Choona Salad

Don’t you love the British pronunciation of the word “tuna”? It’s right up there with “awesome” and “mobile”.

Tangy Tuna Salad

Tuna itself, however, can make for a pretty gross, gloopy lunchtime salad. Unless you make it like THIS. I’ve been making this salad about once a week for the last month or so, now that the weather has officially warmed up, and happily munching away for 2-3 days at lunch while my kiddo naps. It’s a wonderful way to spend my downtime!

This tuna salad recipe is super fresh and light, contains no mayonnaise, and is open to interpretation. Do you love scallions? Great, throw some in there too! Do you hate celery? Don’t use it!

As far as which kind of tuna to choose, it’s a bit of minefield. The cheapest cans of tuna are absolutely a reflection of quality – unsustainably sourced, full of mercury, low in flavor. If I can’t find a can or jar of wild-caught tuna, then I always go for one packed in olive oil. Sure the calories are higher, but you’re also getting a far more flavorful product. If you’re concerned about mercury, pick Chunk Light or Skipjack tuna, which generally contain lower levels (at the higher end of the spectrum are Albacore and Yellowfin). Wild Planet is a good choice, and can be found at any major supermarket and specialty health food store in the US.

Tangy Tuna Salad
 
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A light and tangy tuna salad
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 3-4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cans of wild caught tuna packed in olive oil (can also substitute one can of tuna for one small can of drained & rinsed white cannellini beans)
  • 3-4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard (or other mustard of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp drained capers
  • 1 tbsp sweet relish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to break up the larger tuna chunks and coating everything in the mustard and vinegar. Add seasoning if necessary to your taste. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

 


Banana Almond Butter Muffins

Banana Almond Butter Muffins

 

And the snow day baking continues!

This time we made muffins that are the perfect thing for breakfast or a mid-day snack. They really taste like banana bread, and are full of nutritious ingredients – and very rich in protein. This is refueling food (I made Phil have one when he finished his workout this morning – he’s always struggling to find non-Clif-Bar snacks to have after exercising).

And they are 100% toddler approved! Finn is a pretty good eater, but picky about textures. These ones don’t seem to be too mushy for my particular kid. And since he’s a banana fan, they pass the taste test.

Enjoy, and let’s all hope this snow stops SOON.

Banana Almond Butter Muffins
 
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Gluten-free and wholesome muffins, perfect for breakfast or a snack.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 6 tbsp coconut flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin pan with paper cases.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

 


Sweet Citrus

clementine almond cookies gf

There are parts of our garden with 4+ feet of snow piled up. We have a narrow-walled path to walk down in front of the house. Everywhere you look just screams WINTER. This is a nuts week we’re having in Boston. Blizzard after blizzard with a little Patriots Superbowl win thrown in the middle (don’t worry Eagles, I’ll always be yours).

Finn and I have been feeling some serious cabin fever lately. Most of January was spent with one or both of us battling some sort of illness. And now that we’re finally healthy (thank you Renewal Detox!), we want to get OUTSIDE and play. There’s only so many times we can play with his toys and read his books at home.

One upside to being snowed in (and keeping our power on, thank goodness) is extra time for baking and cooking. We’ve made carrot cake, blueberry oat bars, meatballs, soup soup soup, and now these guys.

It’s winter and you’ve probably taken full advantage of the amazing citrus of the season. If you’re like us, you probably have a ton of clementines in your fruit bowl. It’s not hard to finish them all (especially with fruit-loving Finn around). But inevitably, one or two will go the way of the trash can because they went moldy or overripe. So before that happened this time, I grabbed 3 and made these delicious cookies.

If you don’t have clementines, don’t worry. Any citrus fruit will work – seriously, ANY. One giant orange. A lemon. A lime. Blood orange. Grapefruit even? Give it a try.

Clementine Almond Cookies
 
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A sweet and crumbly cookie, without gluten or refined sugars.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12 cookies
Ingredients
  • Zest of 2 clementines (or any other citrus fruit)
  • Juice of 3 clementines (or any other citrus fruit)
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well to incorporate.
  3. Scoop out the dough in golf ball size pieces and flatten with the palm of your hand. Don't worry about leaving tons of space between cookies on the baking sheet. They expand but not too much.
  4. Bake for 16-18 minutes. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.

 


A Healing Broth

Delicious bone broth

Bone broth after a few minutes of bubbling away…

 

Have you heard of bone broth? It’s become a bit of a hot topic lately. But instead of spending $3.50 on a cup of bone broth (ludicrous), I’m here to teach you how to make your own. It’s really very simple and requires about 5 minutes of actual hands-on time.

The hardest part is sourcing the bones. This specific broth is made with beef bones, specifically femur bones (but knuckles and necks are also good choices due to their cartilage content). My husband and I belong to a raw milk coop from a farm that is home to some very well-treated grass-fed cows. Sometimes I can get bones from them. If not, I pick up a few pounds of frozen beef bones at Whole Foods (also from grass-fed cows, according to the label).

There are some extra steps you can take if you’d like that supposedly add more flavor, such as roasting the bones in the oven for an hour before beginning the broth. I always skip this step, simply due to time constraints and having a toddler running around at my ankles all day long.

But basically, you throw the bones in a large pot (I use an enameled cast-iron pot with a lid), throw in some roughly chopped veggies, like onion, celery, carrots, etc. And then cover them all with pure, filtered water. Bring this mixture up to a gentle simmer. Bubbles and scum will form on the surface (you can see it a little in the photo above, taken around this point in the process) – skim those away and throw them down the sink. Throw in a tablespoon or two of raw apple cider vinegar and some good quality sea salt. Once no more scum forms, you are ready to put the lid on and let time do the work. Leave the broth to bubble very slowly and gently for at least 24 hours. 36 is ideal. We generally do 24-28, depending on what time Finn takes his nap and I have the time to focus my attention!

Cooked bone broth

After 24 hours of cooking, here’s my pot o’ goodness

 

Now you must strain the broth – this can be tricky because the pot will be heavy. Strain it through a fine sieve. Use a ladle to spoon it out into the sieve if you’re unable to lift the pot and pour it. Make sure the sieve is positioned on top of another pot to catch all that good broth! I’ve definitely almost strained all the liquid gold down the sink before…

And your broth is almost ready! The next step is another waiting game. Let the broth cool at room temperature for a little while. Then transfer it to a jar or other container, and place in the fridge to cool completely (overnight probably). A layer of solidified fat will form at the surface – scoop this off and keep for another cooking purpose. NOW your bone broth is ready to either eat or freeze!

You can freeze this broth for a good 3 months in the jar. Or keep in the fridge for a week. Heat up to a simmer before slurping! Or use it as a base for soups and stews.

Jar of bone broth

Jar of bone broth before I removed the layer of fat. Yum!

 

So why on earth would you jump through all these hoops just to make a semi-clear liquid? The reasons abound.

  • Homemade broth is packed with essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, and other nutrients, such as gelatin and glucosamine – they are leached from the bones through the slow-cooking process and the inclusion of apple cider vinegar, which helps to draw the minerals out.
  • These minerals are very easily absorbed by the body, making it an amazing healing food for those who have compromised immune systems or digestive issues (such as leaky gut syndrome or irritable bowel). It’s also wonderful for babies and small children who don’t yet have the digestive capacity for red meats.
  • One pot of broth will give you several weeks’ worth of servings, depending on how often you drink it. If you (and your family) are sick, you could easily go through a pot of broth in a week, and will be making it more often. But since the broth lasts 3 months in the freezer, chances are if you’re good and healthy, you won’t need to do this process more than 5 times a year. However, it’s a great practice to get into!
  • Gelatin is a powerful nutrient that deserves a bit more attention here. Its’ health benefits are numerous – it can strengthen your hair, skin & nails, joints, and muscles. It can help to balance hormones. It is the crucial aspect in broth that supports digestive health, lining the intestinal walls which can be damaged due to leaky gut syndrome or IBS. (This is the reason I started making it in the first place, since Finn had some digestive issues around his first birthday. Since drinking broth, things have greatly improved!)
  • It is wonderfully supportive to the liver, making it an amazing detox food/beverage. In fact, it is just the thing to consume on my Winter Renewal Detox, starting this Monday!

Bone Broth
 
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A healing slow-cooked bone broth that will last for months in the freezer!
Author:
Serves: several quarts!
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs of grass-fed beef bones, ideally rich in cartilage or marrow (knuckles, femur, neck)
  • 1-2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 organic carrots, roughly chopped (don't bother peeling)
  • 2-3 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • Any other veggies or fresh herbs you'd like to add to flavor your broth! Choice is yours
  • 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • Plenty of pure, filtered water
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a large, heavy pot with a lid. Cover the bones and veggies with pure filtered water. Bring to a simmer and skim off the surface scum.
  2. Put lid on and continue to gently simmer for 24-36 hours, refilling with filtered water and skimming surface as needed.
  3. Strain broth through a fine sieve into another large pot.
  4. Leave to cool before decanting into storage containers, just as mason jars. Place in the fridge overnight.
  5. Remove layer of solidified fat - this can be used for other culinary purposes, so save it!
  6. Broth is ready for consumption or storage! One cup is the serving size, so feel free to portion it out before freezing for easier defrosting.
  7. Prepared broth will keep in its container in the fridge for up to 7 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 


Baby Falafel

Since before Finn was born, I’ve been interested in recipes that I can make for him as he grows and is better able to eat solid foods. Now that he’s 10 months old and rapidly approaching the picky toddler years, I’m enjoying his current very UN-particular eating habits! This kid eats anything. And then smears it all over himself and the table. And throws things on the floor. And mostly I don’t mind! I’m just happy to watch him discover and taste new foods, pretty much every day.

Baby Falafel

What follows is a recipe that came from a cookbook specifically designed for growing babies and their parents too (The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook). These chickpea patties, or as I call them, Baby Falafel, are great for both little ones and adults alike. They’re palm-sized, great for a healthy snack or lunch on the go, and have been Finn-approved (but to be completely honest here, most foods are Finn-approved).

photo 2

Better yet, they’re freezer-friendly, a bonus for tired parents. Instructions on how to prepare these for immediate consumption or for the freezer are both found below.

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Baby Falafel
 
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Palm-sized chickpea patties great for babies and parents for snacks or lunch!
Author:
Recipe type: Snack/Lunch
Serves: 2 adults and 1 baby
Ingredients
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped in quarters
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • handful fresh parsley
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp plain flour (spelt or other non-wheat flour are fine here)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except the flour in a food processor and blitz until thoroughly incorporated. Some chunks are okay - this doesn't need to be completely smooth.
  2. Coat your hands with flour (and sprinkle some flour on a plate) and start scooping out the mixture, one handful at a time, to make small patties, about the size of your child's palm (about half the size of yours probably?). Place the patties on the floury plate until you have about 12-14.
  3. Heat some sunflower or canola oil in a frying pan and cook the patties for a few minutes on each side, until slightly golden.
  4. Enjoy right away!
  5. Or, if FREEZING: allow the cooked patties to cool, then wrap in parchment or wax paper and place in a large ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, microwave or pan-fry until warmed through.