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vegetables and sides

mushroom cauliflower risotto with lemon and basil {paleo Thanksgiving side dish}

so apparently i enjoy some cauliflower risotto.  because i’ve already shared this one.  but when you find a good thing you like… you can make it/order it/enjoy it over and over, or you can, like me, find a way to mix it up!



seriously, though… this “lightened up” version of risotto tastes anything but “light.”  it’s full of deep, buttery flavors brightened up with basil and lemon, and topped with crunchy pine nuts and crispy near-burnt mushrooms.




i think it’s the vision of many food-lovers who are on a restricted diet, to come up with dishes to share with friends and family that don’t feel like they’re “restricted.”  i’m pretty sure that whomever tries this dish will feel like they’re luxuriating in a seriously splurge-worthy dish.  and that’s the goal!




mushroom cauliflower risotto with lemon and basil {primal Thanksgiving side}
a rice-free risotto made with cauliflower, pine nuts, and basil with lemon.
Recipe type: vegetable side
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 "heads" cremini mushrooms
  • 2 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 head of garlic cloves, separated and peeled
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh basil (reserve several leaves for garnish)
  • ¼ - ½ cup olive oil, plus additional for roasting
  • ½ cup all-natural chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse cauliflower and cut into florets.
  3. Slice half of one lemon and save remaining half.
  4. On a roasting pan lined with parchment and drizzled with olive oil, place cauliflower, mushrooms, shallots, sliced lemon, garlic, and rosemary.
  5. Drizzle with additional oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
  6. Place pan into preheated oven and roast approximately 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  7. Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, blend basil, juice and zest from one lemon, and drizzle in ¼ - ½ cup olive oil, adding just enough to reach a thin puree.
  8. Season to taste with salt, and set aside.
  9. When vegetables are golden and beginning to char, remove from oven.
  10. Set aside 2-3 tablespoons mushrooms and the lemon slices.
  11. In batches (about three small batches), process vegetables in a food processor or high-speed blender until they just resemble "rice" sized pieces.
  12. In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil.
  13. Reduce heat to simmer and add vegetables.
  14. Stir until warmed through, adding tablespoon butter and zest and juice from remaining lemon half.
  15. To serve: drizzle with basil puree and sprinkle with pine nuts.
  16. Top with a sprinkle of reserved mushrooms and garnish with roasted, sliced lemon.




make it.  eat it.  then tell me what you think!

this recipe from mark’s daily apple inspired me to take a peek at what kind of mushrooms to incorporate in to this recipe.  i’d actually never cooked with cremini before and they looked fun.  they are delicious!

what’s your favorite holiday side dish?


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apple avocado {kale salad recipe}

so i learned a little trick a while back – do you know this trick? you should massage your kale.

i know, it sounds funny, but for this kale salad recipe, i was determined to do it. normally, i’m too lazy hungry, and i skip it.  but my husband’s one complaint when i feed him salads with “alternative” greens (or lawnmower mulch, as he fondly refers to anything other than romaine), is that it seems “sharp” to him.  so i told myself i would massage my kale when i tried this recipe.


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funny story.  i was elbow deep in my bowl of kale, massaging it into gentle submission, when a knock sounded at my front door.  i should clarify, my kitchen was a disaster, as it was “set up” for a long day of recipe developing and photgraphy, so there were boards and backgrounds, lighting and props, dishes and ingredients strewn everywhere about our humble, albeit sun-filled temporary kitchen.  i expected no guests, and i was dressed, well, as you might be if you planned a guest-free day in your kitchen.  lo and behold, new friends we’d never met before were stopping by, and they’d driven two hours, and had no plans for the day!


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thankfully, they were gracious and stepped past the mounds of mess culinary treasures and sat right down to enjoy this recipe for a yummy lunch.  we all loved it, and i fully intend to make it again next week.  perhaps with a cleaner kitchen and perhaps in something other than my sweats.  perhaps. 


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oh and the massaging trick totally works.  the kale was soft and seemed to soak up the flavor of the dressing so well.  it seems like it doesn’t make much, but it was more than enough for 8 people!


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apple avocado kale salad
Prep time
Total time
  • 1 large bag fresh kale, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 apples - cored, and diced (Crispin preferred)
  • 2 avocados - peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, or more to taste
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • optional:
  • ½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ pound sliced cooked chicken or turkey
  • Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch dried oregano, or to taste
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Layer kale, apples, avocados, tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro together in a bowl.
  2. Whisk olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and black pepper together in a bowl until dressing is smooth and thickened.
  3. Pour dressing over kale mixture and toss to coat completely.



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this recipe was adapted from melissa’s kale salad at allrecipes.  i made very few changes, except to add a couple proteins to the salad, and mustard/honey to the dressing.  i liked that so much i made it again a day later and used it to top a salad with my beloved arugula.

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raw juice with chia {chia seed recipe}

i’ve sweet-talked my a-girl into making juice for us in the mornings, and i’ve noticed that when we start the morning with fresh juice or a hearty smoothie, it helps me make wiser choices all day.  this is my favorite combination so far, and with the chia seeds added from salba chia, it even has the added nutritional boost plus the crunch i love.  try this raw juice with chia seed recipe and tell me what you think!


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this one’s super easy.  ready?


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raw juice with chia {chia seed recipe}


  • 2 cucumbers (unwaxed)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 sprigs mint
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 (.5 ounce) packet chia seeds (or about 1 heaping tablespoon)


  1. Rinse all fruit and peel lemon.
  2. Cut into pieces to fit into your juicer.
  3. Run all fruits and vegetables through juicer.
  4. Pour juice over chia seeds and stir to combine.
  5. Note: If you allow juice to set for 15-20 minutes, seeds will begin to gel the juice slightly. Some find this pleasant (I do), but if not, you'll want to drink your juice right away!


do you juice?  share your favorite recipe!


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