Monthly Archives: May 2013

Marinated Potato Salad

Marinated Potato Salad

For my entire life, my mother has made what she called “Helen’s Potato Salad.” It was called “Helen’s” because she got it from her sister Helen. Aunt Helen calls it someone else’s potato salad, after the woman she got the recipe from. I have no idea where the recipe originated, or whose name really should be in front of it. So I’ve opted to call it Marinated Potato Salad since the biggest thing that makes this different from most creamy potato salads is the fact that it’s marinated in a delicious oil and vinegar mixture, like German potato salads are.

At any rate, this is basically the only potato salad I’ll eat anymore. Show me a goopy, mayonnaisey potato salad and I’ll gag a little, but this is perfect. Tangy and moist, with just a hint of creaminess from the smallest amount of mayonnaise. It’s, frankly, the perfect potato salad. At least in my world.

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What I Buy at Trader Joe’s

I talk a lot on here about shopping at Trader Joe’s. That’s because so many of the ingredients I use are really expensive – unless I get them at Trader Joe’s. This is the one store that I know of that has many of the healthy, good quality ingredients that I want without requiring me to get a second mortgage to be able to buy them! For example, I save $9 – NINE DOLLARS!!! – by buying my almond meal at TJs instead of Whole Foods! 

See what I’m talking about?

Trader Joe’s claims that any of their products that has the “Trader Joe” label is guaranteed to be GMO free – another reason I like shopping there. It feels safe. And none of their products have high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. This does NOT mean that anything they sell is something good for you to eat! You still must carefully read the ingredient labels, because they still have products with sugar, vegetable oils, and other things you should stay away from. But it does mean that you’re much more likely to find products that you can eat there than at a regular grocery store.

So I thought I’d take you on a little tour of the good deals I regularly get at Trader Joe’s – things I buy there and nowhere else because of how much money it saves me. I whipped out my phone and started snapping pictures at my last trip to Trader Joe’s, getting strange looks from people around me as I did so. See the lengths I go to for you people? You’re welcome.

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fresh mint ice cream

Fresh Mint Ice Cream

I came across this recipe and I just KNEW I had to try it. I was totally intrigued by the idea of making mint ice cream by steeping fresh mint leaves in hot cream instead of using an extract. So, yesterday – as a mother’s day treat for me – I made it.

steeping mint leaves in the cream

And it was fantabulous! (Would you believe that fantabulous was not tagged by spell check? Since when was fantabulous a real word?)

This does NOT taste like the mint ice cream you buy. So don’t go into it expecting that or you’ll think it tastes weird. What it does taste like is…mint! I mean, real mint. The kind that grows in your backyard or a field. Have you ever smelled fresh mint? Picked it and chewed it on a hot summer day? That is exactly what this tastes like. In ice cream form. Fresh and green like something from a meadow somewhere. It’s delicate and slightly grassy and absolutely intriguing. And it goes perfectly with the honey used to sweeten the ice cream.

I chopped up a very dark 85% cacao chocolate bar and put it in with this ice cream, but it really isn’t necessary. It would be great on its own. And, think of all the things that fresh mint would taste good with. I think mint tastes great in a fruit salad, so how about a dollop of this mint ice cream on top of a bowl of fresh strawberries or other fruit? I think that would make a spectacular summer dessert!

It's ready!

It’s ready! Yay!

It goes without saying (or should) that this has enough honey in it to make it something you should eat carefully. If you’re experiencing pain or other acute symptoms of inflammation, you’ll want to consider very carefully before eating this. But if you’re maintaining a “whole food sweeteners in moderation” lifestyle this is perfect! :)

fresh mint ice cream

Edit: 4-20-2014 – I never put chocolate chips in this anymore, but always – ALWAYS – have it with fresh fruit on top. It is beyond heavenly. This is definitely my favorite dessert!

fresh mint ice cream

Fresh Mint Ice Cream
Cuisine: dessert
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup + honey
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch (can be left out if you don't have it - using it makes it smoother)
  • (optional) half of a very dark (85% cacao or more) chocolate bar, chopped
  • (optional) Liquid stevia to sweeten it more
  1. Pour the cream, milk, and honey in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the mint leaves, scraped vanilla bean, and tapioca starch.
  2. Heat until bubbles start to form at the edges, then turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the mix into a bowl through a sieve to strain out the mint leaves. If you didn't use a vanilla bean, stir in the tablespoon of vanilla at this point.
  4. Taste, and if necessary add a bit more honey or 10 or so drops liquid stevia. It will taste different once it's cold, so you're only going for sweetness here.
  5. Cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. This will take at least 2 hours, probably more.
  6. Use in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  7. Would be perfect served on top of fresh fruit, or any other food that goes well with fresh mint!


(Part of Read Food Wednesday)


Sausage orecchiete

Sausage Orecchiete

First, a confession: My version of this recipe these days does not actually contain any orecchiete.

Orecchiete is a kind of curved, half-moon shaped pasta that somewhat resembles an ear. In fact, the word “orecchiete” means “little ear” in Italian.


I love orecchiete. It has such a cute shape that’s perfect for dishes that have smaller ingredients in them, because they get kind of scooped up in the curve of the pasta. They’re so cute and fun. I made this recipe with orecchiete for two years before starting this diet…and then, sadly, had to stop.

Because I can’t find a whole spelt orecchiete anywhere. There might be whole wheat orecchiete available somewhere, but not in my stores, and besides, whole wheat pasta makes me feel sick these days. So no more cute little ears for me.

But, I’m not willing to give up this recipe, because it goes from stove to table in less than 30 minutes, and we ALL need recipes like that. The only other dinner recipe I have that’s as quick and easy as this one is the Creamy Shrimp Linguine. (Both recipes, incidentally, came from our friends who live in Naples, Italy, and they say that Neapolitans only make quick, easy meals like these. I think I need more Neapolitan recipes!)

So, instead of orecchiete, I use spelt shells now. I figure it’s close to the same idea. Ideally, medium shells would be the best size-wise, but the only spelt shells I could find are small shells, so I’ve been making do with those. It still works – but if you’re able to find some whole grain orecchiete or medium shells, I’d suggest using those instead!

The “hardest” part of this recipe is having all the ingredients on hand. But once you do, this is a total no-brainer of a meal.

You start with Italian sausage. Hot or mild, depending on your tastes. I like to do half and half.



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Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

A few weeks ago, I went on a church women’s retreat at the Jersey shore. If you think this sounds like a nice quiet time with sweet calm ladies…you’ve never been on a church women’s retreat before. Women get CRAZY when they’re on these things!

And they eat tons of junk food.

So, in self defense against the piles of cookies and brownies and candy that I knew would be there, just taunting me with their easy accessibility, I made these muffins to bring along. I knew they were a) delicious, b) something I could eat besides the piles of junk food I knew would be there, and c) something others would enjoy too. They’re naturally sweet with shredded apples and dates, and satiating with the fats from almond flour and coconut oil. They’re also really nutritious because of all of those things plus shredded carrots! So I made a triple batch and packed them up, putting a note on the container explaining that they were grain/gluten/dairy/sugar free (with just a tiny bit of honey) for those who would care about that. I knew there would be others there who couldn’t eat gluten, and that they would be glad to know these were safe.

If you ever wanted to know what happens when you put a note like that on a container of perfectly good muffins, I’ll tell you: It sends people running for the hills. Seriously. I witnessed people reading that note and scrunching up their noses as though they were confronted with a tub of grubs or something. Some people even physically recoiled! I overheard one woman say, “Are those supposed to be healthy or something? Anything that’s healthy can NOT be good!” The other women laughed appreciably and emerged with fist fulls of brownies instead.

Isn’t that so sad? It’s horrible that we’ve been conditioned to believe that healthy food tastes bad, and that we can’t both be satisfied with tasty goodies AND be nice to our bodies at the same time!

I blame the low-fat craze. (Really. It’s all their fault.)

The few gluten intolerant people there loved them though. LOVED them. Because they are, in fact, delicious. And so they talked about them to other people (who looked at them like they were crazy) and said, “No, really! You need to try them, they’re great!”

And so, one by one, people started to try them out. And one by one people were astounded that – yes! – these healthy things actually tasted good! Wonder of wonders!

By the end of the second day the entire triple batch was gone. Every single one.

(But the woman I overheard saying that healthy food can never be good? She never did try one and stuck to the cookies and brownies. I guess you can’t win them all!)

I have no idea why these are named Morning Glory Muffins. I didn’t make it up. This is a recipe that anyone in the Paleo crowd will be very familiar with, as they seem to be something of a darling in the Paleo world. There are probably a hundred different variations on the recipe. I took a couple and combined elements I liked from each of them to make the ones that got so eagerly gobbled (after the initial reluctance) on the retreat.

There’s a lot of shredding that happens in this recipe. Because of that, it really helps if you have a food processor so that you don’t have to do all of it by hand. But you could do it by hand if you wanted. You needed the workout anyway, right?

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