get a nice chocolate fix…and if you eat three you can be like ” oh hell yeah I can eat THREE of them and that’s only one serving!.” You can’t lose.

I had to throw in So Delicious Cashew Milk ice cream because even though I did a whole post about this product, it’s so good I had to bring it up again. Read my full review here: https://kitchenaudacity.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/best-non-dairy-ice-cream-so-far-so-delicious-cashew-milk-ice-cream/

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Halo Top. What can I say about you that hasn’t already been mentioned by EVERYONE WHO HAS THE INTERNET. If you follow food/cooking/fitness social media accounts you have definitely seen this product come up. I’ve heard the raves but was skeptical…I had heard similar praise about Arctic Zero which I took one bite of and threw directly into the trash. *shudders*…Halo Top actually looks and tastes like real ice cream, not a gross vaguely chocolately ice block. It’s really amazing. These people must be so rich and they deserve it. Healthy ice cream??? High protein/low carb and sugar? I don’t know how it tastes as good as it does but it really really really does.

The major selling point of Halo Top is that you can eat the ENTIRE pint for 240-380 calories…which is basically every woman’s wildest fantasy. You can miserably measure out a 1/4 cup of Ben & Jerry’s for the same calories as a whole pint of this magical stuff. And I never end up eating a whole pint. But knowing I could if I wanted to (and it would actually fuel my workouts)…this is the stuff of dreams. My favorites so far are Birthday Cake, Mint Chip and Lemon Cake. The Birthday Cake has sprinkles!

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Dippy

 

I discovered Hope Organic products via Whole Foods. I found the Jalapeño Cilantro hummus first and thought it sounded fun. I use it to dip veggies in. It tasted so good I assumed it had to be filled with gross ingredients or heavy creams or chemicals. But I was super surprised when I checked the label. It had very minimal ingredients, all clean and whole foods, healthy AF. I tried the Kale Pesto next which was equally fire, this one is good for spreading on sandwiches in place of mayo. They have a DARK CHOCOLATE hummus but I haven’t been brave enough to try it. But one day I will…for like, research.