Cilantro Carrot Slaw

As a food blogger and creator of recipes I often struggle with how original a recipe needs to be to truly call it my own. When is an altered recipe merely adapted, and when does it become an entirely new creation?

I found this recipe for Carrot and Cilantro Salad shared by Debbie from Easy Natural Food. She got the recipe from Cuisine Magazine and altered the proportions slightly.

When I made my version, I did a little more than alter. I consider it to be an entirely new recipe, albeit strongly inspired by Debbie’s post.

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Since I’m in the middle of a Whole30, I swapped out the honey for 1/2 a shredded pear. I used a variety that is still rather firm upon ripening in order to avoid it turning to mush when I grated it. I’m a major lover of combining cilantro and lime, so I went with lime juice instead of lemon juice. I also drastically decreased the amount of onion in the recipe. I did this mainly because I have a hard time tolerating large amounts of raw onion, but the tangy flavor from the cilantro and onion was just enough. I wouldn’t add more even if I could!
20130710-213725.jpgThis slaw was unexpectedly delicious. It’s always nice to include an entirely raw dish in your menu plan! Whether you want to follow my recipe, Debbie’s recipe, or make up your own, I highly recommend it! And if you have the option, splurge for some organic carrots. In my experience, the organic variety taste infinitely better – a difference I don’t notice between the organic and regular versions of most produce.

Cilantro Carrot Slaw

Serves 2-3

2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 pear, grated (firmer varieties work best)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tbsp onion, minced
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and toss to coat with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Minted Avocado Smoothie

Nick and I used to frequent a salad chain in Hong Kong called Dressed. I’ve stopped going because I found some much better salad spots, but Dressed carries one menu item that can’t be beat: the Minted Avocado Smoothie.

Dressed’s version is made with avocado, yogurt, simple syrup, and mint. I would say it’s inexplicably delicious, but it’s unfortunately quite easy to explain: simple syrup makes everything delicious. Needless to say, I don’t order the smoothie anymore, and especially not during my Whole30!

This homemade version is sugar-free and still refreshing and tasty. It’s extremely different from the original, but still delicious and great for a filling breakfast on-the-go.

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Minted Avocado Smoothie

1 ripe avocado
1 ripe pear
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves
large handful ice

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Depending on the consistency of your coconut milk, your smoothie may be quite thick. Add more ice or water until it reaches the desired consistency.

This recipe is shared on Slightly Indulgent Tuesday. Check it out for great, healthy recipes from my fellow bloggers!

Do What You Pin: Roasted Artichokes

I remember the first time I encountered whole artichokes. I was at dinner at a close friend’s parent’s house, and I mistakenly tried to eat the entire leaf. I felt quite embarrassed at the time, but it’s been over five years since that experience, and I’ve never been served another whole artichoke, so I suppose the rarity of the dish could account for some of my confusion.

When I came across this tutorial for roasted artichokes at Pinch My Salt, knew it was something I wanted to try. I’m always looking for new side dish options, and vegetable sides are especially important during my Whole30, when I can’t fill a third of my plate with a grain.

Here’s what I started with:

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I cut off the top third of the artichokes…

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…and the stems…

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…and stuffed them with garlic cloves. I then drizzled lemon juice, olive oil, and salt over the artichokes and wrapped them in tin foil smeared with more olive oil.

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Into the oven they go!

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I cooked them for an hour and they came out PERFECTLY.

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I’ve only had whole artichokes twice in my life, but these were the best ones I’ve ever had. The hearts were indescribably delicious. And eating the roasted cloves of garlic cooked in the center wasn’t a chore either. 🙂

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I’ll definitely be serving these the next time I cook for my family or friends. Such a great food for a dinner party! Check out Pinch My Salt for a great tutorial to make your own!

Pumpkin and Beetroot Salad

One thing that is very important to me during my Whole30 is the inclusion of vegetarian meals. One of the main complaints of those trying out the Paleo diet is that their cholesterol levels go up considerably. While Paleo’s biggest supporters claim this is nothing to worry about, I tend to disagree. Am I okay with my cholesterol going up a little on this diet? Yes. Am I going to actively encourage it to go up? Of course not! I still want to include a fair number of low-cholesterol, vegetarian meals in my Paleo diet, just like I do when I’m on my standard gluten-free, sugar-free diet.

That being said, getting enough calories from a Paleo, vegetarian meal is far from a guarantee. I need to ensure that I’m still getting sufficient energy without beans, grains, and dairy, which I typically use to fill out vegetarian meals and make them more hearty.

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This Pumpkin and Beet Salad is a Paleo version of one of my favorites, and it’s quite filling. I got the original recipe from two friends when they both showed up at a BBQ with similar versions of the dish. I’m not sure which one of them came up with it first, but they had shared it with each other enough times to know it would be a crowd pleaser.

Typically when I make this dish I sauté the pumpkin in butter and sprinkle a liberal amount of crumbled goat cheese over the finished product. I do plan to go back to that version someday, but this one is a wonderful Whole30 compromise! The recipe was already vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, and sugar-free, but the changes also make it dairy-free and vegan, which certainly never hurts when cooking for a large crowd. You never know when you’ll be the hero of the potluck for the guest who arrived thinking he would only be able to eat his own dish.

Pumpkin and Beetroot Salad

serves 1

1 and 1/2 cups pumpkin, in 1-2″ cubes
1 large roasted beet
2 cups spinach, washed and drained
large handful raw sunflower seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
balsamic vinegar to taste (optional)

Coat pumpkin in coconut oil and roast for 15 minutes at 400F. For last 3-4 minutes, sprinkle sunflower seeds over pumpkin.

While pumpkin cooks, chop beet into 1″ cubes. Combine in serving bowl with spinach, and mix in warm pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Serve with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Add vinegar if desired.

This recipe is shared on this week’s Wellness Weekend.

California Quinoa Salad

I love cold quinoa salad. It’s the perfect substitution for pasta salad at a barbecue or for a light summer dinner.

20130621-141514.jpgThe flavors in this vegan dish remind me of California – fresh and breezy. It’s quick and easy to make and it’s a great way to sneak some raw kale into your diet! For an extra treat, serve with avocado halves!

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California Quinoa Salad

serves 3 as an entree, 6-8 as a side dish

measurements are approximate

3-4 cups cooked quinoa (make 1 cup dry quinoa to yield this amount)
1 can salad beans, drained and rinsed (I used a mix of kidney, pinto, and garbanzo)
2 cups kale, finely chopped
1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa ahead of time, so it has time to cool. I made mine the day before and kept it in the fridge.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

I have shared this recipe with this week’s Wellness Weekend and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Middle Eastern Tapas

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes make what we called “appetizers for dinner.” Now that we’re all a little more worldly, I’ve put two and two together and realize that it was tapas! How sophisticated we were, without even knowing it. 😉

I had the evening free last night, so I decided to try out two new recipes. It ended up being a scaled down version of “appetizers for dinner” centered around a cuisine that I can’t get enough of: Middle Eastern. The two recipes I used as my guide were this babaganoush recipe from Ellie Krieger at Food Network and this falafel recipe from Angela at Vegangela. If you’d like to make the recipes, you can find them by following the links above!

Both recipes involved prepping quite a few ingredients, so I put the quinoa on for the falafel and threw the eggplant in the oven. While they cooked, I got all my chopping done!

IMG_1897Gotta love mise en place! It really does make cooking so much easier. The quinoa and eggplant finished around the same time. I set the quinoa to the side to cool and got to work scooping the gooey insides out of the eggplant and into the blender!

IMG_1903I made the babaganoush first and set it aside to work on the falafel. Following the advice of the recipe, I made the avocado tahini dressing and then started on the falafel patties. This version is unique in that it uses quinoa for a light, airy texture. AND it uses cilantro, my absolute favorite herb. After sauteing the garlic and onion, I mixed all the ingredients together and started frying!

IMG_1906For my readers with IC – you may be freaking out looking at all that onion on my chopping board. Well, I was too. I ended up putting in only about a half of the onion I chopped (for a total of about 1/4 of a medium onion in the falafel mix) and added some extra garlic instead. Extra garlic in place of onion is a trick I use in almost every recipe I make. If you’re super sensitive, you can just leave the onion out altogether and add as much garlic as you want!

The only other change I made to the recipe was using real eggs in place of the vegan variety.

I wanted a fresh and light drink to contrast with the rich flavors of my meal, so I blended up a few slices of watermelon. Yum! the perfect “cocktail” to go with my tapas.

IMG_1919Finally, I chopped some red pepper and carrot slices for dipping.

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IMG_1924My tapas meal was so satisfying! I will definitely make both recipes again, using considerably less lemon in the babaganoush (Don’t you love it when a dish tastes better without an ingredient you’re supposed to avoid!?!) and ditching the avocado tahini sauce – I’ll probably go with a tzatziki type sauce next time. The good news is I have lots of cilantro left – perhaps some Vietnamese food tomorrow? 🙂

Do you ever make tapas style dishes at home? What are your favorites?