The Secret to Real Deal Tostones

Posted on May 21, 2014 | 0 comments

There’s a Puerto Rican restaurant in San Rafael, CA that makes the best gluten free steak sandwich using tostones in place of bread. The instant I had it, I knew I wanted to make a healthy version at home.

I failed. Miserably. Enter Giselle of Eco Rico TV. As soon as I knew I was headed down to L.A. to film in the studios, I wanted her to come on the show and teach me how to make tostones the real-deal way. She taught me the #1 secret to successful tostones: salt water! Watch the video to see how they’re done. 

I made one teeny adjustment that did not alter the excellence of the end result. In place of vegetable oil, I used coconut (swoon!)

Next time you come across cheap green plantains, buy ‘em up and fry ‘em up! You won’t be sorry. 

Tostones aka Fried Green Plantains
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  1. 4 green plantains
  2. coconut oil (enough to cover a 2 inch chunck of plantains)
  3. 1 bowl of heavily salted water
  4. salt (for seasoning at the end)
  1. Heavily salt a bowl of water. It should taste a hair less salty than the ocean.
  2. Peel your plantains (watch video for instructions) and cut into 3-4 inch chuncks.
  3. Add to your salted water.
  4. Heat your oil over medium heat. When a splash of water produces 5-6 fast bubbles, you're ready to go.
  5. Add the plantains. The oil should be fizzing like soda carbonation. Fry until they are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  6. Strain onto a paper towel lined plate, and wait to cool.
  7. When cool enough to handle, smash them.
  8. Add back to salt water for a fast dunk, then into the oil again.
  9. Fry until golden brown and crispy looking at the edges.
  10. Strain, season with salt, and mangia!
In The Kitchen Keepin' It Real

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One Dairy Item You Might be Avoiding Unnecessarily

Posted on May 15, 2014 | 1 comment

Clarified butter, also known as ghee, is one dairy item you might be avoiding without needing to. The process of clarifying butter makes it more conducive to digestion because you’ve removed the lactose and casein, which are two components of dairy that cause allergic reactions in some people. You know your body best, and it’s up to you to figure out if this works for you. 

Ghee is delicious, stable at high temperatures due to it being a saturated fat, and helps make the nutrient content of your vegetables more bioavailable (ditto this for all healthy fats). It’s so easy to make and considering the high price tag, worth the effort. If you’re illness prevents you from standing at the stove for a long time, set a timer to go off at 15 minutes and check it periodically for the signs of readiness (illustrated in the video below). There is a point of no return, but you can easily catch it before then if you know your stove, cookware, and threshold for standing.

How to Clarify Butter AKA Ghee
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  1. 2 pounds grass fed butter (Strauss is 100% grass fed; Kerry Gold is 99% and more cost effective).
  1. Bring butter to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. After 2-3 minutes turn the heat down to medium-low. The milk solids will start to rise to the top, separating from the butter; then it will foam. Let it continue cooking until the foam turns a golden brown color and milk solids drop to the bottom of the sauce pan. (Watch the video to see what this looks like).
  3. Use a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth into a clean jar to strain it. Can be stored at room temperature and will keep up to a month.
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Spring Asparagus + Arugula Fritatta

Posted on May 7, 2014 | 1 comment

Sing the above lines with a the Lion King “hakuna matata” and then think: what a wonderful egg.

Today’s recipe celebrates three of my favorite (spring) foods: eggs from pastured chickens, arugula from my  home garden, and asparagus—swoon.

Chronic illness cooking tip: it only has three ingredients (not counting salt + pepper) and you can make a huge one to keep around for a snack, easy breakfast, and full meal when paired with soup or salad. Not only that, but I make it during what I call “oven opportunities:”  oven’s already on and hot, roasting away veggies, or  baking some gluten free cookies and I’ll whip up a fritatta. BEWM! Breakfast, lunch, or dinner ready to go without much extra work. 

These days the abundance in my life has be swooning, and I’m so grateful for each and every one of you that reads, watches, and supports me. LOVE YOU!

Spring Asparagus Arugula Fritatta
Three ingredient (dairy free) spring fritatta to make easy work of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Swap out whatever veggies are seasonal and fresh and BEWM, delicious nutritious and swoon heavenly good.
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  1. 3 pasture-raised eggs
  2. 6 tbsp almond milk
  3. 1/2 bunch asparagus, blanched
  4. 1 cup arugula, chopped
  5. salt + pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F/190C.
  2. Blanch your asparagus by cooking them in salted boiling water for 90 seconds. (No need to use the cold water bath method).
  3. Beat eggs with almond milk and season the mixture with salt + pepper (salt's homie) before adding the chopped arugula and blanched asparagus.
  4. Add everything to a tart pan and bake until the top puffs up, looks light golden brown, and doesn't jiggle in a wet way towards the center.
  5. Let cool, slice, and swoon.
  1. The above amounts are what I used in this video. My tart pan is 7.5 inches wide by 1 inch high. It made 6 servings out of three eggs, so you're not eating as much as a whole egg in a sitting. I went heavy on the vedge (always do). If you're scaling up, add 2 Tbsp of milk for every egg, and more veggies until the proportions look right. Trust your gut. It's very hard to screw this up. If there are less veggies, there will be more egg. Don't under season. Salt is your friend (Celtic especially). Put a swoon-ful of sriracha on the top and fuhggedaboutit!
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Last Weeks’ Video + Cookbook Review

Posted on Apr 29, 2014 | 0 comments

If you haven’t already, sign up for the email newsletter to stay up-to-date with the content that I publish here. (Black and white signup box to the right). As I mentioned, I’m going to be fading out the RSS subscriber feed, and in its place will be the email list. 

As many of you know, health has been an uphill battle these days. Last week I made caramelized onions for an easy umami boost to breakfast, lunch, and dinner (chronic illness code for adding huge flavor without huge effort), and this week I’m reviewing the recent release of Jenny McGruther’s cookbook, The Nourished Kitchen. For years I wanted her to release a cookbook; my dream has come true at last! In short, it belongs in your kitchen.

The Nourished Kitchen Cookbook is a collection of not only mouth-watering recipes, but also endangered knowledge about traditional food and its preparation techniques. Buying this book is making an investment in your health, the earth’s health, and the health of future generations. Not to mention adding serious swoon heavenly deliciousness to your cookbook collection.

PS. I am in no way affiliated with Jenny and do not receive anything for my endorsement of her work. Even if I did, you will always get the real scoop with me. 

Forgive the delay in getting the onions to you. And check out the nourished kitchen’s blog for a taste of Jenny’s awesomeness.

Hope you’re feeling as well as possible! Ciao XO. 

Caramelized Onions
Want to boost the umami of savory dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Add caramelized onions and it shall be done.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
  1. Any quantity of onions you have on hand; shallots are particularly wonderful.
  2. Butter, ghee, and/or olive oil
  3. 2 pinches of salt
  1. Slice your onions, 1/8 inch thick.
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil together over low heat in a large skillet. If using ghee, no need to add olive oil.
  3. Saute the onions slowly, over low heat, until they turn golden brown and sweeten. You'll want to turn them over every 5 or 10 minutes to make sure they're getting evenly browned.
  4. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge all week.
Use caramelize onions in
  1. omelets, egg scrambles, and frittatas
  2. on sandwiches
  3. atop pizza
  4. as a garnish on soup with toasted nuts
  5. in warm salads
  6. or cold salads
  7. on steak (swoon!)
  8. or burgers
  9. or any veggie dish that you want to make taste more amazing.
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Napa Cabbage Salad + Pan Seared Wild Salmon

Posted on Apr 16, 2014 | 0 comments

First things first: if you want to continue hearing from me in about a month or so, signing up for my email list (with the black and white box to the right) is the action to take. I’m working behind-the-scenes to transition this space to a new domain, and eventually, my content won’t be shared via RSS feed. So sign up now to be sure you’re staying in the loop. If that’s what you want, of course. 

This week was better by degrees, but only slightly. I pushed to appear lively and upbeat in this video since it was sponsored by Explore-Asian!  It’s very exciting to have a sponsored video to share with you, and I do hope you give these noodles a try (details for how to purchase and find out more are in the video’s description box). I wouldn’t share a recipe or product with you that I myself didn’t love; my promise to you is that I’ll always give you the real scoop. (#KIR)

That said, when these noodles arrived, instead of being long and pasta-length, they were short and broken. Form needed to be considered for their grand finale—so I went with this napa cabbage, carrot, radish, brown jasmine rice pasta salad with pan seared salmon in a lemon ginger “soy” dressing. The recipe has been ever-so-slightly (but barely) adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks called “Raising The Salad Bar” by Catherine Walthers, an ode to salads in their every form. I went there for inspiration, and ended up tweaking one recipe that caught my eye to make it healthier and one hundred percent gluten free. If you’re paleo, omit the noodles altogether. If you’re vegan, (get with the program! Just kidding, kinda) omit the salmon. Whatever you are, enjoy!

Napa Cabbage Brown Rice Salad + Pan Seared Wild Salmon
Napa cabbage, radish, carrot, and brown jasmine rice pasta salad with pan seared salmon in a lemon "soy" ginger dressing; slam dunk dinner and makes excellent leftovers.
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For the Salad
  1. 1 head napa cabbage, sliced thinly
  2. 1/2 bunch scallions, sliced diagonally
  3. 2 carrots, shredded (food processor shred blade makes easy work of this)
  4. 8 radishes, shredded (ditto the above for carrots)
  5. 1 package of Explore-Asian's Brown Jasmine Rice pasta Noodles
  6. 2 large wild salmon fillets, enough to make four fillets the size of your fist (with skin)
  7. salt + pepper (always, right?)
  8. 2 Tbsp ghee
For The Dressing
  1. 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  2. 1/4 cup avocado oil
  3. 3.5 Tbsp coconut aminos* (see note below)
  4. juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil for the noodles.
  2. While the water is boiling, prepare the salad by thinly slicing the cabbage, slicing the scallions on the diagonal, and using the shred blade on your food processor to make easy work of getting the carrots + radishes cut down (takes less than 30 seconds). If you don't have a food processor, cut them into matchsticks. By now, the water should be boiling and your pasta can go into the pool.
  3. Cook the noodles according to their package instructions. They promise to be "always al dente" and they were when I cooked them according to the directions, AND when I overcooked them a second time.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the salmon with salt + pepper. Add the ghee to the pan and wait for the fat to shimmer. Place the salmon skin side down on the skillet and cook until the skin is lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Flip the fillets when they move easily with the slight nudge of the spatula, and transfer to the oven to continue cooking. The fish is finished when it flakes easily, and when the flesh looks like a milky MaiTai instead of a papaya.
  6. While the fish cooks, make the dressing.
  7. In a small fry pan, heat the avocado oil (which handles high heat exceptionally well) and add the fresh ginger. When the ginger begins to brown, remove from heat and add to a small mixing bowl.
  8. Add the coconut aminos, lemon juice, and whisk. Taste. Do you like? What does it need? Maybe more lemon juice. Adjust the flavors until they are just right.
  9. By now, everything should be ready. Toss the salad in a large bowl. Add to individual plates. Remove the salmon from the oven and portion it onto the salads. Spoon heaping amounts of dressing onto the fish and salad and prepare to swoon.
  1. Coconut aminos are a healthier, gluten free alternative to soy sauce. They can be ordered online, or found at Whole Foods. I love them.
Adapted from Raising The Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers
Adapted from Raising The Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers
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Cooking with Chronic Illness Part III: Spring Parsley Pesto Recipe

Posted on Apr 9, 2014 | 5 comments

Before anything else, I need to tell you that I’ve taken away the “subscribe” option to my blog and added an email list sign-up instead. If you want to continue receiving updates from me, please opt-in to the glaring black and white box to your right (design is a work in prog). I’ll be changing the format of my website, and migrating it to a new domain soon, and if you’re not on the list, you won’t keep hearing from me. This is a great time to clean me out of your inbox if you’ve secretly been wanting to! 

For reasons I do not know, my health is in the gutter. I’ve got full-blown flu symptoms without the flu. I’ve got an inkling of an idea about why (Herxheimer reaction) but cannot be sure. BLECH.

Times like these mean I pull from my “cooking with chronic illness” arsenal of tricks. Make one thing; use it in as many ways as possible. 

Two weeks ago, I told the story of how I completely lost my grip on moderation and went haywire overdosing on carbohydrates during a trip to New York (years ago). I showed everyone how to make this incredible parsley pesto pizza; the main attraction was the crust (obvio) and the story.  Today, I’m showing you the parsley pesto. It’s as easy as breathing, which is crucial, since even that is taking its toll on me these days. 

I’ve omitted the cheese and garlic because the effort to add those two ingredients exceeds my current capacity, and  it’s just as tasty without it. But if you have the energy to peel garlic and grate cheese, and your digestion tolerates it, do it! 

As promised, there is a ten-long list of ways to use this one sauce. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sky is the limit. Tweak it ever so slightly each day to make it feel fresh and brand new. 


Spring Parsley Pesto
Spring Parsley Pesto that was featured in the gluten free pizza recipe (so yum) two weeks ago.
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Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
3 min
Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
3 min
For A Big Batch
  1. 4 cups fresh parsley leaves (2 bunches)
  2. 2/3 cup pine nuts (cashews, walnuts, and almonds work too)
  3. 1 cup olive oil
  4. 1 or 2 anchovy fillets (optional, but not really. See notes below)
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (if desired)
  1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Blend until you have the consistency you want. Keep it chunky if that pleases you. Make it smooth if that's what floats your boat.
  3. Notes
  1. The traditional way to make pesto involves banging all the ingredients into a sauce with a mortar and pestle (something I quite enjoy when health allows). The method above (using the food processor) is for when this is out of the question.
  2. Whatever greens you like can be made into pesto. Dandelion greens, spinach, arugula, watercress, basil, parsley, cilantro. There is no limit; no green that can't be sauced.
Use in the following ways
  1. 1. Green eggs + ham! Beat into your eggs for a tasty green scramble. Add spinach (cooks in less than 30 seconds, and feta if you tolerate cheese, or thin slices of ham that's been lightly browned in the pan. Swoon yum).
  2. 2. Make toast, poach eggs, and pour some of this pesto atop both. Swoon!
  3. 3. Make shorty pasta (like penne, casarecce, or rotini) with lots of veggies (green beans, kale, onions) and toss in the sauce. Add toasted nuts, a shower of freshly grated cheese, and a splash of fresh lemon juice to freshen it up for the next day's lunch.
  4. 4. Use as a marinade for chicken cutlets pounded out thinly for fast cooking times. Ditto that for some shrimpies, or fish. Be sure to crush some fresh garlic for added ooomph.
  5. 5. Use as a pizza sauce, as I did in video linked above!
  6. 6. Spread on toasted sandwich bread (instead of mustard or mayo) and use leftover chicken cutlets for an easy sandwich. Have with a side salad or soup for a nourishing meal.
  7. 7. Mix in some lemon juice and red wine vinegar and use as a salad dressing.
  8. 8. Mix into homemade aioli and use as a dip for boiled vegetables. Yum!
  9. 9. Store in ice trays in fridge to defrost for future chronic illness emergency days.
  10. 10. Make croutons with stale gluten free bread. Toss in the sauce, and bake until the bread is dried out and crunchy. Keep in airtight container and add to salads for crunch and vibrancy.
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My First Kiss (+ Caesar Dressing from Scratch)

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 | 1 comment

Caesar was the first dressing I loved. It opened the door to what would become a lifelong love of salads. Just as a first kiss opens a door inside us, one that will lead us down a path of further exploring and deciding and identity forming, caesar salad opened my world to the magic of dressed lettuce. It was creamy and crunchy at the same time; it was salty and sweet. It was my go-to. A healthy food that seemed downright sinful. Reliable, ubiquitous, it could be counted on. This recipe is so closely related to aioli, and scratch-made mayo, that if you know how to make it, you know how to make those too. Ingredients differ by degrees (lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar). 
The sun is low in the sky; a strong breeze, bordering on wind, blows my hair into my face, getting caught in my mouth as I talk, as we walk. iIt’s fall. or at least that’s what the memory says; a memory that drifts like the tide.  School has just begun. Eighth grade in an ocean town. Always a breeze.
We’re walking home from school, holding hands. We know what’s going to happen. We haven’t decided it, but we know. It’s time. In eighth grade talk, word travels. notes exchanged, questions asked and answered. “Have you and P kissed yet? circle Y or N.” We’re ready for this.
The playground is ghosted, after hours. Empty swings and monkey bars, black tar and rubber ground. this tall boy, his softness. In voice, face, and hair. the color of unripe strawberries. my belly, a bundle of jitters. the imminent act unspoken, but known. We’re about to do this! We’re about to kiss!
I think about my lips as i talk, the hair getting caught in the corners of my mouth, the tongue inside. I’ve licked these lips clean after garlicky bread; I’ve used them to spit loogies straight to the curb. I’ve pressed them to the brow of my infant sleeping brother as I’ve inhaled the yum of his baby breath. But never this.
I look at his lips. the target is set. Stepping closer, we embrace each other’s waists, before joining faces. The kiss is both a question and an answer. This is your tongue? Because I love you. It’s not a fumble. it’s a flow, a warmth that fills me. It’s opposites at once; like pizza crust, it’s crisp beginning and doughy yield. The taste is minty, and organic. The breath is near, scented slightly like his skin. The blank slate being filled in.
I don’t remember how long we tongued in that empty schoolyard, or if we did it more than once. I don’t remember if we spoke afterwards, or how we got home (though of course I know we walked). I don’t remember saying goodbye, or agreeing to our next rendezvous.
I do remember that we both obsessively loved pearl jam; Eddie Vedder was our god, b-sides and bootlegs were our lifeblood. I remember that our kiss became my personal secret. something that was mine alone, and this piece of me that was private empowered me. I felt alive in a new way. Somewhere inside I knew that if I could kiss and keep it to myself, I could never be fully conquered.
I ate a caesar salad every friday night for more than two years. If it was on a menu, I ordered it. I probably ate more caesar salads than I gave kisses. Caesar paved the way to further salad exploration. If caesar was this good, what else did the salad world have to offer?
I’m not saying that caesar salad was as transcendent as the power of the first kiss, but I kinda am saying that. It’s the moment when something unknown becomes known, and a door swings wide open inside. It’s more than just a dressing, it’s a revelation, a hint at what else might exist. It’s more than just a kiss, it’s the beginning of self-hood, a hint at what else might exist.
So eat you some caesar, and revel in its simple glory.
Caesar Dressing from Scratch
If you know this ratio, you know how to make not only this dressing, but all creamy dressings (think green goddess!), aioli, and homemade mayo. The variations are affected by a few ingredient tweaks. The recipe below is for the way I make caesar. I'm sure there are other ways. I don't recommend omitting the anchovy. It adds such awesome umami; you won't know it's there.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 min
  1. 2 egg yolks (from pasture raised hens)
  2. 2 fresh garlic cloves
  3. 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 tsp water
  5. 1 tsp dijon mustard
  6. 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  7. 1 cup good quality olive oil
  8. 1 cup avocado oil (if you can find it)
  9. 1.2 tsp salt
  10. freshly ground pepper to taste
For the chronic-illness friendly way
  1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, small cuisinart, or measuring cup (if using the latter, you'll need a hand blender. AKA immersion blender).
  2. Blend!
  3. NOTE* If using the immersion blender method, only move the immersion blender up through the measuring cup once you see the mixture form a creamy, yellow-ish, thick consistency at the bottom. Then, and only then, move the immersion blender up through the glass to blend everything.
  4. Add cheese either to the dressing itself, or to the salad after you've dressed it, or both!
The old school way
  1. Add all of your ingredients EXCEPT the oils to a big bowl and very slowly add the oil in a steady stream while vigorously whisking. Once the mixture seems to emulsify, add the oil in a faster stream until you have a rich, creamy, thick dressing.
  2. Ditto the cheese direction above.
  1. Use pasture raised hens for the most nutritious, safest end result. You're eating raw egg here. Let it be the healthiest one you can find.
  2. I've safely eaten mine stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  3. Uses include but are not limited to: a sauce for steamed veggies, a dip for sweet potato fries, regular ol' fries, raw veggies, atop fish and boiled meats.
  4. Swoon!
In The Kitchen Keepin' It Real
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