Thursday, April 19, 2018

Chicken Schwarma + Coconut Basmati + Cucumber Salad + Cauliflower Chickpea Curry

Here's a meal that you cannot forget. You know the ones... they stick with you. The smells, the textures, the memories. It has all the qualities of warmth, love, nostalgia even. It may just for me because it does remind me of my time of living overseas in Israel. It also reminds me of friends I have eaten it with. It is the kind of meal that you make for a crowd and sit around the table for hours and laugh and tell stories. So I shared this meal with a group of lovely women I cooked for at the most recent Women's Wellness Retreat. I got to share a piece of my story and my heart with these beautiful brave women. And now, I am sharing this meal with you. I hope you give a try and recreate this same nourishing and loving meal for all of your people.  It is the kind of meal that offers space for CONNECTION, LOVE and a shared LIFE together. ENJOY!

Chicken Schwarma Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, sugar and nut-free}

2-3 pounds of chicken thighs (I search down local, organic or all-natural meat for cooking)
2-3 TB of olive oil
2 fresh lemons-squeezed for 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
2-3 fresh garlic cloves finely minced
1-2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of ground black pepper
1 ts. of ground cumin
1 ts. of ground coriander
1 ts. of ground turmeric
1 ts. of ground paprika
1 ts. of ground cardamon
1/2 ts. of ground cloves
1/2 ts. of ground cinnamon
1/4 ts. of cayenne pepper

In a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish spread out the raw chicken thighs, drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle all the spices and salt and pepper over. Then use a fork or your hands to massage the spices into the meat. Then cover with foil and let it chill in the fridge over night or at least for an hour. Then bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes covered and 15-20 minutes uncovered until it is fully cooked. Let cool for a minute and then you can either serve as is or slice each piece into a few pieces and make it more easy to serve on rice or pita.
The meat is super flavorful, juicy, tender and full of goodness. I like how it has it's own sauce and can be easily put over rice, lettuce, in pita or on a flat bread. A flawless chicken dish!
Cucumber Salad or Israeli Salad
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, sugar and nut-free}
4 English cucumbers, sliced, quartered and halved again (1/8th of a circle piece)
2-4 small campari, cherry or Roma tomatoes (basically need 1/2 cup of tomatoes, diced)
1/3 cup of finely chopped onion, I used red onion for this recipe
1/2 cup of fresh finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup of fresh finely chopped mint
2 lemons squeezed for juice (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup of olive oil
big pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper

Chop all of the above in a large bowl and drizzle in the lemon and olive oil and herbs and viola, it is that easy. You can add more or less of all of the ingredients depending on what you got on hand or growing fresh or your preferences. It is a simple, but absolutely perfect salad. Crisp and cooling- delicious!
I make this curry recipe as a meat-alternative to this meal, but also it is good all mixed in with the meat and over the rice because it not only has all of the same spices but add textures and flavors you can not plan more perfectly! The recipe is here- Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry, but I will also put it below just to have them all in the same place :)

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and sugar-free, vegan if you use vegetable stock}

2 TB of avocado oil for sauteing
1 large onion finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves finely minced
1-2 TB of finely grated fresh ginger*
1-2 TB of finely grated fresh turmeric*

2 cups of raw washed, cut into bite sized pieces, cauliflower
2 cups of pealed and cut and cubed pieces of sweet potato

1 14 ounce can of diced organic tomatoes
1 can of full-fat coconut milk
2-3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1 14 ounce can of organic pre-cooked garbanzo beans
1 ts. of curry powder
1 ts. of ground paprika
1 ts. of ground cumin
1 ts. of ground coriander
1/2 ts. of ground cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
pinch of cloves
1 ts. of sea salt
hearty pinch of fresh ground black pepper
optional: 1-2 TB of tahini, or a nut butter like almond or peanut for extra thickness and flavor

2 cups of fresh finely chopped greens (spinach, kale or chard)
handful of fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 cup of raisins (I like a mix with golden raisins included ;)

for serving:
serve over prepared basmati or jasmine rice (or quinoa)
limes juice and wedges
sprinkle of fresh cilantro or parsley

In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger with the oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, when it cooks down, add in the bite-sized cauliflower, sweet potato and spices and cook for another 5 minutes, then add in the coconut milk, tomatoes, beans and broth. Let cook, bubbling and covered for 15- 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the broth reduced. Then add in the raisins, fresh greens and herbs and let those get soft. It is ready for serving now, or you can turn off the heat and let it sit and cool a bit and thicken up. Then serve with prepared basmati rice. With a slice of lime and a sprinkle of some fresh herbs too. 

*If you do not have access to fresh ginger or turmeric root, then you can for sure used dried spices. I would start at 1 ts. each and add in more if you desire a little more punch...

And lastly I will give my instructions for the BEST coconut oil infused basmati rice and the steps to make it flawless each and every time!

Coconut Basmati Rice 
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut, seed and soy-free}

2 TB of coconut oil
3 cups of basmati rice
6 cups of pure water
hearty pinch of sea salt

So this recipe depends on how much rice you want to make I would suggest to make at least 6 cups of cooked rice for 4 people- so that would be about 3 cups of dry rice. You can make more or less of that amount. The key is to always have double the water for the amount of rice you have. 

So first step is to melt coconut oil in a medium to large pot. Once the oil is melted over the heat, add in the dry rice and let it toast and saute for a few minutes. It will start to give off an amazing aroma and you will look to see it has almost changed it color to look more toasted. Then add in all the water and the hearty pinch of sea salt and cover. Let the water come to a boil and then turn off the heat to a low simmer. You will have to watch this so that the water does not overflow. Once you start the simmer it will cook for about 10-15 minutes and will start to soak up all the water and you will see little poke holes formed. When you see this- turn off the heat and let it continue its cook in the pot, covered but no more flame. In about 10 minutes it will be ready to removed the cover and fluff up. It will be just about PERFECT- not too sticky or wet! and the subtle sweetness from the coconut oil and sea salt is just the perfect touch for any curry dish!

Layer all of the above recipes to create the most perfect of meals! I hope you recreate this lovely meal and share in CONNECTION, LOVE and LIFE.

Much love as always, xoxo

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Happy Heart Citrus Cookies

What a spring we have had! Just this past weekend here in Michigan we had a ice storm, a snow day, and we are all scratching our heads thinking is this April or January?!? Personally, I kinda expect this kind of spring torture here in Michigan, but I have to admit this year has really got me going crazy with antsiness and low-grade depression! Let's get on with this weather and let's start to see the warmth, buds, flowers and green grass, already!!!
It efforts to bring a little more warmth and love into our homes this season I made some Happy Heart Cookies with the hint of lemon and orange to help uplift our spirits and perhaps remind our hearts of happiness, love, joy and the gifts of life all around us. These little cookies are a symbol of that. They are just a cookie, yes, but they also represent love and those citrus flavors have a reputation for uplifting the senses and heart to inspire. So we need all of the uplifting, and love and happiness we can get around these parts! So my friends, may you find love and peace in your day and carry on and spread it as best as you can! Sending love and whole-hearted living your way xoxo
Happy Heart Citrus Cookie Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut, seed and refined-sugar free}

3/4 cup of certified gluten-free oat flour (+ 1 more cup for kneading and rolling out)
(I grind my own out of GF rolled oats)
3/4 cup of fresh ground buckwheat four
3/4 cup of rice flour
3/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/3 cup of coconut palm sugar
2 TB of potato starch
1 1/2 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. baking powder
1 organic lemon for zest and juice
1 organic orange for 3-TB of fresh zest and 1/2 cup of fresh juice
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of pure honey
1 cup of oil: I use a mix of coconut oil and palm oil shortening
1/2 cup of date paste puree

plus 1/4-1/3 cup of sparkling sugar with 1/2 ts. of lemon flavoring oil or 1 ts. lemon juice

In a large bowl, mix together the flours and dry ingredients first, then add in the wet and oils, use a spatula to make sure the oils are evenly pressed through and the batter is soft.  You will need to add about ONE MORE CUP of GF oat flour for kneading, firming up and rolling out.

Let batter sit in the fridge to firm up just a bit, like 15 minutes. Then roll out and cut out the cookies with your favorite heart shaped cutters.  Sprinkle the lemon sparkling suagrs on top of the hearts before baking. You may need to press the suagrs into the cookies justa  bit.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Let cool for at least 20 minutes from the oven before moving to help with less breakage.

There you have it- HAPPY HEART citrus cookies for the win! Hoping this recipe will share a little kindness your way, keep spreading it and let's keep going!