Thursday, June 26, 2014

El Minzah Orange Salad

El Minzah is the famed five star hotel in Tangier  frequented by famous poets, Hollywood actors, dignitaries and politicians since it opened it's doors in 1930.  It is still considered the most prestigious hotel in North Africa and I believe this salad is still being served to this day.  The combination of  sweet orange, cool mint, salty olives, crunchy & slightly sweet fennel feels like a party with Moroccan flavors in your mouth.  It is the perfect summer salad to complement any of your grill-tastic recipes.

So I digress a bit from Melissa Joulwan's recipe by adding a slaw of sweet kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage and radicchio from a pre-made mix I bought at Costco.  You can certainly make your own slaw but I love this particular Sweet Kale Salad mix.  It added a nice bite and crunch along with the fennel.

4 - 5 large seedless oranges
1 cup slaw mix
1 fennel bulb
1/4 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup large black olives, pitted and cut in half
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 clove garlic minced
salt & black pepper to taste
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fennel fronds, minced, for garnish


Use a sharp knife to peel oranges, removing all of the bitter white pulp and the membrane on the outside of the orange sections.  with your fingers, separate the sections and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Place in a large bowl

Remove the fronds from the fennel and reserve some for garnish.  Cut the ends off the fennel bulb and slice it very thinly, crosswise or use a mandolin which is what I do.  Add the fennel, onions, olives, slaw mix, and mint to the oranges.  Gently combine with a rubber scraper

In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, paprika, cayenne, coriander, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add the oil in a slow drizzle, whisking continuously.  Pour the dressing over the oranges and toss gently to blend.  Let the flavors meld for about an hour before serving.  Taste and adjust seasonings, then top with minced fennel fronds

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Can Have My Cake and Eat it Too! #pff Peach Almond Crisp

Who can relate to one of these scenarios?

  • It's girls night out at your favorite GNO restaurant.  You are with a bunch of your BFF's and when it comes time for dessert, you order one with 6 spoons
  • You are having date night and you split a dessert with your significant other
  • Watching your calories, you forgo dessert altogether
Personally the first 2 scenarios happen a lot because let's face it, just like many, I like to end my meals with something sweet.  

Now it's possible to have your "cake" in this case a fruit crisp or cobbler, and eat it too with this #pff recipe - which I tweaked a bit - from the Well Fed cookbook. 

Are you ready for this?  No Sugar, no Dairy and no Grains!  This peach crisp is everything you expect from a crisp/cobbler - warm, tender, sweet chunks of fruit - crumbly, nutty, cinnamon-scented topping - the very definition of a perfect summer dessert.  

Try this recipe for your next barbeque.   Trust me, you will want seconds and you know what - it is perfectly okay!


6 peaches, cut into 1/2 inch dice (about 6 cups)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 3/4 cup almond flour
12 dried organic, no sugar added,  pitted dates
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1.4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp coconut oil chilled until solid, then diced
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds


Preheat oven to 350 F

In a medium bowl, mix the peaches, lemon zest and lemon juice with a wooden spoon. Allow to rest at room temperature while you prepare the topping.

Place almond flour, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Sprinkle the chilled diced coconut oil over the flour and pulse about 10 times then process on high for 5-10 seconds until there are no lumps.  

Pour the topping into a bowl and use a fork to mix in the slivered almonds.

For an 8 inch square pan or round pie plate, pour the fruit into the pan, pressing it gently into place with the back of a wooden spoon.  Sprinkle the almond topping over the fruit and lightly press into the fruit with the back of a wooden spoon or with your fingers.

For individual ramekins, place 6 ramekins on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Spoon generous 3/4 - 1 cup servings of the fruit into individual ramekins (you may end up with 5 depending on the size of your ramekins) pressing the fruit into the ramekins with your hands.  Place about 3 Tbsp of topping onto each ramekin, gently press down to cover the fruit with your fingers.

Cover the crisp lightly with foil and bake for 30 min.  Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 min until bubbly and browned.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

*This is best enjoyed warm and it is even better the second day warmed up in the microwave for about a min.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Caramelized Coconut Chips is the New Pocorn

Anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE POPCORN especially those supposedly "skinny" ones with only 35 calories per cup that are popping up in grocery stores - Boom Chika Pop, Popcorn Indiana etc…They have become my go-to salty and the kettle corn for the salty/sweet snack.  I mean, who does not love popcorn!  Obviously not on the paleo approved menu, I was certainly missing my favorite "junk food" if you will - until I tried the Caramelized Coconut Chips from the Well Fed cookbook.  Popcorn be damned!  I've now found a whole30 endorsed alternative that more than satisfies my craving for that salty crunch.

No they do not taste like popcorn but these cinnamon-caramelized coconut chips come very close to the experience: the saltiness, the mild sweetness and that ever-so-satisfying crunch.  I can live with that!

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I buy mine at whole foods)

Mix the salt and the cinnamon in a small bowl with a fork
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat - about 2 min
Add the coconut flakes and distribute evenly so they form a single layer in the pan
Stir frequently as they begin to brown rather quickly so Pay Attention - about 3 min
When the flakes take on that caramel color, remove pan from heat
Sprinkle the hot coconut flakes with the salty cinnamon and toss until evenly seasoned
Transfer to a plate and allow to cool in a single layer to achieve maximum crunch

Now sit in front of the tele, watch whatever your guilty pleasure is and enjoy this #pff snack!  May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container - if they last that long.

Here's what I will do next time:
For an Indian flair -  add 1/4 tsp of curry
For an Asian flair -   omit the cinnamon and add 1/4 tsp Chinese Five Spice
For Garlicky - omit the cinnamon and add 1/4 tsp granulated garlic powder

Friday, June 13, 2014

Re-Inventing Breakfast #pff Style

The dont's in the whole30 program are no Sugar, Dairy, Grains and Legumes which pretty much cancels everything I typically eat for breakfast for the last oh-so-many-years.  I know, I am one of those people that can eat the same thing for a week.  In my case, breakfast would always be either berries with greek yogurt, a fruit smoothie with greek yogurt or steel cut oatmeal with a packet of stevia, topped with raisins and slivered almonds.    This week, the second into my whole30, I am having these delicious and protein rich Meat & Spinach muffins adapted from the "Well Fed" cookbook.  This is also my first post!