Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pomegranate

Quick – it’s cold outside, and you want a veggie side dish that is not a cold salad. What do you do?? Crank up the oven, throw some veggies on a baking sheet, and 30 minutes later, you’ve got happy taste buds and a warm tummy!

If you’re like me, sometimes you crave variety in the way your food is prepared. So even though my instinct is to make a salad or roast whatever vegetable I have in my kitchen, I am always looking for new ways to do the familiar (aka make dinner).

And so, last night we had this warm Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pomegranate side dish. My little guy happily ate it up – the pomegranate contributed to this, full disclosure, but the brussel sprouts were eaten right along with it! He’s got good taste in fruit, for sure. Luckily for him (and me!), I learned a easy way to separate all the juicy, delicious jewels – they’re actually called pomegranate arils (or seeds) – from the papery, cream colored membrane lining the inside of the entire fruit. Even better, it doesn’t look like a massacre occurred in my kitchen when I’m all done, nor have I ruined any clothing or white kitchen tile grout!

The way I prepare the pomegranate is unique to other fruit. First grab a medium sized bowl big enough to fit both of your hands plus the pomegranate in at the same time while being fully submerged in water. Also, take out a plastic cutting board with a ridge around the perimeter and kitchen knife. Choose plastic instead of wood if you don’t like your board getting stained! Fill up the bowl almost to the top with water warm enough to be a pleasant temperature – no need to have freezing cold hands while doing this! Cut the pomegranate in half; the cutting board ridge will catch any juice which decides to run. Place the pomegranate halves in the bowl, under water. Working on one half at a time, gently peel the pomegranate arils out of the membrane layers while being sure to keep the fruit submerged. The water will prevent juice spatters like a charm! The papery membrane floats to the top of the water, while the arils sink towards the bottom. As a result, skimming off the membrane pieces is a cinch, leaving all the goodness behind!

You could, of course, buy ready-to-eat pomegranate from the refrigerated produce section in your store. However, I find the often cloudy liquid in which the arils are sitting in unappetizing and makes me question their freshness. I’ll stick with prepping my own! When it’s this easy to eat pomegranate, you might find new ways to eat more, too!

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pomegranate

Roasted brussel sprouts pair up with crispy, salty bacon and juicy, sweet pomegranate in this cold weather dish. (AIP, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 12 ounces bacon, cut into 1" strips
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • On a baking sheet, evenly spread brussel sprouts, bacon, and red onion. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place baking sheet in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brussel sprouts are cooked through.
  • Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Cook about 5 more minutes, until brussel sprouts and bacon are browned and crispy. Remove from oven.
  • Mix 1 Tbsp olive oil with pomegranate molasses. Drizzle over brussel sprout mixture. Sprinkle fresh pomegranate on top. Serve warm.

Notes

Best served immediately. If preparing in advance, wait to add fresh pomegranate until after reheating brussel sprouts.

 


Sheet Pan Dinner – Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Turkey with Roasted Veggies

Are you looking for an allergy-friendly holiday meal? This sheet pan dinner with spinach artichoke stuffed turkey and roasted vegetables fits the bill! This elegant, festive meal is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. However, it is also simple enough to be prepared alongside a traditionally prepared bird, if this best suits your group’s holiday meal needs, to make sure there are safe, tasty dinner options for everyone. If this recipe will be the “main event,” it can easily be doubled, tripled, etc to feed larger crowds.  And, of course, the sheet pan dinner template just screams – easy, cozy dinner at home anytime! It’s delicious, and I bet you’ll want to make it again and again!

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Look at those nice, roasty bits on the carrots and brussel sprouts! So delicious! These are packed with fall flavor. Roasting is my favorite way to prepare vegetables. They are guaranteed to develop rich, complex flavor.

If you haven’t cared for brussel sprouts in the past, I encourage you to try them again when roasted. However, you could easily substitute cubes of another slower cooking vegetable such as beets, butternut squash, or potato (sweet or white) with a similar cooking time. While these options are starchier, broccoli or pearl onions would be tasty lower carbohydrate options, though they would require a shorter cook time.

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I’ve been drooling over the vegetables so much, I almost forgot to tell you about the turkey… the skin is light and crispy, thanks to a coating of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt prior to baking at a higher temperature. Also, the herby lemon spinach artichoke stuffing under the turkey skin bakes flavor right into the turkey meat. If you’ve never tried this technique of stuffing flavorful goodness between the meat and the skin, you’re in for a treat. It adds festive flare and is much easier and more forgiving than it might seem. Even if the skin tears or comes disconnected on one side, just smooth it out and lay it down – crisis averted 🙂

Practicality points: While the skin won’t be crispy the next day, all other aspects of the dish keep and reheat well as leftovers, too. Because the turkey breast is so much smaller than a whole bird and will cook much faster, there is no need to baste or use a roasting pan! Yay for less dishes and less work!

Sheet Pan Dinner - Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Turkey with Roasted Veggies

Capture the flavors of Fall with this unique rendition of a turkey dinner. (AIP, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1-1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 9 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small lemon, zest of
  • 1/2 small lemon, juice of
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 2-1/2 pound split turkey breast, with skin and bone
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts, quartered or halved
  • 1 pound rainbow carrots, peeled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a medium sized glass bowl or liquid measuring cup, heat frozen spinach in the microwave on high for 1 minute, or until warm. With a fork, press out and drain as much liquid from the spinach as possible.
  • Then add remaining ingredients of spinach artichoke stuffing to the bowl/glass measuring cup: artichokes, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  • Place turkey breast on sheet pan. With clean hands, gently separate the turkey skin from meat starting on one end of the turkey breast and moving across to the opposite end, creating a pocket or tunnel, with the sides remaining attached.
  • Gently, "stuff" handfuls or spoonfuls of spinach artichoke stuffing under the turkey skin, ensuring stuffing is roughly evenly distributed across the turkey breast.
  • Brush 1 Tbsp olive oil on turkey breast skin and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp sea salt.
  • Place turkey in the oven and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, then increase the heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add the carrots and brussel sprouts to the sheet pan. Drizzle remaining 4 Tbsp olive oil over veggies. Sprinkle remaining 1 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp pepper over vegetables.
  • When turkey skin is nicely browned, cover with aluminum foil to limit further browning/avoid burning. Be sure to tuck foil closely around the turkey to allow the veggies to roast uncovered.
  • Cook turkey until internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit at the center of the thickest part of the breast. Cook veggies until tender and browned, about 30 minutes.

Notes

Based on the exact size/thickness of your meat and veggie pieces, your food may cook a little slower or faster. It's better to remove one component or the other early, allowing the rest to roast a little longer, than have overcooked food. So do keep an eye on things as the food gets closer to being done!

Lazy Girl Sweet Potato Mash

I have always been a fan of the humble sweet potato. Often with minimal effort, you have practically limitless ways to incorporate this nutrient-dense, relatively shelf-stable, hearty vegetable into your meals. Microwave a sweet potato as a quick side dish for dinner, jazz up a leftover baked sweet potato (they reheat beautifully by the way!) to make a loaded sweet potato for breakfast, roast them, fry them, mash them… you get the idea. Just please don’t ruin them by putting marshmallows on them!

I am aware though, that not everyone shares my love of the sweet potato. My husband has been in the “don’t prefer sweet potatoes” camp for years. “Too stringy,” he said. But this recipe had him taking a third helping at dinner – yes, you read that right! No, I didn’t disguise them. No, there was no bribery involved. Yes, he knew he was eating sweet potatoes.

I will let you in on my secrets for creating a sweet potato convert. First, I cook my sweet potatoes by baking them in the oven rather than boiling them in water on the stove. This cooking method concentrates the rich flavor of the sweet potato and reduces moisture content, rather than water-logging the veggie pieces by boiling. Also, it’s a lot less work, because there is no potato peeling or chopping! Win, win!

The second trick has to do with optimizing consistency of the mash. To achieve the delightfully luscious texture of my Lazy Girl Sweet Potato Mash, you blend the sweet potatoes. By throwing the sweet potatoes in the blender, there are absolutely no stringy strands of fibrous veggie left. Only velvety, creamy goodness, my friends!

In case you’re not convinced, here are some side-by-side pictures to illustrate my point. The pictures speak for themselves, really. In the first image, the sweet potatoes were mashed with a fork (common instructions given in other recipes). The middle bowl was whipped with a whisk. In the third image, the sweet potatoes were blended.

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Fork

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Whisk

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Blender

My sweet potato mash is tasty paired with any roasted meat or as the base of a “bowl” dish with toppings of your choosing such as roasted vegetables plus a fried egg, shredded meat and/or nuts and seeds.

Next time you make mashed sweet potatoes, you could mash them with a fork or potato masher or even whip them with a whisk. OR you could throw everything in the blender and press a button; then tell everyone how to long you spent mashing out every last tiny lump and wait for their applause 🙂 The only thing left to say is – if you’re not peeling, chopping, and mashing potatoes, how will you spend your extra free time?

 

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  1. Lazy Girl Sweet Potato Mash

    Easy-peasy method for achieving the smoothest, most flavorful mashed sweet potatoes. (AIP, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free)
    Prep Time15 mins
    Cook Time1 hr
    Resting Time15 mins
    Total Time1 hr 15 mins
    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Servings: 6 servings

    Ingredients

    • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
    • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 3/4 tsp salt

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 350F.
    • Place washed sweet potatoes on baking sheet into the oven. Bake until a fork very easily slides through the flesh. Cooking time will significantly vary depending on the size and shape of your potatoes. Keep a close watch and check smaller/thinner potatoes first as these will cook faster.
    • When sweet potatoes are very soft, remove from oven. Allow to cool off enough to handle before removing potato skins.
    • Add peeled sweet potatoes to blender along with coconut oil, salt, and cinnamon. Blend until completely smooth.
    • Remove from blender and pour into serving bowl. Optional garnishes include: additional cinnamon, a drizzle of maple syrup, (avoid the following for AIP) grated nutmeg, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, or pecans.

    Notes

    May be made in advance. Reheats well.

     


Sweet Potato Salad with Stoneground Mustard and Bacon

While the calendar says it’s October, we’ve still been getting some 80 degree days. Anytime it’s nice and warm on a sunny weekend, a part of me is thinking about standard picnic fare, such as potato salad – or at least a twist on it.

Traditional and tasty as potato salad may be, sometimes a mayo-based salad with white potatoes just isn’t what you’re looking for. Maybe your friend has an egg allergy, so store-bought mayonnaise is out. Or maybe your cousin doesn’t tolerate white potatoes, a member of the “nightshade” vegetable family which is sometimes problematic for people with certain health conditions such as autoimmune diseases. Or maybe you’re just looking to shake things up a bit and try something new. Either way, this recipe is for you!

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The creamy potatoes contrast well with the crunch of the fresh vegetables. And the stoneground mustard dressing and bacon provide a punch of flavor! Dig in and enjoy! This sweet potato salad is tasty alongside grilled chicken or ribs, among other things.

You may have been expecting the sweet potatoes in the picture to be orange in color, and noticed they were more golden. This is because I used a specific variety of sweet potato called a Hannah sweet potato. If you’re unfamiliar with Hannah sweet potatoes, or white sweet potatoes, now is the perfect time to get acquainted.

In comparison with traditional, orange sweet potatoes, these babies are less sweet and have a more mild flavor. They also have less moisture and seem starchier. In short, my impression is that they’re somewhat of a cross between a white potato and a regular sweet potato in terms of taste and texture. These characteristics not only lend themselves well for making a potato salad, but also sweet potato fries – but that will have to wait for another post! Now the only potential downside to these is their limited availability, at least in my locale. In my area, the only store in which I have found these tasty beauties for sale is Whole Foods. However, some people in other locations find them readily available in their stores. They’re worth the hunt though, I promise!

 

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Sweet Potato Salad with Stoneground Mustard and Bacon

Flavorful sweet potato salad with crispy bacon bites and zesty stoneground mustard dressing. (paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time2 hrs
Total Time45 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 large Hannah sweet potatoes (whit sweet potatoes)
  • 12 ounces bacon
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 mini cucumber
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/3 cup light tasting olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp palm shortening
  • ½ lemon, juice of
  • ½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • ¼ cup stoneground mustard
  • Himalayan pink salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Place sweet potatoes in a pot and fill with water, ensuring the sweet potatoes are fully covered. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  • Cook sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce the potato pieces. The potatoes should be tender, yet still firm.
  • When potatoes are cooked, remove from heat and drain water completely. Transfer potatoes into a bowl and refrigerate for a few hours until chilled.
  • While the sweet potatoes are cooling in the refrigerator, make the dressing by combining the olive oil, palm shortening, lemon juice, and ½ tsp salt in a bowl.
  • Using an immersion blender or traditional blender, blend ingredients on high until liquid becomes creamy. This should only take about 1 minute.
  • Next, add the stoneground mustard. Mix until combined; then refrigerate.
  • Fry bacon until crispy. Remove from heat and allow bacon to cool. Roughly chop the bacon into small bite-sized pieces and set aside, refrigerating if prepared in advance.
  • After the sweet potatoes have chilled, take them out of the refrigerator.
  • Finely dice the red onion, celery and cucumber. Add these vegetables and the dressing to the potatoes. Stir to combine until the potatoes are evenly coated with the mixture.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the bacon and lightly stir to distribute throughout. Sprinkle green onions on top.

Notes

May make in advance.

Creamy Pumpkin Custard with Spiced Apples

It’s officially pumpkin-everything season!

One of my favorite fall ingredients is pumpkin. I value it’s versatility in that it can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. One of my favorite recipes utilizing pumpkin is this pumpkin custard with spiced apples. The combination of pumpkin and apple is classic for this time of year. This custard is flavorful, festive, creamy and comforting. Yum. At my house, we eat it at any meal of the day, because well… it’s just one of those dishes. Each time I make this, I can’t wait to grab a spoon and dig in!

This recipe also earns versatility points. The sweetness of this recipe can be adjusted to your preference. So with just a single little tweak, you can enjoy this pumpkin custard as a side dish with sausage at breakfast or enjoy as dessert with a cup of tea. Whatever time of day you choose to indulge in this nutrient-dense, pumpkin custard with spiced apples, you can’t go wrong!

This recipe can easily be doubled in quantity, with minimal additional effort and time, if you’re hosting brunch or batch-cooking for a hungry family.

While I made my custard in a pie plate, I also recommend individual ramekins. Mini custard cups are too cute and work well if you’re contributing to a pot-luck or packing lunches.

If you’re short on time, you can omit the apple topping and reduce your hands-on preparation and cook time down to about 15 minutes. Though, the apple topping certainly adds a little “extra something,” the custard is plenty tasty on its own.

On to the recipe!

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Creamy Pumpkin Custard with Spiced Apples

Comforting, creamy pumpkin custard with warmly spiced apples. Adjust the sweetness to serve as breakfast, dessert, or anything in between. (AIP, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time5 mins
Resting Time3 hrs
Total Time15 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cans pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup consider 1/4-3/4 cup depending on your taste buds
  • 1/4 cup lard or refined coconut oil
  • 1-1/4 Tbsp gelatin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
  • Splash or two of spiced apple cider

Instructions

  • Combine pumpkin, maple syrup, lard or coconut oil, gelatin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a pot on the stove. Turn heat on medium low and cook. Stir continuously for 5-8 minutes. The mixture should change in consistency, becoming more of a smooth liquid and the gelatin should dissolve fully.
  • Pour into custard cups or a pie plate.
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow custard to set.
  • Cook apple slices in spiced cider in a pan on medium low heat until soft, but still retaining their shape. Arrange on fully set custard.
  • Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

Notes

May make in advance.