Tropical Salad with Spicy Mango Macadamia Dressing

Macadamia nut oil is one nutritious oil you should be using! Highlight it's flavor in this tropical salad with mango macadamia dressing.

This month, Recipe Redux falls on Wellness Wednesday, so instead of my usual lengthy ramble on wellness and self care, you're getting a lengthy ramble about food plus a tangent on Jurassic Park and a tasty new recipe. Yay?

April's Recipe Redux theme is all about hidden treasures - those ingredients hiding in the back of your pantry that haven't gotten the love they deserve. So, while I was Spring cleaning my closet (Kidding! My closet is a hot mess.), I did some Spring cleaning in my pantry (Truth. Probably the only clean thing in our house right now).

One ingredient I discovered was an unopened bottle of macadamia nut oil. I received it from my mom, who whenever I see her, always brings a bag of "goodies" for me - a random assortment of things she picks up on sale. On this particular trip, I got an extra-exciting stash - a waffle iron, cast iron skillet, a lifetime supply of gluten free flours, and an assortment of gourmet oils, including this macadamia nut oil.

I made a pretty nice dent into the hazelnut and the avocado oil is long gone. But the macadamia nut remained unopened, sad and alone in the back of my oil and vinegar cabinet, probably because it doesn't exactly lend itself to hearty winter cooking.

Now that the temps are rising, it's the perfect time to whip up a bright and fresh tropical salad, infused with the flavors of macadamias. Also, planning a special trip this winter has us craving macadamia nuts ;) That's right! We're headed to Hawaii! My sister-in-law is getting married in Maui, so we're flying out for a week and a half, exploring Honolulu and Kauai while we're there. Would love any recommendations you have. I went once in 9th grade with family, but there are a lot of beautiful places I remember, but can't quite figure out what island it was on.

The one thing we do have planned? A Jurassic Park helicopter tour on Kauai. I have an abnormal obsession with Jurassic Park and when I say obsessed, I'm not exaggerating. If any of the movies come on TV, I will drop everything to watch it. Whenever a new Jurassic World trailer comes out, I watch it three times in a row then probably once a week after that. Confession: I just watched it again while inserting that link. I'm even trying to choose an ironic T-Rex shirt to wear on opening night. Someone please help me decide...I want them all!

So yeah, besides the wedding, that will be the highlight of my trip. I was really disappointed when my mom wouldn't let us take one the last time we were there...but she buys me macadamia nut oil, so I suppose that compensates?

Anyway, off my lengthy tangent and on to macadamia nut oil. You could certainly swap extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe, but if you see some macadamia oil, I suggest picking up a bottle. It has a light buttery taste, with enough macadamia flavor to shine through other ingredients, but not overpowering. Macadamia nut oil has one of the healthiest fatty acid profiles. Most of the fats are monounsaturated, the hearth healthy fat found in extra-virgin olive oil. In fact, it contains even more than olive oil. The rest of the fatty acids are mostly saturated, but the specific saturated fatty acids that aren't harmful to heart health, and may even be beneficial. It also has a high smoke point, so it doesn't oxidize in high heat cooking, making it perfect for searing the cubes of tofu in the recipe. Bonus points - I've also read it's great for skin and hair care.

Tropical Salad with Spicy Mango Macadamia Dressing

If you don't have macadamia nut oil, swap extra-virgin olive oil for the dressing and coconut oil for the tofu.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of extra-firm tofu, pressed to remove extra liquid

  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil

  • 1 head leaf lettuce, chopped and washed

  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced

  • 1 small jicama, peeled and diced

  • 1 avocado, diced

  • 1/4 cup toasted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

  • Fresh mint, cilantro and/or basil, for garnish

Dressing:

  • 1 mango, peeled and cubed

  • 2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 2 pinches cayenne

Instructions

  1. First, make the dressing. Blend all dressing ingredients together in a food processor until creamy and pureed. Season with salt to taste.

  2. Heat macadamia nut oil in a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and season with lemon pepper seasoning. Add to skillet and fry, tossing every so often, until golden on all sides. Remove from skillet and set aside to cool.

  3. Toss lettuce, jicama, red pepper and avocado together in a large bowl. Add tofu and macadamia nuts. Toss together with mango dressing and serve garnished with fresh herbs.

Homemade Nut Butter, Three Ways

Homemade nut butter allows you to experiment with different flavor combinations. Try my recipes for vanilla almond sun butter, spicy cinnamon peanut butter and coconut macadamia butter. 

With homemade nut butter, the flavor combinations are endless. Pistachio butter? Why not. Superfood butter? You can do that too. Have an itching desire to make bacon peanut butter? Well, it's a thing. A weird thing, yes, but you can do it.

Other than a food processor, homemade nut butter doesn't take any special equipment. I'm sure a Vitamix would be nice (hint hint), but it's not necessary. Plus, it takes less than five minutes to make with ingredients you more than likely have on hand.

Best of all, you won't feel guilty after eating it by the spoonful because it cost $10 a jar.

Still feeling guilty for the calories? Don't. Despite the calories and fat, study after study has linked nuts to weight loss rather than weight gain. The combo of fat, fiber and protein keeps you satisfied, helping to prevent overeating. Other health benefits of nuts:

UNSATURATED FATS // The unsaturated fats found in nuts helps lower cholesterol, reducing your risk for heart disease.

PROTEIN // Nuts are a plant based source of protein. Swap an ounce of nuts for meat or cheese on a salad or one of these nut butters for deli meat on a sandwich.

VITAMIN E // Mostly known for it's cardiovascular benefits, vitamin E's antioxidant effect plays an important role in brain health

STRESS RELIEF // Crunchy foods have been shown to help relieve stress. Although these nut butters lack crunch, a handful of nuts would be preferable to a bag of chips as a way to deal with anxiety :)

PLANT STEROLS // Plant sterols are often added to foods like orange juice and margarine to help lower cholesterol. However nuts, especially peanuts, are a natural source.

Because I've got a serious case of indecision, I'm sharing not one, but three recipes for homemade nut butter. You are welcome! I love to have nut butter and fruit as a snack, but these also make a mean sandwich on sprouted grain bread with slices of apple or pear. Or, your know, grab a spoon and enjoy!

Vanilla Almond Sun Butter

Makes 1 1/2 cups

You could also roast the nuts first in a 300 degree oven for 12-14 minutes as the original recipe calls for. I skipped this step out of laziness but I'm sure it would enhance the flavor even more. Adapted from Edible Perspective.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, avocado oil or other neutral flavored oil

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. When smooth and spreadable, scrape into a plastic container or mason jar and refrigerate for 1-3 months.
Vanilla Almond Sun Butter
Vanilla Almond Sun Butter

Spicy Cinnamon Peanut Butter

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and spreadable.
  2. Scrape into a plastic container or mason jar and refrigerate 1-3 months.

Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter

Makes 1 1/2 cups

This one is quite thin and drippy - in a good way!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. Store in a plastic container or mason jar in the refrigerator 1-3 months.

Sexy Strawberry Cream Vegan Milkshakes

Wanna guess my favorite kind of smoothie? One that's really actually a milkshake.

What, did you think I was going to say a kale smoothie?? Pffffttt!

But before we get to this amazingly creamy, dreamy milkshake/smoothie hybrid, I should probably explain why I'm sharing this luxurious treat when everyone in the world is searching for salads and green smoothies. Today, the Miyagi of the dietitian blogger world, Regan Jones (of Healthy Aperture, Blog Brulee, RDs for Disclosure and Recipe Redux fame) turns forty. She has done so much for her fellow dietitian bloggers, and in the process, gaining the respect and admiration of her colleagues. And for that, a whopping forty of us got together to throw her a virtual birthday party by sharing healthy cocktails or gluten free desserts in her honor!

Cue the confetti and champagne toast!

I've said it before, but one of the best things about becoming a blogger was  joining this incredible community. It would be easy for us to view each other as competition, bash and belittle each other, but instead we support, uplift and help each other grow and succeed. Regan is a huge reason for this, really setting the standard for how to treat others within our community. She works with brand contacts to create sponsorship opportunities for us smaller bloggers. She's developed an entire recipe sharing network through Healthy Aperture to highlight the healthy food blogger. She spent an entire year organizing Blog Brulee, an inspiring blogging conference that we all agreed, did so much more than teach us about photography and search engine optimization (although it did that too!). Regan is funny, bossy (in a good way!), motivated, enthusiastic, creative and talented...it's no wonder we all love her so!

Plus, she even shared one of my all-time favorite blogging tips - how to make food look sexy, hence the title.

Regan, wishing you the happiest of birthdays! Thank you so much for all your support and for welcoming me into this community with open arms! The inspiration I gained at Blog Brulee helped make 2014 the best year yet, and I wish the same for you in your fortieth!

Now, on to this milkshake. Err, smoothie. Because ingredient-wise, it has absolutely nothing in common with a milkshake. However if you factor taste and creaminess, it's got everything in common with a milkshake.

Frozen bananas are the secret to getting that milkshake consistency. The creamy, sugar dense fruit not only sweetens the smoothie, but makes it thick and creamy. I added macadamia nuts for even more creamy, fatty mouthfeel. Plus, I love the rich flavor it gives along with the coconut milk.

I used unsweetened coconut milk, the thinner kind they sell by the soy and almond milks. You could use canned coconut milk, which would make it pretty thick, but hey, when has anyone complained about their milkshake being too thick?? Considering the amount of coconut used in the recipe, canned coconut milk would make it a bit of a calorie bomb. A delicious whole food calorie-bomb...but a calorie bomb nonetheless.

To save time, you could skip making the strawberry sauce and blend frozen strawberries into it. But, we know how Regan likes her food sexy, and what's hotter than swirls of bright red, vanilla-scented strawberry bits running through a creamy, white base? Not much. Not much at all.

Sexy Strawberry Cream Vegan Milkshakes

2 servings

Ingredients

Strawberry Sauce:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon honey

    Shake:

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk

  • 2 medium frozen bananas

  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts

Instructions

  1. Place strawberries, vanilla and honey in a small pot on medium heat. Bring to a simmer. mashing with a potato masher or the back of a spoon as the juices release. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove and set aside to cool.

  2. Add coconut milk, bananas and macadamia nuts to a blender. Blend until smooth.

  3. Divide strawberry sauce between two glasses, Top with milkshake. Swirl together a bit with a spoon and enjoy!