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How much do you know about apple cider vinegar and its benefits?  What are your thoughts on it?  Well, let me share you some personal thoughts and experiences, as well as some different ways of using this liquid that you may not have thought of before.

I watched my dad for years have apple cider vinegar every day, and remember driving to a local farm to pick up some on a regular basis for him.  He was told to drink it to reduce the number of leg cramps he was getting.  When I tried drinking it as a kid, I think I just had it by the spoonful and it felt like it burned my throat.  Later I found out that he drank it with some fruit juice as well …

Apple cider vinegar morning drink

Fast forward a number of years to now and as most of you who’ve been following my culinary journey for a while realize, I have a special snowflake stomach with many, many, many digestive problems.   And over the past year or so I’ve come to find some (note, some) relief when I have some sort of apple cider vinegar in my daily food and drinks.  Many people recommend taking apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach, so I developed a morning drink that I try to have every day before breakfast.  But I wanted to share with you some other ways that I’ve incorporated apple cider vinegar in some, maybe surprising, ways through my daily cooking and baking adventures.

 

 

Sauces

Ketchup

Ketchup (Whole30)

BBQ sauce

BBQ sauce (Paleo, vegan)

 

Let’s start of with some more obvious uses, shall we?  How many of you have looked at the back of a ketchup (or tomato sauce for my Aussie readers) and cringed at all the ingredients, especially the high fructose corn syrup?  And how many of you have actually checked out how easy it is to make ketchup, with no sugar?  If you haven’t yet, you should check it out and see that making ketchup at home only needs simple ingredients, one being apple cider vinegar.  And, while this doesn’t taste like the commercial ketchup, it’s very handy to have this in the fridge!

In a similar vein, what about BBQ sauce?  Oh, you can imagine the tangy BBQ flavor on so many foods right now, can’t you?  But again, have you looked at the ingredients in some of those commercial BBQ sauces?  Check out this recipe for homemade BBQ sauce, using apple cider vinegar to give it a good zing in taste! 

Marinades 

Honey tamari marinade

Peanut satay sauce (vegan)

Ok that’s enough about sauces.  Let’s look at some marinades that use apple cider vinegar, shall we?

Let me introduce you to my all time favorite marinade.  This honey tamari marinade is my go-to for marinated chicken.  Just ask my family.  Any time they see marinated chicken on the whiteboard for our weekly meal plan, they’re pretty sure I’m going to be pulling out this recipe.  And you know the funny thing is – I often make it Whole30 compliant, so without either honey or tamari … but I still call it a honey tamari marinade and no one is the wiser!

Now this next marinade is so versatile, it can be used as a dip, a marinade, or even a sauce for a curry.  And it involves my favorite food group – peanut butter (yes, I did just say that peanut butter was a food group!).  A lot of Thai sauces need to have that combination of sweet, savory, sour, salty and bitter – and this is where the apple cider vinegar comes in for this peanut satay sauce.  Definitely on the sour and bitter side, but perfectly balanced by the peanut butter and other ingredients in there.

Salads

Spicy Thai cucumber salad (vegan)

Broccoli and bacon salad (Whole30)

Following on the Thai theme, check out this spicy Thai cucumber salad.  So many fresh veggies in the actual salad, but it’s the vinaigrette where the zing comes in from the apple cider vinegar.  And of course, you can’t have the salad without nuts for added crunch!

Then there’s one of my all time favorite salads – this bacon and broccoli salad.  Two foods that I thought I’d never use in the same phrase as ‘favorite’, let alone in a salad!  And the addition of apple cider vinegar on this salad is so simple.  Just drizzle it over the veggies before adding the mayonnaise and eat to your heart’s content!

Entrees / main meals

Stroganoff baked potatoes (Whole30)

Avocado chicken zoodles (Whole30)

As a side note, why do Americans call their main course an ‘entree’ while in Australia, an entree is what you have before a main meal?

But I digress.  Two yummy savory dishes/ main meals / entrees that use apple cider vinegar.  And both are some of my favorite meals.  The stroganoff baked potatoes are always a hit in my family – to the extent that once I make it, I get asked to make it again.  Soon.  And the avocado chicken zoodles – well that’s a personal favorite because no one else in my family is as enamored with avocado as I am.  But in each case, the apple cider vinegar helps to give the sauce an extra zing to the taste!

Breads

English muffins (Paleo)

Pumpkin bread stuffing (Paleo)

Paleo bread

Flourless bread (Paleo)

Banana blueberry bread (vegan, no refined sugar)

And now we come to where apple cider vinegar can be used in baked goods.  My favorite way of using it!  I’m not going to go into too much detail about these, sufficient to say that using apple cider vinegar with a combination of baking soda produces bubbles, for lighter, yummier baked stuff.  So check out these recipes for English muffins, Paleo bread with no flour at all, pumpkin bread stuffing and the sweeter bread with bananas and blueberries!

Cakes and cookies

 

Carrot pineapple cake (Paleo, no added sugar)

Pumpkin choc chip cookies (no refined sugar)

Carrot cake cookies (Paleo, no added sugar)

Need I say more?  When you can make such yummy things as these?  You don’t need a huge amount of apple cider vinegar in any of these recipes, but adding it definitely gives the texture extra lift and lightness – and these cakes and cookies are also made without any refined sugar, so you can feel even better about eating them!  Check out the recipes for the carrot pineapple cake, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and carrot cake cookies.

My basic rule of thumb when using apple cider vinegar in baking is wherever the recipe calls for any vinegar – white or otherwise – you can easily substitute 1:1 with apple cider vinegar.  It hasn’t let me down yet!

How do you use apple cider vinegar?

There we go, my friends!  I’ve shared the many and varied ways that I go through apple cider vinegar on a regular basis.  I’d love to know whether you use it and how?  And whether any of these ideas have appealed to you!  Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with apple cider vinegar!

Sarah

Giving you ideas to include the benefits of apple cider vinegar in more than just a drink. #applecidervinegar

Honey glaze marinade

This honey glaze marinade is so simple and so versatile on any meats – sure to be the star of any BBQ!

This honey glaze marinade is so simple and so versatile on any meats - sure to be the star of any BBQ! #honey #marinade #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree #paleo

I love this honey glaze marinade.  I’ve used it on pork.  I’ve used it on chicken.  I’ve used it on … sorry, I’ll stop before I start to sound too much like Dr Seuss!  But seriously, every time that I serve any type of meat with this marinade, it is hands down a winner.  A couple of times Grant and I have cooked the same meat, but one lot with this marinade, and and another lot with some sort of spice rub.  Now, I’m not sure that because the rub has been a bit heavy handed each time, but each time our dinner guests (and us) have always preferred this one.

It’s loosely based off a recipe from AllRecipes.com but made Paleo-friendly i.e. no refined sugar or soy sauce.  It’s also kind of an adaptation of my honey tamari sauce, which I also adapt to a more Whole30 compliant option sometimes.  See, this is where actually publishing recipes on a website is tough for me because I keep changing things!  Does anyone else have the same problems?

This honey glaze marinade is so simple – get your meat into a ziplock bag.  Combine all the ingredients together and pour into the bag.  Let sit in the refrigerator overnight (in a bowl just in case there’s a hole in the bag!) and then grill at your leisure.  Couldn’t be any easier, right?

Honey glaze marinade

(Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Chilling time 12 hours
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbs coconut aminos
  • 1 tbs coconut sugar
  • 2 tbs avocado oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl.

  2. Add to meat of choice in a ziploc bag or container with a cover.  Chill overnight for best results prior to cooking.

Recipe Notes

This marinade is sufficient for 3-4 lb meat (pork tenderloin, chicken thighs, etc)

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

This honey glaze marinade is so simple and so versatile on any meats - sure to be the star of any BBQ! #honey #marinade #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree #paleo

Healthy chocolate dip

Ever wanted to dip fruit into chocolate – and be healthy?  Then this healthy chocolate dip (with a sneaky vegetable)  is for you!

Ever wanted to dip fruit into chocolate - and be healthy?  Then this healthy chocolate dip is for you! #healthy #chocolate #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree

Here’s another recipe that you may wonder what I was one when I dreamed it up.  But trust me, it works.  Totally.  With so many different options.

Think about it – Healthy.  Chocolate.  Dip.  With a vegetable in there too.  Oh, did I say that out loud?  Don’t let your kids know, that this rich, chocolate-y dip is actually healthy.  With no added sugar AT ALL.

It’s gluten free.  It’s dairy free.  It’s Paleo.  It’s vegan.  It could be nut free (if you use coconut milk instead of the almond milk).  It ticks all the boxes (for me, anyway!).

I’ve eaten this with apples.  I’ve eaten this with strawberries.  I’ve eaten this with kiwi fruit.  (I’m starting to sound like a Dr Seuss book here, aren’t I?).  And I’ve also used it as a spread on waffles, bread and English muffins.  It’s so versatile – but it is sweet, so I probably wouldn’t look at using it with any savory dishes.  But if you like the sweet and savory combo, give it a go and let me know what you think!

Or, if you’re more like me, just eat this by the spoonful!

Healthy chocolate dip

(Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, no added sugar)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 12 Medjool dates pitted
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 100 g cauliflower cooked

Instructions

  1. Process all ingredients together in a high speed food processor until smooth.  You may need to add some more almond milk, depending on the texture you desire.

  2. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 7 days (if it lasts that long!)

Ever wanted to dip fruit into chocolate - and be healthy?  Then this healthy chocolate dip is for you! #healthy #chocolate #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree

Kiwi pistachio smoothie

This kiwi pistachio smoothie is a unique combination of flavors, but so refreshing for those hot summer afternoons!

This kiwi pistachio smoothie is a unique combination of flavors, but so refreshing for those hot summer afternoons! #smoothie #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree #paleo

By now you may have realized that I don’t really have that many smoothie recipes on this website.  Except for this blueberry sweet potato smoothie and this apple cinnamon peanut butter smoothie, that’s about it!  For the sheer fact that I really don’t drink them.  But I do recognize that many of you love smoothies, so I am trying to give you another option to test out.

This month’s Recipe Swap I was paired with Sasmita at First Timer Cook blog.  She’s got a whole range of recipes there so I highly recommend that you go and check her out!  A lot of them look like they are Indian inspired, which I was really excited about, but wanted to give you all something that I could eat too (with my special snowflake stomach!).  I thought about remaking her gingerbread biscotti … and actually tried to make it.  But I think all of my Paleo substitutes made it into a serious baking fail.  It tasted good, but it would have required a number of tries to get it to where I could recommend it for you all to try.

And then I found this kiwi pistachio lassi, or a kiwi pistachio yogurt smoothie.  It’s so simple, and I’m guessing you can almost guess the ingredients in it.  Yep – kiwi fruit, pistachios, yogurt and a little bit of honey.  And a few ice cubes.  And that’s it.  I loved the unique flavor of this drink – and actually put some chia seeds in the second portion of it to have for breakfast the next morning (see, I’m really not a smoothie person, but I do love the concept of the ingredients!) and I think you will too!

Kiwi pistachio smoothie

(Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, no refined sugar)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 3 medium kiwi fruit peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups dairy-free plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 2 tbs raw honey
  • 8-10 pistachios shelled
  • 2-3 ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the ice cubes in a blender until a puree forms.

  2. Add the ice cubes and blend for about 30 seconds, or until desired consistency is achieved.

  3. Serve immediately with optional additional pistachios sprinkled on top

Recipe Notes

Adapted from First Timer Cook

This kiwi pistachio smoothie is a unique combination of flavors, but so refreshing for those hot summer afternoons! #smoothie #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree #paleo

This kiwi pistachio smoothie is a unique combination of flavors, but so refreshing for those hot summer afternoons! #smoothie #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree #paleo

Paleo herb bread

This Paleo herb bread is a perfect side for any meal – so good to mop up those extra juicy sauces!

This Paleo herb bread is a perfect side for any meal - so good to mop up those extra juicy sauces! #bread #paleo #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree

By now you may have guessed that I really, really like recreating bread-type things for my special snowflake stomach.  Check out these recipes for Paleo bread, English muffins, and pizza crusts, all grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free, with minimal to no sugar.  But you know when you have an awesome soup, or casserole, and you’ve got all that yummy sauce at the bottom of your plate?  And all you want to do is get a chunky piece of bread to mop it up?  Well, this Paleo herb bread recipe has you covered.

I found this recipe through one of the awesome bloggers I follow on Instagram – Charlotte at Press-start Nutrition has some amazing recipes and ideas across the board, so you should go and check her out, after making this recipe though!  This recipe is adapted from her magic bread which I have to admit I made first and loved.  But then I thought to myself, with some gentle promptings from Grant, that I really should look at having a more garlic/herb bread recipe on this website as well.  So I made this herb bread and I loved it.

Originally it was going to be called a garlic and herb bread, but you don’t really get the garlic flavor coming through to my satisfaction.  It could be because I’m not that great at crushing garlic cloves into finer portions (because I always get chunky garlic through this bread) so you can either leave it out, or maybe actually buy minced garlic.  Or be so much better at crushing garlic than I am!

Whatever you call this bread, enjoy it as a side dish, with a dollop of ghee on top.  I even tried it with some nut butter … but I probably wouldn’t recommend that option!  Just try it and let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

Herb bread

(Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, no added sugar)

Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tbs coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 tbs dried parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 8x5" loaf pan with parchment paper.

  2. Combine all ingredients together until a dough forms.

  3. Spoon the dough into the prepared loaf pan and smooth surface.

  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top feels firm and a toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from press-start.nutrition.com

This Paleo herb bread is a perfect side for any meal - so good to mop up those extra juicy sauces! #bread #paleo #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree

Lomo saltado

It’s the classic Peruvian dish of steak and fries – but this lomo saltado is actually Whole30 compliant!

It's the classic Peruvian dish of steak and fries - but this lomo saltado is actually Whole30 compliant! #lomosaltado #peruvian #cookathome #paleo #whole30 #glutenfree #dairyfree

As some of you know, we lived in Chile for 2 years.  And found the adage of ‘eat in Peru, drink in Chile’ to be quite accurate.  Because the food in Peru is, to be honest, AMAZING!  There is such a good mix of cultures there, with the Chaufa (combination of Chinese and Peruvian) being especially prevalent.  And you should be aware of our absolute love of aji de gallina – a yellow chicken curry – that is totally different to anything else in the Western world.  But also, our fondness of arroz con leche, or rice pudding.  I’m still working on the arroz con leche to be grain-free and refined sugar free to suit other dietary special snowflakes like myself, so stay tuned for that!

Now when we lived in Chile, we would often go to Peruvian restaurants.  And when we visited Peru, between the four of us in the family, would always order at least one dish of each aji de gallina and lomo saltado to share between us all.  But, one day, after having some lomo saltado, I looked up the recipe, and realized it contained soy sauce.  Which often contains gluten.  No wonder I wasn’t always feeling so good in my tummy after the deliciousness slid down …

Fast forward a number of years, to where I’m acutely aware of how many foods affect me, and how eating the Whole30 way actually makes me feel better on the inside.  Note, I do not eat Whole30 ALL the time, because (a) that’s not what it’s meant for and (b) I am quite fond of my baked goods!  But if I can adapt a recipe to be Whole30 compliant, I know I’m going to enjoy both the taste, and feel good inside after eating it too.

Thanks to my friend, Chef Freyka, I recently attended a cooking class with her, where she showed us how she makes lomo saltado.  Now, she’s Peruvian, so I knew it was going to be authentic.  I came home after that class, and immediately told the family I was cooking lomo saltado that weekend.  With a few modifications.  And the verdict – well, there was none left … and the sighs of delight from all members of the family showed I was on a winner!

So if you’re interested in trying this all-time classic Peruvian meal – check out the recipe below.  And if you do try it, let me know what you think in the comments!

PS – this dish is traditionally served with rice as well as the french fries, but if you’re wanting to stay Whole30 compliant, I’d recommend cauliflower rice!

Lomo saltado

(Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb flank steak sliced into stir-fry strips
  • 1/2 yellow onion cut into wedges
  • 1/2 red onion cut into wedges
  • 2 Roma tomatoes seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar divided
  • 1 tbs aji amarillo paste
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs coconut aminos

Instructions

  1. Preheat a large frying pan and add cooking oil of choice.  

  2. Add the beef, allowing room for the pieces to not overlap each other. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and paprika. Allow to sit on the pan for about a minute, then toss the meat until the color caramelizes with a little red remaining.  Remove from the pan and set aside, keeping warm.

  3. Add some more oil to the frying pan, then add the onions with a pinch of salt.  Saute the onions until they display a golden color.  

  4. Stir in the garlic powder, aji amarillo paste and vinegar and allow to braise until most of the vinegar has evaporated.

  5. Add the tomato paste, coconut aminos, tomato wedges and 1/2 tbs vinegar.  Cook the vinegar off.  Add a little water if needed to keep the mixture moist.

  6. Return the beef to the frying pan, mix well and turn the heat off.

  7. Serve over french fries (either homemade or bought) and with optional rice (whole-grain or cauliflower).  Garnish with parsley and add some of the cooking juices as a sauce.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Chef Freyka Nunez del Prado

It's the classic Peruvian dish of steak and fries - but this lomo saltado is actually Whole30 compliant! #lomosaltado #peruvian #cookathome #paleo #whole30 #glutenfree #dairyfree

Matcha latte

Enjoy all the benefits of matcha in this warm and cozy matcha latte – made dairy-free and with no refined sugar!

Enjoy all the benefits of matcha in this warm and cozy matcha latte - made dairy-free and with no refined sugar! #matcha #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree

Matcha is basically powdered green tea.  We’ve all heard the benefits of green tea (loaded with antioxidants and nutrients) that include improved brain function, fat loss, lower risk of cancer and many other good things.  So, being powdered, means you get all of these benefits in a really concentrated form.

Matcha lattes have become all the rage on social media recently.  I love having green tea, but didn’t really get into the whole latte thing because I really don’t like coffee.  But I did find some matcha powder on special at the local grocery store and started experimenting with it.  Namely by adding chocolate to it, because that’s what I do!  

And then I thought I’d give this matcha latte a go.  So I looked up a few recipes for dairy-free, refined sugar free options and found that they were all pretty similar to my dairy-free hot chocolate recipe.  Just using matcha powder instead of cocoa.  And I experimented a little, but found that it was pretty much exactly the same as the hot chocolate proportions.  And yummy.

A note to the unwary – make sure you dissolve ALL the matcha powder in the hot water/maple syrup mixture before adding to the milk.  Having clumps of matcha powder come down your throat is not a pleasant experience.  Take this from someone who’s done it.  Several times.

But this is a great drink for me in the mornings – a way to get some caffeine in, with all the health benefits listed above – and warming me from the inside out.  Let me know if you give it a go!

 

Matcha latte

(Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tbs hot water
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

Instructions

  1. Combine the matcha powder, maple syrup and hot water in a small bowl until all matcha powder is dissolved.

  2. Heat the almond milk until close to boiling, either on the stove or in the microwave in your cup of choice.

  3. Add the matcha mixture to the warm milk and stir completely.  And enjoy!

  Enjoy all the benefits of matcha in this warm and cozy matcha latte - made dairy-free and with no refined sugar! #matcha #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfreeEnjoy all the benefits of matcha in this warm and cozy matcha latte - made dairy-free and with no refined sugar! #matcha #cookathome #glutenfree #dairyfree

Almond butter vs peanut butter – which do you prefer?

Almond butter vs peanut butter - which do you prefer? #almondbutter

It’s an age old question.  Well, not really!  In a battle of almond butter vs peanut butter, which would win for you?

I love my peanut butter.  SO MUCH!  For breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snacks in between.  So much so, that I love finding new ideas on how to use it!  But I know there’s many people around the world that are allergic to peanuts, my own father included.  And I also know that if I have too much peanut butter (which can sometimes often happen) my stomach rebels against me.  So I thought about how I could incorporate more almond butter, and other nut butters, even nut-free butters, into my life.

Now it’s pretty easy for any recipe that calls for peanut butter to just do a quick substitution with almond butter.  But I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite recipes using almond butter – that are awesome in their own right.

Note that I have received some free products from Crazy Richards Peanut Butter company for use in my Instagram giveaway, which is why I used photos of their products above.  I love Crazy Richards Peanut butter, and love working with them, but have not received any other payment from them apart from a few free jars of peanut and almond butters!

Almond butter in granola

Egg white granola (Paleo, no added sugar)

Almond blueberry granola (Paleo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets start out nice and simple – with something that I make ALL the time.  And that’s granola.  I love having a good nut butter to help bind all the fruit and nuts together before putting in the oven, so check out the egg white granola, and the almond blueberry granola recipes!

Almond butter in savory dishes

Thai almond curry sauce (Paleo)

Thai almond chicken curry (Whole30)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I realize that both of these dishes are a  Thai curry.  But really, almond butter just makes the sauce so creamy and yummy!  Give them a go and see what you think – either just the sauce, or the full meal with chicken, sweet potatoes and zucchini with a slightly different Thai almond curry sauce.

Almond butter in breads

Paleo bread

Flourless bread (Paleo)

English muffins (Paleo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that you can use nut butter to make breads and muffins?  Check out the bread recipe, which doesn’t use ANY flour at all – just some almond butter, eggs, apple cider vinegar and baking soda.  Seriously, that’s all you’ll need!  Or if you’re in the mood for some English muffins, see how easy it is to make these at home too!

Almond butter cookies

Triple almond raisin cookies (Paleo, vegan)

Apple spice cookies (Paleo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wouldn’t be a post from me if there wasn’t some sweets included, now would it.  So lets talk about some of the options available to you using almond butter in cookies.  Of course, there’s others, such as almond coconut cookies and almond chocolate chip cookies and chocolate almond butter cookies, but these two are probably my favorite.  Check out the triple almond raisin cookies recipe to find out just what makes up the three almond ingredients.  And the apple spice cookies recipe is awesome for when I have apples waiting to be used up …!

Almond butter as a dairy-free caramel

Chocolate caramel slice (Paleo, no added sugar)

Banana caramel pie

Banana caramel pie (Paleo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I love about almond butter in baking is that when you combine it with dates, it gives a really caramel taste.  It’s like heaven on a spoon, because you know you have to taste it while baking, to make sure it tastes okay to keep going on making the finished product.  Or is that just me?  These are two of my favorite combinations of dates and almond butter – a yummy chocolate caramel slice with only dates as the sweetener, and our childhood favorite banana caramel pie, made Paleo!

Almond butter as a dessert

Paleo chocolate cream pies

Chocolate cream mini-pies (Paleo)

Carrot pineapple cake (Paleo, no added sugar)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, we can use almond butter in lots of snack-type foods, but what about putting it center stage as the main dessert?  The chocolate cream mini-pies are awesome for kids and adults alike when you are entertaining, and the carrot pineapple cake is a real showstopper when you have the opportunity to decorate the frosting (simply coconut cream with a little vanilla and cinnamon).  And the taste of each of these is just amazing – check them out!

Of course you can feel free to check out almond butter in other slices and cakes, such as the almond butter cream slice, triple almond brownies, sweet potato brownies, fudgy pumpkin brownies, and chocolate mint brownies (can you see I also like the combination of almond butter in brownies?), avocado chocolate cake and even some energy balls with chia seeds!

Almond butter vs peanut butter – which would you choose?

While peanut butter will always hold a soft spot in my heart, almond butter is definitely showing its good side to me.  But which do you prefer?  Almond butter vs peanut butter – let me know in the comments below – and if you’ve got any other almond butter recipe recommendations or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with almond butter!

Sarah

Almond butter vs peanut butter - which do you prefer? #almondbutter

Chicken shawarma

Using Middle Eastern spices, this chicken shawarma is a hearty, and tasty, classic meal that the family will love!

Using Middle Eastern spices, this chicken shawarma is a hearty, and tasty, classic meal that the family will love! #shawarma

How many of you have had some sort of cuisine at a certain place, and could not get the thought out of your minds for many years?  When Grant and I visited my brother in Toronto a number of years ago, we had a chicken shawarma (before I had all my gluten and dairy issues) and the taste of this shawarma was just amazing.  It was so unlike anything that we’d had before.  I mean, sure, we loved having the Lebanese yiros when we lived in South Australia (not quite the same as gyros here in the US), and yes we love lots of other Middle Eastern foods, but this was awesome.

For years, we’ve been looking for a recipe that had similar sort of spices and the tenderness of that first chicken shawarma.  So when I was paired up with Rafeeda at The Big Sweet Tooth for this month’s Recipe Swap Club, and searching through her many, many recipes, I found a chicken shawarma one and my mind was made up on the spot!  But let me first introduce you to Rafeeda and her website.

Where do you live? And does it influence your cooking?
I live in the UAE, though I am originally from India. And yes, I love the local food and currently trying to dig out sources of their recipes, cook them and feature them on the blog under a tab called “Emirati Recipes”.

What is your signature dish?
I really do not know, but from the folks, they seem to enjoy my biriyani and machboos the most – both are rice dishes with meat.

What do you do outside of cooking/blogging?
I am a working mother – with an 8-5 procurement job.

What made you start a food blog?
It was a spur of the moment, more to motivate myself to cook!

Who is your favorite celebrity chef?
I’m not a sticker to a person … hehe… I can binge watch Nigella Laweson, Paul Hollywood or Jamie Oliver, depending upon my mood and time.

Lets get back to this chicken shawarma recipe.  Now, contrary to my many other Recipe Swaps, I actually made these pretty much according to the original recipe.  The main difference, because you knew there would be a difference, was that the original recipe called for 3 servings, so I doubled it for our family of 4 and had leftovers.   I also substituted a few ingredients with the ones that I had on hand, but it’s all basically the same.  

I served it for myself with just a simple salad of tomato, cucumber and spinach, while the kids and Grant used some bought pita bread, added some cheese and sour cream as well.  But you need to make sure you add the tahini drizzle.  That’s what really makes this chicken shawarma come to life.  (and yes, I do love tahini, as you’ve seen in my flourless tahini cookies, and my sesame sunbutter energy bites, as well as drizzling it over my omelettata with salsa … but I digress!).

Just in case you were curious, the taste wasn’t quite the same as what Grant and I had in Toronto, but for the lack of any other ideas, we’ll just keep going with this one!  Let me know if you try it out and what you think in the comments below!

Chicken shawarma

(Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 600 g chicken cubed
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 tin diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tahini

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients from black pepper to oil in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat well. Set aside for 15 minutes.

  2. Drizzle the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion.  Saute until soft and almost translucent.  Then add chicken along with the marination and cook the chicken till almost done.

  3. Add in the diced tomatoes and toss well to coat in the stock. Cook till the chicken is well done and the stock is dried. Switch off and allow to cool slightly.

  4. Serve either in pita bread or on a plate with some spinach, cucumber and tomato.  Drizzle the tahini over the meat and salad to get the full taste experience.

Using Middle Eastern spices, this chicken shawarma is a hearty, and tasty, classic meal that the family will love! #shawarma

The classic Hawaiian loco moco made Whole30 compliant

The classic Hawaiian dish of loco moco – made Whole30 compliant – with no grains, gluten, dairy, or sugar!  But oh so yummy!

The classic Hawaiian dish of loco moco - made Whole30 compliant - with no grains, gluten, dairy, or sugar!  But oh so yummy! #locomoco

How many of you have ever visited Hawaii?  We went last year for Christmas, with the whole family – my brother and his family, as well as my family and my parents.  There were 11 of us in one house for 10 days.  But there was a pool.  And a hot tub.  And a kitchen …

Now, whenever Grant and I go somewhere different, we look up on the Internet to find out what the classic foods are for that area.  Remember when we traveled along Route66?  We decided we had to have all things Route66, including pie.  Lots of pie.  And then I get inspired to try to re-create those meals in my own kitchen.  And such was born my own Route66 pile-up, the ugly pie crust and cream filling, chicken parmigiana (using cashews as the ‘breading’) and a Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  All made to meet my special snowflake stomach requirements!

So when we went to Hawaii, I naturally looked up what was the classic Hawaiian food.  And found that Loco Moco was the name of the game.  Traditionally it’s hamburger patties, served over rice, with a macaroni salad, smothered with gravy and topped with a fried egg.  It’s a cholesterol disaster waiting to happen.  One website mentioned you’d be in a calorie coma after eating just one serving of it.  Well, Grant and I tried it.  With ALL the gluten and dairy stuff in it.  You know, just to get an idea of what it does taste like – but we shared a serving.  And couldn’t finish it between the two of us.  Yeah, I felt a little sick after eating this.  But the taste was amazing while eating it, so it was worth trying it. 

But then my brain started whirring around, as it does, and I thought it would be pretty easy to make this more suited to my special snowflake stomach and Whole30 compliant, so one lazy weekend, I announced to the family that we were having a Hawaiian food day.  We started out with some macadamia nut pancakes (just add nuts to this recipe).  And for lunch I made loco moco.  Grant made some concoction of a pina colada for drinks – and then we slept in the afternoon!

Let me tell you how I made this loco moco Whole30 compliant.  It’s based on recipes already on this website – just putting them all together.  For the burger, I used 96% lean ground beef, made this roast meat gravy just on the stovetop, cauliflower rice, my avocado zoodles as a salad and a simple fried egg on top!  But to save you from having to flick through all of those links, I’ve put the recipe just here for your pleasure!

If you’d like to serve it in a styrofoam container, to be just like the Hawaiian version, feel free to do so.  Otherwise, you can dress it up and plate it nicely … It’s a little more complicated than most of my recipes here, but it’s definitely worth it.  Let me know what you think!

Loco moco

(Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

For the zoodles salad

  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 3 medium zucchini

For the burgers

  • 500 g ground beef as lean as desired
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tbs dried herbs (oregano, basil, parsley etc)

For the rice

  • 1 head cauliflower

For the gravy

  • 1 large onion cut into wedges
  • 1 1/2 tbs dried parsley
  • 1 tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbs fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 2 tbs tapioca starch

For the fried egg

  • 1 egg

Instructions

For the zoodle salad

  1. Spiralize zucchini and set aside in a bowl lined with paper towel to absorb excess water. Sprinkle with salt to remove even more moisture and set aside.
  2. Combine all sauce ingredients in a food processor until creamy.

  3. Heat the zucchini noodles in a small amount of oil in a medium frying pan until soft.
  4. Add the sauce mixture and combine with zoodles.

For the burgers

  1. Combine all ingredients well until a mass forms.

  2. Form into 8 patties and chill in fridge for at least an hour.

  3. Add oil of choice to a frying pan or griddle.  Once hot, place the patties on the pan and squash as flat as possible.

  4. Allow to cook approximately halfway through (about 5 mins). Flip and allow to cook to desired done-ness.

For the rice

  1. Remove all leaves and stems from the cauliflower florets.

  2. Process in a food processor until a rice-like texture forms.  This may need to be done in several batches, depending on the size of the cauliflower and the processor.

For the gravy

  1. Saute the onion in a large frying pan until translucent and soft.

  2. In a small bowl (mortar and pestle if needing to crush the spices), combine the remaining ingredients except for the broth and tapioca starch.

  3. Add the broth to the onions and slowly mix in the herb mixture until well coated.

  4. Pour the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.

  5. Place some of the broth in a small bowl with the tapioca starch and mix until a paste is formed.

  6. Place the remaining broth in a small saucepan and slowly pour in the tapioca starch mixture.  Heat the gravy until reduced in volume and thickened to desired consistency.

For the egg

  1. Heat oil of choice in a small frying pan.

  2. Crack the egg and fry until white is cooked and yolk remains runny.

To assemble:

  1. Place the salad to one side of the plate.

  2. Place the rice in a heap, with two of the small hamburger patties on top.

  3. Add the fried egg on top of the patties and pour on the gravy as desired.

The classic Hawaiian dish of loco moco - made Whole30 compliant - with no grains, gluten, dairy, or sugar!  But oh so yummy! #locomoco

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