Whole30 Salmon Cakes

There are a handful of recipes that I leaned on during my Whole30 that have made it into regular rotation in “normal life” — which is now separated into things that are Whole30 and things that are WholeDirty. I try to keep things on the Whole30 side for the most part, but I’ve reincorporated things like corn, beans, rice, and wine, and make exceptions for dishes or occasions that are especially worth it. Warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven at a very special restaurant? WORTH IT. That marginal brown dessert they give you on an airplane? NOT WORTH IT. Turkish bread with hummus when you’re actually in Turkey? WORTH IT. Stale bread they put out on every table with “butter” in a little plastic package? NOT WORTH IT. You get the picture.

So when I’m not delving into worth-it WholeDirty treats, one of those go-to clean recipes that I’ve hung onto that also surprised me by being so delicious, versatile, and crowd-pleasing is these salmon cakes. The first time I made them I made the MASSIVE mistake of buying the wrong cans of salmon, aka the ones with all the bones in them. Do not do this. It was disturbing, not to mention time-consuming. I also had to bake sweet potatoes to add in, since I didn’t have any hope of finding canned sweet potato puree in this country (which is a plus for flavor, just another extra time suck). I was not at all sure how they were going to come out, and I wasn’t a huge fan of tartar sauce so I didn’t think the sauce would be that great either. But then, my husband took a few bites and gave me a big “Mmm…you made these?!” They were a hit! Picking the bones out was worth it, but I still recommend the boneless stuff all. the. way.

The mayonnaise-based tartar sauce with chopped dill pickles, lemon juice, and dill was also surprisingly good and really paired perfectly. Since that first time I’ve made them for my in-laws, my parents, and my best friend and her toddler. My mom said they were the best salmon cakes she’s ever had, and even a 2-year old enjoyed them. So, don’t take it from me folks, this recipe is a winner!

They’re delicious on their own with the tartar sauce, or served on top of a simple green salad, or for brunch Benedict-style topped with poached eggs. I like to make a big batch and freeze half because they do reheat well in a skillet. Feel free to double the recipe below if you’re aiming to freeze. Any other serving ideas out there? I want to eat these all of the ways.

These recipes are based on the Whole30 book, but I’ve added my own twists.

Whole30 Salmon Cakes & Tartar Sauce

For the Salmon Cakes

(Makes 12)
2 Tbs coconut oil
3 6oz cans of wild caught boneless & skinless salmon
1 large or 2 small eggs
1 cup sweet potato (either canned or baked and mashed)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs fresh dill, minced
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground pepper

For the Tartar Sauce
1 cup Whole30 compliant mayo (home made or your favorite store bought)
2 Tbs fresh dill, minced
2 Tbs compliant dill pickles, minced
1 tsp dill pickle juice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp black pepper

Make the Salmon Cakes
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and brush or rub the coconut oil onto the parchment paper.

Drain the liquid from the salmon cans and add fish to a large mixing bowl, flaking with a fork. Add the eggs, scrambling the yolks to distribute evenly. Then add the sweet potato, onion, bell pepper, garlic, dill, cilantro, salt, paprika and pepper and mix well.

Use a 1/3c measuring cup to scoop the salmon mixture onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Flatten each scoop into a round, flat patty, keeping them uniform in size and thickness.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven to flip each patty over. Return to the oven for 10-15 more minutes (15 if you want them crispier on the edges).

Make the Tartar Sauce
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined. Taste and add more lemon juice, pickles, or dill as desired.

Serve the salmon cakes drizzled with tartar sauce on their own, on top of a green salad, or topped with poached eggs for a fancy Benedict-style brunch dish.


© Cook it Pretty 2018


Whole30 Coconut Curry Sauce

I’m married to someone who realllyyyyyy likes sauces and condiments, which I knew would be a challenge when we started Whole30. Spoiler alert: most store-bought condiments, dressings, and sauces contain sugar, sweeteners, wheat, and other weird stuff you don’t want on your salad. I figured hey, I’ve always thought about making my own mayo and ketchup…now’s the time! I’m also not above going to dinner with compliant mustard in my purse (a thing that has actually happened this month).


Making mayo is a lot harder than anticipated (that’s probably for another post…), but I’ve found a few easy and tasty sauces that I keep falling back on to literally spice up our healthy AF meals. 25 days worth of them, OH BY THE WAY!

This Coconut Curry sauce, which is inspired by a recipe from the Whole30 book, is an easy add-on for fish, chicken, and veggie bowls. So you might as well go ahead and make a big ol’ batch of it to keep on hand for flavor emergencies. The sauce lover in the house heartily approves this message!

Whole30 Coconut Curry Sauce

3 Tbs Coconut Oil
1 White or Yellow Onion, diced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbs Curry Powder (yellow works, try what you got!)
1 1/2 Cups Canned Diced or Crushed Tomato
3/4 Cup Coconut Cream*
Juice of 1 Lime
S&P to taste

*You can buy cans of coconut cream, or refrigerate a can of coconut milk for a couple hours, which allows the cream to collect at the top to be easily scraped off.

Heat the coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and stir about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add the curry powder and quickly stir with onion and garlic, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Puree mixture with a hand blender (or transfer into a food processor or blender). Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut cream, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Serve over grilled or roasted salmon, chicken, or veggies and keep the remaining sauce refrigerated in a jar for the next meal in need of a flavor kick. Enjoy!

© Cook it Pretty 2018

Thanksgiving Essentials: Ginger Apple Cranberry Sauce


Spiced Cranberry Sauce | Cook it Pretty
I’m pretty big on cranberry sauce. I love it in all forms, including shiny and jiggly out of a can. Last year I made cooked cranberry sauce for the first time, a departure from my Mom’s usual fresh cranberry relish – a family favorite close to my heart. Maybe it was because I was more focused on other things, like hosting my first Thanksgiving in Dubai, but it was a surprise hit.

Dubai Spices | Cook it Pretty
The reward could have been enhanced by my efforts to grind my own cloves. Cloves are plentiful in this land of spices, but seem to be most common in their whole, hard-as-nails form. Chopping wasn’t happening. My knives were no match. I tried mortar and pestling, slow and tiring. I even took a hammer to these suckers. I now understand why whole cloves are most often used as sharp objects plunged into defenseless foods like oranges.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce | Cook it Pretty
Success could also have been made sweeter by the hunt for key holiday ingredients, like the cranberries. In a land where I often call foods by names not widely understood by others, seeking cranberries in multiple markets was…interesting. Cranberries? They’re red and smooth? Possibly frozen? Very tart? *Points to image on a bottle of cranberry cocktail and smiles hopefully*

Spiced Cranberry Sauce | Cook it Pretty
Whatever other factors involved, the stuff tasted good. It smelled amazing. It was spiced and sweet. It tasted like it should taste. It tasted like home. The double batch lasted through many rounds of delicious leftover turkey sandwiches. I made it ahead of time and it made my life easier. And for all these reasons, I’m making it again this year. In Dubai again, this time with the in-laws. Please wish me luck on my holiday food shopping adventures.

Ginger Apple Cranberry Sauce
Double Batch, Serves 16

24 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (680 grams, for those of us shopping in the metric system)
1-2 tart apples, chopped
1 1/2 c water
1 c honey
1/2 c brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
4 Tbs candied ginger, chopped
2 Tbs Cointreau or Grand Marnier
Zest from 2 oranges

In a large saucepan, bring cranberries, apples, honey, brown sugar, spices, and water to a simmer. Cover and simmer for around 10 minutes (until you notice it thickening) over medium-low heat. Add zest, candied ginger, and orange liqueur, continue simmering uncovered for a few more minutes. You’ll know when it starts to look like sauce. Remove from heat and taste, adding more sugar or spices if needed. Let cool in your serving dish of choice. Keep covered in the fridge until Turkey Day – you can make this a couple days ahead and save yourself the stove top room day-of. Bring to room temp before serving time.

© Cook it Pretty 2015

Salmon With Love & Lemon Dill Sauce.

I’m not that big on Valentine’s Day. Especially going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day with a bunch of other couples forcing some romance. Just because you pay more for your meal and something might be heart-shaped, it doesn’t really mean you love each other more. After dealing with so much long distance in our relationship, we have come to value just being together as being special enough. We’ve been known to eat frozen pizza and ice cream on the couch on Valentine’s Day. (Note: I still believe that flowers are nice. Aren’t they always?). If we have a nice meal, it’s probably one I’m cooking at home. In all likelihood it will be something like this Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce.

Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce | Cook it Pretty

We like salmon. He loves extra sauce everything. It feels a little special, like something we might overpay for in a restaurant. This is one of the first sauces I learned to make, and I was pretty proud of it. Smooth, creamy and lemony. The pictured version was my second attempt, which came out a bit different texture-wise, either an error on my part or Dubai cream just isn’t the same. I would definitely have had to pack up my knives on Top Chef, but the man didn’t seem to notice.

Pair it with something green like asparagus, green beans, or broccoli (pictured roasted with red pepper flakes and parmesan), add mashed potatoes and you have a complete fancy-enough-to-impress meal. Whoever you make it for will definitely feel the love.

Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
2 salmon fillets
1/2 c heavy cream
2 Tbs white wine (chardonnay is usually what I have on hand)
2 Tbs butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs flour
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice (1 for sauce, 1 for salmon)
1 tsp chopped fresh dill (extra for salmon and garnish if desired)
Salt & pepper to taste

To Cook the Salmon
Heat oven to 400°F. Drizzle a baking dish with olive oil and add salmon fillets. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of the lemon juice and salt & pepper. Add a pinch of dill if desired. Cook about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillets.

To Make the Sauce
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook garlic for about 1 minute, then add wine and cook another minute. Add flour and cream while whisking in the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and add lemon juice. Let simmer 2 minutes, then add dill, salt and pepper.

Top salmon with sauce and garnish with lemon zest and dill. Serve with sides of choice.