Maple Pecan Protein Pancakes

Most protein pancakes are little too dense and un-pancake-like for my taste. My secret? Add in a little baking powder to lighten up the mixture. Event better? Throw in a few pecans and some maple syrup to make them even more decadent. The hubs tried these and deemed them delicious BEFORE finding out that they were in fact protein pancakes and not a traditional recipe.

If your goal is a healthy breakfast, maybe don't drown them in maple syrup the way I have in the pictures above. Otherwise, have at it and enjoy!

Maple Pecan Protein Pancakes

1 banana

1 scoop protein powder

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 cup roasted, salted pecans, chopped

1 tablespoon maple syrup, more as desired

Mash the banana until a paste is formed. Add the protein powder and egg to the banana and mash and stir until really well combined. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Heat a nonstick pan over low heat, then spray with coconut oil cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan for each pancake. Cook low and slow until brown, flip and cook briefly on the other side until firm. Serve with additional maple syrup and pecans as desired.

Perfect Roast Chicken


Roast chicken is an ultimate comfort food, but also easy to prepare and affordable. It sometimes gets a bad rap for being bland or dried out. A perfectly roast chicken could never be described this way so if that's how you feel - you're doing it wrong.

I roast a chicken almost every Sunday night to use throughout week. Over time, I've come up with a rather fail proof method. My secret? Don't truss your chicken.

Ignore those fancy recipes and chefs who tell you to tie the chicken up for even cooking. It's just not true. It makes for a beautiful presentation, but when you tie the legs in close to the body, all you are doing is restricting airflow around the legs - the dark meat that takes longer to cook - which then increases the gap in cooking time between the light and dark meat. When you truss, you back yourself into a corner. You're always going to have either undercooked legs or overcooked breasts.

Let yourself be lazy for once, place the chicken on the roasting tray and let it be. 


The other tip I can offer which is more common in practice, is to start at a high temperature to help crisp the skin. After 20 minutes, I drop the temperature 100 degrees to finish cooking. 

When I'm roasting chicken just to have protein on hand for recipes throughout the week, I let the chicken rest until it's cool enough to handle and then I remove the skin. I place the pieces of skin back on the roasting tray, sprinkle them liberally with salt and return to the oven for 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown. 

Present most men with a plate of salty, crunchy chicken skin and they'll love you forever.

Not into skin? Not to worry. This recipe is delicious even without that last, optional step. 

Perfect Roast Chicken

1 4-pound chicken

1 tbsp ghee from pasture-raised cows

Kosher salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Let it come to room temperature.  

Place the chicken on a parchment-lined roasting tray breast-side up. Spread the ghee all over the skin. Sprinkle liberally with salt (use more than you think you should). 

Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. after 20 minutes, rotate the chicken and drop the temperature to 350. Continue roasting for 25 additional minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving. If you're breaking down the chicken and saving the meat for later in the week, let it rest until cool enough to handle.

Optional: Once the chicken has cooled slightly, remove the skin. Place the pieces of skin back on the roasting tray, sprinkle liberally with salt and return to the oven for an additional 15 - 20 minutes.

5 Secrets for Perfectly Seared Salmon

Learning how to properly cook protein is one of the most crucial and beneficial steps to becoming a better cook. Once you master the fundamentals, there are countless ways you can experiment with ingredients and flavor to update a recipe. 

I usually opt for a quick stovetop searing, followed by a few minutes in the oven to cook individual servings of protein. It's the way I was taught in culinary school and the default method we used in the restaurant. However, I like to keep salmon on the rare side so starting and finishing on the stovetop makes sense.

My barometers for a perfectly cooked piece of salmon are a golden, crispy crust, sufficient salt, a rare center and no white albumin on the surface of the salmon. 

Here are my five secrets to achieving that perfectly seared, rare piece of salmon:

1. Use a large pan - when cooking multiple pieces of fish, make sure you're using a large enough pan. If you crowd the fish, they will steam instead of sear and you will never achieve a crust. Also, use stainless steel, not nonstick. 

2. Cooking fat - be sure you're using a fat appropriate for high temperature cooking. For health reasons vegetable oils should be avoided and anything with a low smoke point is out too. I'm currently cooking with ghee from pasture-raised cows. Its high smoke point and nutrition profile make it an ideal option. Please note that regular butter is not an acceptable substitute. The milk solids in butter will burn if the pan gets too hot. 

3. Pan temperature - you want the pan hot enough to create a nonstick surface, but not too hot that the fish cooks too quickly. Have you ever noticed a white chalky substance on your salmon? That's called albumin - it's a protein and when it's overheated and loses its moisture, it gets pushed to the surface. It's harmless, but not the most appetizing and it can be avoided. On my stove, that perfect temperature is right around a medium flame. On yours it may be higher. If the pan starts smoking when you add the cooking fat, it's a sure sign the pan is too hot.

4. Leave the fish alone - remember when I mentioned getting the pan hot enough to create a nonstick surface? If your pan is heated to an appropriate temperature (medium to medium-high) and you have enough fat in the pan, the protein will stick to the pan at first and then release once your beautiful, golden crust has formed. Be patient and resist the temptation to jam your spatula under the fish to force it to release. It's worth the wait.

5. Undercook rather than overcook - the worst atrocities I have witnessed in the kitchen have always included a dried out, overcooked piece of protein. In the restaurant we used to call well-done meat, "why bother?" By cooking the crap out of a tender piece of meat or fish you lose every wonderful nuance. Texture and flavor? Ruined. Unless you're cooking for the elderly, children or someone with a compromised immune system (the times when food safety is a major concern) err on the side of underdone rather than overdone. Remember, there's always a little bit of carryover cooking as food continues to cook even after it's removed from heat. 

Now, take these tips, try the recipe below and let me know how your salmon turns out. 

Perfect Seared Salmon

Serves 6

1 1/2 to 2 pounds center cut salmon filet

1 tbsp pasture-raised ghee, more as needed

Kosher salt

Let the salmon sit on the counter for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Slice the salmon into six even portions, taking care to make the thinner pieces larger so each portion size is about the same amount of salmon.

Heat a large pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add the ghee to the pan, salt the salmon liberally with Kosher salt and place presentation-side (not skin-side) down in the pan. Do not crowd the salmon. If your pan is not large enough, cook the salmon in two batches adding more ghee to the pan as needed.

Don't disturb the salmon until a crust has formed. You will know this has happened when the meat releases from the pan and can be flipped without having to force your spatula between the fish and the pan. Flip the salmon and continue cooking skin-side down until salmon is done, about 4 to 6 minutes more, though it could be longer depending on the thickness to f the salmon piece and pan temperature.

Remove from the pan and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Serve with Pumpkin Seed Pesto and Zucchini Pasta


Cheat's Duck Confit

I may be trained in classic French technique and let me be clear, I put a high value on my culinary education, but I love a good shortcut in the kitchen.

Between my day job, this job and the many commitments I have outside of work, it's hard to find time for some of my favorite cooking projects - cheese making, preparing stock from scratch or something like duck confit.

This past December we ordered two ducks for Christmas dinner. I roasted one whole and then decided to see how many different ways I could prepare the second. I first broke it down into legs and breasts. I then collected as much of the remaining skin as I could and rendered it. That left me with about 1 1/2 cups of glorious duck fat (aka cook's gold) and some delicious duck cracklings for the masses to munch on while I prepped the rest. I knew I was going to sear the duck breasts on the stovetop, but what was I to do with the duck legs? I had neither the time nor the quantity of duck fat necessary to complete the process for duck confit, but how could you do anything but when prepping duck for a special Christmas dinner?

Enter Cheat's Duck Confit.

It turns out it is possible to get similar results with neither the time nor the precious resource (duck fat) commitment, though it is helpful to have a bit of duck fat to get you starter. If you are a normal human being and don't spend your days rendering duck fat, you can pick up a container at most grocery stores. I got mine at Bristol Farms for $12.99 and when you're finished with this recipe, you'll actually have more duck fat than when you began - not less.

The process is relatively simple for this easy duck confit recipe. Like traditional duck confit, you start by salting the legs, but unlike the traditional technique, you'll have a finished dish in just a few hours (with almost no hands on work). That's what I call a shortcut.

Cheat's Duck Confit

Serves 2 (though easily doubled or tripled) 

2 duck legs

1/4 - 1/2 cup duck fat

Kosher salt

A few sprigs of thyme

Prick the skin of the duck legs all over with the tip of a knife. Sprinkle the legs liberally with salt - use more than you think you should. Let the legs sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. 

Select a baking dish just large enough to fit the duck legs when nestled closely together. Slick the bottom with duck fat to a depth of 1/8 to 1/4-inch, depending on how much fat you have to spare. Place the duck legs in the dish and tuck in a few thyme sprigs. Place the dish in a cold oven and turn it on to 300. Cook for two hours and voila easy duck confit.

If the skin has not browned and crisped up the way you would like, raise the oven temperature and check every five to 10 minutes until you're happy with results. 

Remove the duck legs from the dish and serve as desired, reserving the rendered duck fat for later use.


Spirulina Protein Bites

Spiru-what? You know! Spirulina – that free-floating filamentous cyanobacteria characterized by cylindrical, multicellular trichomes in an open left-hand helix!*


No doubt, an odd ingredient, but I have been adding it to everything lately. It is a complete protein and full of other good stuff like thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc.

But let’s get real. I add it to recipes because it turns my food green and that must be good for me.

These bites have over 8 grams of protein in each serving. They are great to have on hand for an afternoon snack or even pre-workout for an added boost of energy.

If you want more protein per serving, try adding a scoop of your favorite protein powder. You may need to increase the amount of oil to get the mixture to come together. Add it slowly (no more than one teaspoon at a time) until the mixture resembles sand and holds together when pressed. If you don’t have MCT oil, use coconut oil as a substitute.


Spirulina Protein Bites

Makes 5 servings (two bites in each serving)

3/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup hemp seeds

5 dates, pitted

2 tbs coconut butter

2 tbs maple syrup

1 tbs spirulina

2 tsp MCT oil

Pinch of kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until fully combined. Roll the mixture into 10 balls and refrigerate until set.

Store in the refrigerator and try not to eat all of them in one sitting.