Creamy Avocado Sauce

creamy_avocado_sauce

So many salad dressing have ingredients I try to avoid consuming – Canola oil, sugar, etc. so it only made sense to figure out an alternative. Super easy & super delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients
• 1 avocado
• 1 cup cilantro leaves
• 1/4 cup bone broth
• 4 tbsp lime juice
• 2 tbsp sea salt
• 1 tsp ground cumin

Directions
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.
2. Serve immediately or store in a mason jar in the fridge, good for 1 week.
3. Enjoy!

Garlic Ginger Teriyaki Chicken

teriyaki_chicken

Wasn’t sure how this would turn out but safe to say, this is one of my new favorite recipes. This chicken is the real deal. (: Enjoy!

Ingredients – Chicken
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp Kerrygold butter
• 1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• Sauce (see below)
• Sea salt to taste
• Sesame seeds
• Lemon juice (optional)

Ingredients – Sauce
• 1/3 cup coconut aminos
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbsp honey
• 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
• 3 tbsp ginger, minced
• 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
• 1 tsp avocado oil

Directions
1. In a large sauce pan, heat butter and saute garlic until fragrant, about 3 – 5 minutes.
2. Season the chicken with a little sea salt, then add the chicken to the garlic pan and saute until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce by simply whisking all the ingredients until blended.
4. Once the chicken is cooked, pour the teriyaki sauce into the pan and mix to coat the chicken evenly.
5. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens.
6. Remove from heat, top with sesame seeds and serve immediately. I served with a side of broccoli and quinoa. Flavor broccoli with lemon juice and sea salt if you so desire. (:

The Perfect Bowl of Quinoa

quinoa

A variation on a pretty basic recipe. The bone broth and butter add both amazing flavors and wonderful health benefits. Eat alone or serve as a side for your favorite dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients
• 2 cups bone broth
• 1 cup quinoa
• 1 tbsp Kerrygold butter

Directions
1. Add broth, quinoa & butter to a small pot and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat, cover & summer until most of the liquid has been absorbed (~15 mins)
3. Enjoy!

Easy Sunflower Seed Pesto

nut_free_pesto

Pair this with spaghetti squash for an amazing meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients
• 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
• 2 cups basil, packed
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
• 1 tsp sea salt

Directions
1. Place sunflower seeds, basil and garlic in a blender and pulse until everything is chopped well.
2. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt and pulse once again until well blended.
3. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate!

Sauerkraut

IMG_1136
Day 1. We’ll see how it looks once ready to eat…

Once I began learning the health benefits of fermented foods and realized how easy it is to do at home, I decided to give it a shot. 

Fermenting vs Pickling

The majority of store-bought sauerkraut, for example, is pickled, not fermented. Pickled = preserved in an acidic medium, such as vinegar. Almost all store-bought sauerkraut has also been pasteurized and/or cooked, meaning any benefits of the “good” bacteria are basically gone. (Boo.)

Benefits of Fermented Food

As far as fermented food health benefits go, there are about 4.58 billion. (I counted.) Tons of vitamins & enzymes, boosts immune system, helps reduce inflammation, aids in digestion, helps slow/reverse certain diseases and counters the “bad” bacteria most of us have a plethora of, thanks to processed food, antibiotics, chlorinated water, environmental toxins, etc. 

It’s Easy-Peasy

Most lacto-fermented foods are simply chopped up veggies submerged in a sea salt/water brine. When left at room temperature, the beneficial bacteria is able to develop and the submerged veggies become fermented. 

Sauerkraut Recipe

Sauerkraut takes 2 ingredients: cabbage and sea salt. That’s it!

Instructions:

1. Chop cabbage into narrow strips and place in a large bowl. 

2. Add 1 – 3 tablespoons of sea salt.

3. Knead cabbage until there is liquid. 

4. Stuff cabbage into a glass jar. I was surprised to fit the entire chopped cabbage into a 16 oz jar. 

5. Make sure the cabbage is submerged in the cabbage water and the lid is secured tightly. (open the lid every day or so to release excess pressure)

6. Leave on the counter until desired taste / texture is reached. At this point, the sauerkraut can be stored in the fridge where it will stay good for several months.

Have you tried fermented foods? What are you favorites?

 

Steps In The Right Direction

When I first began my “life detox” AKA paying attention to/caring about the foods I ate, products I consumed and environment I was in, it felt fairly overwhelming and difficult to know where to start. 

Because of the whole “occasionally wanting to roll over and die after a sip of alcohol” situation, it made the most sense to begin with focusing on food. In my research, I slowly but surely realized how much more important ingredients and quality were over my previous allegiance to counting calories and low fat/sugar free foods.

My trips to the grocery store totally changed with a newfound, simple approach:

1. Read the label.

2. Ignore pretty much everything in the “amount/serving” section except for sugar. Pay attention to sugar! 

3. Scour the ingredients list.  

You would think an organic label would equal a good option…and while it might be a better option than something full of chemicals, pesticides, etc., not all organics are created equally.

For example…pasta sauce! The jars below were sitting side by side on the shelf. Both organic, both tomato basil. Pretty much identical, right? Well…

One of the biggest differences between the two jars is the sugar content: 1st jar: 8g, 2nd jar: 2g.

Wait. What? Why a 6g difference? 

Looking at the ingredient list, you’ll see the first jar includes evaporated cane syrup, the 2nd doesn’t. Organic or not, sugar is still sugar…which I’m fairly convinced is the root of all evil

And because I’m currently hearing a chorus of, “…well, I bet the 2nd (non-sugar) one costs an arm and a leg!”, I’d like to point out the fact that the non-sugar sauce was actually the less expensive of the two. A common misconception – healthier absolutely does not automatically mean more expensive.

Changing habits can feel extremely overwhelming; it certainly did for me. At the end of the day, the best thing we can do for ourselves is research, experiment & figure out whatever it is that makes us feel the best.

Drastic cold turkey changes are not required for beginning to live a healthier life. For me, a cold turkey approach made the entire thing feel completely unattainable, unrealistic and fairly discouraging.

What has worked me? Realizing that choosing to do something, instead of nothing is a step in the right direction. And sometimes that something is as simple as comparing the sugar content within two jars of pasta sauce. (:

 

The Ramblers

Reintroducing an “official” element of music into my life was a goal I set this year. (official meaning something I could commit to, would need to practice for & included other musicians). Joining the ACO was part of plan, but because I was waiting for an opening, I was still on the prowl, you could say.

A few weeks into 2014, a chat window from my friend Brenna popped up on Facebook, asking if I’d be interested in joining her husband’s band. My curiosity was piqued, so after wrapping up travel season, I attended one of the band’s rehearsals.

Right off the bat, I enjoyed playing with the group (and I suppose it’s safe to say they enjoyed playing with me as well (;). We started off as 3, but soon after, joined forces with a few other musicians and evolved into a full-fledged jug band. I can’t say I’ve previously played with a group comprising guitars, a washtub bass, accordion, vocals, violin and the occasional fun assortment of castanets/shakers/spoons/etc., but the variety has been fun and our sound has been coming together nicely. (:

As a classically trained musician, I’ve also really enjoyed playing with the group as it’s provided me with the opportunity to peel myself away from sheet music (mostly) and work on fine-tuning my aural skills. While “reading the map” AKA using sheet music has its obvious benefits, it also lends itself to lessening the experience of the other senses…

…such as hearing

…which is kinda important for a musician. 

I was once part of an orchestra where our conductor occasionally had us play in the dark. I think it’s safe to assume anyone walking by was at the very least perplexed, but the awareness gained by not having that visual distraction was pretty profound. During a few concerts, we weren’t allowed to bring our music to the stage, which, at the time was 100% terrifying, but in retrospect, I realize how much better we played (and sounded) during these concerts.

In additional to the technical stuff, the touchy/feely/myspace.com emo side of making music is also something I’ve really been enjoying. There’s something so special about playing with a group, whether we’re talking living room jam sesh or on-stage performance. It triggers a feeling I have a hard time putting into words… I suppose what I can say is that not much else can lead to such a profoundly euphoric sensation. 

I love the feeling of calm that comes with playing – the relaxing energy that permeates through the group and/or crowd. Especially during a time when we’re all so hyper-connected – iPhone becoming 3rd limbs (and yes, I’m the first to plead guilty) – it’s so rewarding to experience the rejuvenation and energy that builds as the music begins: smart phones disappearing, smiles growing, toes tapping and people dancing. Not sure that’ll ever get old. 

Anyway…back to the band…

It’s nearly impossible to summarize our style as it’s pretty eclectic, but if I had to describe it, I’d say we play a pretty eclectic mix comprising old-timey, Tex-Mex, string band, polka, & country.

Here’s a short clip of us playing at a recent Commerce Street Supper Club:

Black Bean Brownies

I’ll admit, brownies made with black beans sounded pretty gross. But after hearing rave reviews, I decided to give the recipe a try. As it turns out, they weren’t half bad.

Bon apetit. (:

photo

 

Black Bean Brownies
Yields 12
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 15 oz. can organic black beans, well rinsed & drained
  2. 1 organic banana, mashed
  3. 2/3 cup fresh-ground organic peanut butter
  4. 1/8 cup organic coconut oil, melted
  5. 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  6. 1 1/4 cup organic dark chocolate chips (1/2 melted; 1/2 whole)
  7. 1/3 cup honey
  8. 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  9. 1 tsp baking powder
  10. organic coconut oil spray
  11. optional toppings: chopped nuts, fruit, more chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with organic coconut oil spray.
  3. Combine all ingredients (except whole chocolate chips & toppings) into a mixing bowl. Mix until batter is smooth.
  4. Stir in remaining whole chocolate chips & pour batter into muffin tin. Sprinkle toppings over the top, if desired.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let brownies sit for about ten minutes, then remove gently with a fork & enjoy! I served mine warm, topped with fresh strawberries. MMMMM. So good!
Notes
  1. Add peanut butter little by little or else you will end up with a giant peanut butter ball. I might or might not have learned this the hard way.
  2. If you melt the chocolate chips and/or coconut oil, allow them to cool before combining with other ingredients
Kim Karalekas http://www.kimkaralekas.com/

 

 

Spanakopita & Strawberry Lemonade

Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie)

Sautéing garlic & onions:

Fresh spinach!

Dill…

FETA! nom nom nom

Eggs (to hold everything together, in case the 2oo pounds of butter needed some help):

Tada! Spanakopita!

Strawberry lemonade!!

Part of the strawberry lemonade recipe calls for club soda. Generally, the club soda belongs IN the recipe, not ON the cook.

I had a minor SNAFU and ended up wearing 1/2 the club soda. Oops.

But alas, it was only a bump in the road and the strawberry lemonade came out great!