Paleo Tuna Salad in Avocado Cups

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One of the first things I really learned to “make” on my own was my dad’s tuna salad. I distinctly remember living in my own apartment with my own kitchen for the first time and thinking that I could make anything, ANYTHING! So I made tuna salad. Anti-climatic, huh? Still, sometimes these baby steps are the sort of affirmation you need to feel confident doing more complicated things (see: pasta. What? It was college after all).  I remember calling my dad up and asking him what he put in it. His answer was simple: sweet relish, tuna, mayonnaise, hard boiled eggs, and seasonings.  Sometimes, he said, he’ll serve it  inside half an avocado. You know, because avocado makes everything taste better.

Easy enough and delicious in its simplicity, I made a lot of tuna salad over my college years, and sometimes, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I still pull out dad’s old recipe. I even bought sugar-free sweet relish one time (do not recommend), before foregoing the relish altogether, just to try to “healthify” the recipe some more. I also, over time, started to add some veggies into the mix so that it would be a more complete meal of protein and carbs. Sometimes I add the hard-boiled egg, but most times I can’t be bothered to wait long enough to make it. To me, tuna salad had always been and should always be one of those standing over the counter and throwing things together kind of meals. Hard-boiling an egg? You gotta plan that, brah.

Which brings me to my Whole30. This week for some strange reason has turned out to be a week of throwing random things together at the last-minute recipes. Once I was in this mindset, dad’s tuna salad jumped up from the well of my memory and was like, hi! I’m perfect for this! So, I set out to make a Whole30 compliant tuna salad with a homemade mayonnaise. Mostly because I wanted something in an avocado cup.

Paleo Tuna Salad in Avocado Cup
Paleo mayonnaise inspired by The Paleo Kitchen
Serves 6

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Ingredients:

1 large pastured egg
3/4 cup olive oil or other oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 7-oz cans albacore tuna
3 celery stalks, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and diced small
1/3 cup red onion, diced small
3 tbsps fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 avocados, cut in half around the seed and pitted

Directions:

1. Add the egg, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp salt to a medium container (I used the container that came with my immersion blender). Place the blender in the bottom of the cup, then turn it on high-speed and blend until the bottom begins to turn white and frothy. Then, slowly lift the immersion blender blade up through the rest of the mixture so that the oil mixes in well. Once everything is mixed in, which should take no longer than 30 seconds, turn off the blender. Pour the mayonnaise into a mason jar or other airtight container for storage, but reserve 1/3 cup for the tuna salad.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, use a fork to break the tuna up into small pieces. Once small, add the celery, the onion, the parsley, the reserved 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, the garlic powder, and salt and pepper.

3. Mix until everything is well-distributed and the mayonnaise coats the fish. Feel free to add more mayo if you like a creamier tuna salad.
IMG_86204. On a small plate, put down one half of the avocado and then use a spoon to top with the tuna salad. . Garnish with extra parsley and serve!
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Banana Oat Bread

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I had originally intended on posting a recipe that uses the Jalapeno Hatch Pepper Jam from HEB that I’ve been obsessed with, but then I realized that I had three bananas that were quickly getting on the ugly side of ripe, and I decided to make this recipe instead. Because, banana bread. Duh.

I don’t really have a fun story to tell today, so I’ll just tell you about this bread and save the stories for when I have more energy to tell them (something I think that this weekend’s beach time will go a long way towards restoring!). The original recipe came from pinterest, where one of my coworkers had pinned this recipe from the Healthy Apple. I’ve loved the idea of using oats as a flour since I first made my strawberry rhubarb breakfast bars a while back. I love using oats as flour mostly because I’m too cheap to buy fancy gluten-free flour mixes (or really, any specialty flour, coconut and almond included). I really try to stay away from the treats more generally (and making treats with coconut or other gluten-free flour are still treats!), so I also don’t really buy those things on principal–I know that buying them will make me feel like I need to use them and BAKE ALL TH E THINGS, which sort of defeats the purpose of clean eating.

So oats–>flour. What I especially like about using oats is that, even if you indulge more than you should in said baked good, all you’re really doing is eating oatmeal. And oatmeal is healthy sooooo the baked good is healthy too (right??! Right.)! It’s a little mindhack I use when I want to feel a little decadent but don’t really wanna ruin a good streak I’m on. As it stands, this recipe is gluten-free, vegan, refined-sugar free, and dairy-free. BUT the decadence can definitely be fine-tuned: want to err on the side of dessert? Add more chocolate chips and maybe a tablespoon more of maple syrup. Want to make this super healthy and nut free? Omit the chocolate chips entirely and substitute the walnuts for sunflower seeds and/or pepitas. Don’t care about being vegan? Use butter in the place of the coconut oil. You can make this recipe totally yours! And really, all it is is oatmeal. 😉

Banana Oat Bread
Serves 6

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Ingredients:  

2.5 cups gluten-free traditional rolled oats
3 tbsp real maple syrup
4 tbsp melted coconut oil+more for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips if you don’t mind a bit of dairy
2 tsp ground flax-seed

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a tiny bit of melted coconut oil to grease your loaf pan well. Set the pan aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, add your rolled oats, and blend until you have a fine flour.

3. In the same blender/processor, add the baking soda, baking powder, and ground cinnamon and mix everything together. I used a fork, but you could easily just give the blender/processor another couple of pulses to blend.
IMG_77904. In a large bowl, use a potato masher (or a fork) to mash your bananas together until almost smooth.

5. Add your maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla extract to the bananas and mix well.
IMG_77886. Then add the dry oat mixture, the chocolate chips, and the walnuts to the mixture, and mix until you can’t see any dry oats anymore.

7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth it out so it’s evenly distributed.  Sprinkle the flaxseed over the top.

8. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm by itself, with a pat of butter, or with your favorite jam!
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Banana Oat Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Bread
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups gluten-free traditional rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut oil+more for greasing
  • 3 medium bananas, very ripe
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup walnut pieces
  • ⅓ cup
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • or regular chocolate chips if you don't mind a bit of dairy
  • 2 tsp ground flax-seed
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a tiny bit of melted coconut oil to grease your loaf pan well. Set the pan aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add your rolled oats, and blend until you have a fine flour.
  3. In the same blender/processor, add the baking soda, baking powder, and ground cinnamon and mix everything together. I used a fork, but you could easily just give the blender/processor another couple of pulses to blend.
  4. In a large bowl, use a potato masher (or a fork) to mash your bananas together until almost smooth.
  5. Add your maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla extract to the bananas and mix well.
  6. Then add the dry oat mixture, the chocolate chips, and the walnuts to the mixture, and mix until you can't see any dry oats anymore.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth it out so it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the flaxseed over the top.
  8. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm by itself, with a pat of butter, or with your favorite jam!

Cucumber Caprese Salad

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It turns out that Mr. Little Fish has quite the green thumb. I don’t remember exactly what prompted us to decide to start our own garden, but one day, Mr. LF just commandeered some of the planters on the property, got rid of all the dead plants that the HOA wasn’t taking care of, sifted through all the dirt using a sifter he built, and planted some seeds. 6 weeks later, the garden looked like this:

Processed with VSCOcam

From front to back, that’s red onion, carrot, a huge bunch of beets, some dill and cilantro that you can’t see and are taking their sweet time, an even huger bunch of basil, tomatoes, and sweet peppers way in the back. We’ve actually been able to harvest the beets already! We’ve also commandeered a second planter, which is now home to more tomatoes, zucchini, and some more peppers. It’s so amazing to watch these things grow from these tiny little nothings into edible and delicious and nutritious vegetables.

As you can see from the picture, though, the basil plant is the most bountiful. Seriously, I try to use it as much as I can (see: this tomato basil soup we make once every couple weeks or this spaghetti sauce that I subbed in fresh basil for), but the plant just grows so darn fast that I can’t keep up. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying my hardest though!

Enter: this cucumber caprese salad. I originally got the idea to add cucumber to a traditional caprese salad from the Comfort of Cooking‘s site. I love caprese salads, and I love cucumber, so when I saw her chopped salad, I knew I had to try it.  But, thinking that I wanted to use even more basil, I decided instead to make a pesto sauce to toss the salad with! And instead of all chopped, I used my spiralizer to make easy-to-eat cucumber “fettuchini” noodles. While the addition of mozzarella makes this not paleo, the pesto itself is, so you could easily omit the mozzarella if you want to do paleo or just generally want to do dairy-free. If you don’t have a spiralizer, feel free to use either a Julienne peeler or just chop the cucumber into small pieces.  You’ll only end up using about half the pesto sauce in the recipe below, but you can easily double the salad ingredients if you are serving more than 2 people, or you can do as I do, and toss the rest on pretty much anything! I used the leftover pesto in an italian chicken and peach pesto salad that was really delicious!

Cucumber Caprese Salad
Serves 2

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Ingredients: 

For the pesto:
1 cup basil, medium tightly packed
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

For the salad:
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1/2 cup small fresh mozzarella balls or torn mozzarella pieces

Directions:

1. In a small chopper or a food processor, combine all of the pesto ingredients. I have this convenient little chopper Mr. Little Fish bought from amazon that also doubles as a storage container! Definitely requires that you put a little muscle into it though! Whatever method you use, blend until you have a chunky pesto sauce. Cover the sauce, and set it in the fridge.

2. Use the flat blade on your spiralizer to spiralize the cucumber into a bowl with a lid. The flat blade will give you flat, fettuchini-like noodles (Again, if you don’t have a spiralizer, feel free to use either a Julienne peeler or just chop the cumber into bite sized pieces!). Don’t forget to use your hands or a kitchen shears to cut the noodles into manageable pieces!

3. Lay 2 layers of paper towels onto your cutting board, and pour the spiralized cucumber onto the paper towels, spreading the noodles out. Take another 2-3 layers of paper towels, put them on top of the noodles, and then put your back into pressing the water out of the noodles. This step is important for keeping the pesto from getting too watery once it’s added to the salad. You want your pesto to stick to the noodles!

4. Add the cucumber back to the bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces…..
IMG_7734and about half of the pesto mixture.
IMG_77395. Put the lid on the bowl, and then shake until the pasta is well-coated!
IMG_77416. Enjoy!
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Cucumber Caprese Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For the pesto:
  • 1 cup basil, medium tightly packed
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • For the salad
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • ½ cup small fresh mozzarella balls or torn mozzarella pieces
Directions
  1. In a small chopper or a food processor, combine all of the pesto ingredients. I have this convenient little chopper Mr. Little Fish bought from amazon that also doubles as a storage container! Definitely requires that you put a little muscle into it though! Whatever method you use, blend until you have a chunky pesto sauce. Cover the sauce, and set it in the fridge.
  2. Use the flat blade on your spiralizer to spiralize the cucumber into a bowl with a lid. The flat blade will give you flat, fettuchini-like noodles. Don't forget to use your hands or a kitchen shears to cut the noodles into manageable pieces!
  3. Lay 2 layers of paper towels onto your cutting board, and pour the spiralized cucumber onto the paper towels, spreading the noodles out. Take another 2-3 layers of paper towels, put them on top of the noodles, and then put your back into pressing the water out of the noodles. This step is important for keeping the pesto from getting too watery once it's added to the salad. You want your pesto to stick to the noodles!
  4. Add the cucumber back to the bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces, and about half of the pesto mixture.
  5. Put the lid on the bowl, and then shake until the pasta is well-coated!
  6. Enjoy!

Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal

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Another oatmeal post, you ask? Why, yes, another oatmeal post. I’ve had this recipe on the back burner for a while now.  I’m always looking for new ways to cook oats that doesn’t involve that much work.  Especially now that summer is in full swing, the less effort I have to make on my busy mornings, the better. I’ve done slow cooker steel oats, which were delicious but seem more “fall” to me. I’ve done these day-off oats, which were also delicious but definitely too much work for a weekday. I’ve also done overnight oats, which are really the lazy-woman’s oats, but also require a little bit of forethought and planning. And now, I’ve discovered baked oatmeal, which requires a little work up front but then gives you a solid breakfast for the next 6 days!

My first encounter with baked oatmeal was through this Oh She Glows recipe for heavenly baked carrot cake oatmeal. As advertised, it was heavenly. If you ever want to trick your body into thinking you’re eating cake for breakfast, that recipe is the way to go. Especially if you slathered some cream cheese on top.  Yum.

But I couldn’t leave things well enough alone, and my mind started racing. Sure, this had carrots, but what if we took this another step further and add everyone else’s favorite veggies for baked goods: zucchini? Luckily, I’d gotten a steal of a deal at the farmer’s market and was overflowing with zucchini. I’ve also always been a fan of the whole “morning glory” muffins thing, so I decided to put those flavors into my own spin of the Oh She Glows recipe: morning glory baked oatmeal with apple, zucchini, and carrots.

I am so happy with the results. My parents, in town last weekend for Father’s Day, were too. 😉 I streamlined the recipe, a la my strawberry rhubarb bars, to make it as one-pot  as possible, aside from the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can definitely use a cheese grater or even just a julienne peeler. The accolades on this dish are plenty: it’s refined-sugar-free, gluten-free (make sure to get them certified if you are allergic), dairy-free, and vegan (and can easily be made nut-free, if necessary)! Plus, veggies! I like to top mine with Greek yogurt and a little maple syrup or with just coconut milk poured around it. Feel free to use any nut you have on hand! My pictures below show both a pecan and a walnut version, and I liked both plenty!

IMG_7530Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal
Serves 6

IMG_7085Ingredients:

2 cups traditional rolled oats (NOT instant)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated/shredded carrots (I bought this already grated)
1 medium zucchini
1 organic green apple, cored and quartered (apples are on the dirty dozen list, so if you get it conventional, make sure to also peel)
2 cups non-dairy milk (both coconut and almond work well here)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts)
1 tbsp maple syrup
Coconut oil, for greasing

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly grease a 9×6 or 8×8 baking dish with coconut oil.
2. Using the shred-blade on your food processor or the large holes on a cheese grater, shred your zucchini and apple. I also shredded my grated carrots because they were quite thick.

3. Dump the shredded fruit and veggies mixture onto a kitchen towel, and squeeze out the water.  Zucchini produces a ton of water, so this step helps to give you better control over how watery your oatmeal will be. The veggies will be in a compact ball when you’re done.

4. In the greased baking dish, add the dry ingredients: oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Whisk together so that the spices are evenly distributed.

5. In a small bowl, mix together your wet ingredients: the shredded fruits and vegetables, applesauce, milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup.
IMG_75226. Pour the wet mixture into the pan with the dry ingredients, and mix together. Smooth out the mixture and press down the oats so that they are covered with the milk. Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top and press them down into the mixture as well.
IMG_75247. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden brown along the edge and top. Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. These are not bars so they are not meant to stick together, but allowing them to cool will keep it from becoming a crumbly mess.
IMG_75258. Serve with Greek yogurt and maple syrup….
IMG_7534or in a bowl with milk poured over like normal oatmeal!
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Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups traditional rolled oats (NOT instant)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup grated/shredded carrots (I bought this already grated)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 organic green apple, cored and quartered (apples are on
  • the dirty dozen list
  • , so if you get it conventional, make sure to also peel)
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk (both coconut and almond work well here)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Coconut oil, for greasing
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly grease a 9x6 or 8x8 baking dish with coconut oil.
  2. Using the shred-blade on your food processor or the large holes on a cheese grater, shred your zucchini and apple. I also shredded my grated carrots because they were quite thick.
  3. Dump the shredded fruit and veggies mixture onto a kitchen towel, and squeeze out the water.  Zucchini produces a ton of water, so this step helps to give you better control over how watery your oatmeal will be. The veggies will be in a compact ball when you're done.
  4. In the greased baking dish, add the dry ingredients: oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Whisk together so that the spices are evenly distributed.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together your wet ingredients: the shredded fruits and vegetables, applesauce, milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Mix well.
  6. Pour the wet mixture into the pan with the dry ingredients, and mix together. Smooth out the mixture and press down the oats so that they are covered with the milk. Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top and press them down into the mixture as well.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden brown along the edge and top. Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. These are not bars so they are not meant to stick together, but allowing them to cool will keep it from becoming a crumbly mess.
  8. Serve with Greek yogurt and maple syrup....
  9. or in a bowl with milk poured over like normal oatmeal!

Casey’s Grinch Cakes

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If you follow me on instagram, you’ll have seen that I have been making a concerted effort to include more veggies in my breakfast. One of my coworkers, noticing this instagram trend, came into my office the other day to tell me about her latest protein pancake creation: grinch cakes, so called because their green color reminded her of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. She rattled off the list of ingredients, including spinach, that she had been including in hers, which I thought I could remember without writing down.  Given that I had already been adding spinach to my smoothies, and that even Mr. Little Fish said you couldn’t taste it, I vowed to test out the recipe on the weekend.

Unfortunately, I didn’t remember exactly what she said she used, and my initial batch did not turn out so well. I knew something was wrong when the batter looked closer to a watery smoothie in consistency and spread out across the whole pan when I poured it in.  But one workday morning, realizing I had run out of the morning glory baked oatmeal I had tested (recipe here!) and still had spinach, I decided to give it another go.  This time, I limited the ingredients to just 4 and made three small pancakes instead of 1 large one.  The resulting pancakes were thick, fluffy, and had structure to them. I didn’t notice the spinach taste at all, and, best of all, they were a bright, emerald green perfect for a St. Patty’s Day brunch! Plus, they can be gluten-free and dairy-free! So when it comes down to it, even eating a whole stack amounts to eating nothing more than some oatmeal, an egg, a banana, and a whole ton of spinach. And with a name like “grinch cakes,” I bet even kids would be excited to eat them! How’s that for a weekday morning!

Casey’s Grinch Cakes
Serves 1

IMG_7143Ingredients:

1 banana
1 large egg
1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
1/3 cup rolled oats, gluten-free if desired
Butter or oil, for greasing the pan
Optional: vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Blend together all the ingredients, until a thick batter forms.

2. Heat up a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and melt some butter.
IMG_71303. Pour the batter straight from the blender into the pan into three medium-sized puddles.
IMG_71324. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until bubbles start to form and pop in the batter on the top.
IMG_71345.  Flip the pancakes, and cook for 3-5 more minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
IMG_71356.  Transfer to a plate, and top with your favorite toppings!  I topped mine with full-fat Greek yogurt that I mixed together with some real maple syrup and sliced strawberries!
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Casey's Grinch Cakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 banana
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats, gluten-free if desired
  • Butter or oil, for greasing the pan
  • Optional: vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Blend together all the ingredients, until a thick batter forms.
  2. Heat up a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and melt some butter.
  3. Pour the batter straight from the blender into the pan into three medium-sized puddles.
  4. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until bubbles start to form and pop in the batter on the top.
  5. Flip the pancakes, and cook for 3-5 more minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
  6. Transfer to a plate, and top with your favorite toppings!  I topped mine with full-fat Greek yogurt that I mixed together with some real maple syrup and sliced strawberries!