Paleo Baked Salmon over Grain-Free Apricot Pilaf (AIP-Friendly)

So, Friday nights. They're for staying in an making that recipe you've been day dreaming about, right? A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend about how my Friday nights are pretty lame, usually involving some pans, some spoons, and sometimes even a spatula. Being a good friend, she told me that cooking was doing something cool with my Friday night. I rolled with it, but I know--most people probably do something more than bake up a salmon fillet and curl up on the couch to watch a movie (you know, after setting up the "set" and taking pictures). 

But you know what? I get to the end of my week, and all I want to do is chill. I want to let go, and destress, and eat. And I want it to taste delicious. 

Lately, fish has been my Friday night date (Well, fish and Oliver--thanks for juicing that lemon, sweetie!). Even plain and simple, baked with a bit of lemon, a well-baked salmon filet is a treat, and in my book, fit for a Friday night. It's flakey, but still juicy. It melts in your mouth, nourishing you body, but also your soul.

This filet is served over a grain-free pilaf, jeweled with dried apricots, a hint of safflower, and parsley. You'd never guess, but this entire plate only takes 30 minutes from start to finish, so you can make the most of your Friday night... whatever that means to you! 

Paleo Baked Salmon over Grain-Free Apricot Pilaf 

Serves 2 - 3

Salmon

3/4 lb salmon filet

1/2 lemon, sliced thin

Salt & Pepper

1 teaspoon Safflower 

1 teaspoon Coconut oil 

Grain-Free Apricot Pilaf 

1 two-pound head cauliflower 

1/2 red onion 

2 cloves garlic 

1 large carrot 

1/3 cup dried apricots 

Salt & Pepper

1/2 tablespoon Safflower

1/2 cup parsley 

Zest of 1 lemon 

1/4 cup chicken broth 

1 tablespoon coconut oil 

 

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Spoon 1 teaspoon of coconut oil onto a rimmed cookie sheet, and place in oven. 

2. Cut the Salmon in 4-ounce portions. Pull the cookie sheet with the melted coconut oil from the oven, and arrange place the salmon on it. Season with salt, pepper, and safflower. Top with thin slices of lemon. Return to oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the salmon is flakey and opaque. 

3. While the salmon bakes, prepare the pilaf. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dice the onion, and mince the garlic. Add both the pan. Dice the carrots, and add them to the pan as well.

4. Grate the cauliflower (I use a food processor with the cheese grating attachment). When the onion is transparent, add the cauliflower to the pan, stirring to coat with oil. Add the broth to the pan, and reduce heat to low. Mince the parsley, and dice the apricots. Add them to the pilaf, along with the lemon zest, and stir occasionally, allowing the riced cauliflower to brown a bit. 

5. Season the pilaf liberally with salt and pepper, and stir in the safflower. Spoon the pilaf onto plates and place the salmon over it. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the entire dish. 

Grilled Greek Meatballs with Paleo Tzatziki Sauce

If someone asked you "Why do you do what you do?" what would you say in response? "What is my Why?" is a question that's been coming up a lot in my life lately.

It all started with an assignment to watch this TED Talk by Simon Sinek. Like many TED Talks, it left me thinking, "That's it? Isn't there any more?". There wasn't. Instead, I sat there, thinking about my own Why. My mind ventured into a territory it perhaps hasn't known since I was a toddler: a circle of endless questions (Why this? Why that? Why? Why? Why?). I went about my day with these questions continuing to pop up like billboards. Then of course, the inevitable came: I ended up at my blog, and the same question came: Why do I blog?  

The answer came swiftly, as this blog has always had a reason behind it, but asking in such a precise way prompted me to put it into words. Why do I blog? I blog because I believe that by talking about food, we (we, the people of the internet--of the world) can change the way the world eats. We can help people eat more sustainably, bettering the health of our planet, and we can help people eat more nutrient-dense food, allowing them to take control of their health.

Bloggers--not one single blogger, but many bloggers working together- can help make healthy nutrient-rich ingredients look and taste so good that they're crave-worthy. By sharing recipes, we can give people the resources they need in order to eat better. Like this salad with Grilled Greek Meatballs--hello delicious and nutritious! I blog because it is through my blog that I am empowered to help move people towards vegetables. Vegetables, and healthy fats, and real, sustaining food. I blog because it inspires me to continue playing with my food, in the most creative of ways! 

Cooking, eating, talking about food--those are integral aspects of who I am. But Why I do all of those things... that's the real story. 

Now it's your turn! What's your Why? 

Grilled Greek Meatballs with Paleo Tzatziki Sauce

Greek Meatballs 

3/4 pound ground pork

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, minced

1 tablespoon dried oregano 

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper 

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon lemon zest 

Dairy-Free Coconut Tzatziki 

1/4 cup coconut cream 

1/4 cup shredded cucumber 

1 tablespoon minced cilantro 

1 tablespoon minced parsley 

1 minced garlic clove 

1 tablespoon minced red onion 

Salt & Pepper 

Pinch paprika  (Optional - skip for AIP)

1 teaspoon lemon juice 

1 teaspoon ground cumin (Optional - skip for AIP)

To serve: Butterhead lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion, and any other fresh vegetable you enjoy

 

1. Fire up your grill and heat it to medium-high heat (500°F). In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the meatballs. Use your hands to ensure the mixture is fully incorporated and roll the mixture into a dozen evenly sized balls. Skewer the meatballs with kabob sticks (this is optional, but makes handling the meatballs easier once they are on the grill).

2. Place the meatball kabobs on the grill. (I like to grill the onions for the salad as well: cut them into wedges, and place them on a grill pan, adding the pan to the grill).

3. Cook the meatballs with the lid on the grill for about 4 minutes. Use tongs to flip the entire kabob of meatballs over, and cook on the other side for 4 more minutes, returning the lid to the grill. Stir the onions at this point as well.

4. Use tongs to pull the kabobs and onions from the grill, placing them on a serving dish. 

5. Assemble the Tzatziki: Stir together the ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste. 

6. Arrange a salad on each dinner plate. Top with a skewer of meatballs and a few spoonfuls of Tzatziki. 

Paleo Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Bisque

If you follow the paleo diet, and you ever get a cold, someone will probably ask you: "I thought you ate healthy? But you still get sick?" as if you could have prevented getting sick. The saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" bares some truth: your body's number one source of nutrients is the food it eats! But let's get real: those nutrients are used to make your immune system strong, not invincible. Having a strong immune system doesn't mean you'll never get sick, it simply means that when you do, your body will be well equipped for the battle. 

It seems like the older I become, the less tolerant I am of being under the weather. I spent most of high school with a stuffy nose and fluid in my lungs--my doctor eventually called it "seasonal asthma", even though it was far from it. I was just sick, and couldn't get over it. My body was overworked, not getting enough nutrients, and never had the energy to fully stamp out a cold. In fact, my immune system was likely too weak to fight off that cold over the course of a few days. I had other things going on, and really couldn't be bothered to take it easy anyways. A cold was not going to stop me from accomplishing my agenda. 

I still have a hard time "taking it easy" when I'm under the weather, determined to live out my plans, runny nose, sneezes and all. I complain about it a bit more, and I make soup--no matter the weather.

Last week, I came down with a cold. The spring in my step was gone, but thankfully my now well-equipped immune system fought it off in only a few days. My Healing Lemongrass Soup was on the menu, even though we had a straight week of bright and sunny weather for the first time all year. This Paleo Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Bisque would have been perfect, as it's bursting with vitamin C, and showcases warm-weather produce. Garden-fresh tomatoes taste best in this soup, as their flavor really shines through. Home-grown tomatoes are only available at the end of summer around here, but my stepmother froze a big bag of vine-ripe heirloom tomatoes last September, and I pulled them out to make this soup. It's like a splash of sunshine in a bowl! Roasted red peppers add a tangy sweetness to the soup, while coconut milk makes it rich and creamy. 

Paleo Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque

Serves 2

24 ounces ripe tomatoes, diced

2 bell peppers

1 teaspoon coconut oil

4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 cup broth

3/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk

Salt & Pepper

Optional: Red pepper flakes, kalamata olives, and coconut milk for garnish

 

1. In a small soup pot, heat the coconut oil. Mince the garlic, and toss it into the pot. Sauté until golden. 

2. Slice the bell peppers in half, and remove the seeds and stems. Place them, skin-side up on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Turn the oven to a low broil. Broil the peppers for 5-10 minutes (depends on your oven) until the skin of the peppers is charred. Remove from oven and place peppers in a bowl immediately (use tongs, they'll be hot!). Lay a a cloth towel over the bowl. This will trap moisture in the bowl, so that you can remove the charred skin. 

3. While the peppers cool, put the diced tomatoes and broth in the pot. Cover, and bring to a simmer. 

4. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, work with one at a time to peel off the blackened skin. Some char will add flavor, but leaving all of it will overwhelm the soup. Discard the blackened bits, and chop the remaining meat of the pepper. Add it to the soup pot. 

5. When the tomatoes are softened through, dump the entire soup in a blender. Add the coconut milk. Blend on high until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a drizzle of coconut milk, or some minced olives.