Guacamole skewers

One of the most frustrating things about feeding a toddler is that one day's favorite food is the next day's reject. M used to eat guacamole by the spoonful until it was suddenly dead to him. But he still eats the components with no problem. So, I made a skewer out of it and let him pull off pieces and helped him cut them up. And he ate it.

This deconstructed guac is also a way to showcase your seasonal produce. I like hiding sub-par tomatoes and onions in my favorite green gloop, but this way, the still-warm-from-the-sun tomatoes can go right from the farmer's market to a skewer to your table. Feel free to double the sauce recipe if you want some leftovers: This bright, tangy sauce is a perfect topper for chicken, dip for veggies, or sauce for eggs.

The only (and I do mean ONLY) tricky thing about these skewers is timing the avocado right. But isn't that always the way? Too ripe, and the avocado can fall right off of the stick, but using not-ripe-enough avocados is very obvious here because there's no camouflage of mushing and lime juice.

Guacamole skewers

For the sauce
1 bunch cilantro, well-soaked
4 Tbsp avocado oil or other neutral oil
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 generous pinches of salt and more to taste
1 large clove garlic

Roughly remove the stems from the leaves of cilantro (but a few stems are fine). Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime juice, as needed.

For the skewers
Red, orange, and yellow cherry tomatoes
1 large avocado (halved, quartered, and then chopped into fours to get 16 pieces)
2 limes (halved and quartered)
1 red onion

Yield: 16 skewers

Falafel waffles

Falafel waffles, guys. They're really really good. Also, hearing a 2 year old say "Falafel waffle" is hysterical. M studies at the Leslie Knope Institute of Waffle Appreciation, so I try to waffle things whenever possible. These are particularly successful. I usually feel pretty 'meh' toward baked falafel because they tend to be, in my opinion, mealy, dry, and little hard to swallow. Appetizing, eh? No so with these guys! I adapted a terrific recipe from Epicurious but added more spices, tahini to help bind and moisten the batter, and chunks of haloumi cheese.

Let's talk about haloumi. I love this cheese so so much. BUT, I have to add the caveat that it's rubbery when cold. Like, feels terrible on your teeth and makes a horrible sound when chewed, rubbery. But, once heated, this cheese is divine. Melted, roasted, grilled, etc, it's great. Grilled is my favorite because it becomes more oozy and gooey, but doesn't seem to fully melt. Anyway, this cheese is salty and a little briny, but very mild and in the waffles creates pockets of salty goodness.

The batter here is not your typical waffle batter and when I first made these, I thought for sure that they'd be a flop. Once combined, these ingredients make sort of a grainy, sandy, thick-ish mixture that bakes into a totally normal waffle. A couple more notes: I only use dried chickpeas that I've soaked overnight in these. I think that the canned ones fall apart too easily. I also used garbanzo flour to make these gluten-free, but you can use any type of flour you have on hand. Be sure to spray your waffle maker with some olive oil spray between each batch as these guys can stick.

Falafel Waffles

Roughly adapted from Cookie + Kate

2 cups chick peas
1.5 Tbsp (just grab a handful) fresh cilantro
1.5 Tbsp (ditto above) fresh parsley
½ large onion
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp coriander
2 Tbsp tahini
6 Tbsp garbanzo flour
8 oz haloumi cheese (1 medium-sized block)

Place all of the ingredients up to the cheese into a food processor and pulse until well combined and looking like medium grains of sand. Chunk up the cheese with your hands and mix into the falafel batter. Form into palm-sized balls (about 1/3 cup each) and cook in a well-greased waffle maker according to the appliance’s directions.

Yield: 12 small waffles

Whole 30: Day 20! (Two sauces and a confession)

I think I'm doing Whole 30 wrong. I'm periodically gripped by the feeling that I've eaten a forbidden food. It's almost like I've forgotten that I'm doing Whole 30. One could read this in two ways: It's possible that this has become habitual already, which seems like an important part of the 30 days. On the other hand, I'm afraid that my amnesia is due to the fact that I've changed what I eat, but not how I eat.

For example, yesterday I ate an entire bag of dried mango. (Sorry, I know no one wants to hear about this.) From a harm reduction standpoint, a bag of dried mango isn't exactly a snickers. But, does my body know that? Probably not. I've also been terrible about checking in with myself before snacking. Am I craving sugar? Am I thirsty? Am I actually angry, lonely, or tired? What if I'm just swallowing my feelings along with approved foods rather than "comfort" foods? I had hoped at the start of this 30 days that eating different foods would break the emotional eating cycle, but alas. There are still 10 days left to work on it.

On to more positive topics: Sauces!

Whole 30 romesco and chimichurri sauces. #meandthemoose #whole30 #romesco #chimichurri

Chimichurri *

Chimichurri is the best easy , herby sauce for zinging up any fatty meat. #whole30 #meandthemoose

1 cup flat leaf parsley (loosely packed)
1 cup cilantro (loosely packed) 
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium shallot
2 cloves garlic, halved
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
4 Tbs olive
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean the fresh herbs and tear off leaves. Combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, red pepper flakes, shallot, garlic, and vinegar in a food processor or blender. Add oil in a slow stream (if possible- when I use my small food processor, the top doesn't open while the blades spin, so I just dump the oil in with the other ingredients and blend away). Season with salt and pepper.

*A note about this chimichurri: In my research, I found A LOT of strong opinions back and forth about the amount of oil and acid in various versions. The closest recipe to mine is this one from Gimme Some Oven. You'll note that I halved both the acid and the oil. This chimichurri is best with a fattier piece of meat because the herbs and garlic are really the stars. I didn't want an oily sauce with a fatty steak. Oil + oil = gross. But I also didn't want a lip puckering amount of acid. One could combine citrus and vinegar to make a more complex acidity.    


Romesco sauce perks up vegetables and blander fish and poultry. #whole30 #meandthemoose #romesco

This is basically Bon Appetit's recipe with a few small tweaks. I never have sherry vinegar, so I sub in red wine vinegar. I also halve the parsley because I don't love parsley. I also oven roast my own red peppers because it's easy. Instructions below!

1 red bell pepper, roasted
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbs fresh parsley
2-3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To roast the peppers: Set the oven to broil. Place the peppers in a casserole or baking dish. Put the rack in the middle of the oven (I actually used my toaster oven). While cooking, keep an eye on the peppers so they don't burn. Flip a few times to ensure even browning. I don't let my peppers get too charred:

Wimpy char, but delicious flavor. #meandthemoose #redpeppers #romesco #whole30

Wimpy char, but delicious flavor. #meandthemoose #redpeppers #romesco #whole30

Once you have a light char on all sides, wrap the peppers in foil (beware the heat while wrapping) and let them steam for at least one hour. But feel free to forget about them and go about your day. Unwrap the foil, peel off the pepper skin, and they're ready to use!

Add the peppers, garlic, toasted almonds, tomato paste, parsley, red wine vinegar, paprika, and cayenne in a blender or food processor. Add the oil (again, pour the oil in a thin stream while blending the other ingredients unless using a small food processor). Season with salt and pepper to taste.