Cilantro Macadamia Pesto

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A heavy metals screening revealed that I have high concentrations of mercury, lead and a few other unwelcome metals hanging around messing with my mojo. Not fabulous news, but a good reason to seek out foods to support my detox protocol and help my bod get rid of all that nasty crud. There are many foods high in certain vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll that can help rid the body of toxic metals. Luckily I love most of these, namely cilantro, dark leafy greens, berries, cucumber and asparagus, so I'm taking this as an opportunity to enjoy these delicious foods as often as possible!

Cilantro is particularly helpful in elimination of heavy metals and it happens to be one of my favorite herbs. When thinking of ways to get the most bang for my cilantro buck, pesto immediately came to mind. Pesto is one of my favorite sauces because of its rich flavor and versatility. This is my dairy-free variation on a traditional pesto which uses basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmigiano-regiano or pecorino.

I hope you'll enjoy this rich, refreshing, detoxifying, vegan pesto sauce! I shared this recipe on New Day NW's Wellness Wednesday as a dip for raw veggies or gluten-free crackers. It's also delicious on grilled wild fish, organic free-range chicken, or a burger (especially tasty on veggie burgers). This stuff is addictive! My husband calls it "the crack", so consider yourself warned ;-). Bon apetit! 

Ingredients:

Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 1 cup packed fresh organic cilantro leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, roasted
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt (add more or less to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 lime, juiced (add to taste 1 tsp at a time)

Preparation:

  1. Combine the cilantro, garlic, and macadamia nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add the olive oil and blend until smooth.

  3. Add the lime juice 1 tsp at a time, tasting as you go until you reach the

    desired tartness. I usually use 2-3 tsp.

  4. Refrigerate in a glass container and allow to warm to room temp before serving. 

Enjoy!

Brazil Nut Butter

Growing on trees that reach up to 160 feet tall, these delicious and highly nutritious nuts are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium. In fact, Brazil nuts are the highest natural source of selenium (543 mcg in 1 oz.). 

A potent micronutrient, scientific evidence to date suggests that selenium might play a role in the prevention or treatment of heart disease, cognitive decline, liver disease, some types of cancer, and thyroid disease. Selenium concentrations are highest in the thyroid gland, and it has a vital role in the functioning of the gland. Just two Brazil nuts a day make it easy for most people to meet their daily selenium requirement.

Don’t go overboard on Brazil nuts—too much selenium in the diet can cause brittle nails, alopecia, rash, upset stomach, and fatigue. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences advises a maximum limit of 45 mcg of selenium for kids and 400 mcg for adults daily. The best way to enjoy Brazil nuts is to combine a few with other types of nuts, seeds, and raisins. Sprinkle on salad, yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.

Making freshly ground nut butters at home gives you the opportunity to enjoy these nutritious spreads without the added sugar or preservatives often found in store-bought varieties.

Note: There is a 2 to 1 ratio of nuts to nut butter. To make 1 cup of nut butter, start with 2 cups of shelled nuts. 

 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic raw Brazil nuts

Optional flavor add-ins (opt for organic or locally sourced):

  • Sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, finely ground to taste
  • Organic stevia, raw honey or maple syrup to taste
  • 1 tsp Organic vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp Organic cacao powder (for a smooth nut butter) or cacao nibs (for a chunkier nut butter)

Optional Prep:

(a) To make the nuts more digestible, soak and dehydrate the nuts to extract phytic acids (compounds that bind minerals). Before grinding, soak nuts in water and cover for 8-12 hours. Dehydrate about 10 hours.

(b) To add a distinctive, warm flavor, toast the nuts before grinding. Toast nuts on a dry baking sheet at 400°F until nuts are fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch closely; nuts burn easily. Make sure the nuts are cool to the touch before grinding.

Directions:

Place nuts into a food processor and start blending, leaving out the optional flavor add-ins. Blend for 11-12 minutes. You may need to grind at various speeds or intervals until you reach the consistency that meets your taste preferences. The nuts will go through several stages and you’ll need to keep pressing the contents into the center of the blender as you go through the process. The nuts will crumble, clump, ball, redistribute, and then finally … the oils will release, and you’ll have a nice spread.

Mix in your choice of flavor add-ins by hand. Nut butter keeps in the refrigerator for about a month.

Resources

Anton Health and Nutrition. “Homemade Nut Butter.”

Radiant Life Company. “That’s Nuts! A Complete Guide to Soaking Nuts and Seeds.”

National Institutes of Health. “Selenium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.” Accessed May 2015. 

National Institutes of Health. “Selenium: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” Accessed May 2015.  

Nutrition and You. “Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts.” Accessed May 2015. 

Rich & Healthy Turkey Gravy

Great tasting, smooth consistency -- without the flour, cornstarch or butter!

Ingredients:

  • ¼ - ½ cup organic chicken or vegetable broth or stock (depending on size of roasting pan) 
  • 2 cups organic carrots, diced (about 4-6 carrots depending on size)
  • 1 - 2 medium white or yellow onions, sliced
  • 4 ribs organic celery, diced 
  • 8 - 12 oz. low-sodium organic vegetable or chicken broth 
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp pickling spice 
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper 
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • Optional: add fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme and maybe some white wine or marsala for an extra kick.

Directions: 

  1. Line the bottom of your turkey roasting pan with one layer of the sliced onions and place your prepared uncooked turkey on top of the onions.
  2. Toss the rest of the onions and the baby carrots all around the edges of the turkey.
  3. Fill the pan with broth/stock approximately one inch all the way around.
  4. Cover and cook turkey as directed. (If your instructions suggest removing the cover for the last portion of the cooking time, that’s fine. Just make sure the water has not reached the top of the roasting pan so it does not spill over.)
  5. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set it on the counter; remove the turkey and place it on a platter for further preparation according to your recipe/instructions.
  6. To make the gravy, pour one-quarter of the roasting pan’s liquid into a blender; add half of the cooked carrots, celery and onions.
  7. Blend on low until just chunky-smooth.
  8. Add 4 – 6 ounces of the broth and the pickling spice; add the remaining carrots, celery and onions and blend until just smooth.
  9. Season with pepper and salt to taste.
  10. Pulse blender to desired consistency.

Note: May be cooked the day before, stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and heated on the stovetop before serving. (You may need to make two blender-fuls of gravy, following the above process, depending on the size of your turkey/roasting pan.