good food

Paleo Kimchi Fried Rice (It's Vegan, too!) by emily penn

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My favorite part about cooking for other people is getting out of my comfort zone. We tend to cook what we know or variations of it - over and over again. Which is nice in terms of preserving mental energy and saving time, but can get a little boring when it comes to the food we end up eating over and over.

I had never made kimchi fried rice until I had to for a client a few weeks ago. And when I tasted the end product to make sure it was up to par, I was blown away. I wanted more of it in my life!

I don’t do a whole lot of grains - I find that I feel better when I limit my intake of them. So I wanted to see if making kimchi fried rice with cauliflower rice would still get the job done. (If you’re curious how they affect you, eliminate them for one month and then reintroduce them.)

I must warn you - it of course doesn’t have that same sticky, starchy mouth feel that actual rice has, and you shouldn’t expect it to since cauliflower isn’t starchy. But in terms of flavor and satisfaction? It totally still delivers. I love love love the pungent, spicy flavor burst from the kimchi mixed with the mellow nuttiness of the sesame oil.

While you can totally enjoy this recipe all on its own as a small meal or snack, it’s meant to be more of a canvas. It’s up to you how you want to make it into a full meal - top with a fried egg or scramble some in, serve with chicken or pork, bulk it up with lots of extra veggies. The options are entirely in your capable hands!

A note about kimchi + probiotics - cooking at high heat kills the probiotics in fermented foods (and which is probably why I’ve never made kimchi fried rice before). That’s why I strongly suggest topping the finished product with some fresh kimchi so that you get all the beneficial bacteria to keep your gut healthy and happy!

Paleo Kimchi Fried Rice

serves 1
total time about 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup steamed broccoli florets
2 tbsp avocado oil
¼ cup kimchi
1 cup of cauliflower rice
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp smoked paprika

Kimchi Sauce
2 tbsp kimchi liquid
1 tsp coconut aminos
½ tsp sesame oil

For Serving
Green Onions
Fresh Kimchi

Instructions

  1. If you need to steam your broccoli, get it started now. Steam for 10 minutes, until tender but still bright green. Set aside. Mix up the Kimchi Sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

  2. Heat a large pan over high heat. Once pan is nice and hot add avocado oil, followed by the kimchi. Fry the kimchi for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to dry out.

  3. Add cauliflower rice, garlic, smoked paprika and half the Kimchi Sauce to the pan. Quickly stir until everything is incorporated, then let it sit on high heat for another 2-3 minutes. Cooking at super high heat and getting smoky has always made me kind of uncomfortable, but this is what you want for this dish - high heat and fast cooking.

  4. After 2-3 minutes, give the mixture in the pan a stir. Let cook for just one more minute.

  5. Transfer to serving dish. Drizzle with the rest of the Kimchi Sauce and top with green onions, fresh kimchi and any other protein or veggie you want to add. Enjoy!

Frosted Chocolate Peppermint Truffles by emily penn

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Raise your hand if you LOVE the combination of chocolate + peppermint! I’m finding out lots of people in my life aren’t a fan, but I can’t get enough so I keep creating pepperminty chocolatey things anyway.

These truffles are super quick to make, a little bit fancy because of the “frosting” and taste totally decadent. As always, I keep them refined sugar free - they’re only sweetened with dates!

I tried making these THREE different ways because this year seems to be a year of lots of different dietary restrictions/preferences. And no matter how you choose to eat, everyone should be able to enjoy some healthyish festive treats!

My preferred texture is the almond flour - it’s super silky and smooth when you bite into it, so it feels like a real truffle. But the oat and coconut totally works too - just keep in mind it won’t be quite as smooth.

Frosted Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

makes about 10 truffles

Ingredients
1 cup almond flour or oat flour or shredded coconut
8 dates, soaked in warm water
2 tbsp cacao powder
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp coconut butter, melted
2 drops peppermint essential oil (or 1 tsp extract)
dash of salt

Frosting Glaze
3 tbsp coconut butter
scant 1 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions
1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until everything is smooth, incorporated and starting to ball up. If using the oat flour or coconut, you may need to add an extra tablespoon of coconut oil.

2. Roll into balls and place on a parchment-lined tray (I used my 1 1/2 tbsp scoop). Put into freezer to chill for about an hour.

3. When ready to glaze, set up a double boiler (I just put a glass bowl over a small saucepan of water) and mix coconut butter and oil until melted and smooth.

4. Remove truffles from the freezer. Roll each in the glaze quickly and return to the tray (I use either a fork or my hands). The glaze should harden up pretty quickly, but return to the freezer if needed.

5. Store in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for up to a month. When ready to serve, pull out 5-10 minutes ahead of time. ENJOY!

Super Good Snack Mix by emily penn

I’m not sure if it was just a my-family thing or a universal thing, but somewhere in my childhood we got into the tradition of making homemade Chex Mix around the holidays. I LOVED Chex Mix growing up, store-bought or homemade. It embodies the two most important components I’m constantly chasing in food - salt and crunch.

Ever since I started giving a damn about what I was eating (about 7 years ago) I’ve tried to recreate a healthier version of homemade Chex Mix every holiday season. The problem I run into every time is the cereal - all of it is garbage. It’s either made from inflammatory grains (hi corn) or it has added sugar - even the not-sweet cereals! I had just kind of resigned that this was going to always be the case, but things really turned around this year.

I finally figured out a way to make a (super-addictive) snack mix that is salty, savory, crunchy and NOT TERRIBLE FOR YOU! If that’s not a holiday miracle, then I don’t know what is!

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Super Good Snack Mix

cook time 1 hour / total time 1 hour 10 minutes
makes approximately 5 cups

Ingredients
3 cups plantain chips
1 cup cashews
1 cup pecans
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1⁄2 tbsp coconut aminos
1⁄2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
1 1⁄2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250.

  2. Add plantain chips, cashews and pecans into a large bowl. Set aside.

  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk together until there are no clumps and the oil mixture is slightly warm, about 3 minutes.

  4. Pour oil mixture in the bowl with plantain chips and nuts. Stir the mixture with a large spoon until the everything is evenly coated.

  5. Pour the snack mix on a baking sheet in an even layer and pop in the oven. Give the mix a stir every 15 minutes for an hour.

  6. After the hour, remove from the oven and allow the mix to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. It will be best for up to a week, but I doubt it will last that long.

Notes
* I like Inka brand plantain chips, which uses palm oil. Palm oil is a better choice over refined vegetable oils such as canola, soy or sunflower.
* You could use worchestire sauce or tamari in place of the coconut aminos.