Cook. Nourish. Heal. Celebrate.

Roasted Cauliflower “Couscous” (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jul 15, 2014 at 4:03pm

Roasted Cauliflower "Couscous" | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)This side dish is a twist on the couscous salad that changed my life. For years, my go-to potluck contribution was a couscous salad, loaded with roasted vegetables, dried fruit, cheese, and nuts. It doesn’t wilt on a buffet and pairs well with barbecued meats and other salads. I made it for my own parties, brought it everywhere, and gave out the recipe (it’s more of a technique than a recipe, really, because you can add whatever you like to it) to many friends. I made it for our neighborhood block party one fateful night in August of 2010, in fact, and ate plenty of it, along with a hot dog on a bun washed down with beer.

I’d been having progressively debilitating health problems before that August night. For a couple of years, I had been battling joint pain, digestive distress, weight gain, water retention, low energy, and depression with physical therapy, exercise, medication, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and diet. To say that I was distressed to find no relief from my symptoms is an understatement. Luckily, I started to keep a careful food journal and noticed that when I ate bread or pasta, my joint pain and low energy would peak. As a cook and recipe writer, I was afraid to give up eating wheat, but after the couscous/hot dog/beer night in 2010, I was in absolute misery.Roasted Cauliflower "Couscous" | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)That’s when I stopped eating gluten.

My symptoms improved so quickly, I’ve never looked back. In fact, I progressed to eating no grains and adopting a paleo (whole foods) diet and continued to improve, especially after a diagnosis of hypothyroid confirmed that gluten-free was indeed my path to better health. The last few months (since February) spent following the Autoimmune Protocol/AIP have meant further improvement (especially after an unfortunate experiment with eating non-gluten grains combined with high stress caused a relapse in my hypothyroid symptoms).Roasted Cauliflower "Couscous" | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)And so I present this grain-free version of my old potluck stand-by. It doesn’t taste exactly like couscous, but roasting the cauliflower first does give it a wonderful texture and flavor (better than steaming or sauteeing the cauliflower, in my opinion). This version has been every bit as popular with friends and family as the original. See what you think!

Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower “Couscous” (AIP, Paleo) at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Beef, Bacon & Kale Meatballs (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jul 9, 2014 at 10:45am

Beef, Bacon & Kale Meatballs | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)I’m a meatball fiend so I make these frequently, eating them as is, wrapped in lettuce leaves with good pickles, served as a party appetizer (with roasted vegetables and cherry-barbecue sauce, pictured below), and/or added to soups. (You know how I mentioned last week that I love crispy shrimp as a garnish for soup? Well, meatballs are a close second…I think you’ll like them too.) In addition to their undeniable deliciousness, meatballs can be made in big batches and frozen (reheat to your heart’s content for quick meals, snacks, and gatherings).Beef, Bacon & Kale Meatballs | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Beef, Bacon & Kale Meatballs | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Beef, Bacon & Kale Meatballs | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Adding a bit of chopped bacon to grass-fed ground beef is a nice way to keep meatballs (and burgers) from drying out (a trick I stole from chef Scott Pampuch years ago) with the bonus of a hint of smokiness. The kale and leeks add moisture too, as well as color and flavor, while the gelatin and starch add tenderness and act as binders (in lieu of bread and egg). I tend to just fry the meatballs, especially on a warm day, but if you’re making big batches, baking meatballs in the oven is a neat trick with tasty results.Fresh TartI hope you had a festive July 4th! I spiffed up in red, white, and blue (in my fave white lace dress, which I can comfortably wear again thanks to the autoimmune protocol/AIP; last summer it was a no-go) and spent the day relaxing and celebrating with my lovely sister Stacey. We decided to see a movie (Begin Again, we really enjoyed it) followed by an amazing dinner (oysters, langoustines, shrimp, arctic char) at the Sea Change raw bar, ending with a short stroll out onto the patio to catch the fireworks over the Mississippi River.

It was a perfect day, fun and delicious and stunningly beautiful. Fresh TartFresh TartThe next day I drove out to Green Lake to spend the rest of the weekend at my aunt Mary and uncle Bruce’s lovely cabin.Fresh TartFresh TartI tried my hand at kayaking (with my uncle, super fun) in the morning, then spent the rest of the day lolling in the sun out on the lake while my aunt and cousins Michael and Craig fished – that’s my Grandpa Meyer’s tackle box <sniff>. I slept like a rock and even still had to take a nap upon arriving home. That’s what vacation is for: good food, fun with family and friends, and lots of rest.

I hope that you too found all three.Beef, Bacon & Kale Meatballs | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Recipe for Beef, Bacon & Kale Meatballs (AIP, Paleo) at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jul 1, 2014 at 1:57pm

Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp(AIP, Paleo)For those of you who plan ahead, this is a soup for after the celebrating, when the July 4th ribs and potato salad and pie have been gleefully devoured and left you ready for something lighter. Encourage the pendulum swing back to fresh with restorative rich broth and garden-fresh vegetables, whirred in a blender to something creamy and bright. Make it a meal with crispy shrimp (to me, there is nothing better than crispy shrimp in creamy soup). Or, depending on your mood, garnish with crackling shallots, beefy meatballs, crumbled bacon, sauteed mushrooms, or dried fruit.Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)If you’re finding yourself with unmanageable amounts of kohlrabi and various greens in your CSA box, this soup is for you. Roasted kohlrabi is wonderful and purees beautifully. I used mizuna (a bitterish, leafy green) in the soup pictured but I make this soup all the time with spinach, arugula, or cress, whichever I have on hand. Once you nail down the basics, you’ll see that this same technique can be applied to any combination of farmers market and/or garden goodies. Garlic scapes for garlic. Spring onions for leeks. Whatever fresh herbs you desire. On and on.Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Have a safe and festive holiday weekend! You’re making a weekend of it, right? I certainly am. A potluck barbecue on Friday, perhaps a bike ride or a trip to the lake on Saturday. I got a new car last week and I opted for a small SUV (I named her Sally) so I can haul my bike around and you know, not get stuck in the winter. Yes, I’m thinking about winter. Not too much, only in the way one must think about death (heh) – as something inevitable, best used to motivate filling one’s days with sunshine, love, purposeful work, art, music, family, friends, and good food, including canning jam and pickles for the dark days of February.

Happy 4th!

Recipe for Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Mmmocktail Time! Raspberry-Mint Simple Syrup (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jun 26, 2014 at 7:17pm

Raspberry-Mint Simple Syrup | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)It’s no secret that I’m a fan of bubbly beverages. Champagne used to be my go-to, but these autoimmune protocol days (and for the foreseeable future because I feel great not drinking alcohol), my bubbles are of the sparkling water variety. I still enjoy a festive beverage around the cocktail hour, so I’m happily exploring non-alcoholic concoctions of various flavors and types. This raspberry-mint simple syrup plus sparkling water duo currently holds the tippy top sippy spot for pretty and absolutely delicious.

I think you should serve it for July 4th! Pickle some blueberries with Joy Summers’ pickled strawberry recipe. Skewer a few on a toothpick and add to the glass for a garnish. Or pickle raspberries. Or make the syrup with strawberries or blueberries. This is fun!

Raspberry Mint Simple Syrup (AIP, Paleo)
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raspberries (frozen work nicely and are less expensive, but fresh are always lovely)
20 fresh mint leaves (plus more for garnish)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until hot and honey is melted. Pull from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Using a fine-mesh colander, strain syrup into a bowl, pressing down on the raspberries to extract their juice. (Tip, the resulting smashed raspberries are delicious – eat them!). Transfer syrup to a jar and store in the refrigerator.

To make a mocktail, fill a glass with ice. Fill glass with 1/3 simple syrup and 2/3 sparkling water (adjust ratio to taste). Stir gently to mix. Serve garnished with mint leaves (or pickled raspberries or both).

Coleslaw with Caper-Anchovy Dressing (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:21pm

Coleslaw with Caper-Anchovy Dressing | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Are you dreaming of a July 4th barbecue feast? If you are, I have a few ideas for you. Creamy coleslaw is some of the best picnic fare around, but a vinegary slaw can be a tart change of pace, improve while sitting on a buffet, and even add a bit of polish to a plate full of picnic food. (Aside: Is there anything better than a plate full of picnic food? Gah!) Before I sing the salty praises of capers and anchovies, I want to point out my friend Shaina Olmanson’s sweet-and-sour Carolina-style vinegar coleslaw recipe on her delicious blog Food for my Family. Her husband Ole is a grill master – truly – so when she suggests the perfect slaw for July 4th barbecued pork, we all should listen. I make her coleslaw all the time and keep a jar of the dressing in my fridge – it’s fantastic on every salad.Coleslaw with Caper-Anchovy Dressing | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)So OK, back to capers and anchovies. I made this coleslaw for a lamb chop feast a few weeks back and it was a hit with everyone at the table. Capers with lamb is totally my jam, as are kalamata olives, oregano, and spring onions. If you want to sear a few chops on the stovetop for a quick weeknight meal, check out this delectable recipe and step-by-step video I shot with chef Peter Ireland. He has great tips for achieving the perfect crusty-pink chop.

Or if you’re thinking of grilling a succulent leg of lamb for your barbecue, well I wouldn’t blame you one bit and in fact, I’d happily show up with this salad!Coleslaw with Caper-Anchovy Dressing | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)So why am I picturing it with salmon? Because all the same zingy-briny flavors are fantastic with salmon too – spoon some of the dressing over the fish while it’s sizzling from the pan. The tang of the capers and lemon juice balance the creamy fattiness of wild-caught salmon for a memorable – and beautiful – entree that takes about 15 minutes to pull together.

Recipe for Coleslaw with Caper-Anchovy Dressing at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

And while I’m talking salmon, I’m never super thrilled with what I buy here in town. I order salmon online from Vital Choice and it’s sometimes excellent, sometimes just OK. If you have a salmon purveyor you’re passionate about, leave a comment, we’d all love to know!

And oh! While we’re talking about barbecues and picnics and summer entertaining, I want to introduce you to my insanely talented food writer friend Joy Summers’ new blog, Joy on the Rocks. On it she’ll be talking cocktails, both the craft-cocktail-scene variety and the make-at-home variety, including a gorgeous sangria just perfect for the 4th. Given my autoimmune protocol cocktail-less status these days, I’ve been remiss in sharing cocktail recipes and in pointing out what’s great to drink around town. I do plan to share raves about where to get a good mocktail. (Recommendations so far: La Belle Vie, which prints a whole menu of them, and Borough/Parlour where you can describe what you like and they’ll whip up something yummy. I’m overdue on trips to The Strip Club and Saffron, but I am certain that they make delightfully fresh, not-too-sweet concoctions, because all of their drinks are divine.) Fresh TartI don’t miss drinking alcohol, but I miss drinking tasty things. You know? My current fave quicky mocktail is 1/2 strawberry kombucha + 1/2 sparkling water. Dabomb.com, so good, I sip it while I’m making dinner. I’m posting a faux sangria recipe later this week, and I have big plans for not-too-sweet syrups to mix with sparkling water. I’m thinking melon/mint/honey and a Heidi Skoog/Serious Jam-inspired strawberry/balsamic/black pepper beauty. Heidi Skoog of Serious Jam | Fresh TartPhoto by TJ Turner

(Speaking of Ms. Skoog and her jam – see her fab recipe and learn how to easily make and can Raspberry Summer Jam, seasoned with ginger liqueur, scorched lemon, and orange blossom water! Berry season is upon us and it’s time to make gifts for your future, winter-weary self and family.)

Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin Cutlets (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jun 18, 2014 at 4:06pm

Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Jams, sorbets, crisps, and cobblers are all delectable tricks for managing the bounty of the season and we should all continue to employ (and devour) them as often as possible. But in case you’re as smitten with the savory side of fruit as I am, roasting fruit with fresh herbs and olive oil is a useful (and delicious) trick too.

This dish was borne of an excess of juicy red grapes that I knew weren’t going to be enjoyed before they passed their prime. Waste not, want not (I hate wasting food). I’d never roasted grapes before so it was a bit of an experiment, but given their sweet juiciness, I figured they’d emerge pretty tasty. Indeed they did. I added rosemary because I was in the mood for rosemary, and I had pork tenderloin planned for dinner, and pork and rosemary together are one of my favorite combinations. Sage would be delicious too, or really any of of your favorite herbs: fresh oregano or thyme in particular are nice with sweet things (and classic with pork). Salt and olive oil get the caramelization process started and dissolve into a dreamy salty-sweet sauce.Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin Cutlets | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)I served the sauce over pan-fried pork tenderloin cutlets but if you prefer to grill pork tenderloin (or chops), do that. For a more barbecue sauce effect, you could roast onions alongside the grapes and finish the sauce with a splash of vinegar. I left the onions and vinegar out of the master recipe because I could imagine the grapes spooned over coconut yogurt for a breakfast treat. I’ve eaten them warm on top of the strawberry-rhubarb sorbet I posted last week. And I incorporated the leftover pork and grapes into an absolutely killer warm/cold summer salad (warm pork and grapes atop a bed of cool, crispy greens, spring onions, radishes, and avocado; if you find yourself with leftovers, I highly recommend it). Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin Cutlets | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Employ this same trick with berries, peaches, plums, cherries, rhubarb, or apples! Use a more neutral oil (or coconut oil) and skip the salt (or use just a pinch), drizzle with honey at the finish, and enjoy as a full-on dessert alone or as a sauce. Endless options, all summery and in my opinion, better than chocolate (and definitely better than carob; little AIP joke there).

Recipe for Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin Cutlets at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

PS If you’re looking to boost the nutrient-density of this dish, both the pork and roasted grapes are fantastic alongside a pan of greens sauteed in good fat. Try this: saute the pork and while it rests for a few minutes, throw several handfuls of torn spinach, swiss chard, kale, or turnip greens (my new fave) into the hot pan drippings and saute until wilted. Season with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt to taste (don’t skimp on the salt). Lemon juice or other acid tempers the bitterness of greens, as does salt, as do the sweet grapes for that matter. A good combo all-round.Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin Cutlets | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)I mention nutrient-density because in my ongoing experiments on myself, I continue to be impressed by the results of upping the nutrient density of my meals as high as I can push them, namely: appetite evenness. I’ll tell you, when I eat a breakfast of a big bowl of greens and/or cabbage sauteed with protein and fat alongside fresh berries, and especially if I include a rich cup of chicken or beef bone broth, my appetite is gone until 2p. Poof. Energy is stable, mood is good. It rocks. As I noted in an earlier post, I’ve been shooting for 9 cups of mostly vegetables/some fruits per day, combined with bone broths, grass-fed/pastured meats, and wild fish. I’m working on organ meats, which are the most nutrient-dense of all foods, but which I’m less used to eating. I loooooove pates, but those I adore are made with butter and/or cream. I read a tip to cut grass-fed beef liver into pill-sized pieces and freeze them, then pop them like pills. I’m intrigued. I’m also working up to including high vitamin butter oil (if I can tolerate it) and fermented cod liver oil into my daily routine, I’ll keep you posted (or, you’ll smell it through my blog). My stepmom Susanna gave me the book Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson for a gift. It’s absolutely fascinating. Stay tuned for a review (and fun tips for maximizing nutrition through easy food prep tips) aka More Fascinating Adventures in Autoimmune Protocol and Now Nutrient Density Too! (Heh. But seriously, playing with food is awfully fun, and feeling great is well, great.)

Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbet (AIP, Paleo, Vegan)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:17pm

Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbet | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)I’m a little ahead of the game with a strawberry treat, so tuck this away for a couple of weeks if you’re waiting for the local crop. Or just make the sorbet now because rhubarb is up like crazy, the sun is shining, and any time is the right time for sorbet.

I made this particular batch as a light, spring-y dessert after a family dinner featuring rich, crusty lamb chops. I think it’s nice to end a substantial meal with something refreshing, although I confess I added a scoop of chocolate ice cream to my dad’s bowl because 1) he loves ice cream, and 2) chocolate + strawberries = NICE.Strawberries | Fresh TartRoasting the strawberries and rhubarb concentrates their flavor, while a pinch of cardamom adds a hint of spicy warmth (although if you don’t like cardamom – it tends to fall into the love/hate camp – just skip it or substitute cinnamon). If you’re feeling adventurous, play around with fresh herbs (basil could be delicious), balsamic vinegar, a splash of booze, or even black pepper. Sorbet is pretty forgiving so make it your own!

Along those lines, I intend to make a variety of fruit sorbets all summer long. It’s taken me awhile, but these days I like to think of dessert as yet another delicious opportunity to eat whole, nourishing food. Healing and feeling great is more of a treat than eating something that tastes good but makes me feel guilty or even worse, lousy. The great thing about not consuming grains, baked treats, candy, or alcohol is that fruit tastes like a gift from the gods. Seriously. You should see me eat a date – NC17, rarrr. I sort of liked fruit before, but only in the summer; in fact, I didn’t even really like dessert that much. Now I see and taste fruit for what it is – complex, juicy, sweet-tart, and very special. I don’t want to lose that appreciation which is why I don’t make a lot of paleofied baked treats – I know they’ll alter my palate in a way I no longer want.Roasted Strawberry/Rhubarb Sorbet | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo, Vegan)Which reminds me – I’ve had several people ask me if I think the autoimmune protocol (AIP) would be helpful for them. Good, real food is always good, but my gut tells me – gut pun, ha! – that if you’re not experiencing autoimmune disease symptoms (hypothyroid, joint pain, skin rashes, allergies, intestinal pain, headaches) but are experiencing health warning signs like weight gain, fatigue, sugar cravings, yeast infections, and suspected food sensitivities, I would not start with something as restrictive as the AIP and would absolutely recommend the Whole30 program, which is a one-month whole food (paleo) challenge. It does not restrict eggs, nuts, or nightshades but is a great way to see if gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and/or legumes are causing health issues. I’ve had several friends not just drop pounds but reclaim their vibrancy, energy, clear skin, good sleep, and love for fresh, whole food in just a few weeks. The website is great and the book It Starts With Food is fantastic too (highly recommend). I tag my recipes Whole30 as well as AIP where appropriate so whether you’re looking for the occasional healthy meal or have immersed yourself for 30 days, 60 days, or more (like me), I’ll have lots of ideas and tips for you. Here’s to a summer of real food and good health!Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbet | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo, Vegan)And oh, sorbet. Recipe for Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbet (AIP, Paleo) at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine!

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Herbs (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jun 3, 2014 at 1:26pm

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Herbs | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)I’ll assume that by now you’ve already been convinced of the glory of chicken thighs over chicken breasts (cheaper AND 10 times more tender and flavorful) and so I’ll spend this space instead advocating for the merits of working ahead. You know those friends who seem to have it all? Fulfilling jobs, active families, a wide circle of friends, good health, lovely homes? I’ll bet my chicken thighs that they work ahead: they exercise before the day gets crazy, they complete projects ahead of deadlines, they clean up as they go. I of course rarely pull off any of these things, however – I try to. And when I do, I am so grateful for the little gift I gave my future self. I promise myself to do it more often, and sometimes I actually achieve it.

And so I share with you this easy little dish, which can absolutely be assembled up to 24 hours before you cook it. Roasting the chicken thighs atop sweet potatoes (or potatoes, if you prefer) yields crispy, tender chicken atop rich, crusty potatoes, scented with your favorite summer herbs and aromatics (very flexible, mix it up as you see fit). The leftovers are fantastic reheated – try reheating a chicken breast, ba! – which means a delectable lunch at your desk the next day.Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Herbs | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)I choose actual sweet potatoes – which have a rather white skin – instead of yams, which are deep orange, and often called sweet potatoes even though they aren’t. Sweet potatoes are starchier and less sweet – more similar to a standard potato. I’m sure you could make the dish with yams, you’ll just have a sweeter, softer result.graduation diplomaI put the make-aheadness of this dish to good use this past weekend as I was busy with my son’s high school graduation festivities. What a bittersweet occasion, full of pride and joy to see him so excited to be off on new adventures; and also full of the deep sadness of closing the “mommy” chapter of my life.

Of course I will always be his mother, and I haven’t been his mommy for several years already, but the graduation ceremony really ends the era, there’s no denying it. No more volunteering at school, or driving him around, or watching him play baseball, or helping with homework or projects – I loved all of those things and I have missed them (and him) as they’ve fallen away. I’ve filled the spaces with challenging work, wonderful friends, enjoying the peace and beauty of my home, focusing on my health, and as much time outside as I can muster. I’ve very specifically fought the pull of nostalgia, which isn’t easy for me. I’m a nostalgic person but as I’ve gotten older, I find spending too much time in the past just steals me away from all the good things in my present. celebrate endingsAnd so I’m working to strike the balance between celebrating the end of one era while also celebrating the beginning of the next. It’s an adventure for Nathan, and for me too. I’m so grateful that I started the autoimmune protocol in February, giving myself at least a few months of healing and feeling good before this important event. That’s not why I did it, but I sure am glad that I accidentally worked ahead.

Congratulations and best wishes to all of you excited graduates and tear-wiping parents!

Recipe for Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Herbs at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Cherry, Kale & Kombucha Smoothie (AIP, Paleo)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 29, 2014 at 12:41pm

Cherry, Kale, Kombuch Smoothie and The Wahs Protocol | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)Now that *poof* it’s hot outside, I’m suddenly in the mood for smoothies. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with them, mostly because they are billed everywhere as healthy and then whoa, they are loaded with way too much fruit and horrible manufactured protein powders. Not healthy. On the other hand, they’re an awfully fast, tasty, and convenient way to grab a quick breakfast and after a sweaty workout, that cool fruitiness can taste positively divine. And so, let’s call this the truce smoothie, the one loaded with greens and just enough fruit to taste good and boost the anti-oxidant punch even higher without providing a giant blast of sugar. How do I decide what to put in them?

I should take a step back and say that my over-arching goal, with any of the meals I pull together, is healing. Healing my gut, calming my immune system the hell down, and feeding every cell of my body with as much nutrition as I can pack into the calories I eat. I wasn’t always this way. I was the moderation girl – if I eat a salad, I’ve earned a few bites of dessert. If I skip bread, I can enjoy a glass of wine. If I workout for an hour I can eat French fries. And that works for a lot of people, for sure, and if it works for you, then jam on. But it stopped working for me. And so for now, healing is my goal and the path is paved with the highest nutrient-dense foods I can squeeze out of the calories I eat and that means whole, real foods, all the time. That’s what I’ll be sharing with you from now on.The Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls, MDI’ve been mightily inspired by the book The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine by Terry Wahls, MD. Described as an integrative approach to healing chronic autoimmune conditions, I found it to be so much more. Dr. Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine who just happens to have relapsing, remitting multiple sclerosis. Her story of illness and healing – from wheelchair to walking and biking – is riveting and inspiring (see her popular TED talk). Her journey into the healing (and disease-provoking) power of food has shifted my perspective – and I was (obviously) already on board with respecting the effect of food on health. Halfway through the book I had an ah-ha moment where I mentally took a giant step back and saw how utterly odd it is that we have come to accept packaged, manufactured, low-quality non-food as food (or even as treats!) and expect to be healthy and thrive on it. The reasons are many and compelling, of course: a love affair with the miracles of modern manufacturing; the promise of shortcuts and ease; lowering the cost the food; the science of firing pleasurable, addictive brain chemicals with manipulated salt, sugar, and fat; and recently, as disease rates and obesity have climbed, the desperate hope for health and normal weight. I’ve personally been moved by every single one of those reasons. In fact, if my health had stayed unchanged, I would still be to this day because let’s face it, that’s the norm. Given that, I guess I’ll call it a gift that my body called it quits on flour, sugar, and alcohol.Oyster Mushroom | Fresh TartIn fact, I will call it a gift. Dr. Wahls’ protocol calls for 9 cups of fresh vegetables and fruit per day (I consider this a challenge, rarrr!), along with high-quality meat and fat (and avoidance of dairy, grains, sugar, and legumes, which I’ve been doing for years), with a detailed description of why. Food is so much more than calories, of course, and so much more than the macronutrients of protein, carbohydrates, and fat that we’ve all been focused on. She delves into the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids), the information that nourishes and speaks to the mitochondria of our cells. Her theory is that poor nutrition plus toxic load (heavy metals, plastics, solvents in our food supply) plus genetic susceptibility is the root cause of autoimmune (and perhaps all chronic) disease (her research into exactly those theories is in process with early promising results and excellent current results personally and in her clinical practice). Add the fact that nutritionally-deficient, high carbohydrate food stimulates the over-consumption of calories (and causes metabolic problems in dealing with those calories) and you have the current state of affairs – malnourished obesity and chronic disease. She addresses the importance of gut health as well – those micronutrients can’t reach the mitochondria if they’re not properly digested and absorbed, and healthy gut bacteria thrive on starch from fresh produce – but not in the same detail as The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (which is the autoimmune protocol I’m following with great success).

A few things have happened since I’ve challenged myself to eat more vegetables. One, I discovered that I haven’t been eating nearly enough food. The thing about not eating grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar, and replacing them with lower-glycemic, more nutrient-dense meat, high-quality fats, and an abundance of vegetables – is that hunger changes from annoyingly gnawing to something much more manageable and subtle. If I’m busy, I can skip a meal without really thinking much about it. But given my hypothyroid condition, and my goal of healing, that’s not what I want to be doing on a regular basis.  Two, I’ve lost weight while eating more. I wasn’t trying to lose weight, as I’ve said I’m trying to heal, but it was weight I’ve been happy to kiss good-bye. Very interesting. And three, my energy has skyrocketed. It got me through the end of writing Twin Cities Chef’s Table. It gets me out the door exercising with pleasure every day. I’m sleeping like a rock. Hmmmm. These are very good things.

And so, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the book, it’s changed my habits, and I recommend it highly. Whether healthy or sick, it can not be over-stated that humans (like all animals) are meant to eat whole, real foods – LOTS of whole, real foods. Luckily, whole foods are the sexiest, most delicious, most satisfying foods anyhow. Hello summer of radishes, strawberries, steaks, artichokes, arugula, blueberries, green beans, lamb chops, basil, wild mushrooms, hamburgers, ramps, summer squash, ribs, sweet potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, sorbets, sorrel, carrots, walleye, cherries, okra, spring onions, spinach, peaches…ahhh. I so love summer food…

So back to smoothies. There was a point to my Wahls Protocol aside, which is that smoothies are a nice way to eat a couple of cups of produce for breakfast. I lean on stir-fries and hashes too, but a couple of times a week a smoothie is exactly what sounds delish. Here’s my basic, not-too-sweet, not-too-vegetal template if you’re interested.

Cherry, Kale & Kombucha Smoothie (AIP, Paleo)
Serves 1

Note: A clean-up tip. You know this already if you make a lot of smoothies but if you don’t, save yourself a headache by thoroughly rinsing out the blender immediately, before you drink your smoothie. Once the sugars and starches in the plants start to dry…you have a bummer of a clean-up instead of a breeze of one. Ditto your glass (and straw, I reuse them) when you’re done enjoying your smoothie.

Another note: If I’m eating this as a meal, even with gelatin for protein, I still have a few pieces of leftover steak, chicken, or bacon on the side.

1/2 cup frozen organic cherries
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
1 pitted medjool date (optional)
1 cup packed lacinato kale (or spinach) leaves
1/4 cup kombucha (your favorite flavor)
1/4-1/2 cup (or more) water
1 tablespoon grass-fed gelatin (for protein; Great Lakes brand available online)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon carob powder (optional; sometimes I’m in the mood for a chocolate-y edge)
1 teaspoon avocado oil (or a few slices of ripe avocado)

Blend in a blender on high speed, adding more water as needed, until very smooth. I use a Vitamix and really blast it. Serve immediately.

Bacon-Wrapped Dried Plums with Rosemary Honey (AIP, Paleo) and Slim Palate Cookbook Giveaway WINNER!

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 27, 2014 at 4:30pm

Bacon-Wrapped Dried Plums with Rosemary Honey | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)First up: congratulations to Elaine Harbaugh Heffner for winning last week’s The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook’s giveaway! Happy cooking to you, Elaine, I know that you’ll love it.

You’ll of course recognize these little tasties as a twist on Devil’s on Horseback (dates stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon; they’re marvelous). I started playing around with them because I wanted to avoid dairy AND I wanted to bring them as dessert to a party. Bacon for dessert – why not? The honey – in my mind, at least – is what transforms the dish from appetizer to dessert, although these would be perfect as an appetizer as well, or for dinner for that matter (seriously, serve with a salad alongside). I chose dried plums instead of dates to take the sweetness down a notch, and added rosemary to the honey to you know, class up the joint a bit. Nothing elevates a humble prune like the fragrance of fresh rosemary. And a few grinds of black pepper, that’s nice too. All together, I like these better than the cheese stuffed version, and I think you might too.Bacon-Wrapped Dried Plums with Rosemary Honey | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)I ate them – and attended the party I brought them to – in celebration of completing the manuscript for Twin Cities Chef’s Table. Hooray! I was way over deadline, I hit about 20 walls while writing it, but it is done. What an incredible, life-altering experience. I had a blast photographing almost 60 chefs and their beautiful food! I credit sorting out my health via the autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet I’ve been following for the last three months and my friend Joy Summers (do not miss her delicious, hilarious dining and cocktail raves at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly, The Heavy Table, Thrillist, or her blog, Eating the Minneapple) for getting me past the writing wall I hit a few months ago. As much as I loved the work, I was sick, exhausted, and struggling mightily. I leaned on Joy for her in-depth knowledge, exactly the shot of perspective and creativity I needed to finish many of the restaurant introductions. What a gift it is to have such a talented, generous friend!Bacon-Wrapped Dried Plums with Rosemary Honey | Fresh Tart (AIP, Paleo)And now? Full steam ahead on Fresh Tart. Look for more and more fresh, seasonal AIP and paleo recipes. Good health is the name of the game, but deprivation is not. It’s summer! Beautiful food abounds and I’m so excited to share some of the dishes I’ve been making and enjoying with you all. My son graduates from high school on Friday, the book is done, my health is back on track…I’m officially declaring a new chapter in my life and I’m so grateful to be sharing this journey with you.

Also: bacon.

Recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Plums with Rosemary Honey (AIP, Paleo) at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.