The Anti-Salad

Sometimes salad gets so boring and predictable.  Been there done that.  Enter the ANTI-SALAD.

I have an allergy to ground corn, and a gluten-free preference, which makes Mexican food so much less fun than it used to be.  Last spring, on a retreat in Chacala, Mexico, I stumbled upon tacos using jicama instead of tortillas.  Genius!   Playing around with ingredients in my fridge I assembled this bad boy:

Tuna Poke Jicama Tacos

 

 

 

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Here’s what’s stacked up:

  • jicama, sliced into 1/4′ rounds
  • guacamole
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • red cabbage
  • tuna poke
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • shredded carrot
  • squeeze of lime

I love these tacos because they deliver all your veggies, are low in calories, they’re more fun to eat, and surprisingly filling.  (BTW, I don’t have tuna poke on hand all the time, but my dad had just caught some which I had over-seasoned, so the fresh veggies really offset the saltiness of the tuna.  A good quality Asian market may stock poke, but if you have fresh tuna, it’s super easy.)  Jicama tacos or tostadas are zesty, fresh, crunchy and bright, just like a salad, but, not.

The culinary combinations are infinite.  Thai marinated grilled chicken with pickled red cabbage, drizzled with David Chang’s fish sauce vinaigrette.  Pollo asado over refried black beans with salsa fresca and pickled red onion.   Baba ghanoush topped with za’atar spice, cucumbers slices and roast cauliflower.   Yogurt underneath a crisp veggie burger, topped with fresh herbs, a squeeze of citrus and you’re done.   I had a great time just playing in the kitchen with a brand new canvas.

What combo would you most like to try?

 

Classic Banana Pudding- gluten-free & vegan

On the first rainy day here in Los Angeles in months it only felt right to spend Sunday afternoon baking in the kitchen.  Truth be told, I’ve still got my eating pants on from Thanksgiving, and a million reasons to hit the gym hard, but as a guest at two feasts this year and host of none, my fridge is sadly, leftover-free.

I’m vegan-curious, and (mostly) gluten-free, but at a recent lunch with my tribe, I had a dessert that I can’t stop thinking about: Banana Pudding.  A southern classic from K’s nana.  It got me thinking about creating a gluten-free and vegan version.  As we officially enter the season of desserts, wouldn’t a less guilty and allergy-friendly option be great?  Here’s the recipe from my rainy day research, which if I do say so myself, is pretty darn delectable.

Classic Banana Pudding

Step one: whip up some gluten-free vanilla wafers, inspired by GFJules’ recipe:

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#EatPeruLove Episode 2: Soul Food

 

With just a night in Lima before heading into the Amazon rainforest, I had one singular objective.  To. Eat. My. Face. Off.  I knew the upcoming retreat included fasting and vegetarianism and probably wouldn’t be much of a culinary indulgence, so with less than 24 hours to gobble up Lima, I went big and took a friend’s recommendation, booking a table for the tasting menu at Astrid Y Gastón.

Food is art.  Like great theater, or a sculpture that brings tears to my eyes, or dancing, food stirs my soul and makes me feel alive.  Pull up a chair and indulge with me!

EatPeruLove Episode 1: The Arrival

Welcome to Lima, Peru!   I had one night in Lima before heading to the rainforest for the retreat.  International travel always does the spirit good.  After checking into the hotel and a quick nap, my friend M and I set off to take in what we could with one day in Lima.

First things first, let’s eat!  We walked over to Larcomar, a giant, open air mall overlooking the bay.  Maybe I was jet-lagged and tired, maybe I expected something different, maybe we shouldn’t have started off in such a tourist draw….but to me, Larcomar felt awfully like any mall at any beach, actually a LOT like Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.   Winding past American chain restaurants blaring American pop music, we settled into a small Peruvian cafe with an ocean view for a small bite and some maté de coca.  (tea made from coca leaves, the same plant that cocaine is made from…a very mild stimulant, equivalent to coffee.  wheeee!)

I was starving for some real food and could have gone to town on this menu, but with dinner reservations at the highly recommended Astrid y Gastón only hours away, we decided on a couple small plates.

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First up: Tiradito!  Fresh, citrus-y and bright, this was the perfect first dish in Lima.  Peruvian corn, yam, aji amarillo and raw fish soaked in lime, this woke up our palate.

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Next came Causa Limeña, a cold, layered appetizer made of mashed yellow potatoes, cooked tuna, and onions garnished with avocado and boiled egg in a creamy tomato sauce.  Popular in the summer months, but still delicious on a cloudy, cool day, it was light, filling and reassured me that we were in fact in Peru, not just any old mall by the beach.  With local food in our bellies and fortified by the maté de coca, we were ready to take in the city.

*Special thanks for the lovely original musical stylings of David Woodward and Jan Melchior Maclaar.