Saturday, July 30, 2016

Carnitas with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Finding time to cook like I did before we had a baby seems few and far between. But it's meals like this that remind me of why I love being in the kitchen. Everything turned out exactly how I wanted it! It's not overly complicated, but it does require a little extra love than a typical crockpot meal. I also made maduros (sweet plantains) to accompany the carnitas, but I didn't write up any directions. I just sliced and sautéed them in some coconut oil. My husband added a few diced pieces to his carnitas! Yum!!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6.5 hours
Serves: 4

Special Tools
Medium sauce pot
Foil-lined baking sheet
Small sauté pan


For carnitas:
4 lb pork butt, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup beef broth
cup water
1 lime
1 orange 
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1.5 tsp salt 
3/4 tsp ground pepper
12 corn tortillas
Coconut oil, to grease the sauté pan

For cilantro-lime cauliflower:
16 oz riced cauliflower 
1/4 cup of cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced 
1/2 cup of beef broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For mango-avocado salsa:
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced 
1/4 cup red onion, chopped 
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro 
Salt and pepper to taste 

1. Place all ingredients for the carnitas (including the lime and orange rinds) into crockpot and turn on low for 5-6 hours. 
2. Place all the salsa ingredients into a bowl. Refrigerate until meat is done to allow flavors to meld together. 
3. Pull meat out with tongs and break apart the chunks into about three or four smaller pieces. Place meat on foil lined baking sheet. 
4. Pour the liquid from the crockpot into a medium saucepan. Discard the rinds. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for 20-30 minutes until you have about a cup of liquid left. While the liquid is reducing, turn a small pan on low heat. Add coconut oil to the pan and heat up the tortillas, about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. 
5. Turn the broiler on low. Place the meat on the middle rack. Broil 6-8 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the meat. Pour the reduced liquid onto the meat. Broil the other side for 6-8 minutes until the edges are crisp. 
6. While the meat is finishing, steam the cauliflower rice with all the ingredients, except the cilantro, for 6-8 minutes. Mix in the cilantro once the cauliflower is cooked to your liking. 
7. Assemble and enjoy! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eggplant Pizza

It's amazing to me how quickly time flies by when you're preparing for a baby! I haven't posted a recipe in so long, mostly because I really haven't been super creative in the kitchen. I've been cooking a lot of easy repeat recipes; Asian stir-fry, steak and sweet potato, chicken cobb salad, chicken or pork tacos, etc. You know, those easy go-to meals that you've made so many times you can do it on auto-pilot. But I got tired of eating the same vegetables and needed something new in the rotation. I'm trying very hard not to go overboard on eating junk food during my pregnancy, so to avoid bread but still feel like I'm having pizza, I give you this...

Eggplant Pizza

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 3-4 people

Special Tools:
Roasting pan
Large saute pan
Medium sauce pot


1 large eggplant (mine was about 9-10 inches)
1 lb of grass-fed beef (I used White Oak Pastures)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 Mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning, divided
Fresh chopped basil (about 10 leaves)
Black olives (optional)
Red pepper flakes (optional)


Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut into 3/4 inch slices. Lay on paper towels and sprinkle salt on each one to draw out the moisture for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown the ground beef with some garlic and Italian seasoning in a saute pan. While there are still juices in the pan from the browned ground beef, add chopped onion and green pepper and cook until they begin to soften and the juice evaporates.
In another pot, put 1 can of diced tomatoes (or about two cups of freshly diced) and 1/4 cup (or 4 oz) of tomato paste. Add in some Italian seasoning and half of the fresh chopped basil and simmer. Then combine the ground beef mixture with the sauce. It should be thick.
Check the eggplant after about 30 minutes and pat dry them to remove the excess moisture. This will also remove some of the salt so it won't be overly salty. Lightly brush the eggplant with olive oil and Italian seasoning and roast them in a 375F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Don't let them get soggy. They still need to retain their shape. 
Remove the eggplant from the oven and top each one with the meat sauce, any additional toppings you may want (fresh basil, black olives, red pepper flakes, etc.), and a generous portion of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese.
Place under the broiler just long enough for the cheese to get nice and melted and golden brown.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3-6 hours
Serves: 4

Special Tools:
Slow Cooker (use a liner if you have one for easier clean up)
Foil lined baking sheet
Medium size ice cream scoop
Large mixing bowl


1 medium spaghetti squash

For the meatballs:

1 lb grass fed ground beef
½ lb mild pork sausage
1 egg
¼ large yellow onion, minced
¼ large green pepper, minced
¼ cup almond flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp oregano
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper
a few pinches of sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the sauce:
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
½ large yellow onion, diced
a handful of chopped fresh basil
a few pinches of sea salt and cracked black pepper

1. Put all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix well.
2. With an ice cream scoop, form meatballs about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter.
3. Place all the meatballs in a slow cooker.
4. Wash and rinse the bowl, and use it again to mix all the ingredients of the sauce together.
5. Pour the sauce over and around the meatballs.
6. Cover and put on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Stir about once an hour.
7. About 45 minutes before the meatballs are done, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
8. Cut the spaghetti squash in half long ways. Place both halves face down on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the outside gives a little when you press it. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
9. Use a fork to shred the “noodles” and top with some meatballs and sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Steak Burrito Bowl

I haven’t posted anything in quite a while. Mostly because we’re so busy these days preparing for Baby Blanco. I can’t believe we’re already in the third trimester. Only ten weeks left until we meet this little jumping bean. In the meantime, I’m trying hard to keep up with a paleo-ish diet and be as consistent as possible in the gym.

I have to say, I feel like I was super lucky for never having to experience any sort of morning sickness or crazy food aversions. I read an article several months back from The 80/20 that explained how women who ate a healthy diet prior to becoming pregnant were less likely to experience morning sickness. Don’t be fooled, there was, and still is, plenty of off-putting things people don’t warn you about while being pregnant. But all-in-all, the goodness and excitement outweighs the bad and ugly parts.

One of the areas that I like, but am cautious about for obvious reasons, is food cravings. While I want to go ham on just about everything sugary and carb-tastic, I know the reality is it will be much harder taking the weight off after pregnancy than it is putting it on in the first place. So like my like pre-pregnancy lifestyle, I’m trying hard to stick to 80/20 eating, though I’m sure it’s more like 70/30 Ha! In the first trimester, I really wanted Chinese food. There was this hole in the wall place not far from where my family and I lived in Jacksonville. I may have even mentioned this place in a previous post (I seriously loved it). I would literally gorge myself on as much lo mein, beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, egg drop soup, and whatever else looked appealing that day. All I can do is shake my head now. But I was seriously craving this place for weeks. Thankfully, I think I ate Chinese only once while visiting my in-laws. I barely mentioned it being a craving and an hour later I had multiple containers of Chinese food ready to be consumed. These days, I’m craving mostly tacos or some variation. I can’t eat enough avocadoes or guacamole, so at least once a week we have tacos or taco salads. Yesterday I had an idea to make a burrito bowl. I don’t usually eat tortilla shells anyway, but I like everything else inside a burrito, thus emerged my steak burrito bowl. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer – if you’re going for strict paleo, leave out the rice, beans, cheese, and Greek yogurt.

Steak Burrito Bowl

Prep Time: 4-6+ hours (inactive)

Cook Time: 1 hour, divided

Serves: 4

Special Tools:


Rice Cooker

Small pot

Medium sauté pan

High speed blender or food processor

Small bowl


Steak Marinade + Bean/Rice Seasoning:

1 + ½ tsp of chili powder

½ tsp of garlic powder

½ tsp of onion powder

½ tsp of cumin

¼ tsp of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp of sea salt

juice of one lime

Burrito Bowl Toppings:

1 lb of skirt steak (or you could use flank)

1 can organic black beans

½ cup uncooked white rice

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, sliced

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, diced

1 cup of sprinkle cheese

4-6 cups of lettuce

handful of roughly chopped cilantro

Cilantro-Avocado Cream:

1 avocado

juice of 1 lime

½ cup of chopped cilantro

¼ - ½ cup of full-fat Greek yogurt (I used Chobani brand. Has the most fat and least amount of sugar of the other brands I looked at in the store. You could potentially use coconut milk, though the flavor and consistency would be less like sour cream).


1. In the small bowl, mix together all of the seasonings for the marinade, except the lime juice.

2. Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag with the lime juice. Add half of the seasoning mix to the bag and toss the sealed bag around to coat all parts of the steak. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

3. About an hour before the steak comes out, place the beans in a small pot. Add half of the remaining seasoning mixture to the pot. Cover and let the beans cook on low for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

4. About 30 minutes before the steak comes out, add your rice to the rice cooker. Wash it twice. Add ¾ cup of water, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and the remainder of the seasoning mixture to the cooker. Put the lid on and start it up. (Confession: I’ve never cooked rice on the stove before. I have a rice cooker! If you don’t, look up how to cook it on the stove, because I don’t know.)

5. About 20 minutes before the steak comes out, heat the sauté pan on medium with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and bell pepper and let them cook down until very soft. I left mine on low once they were tender and just let them continue to cook down. Add a tsp of water or so if they look like they are drying out at any point.

6. Chop up the tomato, avocado, lettuce, and cilantro if you haven’t already.

7. Make the cilantro-avocado dressing by placing all the ingredients into a food processor or high speed blender. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides a few times. I was looking for a creamy consistency, but if you want something more runny like a dressing, add more liquid, either lime juice or water about a tsp at a time.

8. Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Cook steak for 5 minutes on each side or longer for your meat to be more cooked through. Take it off the heat and LET IT REST for at least 5 minutes more. Then slice it into bit size pieces.

At this point, everything should be done. You can plate your burrito bowl however you’d like, but this is how I did it:

Lettuce, rice, beans, steak, onions and peppers, cheese, tomato, avocado, cilantro-avocado cream, and a bit more cilantro.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Waffles

We're coming to the end of October. Today our gym hosted a Barbells for Boobs charity WOD in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's always so great to see so many people come out to support a great cause, work out together, eat and socialize. But mostly I love to see everyone support and cheer on each other. Events like this remind me of why I love my CrossFit community so much. It doesn't matter what's going on in my life, when I walk into my box, I know I'm surrounding by people who care. Today one of our newest members showed up about an hour and half after we started running through our heats for the workout. The final heat was just about to start when I noticed he was standing to the side. He had come to do the WOD (Grace, 30 clean and jerks.) but was the only person left. After the heat finished, he went out the floor and started warming up. A good number of members figured out that he was about to go by himself, and even though they had already done the WOD (some having JUST finished a few minutes before), they set up a bar and went again! Just so he wouldn't be the only one working out. If that's not the epitome of gym support and camaraderie, I don't know what is! Way to go CF Tally!

Fall is here and it never fails, year after year I find myself in the mood for more things with apples and pumpkins. Last week I made pork chops and smothered them with sauteed onions and apples. I highly recommend you try that out immediately. Savory and sweet. Winner winner. I also made a pumpkin soup and these pretty delightful pumpkin waffles. I have come to love using cashew butter more and more. I find the flavor to be more mild than almond butter and the smooth creaminess to create a more fluffy texture. But, if you want to use almond butter in place of the cashew butter, I think it would work just fine!

Pumpkin Waffles

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Special Tools:
Food processor
Large bowl
Waffle maker

1⁄2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large bananas
4 large eggs
1⁄2 cup cashew butter
1⁄4 cup melted coconut oil
1⁄4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cashew flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of sea salt
organic maple syrup, for serving
*Disclaimer, if you're feeling naughty, I spread some pumpkin butter on my waffles instead of syrup. I bought mine from Trader Joe's!

1. In a large bowl, mash your two bananas and then place them in the food processor.
2. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, cashew butter, coconut oil, and vanilla (all of your wet ingredients).
3. Puree until well combined.
4. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and continue to puree until everything is incorporated. You might need to use a spoon or spatula to push down the sides once or twice.
5. Heat your waffle maker according to the instructions. This gives the coconut and cashew flour time to really absorb into the batter.
6. You might need some additional coconut oil to grease your iron. Mine doesn't require it.
7. Make your waffles according to the manufactures instructions. I poured somewhere between 3-4 tablespoons (close to 1/4 cup) of batter into my waffle maker each time.
Mine yielded about 10 waffles. Keep the waffles on a warm plate until you have used all of the batter.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Salmon Cakes

Being pregnant is amazing, and super weird at the same time! It's kind of crazy when I stop and think I'm totally growing a person inside of me! One of the early signs or symptoms that I noticed was my increased sense of smell. I could tell when someone sitting a few feet away from me was chewing gum with her mouth closed! Or how about when no one around me could smell the menthol in the icy-hot someone was using about 10 feet away from us at the gym after a workout. I'm telling you, my nose knows! I've also had some unpleasant run-ins with a few foul odors since my new superpower started. I've never had an issue with seafood before, but lately it's been making me gag, which is most unfortunate because I love seafood. And just to prove it to myself that it was just my nose and not my stomach, I made these really great salmon cakes. Interestingly enough, I didn't really notice the smell too much. I guess it's just when I wafts in front of me suddenly, rather than subtly while you're cooking with it. Anyway, wild salmon is a great protein, and I've read it's certainly one to consider consuming at least once a week during my pregnancy. So I began with this little gem! Enjoy!

Salmon Cakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Special Tools:
Medium mixing bowl
Large saute pan

12 oz of canned wild salmon, drained
2 eggs
2 tbsp of coconut flour
1/4 cup of shallot (or your favorite onion)
2 tsp of dijon mustard
2 tsp of creole seasoning (or combine these ingredients to make your own and store the rest for later)
2 tbsp of coconut oil, divided
green onion to garnish

1. Start by adding the two eggs to a medium mixing bowl and beating them.
2. Add the salmon to the bowl and break it apart with a fork.
3. Then add the shallot, coconut flour, mustard, and creole seasoning to the bowl. Get in there with your hands and mix everything together until well incorporated. 
4. Heat your sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and allow it to melt. 
5. Take half of the mixture and form three or four patties, about 3-inches in diameter.
6. Place them in the pan and allow them to cook on each side for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until both sides are a nice golden brown.
7. Repeat steps 5-6 with the other half of the salmon mixture. 
8. Top with green onion. I served mine with some golden potato mash with grass-fed butter and broccoli. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Meaty Eggplant Parmesan

The first time I ever cooked eggplant was a TOTAL disaster. I cooked them in olive oil for way too long. They absorbed all of the oil and tasted slimy and disgusting! Lesson learned. Then my friend had me over for dinner one night and cooked eggplant Parmesean. I was so "wowed" at how good eggplant could actually taste, and asked her how she cooked hers. She said just fry them in light layer of coconut oil. Perfect! This week, we were given several eggplants in our CSA share, so I knew eggplant parm. was on the menu! My husband and I really love a hearty spaghetti sauce, so by combining what I learned from my friend and my sauce, I was sure this was going to come out pretty damn tasty. Ahem... It did! 

Meaty Eggplant Parmesan

Prep time: 40 minutes (30 minutes inactive)
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Serves: 5-6

Special tools:
9 x 13 baking tray
Large sauce pot
Large sauté pan
Cutting board
Vegetable peeler


For the sauce:
1 lb of grass-fed ground beef (leave out if you want to keep it vegetarian)
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
6 oz of sliced mushrooms 
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
6 oz of herb goat cheese
2 tbsp of garlic powder
1 tbsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp of basil
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of coarse sea salt

For the eggplant:
3 medium eggplants
2 eggs, whisked in a bowl
1 cup of almond flour
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan 
Coconut oil for frying

1. Start by peeling your eggplants and slicing them into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick slices (enough to make 3 layers in your tray). Lay them out on a plate and sprinkle them LIGHTLY with salt. This draws out the moisture and seasons them well! Let it sit for about 30 minutes while you prep the rest of the meal.  
2. Next work on the sauce. Start by browning the meat. 
3. Then add all the veggies, except the tomatoes and zucchini. Let them cook down for about 5 minutes. 
4. Add the tomatoes and zucchini. Mix well. Add the tomato paste and all of the seasonings. 
5. Once everything is heated through, stir in the goat cheese. 
6. Let it simmer on medium-low for about 30 minutes. 
7. Preheat the oven to 350. 
8. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add enough coconut oil to coat the bottom. 
9. Mix the almond flour and seasonings onto a plate. 
10. Dip each slice into the egg mixture, then into the almond flour mixture (shaking off the excess), and into the frying pan for 2-3 minutes on each side (or until golden brown). Continue until you've cooked them all. Add more oil as needed. 
11. Add the slices to the baking tray as they come out. 
12. When you have a layer, spread some of the sauce on top along with fresh grated Parmesan. Repeat for three layers. 
Place in the oven for 15 minutes until all the cheese is melted.