Plantain cups – tostones – patacones – grain free – dairy free – vegan – appetizer

Plantain cups – tostones – patacones – grain free – dairy free – vegan – appetizer
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Well, this is my new favorite thing.

Honestly. These are such a treat, and also how cute are they?!

They make perfect appetizers for a dinner party or vegan meet up. Or just do what I did  and make them all for yourself.

I usually bring things I’ve cooked into work to share and get feedback on recipes I’ve created, but I brought these in yesterday and didn’t share a single one.

I kept popping into the break room between clients to sneak bites of these and it somehow made my super busy day so much more bearable.

Today I am making them again, because they are just, that, good.

I really don’t know what to call these.  Tostones are actually a simple dish of crispy, twice fried plantains.  But I wanted to spice them up a bit.

These are made from a base of tostones molded into a mini muffin tin while still hot, stuffed with refried beans, and topped with salsa verde and cashew cheese. Holy yum.

Honestly I would order these in a restaurant.

Use whichever beans you prefer, red beans don’t bother my stomach like black beans do, but I’m sure black beans would be amazing if that’s what you have on hand.

If you still eat dairy you could top these with some crumbled queso fresco, but I love having some fully plant based meals in my arsenal and think cashew cheese works beautifully in this recipe.

If you like plantains, give these a try, this is just one of many ways to enjoy the super versatile ingredient.

Ingredients

Spice mix – zest of 1 lime, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 large plantain – more on the green side

4 tbsp. coconut oil divided

1/2 cup beans (I prefer kidney)

4 tbsp. salsa verde divided (I prefer herdez brand)

1 clove garlic

3 tbsp. water

Directions

Heat 2 tbsps. oil in a skillet on medium low

Cut the plantains into 1″ pieces and fry on all sided until golden (don’t let them get dark brown turn the oil temp down if needed)

Remove from heat, drain on a paper towel a few minutes and then smash to about 1/4 inch flat with the back of a heavy glass

Add the remaining oil and fry again until golden and crispy

Sprinkle with 1/2 of the spice mix

While still warm use the back of a metal tablespoon to press the plantains into a mini muffin tin, let cool

Add the beans to the pan the plantains were fried in, pour in the spice mix, half of the salsa verde, and the water, fry and mash into a paste

Fill the plantain cups with the refried beans

Drizzle with remaining salsa, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and top with cashew cheese

If you try this recipe and like it please pin it or Instagram it and tag me @tha_wild_sage

Pad Thai – Grain free – Low Carb -Delicious

Pad Thai – Grain free – Low Carb -Delicious
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I love Pad Thai, but not just any version, it has to be the authentic flavor created with a base of Tamarind paste.  Ketchup on rice noodles?  NO THANK YOU.

When people suggest the taste difference between the two methods is barely discernable I scoff.  As someone who doesn’t even really like ketchup on fries there is no way a plate of ketchup-y noodles is going to suffice for the real thing.

The best Pad Thai looks like it barely even has any sauce on it.  The rice sticks are soaked in warm water (never boiled) so they don’t get over cooked and the balance of flavours is so perfect I can polish of a plate without even stopping to realise I have just ingested a full days worth of calories.

I believe it is super important to eat healthy food ninety percent of the time, especially when healing from an autoimmune disease, but I also feel it is important to treat yo self! Subscribing rigidly to diet labels can ultimately set us up for failure and on the rare occasions I find myself eating out in a Thai restaurant, I order the Pad Thai. As long as they can make it gluten free I do the dang thing, no guilt, no shame.

However, when cooking at home I’m pretty serious about avoiding grains and dairy, (aside from the occasional gluten free tortilla chip)  Since ditching most grains my thyroid antibodies have improved, my body composition has improved, I’ve had more energy and I’ve noticed hair regrowth.  Why mess with a good thing?

Yesterday I had a craving for some Pad Thai and decided I would create a version I can eat as often as I like, one that would nourish my body and keep those insulin levels stable.  What I came up with did not taste exactly the same as the noodles from an actual Thai restaurant, but it was very similar, and completely satisfying.  Craving crushed!

Using a combination of zucchini and carrots for the ‘noodles’ kept my palate interested and made the dish look super pretty and colorful.

Ingredients:

Sauce – 1 tbsp. coconut aminos, 1 tsp tamarind paste, 1 tsp coconut sugar, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 clove grated garlic, salt and pepper.

1 small organic chicken breast

2 carrots

1 zucchini

1 small shallot finely diced

1 egg

3 tbsp. chopped peanuts

1 chopped scallion or garlic chives (green parts)

A few sprigs of cilantro

A lime wedge

Red chilis to taste

2- 3 tbsp. cooking oil

Directions:

Make the zucchini/ carrot noodles with a spiralizer or vegetable peeler

Make the sauce in a mason jar, shake vigorously to combine

*Tip* Make extra and save the excess for future preparations, it lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge

Slice chicken breast into long thin strips, lightly season with salt and pepper

Heat oil in a skillet and sauté shallot

Toss chicken in and cook for 5 – 6 minutes until light brown

Push the chicken to one side and crack the egg into the skillet, stir it around to scramble for about a minute

Add the zucchini and carrot ‘noodles’ to the pan pour the sauce overtop and stir everything to combine

Let it simmer another 1-2 minutes, allow most of the liquid to evaporate but don’t overcook

Drizzle with lime juice, and top with fresh herbs and peanuts

Plate with an additional lime wedge and optional red chilis

Serves 2

Braised beef tacos – gluten free – grain free – dairy free – kid friendly

Braised beef tacos – gluten free – grain free – dairy free – kid friendly
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It sounds a bit gruesome but I love to split a whole cow from a local farm with friends and family.  Other than hunting wild game (which, there is just no way) this is probably the most economical, humane and sustainable way to eat meat.  You know exactly ‘who’ you are eating and how they lived.  Its easier to meal plan when you have a couple months supply of beef in the freezer, there are less trips to the grocery store and less food waste overall.

Throwing out meat is something that just does not happen around my house.

For a long time I was vegan, and for an ever longer time I completely abstained from red meat, opting instead for poultry or fish.  In turn, for a long time, my blood tests have revealed super low ferritin levels (ferritin is just a fancy word for a body’s total iron stores.)

As it turns out, having low ferritin is often associated with hashimotos, and low ferritin can even end up being the true culprit behind many hashimotos symptoms (specifically, hair loss, cold sensitivity, fatigue and even heart palpitations!)

No amount of Spinach, molasses, lentils or supplementation could ever seem to do much for raising those stubborn ferritin levels.  For years, they consistently hovered between 4 and 17, but when I finally added red meat back into my diet (and cut out those grains) all of my symptoms slowly began to improve.

My ferritin levels finally crept above 20, and best of all, my hair shedding slowed dramatically.

I still love a good plant based meal, but I no longer believe that eating meat is ethically wrong.  I feel it is my first priority to be a good mom to my kids and being a suffering wreck riddled with autoimmune disease and anxiety was truly effecting my ability to parent and just exist in the world.

Anyone who has experienced either can attest, hashimotos (and PCOS) can be downright painful.

I now believe eating ethically is all about making better choices about the meat we do eat and eating less of it overall.  The most important thing we can do is listen to our bodies.  If something in our health is amiss, chances are high that something in our diet is amiss too.

I love Mexican flavors and find that this braised beef is a foolproof yet super flavorful way to cook almost any cut of beef. I have tried this with chuck, sirloin and tip roasts, it always turns out.  When in doubt, ask your butcher to recommend a roast that braises well.  The key to this beef is in the long game.  You have to make the time to cook it super low and slow, and if your cut of beef is particularly large and lean, cut it into smaller chunks before searing and braising.

My husband begs me to make this at least once a week and thinks I’m an absolute superstar every time I pull it from the oven.  My picky kids like it too.

I love this beef on grain free tortillas, but it is also a treat served over mashed potatoes or cauliflower rice.  Pair it with a side of guacamole, pico de gallo, and slaw and you’ve got dinner.

Tip * Feel free to sub the beef for chicken, just reduce the cooking time by half.

Ingredients:

3-4 pound beef roast

Spice rub ; 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder

4 tbsp olive oil

2 cups beef stock

1 diced jalapeno

3-4 whole garlic cloves peeled

2 diced roma tomatoes

1 cup salsa verde ( I highly recommend the Herdez brand)

1 lime

1 bunch chopped cilantro (include the stems)

Directions :

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Let the beef sit at room temperature for about a half hour prior to cooking

Prepare the spice rub

Cut the roast into smaller roughly 1 pound pieces

Drizzle the beef with 2 tbsp olive oil and roll in the spice rub to coat

In a dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid heat the remaining oil and sear the beef on all sides to a light brown color

Pour in the beef stock and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pot into the liquid

Toss in the salsa verde, tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic cloves and a handful of chopped cilantro.

The liquid should come no more than 1/2 way up the beef

Bring up to a low simmer, cover with a lid and put into the preheated oven

Try to forget about it for 2.5 -3 hours

Tip * If you are using a super lean cut flip the beef halfway through cooking so both sides spend some time immersed in the cooking liquid.

Assemble your tortillas, slaw and guacamole

After three hours turn off the oven and let it sit in the oven another hour

Pull out the beef and shred with forks

Optionally you can use an immersion blender to turn the liquids in the pot into a smooth gravy.  If you are feeding kids you might want to pull out some, or all, of the jalapenos before pureeing.

Mix the shredded beef back into the sauce and enjoy!

Swimming rama – Thai style beef peanut curry with cauliflower rice – low carb – paleo – grain free – gluten free

Swimming rama – Thai style beef peanut curry with cauliflower rice – low carb – paleo – grain free – gluten free
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Swimming Rama is my favorite of the Thai curries.  Maybe because I have such a soft spot for the ever controversial peanut butter.  But yum.

It is so rich, flavourful and satisfying.  If you can’t do peanuts you can substitute for cashew or almond butter, it will taste slightly different but will still provide that rich creaminess we are all chasing.

This curry can be made vegan by subbing the meat for tofu, it also is great with chicken, prawns or whatever protein you have on hand.

The magic is in the sauce.

Traditionally, swimming rama is poured over a bed of wilted greens, and served with rice.  I like broccolini, spinach or bok choy, but again, just use what you have on hand.

Because I’m feeling so good eating grain free, I obviously recommend subbing out those grains for a fluffy, steaming bowl of cauliflower rice, but that’s your call.

Meat or vegan, rice or cauliflower this is a perfect meal any day of the week that comes together quickly and pleases even picky family members.

Ingredients :

1 shallot

1-2 tbsp. red curry paste (adjust to personal spice preferences)

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 can coconut milk

1-2 limes

chopped cilantro

3 tbsp. peanut butter

1 tsp fish sauce

2 cups protein of choice

As much steamed or sautéed greens as you like

As much cauliflower rice as you like

Directions :

Finely chop shallot and lightly saute in oil about 30 seconds

Add curry paste and continue to saute until the paste becomes fragrant

Toss in protein and roll around in the curry sauce and shallots

Slowly add coconut milk and allow to lightly simmer (don’t boil)

When the protein has cooked through (about 10 minutes) turn off heat

Add fish sauce, lime juice, peanut butter and cilantro

Stir to combine and salt and pepper to taste if needed

*Tip* Serve with an extra lime wedge and let everyone add their own chopped red chilis at the end to individually customize the heat and acid.

If you try this recipe and like it tag me @tha_wild_sage and give it a pin!

Why juicing is my favorite, and juice fasting is a total health game changer

pexels-photo-616833.jpegHopefully my kids never read this, and I apologise to any woman struggling with fertility for how this may come across, but I have never once tried to get pregnant and have been blessed with two kids.

This may not seem at all crazy to the countless woman every year who experience unwanted pregnancies, but the thing that set my pregnancies apart from the millions of others is that I got pregnant with PCOS.

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility and led me to believe I would probably never have kids thus, when I shacked up with my now husband, I wasn’t terribly cautious with birth control.

For four years, I managed to have a fairly healthy sex life without any hint of pregnancy. This would be pretty unheard of for any early 20 something with no fertility issues doing the deed daily, but not me, I had that inbuilt birth control that at my age was the one symptom of PCOS I actually welcomed.

Despite losing tons of hair, having s**tty skin, and facial fuzz, it wasn’t until I stepped on the scale and realised I had gained A LOT of weight that I decided it was high time to get a grip on my pcos symptoms. I changed up my diet (less carbs more greens), started supplementing with maca powder, and walked/biked everywhere, but I’m convinced one of the main things that turned it around for me was juicing.

My guy bought me a juicer as a gift of encouragement when I had been working out hard for a few months and still hadn’t lost much. His friends wife owned a health food store and she swore to him that juicing was a game changer, so I was finally baptized in the juice of cucumbers and celery, and my health really began to turn a corner.

Every cup of juice was like a shot of energy to my cells, but not like a caffeine shot of energy where you feel jittery and wired. Juice energy is more like a calm and peaceful sense of ‘I have enough energy to climb a f**cking mountain, write a book and conquer the world all at the same time.’ The greener the juice the better (though admittedly some tastes took a bit more getting used to)

After about two months of juicing daily and continuing an active lifestyle I was just 12 pounds short of my goal weight and seemed to have hit a plateau. It was late one night in my ‘research’ (googling) that I came across the concept of juice fasting.

What? I could really just drink nothing but juice for days and I wouldn’t die?

I researched (googled) the phenomena of juice fasting for weeks, certain people must occasionally die from it. Yet I found that, not only did they not die, but many people regained lost health and transformed their bodies and their lives in the process.

Some of these amazing people consumed nothing but juice for months and were still alive to tell the tale.

So that was it, I was sold. I made a list of juice recipes to try and bought what I thought was an aggressive amount of produce (it barely got me through the first day.) But I was off and juicing and while it was honestly a pretty rough three days, the results were glorious.

The first day I was in a fog. I felt weird constantly aside from the short spikes of energy I would get immediately after consuming my juices. My mouth tasted like someone’s butt hole and I had zero energy to do even the simplest tasks. Luckily, I researched well (thank you google) and planned to begin my fast on the weekend so I basically laid on the couch and binged on curb your enthusiasm and juice.

The second day I awoke with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose. There is a spiritual element to juicing that can only really be experienced. You feel closer to God, to your fellow humans animals and the earth. You do a lot of reflection, and while your body is detoxing, your mind and heart is also.

I went to a local park, lay by a pond, read a book and felt like freaking snow white, all the birds and squirrels were my friends and I was glowing like an angel.

By the time I rode my bike home I was starving and had transformed into the evil witch. I quickly double checked with google to make sure I hadn’t missed any stories of people dying on a juice fasts while glaring with hatred at my boyfriend eating KFC across the room. The smells were amplified by 100% and I eventually had to leave while he finished dinner.

This is one thing to remember about juice fasting. Do not be anywhere that smells like food. Hot dog stands, mall food courts, county fairs, torture.

Later that night I was still seething as my boyfriend ate his way through an entire bag of jalapeno chips. I had initially wanted to fast for as long as possible but was starting to feel like unless I was in an ashram somewhere far away from all food, three days would suffice.

I stepped on the scale that night and was down a whopping seven pounds, IN TWO DAYS. Granted it was mostly all water weight but I was going to take it. It was the push I needed to get me through the final day and I went to bed dreaming about the healthy green salad I would eventually break my fast with (ha!).

As much as I love google, you can’t always trust it. Almost everything I read swore that by the third day I wouldn’t feel hungry anymore. It was all LIES.

The third day was the worst. I think it was a combination of extreme caffeine withdrawal ( I should have weaned off coffee before beginning the fast), detoxing and hunger but I was basically a psycho hose beast the entire day.

When my boyfriend dared to come home with sushi for dinner I actually had a flash visualisation of stabbing him with the chop sticks.

By this point I not only had terrible breath but my body odor smelled like three day old tacos. Thank you detox symptoms.

I spent a few hours indulging in food porn before going to bed dreaming about all the glorious things I would be able to eat the next morning. When I stepped on the scale I was only two pounds off of my goal weight and I felt triumphant knowing I would soon be chewing food again.

When you break a fast you are supposed to take it easy and start with light foods. I wish I could say I followed this advice but after devouring a whole package of blackberries that tasted like manna from Heaven, I waited a few minutes to make sure my stomach wouldn’t burst before sampling bites of everything in sight.

I actually baked fresh bread for my first time ever in my life. I was ready to eat all the food.

But, because my stomach had shrunk a bit, I found I got full fairly fast, and in the days following the fast portion control was much easier for me than it had been previously.

In many ways it was like my short juice fast reprogrammed my eating habits entirely. Suddenly, I craved veggies constantly and had completely lost the desire to eat meat.

Maybe it was that snow white moment by the pond but my juice fast completely kicked off a life of conscious eating, beginning with vegetarianism and eventually veganism. (I am no longer a vegetarian or a vegan but do ensure that at least half of my meals are entirely plant based and all my food choices are consciously made.)

It was like the whole experience gave me a fresh perspective on the roll I play in the world and my responsibility to share it peacefully with the other creatures who live here.

My skin went from being broken out and zitty to the skin of a baby. Literally, NO cream, serum or peel has ever been able to come close to what juicing for three days did to my skin. I also noticed a slight reduction in hair shedding (interesting) and the peach fuzz around my jaw line seemed to have diminished.

I had obviously lost a lot of water weight, but when my boyfriends babe of a friend (who is literally a male model) commented weeks later that I looked like I had lost a lot of weight (blush) I realised the fast must have kick started healing in my body that eventually led to sustainable fat loss.
(There is evidence that fasting can help activate an insulin response in individuals with insulin resistance!)

Within a couple months I had dropped below my goal weight and was looking and feeling amazing, all thanks to three (long) days of juicing, and a follow up of healthier eating and daily exercise.

And that’s when it happened… My boobs magically went up a full cup size. Was this another welcome side effect of juicing? I googled it ready to jump right back into another juice fast asap. But, no.

Missing a period was so common for me I had no idea when my period was even ‘due’ but on a strange hunch I bought a pregnancy test and took it in a community pool bathroom. When the two lines appeared I felt a strange sense of peace come over me. I yelled out loud and emerged from the stall with tears of joy streaming down my face.  People probably thought I was crazy.  But I didn’t care, I had been given a gift. I was going to have something I never thought I could and until that moment hadn’t even realised I wanted.

There is indisputable proof that for women with PCOS, a reduction in body fat is an excellent way to increase fertility, but it is a cruel catch-22 that losing weight with PCOS is really really hard.

I am 100% positive that my mini juice fast helped activate my insulin response, allowed me to shed a few important pounds and was a contributing factor in my being able to conceive. I always sing the praises of juicing to anyone who will listen. I turn to mini (one day) juice fasts whenever I’m feeling run down, and have been able to stave off colds, cure freak breakouts, and get bathing suit ready quick with fresh juice in my healing arsenal.

Don’t just take my word for it, if you need inspiration about the powers of juicing, just watch the movie ‘fat sick and nearly dead’ on Netflix, it is a mega motivator.

Lately my body has been calling me to do another longer fast, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve been putting it off. But I think when I get mentally ready I’m going to aim for a minimum of 5 days and will post the results here when I finally gather the willpower to do it. (Cooking for my family while fasting is a torture I am quite honestly terrified to endure)

What do you think? Do you juice? Do you love it? Has it changed your life in some profound way? Let me know, and if you’ve never juiced what are you waiting for?!