The Migraine Relief Plan

Migraines and related health problems affect millions of people every day. My friend Stephanie Weaver, a food blogger, wellness coach and public health expert, came up with the Migraine Relief Plan, a brilliant plan to ease the pain of migraine sufferers.

This amazing plan starts by identifying and experimenting with certain “food triggers” that directly cause or intensify headache symptoms. When you adapt her plan to your specific needs, it lays out a clear path to better health and fewer migraines.

Although as a food blogger, I was focusing on the cookbook section of this book and all of the relatively easy and fun recipes, the book is really a multi-pronged guide to help migraine sufferers reduce their symptoms and eventually lead a healthier life. It’s not just a cookbook; it’s a plan to eat healthy and be healthier.

I loved the trigger-free and super-easy recipes like the rice bowl … we’ve all made something similar, right? Use up your leftover cooked rice and chicken as well as any fresh veggies you have on hand, and top it with the easy-to-make smoky mustard sauce, and you have a super-easy and healthy dinner, perfect for a busy weeknight.

You can’t beat an easy, quick recipe that also keeps you healthy; and every recipe in this book is low-sodium, gluten-free, and sugar-free … and can be adapted to a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Like the fish in parchment paper. This is probably one of my favorite things to make and eat – I really love how the parchment paper keeps the fish nice and juicy while making sure it gets cooked all the way.

If you’re not a person who cooks fish very often because of the unease of making sure the fish is cooked thoroughly without it being dry, this is for you.  You simply slice veggies (the recipe calls for carrot, spinach, zucchini and bell pepper), wrap the vegetables and fish inside parchment paper, and bake.

Recently I started a ketogenic diet, and I got a whole bunch of delicious fresh-caught tuna from my friends at Catalina Offshore Seafood Products.

Tuna salad to the rescue! This is a super-easy, keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, and really delicious meal. You can make it into a sandwich (if you’re not keto or paleo) or just serve it over a bed of greens or cucumber.

I even made my tuna salad ahead of time and used mine for workday lunches.

Anybody can write a cookbook, but I love how this book creates a full plan for better health.

Check out the book here!

 

 

Easy Keto Chocolate Truffles

These delicious snacks are the best: chocolatey, rich … and sugar-free.

You will need to make these ahead of time; they require at least a few hours of refrigeration. But then they last for a long time if you keep them cool.

These are an excellent way to use up those avocados that aren’t bad, but too brown or extra-ripe to be appetizing anymore. (And make sure you scrape the healthy goodness from the inside of the avocado!)

First, a word about the cacao nibs: they taste awful by themselves. They resemble chips of tree bark and in general, do not taste remotely chocolatey. However! Once you boil them, add things to them and then allow them to cool, the chocolate flavor comes out much more.

These are perfect if you’re on a paleo, ketogenic, or just low-carb diet. It helps curb those sugar cravings without cheating.

Easy Keto Chocolate Truffles

  • 1 cup cacao nibs
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 large ripe avocado (or 2 small ones), mashed
  • cinnamon, crushed nuts or coconut flakes for the outside (optional)

Put the cacao nibs and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to boil rapidly for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chips are soft. (Note: they will not melt, but they will get soft). Strain out the water. Briefly (about 1 minute) chop using an immersion blender. Slowly add the mashed avocado and peanut butter.

Once the mixture is semi-solid, scoop with an ice-cream spoon and form the balls in your hands. Let cool for at least 3 hours and then dust with cinnammon or roll in coconut or crushed nuts.

Pin or save the recipe card for easy use!

 

Smoked Fish and Vegetable Chowder

I love soup and I love to make it … and this is probably one of my favorites.

Why? It’s easily adaptable (use whatever fresh vegetables you like or have handy), it’s super fast and easy to make, and it’s delicious! The heartiness of the vegetables, the creaminess of the mushroom base, the tenderness of the smoked fish and the lemony zest at the end all marry perfectly together.

 

First, let’s talk tuna. You can certainly grill or bake it, but if you have a smoker (or any way to quickly smoke a piece of fish – like this from Alton Brown), the flavor and tenderness you get from smoking the fish is incomparable.

I also recommend if you can to start with a tuna steak like this one, complete with skin and bones. They are very easily removed after the fish is smoked, and they keep the fish from drying out during the cooking/smoking  process. I smoked a few tuna steaks this weekend, and I saved an extra one for this recipe. Feel free to substitute any white and flaky fish.

The skin comes off instantly; and I usually (put on some gloves and) flake the fish by hand to make sure there aren’t any bones when I add it to the soup pot.

Next, the vegetables. I used kale and green beans for this recipe, then another time I used kale and broccoli. Feel free to substitute any fresh vegetable you like. I think the kale gives the otherwise creamy and soft soup a nice fibery crunch, and I love fresh green beans and broccoli. But use whatever you have on hand or whatever is fresh.

What you shouldn’t adapt is the mushrooms and the cream of mushroom soup, which gives it this awesome creamy texture — and of course, the smoked fish.

Smoked Fish and Vegetable Chowder

(15-20 minutes, including chopping)

  • 2 cups shredded tuna, cooked or smoked* (and cooled)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (concentrated)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh kale*
  • 1 cup chopped green beans*
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • lemon juice and fresh lemon wedges
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper(*see notes above)Chop the onion and put it in a soup pot with the garlic and olive oil. Sautee until the onion is translucent. Add the vegetable stock and the rest of the fresh vegetables, bring to a boil. Let boil for 3-5 minutes, then add the cream of mushroom soup and milk. Cook for another 5 minutes at a low simmer and add the tuna, then the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedge.

Pin the recipe card here:

 

There’s a new Booch in town

There’s a new booch in town!

As you all know, I am a huge fan of kombucha. It has amazing health benefits – especially for the guts of sugar-loving Americans. Those sugary, processed foods we eat every day do a number to our guts and their internal flora, which can lead to all sorts of health problems.

I love storebought types (especially GT’s or Boochcraft, which is both a healthy probiotic and packs the alcohol content of a good craft IPA), and I love to make the low-alcohol version at home.

 

The Starbright’s Kitchen “fermentation station” of homemade kombucha.

 

This past month, I went to the Mission Valley Craft Beer and Food Festival, an awesome annual event at Qualcomm Stadium’s practice field where a flat entry fee gets you all the beer and food samples you can stuff into your face within a few hours.

 

 

Needless to say, I worked hard to get my money’s worth.

One of the tastiest samples we had there was a new one: Babe Kombucha. We had several tastes of the Moroccan Mint flavor, and my boyfriend and I really loved it.

 

 

A lot of people are turned off by the slightly … shall we say, funky … aftertaste that kombucha often has.  The fermentation process uses a culture of yeast and bacteria called a SCOBY, which is similar to a vinegar mother and often imparts a slightly vinegary taste into the tea as it ferments into kombucha.

I have a lot of friends who love alcohol and other fermented beverages but don’t like that “extra something” in kombucha. I think even those people would love Babe’s milder flavors.

 

 

Babe Kombuchas have very mild flavors, and if you didn’t know it was kombucha, you’d never know it was kombucha. I think my favorite flavors are the Moroccan Mint and the Cali Gold (very citrusy and peachy) – although the blueberry is very good – just a little too sweet for my taste.

Babe offers a great deal for local kombucha fans – they’ll deliver within San Diego for free, and it’s only $20 for two 32-oz. growlers of your favorite flavor! I really enjoyed getting an easy delivery of some freshly-made booch.

Follow Babe Kombucha on Facebook (click here) or Instagram, and check out all of their refreshing flavors.

 

Food Justice

Did you know that 1 in 4 children in San Diego County lack access to enough healthy food?

Or that people who receive SNAP benefits (or food stamps) receive what amounts to $1.40 per person, per meal?

Anyone can tell you that in most counties, let alone San Diego, making a healthy meal is difficult, if not impossible, for $1.40 per person. Luckily there are a few organizations making significant progress in helping those most in need of a healthy meal.

Last weekend, I attended a panel discussion in Oceanside filled with local and state community activists and leaders in the food justice movement. In addition to Dolores Huerta, who started the National Farm Worker’s Association with Cesar Chavez back in the 1960’s, we also heard from local activists like Fernando Sanudo, CEO of the Vista Community Clinic, and Daron Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development for Coastal Roots Farm and the Leichtag Foundation.

Sanudo had some great ideas about helping those most in need by eliminating the stigma of asking for help, and helping them to acquire good, healthy food. The Coastal Roots Farm, a non-profit farm where customers of all income brackets simply pay what they can afford, also makes it a point to take their produce directly to those most in need.

The event was sponsored by the Berry Good Foundation, a local non-profit organization striving to make important changes in our nationwide food system. They also sponsor exper-led discussions like the one I attended, and a dinner series using local and sustainable ingredients.

To learn more about the Berry Good Foundation and to get involved in their efforts, visit http://www.berrygoodfood.org, or visit them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

To learn more about volunteering at Coastal Roots farm here: http://www.coastalrootsfarm.org/

To learn more about the community health efforts at Vista Community Clinic, visit http://www.vistacommunityclinic.org/

 

Chicken Artichoke Soup

This soup is perfect for a rainy and gloomy day. I first tried it at an unassuming French bistro/deli in downtown San Diego for lunch one day, and I shortly thereafter became TOTALLY obsessed with it.

It’s creamy yet tangy, light yet hearty, and pretty healthy, all things considered. I replaced the heavy cream (which I am sure the fancy French bistro used) with coconut milk and a little whole milk, and I also added extra lemon juice and a few more hearty vegetables.

chicken artichoke stew in the pot

The best and easiest way to make this is in your slow cooker crock pot. This recipe makes five quarts, so feel free to cook it on the stovetop or halve the recipe  – but even five quarts of this amazing soup will disappear quickly.

chicken artichoke soup

Chicken Artichoke Soup

(makes 5 quarts)

  • 2 (12-oz.) jars marinated artichoke hearts, including the liquid
  • 3-4 lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chopped
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, diced
  • about 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 handful chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 (13-oz.) can coconut milk
  • 15-20 oz. water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 5-6 dashes hot sauce
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients (except the salt) in a 5-quart slow cooker. Cook on the high setting for approx. 4-5 hours or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Taste the soup first and then add salt as needed  — you won’t need much salt, depending on the saltiness of the marinated artichokes, but you don’t want to over-salt the soup, so be careful.

Pin or save this recipe card for easy use!

chickenartichokesoupcard

Herb and Eatery

A few of us lucky food bloggers got a chance last weekend to visit Brian Malarkey’s newest venture, Herb & Eatery – an extension, really, of his award-winning restaurant Herb & Wood.

Herb & Eatery is the front of the store and the Herb & Wood dining room is in the back.

img_2047

Herb & Wood has already won a ton of accolades for being the most stylish and sexy new restaurant in town- and now with Herb & Eatery, you can take all of the goodness home with you.

Jars of goodness at Herb & Eatery

Jars of goodness at Herb & Eatery

Herb & Eatery essentially has all of the goodies that make chefs (and humble food bloggers) swoon. Brian Malarkey gave us a sweet tour of the chef’s shop and restaurant before filling us with food.

Brian Malarkey

Almost everything is made in-house. You like the tapenade or the salsa that was part of your (award-winning) dinner at Herb & Wood? Come next door and you can buy a jar of it to take home.

Want some fresh herbs, fresh-baked croissants, imported cheeses, frozen ice cream cookie sandwiches, or even the designer flatware you used? It’s all for sale next door.

View of the pastries from the second floor

View of the pastries from the second floor

Herb & Wood was the first phase of this project; and this awesome shop is phase two. They have already expanded the upstairs area into a lounge for private gatherings; and the adjacent space into an art gallery and private event room.

Art on display in the private event space next door to Herb & Eatery

Art on display in the private event space next door to Herb & Eatery

In addition to a drool-worthy “chef’s shop,” a host of housemade pastries are available, every one of them made around-the-clock by pastry chef extraordinaire Adrian Mendoza.

pastries and kombucha

And don’t forget the house-made kombucha.

pastries

Speaking of croissants, YOU WANT THESE CROISSANTS.

They are made fresh daily (and sell out really fast) with tons of specialty imported butter and they are said to rival the best Parisian café. We enjoyed them plain, stuffed with chocolate, stuffed with meat and cheese, and made into these lovely breakfast sandwiches.

This is the Maple Croissant: filled with maple pork sausage, a fried egg, gruyere cheese, arugula and aioli.

croissant

We also got to sample a few of the baked eggs dishes: Brian was very exited about these … they take a loaf (bread) pan and fill it with scrambled eggs and potato, then bake it, slice it, and cover each slice in one of five different topping combinations.

This is the one with mushrooms, Humboldt goat cheese, herbs, kale, and crème fraiche. It was heavenly.

mushroom baked eggs

And this is the baked egg with tomato, capers, olives, basil pesto and lemon zest:

baked egg with tomato

We weren’t even close to being finished. Next we got to sample a few of the items from the All Day Menu (breakfast is only served from 8-11 a.m.).

One of my favorites was the poke & avocado salad, with kimchi, cilantro, housemade ponzu and mixed greens:

poke

… but I also loved the smoked curry chicken and cashews salad with kale and cilantro.

curry chicken salad

We also sampled some of their amazing sandwiches, like the banh mi with chicken sausage, papaya, and chicken liver pate:

banh mi

… as well as the amazing tuna melt with olive oil-poached albacore tuna, preserved lemons, herbs, capers and white cheddar cheese.

tuna melt

As if that wasn’t enough carbs to put us all into respective food comas, we also got a sample of two of Brian Malarkey’s favorite appetizers: a Marin triple cream brie with seasonal mustard and jelly:

brie

…  plus these beautiful sugar cane Thai chicken skewers:

thai sugar cane chicken skewers

And really amazing root fries with homemade smoked French dressing and yusu aioli:

root fries

Aaaand ice cream cookies …

ice cream cookies

The ice cream cookie flavor blends were perfect: they have chocolate chip cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream; cranberry oatmeal cookies with vanilla bean (my favorite) and peanut butter cookies with banana ice cream.

I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise given the amazing reputation that Malarkey enjoys in this town, but LITERALLY everything they have is amazingly delicious.

This isn’t one of those places where you might drop in for a breakfast pastry because they have a good baker, but not come for lunch or dinner because other items aren’t as good.  Here, everything is good. You can tell that the chefs and employees there take food quality seriously and want you to experience the best. I’ll definitely be back!