Pumpkin Curry Soup (Whole30)

Oooh it feels so good to be writing again! Especially about food, and makeup! I know I sort of disappeared without a trace after posting very regularly for half the year, but now I’m back. Long story short: I unexpectedly got a job offer and have been working full time since the end of June! I’m incredibly happy with the work I’ve been doing in my professional life and am finally ready to resume the blog life. Nobody cares about all the things people write before the food anyway, so let’s get to it.

It’s getting cold in Oregon and we still don’t have a working furnace, so last week I whipped up this curried pumpkin soup and it was freaking delicious so now I’m sharing it with you.

You will need:
Large stock pot
Immersion blender (I’ve had this one for five years and use it at least once/week)
Large cooking spoon
Medium bowl
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Ladle for serving

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Tandoori Chicken Tacos

In the freezer aisle of my local New Seasons, there is a Tandoori Chicken Burrito that I crave like nobody’s business. Not too long ago, after a particularly rough week, I actually cried because I wanted one so badly. Side note: if that’s not food addiction, I don’t know what is. The problem with this burrito is that it’s packed with rice, it’s rolled in a wheat tortilla, and it’s frozen too so it’s got tons of salt and who knows what else. Nick was right, it was definitely time to make my own version.

Even though rice is an occasional part of my personal paleo, I didn’t want to use it here and I wasn’t really interested in subbing it for cauliflower rice either so I decided to go for tacos instead of burritos. I decided to top these off with my favorite coconut milk yogurt and caramelized onions, but my onion jam or pickled onions would have been great too! Have fun and make them your own. Also, if you’re doing Whole30, don’t be bummed about skipping the tortillas, this easy Tandoori-style chicken is great on its own or in a salad.


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Healthy Homemade Popcorn

Let’s clear the air real quick: corn is a grain, not a vegetable, which means it’s not paleo. I am aware of this, but with so many food restrictions for health reasons, I’m gonna take what I can get. Corn does not seem to have any negative impact on me so, when not on Whole30, it makes an occasional appearance in my personal paleo lifestyle. I did just start a new round of Whole30, so this glorious creation is out of reach for me for a hot minute, but if you’re doing your own thing then fire up the pan and get popping.

What goes together better than movies and popcorn? Pretty much nothing, that’s what. Unfortunately the stuff you get in theaters, or at the store, is usually loaded with artificial colors, artificial flavors, and even soybean oil. We talk a lot about not eating those things for our physical health, but mental health is an important part of our dietary choices too. To bring some light to the topic, this post is in collaboration with my friend Simon, the brains behind The Depressed Moviegoer blog. I whipped up this healthier version of a film buff must-have to keep us feeling good no matter what we’re watching, so fire up your streaming device of choice and grab a big bowl of your own homemade popcorn.


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Homemade Whole30 Mayo

Russians consume more mayonnaise than any other population in the world, so I guess it’s not that much of a surprise that it is probably my favorite condiment of all time. Unfortunately, the store-bought mayonnaise options are pretty lacking in quality, taste, price or any combination of the three. You can go the super processed route which is affordable, but usually features gems like soybean oil and corn syrup. You could also hit the “middle of the road” guys that are a little healthier, but typically still contain sugar and are made with low-quality fats like sunflower oil. Alternatively, you can go the all-natural direction which starts to smell bad before you’re halfway through the jar you spent $10 on. So, I make my own mayo now.

At first, the thought of homemade mayonnaise sounded pretty crazy, but then again… so did making my own mustard and I’ve been doing that for years. Mayonnaise is actually impressively easy to make and comes together very quickly – even if it might take you a few tries to get it right the first time. Once you finally get it right, it’s pretty hard to argue against making it yourself when this homemade two-minute version is always going to be Whole30 and 21 Day Sugar Detox compliant.

Bacon, guacamole, and tomato tacos with homemade mayo!

Still, I was not expecting this to be one of, if not the very best, mayos I have ever tried, but I am quite sure I will never purchase prepared mayonnaise again. I can’t wait to make my Easiest Chicken Ever and Deviled Eggs with this! And yep, it’s incredible in tuna salad too.

kasandrinos organic extra virgin greek olive oil

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Heritage: Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff (Paleo)

Despite our shared Russian roots, beef stroganoff is not a dish I ate often growing up – I don’t really remember eating it ever to be honest. That all changed a few years ago when Portland was graced with Kachka, the Russian/Ukrainian restaurant brain child of James Beard-nominee Bonnie Morales. I say this with no exaggeration: that beef stroganoff is one of my favorite dishes ever. The noodles are perfectly cooked, it’s creamy and unctuous, loaded with mushrooms, and topped with crispy but unbelievably tender beef tongue. Unfortunately, it’s also loaded with cream (and pasta obviously), which makes it a very delicious way to make myself feel very terrible. It was time to make my own version.

While I didn’t use beef tongue for my homemade version, I did whip out the instant pot to get us some seriously tender meat while drastically cutting down on cooking time (and cutting out all the time needed to peel a boiled cow tongue). I opted for Banza chickpea rotini as my pasta of choice – chickpeas don’t really seem to bother me and so are an occasional part of my personal paleo. If chickpeas don’t sit well with you, this will work just as well with Tolerant red lentil rotini or any other gluten-free pasta that works for your body. Both brands are available on Thrive Market as well as some grocery stores.

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Thai-ish Spicy Pineapple Chicken (Paleo)

It’s been years since I last ate the real thing at a college favorite spot back in Philadelphia, but recently I’ve been having crazy cravings for this Thai-style spicy pineapple chicken!

The main ingredients are pretty straightforward and I finally knuckled down to create my own version of this amazing sauce. I know the real stuff has tons of sugar and is also usually packed with soy; my version just uses a touch of honey and a splash of coconut aminos, but it still hit the spot to satisfy a five year craving.

Now that the weather is finally drying out and warming up, I’m making skewers, but this also works great as a stir-fry so feel free to switch gears if you don’t have a grill or don’t feel like cleaning it while your partner is away for four weeks.
Note: we’ve got a natural gas grill so my recipe will make mention of high and medium heat. You can absolutely make this on a charcoal grill as well.

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Curry for One (Whole30)

As you may already know, I live with my boyfriend Nick, and while he is an absolutely wonderful human, there are few who can stand to eat curry as often as I crave it. This has led to a lot of “protein two ways” dinners, but this dish in particular, featuring my Thai red curry for one, is definitely a household favorite (this is my other favorite).

The meatballs in this dish are so low maintenance that we can easily put together a quick dinner for two even when we want completely different meals.

If you’re tracking macros or have dietary restrictions for religious reasons, turkey or dark meat chicken make a fantastic alternative for the pork we usually use.

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The Perfect Steamed Egg

You guys know I love eggs. I mean, it’s literally in my name. I’ve got a lot of egg recipes here, but my Perfect Boiled Eggs are probably what I refer back to most – I use them in so many recipes (like my Top Secret Deviled Eggs)! I’m pleased to report, I now have a new and even better Perfect Egg than the OG. Let me introduce you to Perfect Steamed Eggs.

Sometimes, even when I want to eat my boiled eggs, I just do not feel like making them. I don’t feel like dealing with the boiling or the baking soda and I don’t feel like dealing with the immersion circulator either. So what’s an egg-needing person to do? Steam ’em! Yes, you read that correctly. You can steam “boil” your eggs, and not only are they a good substitute, they might be the best boiled eggs I’ve ever had. Plus, they are incredibly easy to peel, no baking soda necessary.

You can use these wherever you would normally use boiled eggs – as a quick snack, for deviled eggs, egg salad, or anywhere else that a medium-boiled egg might taste good.

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Heritage: Salted Caramel Halva Bites (Paleo)

I didn’t get too much of a reaction from my dad when I first told him about my Heritage: Upgraded series that I was going to start writing. My parents mean well, but I talk about food basically non-stop and I think sometimes they just smile and nod so I shut up.

Turns out, dad was just deep in thought because I got a call from him a few days later with a very specific request: halva, but healthier. A paleo halva. Halva, if you didn’t know, is a very popular Israeli/Middle Eastern dessert usually made from tahini or sesame paste.

I started researching halva and how to make it and when I realized that even Molly Yeh struggled to get it right, I figured it was time to adapt it to something more in my wheelhouse.

definitely in my wheelhouse

Halva aside, my dad has a serious sweet tooth and one thing I know he absolutely loves is caramel. More specifically, сгущёнка (“sgushyenka,” if you will). It’s made from boiling sweetened condensed milk in the can for several hours and is about as far from “clean eating” as you could possibly get. Note: Sgushyenka might sound alien to you, but you probably know it as its Latin American equivalent – dulce de leche.

Luckily, doing what I do, I recently received a very lovely package from The Date Lady crew including their coconut caramel sauce. This was shortly followed by some of the best tahini I’ve ever had in my life from Soom Foods, based in my hometown. Light bulbs, alarm bells, you name it, everything just clicked in my head and I had The Idea.

How do I combine my dad’s favorite things in a way that I actually want to eat it, and is also in a set size so we can’t just eat the whole jar with a spoon in one sitting? Not that that has ever happened…

Fudge. Freaking fudge, that’s how.

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No-Grill Roasted Peppers

love roasted peppers. I particularly love spicy roasted peppers like Anaheim or jalapeño and when it gets warm, I want them on everything. A great quickie accompaniment to just about any meal, these no-grill no-gas oven-roasted peppers are so easy and you can make them no matter what your grilling setup or pepper preference may be! This probably could have been a Five Minute Friday post, but I was excited and wanted to share in time for an extra day off and the sunny weather.

If you live somewhere that prohibits grill use, just don’t have one, don’t have a gas range, or any combination of the above: I got you. With an electric stove top and Oregon rain, classic roasted peppers are not always an option. Thankfully, these only take a few minutes and will last in the fridge for at least a few days, that is, if you manage to have any leftovers.

Equipment:
Oven
Large bowl (metal or glass)
Plastic wrap or ziplock bag
Tongs

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Primal Party Platter

My sister was just in town so some indulgences were to be expected. That said, I also didn’t want to feel like crap while she was here (or ever, really) so let’s talk about eating primal and how to make the perfect party platter.

Primal is similar in framework to the paleo “diet” with a few differences. The main one, or at least the main one of importance to me, is the inclusion of full-fat dairy. I’ve developed an intolerance to “cow juice” in my old age, but seem to have no issues inhaling cheeses made from sheep or goat milks. Paleo prohibits dairy, and as cheese is a “gateway drug” for me, I tend to adhere to this prohibition pretty rigidly (not without longing for cheese, but nevertheless, I do stick to it). If you are interested in learning more about the Primal lifestyle in general, I highly recommend checking out this infographic from Mark’s Daily Apple.

Now before everybody gets up in arms about me saying this is primal, just remember the title of this post. It’s not a primal every day platter, is it? No? Good, glad we got that out of the way. If it makes you feel better, you can call it Primal+ or Paleo+ – I actually really like that. Paleo+. Cool segue, let’s move on.

As one tends to do when friends and family are in town, exceptions will be made! This past weekend, some friends came over for a raucous GIRLZ ONLY night, by which I mean we ate cheese, drank cider and watched Thor: Ragnarok. How to make this cheese + charcuterie board, you ask? Well you’ve come to the right place!

The cornerstone of a great platter is this: typically when working with cheeses, you should choose one each of the following – hard, soft, creamy, funky/blue, and “alternative” milk (such as goat cheese). Since we already established above that we’re not kickin’ it with the cow juice, I’ve adjusted this generally fool-proof formula to just include one hard cheese, one soft cheese (or maybe two), and something funky.

I’ve paired it with a few condiments and a few meat options – both store-bought and homemade in each of these categories, along with some nuts, honey, and paleo+ crackers.

Let’s get to it.

kasandrinos organic extra virgin greek olive oil

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Paleo Peanut Butter Pupsicles

Summer is upon us, or at least… it’s coming kind of soon, and the sun is seriously strong here in Oregon. We’ve got fans in every room and two AC’s, but sometimes my four-legged child wants a special treat just like us humans do! What’s a dog mom to do? Make pupsicles of course! They’re the perfect grain-free + frozen dog treats for any hot hound.

Franklin, like many dogs – like many pitbulls – has some serious allergies. They’re mostly environmental, but food can play a big part in that. Seeing my pupper scratching himself raw because he’s so itchy just breaks my heart. Even with medication, it’s not uncommon for Frank to draw blood from scratching so hard and he chews his paws constantly.

Per our vet, we don’t feed him gluten/grains or poultry/foul, and by choice we feed him a raw diet that we get from a great brand called Northwest Naturals. The progress in his skin and hair growth over the last six months has been unreal, but his allergies aren’t something that have an “end”. This has been and is going to be a lifelong issue for him and it’s up to us to do what we can to make him feel more comfortable.

I mention all of this as a preface to explain why on earth I’m making my own dog treats. While it’s gotten much easier to find single ingredient dog treats like dehydrated or freeze-dried animal parts, any biscuit-style goodies are pretty much out of the question. Not only are they often packed with rice, barley, or chicken, they also can have added sugar. What on earth does Franklin need molasses for? That’s a trick question – he doesn’t. Please don’t give your dog pure sugar.

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