Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

It almost feels silly to blog this “recipe,” but as someone who spent way too much time googling “Sweet Potatoes Instant Pot” and trying to make my way around the differing times and instructions that existed, I figured it would be good to share what worked for me. If nothing else, I can add yet another recipe to further confuse patrons on how to cook their sweet potatoes in an Instant Pot.

This recipe was born out of need. I woke up one morning and NEEDED a baked sweet potato with coconut milk yogurt (recipe from Tracey at Whole Daily Life), but I didn’t have time to preheat the oven and let one bake for an hour and a half before work. Instant Pot to the rescue! I was amazed because they seriously turned out perfectly caramelized and sweet, as though I had baked them in the oven for hours.

I love cooking several sweet potatoes at once, then using them throughout the week. I later heat them and top with coconut milk yogurt and cinnamon, throw veggies on top, use as a base for my slow cooker carnitas and lazy guacamole, or leave cold and throw into smoothies (it seriously makes them taste like ice cream).

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Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes

  • Servings: 1-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

-2-4 medium sweet potatoes (or 1, if that’s all you want)
-2 cups water

Directions:

  1. Scrub your sweet potatoes clean under running water (DO NOT skip this step).
  2. Set the steamer basket into the Instant Pot.
  3. Pour in two cups of water.
  4. Place sweet potatoes over steamer basket.
    • If you’re using more than 2, line them up perpendicular to the bottom two sweet potatoes so they have more access to steam.
  5. Close the lid, set to Pressure Cook on High for 20 minutes (you’ll have to manually increase the time to 20 minutes).
  6. Keep the vent closed and manually release pressure at the end.
  7. Carefully remove sweet potatoes from Instant Pot, and serve, or allow to cool and store in refrigerator for future use.

Notes:
-Sweet potatoes should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
-I recommend opting for long, skinny sweet potatoes instead of bulky round ones. It helps even out the cooking and caramelization. But mine weren’t all like this and they still turned out well!

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One-Pot Salmon Curry (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

One evening, my mom and I had defrosted some salmon to eat for dinner. I didn’t really feel like searing it or baking it, so I randomly sautéed some veggies, cut up the salmon, threw it in with the veggies, added some coconut milk and seasoning…and then something beautiful happened. It was so, so delicious. We practically licked our bowls clean. Okay not practically. I actually licked my bowl clean. No shame.

The following week, I mentioned it to my coworkers and said I wanted to re-make it for the blog.

A week or two later, that coworker literally yells from across the kitchen, “POOJA. WHEN ARE YOU PUTTING YOUR SALMON CURRY UP ON THE BLOG. WHY ISN’T IT UP YET? I WANT TO MAKE IT.” So…I got my life together and made it again and measured everything for the blog. Don’t worry, I took some for her to enjoy too.

Ps. Somehow the version I made for the blog turned out better than the original?! You’re welcome.

Anyway, MAKE THIS. It’s so easy and so damn good. It’s one of those meals that you eat in silence because you’re enjoying it so much. And it all happens in ONE POT. Hooray for dirtying as few dishes as possible!!

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One-Pot Salmon Curry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

-2 cups broccoli florets
-2 cups chopped mushrooms
-1 small onion, diced
-2 tbsp avocado oil, divided
-1 tbsp minced ginger
-1 tbsp minced lemongrass (here’s a video on how to prepare lemongrass)
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 lb salmon
-1 tsp turmeric + 1/2 tsp turmeric
-2 bay leaves
-1 can coconut milk
-1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
-sea salt

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp avocado oil on medium heat, then add onions and stir until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to soften, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp turmeric, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and bay leaves, then stir to combine.
  4. Add broccoli and stir to combine.
  5. Add 1/4 cup water to the pan and and put a lid on to steam for 5 minutes.
  6. While the vegetables are steaming, carefully cut the skin off of the salmon and cut it into small cubes.
  7. When 5 minutes are up, carefully lift off the lid and avoid any steam that escapes.
  8. Create a well in the center of the vegetables and add 1 tbsp avocado oil, then add the salmon.
  9. Sprinkle salmon with 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric.
  10. Sauté the salmon until cooked, then toss salmon in with the vegetables and mix it all together.
  11. Add 1 can of coconut milk + 1/2 can water.
  12. Turn heat to low and bring to a simmer.
  13. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  14. Stir in 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro.
  15. Taste, and add salt if necessary (I added about 1/2 tsp).
  16. Eat on cauliflower rice or with whatever vessel you choose, but spoon this stuff into your mouth at lightning speed because it is DELICIOUS.

Notes:
-Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand if you don’t want to use broccoli and mushrooms. I’ve made this with asparagus, green beans, spinach…it’s incredibly versatile and tasty either way!
-Same goes with the meat. Don’t like fish? Use chicken! Or tofu! Or whatever you want!
-This will keep for about 5 days in the fridge.

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Strawberry Mojito Kombucha (Paleo, AIP)

Kombucha has been on my bucket list to attempt for years, but I was always too intimidated by the process to actually go for it. Finally, I was pushed headfirst into the process and had to stop avoiding it when Scott generously gave me his scoby (that we named Scoby-Wan Kenobi, obviously) and walked me through the process as my official kombucha life coach. Sidenote: what’s my newest scoby’s name, you ask? Kombuchewbacca. 

What was I afraid of?? Making kombucha is incredibly hands-off and so easy. The most “work” goes into flavoring it, and all that requires is mashing some fruit together in a saucepan, letting it cool, then mixing it with the kombucha. Not to mention the fact that it is SO CHEAP to make your own kombucha. I find that kombucha costs around $4.00 at most stores, but it costs UNDER A DOLLAR per bottle to make your own. That was enough to convince me!!

Bonus points for being able to create your own flavors, which has been so fun for me. I wanted to play around with it a bit before sharing flavors, but now I’m going to start sharing the flavors I make because each one has been fantastic. My first batch was carrot-ginger lime, my second batch was white peach honey ginger, and my third batch, the one I’m sharing today, is strawberry mojito. STRAWBERRY. FREAKING. MOJITO. CAN YOU EVEN.

I know I’m yelling a lot here but I’m just so excited. And I’m sipping on the strawberry mojito kombucha as I type this post. Anyone else feel tipsy after they drink kombucha on an empty stomach? No? Just me? Cool.

Let’s talk about the inspiration for this flavor. On the fourth of July, my best friend and I made Kristin’s Mojito Fruit Salad from Iowa Girl Eats (with just strawberries and raspberries) and it was DIVINE (more yelling, sorry I’m drunk off of kombucha). When it came time to flavor my next batch of kombucha, I knew I wanted to try to recreate the flavors of that salad in kombucha-form, and strawberry mojito kombucha was born.

To make my kombucha, I followed these instructions from The Kitchn. I think there’s a video but I was too lazy to watch it so I just skimmed through the instructions a couple thousand times and felt good to go.

To flavor it, I’ve followed Beth’s instructions/general proportions from Bon Aippetit each time (with my own respective fruits and flavors) and my kombucha has come out perfectly without fail every single time. Beth even guided me through the flavoring process through direct messages on Instagram and has been quick to answer any questions I’ve had.

Enough kombucha-drunk rambling…here we go!!

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Strawberry Mojito Kombucha

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Bon Aippetit’s Mango Kombucha Recipe

FullSizeRender-4Ingredients:

-12 cups unflavored kombucha
-2 heaping cups chopped strawberries
-zest and juice of 1 lime
-2 packets peppermint tea

Directions:

  • Follow the instructions from Bon Aippetit, but instead of the honey and mango, add the strawberries and lime zest/juice to the pot.
  • After the mixture cools to room temperature and you are ready to add it to the kombucha, add the 2 packets of peppermint tea to gently steep with the kombucha and add a hint of mint flavor.
  • When you strain the mixture to bottle, discard the tea packets as well.

That’s all she wrote, my friends! This results in a kombucha with a strong, authentic strawberry flavor with hints of lime and mint. I hope you love it as much as we have!

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Ratatouille (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I’ve had ratatouille in the back of my mind to AIP-ify for quite some time. I know. I didn’t even have a go-to AIP “no-mato” sauce (tomato-free marinara), but I was determined to take this on and make it good. Lucky for us, I was very successful.

Why can’t we have a good nightshade-free option for ratatouille? WE CAN. It’s such a beautiful, colorful dish. And fortunately, it tastes as beautiful as it looks.

Don’t be afraid of how involved this dish may seem. It certainly is a labor of love, but it’s worth it. The way the flavors meld together at the end…it’s a dream. So good.

Be sure to read the recipe through before you start following the directions. I break it up by task, but the order in which you follow may be different than what is outlined. It’ll make sense once you read it!

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AIP Ratatouille

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

For tomato-free marinara:
-1/3 cup chopped onion
-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1 cup chopped red beets
-1/2 cup chopped carrots
-1 tbsp olive oil
-2 cups water
-1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
-1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
-1/8 cup tightly packed chopped fresh basil
-1 tbsp nutritional yeast
-1 tsp dried oregano

Layering vegetables:
-1 medium zucchini
-1 medium yellow squash
-1 medium golden beet
-1 cup thinly sliced red radishes
-1 cup thinly sliced carrots

Pour-over sauce:
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/3 cup red wine vinegar
-1/8 cup coconut aminos
-1/8 cup fresh thyme, finely chopped and tightly packed
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

For the marinara:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, sauté onion in olive oil on medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add chopped beets and carrots, then sauté to combine for 1 minute.
  4. Add water and sea salt.
  5. Once the water starts to boil, set a timer for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes are up, carefully pour the beet mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Transfer mixture back to the pot on low heat and add basil, oregano, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast.
  8. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 10 minutes (if you don’t put a lid on, it will splatter everywhere and you will hate everything).
  9. After 10 minutes, taste and add salt if necessary.

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For the vegetables and assembly:

  1. During the 30 minutes that the beets, carrots, etc are in boiling water, cut up all your vegetables. Thinly slice the zucchini and squash (I used this time to slice the carrots and radishes as well). Cut the golden beets into wedges to match the size of the other vegetables.
    • Note: You can use a mandolin slicer to cut the vegetables, but I sliced by hand because I think the imperfection of the different thicknesses and sizes adds character and makes it feel more rustic.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or round cake pan).
  4. Layer vegetables on top in a single layer in a pattern, following the shape of the pan. Start on the outer layer and build inward.
    • Note: If you have leftover veggies, you can roast them on the side (as I did) or just snack on them (as I also did).
  5. Add olive oil, red wine vinegar, coconut aminos, thyme, salt, and garlic into a bowl, then whisk to combine.
  6. Pour mixture over vegetables.
  7. Place into oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon and, if desired, a sprinkle of flaky maldon sea salt.

Notes:
-You can make the nomato sauce ahead of time, then quickly assemble and bake when you’re ready to eat.
-You can replace the nomato sauce with any tomato sauce of your own if you can tolerate nightshades. Don’t skip the pour-over sauce though!
-If you don’t want your ratatouille to be as saucy, measure 1 cup of the sauce and use it to coat the bottom of the skillet or pan instead of using all of the sauce. Leftover sauce can be used just as you would marinara (pasta, with vegetables, pizza topping, etc).

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Herbed Chicken Burgers (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

I first made these burgers 2 years ago when I was visiting my best friend Heather in Washington D.C. We knew we wanted to grill but weren’t sure just what, so we walked around the grocery store until inspiration struck (which took like 30 seconds). They were just as good the next day, and the next, and the next…we made too many.

Now, you can replace the shallots in the recipe with onion, but I recommend sticking with shallots. Heather had never cooked with shallots before, and these burgers made a believer out of her.

Since then, I’ve made these burgers so many times, and I’m pleased to say that I haven’t had to update the recipe one bit. They’re THAT good.

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Herbed Chicken Burgers

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

-2 lbs ground chicken
-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh Rosemary
-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
-1 large shallot or 1 small onion, minced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to large bowl and mix well to combine (I use my hands).
  2. Form into 8-10 patties, depending on your desired size (or even more if you want to make sliders).
  3. Cook as preferred until the patties reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
    • To grill: Grill with direct heat on high for approximately 5 minutes per side, checking the temperature to ensure doneness.
    • To bake: Add to a cookie sheet spread with avocado oil or olive oil and bake for 30 minutes at 400°F, carefully flipping halfway through. Check the temperature and add 5 minutes as necessary.
    • To sauté: Heat a pan or skillet at medium heat and add 1 tbsp cooking oil or fat. Add patties in batches of 3-4, depending on size. Cook on each side for 10-15 minutes, or until the patties are browned and fully cooked through. Add more cooking oil or fat if necessary.
  4. Assemble and dig in! I had mine wrapped in lettuce with avocado, a drizzle of red wine vinegar, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Other non-AIP folks had theirs on regular buns with cheese.

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AIP/Paleo or not, these burgers are a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

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67 inches

5 feet, 7 inches.

My height is 5 feet, 5 inches.

The total length of surgical scars on my body is now greater than my height.

That means, if I were to stack my scars on top of each other, the end result would be taller than me.

Almost six years ago, I wrote this blog post. It marked the beginning of a long, painful road I have traveled to accept my body in its new heavily scarred state.

For over half a decade, I have gone to great lengths to hide my scars. Avoiding shorts so they don’t peek out at the bottom on my legs; avoiding lower-cut tops so they can’t be seen around my chest and sternum; most recently, trying to wear my hair lower to cover the new scar on the back of my neck…but the scars I have struggled with most are those in my underarms. The wounds from my surgery had opened up at the time, so instead of healing in tight surgical scars that we’re used to seeing, they remained open until they healed from the inside out, which left giant, gaping scars that took up most of both of my underarms. I’ve been hiding them for so long, even going to the lengths of wearing cardigans with sleeveless tops in the high heat of summer.

For years, it has been such a battle. Trying to accept my body, hating my body, wishing I could change my body, feeling helpless and hopeless. In fact, in January of 2017 I had a sudden, suffocating, devastating realization that I was stuck with this scarred body for the rest of my life. The next day, I made an appointment with a therapist and eventually began treatment for anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

My parents have been equally desperate to ease me of my pain, both physical and emotional. They’ve offered multiple times to sell everything to afford extensive plastic surgery to cover my scars. When we have these conversations, I can feel the pain seeping from their cores, the desperation to make it all better. But I remind them that I will never undergo elective surgery. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with it, but because I have had to go under the knife so many times that I simply cannot do it and fight that fight unless absolutely necessary for my well-being. I’m too exhausted. I can’t give any more of myself to this awful disease.

A few weeks ago, I was planning on going to a friend’s wedding and had bought a sleeveless dress. I tried on several cardigans with the dress, then threw it aside in frustration because nothing looked good with it.

This moment was the catalyst I needed.

I reflected on my relationship with my scars, and I decided that I needed to engage in cognitive reframing. I needed to find a way to change my own perception of my scars. I needed to find a way to transform those feelings of shame into feelings of pride. To transform the idea of hiding into the idea of celebrating. How could I do this for myself?

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This was transformative.

Getting the tattoo was an incredibly emotional experience, and I was grateful to have a tattoo artist who both acknowledged it and allowed himself to become involved in the experience. He listened to my story and made sure that it was exactly what I wanted. When we were done, he called me a “tough old broad” and enveloped me in a warm hug.

On the way home from getting the tattoo, I cried tears of healing and renewal. I cried for the broken woman who wanted so badly to hide these scars she was ashamed of for so long. I cried for the woman she has become who is proud to show these scars because she has earned them. Each scar represents a battle that she has won, and many of those represent battles for her own life. She has conquered, is conquering, and will continue to conquer.

Because she is a damn warrior.

I went to that wedding and wore my sleeveless dress without a cardigan. I felt nothing but pride, celebration, and true joy when I got onto the dance floor with some of my closest friends.

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Sweet Potato Bites with Guacamole Cream (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

It’s no secret that I love the combination of sweet potatoes and guacamole. It’s basically my AIP-compliant peanut butter and jelly.

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Baked sweet potatoes with lazy guac.
Sweet potato toast (sweet potatoast) with sliced or smashed avocado.
Sweet potato fries with guacamole (this is my lazy dinner on the reg).
Sweet potato chips dipped in guacamole.
And now…

Sweet potato bites with guacamole cream.

These are the poppable, easy-to-make and easier-to-eat, tray-ed up, finger food of your dreams.

They come together in a flash and are a definite crowd pleaser. They’re perfect to make when entertaining because they seem so impressive and colorful but they couldn’t be more simple. But you can keep that secret to yourself and allow your guests to be impressed (that’s how I prefer to live).

They’re also perfect to make when you’re eating alone and just want a platter of delicious food that you don’t have to share…not that I know this from experience.

Not to mention that they’re kid-friendly and kid-approved.

Need I say more?? Go make these!

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Sweet Potato Bites with Guacamole Cream

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

-2 medium sweet potatoes, preferably long and skinny
-2 tbsp avocado oil, olive oil, or ghee (not AIP if using ghee)
-1/2 tsp sea salt

For guacamole cream:
-2 avocados
-1/4 cup chopped red onion
-1/4 cup chopped cilantro
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-Juice of 1 lime
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 cup water

For garnish:
Chopped red onion
Chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  2. Slice sweet potatoes into rounds of ~1/4 inch thickness. You don’t want them too thin because they need to be sturdy enough to hold the topping.
  3. Toss with oil and sea salt.
  4. Place in a single layer onto a roasting rack.
    • If you do not have a roasting rack, place them onto a cookie sheet, but be sure to flip them halfway through the roasting process.
  5. Roast for 40-45 minutes, checking to be sure they do not burn. They are done when they are bubbly and beginning to brown.
  6. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, make the guacamole cream by adding avocados, red onion, cilantro, sea salt, garlic powder, lime juice, olive oil, and water into a blender and blend until completely smooth. You may need to add more water, but try to keep the consistency as thick as possible.
  7. Add guacamole cream to a Ziploc bag. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
  8. When sweet potatoes are ready, carefully remove them from the pan and place onto serving plate.
  9. Cut the tip off of the Ziploc bag filled with the guacamole cream, and pipe the cream onto each sweet potato round.
  10. Garnish with a healthy amount of chopped red onion and chopped cilantro.
  11. EAT THE WHOLE PLATTER.

Notes:
-Ways to make this come together more quickly if you’re entertaining:
—> Slice the sweet potatoes ahead of time, so all you have to do is roast them.
—> Slice + roast the sweet potatoes ahead of time, store in the fridge, then heat back up in the oven when you’re ready to eat.
-I do not recommend making the guacamole cream until you’re ready to serve because it will brown.

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