creamy-protein-salad-base

The Perfect Creamy Protein Salad Base

I admit it: this title, “The Perfect Creamy Protein Salad Base,” doesn’t exactly snap, crackle, and pop with descriptive lusciousness. Then again, it perfectly describes what I’m about to show you. Add to that its handy factor and adaptability to every diet from paleo to vegan, and I do believe you may thank me (if only in your heart).

Here’s the step by step, but if you prefer, jump straight to the recipe.

It started with a recipe from one of my favorite favorite all-time cookbooks, Isa Does It, by the truly genius vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I have been meaning to try her vegan version of tuna salad, made with chickpeas, forever. But one day, I was just really craving tuna, because sometimes that happens.

Her recipe calls for a bunch of veggies minced fine in a food processor. I didn’t have carrots, but I did have radishes, and I was too lazy to get out the processor. Also, I had just written this nifty knife post and was feeling a bit choppy. So off I went.

creamy-protein-salad-base-ingredients  She then calls for a rather heavy amount of mayo (vegan, natch), as well as some sunflower seeds to mix in with the chickpeas. I like mayo, especially on French fries (which is tremendously Gallic of me). But I also really like some good sour yogurt, and I’ve been upping my probiotic game. Yogurt feels lighter to me as well. So I mixed yogurt, mustard, and mayo together….

creamy-protein-salad-base-ingredients

…then added the veggies and tuna. Voilá! A perfect creamy protein salad base just became a really yummy lunch.

creamy-protein-salad-base-tuna

Lately, btw, I’ve been very happy with Thomas’s Everything Bagel Thins, seen above. I’ve been Noom-ing (post in the works about this super cool new diet/fitness program), which, for one thing, means that I’m watching my proportions of food. Rather than dividing food into “great stuff that you don’t want to eat but have to because it’s good for you” and “all the stuff you want and can’t have,” Noom simply assigns food a green, yellow, or red designation. Green is the least calorie dense, and red is the most. Red isn’t bad, but you just need to be careful how you allot your red points, as well as your yellows. You can knock yourself out with greens, which are mostly fruits and vegetables, but also include some nice things like yogurt. Anyway, the Thomas’s Bagel Thins are just 100 calories of yellow. And I find that when I have a small amount of complex carbs with lunch, I don’t get hungry so quick. As noted, I love carbs. This is the first program in a while that hasn’t made me feel like some sort of felon for admitting that.

Today, I went ahead with Isa’s fake tuna salad, which adds some dulse flakes to the mix for a nice little hit of the sea. (I told you she’s a genius.)

But really, this would work with any cooked protein. Tuna and beans, obviously, but also leftover chicken or turkey (I don’t eat them, but you might), as well as any number of seafood items, particularly lobster if you’re really in the mood for debauchery. Quick, easy, tasty, and you really don’t need to measure. But just in case you feel like you do, well, here’s a rough and highly adaptable recipe.

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The Perfect Creamy Protein Salad Recipe

Deviled Eggs

I’m old enough to have grown up with Easter egg hunts that were 80% dyed hard-boiled eggs. Even though I was a notoriously picky child, I liked hard-boiled eggs. But the vast quantities that resulted from Easter egg hunting daunted even me. Many a hard-boiled egg ended up in the garbage simply because, even with a family of 7, we just plain got sick of them. Mom, to her credit, would go beyond the plain version and into the magical territory of deviled eggs. But there were still masses of the little ovals to get through. Even Cool Hand Luke had a rough time downing 50 eggs. It seemed like my brother and I had raked in 50 apiece.

The candy/egg ratio has flipped; now, judging from the ready-made baskets I see in stores, you may not have any hard-boiled eggs at all. Should that be the case in your neck of the woods, I urge to boil up a batch. To my mind, deviled eggs represent the best possible way to use up the non-sugar portion of an Easter basket, particularly now that people have come to their senses and you don’t have to plow through a few dozen in a week. Additionally, deviled eggs are endlessly variable, as well as super easy. They make a great paleo lunch. Step by step instructions follow, or simply skip to the recipe if you desire exact ingredients and precise amounts.

Last year, I discovered the glorious practice of pickling the shelled eggs in a vinegar brine infused with a color-rich agent. Cooking Light provided this recipe for turmeric eggs, and Bon Appetit provided these visuals, which inspired the beet version. BA keeps the shells on, cracking them, for a beautiful effect.) Turmeric delivers a glorious acidic yellow. Beets create shocking pink to deep purple, depending how long you leave them in the brine. A little pureed spinach or carrot (separate, please) would give you, respectively, green or orange. I would have counseled to avoid a blue egg, because that’s just weird. But the BA one in the link above is quite beautiful in its marbled state. I’m thinking red cabbage might possibly produce a delicate purple. Experiment as you like. Do note that these eggs sat for day and a half in brine, and the dark color of the beet brine went deeper than the skin. Fine by me, but soak for the right amount of time for you.

deviled eggs, dyed in beet or turmeric brine and hollowed out prior to pickling

To make a brine, simply use 1 part cider vinegar to 2 parts water; then add the coloring agent of your choice. Once you’ve cooled the eggs, just gently lower them into the prepared brine, which you’ve poured into a glass mason jar. Close up the jar, refrigerate it, and there you go. Do be forewarned that the longer the eggs sit in the brine, the tarter they’ll become. You get the color you need after just 2-4 hours, if you don’t want a heavy vinegar bite.

deviled eggs, hard-boiled and pickled prior to deviling

An hour  or so before you want to eat your eggs, slice them lengthwise down the middle and scoop out the yolk into a bowl. The vinegar makes the whites sturdy, though not tough, just pleasantly toothy, and you can just pop the yolks out. If they’re stubborn, use a small spoon. As you can see, the back of the yolks on the beet eggs turned magenta…

deviled eggs, yolks removed and ready to devil

…while the turmeric brine wasn’t nearly as aggressive.

deviled eggs, yolks removed and ready to devil

For 4 yolks, use a tablespoon each of the mayo of your choice and something tart, like plain full-fat yogurt or sour cream. Or use 2 tablespoons of one or the other substance. You decide if you want a heaping tablespoon Add a spice that complements the color of the egg. For the turmeric ones, curry powder and cumin were naturals; if I’d had cilantro on head, I would have sprinkled it on top. Beets demanded that I steam one of the slices I’d used for pickling, then smash it and mix it in with eggs, adding horseradish, mustard, and dill, just like I would to a raw beet salad. Should you choose not to dye, mustard, paprika, chives, and parsley are classic additions.

deviled eggs, yolks in the deviling process

That’s it. For best egg serving, those deviled egg plates are awesome, but honestly kinda silly because who, seriously, will use such a thing enough to justify the purchase price? So if you have one, great, but if you don’t, an egg carton works just swell.

deviled eggs, pickled separately in turmeric and beet brines

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Deviled Eggs: The Recipe

 

the emerald isle bowl, a paleo gluten-free bowl perfect for st. Patrick's day

Emerald Isle Bowl

Ireland is green, green, green, and the fish is—naturally—fresh, fresh, fresh. Steve and I visited a couple of years ago, and loved every minute we were there. Beyond all the stuff we did and people we met, we ate amazingly. I invented the Emerald Isle Bowl while we were there, taking advantage of the gorgeous fresh produce and the fresh-out-of-the-Irish-Sea salmon.

Jump to recipe.

With St. Patrick’s coming up and spring trying hard to push back winter, I wanted to get this simple, relatively quick, and very colorful meal in front of you. The textures of the Emerald Isle bowl give your mouth plenty to play with.

They start with the raw. That includes juicy fruit—I used a pear but green apples are terrific as well—crispy cukes, crunchy cabbage and romaine, and chewy kale.

raw ingredients for cooked ingredients for the gluten free paleo-friendly emerald isle bowl from le chou fou

And then we have the cooked: delicate salmon, golden-outside-soft-inside cauliflower and broccoli. I also gave the pistachios a little toast for extra crunchiness.

cooked ingredients for the gluten free paleo-friendly emerald isle bowl from le chou fou

The herbs, a throw-caution-to-the-Irish-wind blend of tarragon, dill, mint, and parsley, add fresh-meadow flavor. The horseradish dressing does that thing where it kind of opens the top of your head. In Dublin, I went crazy for Graham’s, the absolute best horseradish sauce I’ve ever tasted. But any good horseradish cream sauce will work. Or just add some wasabi or minced horseradish to the yogurt and mayo you have on hand.

the sauce for cooked ingredients for the gluten free paleo-friendly emerald isle bowl from le chou fou

Optimum prep includes reusing the same bowl to do all of the following:

  • Toss the cauliflower with oil.
  • While the cauliflower cooks, toss the broccoli with oil.
  • Massage the kale with oil.
  • Toss the romaine, cabbage, herbs, and kale with the dressing before plating.
  • raw greens for cooked ingredients for the gluten free paleo-friendly emerald isle bowl from le chou fou

Above all, be sure to improvise. Use whatever herbs you have handy, though dill and parsley are highly recommended. Change up the vegetables if you like; the bowl looks just as pretty with other colors besides green. And if you want a starch, watch your email for my soon-to-appear recipe Colcannon, the classic Irish potato with whatever-greens-I-have-in-the-fridge.

the emerald isle bowl, a paleo-friendly gluten free bowl recipe from le chou fou

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Emerald Isle Bowl: The Recipe