Monday, July 22, 2013

Food: Fresh Tuna Salad with Avocado

I am not one to go spend the money on a tuna steak to turn it into a tuna salad. Seems like the salad would be an after dinner, lunch left-overs approach. But this ended up being a good approach with a novice tuna steak cooker such as myself. See, I can hone my tuna cooking skills while creating an edible meal. If I started with a tuna steak recipe and totally over-cooked it...well, salad it is. BUT, if I started with the intentions of the salad...then I MEANT to do that and have a good salad recipe outside onion, celery and tuna.

Well, I over-cooked the tuna, lol! But, not so much that it was too dry for a salad! I will continue to work with my pan, the stove, and timing to figure out the perfect combination to get that beautiful pink inside for the tuna steak. In the meantime, here is a great salad recipe from Food and Wine !


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • One 3/4-pound tuna steak, cut 1 inch thick
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, chopped
  • 4 Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • Pea shoots or alfalfa sprouts, for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil, fennel seeds and peppercorns and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat. Season the tuna with salt and add it to the saucepan. Simmer the tuna steak over low heat, turning once, until barely pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and scrape off the fennel and peppercorns. Strain and reserve the oil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, blend the mayonnaise with the minced anchovies, capers, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the fresh lemon juice. Stir the celery, onion and olives into the dressing. Using a fork, break the tuna into 1-inch pieces, then fold into the dressing. Season with salt.
  3. Set 2 avocado halves on each of 4 plates, skin side down. Drizzle the avocado flesh with some of the reserved spice-infused olive oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the tuna salad into the center of each avocado half. Top the tuna salad with the pea shoots or alfalfa sprouts and serve.

Food: Chocolate Syrup

Along with gummy candy, Elora's most recent vice is chocolate milk. For this, she has figured out how to get into the refrigerator (we took the handle off previously to keep her out). Helpfully, she will pull out the milk and chocolate syrup and let you know when its the optimal time for you to make her tasty treat.

So, once again, I was on the search for a healthier alternative. I thought it would be super cool to get a neat container and decorate it for her so she knew it was just for her. But first, I needed an Elora approved healthy alternative. HeavenlyHomemakers to the rescue with her Homemade Healthier Chocolate Milk recipe ! If you go to the website, I made the recipe listed first, she has two.  I chose that recipe because it stores in the refrigerator as syrup, where the second recipe is for more of a treat as it makes a blender full of chocolate milk.

Elora loved it! She now pulls that out of the refrigerator instead of the store bought stuff...unless of course, we are out of the homemade stuff!

  • 1 cup sucanat
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Mix sucanat, cocoa, sea salt and water in a medium sauce pan.
  • Whisk ingredients together and cook on medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil.
  • Boil for one minute.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Allow mixture to cool for just a few minutes.
  • Stir in vanilla extract.

Food: Massaged Kale Salad

Buying kale for Elora's smoothies usually means a lot of left-over kale that needs to be used ASAP before it goes limp and blonde (yes, even with ends cut in a glass of water). So I have been exploring recipes and came across this one for a Massaged Kale Salad from

I like that its fast, easy and uses what you already have in your pantry! I also liked that it softened the kale to a more palatable texture. It also packs a nice garlicky punch!

  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 minced anchovy fillet or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Strip leaves from the stems (discard stems).
  2. Wash and dry the leaves.
  3. Tear the leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  4. Add Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy (if using), pepper and salt.
  5. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when the volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning with more Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and/or pepper, if desired

Food: Cauliflower Rice

I had so much success with the Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and Shrimp Chowder that I wanted to push the limits of cauliflower further! HungryToes posted a recipe on her website for Cauliflower Rice! I love this idea!

In case you start to think that cauliflower is white and therefore has no real nutritional value (based on some weight loss diet schemes saying stay away from white stuff like rice, potato, etc), cauliflower helps with digestion with its fiber content, is a strong antioxidant, and a source for omega 3-fatty acids! Great! It has value! Now onward to the recipe!

I paired this with Slow Cooker Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken. Both recipes I enjoyed, just not together! The chicken is more of the consistency of pulled pork. It would be perfect in a bun or a wrap!

The "rice" came out great! It even reheated well for lunch left-overs! I will be testing it with more of a stir-fry where I can see better how it absorbs flavors from a sauce.

  • 1 head of cauliflower cut in to florets
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion chopped
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Oil for cooking (I used coconut oil for this one)
  1. Take your cauliflower and finely chop it. I used a food processor. Another option is to use a grater.
  2. Combine cauliflower, garlic, onion and salt in a bowl and mix together
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan on Med High
  4. Add cauliflower mixture
  5. Stir regularly until you see the cauliflower "fluff" up and change color. This will be subtle so keep your eyes on it. It should take about 7-8 minutes
  6. Serve warm

Food: Paleo Skirt Steak with Balsamic Mushroom Reduction

I have been trying to break outside the habit of cooking primarily chicken for my meals. Its easy and cheap, but to stick with primarily 1 protein in the diet really limits the nutrient spectrum.

While searching for some beef recipes, I came across this one Paleo Skirt Steak with Balsamic Mushroom Reduction from HungryToes

I loved that this recipe uses skirt steak, cheaper cut of meat but tender and flavorful. I also appreciated that it uses balsamic vinegar instead of wine. I like my wine, don't get me wrong, but the hubby isn't a fan of it in recipes from a taste perspective. This recipe was quick, simple and had more flavor than I had anticipated! I could even see this being incorporated into a weekly meal plan, it was that easy!

  • 1 lb skirt steak cut into 4 pieces (it usually comes in one long cut)
  • 8-10 white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves minced or finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp dried chopped onion (I used powered onion because I didn't have dried chopped onion)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil

  1. In a small bowl mix chopped onion, oregano, and basil.
  2. Toss your steak into the dry mix and make sure all pieces are coated.
  3. Take a medium frying pan and add your ghee or oil.
  4. Set to medium high.
  5. Add minced garlic.
  6. Add steak.
  7. About 5 minutes in, add mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and water.
  8. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  9. Turn steak on other side and simmer another 5 minutes.
  10. At this point, the sauce should be thickening, almost to the point that there is no liquid. This is when you know it's ready to eat.
  11. Remove from heat.
  12. Serve warm.

My Favorite Stuff: Crock Lunch Warmer

Initially, I was looking at thermoses to bring my lunch to work. For several reasons, I am trying to avoid the microwave. I am not concerned at this point in my journey the health impacts of standing too close while it is running. What I am concerned about is my food. I work hard creating nutrient dense food for my body and hate the thought of losing any of the benefits because I "nuked" my food. The timing also worked out well because work is remodeling the cafeteria, which means higher traffic for the microwaves on our floor.

I thought the thermos would be a good idea. Warm the food at home on the stove, into the thermos, hot and ready for lunch. But then I can across the 20-ounce Lunch Warmer from Crock-Pot and its brilliant!

Mornings are difficult trying to get myself and the kids ready for out-the-door by 8am. I certainly don't have to do as much as most. Kids get breakfast at daycare, I don't have to pack them lunches or snacks. But like most households with kids, there is always something to veer a morning routine into a ditch.

My point is, this crock has some great advantages over the thermos taking this into consideration.

  1. I don't have to pre-heat my meal! I simply pack my breakfast (usually some sort of scrambled egg, cheese, veggie combo) into the crock! When I get to work, I plug it in and my breakfast is ready in 30 minutes. It might be ready sooner, haven't checked. Usually it takes me 30 minutes to settle in, checking email and crafting some quick responses to emails or running off to a meeting. This will not cook the food, simply reheats it! Great for those days with back to back meetings when I might not get back to my desk for an hour.
  2. I can also pack a lunch that will need heating! All I have to do is clean the stainless steel insert, throw in my lunch and BAM! another hot meal without having to buy another thermos! 2 hot meals, 1 piece of equipment!
  3. It has a nice handle, its light, and fits into my daily bag of holding. I really hate carrying a bunch of stuff into work. 1 bag to rule them all and it fits.
A word of caution though, the insert has a "lid", I say this loosely because it does not screw on. There is also an outer lid that does screw on, but not really as a seal. What this means is that liquids will leak if you have it on it side...why would you store it like this? No clue, but just sayin...don't.

The two lid system is also nice because it contains the smell of your heating food. Which I guess your cube buddies will appreciate.

I have taken this to work and over to a friend's courteous is that, no dishes to clean up afterwards! I love it and can't recommend it enough!