Guacamole + Salsa

Guacamole + Salsa

To kick off the snack series, I thought I’d begin with quite possibly the best Paleo duo imaginable. There’s something about the creaminess of guacamole, spice of salsa, and satisfying crunch of fresh veggies that ties it all together.

Both recipes are fairly basic, but what is important to keep in mind that the final product is entirely in your hands. The salinity, heat level, and overall flavor can be altered to your unique preferences. Additionally, depending on the quality of your avocados and tomatoes, you may need more or less of each accompanying ingredient. Taste as you go, adjust your seasonings, and taste again. If you add too much salt, balance it out with another squeeze of citrus, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to try adding additional ingredients – make it your own!

A few interesting facts:

1. If your avocados aren’t ripe enough, throw them in a brown paper bag with a banana. The banana will produce ethylene, which triggers ripening. Within about 24 hours, your avocados will be perfect!

2. Roma tomatoes are the best tomatoes to use for salsa because they have a lower concentration of seeds and liquid than most other tomato varietals. Of course, if it is the peak of summer and you have some gorgeous heirlooms, by all means, use them!

3. My mom grows a whole host of vegetables in her garden, including jalapeños. She rarely uses all of them during the season, so she throws them in a blender, purees them, and then freezes them in ice cube trays. When she needs some, she just cuts off what she needs and it is defrosted in no time. It provides all the great flavor of a fresh jalapeño without a lot of hassle. For this recipe, I would use about a tablespoon (or half of an ice cube-sized portion) for each batch of guacamole or salsa.

I pair these with Paleo crackers as well as fresh cut veggies – bell peppers, carrots, celery, and romaine spears. For the ultimate indulgence, cook some crispy bacon and use as a vehicle for the guacamole. I’m pretty sure I’ll include a post for that in this snack series!

Raw Guacamole

Guacamole
Yield: approximately 3 cups

Ingredients
4 large ripe avocados
2 small roma tomatoes, ripe, small diced
1 small onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, ribs & seeds removed, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Cut the avocados, remove the seed, and scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skin and keep two of the seeds.
2. Mash the avocado until it is creamy with a few chunks remaining.
3. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Stir to combine.
4. Taste at this stage and then add the jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Continue adjusting the seasonings until you find the right balance of salt, citrus, and heat.
6. Store in an airtight container with the reserved avocado seeds (coupled with the lime juice, it will prevent browning).

Raw Salsa

Salsa
Yield: approximately 3 cups

Ingredients
8 small roma tomatoes, ripe, medium diced
1 small onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, ribs & seeds removed, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Stir to combine.
2. Taste at this stage and then add the jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Continue adjusting the seasonings until you find the right balance of salt, citrus, and heat.
4. Store in an airtight container.

Paleo Parmesan Herb Croutons

The last recipe for Paleo Almond Flour Bread has inspired a number of bread-based recipes. If you end up with a couple of left-over slices (I’m not sure why you would – but hey, it could happen), these croutons are a great way to use up the extras and they keep for quite a while.

Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.
Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.

The best part about these crunchy little nuggets is that they are easily customized to your own preferences. I use an array of herbs and spices, as well as a generous helping of parmesan. If you don’t like something, leave it out. It is best to use dried herbs, as fresh won’t hold up well in the heat of the oven. You’ll want to choose flavors that are bold and will stand up to the robust flavor of the parmesan.

The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.
The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.

We are lucky enough to have a friend who presses olives into olive oil every year in Italy. We get a single bottle from him and make it last as long as we can. This oil is fantastic unheated and simply drizzled over a salad. It’s also fantastic with these croutons. Because they aren’t in the oven for an exceptionally long amount of time (only about 20 minutes), the olive flavor still peeks through.

You’ll want to be sure to toast the croutons for enough time to get a nice crunchy exterior. Don’t be afraid of a little color – that’s where you get the deep flavor! If you end up with extra herb/spice mix, not to worry, just tuck it away in a zip-top bag and use it next time.

Ingredients:
1 t. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. mustard powder
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dired oregano
1 t. paprika
1 t. ground pepper
1 oz. parmesan, grated or shaved (depending on your preference)
2 T. oil (olive, avocado, etc.)
1 loaf Paleo Almond Flour Bread, cut into cubes

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line a baking pan with a silpat mat or parchment.
2. Combine all the herbs and spices in a small bowl, stir to combine.
3. Toss the oil and bread cubes together in a large bowl, coating the bread completely.
4. Sprinkle the herb/spice mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Reserve any extra mixture for another use.
5. Spread cubes on prepared baking pan in an even, single layer.
6. Sprinkle parmesan to on top to lightly coat.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing once half-way through, until toasted and crispy.
8. Allow to cool completely on the pan.
9. Store in an airtight container.

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Paleo Almond Flour Bread

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Bread is probably one of the most commonly attempted Paleo “cheat” foods. It’s completely eliminated in a strict Paleo lifestyle, but we just can’t seem to live without its chewy goodness. I’m a HUGE bread fan, especially artisan sourdough bread. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out how to capture the crunchy exterior and tender crumb of a San Francisco sourdough. Don’t worry, I’m making it my life’s mission.

In the meantime, I’ve realized that making a standard almond flour bread that is Paleo-friendly isn’t difficult. With a few simple ingredients and a couple of bowls, you’ve got yourself a moist batter that can be baked off in a flash. The uses for this bread are endless, including pain perdu (French toast), grilled cheese, and your everyday sandwich. It even makes great croutons, covered in herbs and parmesan – they are mouth-watering.

Ingredients
8.5 oz. almond flour
3/4 oz. coconut flour
1.5 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 oz. coconut oil
2 oz. butter
1 T. honey
5 ea. eggs
2.5 oz. applesauce

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a loaf pan with the fat of your choice (butter, pan spray, coconut oil, etc.).
2. Combine the flours, soda and salt in a large bowl. Sift to combine.
3. Combine the coconut oil, butter and honey in a small dish. Heat until melted. Cool slightly.
4. Combine eggs and applesauce in another bowl. Whisk to combine.
5. Stream oil & honey mixture into eggs. Whisk to combine.
6. Mix wet ingredients into dry and stir until completely combined.
7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
8. Allow the loaf to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Notes:
1. You can also use all coconut oil instead of using butter if you want a completely dairy-free version.
2. Fold in some dried herbs and minced garlic for a fantastic addition to any weeknight dinner.
3. The applesauce just adds moisture, you can also add creme fraiche.