With my Florida roots, I love all things Cuban. The Cuban culture has firmly ensconced itself into the roots of Florida cooking and I’m there to welcome it with open arms. And mouth. The uniqueness comes from their slow-cooked dishes like Ropa Vieja, roasted pork rubbed with warm, aromatic spices and the pervasive use of their bountiful citrus in Mojo dishes. This Cuban style ahi tuna recipe reflects the best of what the cuisine offers — lime, garlic and cumin. Serve it with a crisp Pinot Gris, medium-bodied Pinot Noir, Italian Chianti or a hoppy IPA.
Read more: Seared Cuban style ahi tuna recipe
Every summer, I grow my own tomatoes. Giddily and enthusiastically. Almost to a fault. I receive my heirloom seed catalog each winter, earmark the hell out of it and plant new varieties each year — starting the seedlings indoors during February for a late April outdoor planting. Watching them grow (quite impatiently, I might add) is a uniquely geeky pleasure since I know what comes to fruition after all the loving nurturing. The harvest! If you follow me on Instagram, you won’t really see pictures of my pets or family… but red, yellow, and green heirloom tomatoes.
Read more: Awesomely easy heirloom tomato salsa recipe
If you’re still reading this after seeing “gluten-free” in the title, then welcome. Many people don’t make it this far when “gluten free” is included. During my food allergy food cleanse, I discovered that I’m gluten sensitive. I’m not celiac or anything serious but post ripping into anything wheat-based, I get bloated and feel crappy. So I started eating as gluten free as I can. And that ain’t easy in our culture. As a former pastry chef who studied and used gluten for a living, it has been a tough, lonely road. But I’m learning to bake GF (as it’s called in this world and you’ll see on labels) while trying to avoid the scary sounding ingredients like xanthan gum, which acts as a thickening agent in the absence of gluten. It’s easier than you might think and you might even feel more comfortable after scarfing a few of these down.
Read more: Cookie recipe: Gluten free chocolate chip cookies
Have you ever read the side of a salad dressing bottle? Be in a patient mood when you do. Hard-to-pronounce words followed by a list of chemicals. My mantra is that, if I can’t pronounce it, I shouldn’t be eating it. Ingredients often look scary to me… preservatives like potassium sorbate, red or yellow coloring, thickeners like xanthan gum and moderately evil flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate. Not to forget sugar. Plenty of sugar in them, there bottles. When I “went healthy” many years ago, I dropped the bottled stuff and started making my own. Very surprisingly easy to do, once you get the hang of it and learn what tastes good to you. And the biggest accomplishment is knowing how to dress a salad without measuring. Bonus!
Read more: 4 ingredient Dijon vinaigrette recipe for salads (or marinades)
During my food allergy curing, gut healing exercise, I hankered for baked goods. There’s nothing quite like sinking your chompers into soft, savory goodness and I missed that satisfying sensation. I also sought an alternative gluten-free, nutrient-dense breakfast option. Enter the coconut flour muffin. Combining insight from a few paleo recipe websites, I created a fluffy muffin that fit my tastes.
Read more: Recipe: Savory gluten-free garlic and herb muffins (paleo friendly)
Stew meat is one of the most affordable cuts of meat out there. Cooked quickly, it can be a tough, chewy mess but combine it with veggies, broth/stock, herbs then slow cook it for hours, and you’ll have magical deliciousness. Add in the ease of a slow cooker or Crockpot, and you have super simple, quick deliciousness. Even better.
Read more: Slow cooker recipe: Lamb or beef stew (paleo and AIP diet friendly)
For as long as I can remember, I have followed a personal rule: If an ingredient list has more than three lines, I don’t put it in my body. More than that, you get into the dangerous territory of unpronounceable chemicals and other crap I don’t want floating around anywhere inside. So I am an ingredient reader. Have you ever read the package on pre-made sausage? If you haven’t, then don’t. It ain’t pretty. So, when I went on an AIP protocol diet to cure my food allergies, I researched how to make my own sausage patties. It was so super easy, I was embarrassed I’d ever bought it before.
Read more: Recipe: Spicy homemade breakfast sausage patties
On my journey to heal my leaky gut and cure my food allergies, I’ve been gorging on paleo cookbooks. There seem to be plenty on the market these days… it’s quite trendy to “go paleo.” I’m enjoying the process of exploring the paleo tenets, mostly consuming quality meats, eggs vegetables and fruit; avoiding gluten, dairy, legumes (beans, potatoes, soy, etc), sugar, and processed foods of any kind. It’s a challenging diet regime when you’re surrounded by temptations and laden with sugar addictions. Powerful Paleo Superfoods, written by Heather Connell, provides a fantastic intro into the paleo lifestyle. Her 6-page introduction represents one of the finer, more condensed overviews of this popular diet, and proceeds to outline why each item on her list of “superfoods” should be on your plate. In an easy to understand, not-so-science-y fashion. The recipes are simple to follow, use normal ingredients found at the grocery store and the photography is pretty fantastic. With permission, Heather allowed me to reprint this recipe for Spinach Basil Walnut Pesto. I use this on fish and chicken.
Read more: Book review: Powerful Paleo Superfoods + Spinach Walnut Pesto recipe
For some people, curry is comfort food. Scents of home and slow cooked goodness that fill a kitchen with strong, earthy aromas. I often crave curry and, if I’m not turning to Roasted Curry Cauliflower, I’m making this recipe. Mostly, I use frozen fish and any hearty white fish will be fine. Avoid tilapia since it’s too delicate and will fall apart. Alternatively, you could substitute peeled, deveined shrimp but, since it cooks quicker, add it to the saucepan with the peppers and basil.
Read more: Recipe: Aromatic green or red curry fish or shrimp
Besides the seasonality of this vegetable, I’ve always wondered why we relegate pumpkin dishes to the fall. It comes in a can year round — which is far easier than spearing a fresh gourd — so we could be enjoying its comforting, smooth and rustic flavors all the time. It might be the cinnamon, nutmeg and other fall-tinged spices which contribute to pumpkin’s autumnal reputation. I can’t really talk… I practice the same prejudice but perhaps it’s time for a pumpkin revolution. Go ahead… make this pumpkin roll in the summer. I dare you. Your family and friends will love you for it. That, I guarantee… it’s a fantastic recipe.
Read more: Holiday (and other times) recipe: Easy pumpkin roll dessert