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Oven Braised Carnitas Tacos with Smashed Avocado and Charred Pineapple Salsa

Oven Braised Carnitas Tacos with Smashed Avocado and Charred Pineapple Salsa

My taco truck go-to has definitely always been carnitas tacos.  They’re delicate, flavorful and hold a perfect crisp texture. They’re complemented by a variety of salsas and condiments that push their flavor profile to a whole other level.

I have cooked carnitas in a number of ways over the years before attending culinary school.  The traditional technique is time intensive as you basically slow fry pig parts in lard over low heat.  This method produces an excellent product that is moist but surprisingly not greasy for having floated in fat for half a day.  I have gone this route and been pleased with the results but for me, it’s a project method and not something practical for home preparation and consumption.

On the other end of the spectrum is the old “set it and forget it” technique of making carnitas in the slow cooker.  This is sort of a fail safe method that involves dropping a seasoned pork shoulder or butt into your cooker, adding a bit of liquid like beer, soda or orange juice, and letting it go for about 6 hours on low.  After the meat is tender, you remove it from the cooker and layer on sheet trays to crisp up in the broiler or in a very hot oven. This method takes about half the time as the traditional and also produces acceptable results although I find that the pork often becomes over cooked and stringy when you pull it apart instead of chunky and hearty like with the first mentioned application.

The technique in this recipe is one I learned in culinary school and later perfected while working at a high end Mexican restaurant where I made plenty of taco specials using this method for braising the pork.  The cook time is around 2 hours and the result is a tender and juicy product that still has a bit of bite to it. It’s crisp and beautiful and delicious and will pair wonderfully in this recipe with smashed avocado and charred pineapple salsa.

Avocados are a fruit we should all include in our diets if possible.  While they are high in fat, the majority is monounsaturated fat, which is what people call “healthy fat” that helps reduce inflammation.  Avocados also help with gut health as they are high in soluble fiber which feeds the friendly bacteria in your stomach that help regulate bad bacteria and yeast or Candida levels.  Good bacteria are super important to have and are the epicenter for the popularization of probiotic products.  

The use of antibiotics can affect both the good and bad bacteria in your gut.  It happened to me and was a key reason I initially wrote about the Candida Diet years ago.  I had been prescribed antibiotics for a chronic sinus infection.  After months and months of popping pills, my gut health was destroyed and the Candida yeast in my stomach flourished, causing a number of serious health problems.  Part of rebuilding my gut health involved a diet that was both low in sugar (which feeds yeast) but also high in soluble fiber, to help regulate the good and bad bacteria.

Avocados are also a very high fiber fruit so adding them to your routine will also keep you feeling full and less likely to snack.

The pineapple salsa we’re going to make isn’t just delicious, it also serves health purposes.

Pineapples are nutrient rich.  A few of the notable players in its composition are Vitamin C which is an all-star for a healthy immune system, and maganese which can help build strong and healthy bones and also can help your metabolism.

I write a lot about antioxidants and their health benefits. Pineapples are loaded with bound antioxidants which means they produce longer lasting effects on your body.

Bromelain is a digestive enzyme in this fruit that can reduce the inflammation which can lead to cancer, diabetes and Alzheimers.

Now that we’ve covered a few of the ingredients and why we use them, it’s Taco Time!

INGREDIENTS:

Carnitas

  • 3-5 pound pork shoulder or butt
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 1 onion – peeled and quartered
  • 10 cloves garlic – smashed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tbsp Mexican oregano 
  • 2 limes
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup micro cilantro (or chopped cilantro)
  • Kosher salt
  • Tortillas for serving

Smashed Avocado

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 2 limes – juiced
  • Salt – to taste

Charred Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 pineapple – cleaned, cored and cut into long slices
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 jalapeno – stem, seeds removed – minced
  • 1 medium red onion – diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro – chopped
  • 1-2 limes – juiced
  • Salt – to taste

DIRECTIONS:

The first thing you want to do it get the pork going.  The condiments can come together rather quickly while the pork is in the oven.

Set the oven to 425 and turn on the exhaust over your stove.

Cut the pork into large chunks around 2 inches.  Season liberally with salt. Set a large rondeau or dutch oven over medium high heat.  Once hot, add the canola oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add some of the pork chunks.  Be sure not to overcrowd the pan or the pork will lower the heat of the pan causing it to steam instead of sear.  You will likely need to do this step in batches depending on how big your vessel is.  

Brown the meat on all sides.  It will take about 5 minutes for each batch. Remove the pork to a bowl saving the juices and repeat with the remaining pork.  Hit the pork with a bit more salt after searing.

Once all the pork has been seared, throw in your onions and cook for a minute or two followed up with the garlic.  Let it cook for about 30 seconds, then add the orange juice. Use a wooden spoon and scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pan.  The browned bits are called the fond and they are packed with flavor.  

Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, cinnamon and oregano.  Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice in, then also drop in the squeezed lime halves.  

Bring this to a boil then gently drop the pork chunks back in.  It’s ok if the pork is not totally submerged but it shouldn’t be sticking out of the liquid by more than an inch.  It’s VERY important that the pot is boiling before you put it in the oven to promote quick braising. Once boiling again, carefully cover the dutch oven with 2 layers of foil and place in the oven.  Set your timer for 2 hours.

Next we’ll make the pineapple salsa which will taste even better after melding for 90 minutes.

You should have the pineapple cored and cut into around 4-5 long pieces.  Brush the pineapple on both sides with the canola oil and place on grill for about 3-4 minutes or until you notice grill marks then flip over and repeat with the other side.  If you don’t have a grill or grill pan, you could lightly sear in a cast iron.

Medium dice the grilled pineapple and add to a mixing bowl with the jalapeno, red onion and cilantro.  Add the lime juice and salt and give it a good stir. Taste the salsa and add salt or lime juice if needed.  Store in the fridge until you’re ready to build your tacos.

After 2 hours, your timer will go off and it’s time to pull the carnitas out of the oven.  Be very careful as the liquid will be boiling hot.

Line a large sheet tray with foil.  Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and place on the sheet.  Be sure to remove the bay leaves, cinnamon and lime segments.  

Pour the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer.  The liquid has a lot of fat that will help crisp up the carnitas.  Spoon some of the fat over the pork on the sheet tray and pop it back in the oven at 425.  We are going to crisp it up for about 5 minutes, then stir it and add a bit more liquid to finish it.

While the pork is back in the oven, you can make your smashed avocado.  This is a very simple step. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Using a paring knife, cut the fruit into squares and remove with a spoon to a medium bowl.  Squeeze in the lime juice and add salt to taste. Smash the avocado squares with the back of a fork until you have a nice chunky texture. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if needed.

Pull the sheet tray out of the oven and let the carnitas rest for a few minutes.

You can either microwave your tortillas or heat them briefly on your grill.  Now it’s time to assemble!

Lay out your tortillas.  Spoon about a tablespoon of the smashed avocado on the tortilla and spread it around.  Top with a few tablespoons of carnitas then mound the pineapple salsa on top of the carnitas.  Garnish with more micro cilantro or chopped cilantro and serve with a lime wedge. 

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Bacon and Egg Stuffed Sweet Potato

Bacon and Egg Packed Sweet Potato

I have a lot of food allergies.  The two major ones that I have the highest reactivity to are yeast and dairy.  It was by learning about what negatively affected my body years ago that prompted me to start writing about food for people in similar situations.  As someone who enjoyed casual home cheffing, I wanted to challenge myself to make awesome recipes using replacement ingredients for the things my body couldn’t tolerate.

Taking yeast out of your diet restricts a lot of the same things as you would if you had celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity or allergy.  Although I have no reactivity to flour, yeast typically is added to it to make staples like bread and doughs. My diet therefore is almost gluten free by necessity of omitting yeast.

When you remove bread from your diet but you love sandwiches, you have to get creative in ways that make you forget the traditional.  By using replacement ingredients that even taste better than what you originally considered the norm, you’re winning on all fronts!  

This dish is kind of like a breakfast sandwich except it’s much healthier and in my opinion, much tastier too!

Bread is a worldly staple food.  It’s generally inexpensive to produce and can be made in a number of different ways.  I think it’s safe to assume that bread is not generally considered to be a healthy food source or to have much nutrient benefit.  Bread lacks much vitamin or mineral content and can cause digestion issues for many who consume it. This is generally the side effect people with gluten sensitivities experience.  

Since we’re obviously not using bread here, I wanted to make a substitution for an ingredient promoting the opposite effects on the body – the sweet potato!

Sweet potatoes offer an array of health benefits and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. While bread is difficult for your body to digest, sweet potatoes actually aid the body in that department as they are high in soluble fiber.  Diets high in soluble fiber have been linked to better digestion, regularity and decreased risk of colon cancer.

This vegetable is also very high in beta-carotene which is a pigment that turns into Vitamin A when consumed.  Vitamin A is extremely important for your immune system and also helps your vital organs to work properly. A drizzle of olive oil on this dish will help your body absorb these vitamins rapidly.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh rosemary
  • Pinch chopped chive or green onion

DIRECTIONS:

Set the oven to 400 degrees.  

Wash the sweet potato, dry and wrap in foil.  Place directly in preheated oven. Set timer for 25 minutes.

On a foil lined sheet tray, arrange the bacon slices in a single layer.  Place in oven. The point here is to par cook the bacon. It should not be totally cooked and crispy as this is a two part cooking process.

Flip the bacon every 3-4 minutes and when you notice that most of the fat has rendered, remove from the oven and wait for the sweet potato.  We will be also cooking the sweet potato during the second part of the cooking process so you don’t want it to be totally tender or the end result will be too soft and mushy.

Remove the sweet potato from the oven after 25 minutes and remove from foil when cool enough to handle.  Cut the potatoes in half and hold the rounded side with a towel while you scoop out about half to ⅔ of the flesh from the middle outwards.  Save the removed part to use in a mash or puree for another recipe.

Line the center of the potato that you scooped out with 2 slices of bacon for each half.  Crack your eggs, one at a time into your hand so you can separate the yolk (in your hand) from the white.  Pour the white on top of the bacon. Reserve the yolk. Repeat this step for each of the 4 eggs.

Place the sweet potato halves on a new foil lined sheet tray and place back in the oven.  We are separating the white as they will take longer to cook than the yolks and nobody likes an overcooked yolk or an undercooked egg white!

Pop these back in the 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until you start to notice the whites beginning to set.  Remove from oven and top each half with one egg yolk. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh rosemary and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Place back in the oven and cook until desired doneness. I like the yolk to be a little bit runny and that will take around 10-15 more minutes.  If you prefer you yolk to be less runny, increase the cooking time by a few minutes.  

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Garnish with chopped chive or green onion.

I could eat these on their own for breakfast but they also would be nice with a simple mixed green salad for a full lunch serving.

 

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15 Minute Vegetarian Stir Fry on a Budget

15 Minute Vegetarian Stir Fry on a Budget

I hear it all the time.  People telling me that it must be nice that I have all this free time to cook.  They tell me they just don’t have the time to cook or that cooking healthy, nutritious foods is too expensive or that they have more mouths to feed and that I wouldn’t understand.

While yes, I do enjoy challenging myself to create and execute complex recipes, I also lead a busy life and often don’t have the time or money to throw down a 3 course dinner.  I can relate to sometimes needing food to be convenient but I refuse to buy into the idea that it can’t be both convenient and healthy.

We have been conditioned to treat food as an inconvenience.  This is evident by the long lines you’ll see around lunch or dinner time at your local fast food drive thrus.  The fast food revolution has poured marketing money into feeding your insecurities around unhealthy and quick options because that’s their business.  It’s how they survive and make money by encouraging us to make unhealthy dining decisions out of necessity for fast and inexpensive options. 

Our bodies naturally crave sugar.  This stems back to a time before sugars were processed and jammed into everything we eat.  In this period of time, sugar was only naturally available, mainly in fruit, and finding it and consuming it gave your body instant energy. These sugars also convert to fat which the body could later use. 

It’s not just widely used in fast food, but almost ALL processed food contains processed sugar in one form or another.  Why do you think that is? First of all, sugar makes just about everything taste better. Did you know they pack sugar into the buns, cheese, meat and french fries at all your typical fast food restaurants? Would you really crave unsweetened lemonade or soda? Did you know a can of coke contains the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar?  No wonder people are crazy for soda. It gives your brain instant gratification and energy like fruit and natural sugars provided in a time before products like this existed.

The food industry is very well aware of how the human body and brain works and understands that sugar addiction is real and serves as a fantastic medium to create addiction to unhealthy, low cost food.

I could go on for chapters on this topic but my main point here is that the food industry has taken advantage of this knowledge of what the body craves to use against us in unhealthy ways.  I’m here to say that there are convenient and low cost alternatives to fast food. Food can be celebrated with people you care about without costing an arm a leg and you don’t need to take the day off work to prepare nutritious and tasty meals at home.

This dialogue brings me to a recipe that you’re going to love.  It’s a healthy vegetarian version of your favorite Chinese stir-fry.  You can make this recipe using any vegetables you happen to have on hand.  You could even use frozen vegetables if that’s all you have available although if you go that route, be sure not to overcook them as they won’t need as much time as fresh.  This dish comes together in 15 minutes and can feed a family of 4 for around $10. I challenge you to achieve the same at your local fast food joint.

You’ve probably noticed that after an hour or two after eating fast food, that you start to feel hungry again.  This is because your blood sugar spiked when eating but has quickly dropped back down. Your brain is being tricked.  It’s telling your body to consume more high sugar foods to give your body energy.  

Vegetables are higher in fiber than processed foods and it’s that fiber that will keep you feeling full.  It’s no surprise that vegetables are high in nutrients and vitamins either and eating a diet full of them will help your body in many ways like helping reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

INGREDIENTS: 

Stir Fry

  • 1 onion – sliced
  • 2 inch knob of ginger – peeled and julienned (matchsticks)
  • 2 carrots – peeled and cut into moons
  • 2 stalks celery – sliced
  • 1 large zucchini – cut into half moons
  • Handful of green beans – cleaned
  • 2 green onions – sliced
  • 2 Tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds or peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil

Stir Fry Sauce

  • ¼ C liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ C apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ C water
  • 1 inch knob ginger – minced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp – Siracha or your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 tsp corn starch

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a wok or large saute pan on medium heat.  

Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add ginger and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Add your carrots and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.  While the carrots and celery are going you can make the stir fry sauce by combining the liquid aminos or soy, vinegar, water, ginger, garlic, honey and hot sauce.  Mix well with a fork then stir in the corn starch.

Add the zucchini and green beans to the wok. Give it a good stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.  You don’t want to over cook the vegetables. They should be crisp and firm when served.  

Pour the stir fry sauce into the wok and stir everything together.  You can add a bit more water if the sauce starts off too thick or if you need to bulk it up a bit.  Lower the heat to low/medium and cook until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are full coated. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary.  If more salt is needed, add more liquid aminos or soy.

You can serve this over steamed rice or noodles or simply eat as is.

Spoon into serving bowls and top with chopped green onion and roasted pumpkin seeds or peanuts.

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Roasted Poblano, Peach and Cabbage Slaw w Miso Ginger Peanut Dressing

This is serious next level Asian/Mexican coleslaw material right here.  This salad is sure to be a Spring or Summertime superstar!

The real hero of this salad is the roasted Poblano pepper which supposedly earned its name from its birthplace, the state of Puebla in Central Mexico.  Poblanos are high in capsaicin which is what makes chili peppers spicy. Capsaicin has many health benefits used extensively across the world in all cuisines. 

Capsaicin helps speed up your metabolism which can assist with weight loss and is also a key ingredient in many topical creams or lotions to help treat arthritis.  Capsaicin contains antibacterial properties which specifically combat chronic sinus illnesses. I’m sure we’ve all cleared out our sinuses after ingesting a spicy chile pepper! 

Peaches are a stone fruit which literally refers to the stone or pit inside the fruit.  This is not to be confused with a seed as the seed actually is inside the stone. Peaches are one of my most favorite summertime snacks and they’re good for you too, providing a boost of vitamin A and C.  They’re also dense in fiber and potassium which is key to reducing blood pressure.

This light and refreshing herby salad is a great starter or dinner side or could be whipped up as a healthy lunchtime meal. 

INGREDIENTS:

Salad

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • ½ red cabbage – shredded (about 4-5 cups)
  • 3 green onions – green part only (sliced)
  • 1 bunch mint – leaves picked
  • 1 bunch cilantro – leaves picked
  • 3 Tbsp basil – chiffonade
  • 2 Tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1 peach – pitted and sliced

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
  • Salt to taste

White Miso and Ginger Peanut Dressing

  •  2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger – peeled and minced
  • 3 Tbsp white miso paste
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime – juiced

DIRECTIONS:

Set the oven to 350 to roast the pumpkin seeds.

Char the poblano peppers.  I find the easiest way to do this is directly on the burner on your stove top.  Set one burner to medium heat and place the peppers directly on the burner. They will start to char quickly.  Rotate the peppers so they are evenly blackened on all sides. Alternatively you could do this in the broiler but it will take a bit more time.

Once the peppers have been evenly charred, put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This will steam the peppers so the charred skin is easier to remove.

While the peppers are steaming we can roast the pumpkin seeds and make the dressing.

Toss the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil. Season with salt and arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and pop in the oven. The seeds should be done in about 15-20 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes and pull them out when they are nicely browned and no longer have that “raw” taste to them.  

It’s easiest to make the dressing using your food processor.  Add all the ingredients to the processor and blitz until well incorporated.  If the dressing is too thick, you can slowly stream in some water to thin out to your desired consistency.  I like the dressing to coat the back of a spoon. Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning. Add more soy sauce for salt if needed.

The peppers should be fully steamed in about 10 minutes.  Cut the peppers in half and remove the stalk, seeds and white membrane.  Peel off the blackened outer skin of the pepper and slice the roasted peppers into strips.  

In a large salad bowl, mix the shredded cabbage with the sliced peppers.  Add the green onions, mint, basil and cilantro. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well with tongs or salad spoons.

Mound the salad mixture in your serving bowl and garnish with the peach slices, roasted pumpkin seeds and peanuts.    Try not to eat it all in 2 minutes!  

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Yum Neau – Thai Beef Salad

Yum Neau – Thai Beef Salad

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, 

I love Thai food and if there’s one dish I always order when grabbing pick up or having Thai delivered, it’s Thai Beef Salad.  It’s fresh, healthy and explodes with flavor from what I call the “4 S’s” of Asian food – Spicy, Sweet, Salty, Sour.

Depending on the country of origin, most Asian recipes use these flavor profiles to create balance and depth in taste.  These profiles can be easily adjusted to personal preference, making most recipes customizable and unique based on what you like.  This gives you the freedom to taste and adjust instead of just following recipes based on measurements.

Learning how to use the “4 S’s” has become a huge part of my repertoire when cooking at home and when it comes to making Thai food. I typically use common Thai ingredients to achieve the balance I’m looking for.  For spicy I use Thai chile or serrano peppers. For sweet, I will use honey or palm sugar. The salty component is ALWAYS fish sauce and for sour and acidity, I use lime juice.  

The freshness of this dish always leaves me feeling good and healthy while using steak as the protein leaves me feeling full.  The addition of fresh herbs further accentuates the salad and helps bring it all together.

Ingredients:

Steak

  • 10-12 oz steak – NY strip, tenderloin, skirt (room temperature)
  • Salt
  • Tbsp vegetable or canola oil

Salad

  • 1 head red leaf lettuce – washed, cut into 1” pieces and spun dry
  • 1 shallot – thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomato – halved
  • 1 english cucumber – seeded and cut into half moons
  • 1 bunch cilantro – stems chopped, leaves rough chopped
  • 1 bunch mint – leaves removed, stems discarded
  • 3 green onions – green part only, thinly sliced
  • Lime slices – for garnish

Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • 1-2 Thai or serrano chile (depending on your heat preference) – stem and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 limes – juiced

Directions:

Heat a cast iron over high heat.  Add oil. When the oil starts to smoke, season the steak with salt on both sides.  Carefully lay the steak in the pan. You will want to turn on the exhaust over your stove as there will be a lot of smoke.  Cook for 3 minutes and flip the steak. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and remove the steak to rest on your cutting board.

While the steak is resting, make the dressing simply by combining all the ingredients in a jar.  Shake the jar vigorously to blend. If you don’t have a jar, you can also just mix the dressing in a bowl.  Taste the dressing and make adjustments based on your preference. If it’s too spicy, add more palm sugar. If it needs salt, add fish sauce, etc… 

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, shallot, tomato, cucumber, cilantro stems, half the cilantro leaves and half the mint.  Pour the dressing over the salad mixture and combine well.

Once the steak has cooled (at least 5 minutes), thinly slice the steak against the grain.  The beef should be just a bit warmer than room temperature.  

Place a heaping mound of salad in a salad bowl and spoon more of the dressing from your mixing bowl over the salad.  You want the salad to be swimming in the dressing.  

Arrange the sliced steak on top of the salad and garnish with the green onion, remaining cilantro and mint leaves and the lime wedges.

 

Posted on 9 Comments

Spicy Ginger and Carrot Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Spicy Ginger and Carrot Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free, Paleo

Being thoughtful with the ingredients you use will help you to understand food and the benefits different things have on your body. There are so many beneficial parts to this soup and you’ll love the way it all quickly comes together.

We’ll be using carrots, leek and ginger as our soup base.  I love carrots. They’re inexpensive, full of fiber and vitamins and they’re sweet but also score low on the glycemic index making them diabetic friendly as they won’t cause much of a spike in blood sugar.

Leeks are high in vitamin A, C and iron which is great for your red blood cells, helping circulate oxygen throughout your body.  They’re a bit more mild in flavor than an onion and will help add a creamy texture to the soup.

Ginger is something I use every day and with many applications.  It’s an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory superfood and it has an incredible depth in flavor.  I use it as often as possible.

Using pumpkin seeds is a great way to add magnesium to your diet and stats show that the majority of us are deficient of this mineral.  Magnesium helps control blood pressure and regulates blood sugar. They’re also high in tryptophan which just like that Thanksgiving turkey, may just help you sleep better.

One of my most favorite ingredients is the Korean hot pepper paste gochujang.  I use it to spice up soups or stews, as a sauce base and as a condiment. It’s full of vitamins, helps your metabolism and provides the same gut health benefit as kombucha as it’s fermented and is packed with probiotics. You can find gochujang at your local Asian grocery store or in the Asian section at most other markets.

Now that we have some background on the key elements to this dish, let’s make some soup!

INGREDIENTS:

Soup Base

  • 2 pounds peeled carrots – cut into equal size pieces
  • 2 leeks (white part only) – cleaned and sliced
  • 1 medium onion – peeled and diced
  • 2 inch knob of ginger – peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • Tbsp gochujang 
  • Tbsp coconut oil
  • Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (be sure to check the label for yeast.  I like the Kitchen Basics Brand)
  • 1 lemon juiced (zest the lemon to use with the pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Heat coconut oil in dutch oven or medium sized stock pot.  Add leeks and onion and cook 4-5 minutes until translucent.  Add ginger and cook 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant – 30 seconds.  Add cumin, coriander and gochujang and stir to combine, then toss in the carrots. Mix everything together with a wood spoon so that the carrots are coated well then pour in the vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook until the carrots are fork tender.

While the carrots are going, you can work on the pumpkin seeds.

In a small bowl, add the pumpkin seeds, olive oil and a bit of salt.  Heat a small non stick pan on low and add the seed mixture. Stir often to be sure not to burn them and cook until they develop a nice, toasted brown hue.  Remove from heat to cool for a few minutes then toss with the parsley and lemon zest. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

When the carrots are tender, remove from heat and let cool a bit in the stock.  You can process these either using an immersion blender or by using a blender in batches.  Be sure not to overfill the blender as the carrots will be hot and could splatter.  

At this point, I like to pass the carrot soup through a chinois or fine mesh strainer to produce a very smooth, silky soup.  If you prefer more rustic, you can serve as is. If you used a blender, pour the soup back into the stock pot. Add the olive oil and lemon juice.  Taste the soup and add a bit of salt if needed. Give it a stir then gently pour into shallow serving bowls. 

Drizzle the coconut milk around the bowl and spoon a few heaping scoops of the toasted pumpkin seed mixture into the middle of the bowl.

Enjoy!

 

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