Twisted Tuna Salad (Whole30 Compliant)

 

Twisted Tuna

I don’t know if you’re like this, but occasionally I feel like eating something, but I doctor up the way I typically make it.  I love tuna salad, but my favorite thing about the tuna salad is having it on a piece of toast, topped with a ring of pineapple and a slice of cheese, and then broiled for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly.  Well, the tuna salad and the pineapple are the only parts of what I just mentioned that are considered paleo.  Besides that, I don’t have any pineapple (we ran out) at the moment.  There are those of you who would say, “so put it in a lettuce wrap!”  Yeah…I’m not huge on lettuce wraps.  Sure, I LOVE them from PF Chang’s, but they aren’t my favorite thing and they sure aren’t a substitute for tuna on a thick, crusty piece of homemade bread.  Not paleo fake bread…THE.  REAL.  THING.

 

But I still wanted tuna salad…so I went to doctoring it up in order to make it more filling and more satisfying than plain tuna over spinach.  I looked at everything I had in the refrigerator and pretty much pulled out everything that might be good together.  This is where I LOVE experimenting in the kitchen.  A general rule of thumb for kitchen experimentation for those of you new to this activity:  if it smells good together, it will taste good together.  This probably isn’t true for every single thing…but for 99.99% of food items, that rule will apply.  On the flip side, if it doesn’t smell good together, it won’t taste good together.  Why is this?  The majority of what you’re tasting is actually what you’re smelling.  Your tongue has very little to do with it, other than identifying the tastes as sweet/salty/etc.

 

So go get your butt in the kitchen and whip up some experimental food!  Until you’re ready to try that, here is my yummy-ness that transpired tonight!

 

Twisted Tuna Salad

Serves 4

2 cans Albacore tuna (I forget how many ounces each can is…it’s about twice the size of a single can)

1 celery stalk, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/3 C chopped walnuts and pecans (use whatever nuts you want–but tonight I had extra walnuts and pecans around)

1/3 C dried cranberries

1/2 Granny Smith apple, diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced (or shredded)

1/3 C chopped cilantro

1/4 C MAYO

2 Tbsp dijon

1/4 tsp ground mustard

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp citrus zest

sliced avocado to garnish

 

1.– Clean/drain/chop everything but avocado

2.– Dump everything (except avocado) in a bowl

3.– Mix everything up

4.– Serve on a plate/over greens/whatever and top with sliced avocado.  I didn’t use any “dressing” for this–I squeezed the juice of a tangerine over everything once I put it on the plate.

 

* As a side note, the picture does not include avocado because we didn’t have any left.  As soon as I took a bite, I immediately said, “this needs avocado.”  So do it!

Homemade Mayonnaise (Whole30 Compliant)

 

mayo

I have mentioned many times how you should all be making your own mayo!  Besides the fact that it costs less than pre-made paleo-friendly mayo (by a LOT), it is DELICIOUS!  Seriously, you have never tried mayo until you’ve made it yourself (and may or may not lick the spoon when you’re finished putting it in a container…not that I’ve done that…especially not about 20 minutes ago…).  I use Melissa Joulwan’s recipe from Well Fed.  If you don’t have her books, get them.  Well Fed and Well Fed 2 are pretty much the only cook books I use as far as paleo goes.  The beauty of her books is that while they have some specific recipes, they also have LOADS of base recipes…meaning that the recipes are a great base for whatever flavors and extra foods you want to add to them.  She also uses a lot of spice combinations that make the foods way more exciting.  I mean…who wants to eat grilled chicken and steamed broccoli for every meal?  BOOOORING!  Before you make this, go HERE to check out some of Melissa’s pointers on making good mayo every time.

 

 

The two biggest things I can tell you are: (1) Get extra light TASTING olive oil.  Not extra virgin, not virgin…just extra light TASTING.  As in, if you use regular olive oil, your mayo will taste like a giant mouthful of olive.  Not all that tasty.  (2) Make sure that you are letting your egg and lemon juice come to room temperature.  The first time I made this, I was so excited that I didn’t really complete this step…it still mostly works, but it’s not as creamy or tasty without this step.  Not only does the actual temperature help the consistency, but that added time helps to marry the flavors better.

 

What do I use this for?  Well, obvious stuff like tuna salad and chicken salad…but more importantly, you can make pretty much any creamy salad dressing you want if you have some mayo handy.  I like to mix it with a little AC vinegar and a big spoonful of the sauce from THIS recipe.  I’ve used it to marinate chicken, add some moisture to pork, whatever.  The point is, you can not live without mayo in a dairy-free life LOL!  Seriously, drop whatever you’re doing and make some of this.

 

Olive Oil Mayonnaise

 

1 egg

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C plus 1 C extra light tasting olive oil

 

1.– Put the egg and lemon juice in your blender or food processor and let come to room temperature (I leave it alone for an hour or so).  A note: if you use a blender like a NutriBullet where the canister is enclosed on top, use a food processor.  You can still do it in a NutriBullet, but it involves using a bowl and hand-mixer until ALL of the oil is mixed…then transfer to the NutriBullet and zip it for about 30-40 seconds.  It’s messy.

2.– After egg and lemon juice are room temp, add dry mustard, salt, and 1/4 cup of oil.  Pulse until frothy.  Now we start the arm workout.

3.– Put your 1 cup of oil into a container that is easily controlled when pouring (I use a Pyrex liquid measuring cup).  You want to turn your processor on and leave it on while pouring the 1 cup of oil in.  Pour it in a tiny drizzle.  As in…it will take three minutes or longer to pour the 1 cup of oil in.  Your arm will start to get tired…suck it up and think about the mayo you’re about to eat!  DO NOT DUMP THE REMAINING OIL IN WHEN YOUR ARM GETS TIRED.  You’ll want to…but don’t.  You’ll ruin it.  You’ll know when it turns to mayo.  If you’re using a blender, the pitch gets a little lower when the oil and eggs have emulsified.  If you’re using a food processor, well, it will look like mayo.

 

That’s it!  Now just put it in a jar and eat it!  The expiration date is about a week past the expiration date of your egg.  Mayo only lasts a few days around here before we finish it…so I’ve never even approached the expiration date.

Cashew Chicken

 

cashew chicken

Being from the Midwest, the cashew chicken I grew up with is not any sort of recipe that I have an interest in “paleo-fying.”  The type of cashew chicken there is referred to a “Springfield-Style.”  It is basically chicken nuggets over rice, covered in brown sauce and sprinkled with a couple cashews and some green onions.  As I’m writing this, I realize that I forgot to put the green onions on this, but whatever…it was delicious, nonetheless!

 

This recipe can be made Whole30 compliant by eliminating the honey.  It will taste a little different, but if you’re being super-strict, that’s pretty much the only way to do it.  On a better note, this is DELICIOUS…so once your Whole30 is over, try it with the honey (or coconut sugar, or whatever sugar you use)!  DEEEEE-LIIIIIIII-CIOUS.  Just trust me on that one.    A note on the cashews: this calls for raw cashews.  I thought I had some, but I didn’t.  These are roasted cashews from Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl, a lovely, TINY TINY TINY diner in Zanesville, Ohio.  It’s near where my grandma lives, so I grew up going there ALL the time.  They have THE BEST fresh roasted nuts on the planet.  Period.  No discussion.

 

Cashew Chicken

Serves 4

1/4 C arrowroot starch/flour

1/2 tsp ground pepper

2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into pieces

1 Tbsp coconut oil

5 Tbsp coconut aminos

3-4 Tbsp rice vinegar

2-3 Tbsp tomato paste (could use organic ketchup in a pinch)

2 Tbsp honey

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

1/2 C raw cashews

sliced green onions

 

1.– Put arrowroot and pepper in a large plastic bag.  Add chicken.  Seal bag and toss to coat.

2.– Melt coconut oil in skillet.  Add chicken and cook until lightly browned (5-7 minutes).  Remove chicken from skillet and put in crockpot.

3.– Mix coconut aminos, rice vinegar, tomato paste, honey, garlic cloves, and ginger in a small bowl.  Pour over the chicken and toss to coat.  Cook on low for 2-4 hours (2 hours for a larger crockpot, longer for a smaller crockpot).  Mix in cashews and garnish with a small handful of green onion slices.

 

Boeuf Bourguignon

 

boeuf bourguignon

 

There is a little debate as to whether or not this is strictly paleo or primal.  It isn’t compliant with GAPS or with Whole30.  This is only because of one ingredient: the three cups of red wine.  We had a friend over for dinner tonight, so this is what I decided to make.  It turned out really tasty!  The only thing in the Julia Child recipe that isn’t ever compliant is the flour.  I took care of that part by using tapioca flour instead of traditional grain flour–you couldn’t tell the difference.

 

Additionally, instead of regular beef broth, I had this lovely container of beef bone broth just begging to be used…so that’s what I put in this.  It made it just slightly richer than using plain beef broth–and a LOT less salty that using store-bought broth.  If you’ve never made bone broth, you can find the recipe HERE.  It is well worth the time it takes to make it, and it’s SOOOO good for you!

 

Be prepared…this takes a good 3+ hours to make.  To be fair, two hours of that is roasting time.  This is definitely a wash-the-dishes-as-you-go kind of recipe.  Just trust me on that part…unless you happen to have a sink that holds about 500 gallons.

 

Boeuf Bourguignon

Serves 4

1/4 pound bacon, cut in short strips

4 Tbsp butter (or ghee or clarified butter)

2.5-3 pounds beef cut in 2″ cubes (use something like rump roast, chuck roast, sirloin tip, top round, or bottom round)

1+ tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp tapioca flour

2 carrots, sliced

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp fresh (or 1 tsp dried) thyme

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (plus some for garnish)

1 bay leaf

3 C full-bodied red wine (something like Cotes du Rhone, merlot, cabernet, or chianti)

2 1/2 C beef bone broth (or regular beef broth)

1 pound mushrooms, sliced thick

 

1.– Preheat oven to 425.  Saute short strips of bacon in 1 Tbsp butter.  Pat beef dry and add to bacon in 3-4 batches (leaving room around the cubes).  Brown each batch and remove from pan to a casserole baking dish and set aside.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, and tapioca flour over beef mixture…toss a bit and bake 10 minutes so flour mixture is absorbed.  Take out of the oven and reduce heat to 320.

2.–In saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp butter with remaining bacon fat.  Cook carrots and onion until soft (6-7 minutes).  Add tomato paste, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf.  Give a quick stir for a minute or so to soften up the tomato paste and disperse it a bit.  Add broth and wine; bring to a gentle boil and simmer about 5 minutes.  Pour over meat in the casserole dish.  Cover and bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours (I started checking it around 1 hour 50 minutes and it ended up taking just a few minutes over 2 hours).  Also, my time might be a little different from yours because I don’t have a casserole dish that’s big enough, so I used a roasting pan which pretty much had the meat all in one layer instead of in a pile.

3.–While baking, slice mushrooms and saute in small batches in 1-2 Tbsp butter.  The trick to mushrooms is to have your pan HOT before you put them in (obviously the fat goes in to heat up first), and DO NOT crowd them!  You want to cook small numbers of them, hot and fast.  Trust me…it’ll change your mushroom-life.  When meat is done, put a bowl under a colander and pour meat and liquid into the colander.  I put the meat back in the roasting pan and covered it to keep it warm.  Bring liquid to a gentle boil and simmer 8-10 minutes.  Pour over meat and mushrooms.  Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Bacon-Topped Pork Meatloaf (Whole30 Compliant)

 

pork meat loaf

I found this recipe over at one of my favorite paleo blogs, Nom Nom Paleo.  I visit there frequently looking for “foodspiration” when planning our dinner menus.  Now, I don’t have any need to hide vegetables in food–everyone–including Isak–is fine with eating vegetables.  That being said, I LOVE adding extra vegetables to anything I make.  It makes it more filling, more satisfying, and adds extra vitamins–SCORE!  My one pitfall in this recipe was the draining of the spinach.  No matter how much I squeeze and press, there are still (what seems like) gallons and gallons of water that just keeps on a’comin’!  Next time, I’ll start pressing it about a week before I make it LOL!  The extra liquid didn’t ruin it or anything–it just turned out a little more crumbly than it should have.  Still yummy–just crumbly!

Next time I make it, I plan on reducing the amount of spinach by half and replacing the other half with shredded zucchini and/or sweet potato.  It was REALLY tasty as is; however, the husband mentioned the spinach taste being a little strong (which I tend to agree with).  The bacon topping…WONDERFUL!  And the tomato sauce was the perfect complement to all the flavors.  After I try the different vegetables, I’ll post this again with the amended recipe!

Bacon-Topped Pork Meatloaf

1 pound frozen chopped spinach

1 Tbsp butter/ghee/coconut oil

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, finely chopped

1/4 C coconut milk

1/2 C celery, finely diced

1/2 C Italian parsley

1 pound ground pork

1/4 C coconut flour

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp salt

1  1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs

3-5 bacon slices

tomato sauce, warmed (optional)

1.– Preheat oven to 350.  Microwave frozen spinach in a covered bowl for 3-4 minutes.  Put in colander and press out all excess liquid (this is where the liquid multiplies…I swear the amount doubles every time you press some of it out)

2.– Heat butter over medium heat in skillet.  Add onions, mushrooms, and a little salt and pepper.  Saute until soft (this took me about 4-5 minutes).

3.– Blend coconut milk, parsley, and celery until a puree forms.

4.– In bowl, put pork, spinach, coconut flour, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Mix with hands until combined.  Add puree, beaten eggs, and mushroom mixture.  Use hands to combine and transfer to an ungreased loaf pan.  Layer bacon to cover the top of the meatloaf.  Only use one (or two, at the most) layer.  You don’t want crispy bacon on top of soggy bacon!

5.– Bake for 70 minutes then broil for 3-5 minutes (I like the bacon a little more crispy).  Serve with tomato sauce and enjoy!

Sweet Dijon Chicken

 

sweet dijon chicken

I came across this recipe on Pinterest…it was one of those where the entire recipe is written in the pin description, but the link to the picture is dead.  I hate those!  Anyway, the title of the pin was “The BEST Chicken in the World.”  Now how can I pass that up without trying it?  This was a paleo version of a recipe that I saw a few months ago–same name, same concept, different ingredients (meaning, the original recipe included like 900 cups of brown sugar or something like that).  This one is the paleo version, and while I don’t know that it’s absolutely the BEST chicken I’ve ever tried…it’s pretty close!

 

This is one of the few recipes that I’ve made where the husband not only told me he loved it (that’s a pretty common occurrence around here), but he told me to absolutely never lose the recipe.  The maple syrup adds a lovely light sweetness to the tangy flavor of the vinegar and the spicy flavor of the mustard.  As an added bonus, I used some of the sauce (after the chicken came out of the oven) in the salad dressing, which was lovely!  For those of you wondering what’s in the salad pictured above, it’s arugula, strawberries, blueberries, and carrots.  Additionally, if you wanted to do this with other chicken parts, it seems like it would work just as well–just alter your cooking time.

 

Sweet Dijon Chicken

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts

1/2 C Dijon mustard

1/4 C pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

fresh rosemary  (I didn’t have any fresh rosemary around–it’s just as good without it)

 

1.– Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking dish with foil for easier cleanup.  In a small bowl, whisk mustard, syrup, and vinegar.

2.– Put chicken into baking dish; season with salt and lots of pepper.  Pour mustard mixture over chicken to coat each piece of chicken.  Add more pepper on top of sauce, if desired.

3.– Bake 30-40 minutes (or until thickest part of chicken reads 165 degrees).  Season with fresh rosemary and serve immediately.

 

Be prepared for everyone to ask you for the recipe (or for them to ask you to make this over and over)!