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You know, the genesis for the entire #FoodForLife cookbook project started with breakfast.
Friend Ericka posted a picture to Facebook. Giant, swirling cinnamon bun on one plate, browned up bison burger on the second, a caption that read: "Their breakfast vs. my breakfast. I have had to cut out eggs (and nuts). They were causing a lot of inflammation in my gut and all over. Since cutting them out just this week I have noticed a huge difference in how I feel. I'm still trying to figure out breakfast since eggs were life 😫. For now it's, no dairy, no eggs, no legumes, no nightshades, no nuts, no sugar, no gluten, no grains..."
And you know me. I love me the pure food diet conjuring.
Took one read of that caption and sent Ericka an email, begging to get in on her bison-puck breakfast.
Except, actually. Not quite that.
I actually messaged her and made her promise to let me join her in her Elimination Eating (so I could actually start fitting back into my jeans after too many lazy days of beer and pasta eating), so long as I could create all new, gorgeous-pants recipes that she'd actually want to eat.
Aka: no more big, brown bison burgers for breakfast. That's just sad.
You know the rest of the story. One week later, we were in my kitchen, churning out an entire cookbook of real food, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, stupid-free recipes.
And this deliciously simple little skillet is one of them.
Zucchini. Chicken sausage. Basil and flake salt and nothing but pure, simple beauty for your bellygut.
Toss the waffles, sweet ones. This simple paleo-friendly, keto-lovin' skillet will fill your soul. And keep you from aching craving all morning long.
But, who cares about the benefits? Because, at the end of the day, this skillet is so good, you'll just want to eat it for the yum.
Sausage & Squash Skillet
Learn more about this recipe on Instagram @cheekykitchen
Makes 2 skillets | 15 minutes
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 summer squash, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 6 links nitrate-free grassfed chicken or turkey sausage
- Fresh chopped basil for garnish (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Toss in garlic, cooking until aromatics, about 30-60 seconds. Add squash, zucchini and sausage, cook until sizzling. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with basil, if desired.
Try These Twists:
- Add Bacon
- Try Ground Beef
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I don't really like tuna. Wellll, clarification: a big hunk of seared albacore, pink in the middle, served atop spicy greens? Sign me up. But a can of metallic chunky stuff, with that fishy aroma that sticks like a bad batch of Jean Nate perfume? Gah. No. Never.
This has been my general approach to grocery shopping. Chicken? Check. Beef? Check. Tuna? Pass. Though my tots will, from time to time, be willing to choke down a tuna sammy, they're uncommon in our casa. Because fingers and garbage cans and kitchen counters that smell like fish are just a mongo no-no in my book.
So, imagine my surprise to discover: that fishy, aluminum smell and savor isn't a sign of tuna. It's just the sign of meh tuna. Stuff canned for unpicky consumers. Stuff stuck into a tin and set on store shelves without a second thought.
But it's not the sign of a proper, premium tuna.
Did you know this? Not all tuna tastes fishy. In fact, truly good tuna tastes downright light and tender. Savory and rich. And as far as I can tell, there's one brand that really knocks a proper canned tuna out of the...well...tuna can. Takes it and makes it downright delicious. Elevates it to an experience so close to om, you have to close your eyes and yummm.
Enrobed in a golden wrapper, Genova Tuna is, hands down, the best tasting tuna I've ever ever.
It's not yo' mama's tuna.
It's not yo' soggy sandwiches tuna.
It's not yo' i-just-don't-like-tuna tuna.
It's the stuff of pure delicious. Light, flaky, wild-caught. Wonderful. One taste and you'll never want to eat another brand.
When a pack of Genova Albacore and Yellowfin Tuna arrived on my doorstep last month, I was dubious. We had our feelings about tuna, darnit! We had opinions about tuna, dagnabit!
But anyway. We opened. We whiffed. We whisked and stirred and pulled together a batch of mini tuna sliders. Only, we don't call 'em such things around these parts. After tasting Genova, we durned when and called 'em Zen Burgers because. Seriously. Om Em Gee. Bliss. Serendipity. Enlightenment of the mouth and bellygut.
Want to see my legit real, actual reaction to first-time tasting these burghas? Check out the video above. My eldest son was videomaking and you can actually hear him snort-chuckle in the background when I can't stop eating and declaring this one a win win win.
I mean, who knew? WHO KNEW canned tuna could taste this amazing?
Join me in bringing awareness to tasty tuna by snagging a can or four of your own. Check here to see if Genova is carried in a store near you, or ship an order straight to you via Amazon. Then, give this recipe a try and post a pic #tastegenova
One bite, and you'll be a believer.
4 sliders | 20 minutes
- 1 (5 oz) can Genova Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Press into four patties, fry in a nonstick skillet, cooking on medium-high on both sides, until patties are golden. Serve on slider buns with mayo, lettuce and sliced tomato.
This post was sponsored by Genova Seafood. I was paid for my creative work, recipe development, videography and photography. All opinions are mine.
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I love healthy food. But I don't always love eating healthy. Mostly, I crave chocolate and Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers. But that is a secret I don't divulge online.
So this morning, in a fit of breakfast rage, I realized I didn't want to eat an egg or banana or smoothie. I wanted to eat chocolate.
So I made breakfast chocolate. In the blender. It's high protein, just a smidge of sugar. And it's freaking delicious. But don't take my word for it. Make chocolate. Eat breakfast. You deserve.
5-Ingredient High Protein Breakfast Chocolate
Read more behind-the-scenes story of this recipe on Instagram @cheekykitchen
4 servings | 10 minutes
- 3/4 cup creamy maple almond butter (vanilla or chocolate works, as well)
- 1 scoop plant-based chocolate protein powder
- 2 Tbsp raw cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
- stevia (optional)
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. (If mixture isn't soft enough to form a thick, doughy ball, add melted coconut oil 1 tsp at a time until the right consistency). Form into a 1" high rectangle. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. Slice into 8 squares. Enjoy with coffee.
FLAVOR BOOSTERS: This simple recipes benefits from all sorts of easy add-ins. Try one of these:
- Mocha Chocolate. Add 1 Tbsp coffee grounds
- Vanilla. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
- Double Chocolate. Fold in 2 Tbsp mini Enjoy Life! chocolate chips
- Plant-based Protein. Add 1-2 Tbsp hemp hearts to the blender.
- Crunchy Coco. Add 2 Tbsp cacao nibs to the blender.
- Sea Salt & Chocolate. Add a generous pinch of Maldon salt flakes to the blender.
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In a recent YouTube video, I mentioned the metal sheet photo backdrops I've been using for months. Tired of lugging heavy wooden backdrops out every time I needed a scene change, I started hunting for a simpler solution, and discovered large galvanized steel sheets worked like a charm.
One large sheet, priced about $16/piece can be easily snipped into two with tin shears, roughed up with steel wool and painted with a combo of spray paint and metallic oxidizing paint to create stunning, totally original (totally gorgeous!) backdrops that rival those used by some of the hottest food photographers on Instagram.
Though there are dozens of different methods (I promise to share them all with you eventually!), I wanted to demonstrate one super-quick, simple-simple technique that will get you started with your own set of steel backdrops.
Tune in below as I show a throw-it-all-on, paint-it-all-fast, one-coat, kitchen-sink painting technique, which costs about $30 in materials and takes less than an hour from start to finish.
- 3'x4' Galvanized Steel Sheet, cut in half with tin shears (available in the plumbing/metalwork section of Home Depot or Lowes). You can also buy a 2'x3' sheet online here OR use an Aluminum Sheet.
- Extra Coarse Steel Wool
- Inexpensive Paint Brushes
- Bleach spray or water (I didn't really mention in the video why I use bleach spray. When looking for ways to create chemical reactions with the steel and metallic paint, I started playing with a bleach-water solution. Now I grab whatever I have in the house. NOTE: always work outdoors, in a well ventilated space. And I do 100% recommend wearing a mask and gloves)
- Brown Spray paint (I used Espresso)
- Blue Spray paint (I used Gloss Navy, Ocean Breeze and Turquoise)
- Modern Masters Oxidizing Metallic Paint (I used Bronze, but also recommend Copper)
- Modern Masters Aging Patina Solution (I used Blue, but also recommend green)
- Crystal clear spray-on varnish in matte
Whether you're making one sheet at a time, or knocking out a whole batch, here's the basic technique for this look.
- Cut a galvanized steel sheet to the desired size. (I prefer 2-3' x 4' sheets)
- Line the edges of the sheet with duct or electrical tape.
- Cover your work area with a plastic dropcloth or sheet.
- Spray a thick, heavy coat of dark brown (Espresso) paint on top of the steel sheet.
- Working quickly (you don't want the paint to dry!), spray your sheet lightly with a water (or water-bleach, or water-salt) solution and spray several uneven coats of blue on top, adding water between coats. (NOTE: Don't want blue? No problem! Try black, different colors of brown, bronze, etc. Let your imagination go wild!)
- Again, working quickly, pour about 1/2-1 cup of Modern Masters Bronze on top of the sheet, drizzle about 1/4-1/3 cup of Modern Masters Blue Patina solution into the bronze, then use a paint brush to quickly spread the paint in straight lines across your sheet.
- Spray lightly with water solution.
- Allow to dry in the sunshine.
- Once dry, steel wool to give it a rustic aged look, or coat again with paint until you love the way your background looks.
- Spray with a heavy layer of matte varnish. (FYI I do not recommend eating foods that have directly touched these backdrops.)
The Final Look
After a few minutes of painting and an hour of drying, I was ready to add this backdrop to my collection. Here's what this pretty kitty looks like in food shots.
Tried This Technique?
I would LOVE to see it! Upload a photo to Instagram with the hashtag #cheekykitchen. I'd love to show my Instafans your work! Are you following me over there? I give daily photo tips that you need in your life.
Got a Food Photography Question?
Shoot me an email! I'd love to address your burning questions in my next YouTube video!
99% of my food photography is edited in Lightroom. The tool is incredibly simple to use, and incredible powerful. Learning to use it was a breeze. And though you hardly need a tutorial to pop in and start playing with the settings, over the years I've honed my control over the final look of my photos.
After using Lightroom over and over again, I started noticing a pattern. Though every photo certainly begs for a personal touch, there were edits I was always making. The same settings being tweaked in the same ways. Before long, I found that this same pattern was consistently creating perfect photos everytime.
So I turned it into a tutorial. And then, I turned it into a Preset. (Which you can download for FREEEEE at the bottom of this post.)
Get My Favorite Filter Now. It's FREEEEEE!
Since I use these settings over and over again, I've turned them into a Lightroom preset. Just one click, and I can apply them to any photo instantly. It's so easy!
Let's make your life easy, too. If you want my fave filter preset, just click the button below. I'll send you the file and even give you supereasy step-by-step instructions for installing the preset. Because, some of us are tech terrified, but this process is sooo simple, you don't have to be. Promise.
Did You Try This Trick?
If so, I'd love to see your photos! Tweet me a snap of your shot @cheekykitchen. Totally can't wait to see how this worked for you.
Here's a secret: I don't always take perfect photos. The exposure is oftentimes off. The lighting uneven. Sometimes the color comes out looking weird, yellowy and downright wonky.
Though a vital part of capturing gorgeous food photos comes in the actual capturing of the photo, post-processing or editing is just as important and snapping the right shot.
Editing is a whole artform unto itself. I know some photographers who love that part, others who dread it. For me, I don't mind it much at all, because I've learned two quick little tricks in Photoshop that take the time-consuming trudge out of the editing process. In fact, these two little setting changes are the ONLY edits I make to most of my photos when using Photoshop. My primary editing software is Lightroom, so I'm not in Photoshop much anymore. But when I am? Well, here's how I go from wham to bam.
Couldn't quite tell the difference between the edited and unedited photo in the video above? Here's a side-by-shot shot comparison.
Gorgeous, isn't it? Boosting the whites and adding a little soft light makes photos simply POP.
In the video above, I mentioned that these edits are ideal for photos shot on white. Let me add to that a little.
By boosting your whites and adding color pow with the "soft light" filter, these two setting edits are ideal for ANY photo.
Tried This Technique?
If you gave this trick a whirl, I'd LOVE to see the results. Upload a before & after shot to Instagram or Facebook, and tag me in it. (You can find where I am on each of the social channels here). Or tweet a shot to me @cheekykitchen. I can't wait to see how this easy tip worked for you!
I recently sat down with Marly McMillen for her brilliant podcast, Chopped. Bringing together some of the brightest voices in Food Blogging, her show offers an inside glance at top-notch talent. It was a pleasure to talk shop with her.
If you've ever wanted to build your own online brand, become a blogger or watch the best HBO series in the world, you simply must listen to this episode of Chopped.
Here are some of the highlights, we discuss:
- How I started my blog
- How my goal when I first started was to make $500/month
- My philosophy on food photography
- Why I decided to focus on growing her email list
- My strategy for tripling my email list in less than a year
- All about my site redesign
- Have you ever heard of pivoting? I discuss this and tell you why you don’t have to be stuck with the same mission for your blog
- My favorite social media platform. It’s a new one.
DiscovChopped Podcast now.er all of this and more via
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If you were to have a professional prop closet, your entire house would be overtaken with food photography supplies. There's just no way the average food blogger can be expected to have a massive rotation of props fit for each season.
Thankfully, you don't have to store dozens of different holiday plate sets. No need to stock up on Christmas candy for year-round shooting. With two totally simple ingredients, you can turn any photo into a festive holiday shot. Here how.
See This Idea in Action
Here are a few shots captured with this simple technique. Marvel over their merriness! Festoon over their festiveness! Then go toss all those piled of special holiday props. And keep it simple with this easy 2-ingredient trick.
Tried This Trick?
Tweet me a shot of your Christmassey creation @cheekykitchen. I can't wait to see how this quick idea works for you!