Mexican Haystacks

I blame pinterest for the reason I was absent from the world of Snacks and Desserts for so long.  It's so easy to pin recipes onto my "Delish (recipes to try)" board and then go back to that board over and over, both for the tried and true recipes and the new ones I plan to try.  This recipe is one of the first pinterest recipes I tried.  It is so so good.  Pretty (impressive even) presentation and yet very easy.  And delish.  Next time you get a hankering for greasy mexican food, do yourself a favor and make this recipe instead.  Fresh, healthy, and delicious so no food hangover the next day.

The original recipe calls for rice but the hubs and I can't agree on the kind of rice we eat.  I say we're a brown rice family.  He doesn't like brown rice and insists we're a white rice family.  I can't make myself eat white rice because it's refined, processed, generally unhealthy (sorry y'all!) so we compromised and we're pretty much a quinoa family.  Don't worry, though, quinoa and rice are pretty much interchangeable without sacrificing any flavor, and this recipe is no exception. Whether you go with brown rice or quinoa, you can't go wrong (just don't go with white rice!).


2 cups uncooked brown rice (or quinoa)
1 bunch fresh cilantro (dried is fine, too)

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 - 4 cloves fresh garlic
salt & pepper to taste
4 cups organic salsa

Toppings (note: you can really use whatever toppings you like):
1-2 avocados, chopped
1-2 red peppers, chopped
1-2 ripe mangoes, chopped
fresh cilantro for garnish


Start your brown rice (or quinoa) in a pot on the stove. Next, add ground beef and chopped onion to a large saute pan. Add garlic powder and salt and pepper. When the meat is browned, add 4 cups of salsa. Bring the salsa to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, chop the cilantro, pepper, avocado, and mango. When the rice (or quinoa) is done, stir in almost all of the fresh cilantro, leaving just enough to garnish each dish. 

Find a small bowl or ramekin and put the rice (or quinoa) in there, pressing it down with the back of a spoon.  Turn the bow over to empty the rice (or quinoa) on a plate.  It should slide out pretty easily and maintain the form of the bowl you used.  Top with meat and other toppings.

Or if you're in a hurry and/or don't care about the presentation, you can just throw it all into a blow like this:

Since regardless of how you serve it, it's probably going to end up looking like this:

Summer Squash Saute

The hubs and I are on a new restricted diet to help treat his candida (too much yeast in his body) and his ulcerative colitis.  Bless his heart.  I actually don't mind as it's a good excuse for me to detox and get to a good baseline again.  As you might know, it takes time and effort to stay committed to a non-processed diet, and with the busyness of spring and summer (not to mention the perfect sitting outside weather that spring brings) processed foods crept back into my diet more than I would have liked.  Never fear, though - the hubs' candida and UC have us back on the right track!  Have I said bless his heart yet, because bless it indeed.  

What exactly is restricted on this diet, you ask?  Well, a lot.  No grains (except quinoa, flax seed, and millet), no fruit except berries, no soy, no cow's dairy, no sugar (even natural sugar like honey) etc.  What can we eat?  Meat (good thing - I don't think I could convince the hubs to go vegetarian), eggs, vegetables, berries, raw nuts.  I mean, that's not all we can eat, but the point is that it's pretty restricted.  

The moral of my story?  I love recipes like that are all-around good for everyone.  Even people who are on really restricted diets.  Do yourself a favor and if you don't have a garden, go to a farmers market and get local squash and zucchini for this recipe.  Amahzing.


2   lb. summer squash and/or zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1   tsp. kosher salt plus more to taste
¼   cup sliced raw almonds
2   tbsp. coconut oil (or olive oil, but coconut is my preferred oil for cooking because of it's high       smoke point)
2   garlic cloves, sliced
½   tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or less if you don't like spicy)
¼   cup finely-grated Parmesan (the hubs and I can't have this part so I'll look for a hard goat's       cheese next time I make it)
Freshly ground black pepper


Place squash/zucchini in a colander set in the sink or over a large bowl and toss with 1 tsp. salt.  Let stand 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much excess moisture as possible.  (Do not rinse.)

Meanwhile, toast almonds in a large dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate; let cool.

Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.  Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Fold in Parmesan (or goat's cheese) and season with salt and pepper.  Fold in almonds.

Raw Brownies

Birthday monster.  Noun.  A person who celebrates his or her birthday to the fullest extent possible, using every possible excuse to create a celebration of the day.

I actually hadn't ever heard that description for someone like me until this past Friday (which, coincidentally, was my birthday) when I had a quick email exchange with a work friend that went something like this.

Birthday coffee?


The email exchange was followed by a trip to Starbucks (no guilt for getting a latte on my birthday after all) where I proceeded to tell all the employees it was my birthday.  On the way back to the office he commented that I was "one of those birthday monsters."  (See above definition).

I am most definitely a birthday monster, which I explained here.  And this year was no exception, even if the weather did rain for 48 hours straight.  On Sunday we went to my parents' house for a family birthday lunch and my mother made the best shrimp and grits ever and not one but TWO desserts.  Naturally, since I was the birthday girl, I partook in a little bit of both.  

So today I'm cleansing (more on that later) but oh my word was it ever worth it.  

These raw brownies might not look like much:

But do yourself a favor and make a batch pronto.  You won't regret it.  The primary sweetening agent is dates so it's like a chocolate larabar, which means it's virtually guilt free.  And the best part is that they're super easy so you don't have to wait for your birthday for an excuse to labor over them.  Whip them right up and be on your merry way, doing your best not to eat the whole pan in one sitting.


1 cup pecans (you can use walnuts in a pinch)
1 cup dates
5 tablespoons raw cacao (cocoa) powder
4 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons hone
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Place pecans in your food processor and process until they become small and crumbly.  Add dates and process again until the mixture sticks together and the dates are well processed.  Add the remaining ingredients and process again until the mixture turns a dark chocolatey brown. Stop processing before it gets too buttery. (There should still be air between the small bits so that you will be able to press them down into your brownie pan.)  Dump the mixture into a brownie dish or small cake pan and press down firmly using your clean hands.

Refrigerate this raw brownie recipe for a couple of hours. If you can't wait, you don't have to refrigerate it, but it's easier to slice when chilled.  Store in the refrigerator (if you don't eat it all in one sitting!)