Food From the Farms

Tucked into the rural fields of San Juan Capistrano lies a small, unassuming farmers market with a big reputation. South Coast Farms.IMG_5935

My stepsister and I decided to stop by last weekend and check out the local, organic produce and I was blown away by its prices and selection. The demand for strawberries is so high at South Coast Farms that the market cannot hold enough strawberries to make it past the first hour of it opening.

IMG_5948Although the prized strawberries no longer awaited us, we found freshly picked, organic kale, oranges, apples and sweet potatoes that tasted just as delicious and vibrant as they looked. IMG_5955.jpg


I recommend checking out your local farmers market this week! Why not support local vendors while eating real, untreated juicy fruit and vegetables? It’s really a win win!



Blackened Salmon Tacos

Creative Tuesday would not be what it is without Taco Tuesday! IMG_6043.jpg

There are so many ways to form a taco into the perfect plate-to-mouth transportation device. After coming up with this recipe, however, I have found it extremely hard to extrapolate myself from instantly desiring to pull out these ingredients with any mention of a taco night. Salmon, salsa, avocados, grilled veggies and a little goat cheese? mmm… the seasonings all blend so well together that I barely have time to grab a plate before I start digging in. I take my tacos very seriously.

Well then, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How do I prepare it? Simple.


(Serves 4)


1 fillet of boneless, skinless salmon


olive oil



McCormick Taco Seasoning



1/2 red onion

2 zucchini

1 bell pepper

1 head of broccoli




1/4 raw red onion

2 green onions

1 avocado

goat cheese

salsa of your choice (I like Hatch)



Putting it together:

First, turn on the barbecue to high heat.

Begin chopping the vegetables, placing them into a grill-safe bowl or wok. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place onto the grill. Throughout the cooking time, periodically toss them as to make sure they are evenly crisping.IMG_6003

Then, tear off a large piece of foil and place the salmon on top. Drizzle a little olive oil onto both sides and generously rub the taco seasoning onto both sides of the fish. Fold the foil over the salmon so that it seals it in nice and tight.

Once the veggies look as though they are halfway done, place the foil-encased salmon onto the grill, close the lid and set your timer for 7 minutes.

While you wait, chop up the avocado, tomatoes and raw onion for the taco garnish.IMG_6020

Once the 7 minutes have elapsed, flip the fish and set the timer for another 7 minutes.

Take the salmon and veggies off after the time goes off again. Carefully open up the foil to expose the perfectly blackened fish ready to cut up and eat.IMG_6038

Right after you take off the salmon, throw the tortillas onto the grill and flip a few times until they soften and warm up.

With taco shells, taco meat and taco garnish ready to serve, it’s time to eat!! Lay some of the salmon into the shell, top with the veggies and the garnish and drizzle a little salsa or Sriracha over the masterpiece. It’s taco time.


Fatten Up!!

eatBring on the fat. I dare you.

This week’s challenge sounds counterintuitive to health, but I challenge you to try amping up the fat in your diet with slight adjustments and see how you feel.


Don’t go replacing all your usual proteins with bacon. Hmm, that would one delicious day though… No. No. No. I’m talking about the fat the your body actually needs to thrive and asks for on a daily basis. The fat that causes your joints to loosen up, the inflammation in your body to reduce and your brain to work with ease. The fats that actually help suppress the appetite because they satisfy and hold you over.

Olive oil. Coconut oil. Avocados. Nuts. Fish.avocado

California life integrated the long-ingrained habit of asking for avocado on everything. Integrated a little more doesn’t seem so hard! Embrace the Omega 3-filled avocado and slice it over a piece of toast in the morning, bake an egg into half of one for breakfast, cut up a 1/4 avocado over your salad for lunch, simply sprinkle garlic powder, cayenne and lemon juice over one. The possibilities go on and on!

olive oilI strayed away from using oil for a couple months because I feared the calories that flew under the radar and into my mouth when cooking with oil. That resulted in lots of burnt vegetables and blackened cooking pans. I then discovered that my constant headaches and muscle soreness sourced from a lack of fat in my diet and that my body was trying to alert me through physical injury that I needed to stop ruining the finish on my pans and splash some oil back into my life. Since then, my headaches have suppressed AND the food tastes much better! Good oil, such as olive oil and coconut oil, goes straight into your body to fill you up. Don’t be afraid of the good oil. Don’t be me – don’t ruin the pans!almonds

I have a slight obsession with almonds and almond butter. I don’t know what to do when I open the refrigerator thinking I will grab an apple and almond butter, only to find that I’m out. It’s a bad day when that happens. But on the good days, the almond butter fills me up during my 4:00 slump and keeps me full until dinner.

salmonSalmon. It’s my favorite fish. I crave it for lunch or dinner in poke sushi bowls, hand rolls, over a bed of brown rice and salad, inside tacos, raw, barbecued, baked, you name it. It is filled with Omega 3s that replenish your body with massive amounts of nutrients as the flaky fish melts in your mouth.

Find little ways in your meals or snacks to add a little more of the monounsaturated fats into your diet and see if you physically feel more energy, mentally feel more stable and metabolically feel more satisfied throughout the day. Fatten up!!

Zucchini Hummus

With the parentals away for the month on their trip to the Big Island, I took the opportunity to try things we normally wouldn’t. Along with the many recipes came a newfound need for sauces, marinades, hummuses (hummi?) and dressings. This little beauty threw me for a loop by my first finger-full.

After work one afternoon around lunchtime, I walked into my kitchen in dire need of sustenance. I knew I wanted leftover salad with a drizzle of something delicious. But, alas, I had used the last of my dressing from the night before. So, I pulled out this hummus recipe from my bag of tricks and decided it time to give it a try. Lucky, lucky me: it took all of 5 minutes to concoct and soon enough I had a hummus that would serve equally well as a little drizzle. You may think that sounds a little strange since a thick dipping sauce like hummus would never easily dress a salad. However, the zucchini in place of the chickpeas thinned the hummus to the kind of sauce I so much craved.

zucchini hummus

Dip a couple chips, scoop a couple carrots, dress your salad or liven up your main course with a couple spoonfuls of this zucchini hummus!


1 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup tahini (almond butter also brings a new nutty flavor that I recommend trying as well!)

4 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Cilantro to taste

Paprika for garnish


  1. Mix together the lemon juice and tahini in a blender until well combined.
  2. Add zucchini, olive oil, cumin, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper for at least 30 seconds or until creamy.
  3. Taste test your new hummus and add a dash of this or that to perfect the dish.
  4. Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with a dash of paprika and a few more sprigs of cilantro.

I went a tad lighter on the tahini, not wanting the sesame butter’s bitterness to overpower the rest. The hummus will come out thinner than the usual chickpea based dipping sauce, but I enjoyed its new versatility! I hope you do too!

Eggplant Pizza Crust

Sometimes it’s easy to decline from gluten and all of its wheat-y friends. Sometimes, it’s not so simple refraining from those flaky crusts, crunchy toasts and doughy breads. It was one of these days when I discovered a gluten-free, vegetable-filled version of pizza crust. Since the recipe calls for the assistance of a nut flour only, this pizza turned out to be paleo friendly as well!


I had my doubts as I began grating the eggplant. Would this crust actually pan out and satisfy my craving for crunch? To my surprise, the pizza base exceeded my expectations and prompted me to remake the recipe only days later. The eggplant foundation provided a neutral, cohesive environment for the toppings to shine in savory flavor. I sat down to chow down and by bite numero uno, the crust won me over with its perfect chewy, crusty blend.

Without further adieu, I present the excellent Eggplant Pizza:



1 whole eggplant, skinned and grated

1/4 cup almond flour (I substituted pistachio flour as that’s what I had on hand and recommend it!)

1/4 cup flax seed meal

1 egg

1 Tbsp. oregano

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut of the skin off of the eggplant and grate the remaining, skinless eggplant with a medium-sized grater.
  3. Once shredded, pile the grated eggplant into a cheesecloth or clean towel and squeeze out the remaining liquid.
  4. Place the eggplant into a bowl and add the flour, egg and seasoning. Mix together with your hands until evenly combined.
  5. Move the dough to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet or pizza stone and press dough until it resembles a circular pizza and reaches only 1/8 in. high all around.
  6. Let the pizza bake in the oven for 30 min.
  7. Remove the crust from the oven. Rip off another sheet of parchment paper, spray the paper with cooking spray and place it on top of the pizza. Flip the pizza with the help of a spatula and peel off the old parchment paper. Replace into the oven for about 15 minutes or until the pizza begins to brown.
  8. Remove once more from the oven, add your desired toppings and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes.


The best part about this recipe? I’ve attempted the traditional, Italian red sauce-covered crust as well as the sauce-less, mediterranean style. Raid the refrigerator and scout out some seasonings for a versatile, healthy twist on a pizza dinner. Enjoy biting into the almost-forgotten flavor of pizza pie!

The Bella Burger

I used to eat hamburgers quite frequently. I could go anywhere and know that ordering a burger would almost always satisfy — unless they disobeyed my request and snuck some pickles under the bun. That should be illegal. I even used to work at a restaurant where we were well known for our juicy burgers inside brioche buns. Mmm…

However, after I discovered my gluten intolerance, burgers faded from my appetite quite quickly. Say what you will, but a fast food patty sandwiched between two lettuce leaves somehow wasn’t the same. Why not try gluten free buns you ask? Well, I have and there is just something wrong with the flavor. Maybe the bread is too overpowering, the aftertaste leaves me feeling the need to brush my teeth, the chew is too chewy or the crust too crusty. Whatever it may be, I have not yet discovered a bun that delivers that satisfactory succinct flavor that a hamburger holds.

Enter the Portobello Mushroom Burger.


I found no need nor did I even think of wanting a bun during my dinner with the bella burger. The large portobello sat underneath my patty, soaking in all of the juices, ready to burst with buttery flavor, not taking away from any of the burger’s dignity. At first glance, it resembled an open face hamburger. But with a closer look — get out of town! It’s a mushroom top! I recommend this recipe for those who enjoy barbecuing and miss their favorite comfort food. Be comforted once again without the guilty knowledge that the glutenous enemy will induce a stomach ache, leaving you flat on your back for a day or two. Open your grills and get ready for some ‘cueing.

Try this:

1 large tomato, sliced thinly

1 avocado, sliced

1 red onion, sliced thickly

1 lb. ground beef

4 large portobello mushrooms

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

salt and pepper

Spinach leaves for garnish

2 Japanese eggplants, sliced thinly lengthwise

After I turned on the barbecue to high and the oven to 400, I rinsed the mushrooms and sliced the onion and eggplant — preparing them for the grill. Don’t worry if the mushrooms are a still a little wet after rinsing them. It will burn right off with the heat. I divided and patted out the ground beef until I made four separated patties. I then mixed the seasonings together in a small bowl and sprinkled them on the top and bottom of the burgers.


As a side, I placed the eggplant slices on an aluminum foil-ready cookie sheet and drizzled some olive oil and sprinkled a little garlic powder over them. I then placed them in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

By this time, the grill’s flames awaited my pressed out patties and I allowed them to cook for about 5 minutes on each side.

After I flipped the patties over, I scooted them over, making room for the onion and mushroom tops that cooked for about 4 minutes.

I removed all items from the barbecue, sliced up a tomato and an avocado and prepared the plates. Bella before burger, tomato and lettuce next, then onion on top. Dinner was served.

This easy burger recipe felt more gourmet than eating a burger out while simultaneously satisfying my long-time burger craving.

Also, while this recipe does not necessarily call for any ketchup, mustard mayo —and most definitely NO pickles — I drizzled a little homemade salad dressing for a zesty kick. It’s a secret recipe, sorry I can’t share that just yet! But, balsamic vinegar should pair just as well if you feel the need for a saucy topping.



Time for some Tuesday Pad Thai!

One can only hold a blog so long without attempting some form of pad thai. I decided that for this blog to hold some credibility, I had better pull up my boots, wipe the week old dust off the recipe book and give it a go. Not to mention, another Thai Tuesday didn’t sound so bad at all!

Once I decided on the pad thai, I opened myself up to a slue of possible ways to prepare it. Chicken? Beef? Shrimp? Spicy? Citrusy? I was in a quandary. All sounded delicious. So I decided to combine a little from here and a little from there. A little mix and match doesn’t hurt every once and a while, right? RIGHT.

Without further adieu, I will introduce you to one of my favorite creative Tuesdays yet and let you decide for yourself what you think.

Pad Thai:

2 large chicken breasts

1/2 lb. large shrimp (shelled)

4 oz. brown rice pad thai noodles

3 green onions

4 garlic cloves

2 eggs (lightly beaten)

1 cup mushrooms

2 cups spinach

2-3 tsp canola oil


1/4 cup tamari

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. chili paste


2 cups bean sprouts



chopped peanuts (unsalted)

Begin with the sauce. Pour all into a sauce pan over medium heat and whisk until the sugar dissolves. I added a little bit more chili paste here in order to spice things up. After it has reached prime consistency, turn off the heat and set that dish aside.  


Now for the noodles. Despite what I imagined, the noodles were the trickiest part of preparing this meal. With all the ingredients and coagulating, I assumed the sauce would take my full attention and perfectionist mindset to come out well. But I have to admit, the noodles take more of a careful eye than I thought. Boil a large pot of water and upon pouring in the pad thai noodles, turn off the heat and allow them to cook for 8-10 minutes. Be conscious of the time here! I let my noodles sit two minutes too long and they ended up a tad mushier than I would have liked.


While the noodles are cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients that will go into the skillet. After the 8-10 minutes, pour out the water immediately.

Then this gets fun — and fast! Heat a skillet on high heat. You want it smoking hot. Drizzle in the canola oil and add the green onions, spinach, garlic and mushrooms. Quickly add in the chicken, shrimp and noodles. Continue stirring. After one minute, add in the eggs and cook for about a minute. Then pour in 1/4 cup of the sauce and toss together. I ended up pouring in the rest of the sauce as well. The sauce absorbed quickly and upon an initial taste test, it called for a little more moisture. 

Top with the garnish of the sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Not too shabby, huh? The spice and citrus combined perfectly for a wonderful rush of YUM.