It’s that time again in Montana, where the overcast days are more than just a rare occurrence and the winter is looming…while I’m holding on tight to fall as long as I can, I am embracing heartier dishes that heat me up from the inside-out. That means it’s chili, stew and soup season! The first to make an appearance is this warm-spiced stew with ground emu and an array of sweet roasted root vegetables. Not only is this recipe easily adapted for what veggies and ground meat you have on hand, it’s a lovely pairing of sweet, salty and comfort with a variety of textures where you can swap out ingredients to suite your dietary needs. The root veggies compliment the shawarma spices and the ground meat beautifully, the apple cider vinegar makes the flavors really pop and the quinoa and mushrooms add to bulk and “meatiness” of the stew.
If you prefer a vegan or vegetarian cuisine, substitute the ground meat for chickpeas, more grains or add in additional mushrooms. If you do not have broccoli or zucchini on hand, swap either for chopped kale, chard and/or cauliflower. If you avoid grains, leave out the quinoa and serve on it’s own or over sweet potato or rutabaga rice.
Shawarma-Spiced Emu and Roasted Roots Stew
Paleo-friendly option, Vegan/Vegetarian option, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Nut-free, Seed-free, Egg-free, AIP-option, Grain-free option, Sugar-free
3/4 lb ground emu or ground meat of choice* (for vegan substitute 1 can of cooked chickpeas or 8 oz more mushrooms)
3 Tbsp olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil (can reduce to 1 Tbsp if using a higher fat ground meat since emu is quite lean)
1 small onion, diced (yellow or sweet onion)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3-4 Tbsp Shawarma curry spice mix**
1 small zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 -2 tsp sea salt
3-4 cups bone broth or homemade chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegan/vegetarian)
1-2 cups broccoli, broken or chopped into small florets
3/4 – 1 cup cooked quinoa (or rice. For veggie friendly, can increase to 2 cups or omit for paleo/grain-free)
3 cups roasted root veggies (sweet potato, beets, carrots, parsnips – one, two or a combo)***
2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley + more for garnish
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste
- If you do not already have roasted root veggies on hand, go ahead and preheat oven to 400F. Toss the following peeled and small diced veggies in 2 Tbsp oil of choice and sea salt and roast for 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned: 1 sweet potato, 1 beet, 1 carrot and 1 parsnip and set aside.
- In a soup pot or a Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and ground meat and saute until meat is no longer pink. (If using chickpeas, do not add quite yet), stirring often and breaking up pieces of meat into crumbles, about 7-8 minutes.
- Add in the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, shawarma spice mix, salt, garlic, mushrooms and zucchini and saute for another 6 minutes or so until mushrooms have released their natural juices.
- Add in broth/stock, broccoli, cooked quinoa (and chickpeas if vegan/vegetarian) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in cooked root veggies, apple cider vinegar and parsley and let cook for one minute or so. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, garnish with additional parsley and enjoy!
*Ground beef, bison, chicken, turkey or lamb would all be lovely options if not vegetarian. You can use up as much as 1 lb of meat if omitting the quinoa/rice or reduce to 1/2 pound of meat and increase grain or veggies if wanting to reduce the cost when purchasing good quality meat.
***I peeled and small diced 1 sweet potato, 1 beet, 1 carrot and 1 parsnip, then tossed in 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted at 400F for roughly 30 minutes until cooked and tender.
**If you follow the AIP diet, use the following shawarma spice blend and combine the following. Start with 2 1/2 – 3 Tbsp and add more if you want more flavor and spice, I am generous with seasoning but some people may prefer a more mild dish: 3 tsp garlic powder, 3 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp tsp tumeric, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp sea salt, 3/4 tsp Ceylon cinnamon and 1/4 tsp cloves
Strolling through our local farmer’s market is one of the highlights of my weekend. The local bee keeper selling his honey, the vibrant fresh flowers are on display in gorgeous bouquets, the scent of fresh-popped kettle corn is intoxicating, and the colorful vegetables…oh, the fresh garden vegetables remind me of a rainbow in food form!
My favorite stand is the organic Cedar Rose Farms run by a sweet and very knowledgable couple. I always buy several items that they have featured for the week. Carrots, spring onions and zucchini were featured the week I made this recipe (yum!)…which was ideal for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal! I was thrilled to come across this Farmer’s Market Skillet from Heather’s blog Join Us, Pull Up a Chair and use up my farmer’s market goodies! It may not be the prettiest dish to photograph, but it was DELISH!
I swapped out carrots for the corn since I didn’t find any at the market. I also incorporated goat feta cheese instead of cow’s for easier digestion my end (though you can swap out dairy-free cheese if needed OR use fresh avocado chunks and season with additional salt and lemon for a flavor boost) and used up the vegetable stock I had on hand to keep this a veggie-friendly main dish! I squeezed some additional lemon juice on top to amp up the acidity…which I’m about if you’ve been following me for a while 🙂 This was a big hit! It can stand alone as a dinner, quick lunch (hot or cold) or a zesty side dish alongside your favorite protein. Swap in your favorite fresh veggies to your liking – fresh corn kernels, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, beets, bell peppers, etc. I think this dish would also be delicious with chickpeas and a few olives for fun too!
While I happily chose to make her Farmer’s Market Skillet, Heather’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Pretzel Bars had me singing “It’s Peanut Butter-Jelly Time” along with a impromtpu shameless celebration dance in my kitchen while ideas swirled in my head to make a healthier and allergen-friendly version at a later date. I loved her idea for Buffalo Chicken Rolls as a hand-held appetizer and a perfect game-day recipe for upcoming football gatherings and Heather’s Gazpacho with Basil Cornbread Croutons made me want to hold on to warm summer days and sunshine.
Farmer’s Market Skillet (lightly adapted from Join Us Pull Up a Chair)
Gluten-free, Soy-free, Vegetarian, Nut-free, Vegan and Dairy-free Options, Refined Sugar-free, Corn-free, Egg-free
1 3/4 cup broth (vegetable for veggie-friendly OR chicken stock or broth if desired)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
2-3 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
2-3 green onions, chopped
1-2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese (I used goat’s feta – for dairy-free/vegan, use a shredded dairy-free cheese or choice, cashew cheese or substitute chunks of avocado)*
2-3 Tbsp chopped basil
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2-3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used 3 Tbsp bc I love acidity)
1 1/2 Tbsp honey, maple syrup or agave (do not use honey if strict vegan)
1 garlic clove, microplaned
1/2 tsp sea salt (or more to taste, if desired)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Using the broth or stock, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. Once cooked, fluff the quiona with a fork and let cool slightly.
2. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette, whisk and set aside.
3. Using a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown.
3. Add the zucchini and green onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until just tender and then add the quinoa and half of the vinaigrette. Stir well and cook for an additional minute.
4. Add the remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, cheese/avocado and basil to the skillet. Stir well to combine. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or lemon juice if desired and enjoy!
If you want to make this a cold salad, do not combine the quinoa into the skillet. Let all ingredients cool separately and then combine the cooked quinoa, cooked vegetables, tomatoes, feta, basil and vingairette into a large bowl. Chill until you’re ready to serve.
*If you opt to substitute the cheese for avocado for an easy dairy-free swap, I suggest you add a bit more salt and lemon juice since the cheese adds a nice salty element to the dish and add the avocado right before serving. Enjoy!
Bread needs to be in my life. It’s a non-negotiable…because bread and carbs make me happy…and for me, life’s too short to deprive myself of things of things that make me happy 🙂 Although I can’t consume the standard loaf or French bread, I am always looking for substitutes to satisfy my carb cravings and need for a biscuit, bun, wrap, or a slice of sandwich bread.
I love experimenting, such as when I used cooked rice as a flatbread or pizza crust, tinkered with variations of lentil bread, whipped up skillet bread with quinoa and buckwheat and mini flaxseed meal loafs, and now plantains. In the paleo and grain-free world, plantains are the perfect starch substitute and variations of plantain baked goods can be found all over on the web.
These rolls are slightly sweet but no added sugars are used since the hint of sweetness comes from the ripe plantains (which you can taste) plus these cute little bread balls are allergen-friendly. They are egg-free, nut-free, grain-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nightshade-free, vegan and paleo-friendly and can be prepared within 30 minutes — easy!
You can serve them for breakfast alongside a fried egg or slathered with some chia fruit jam or your favorite spread (pictured is Nutiva’s buttery coconut oil). Enjoy these buns for lunch too; slice in half and serve with your favorite slider recipe, sliced protein or spread with hummus and top with sliced veggies. They are also a perfect addition for dinner or to dip into a steamy stew. If you’re looking for a sweeter option, slather with homemade nutella or a drizzle of maple syrup and melted coconut butter. Mmm…you have options, so many options!
Sweet Plantain Buns (inspired by the Organic Dietitian’s recipe)
Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Egg-free, Nut-free, Grain-free, Soy-free, Sugar-free, Nightshade-free, Vegan, Paleo-friendly
1 medium-large ripe plantain, peeled and cut into several pieces (look for yellow with black spot)
1/2 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot starch
1/4 cup sunflower seed meal (or you could probably substitute 2 Tbsp coconut flour but I haven’t tried)
1 tbsp ground chia/chia meal
1/2 tsp baking powder (use corn-free for paleo)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil in solid state (not melted)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse plantain until in small pieces and slightly puree.
2. Add in the remaining ingredients and combine until a thick dough forms.
3. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Break dough into four or five pieces and form into a ball and place on parchment paper (dough will be really sticky).
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and enjoy!
Makes 4-5 small buns
These no-bake oat fudge bites are no exception…and it combines two of my all-time favorites — chocolate and peanut butter — along with my new oat obsession for an easy, quick and satisfying treat that’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast! Yes, chocolate for breakfast is way-ok in my book 🙂
You can make bars instead of the individual cups if you’d prefer to slice and serve. I tend to lean towards mini versions of everything – if you can’t tell from my Chunky Monkey Frozen “Cupcakes”, No Bake Mini Chocolate Pudding Tarts and Blackberry Banana Coconut Muffin Bites . The bar version is even quicker since you don’t have to divide up the crust/topping and chocolate layer into individual portions.
Funny story when I was making these…it was late…like real late at night. (Quick disclaimer: when it’s past midnight, I go on auto-pilot and I don’t always pay attention to little things.) I reached into the cabinet to get my vanilla bean sea salt flakes to crumble and sprinkle over these fudge bites…but I was only paying half attention to what I grabbed. It was a small bag, dark in color and I thought I read “vanilla bean salt” on the bag. Nope. it was Mexican dried oregano…hmmm, so a couple of these little dudes got a savory sprinkle, oopsi! I even tried to use my tweezers to remove the oregano, ha!
The sea salt isn’t required but it certainly adds that “wow factor” in my mind! Just don’t use oregano and I think you’ll love these filling and fudge oat treats! 🙂 If you can’t tolerate nuts, feel free to substitute coconut butter for an equally delicious option!
No-Bake Two-Bite Oat Fudge Bars
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, No-Bake, Vegan, Vegetarian, Nut-free option, Refined sugar-free
For the “Crust and Topping”
1 1/4 cup pitted dates
2 cups + 1/2 cup gluten-free quick oats
1/8 tsp vanilla bean powder
3 Tbsp (or more) non-dairy milk (or coconut oil for richer option)
For the Fudge layer
3 1/2 oz allergen-friendly dark chocolate chips or chopped bar (Enjoy life chips, homemade chocolate, Lily’s for sugar-free etc)*
3 Tbsp chunky or creamy peanut butter, nut butter or seed butter (for nut free, use coconut butter)
1 tsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp sea salt (I used vanilla bean sea salt flakes)
- In a food processor, add dates and process until a ball is formed.
- Add in 2 cups of oats and vanilla and process until powdery and combined. It will look dry. Drizzle in milk or oil and process until mixture forms a dough.
- Add in remaining 1/2 cup oats and pulse a few times (this will make the dough have a nice texture with the pulverized and whole rolled oats). Remove from food processor and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes to firm up.
- Remove from fridge and either press all but heaping 1/2 cup of dough into a parchment lined loaf pan OR press roughly 1 1/2 Tbsp (large spoon) of dough into silicone mini muffin pans until forms a little flattened disc or crust.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine chocolate chips/chopped chocolate bar and coconut oil. Stir often until almost melted then add in peanut/nut/seed butter or coconut butter and stir until completely melted.
- For loaf pan/bar preparation, pour chocolate over date mixture. For mini-muffin pan preparation, pour about 1 1/2 Tbsp of chocolate mixture over each crust.
- Crumble the remaining 1/2 cup dough over the chocolate mixture evenly. Sprinkle with sea salt (if desired but I love how it brings out the chocolate flavor). Refrigerate until chocolate firms up, slice into bars (with loaf pan variation) or pop out the fudge bites and enjoy!!!
Makes 15-17 bites
If you cannot tolerate chocolate, carob chips or a chopped carob bar can be used as well! Just watch out for added dairy…so homemade carob bark is always a good allergen-friendly option (just omit the mint in my recipe)!