Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Garlic, Sage, and Toasted Pecans (Paleo, Whole30)

Hi friends, and welcome back! I took a brief hiatus from the blog because I started a new job that has taken some adjustment. I’m back though and so excited to share some great recipes with you.

This new holiday favorite was born out of necessity. Our 12th annual Friend Thanksgiving was a more intimate gathering this year since fewer were able to attend, which also meant fewer dishes brought to the potluck. That morning, we realized that one staple dish that was not accounted for was the sweet potatoes. My dear friend, the hostess, wanted sweet potatoes at the table. So I volunteered to throw something together, and this dish began to formulate in my mind.

It may have been one of the best things I’ve ever made. Ever, ever. EVER.

THIS DISH, PEOPLE.

My friend Kacie saw the photo I shared of it on my stories on Instagram, and she immediately messaged me stating that she needed the recipe. A couple of days later, she expressed that the situation was dire because she had been assigned sweet potatoes as her Thanksgiving side dish contribution. I quickly texted her the recipe because I understood the URGENCY.

Kacie doubled the recipe and divided it into two casserole dishes, which worked out well. She also added a sprinkle of cayenne to her pecan topping to give it a little kick (which I think is brilliant).

This was her feedback from Thanksgiving day:

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I know that sweeter sweet potato dishes are common during the holidays, with brown sugar, cinnamon, and marshmallows. But truth be told, those are not my favorite. I prefer to go the savory route with my sweet potatoes, which is what these are.

It’s the perfect balance of flavors and textures, and tastes better than it has any right to, especially considering how easy it is to make.

OKAY FINE without further ado, here’s the recipe that will steal all the thunder at your holiday table.

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Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Garlic, Sage, and Toasted Pecans

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

-3 medium sweet potatoes (see note)
-1/4 cup fresh sage, finely chopped
-4-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 stick + 2 TB butter (sub 3 TB + 1 TB olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil for Paleo/Whole30)
-1/2 cup broth (chicken, veggie, bone, anything works)
-1 cup raw pecans
-1 tsp dried thyme
-Sea salt
-Black pepper
-Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. Thinly slice the sweet potatoes (about 1/8 inch thick, they don’t all have to be exact or uniform) and toss in 1 TB olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Layer them into a baking dish or pie dish, creating a single layer of overlapping sweet potato slices.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup broth over the sweet potatoes.
  4. Melt 1/2 stick butter over medium heat, then add minced garlic and chopped sage. Mix well. You don’t want to brown it, just mix it together and gently warm for about 30 seconds, then remove from heat.
    • If using olive oil, warm 3 TB olive oil for 1 minute on stovetop, then add garlic and sage. Sauté for 30 seconds then remove from heat.
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  5. Pour the mixture evenly over the sweet potatoes, using a spatula to spread the garlic and sage if necessary.
  6. Give the sweet potatoes a little drizzle of olive oil (maybe 1 tsp), then cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until sweet potatoes have softened.
  7. In the meantime, finely chop the raw pecans. Melt the 2 TB butter (or 1 TB olive oil) on a skillet, then add pecans, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp dried thyme (this seems like a lot but TRUST). Sauté, stirring continuously, until the pecans begin to deepen in color and grow fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and spread across parchment paper to cool and dry. They’ll become gloriously crunchy as they cool. TRY NOT TO EAT IT ALL.
  8. When the sweet potatoes have softened (check with fork for doneness), carefully remove the foil and top the sweet potatoes with the toasted pecan mixture.
  9. Place back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, allowing the pecans to toast more without burning them (check them frequently).
  10. Remove and serve, and revel in the fact that you just won Thanksgiving.

Notes:
-Choose longer and thinner sweet potatoes that are even in thickness. This will ensure that they cook evenly.
-The pecan topping is what makes the dish, so I like a lot of it. If you don’t want quite as much, you could easily decrease to 3/4 cup or even 1/2 cup pecans. Be sure to adjust the other measurements accordingly.
-You can easily make this earlier in the day, cool, then stick back into the oven to warm through before serving. That’s what I did and it worked beautifully!
-Alternatively, you could make everything the day before sans the pecans, then reheat the dish in the oven, add pecans, and cook through. Whatever makes your day easiest!

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Curry-Spiced Meatballs (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

You all…I have something really disappointing to tell you. Back in July, when I took over the Autoimmune Wellness Instagram account for a week, I mentioned in one of the posts that I was going to be reunited with my childhood best friend in August. We hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, and I could hardly contain how excited I was to see her and her whole family.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go see my friend. My gallbladder got in the way of our reunion. At the time, we didn’t know for sure that it was my gallbladder, but I was in too much pain to make the long drive to see them. I felt so terrible for canceling on her at the last minute, and I was completely heartbroken to not be able to see finally see her in person again. (She doesn’t live within driving distance, by the way. She was only within driving distance for a short time.)

Rest assured, I will be visiting her as soon as I can. We WILL eventually be reunited, just not as soon as I’d hoped.

I’m sure so many of you can relate to this kind of disappointment…when your health gets in the way of something you’ve looked forward to, counted down the days to, planned for, dreamed of…it’s a slap in the face every time.

I am beyond grateful that my friend was so understanding and gracious about the situation. She didn’t blame me at all–instead, we both blame my gallbladder. We curse it on a regular basis for getting in the way of our reunion. We managed to find humor in a situation that was otherwise devastating.

And I see the big picture. I love her friendship and the daily support we’re able to give each other in various aspects of our lives. We’ll only continue to grow closer until we can see each other again, and nothing will take away from how special it will be when we’re finally reunited.

OKAY…NOW…MEATBALLS.

CURRY-SPICED ONES.

THAT ARE ALL CARAMELIZED AND SO GOOD THAT THEY MAKE ME EMOTIONAL.

Make these. Now. Yesterday.

They’re perfect for batch cooking because they’re even better the next day as the flavors get to know each other. And they are absolutely bursting with flavor.

My brother is coming to visit next week, and when I told him about these meatballs he immediately got such intense FOMO that I froze half the batch on the spot to save for him. You’re welcome, Rishi.

By the way, if you’re not feeling meatballs, these would be fantastic as kabobs (form onto skewers and grill) or curry-spiced burgers (form into patties and grill). There are so many possibilities!

What was I saying again? Oh yeah…MAKE THESE NOW.

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Curry-Spiced Meatballs

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

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Ingredients:

-1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
-4-5 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tbsp minced ginger
-1 tsp turmeric powder
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-heaping 1/4 tsp ground cloves (freshly ground preferred)
-1/4 cup chopped cilantro
-1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
-1 tsp sea salt
-1 tbsp grass-fed gelatin
-2 lb ground turkey, beef, chicken, or pork
-High heat cooking fat such as avocado oil or ghee (not AIP)
-Water

Directions:

  1. Organize your ingredients to make the cooking process easier. Combine the garlic and ginger in one small bowl; combine the turmeric, cinnamon, and ground cloves in a separate small bowl; and combine the cilantro and fresh mint in a separate small bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp cooking fat on medium-low heat. Add onions and spread out in a single layer across the pan. Allow to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes.
  3. Gently sauté and again spread out in a single layer. Add 2 tbsp water and cook undisturbed for 3 more minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.
  5. Add turmeric, cinnamon, and ground cloves, and sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Add cilantro and mint, and sauté for 1 minute.
  7. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool.
  8. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  9. Once the mixture has cooled, add the ground pork, sea salt, and gelatin to the bowl, and mix well by hand to combine. Form into approximately 28-30 meatballs.
    • Note: The mixture is sticky, so coating your hands with a little olive oil makes it much easier to form the meatballs.
  10. In an oven safe skillet (I used a cast iron skillet), heat 1 tbsp cooking fat on medium-high heat (if using pork or higher-fat beef, use less cooking fat since the meat will release its own fat). Sear the meatballs for 2 minutes per side (a total of approximately 4 sides to get a good sear across the entire meatball).
    • Notes: DO NOT overcrowd the pan. The caramelization that occurs during this process is key and adds so much flavor. Overcrowding the pan will prevent caramelization. I seared my meatballs in 3 batches (of 8-10 meatballs per batch) in a 12-inch cast iron skillet.
    • After you’ve finished a batch, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
    • Be sure to quickly wipe down or scrape the skillet between batches to prevent burning.
    • After each batch, add 1 more tbsp cooking fat for the new batch.
  11. When all the meatballs have been seared, carefully transfer all meatballs back into the skillet in a single layer (they will crowd the skillet but that is OKAY for this part). Add 1 cup of water to the pan, then place into the oven for 15 minutes.
  12. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and discard the water.
  13. Serve the meatballs with a garnish of chopped cilantro and, if desired, a squeeze of fresh lime!

Additional Notes:
-These will last for about 5-6 days in the refrigerator and 4-6 months in the freezer.

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Gemstone Breakfast Patties (Paleo, AIP)

Looking for a convenient breakfast item that has both protein and veggies? One that you can batch cook, heat up, then take with you when you’re on the run? Look no further. These breakfast patties are filling and delicious. Not to mention they’re pretty, and it’s been scientifically proven (I’m assuming) that pretty foods taste better.

Make these at the beginning of the week and eat all week, or freeze and heat up when you’re short on time and need something quick and easy for breakfast!

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Gemstone Breakfast Patties

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

-2 pounds ground pork
-1/2 medium onion, diced
-3 cups spinach
-3/4 cup chopped purple cabbage
-1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
-2 tbsp Primal Palate Breakfast Blend
-2 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Sauté the diced onion in the oil until translucent, 1-3 minutes.
  2. Add cabbage and sauté until starting to soften, 2 minutes.
  3. Add spinach and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool completely.
  5. When cooled, add ground pork, seasoning, and maple syrup.
  6. Mix well to combine.
  7. Form in 24 patties.
  8. Cook as preferred until the patties reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
    • To sauté (preferred method): Heat a pan or skillet at medium heat. No need to add any oil or cooking fat because the pork will release its own fat as it cooks. Add patties in batches of 6-8 (or however many you can fit without overcrowding the pan). Cook on each side for 8-10 minutes, or until the patties are browned and fully cooked through.
    • To bake: Add to a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 400°F, carefully flipping halfway through. Check the temperature and add 5 minutes as necessary.
    • To grill: Grill with direct heat on high for approximately 5 minutes per side, checking the temperature to ensure doneness.
  9. Cool on paper towels to soak up extra grease from pork.

Notes:
-These will last for 5-6 days in the refrigerator or approximately 4-6 months in the freezer.

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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
  • Print

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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
  • Print

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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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Posted in AIP, Autoimmune Protocol, DIY, Food, Healthy, Hidradenitis Suppurativa, Paleo, Recipes, Uncategorized, Whole30 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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
  • Print

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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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Posted in AIP, Autoimmune Protocol, Food, Healthy, Paleo, Recipes, Whole30 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment