Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

 It’s like a trip back in time. Old roads, old cars, and old buildings. The walls of the Cuban houses in Viñales crumble but no one seems to notice. Or they do, but it’s all they know. It’s a part of this country, a part of life. The adobe on churches—which haven’t hosted a mass since the Cuban Revolution- has been chipping off for more then a decade, and they continue to go un-repaired. In town, the good roads have cobblestone laid down from before the war, and the big interstate is a two-lane paved road. The other roads are just dirt. Regardless, people smile and dance and enjoy life.

           When the sun shines in Viñales, Cuba it hits the crops of the local farms and the animals bathe in its warmth. The farmers that tend these small chunks of land still use classic horsepower (that is, horses and oxen) to turn the land and pull the hoes. Barns are full of drying tobacco, which is regulated through the government, along with anything else produced in the country. Wage is rations. 

            Despite the heavy regulations, there is plenty of tobacco enjoyed on the streets. In the evenings, especially during a feriado (holiday), the air is think with it: smokey, sweet, unmistakable. I don’t much enjoy it, but for how very Cuban it is. 

Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

            I’d like to tell you Cuban food was just as distinct: full of Caribbean flavor, fresh from the sea. I’d like to tell you that tables were covered in a cornucopia, as a continuation of the beautiful scene laid out above, but that isn’t always the case. Tourists may get that experience: I myself was treated to some mighty fine and generous meals, but it was hospitality and should not be mistaken for habit. Lunch was the hardest thing to track down— I remember lunching on personal sized pizzas, if you could even call it that (the cheese was off, the sauce not quite right, and they were served folded in half, like a plump taco). There was also a rather memorable ice cream cone, filled with the best scoop of chocolate ice cream I have had (fifteen years later and I haven’t found one that comes close). And here were two feasts, on one Christmas Eve and one on New Years Eve. But in between, we knew we were eating like tourists.

         I say all of this to explain that while Citrus Cumin Mojo Sauce is considered something of a Cuban classic, it’s is not a dish I experienced while in the country. Rather, it’s a marinade I started experimenting with years later. I say all of this to keep it real, and also to remember. It’s far to easy to day dream about beaches and pine coladas made with local rum; it’s far to easy to forget how things were as time moves on. 

           This marinade is bright and cheery, sunny and fresh. This recipe calls for chicken, but you could use the sauce with shrimp too. 

Want more from the Caribbean? Try this 30-minute ropa vieja.

Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

Published June 12, 2018 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

  • For marinade:
  • Juice 1 orange
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon high mineral sea salt

  • For serving:
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • Optional: lime wedges

  • Directions:

    1. In a 8-ounce jar, combine orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, oil, and salt. Place lid on jar and shake to combine.
    2. Place chicken in an air-tight container and pour marinade over chicken. Place in fridge and allow to marinate for 8-12 hours.
    3. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450°F. Slice red onion and bell pepper into strips, and dice sweet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread out on a baking sheet (optionally, line baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. (affiliate link!)). Drizzle oil over veggies. Now, using tongs, pull each piece of chicken from the marinade, letting access drip off. Place chicken on sheet pan with veggies.
    4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, brushing extra marinade over chicken every 5 minutes or so, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and potatoes are cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot with a lime wedge.


    Coconut Snowball Cookies with Cacao Nibs (No-bake & Paleo)

    I'm not really a cold-weather-loving person, but wearing a puffy coat in the snow makes me feel like a little kid again. With big snow flakes and fluffy drifts, this week's storm is the perfect excuse to stay at home and bake cookies. I might be jumping the gun on holiday season here, but... When the weather outside is frightful (and you have a batch of tasty paleo cookies in your hands)... Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow! 

    A cross between Macaroons, these Coco-Roons, and my own artistic liberties, these cookies are no-bake. Round and sweet, they bring out my inner child even more than just the snow. It's been sub-freezing around here all week, so after mixing together the ingredients I stuck the pan outside and within minutes (literally, about 3) they were ready to eat. 

    Now, while I'm inside enjoying a bowl of soup and a plate of cookies, I can't help but wonder what the neighborhood bunnies think. This guy? 

    He looks like he could use a pair of down booties. And some earmuffs (but maybe not as badly as this guy). (Yea, I know, I'm ridiculous. But aren't his feet cold??) 

    Based on how fast he bounded across the street right after I snapped this photo, he doesn't want anything to do with this earmuff business.

    Anyways, where were we? Right, Coconut Snowball Cookies. There babies call for 7 ingredients--that's it! They are pretty much the easiest cookies I've ever made (unless you count holiday slice-and-bake tubes from my pre-paleo days, and even still these might be easier as they require no slicing and no baking). Other than being festive, they are pretty damn delicious too. The sweet honey and coconut manna "glue" melts away as you eat them, while the cacao nibs and coconut shreds provide a satisfying crunch. 

    Coconut Snowball Cookies with Cacao Nibs

    Published November 11, 2014 by
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    Little no-bake cookies that look like snowballs!

    Serves: 15   |    Total Time:


    • 1 cup desiccated coconut (finely shredded)
    • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons blanched almond flour (see note for AIP-friendly version)
    • 1/2 cup coconut butter (manna) (Make this at home by blending 1 cup desiccated coconut on high in a high-power blender for 1 minute, or until buttery and smooth)
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup cacao nibs (see note for AIP-friendly version)
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract (see note for AIP-friendly version)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt


    1. Melt the coconut oil and the coconut manna (in the microwave, on the stove, what ever you prefer). In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, manna, and honey. Stir in the vanilla.
    2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the coconut, almond flour, and salt, mixing until evenly distributed. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture, and use a spatula to stir until well incorporated. Add in cacao nibs, stirring to distributed.
    3. The dough should be sticky and stay clumped together when pressed into a ball. Use a round tablespoon or small cookie scoop to form snowballs, packing the mixture into the spoon and then placing the snowballs onto a cookie sheet. (Tip: scrape your spoon of excess coconut mixture each time for best results) Once you have used all of the batter, place the cookie sheet in the fridge (or outside in cold weather) until the cookies have set. Serve with a cup of hot cocoa or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
    4. NOTE: For AIP-Friendly, sub out the almond flour with extra coconut and skip the vanilla and cacao nibs. Try sprinkling with cinnamon.


    Indian Carrot Pudding & Lessons Learned

    If I learned one thing in India, it was how to eat spicy food like it was nobody's business.

    Just kidding! My tolerance for spice did go up a lot while I was in India, but the trip was an intense learning experience, and the number of peppers on my plate was one of the last things on my mind. I was thirteen when my dad and I landed in New Delhi, and I learned within hours of landing in the city to watch my step! Cow dung (and who knows what else) is everywhere. The weeks that ensued carried even more important lessons. 

    By the time we made it to Rishikesh, I had learned to sleep through even the bumpiest taxi rides, and between snoozes, I learned that Indian traffic is something you really do just want to sleep through (or else you'll be terrified). In Rishikesh, we stayed at an Ashram in the middle of the mountains, and observed the simple life of monk-hood. At this point I was so far removed from my home that I was already losing touch of the stark differences between my home and this one. Washing my clothes in a bucket started to seem normal (and totally necessary, cow-dung considered). 

    Not far from our Ashram, in Haridwar, I learn what it felt like to be a movie star. Crowds of people swarmed us. They took our photos. They asked for autographs from the first US citizens they had even met. They were going to tell everyone they knew. 

    The paparazzi followed us to the country side, where we were featured in a small village newspaper. We were treated like kings at the Mayor's ranch, where we drank afternoon Chai and enjoyed traditional Indian Sweets like Gajar Ka Hawla, or Indian Carrot Pudding. 

    After making our way through Pushkar (lesson learned: how to fight kites), and Jaipur (lesson learned: some Indian food will make you feel sick as a dog), we finally arrived in Varanasi. Varanasi is the heart and soul of Northern India. In Varanasi, I met my first Guru. I laid eyes on the Dalai Lama, and sat with thousands of his Tibetan refugees under a tent. In Varanasi, I saw a dead body for the first time. I watched Indian wrestlers fight for glory, and sent a flower floating down the Ganges River as Puja. I cried when we left. 

    After arriving home, I got teary at the sight of my own toilet, feeling half guilty and half spoiled. I was never quite the same. And I craved Indian food twice as often. 

    About this dessert: Indian Carrot Pudding is an simple dessert that resembles almost no dessert you find in the western world. Carrots, grated very fine, are stewn in milk and honey until soft and creamy, and then spiced with the typical warmth of India. Finally raisins and cashews are folded in, like jewels waiting to be discovered. For it's simplicity, it's an impressive treat. The best way to describe this to someone that has never experienced it is by saying it's like carrot cake in a bowl... with some Indian flare. Actually, the best way to explain it would just be to serve it and let everyone try if for themselves.

    Indian Carrot Pudding - Gajar Ka Hawla

    Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

    Carrots are stewed in a sweet coconut milk base and then spiced with cardamom.

    Serves: 4   |    Total Time:


    • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
    • 1 cup canned coconut milk
    • 5 large carrots (about 7-10 inches long)
    • 1 tablespoon organic grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil
    • 2 tablespoons raw, local honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/16 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
    • Dash salt
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1 star anise, whole
    • 1/4 cup cashews


    1. Wash and shred the carrots. Pour milks into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add the carrots to the sauce pan, continuing to simmer for 20 minutes. (Keep a close eye on the coconut milk to keep it from boiling over.)
    2. After the milk begins to thicken and take on an orange color from the carrots, add the butter, ghee, or coconut oil to the pot along with the honey. Stir until the butter has melted, and then add the cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Toss in the raisins. Stir to combine, and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes.
    3. Add the star anise to the pudding, and simmer for 5 more minutes, or until more of the milk has evaporated and the carrots are very soft.
    4. Toast the cashews in an oven at 350°F until golden.
    5. Remove the pudding from the heat. Remove and discard the star anise, or use it as a garnish. Serve the pudding warm. Top with cashews.

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