Copy Cat Primal Kale Salad

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My slightly different version of Smitten Kitchen’s featured recipe this week! If you aren’t familiar with the Smitten Kitchen, I highly suggest stumbling over and getting sucked into her vortex of endless fresh seasonal recipes and heavenly indulgent baked goods. I love this perfectly simplistic kale salad, especially to take to the Santa Monica beach concert to share with friends! And if you are dairy free or paleo simply leave out the pecorino cheese or swap it for a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and you’ve got yourself a delicious dairy-free salad.

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Primal Kale Salad (Slightly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen) (Difficulty-Easy, Serves 4-6)

  • 1/2 c walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/4 c organic dried cranberries
  •  1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 c almond meal
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Coarse or kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch purple kale, washed and patted dry
  • 2 oz pecorino cheese, grated or ground in a food processor, which makes it delightfully rubbly (1/2 cup total) (optional)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

Prepare walnuts: Heat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 7 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop.

Prepare cranberries: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and cranberries for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid.

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Prepare crumbs: Toast almond meal, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.

Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and tear leaves off of the ribs by hand. Stack sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise.

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Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino (if using), walnuts and cranberries (leaving any leftover vinegar mixture in dish), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar mixture from the cranberries, if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with almond meal crumbs and, if needed, a final 1 teaspoon drizzle of olive oil.

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My Accidental Paleo Stir Fry

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I had quite an eventful weekend in San Francisco for the Outside Lands festival (which was epic!), but returned home to an empty refrigerator. So Tuesday, still completely exhausted from our non-stop four days of fun, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work to throw together an easy stir fry. I had my heart set on a pad-thai-like dish with spaghetti squash, shrimp and veggies. I got home, threw the squash into the oven to roast while I started prepping veggies, and only upon pulling the squash out of the oven did I realize that in my brain-dead state I grabbed a butternut squash at the  store. Don’t you just hate when that happens?! So there I was fantasizing about Thai noodles with no noodles. Alas, it was getting late and I was getting hungry so I begrudgingly diced up the squash and threw it into the skillet with the rest of my ingredients. As it turns out, it was happened to be a very tasty stir fry! Generally I opt for the sweet butternut for my favorite rustic Fall dishes, but it went surprisingly well with my Thai inspired creation. Try it out for a new, yet quick, weeknight meal. First I ate the veggies with sautéed shrimp, and then as leftovers I piled them onto a portion of quinoa. Get creative with it!

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Paleo Squash & Broccoli Stir-Fry (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 c gluten-free soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 3 Tbsp organic rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • coarse sea salt

For the Stir-Fry:

  • 2 Tbsp organic virgin coconut oil
  • 3 organic scallions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb organic broccoli, florets and stems diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c organic basil leaves
  • chopped almonds and sesame seeds for topping

 Make the Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Season with salt and sriracha or red chili flakes to taste. I put a lot of sriracha in mine as I LOVE spice!

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Make the Stir-Fry:  Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the squash onto a baking sheet and roast whole for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the scallions and cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and stems and mushrooms and cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Make a well in the center of the veggies and add the coconut to toast. Pour half of the sauce into the veggies and allow to cook down, about 2 minutes.

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Once the squash is roasted and slightly cooled, peel and dice and add into the hot skillet with the remaining sauce and torn basil leaves to finish cooking a few more minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with quinoa, shrimp, or chicken, or your protein of choice. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped almonds for a little crunch.

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Paleo Banana Carrot Muffins

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I sure didn’t appreciate my freezer enough until it was broken and we couldn’t get in touch with our landlord for an entire week to get it fixed! My daily morning protein smoothie became a warmer much less appetizing juice of sorts and all of the food we had in there was quickly defrosting in the Topanga Summer heat. As some of you may know, I really loathe wasting food (thanks to mom! ;)) So when I noticed the  fully thawed shredded carrots in the freezer and the overly ripe bananas on my kitchen counter (I now fully appreciate my frozen bananas), I had to put them to use. I decided to make some banana carrot muffins (sort of similar to my primal carrot cupcakes, but less sweet and without dairy for all you paleo folks) which were a great breakfast alternative while I impatiently waited for frozen fruit to return to my blender.

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Paleo Banana Carrot Muffins (Difficulty-Intermediate; Makes ~12 muffins)

  • 2 c blanched almond flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 organic free-range eggs, at room temp.
  • 1/4 c organic pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin organic coconut oil
  • 1 c organic carrots, grated
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2/3 c coarsely toasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325° F and line a muffin pan.  In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. In the bowl of a stand mixer,  gently mix together eggs, maple syrup, and oil on low speed. Fold the carrots, mashed bananas, and shredded coconut into the wet ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients and fold in the toasted walnuts.

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Divide the batter evenly between 12 cupcake liners. Bake at 325° F for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

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Paleo Picadillo Lettuce Wraps

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I can’t think of any food that screams childhood more than Sloppy Joe’s–okay maybe, Macaroni and Cheese, or better yet, both of these together! But my favorite adult version of sloppy joes is the Latin style Picadillo, which is typically served as filling for tacos or on a sandwich in Latin cultures. But who needs tacos or bread when you can wrap it in lettuce?!  This is a great meal to make in a pinch and will only take you about 30 minutes, fifteen of which you can leave this delicious medley of flavors sitting on the stove to simmer. Picadillo is generally made with ground beef but I opted for ground turkey since my local store always stocks the organic version.

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Picadillo Lettuce Wraps (Adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Diffculty-Easy, Serves 4)

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/4 lbs free-range organic ground turkey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 oz organic tomato paste
  • 1/3 c dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c chopped pimiento-stuffed olives, plus 2 Tbsp olive juice
  • 2 heads organic romaine hearts organic iceberg
  • Sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Add the bay leaves, cumin, chili powder and allspice; toast 1 to 2 minutes to bring out the flavors and fragrance of the spices. Add the turkey, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Cook about 5 minutes, breaking up the meat.

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Add the tomato paste and stir until brick red, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 cups water, the dried cranberries, olives and olive juice. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Serve turkey mixture over rinsed and dried leaves of romaine or iceberg lettuce. Garnish with sliced avocado, if desired.

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Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache

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I made this cake for my roommate’s bakery last summer and it was TO DIE FOR! There is no better indulgence in my mind than a chocolate-y peanut butter treat–whether’s it’s a Reese’s peanut butter cup, chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, or this heavenly pound cake. Of course none of these things are on my Primal diet so when my friend Boomer requested a peanut butter chocolate birthday goody, I jumped at the chance of making this cake again. (I also made Blueberry Lemon bars for the other of this Birthday extravaganza, Stacy). He was having a pool party so for the sake of convenience I made mini bundt cakes, but I have to say I STRONGLY urge you to make this cake in a 10″ tube pan as the batter is just not meant for small spaces. They were adorable and quite tasty, but definitely did not live up to the first result of this recipe. Pound cake is just meant to be consumed in the form of a beautifully tall slice of cake lightly smothered in a thin layer of frosting. Trust me!

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Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting (Adapted from the Penzey’s Catalog) (Difficulty-Medium; Serves 12-14)

For the Cake:

  • 1 c. butter softened
  • 1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 5 cage-free organic eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk

For the Ganache:

  • 12 oz. premium semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream

Make the Cake: Do not preheat oven.  The Penzey’s test kitchen suggests placing the cake in a cold oven.  Lightly grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter.  Add the sugar and beat until light in color.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  The mixture should be light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix the batter until smooth and creamy.  Pour into cake pan.  Place in the cold oven.  Set the oven temperature to 325°F and bake until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean; about 1 hour and 25 minutes.  Please note that all ovens are different, so check the cake’s progress after 1 hour 10 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool completely before icing.

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Make the Ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a small mixing bowl.  Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan until boiling.  Pour over the chocolate and stir until creamy and smooth.  Let cool for 2-3 minutes.  Brush any loose crumbs from the cake.  Place the cooling rack on a clean baking sheet to catch the drips.  Pour the icing evenly over the cake, allowing it to cascade and cover the cake.  Move the cake rack to another clean baking sheet.  Scrape the drips from the first baking sheet, reheat and pour over the cake.

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