Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Did you catch last week’s post about Ceia Kitchen + Bar? If you can’t make it to Newburyport, you can experience a taste of Ceia in your own home with this delicious recipe for Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree from Ceia’s Executive Chef, Jeremy Glover.

I’ve made these brussel sprouts twice since Jeremy shared the recipe with me. You are going to love them! Brussel sprouts are so decadent roasted this way. With the sweet and tangy puree on top, Bean couldn’t get enough of it! 

I’m not going to pretend Schmaltz was part of my culinary vocabulary. I had to look it up. Wikipedia says it’s “rendered chicken or duck fat used for cooking in European cuisine.” You can skim the fat off homemade bone broth, or cheat like I did and pick up a container of duck fat at a local market like Grand Trunk World Market or Whole Foods. For a vegan option, just roast the sprouts with olive oil and follow the rest of the recipe for the shallot puree. Chef Jeremy recommends this olive oil.

Set up your puree ingredients while the sprouts are roasting. Pre-measure your olive oil. Pour the shallot vinegar and honey into the blender or food processor. I used my 15 year old Cuisinart and it was totally fine. Once the shallots and garlic were roasted, the shallot puree came together quickly. I can see myself making it with other meals for sure.

I served these Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts on a weeknight with a roast chicken, butternut squash, and quinoa.  The flavors meshed really well with the sprouts. There was plenty of shallot puree to drizzle over our plates, which we did. Maybe even more than a drizzle! It tasted amazing over the quinoa. 

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree may sound complicated, but it’s not a hard recipe to follow. Add it to the menu for your next dinner party because it will definitely impress your guests! These fancy sprouts will be a gorgeous addition to any holiday table with their festive combination of red and green. Cómelo todo!

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree
Write a review
  1. 24 Brussel sprouts
  2. 3 tablespoons chicken or duck fat
  3. 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  4. 2 shallots, cut length wise
  5. 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  6. 2 tablespoons raw honey
  7. 4 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
  8. 12 pomegranate seeds
  9. Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut sprouts in half lengthwise, smash the cloves of garlic, cut shallots, and toss together with warm chicken or duck fat and salt.
  3. Roast on sheet pan until Brussel sprouts are dark and crisp. The garlic and shallots should be soft as well. This may take 20 – 25 minutes.
  4. Take sheet pan out of oven, peel shallots, place one and a half in blender with vinegar, honey, and garlic. Blend mixture until smooth. Drizzle oil slowly until fully emulsified.
  5. Arrange sprouts in a pile, petal out the half shallot that isn’t in the vinaigrette. Place vinaigrette in a few spots on the sprouts. Finish with the pomegranate seeds.
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
Under the Monkey Bars


Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes

Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Today I’m sharing the second post in a series of simple shortcuts to save time in the kitchen when you’re in a rush. Even when life is busy, we still need to make healthy food choices to keep our bodies and minds nourished.

White potatoes get a bad rap because they’re high in carbohydrates. But because potatoes are real food, they’re a much better choice than processed food any day. Potatoes are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamin B6 + C, and potassium. I love potatoes, and so did my Irish ancestors. There’s something to be said about eating the foods of your heritage. Bottom line, everything in moderation. White potatoes are a healthy choice a few times a week. 

These skillet potatoes work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even a quick snack. We typically use this simple shortcut side dish on a weekday morning. I bake 4 to 6 potatoes at a time, depending on the size of the potato. Choose organic russet, yukon gold, or red bliss. You’ll need about a half of potato per person for a serving.

Anytime you’re using the oven between 375-425 degrees, throw in some whole potatoes. These guys aren’t fussy about temperature. Check them at about 45 minutes to an hour. Potatoes are done when they give in to a little squeeze. Let the baked potatoes cool; then store them in a glass container the fridge for up to 4 days.

When you’re ready to use this simple shortcut, the skillet potatoes will cook really fast because you’re skipping the step of boiling the potatoes first. You only need to sauté the potatoes enough to brown them since they’re already cooked. In the meantime, scramble up some eggs. Maybe make some veggies in another pan — like onion, spinach, and tomatoes. A nourishing breakfast will be ready in 8 minutes or less, getting you out the door on time with a full, happy belly.

Stay tuned for more Simple Shortcuts. Cómelo todo!

Skillet Potatoes
Write a review
Total Time
8 min
Total Time
8 min
  1. 4-6 Baked potatoes
  2. Pad of butter, extra virgin olive oil, or vegan substitute
  3. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  4. Fresh parsley or rosemary, if desired
  1. Warm a skillet over medium heat with butter or extra virgin olive oil (skip the canola!).
  2. Add a shake of salt and pepper directly to the skillet instead of tossing the potatoes in a bowl. Add your favorite herbs or spices if you’re feeling fancy.
  3. Cut the already baked potatoes into cubes or wedges.
  4. Add the chopped potato to the skillet. Shake every few minutes.
  5. Devour your browned skillet potatoes and make them again soon!
  1. Choose organic potatoes and herbs when possible.
  2. Make sure your ketchup doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. Organic ketchup is the best choice.
Under the Monkey Bars

The Dr. Su Series: Opening Lyme’s Door

Opening Lyme's Door - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

By guest blogger Dr. Mark Su

Christine has courageously shared her journey and struggles with Lyme disease. In response, I was moved to share my reciprocal journey and struggles in becoming a physician who evaluates and treats Lyme disease, which I believe sheds some light on the challenges that patients face in being diagnosed or treated for Lyme.

I vaguely remember a couple of patients during my residency years at Tufts University in Boston where Lyme disease was a topic of consideration for their symptoms. It simply wasn’t something we either encountered or considered, for a variety of possible reasons. We were taught the textbook information on Lyme disease, but that was the extent of it.

When I started working in Boston’s North Shore in 2003, my awareness of this illness first took root. Sure, I saw folks with the classic presentation of fever, headache, neck stiffness, muscle aches, and a large red rash or sometimes a “bullseye” not uncommonly following a known tick bite. At the time, I treated them accordingly as I was taught with 2-3 weeks of doxycycline. But I also met patients who reported persistent symptoms that would come and go to various degrees over time, even great lengths of time. These patients commonly had a strong overlap in symptoms with others who carried a diagnosis of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Often times, we wondered together whether they were being recurrently infected by repeated tick bites? At other times, we would pursue testing for other diagnoses, almost universally to no avail.

Over time, I met more and more patients who would report receiving symptom benefit for their chronic symptoms whenever they were on antibiotics for other reasons; or that they historically had received antibiotics periodically for these “flares” from another physician (or even physician friends, off the record), though an explanation for why the medications seemed to work eluded the prescriber. Listening closely to their stories and recognizing them to be legitimate symptoms, I concluded that they deserved to be treated with antibiotics, even if I couldn’t fully make sense of it. It wasn’t what I was trained to do. It wasn’t the standard of care. But it was the humane thing to do. And to me, the right thing to do.

I continued to see patients who generally fit this type of profile over the years. Symptoms would somewhat vary, but the number of these similar experiences mounted, and they were generally similar stories. In some cases, I was able to create some model of rationale for myself and a given patient, but for the large part, I still couldn’t fully explain this phenomena. I wanted to learn more about persistent Lyme disease and the reported varying presentations of even more acute Lyme disease, but I simply didn’t have the time. Nor did I feel I had the energy or mental space to tackle something that I suspected could cause a rather significant deviation in my professional practice patterns and routines. I was very open minded, but I was also scared of what might be behind that door. And the ramifications of what I’d discover – because I knew that if I uncovered something worth pursuing, for the sake of helping patients, I would feel obligated to do the right thing, the humane thing, and search for the truth, as challenging as it might be.

In the latter years at my previously employed position, we as a practice diagnosed and treated folks with Lyme disease more aggressively than most traditional practices. It wasn’t until I started my own practice here in Newburyport in mid 2014, with primary intentions unrelated to Lyme disease (little did I know), that, upon establishing the regular pattern of using the premier specialty lab for Lyme testing, my eyes were truly opened wide more than I could have expected.

I uncovered enough patients with previously undiagnosed Lyme disease that I owed it to myself to seek more education, so I finally went to a specialized conference with ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. It was there that I was confronted, in a massive way, with the evidence-based literature that not only substantiated bits and pieces of information I had gleaned from various colleagues over the years in one fell swoop of structured presentation. It was also there that a light went on inside of me – my passion was lit. I realized I had a whole new knowledge base and set of tools to help patients who commonly are left to fend for themselves. These patients typically lack diagnosis or treatment options, finding themselves referred to a multitude of other practitioners in hopes of a diagnosis, trying anything to feel better, and to validate their health experiences often with little to no benefit. Since then, after continually diagnosing and treating patients with this frustrating and sometimes debilitating condition, I have continued to ask myself, with what I believe to be a healthy self-analysis or perhaps even self-doubt, “Is this really real? Do this many people really have persistent Lyme disease?” Yes Mark, they do.

Patients often voice frustration to me about the confusion they experience as a result of the conflicting voices within the medical community about this condition. I really do feel for them. As much joy and fulfillment as I may have to validate a patient’s experiences, that they aren’t “crazy” or “just stressed” or “just getting old,” but that indeed they have Lyme disease and that indeed there is hope for treatment and a better quality of life. I do not take any pleasure in contradicting any previous conclusions they experienced from others in the medical community. Because I was there once before. And I know the struggles I faced to remove those blinders, even as an open-minded practicing physician who had my suspicions. When facing potential scrutiny and criticism from opposing voices, and even more so, a disruption in professional routines and comfort zones in the context of an already stressful and undesirable work-life balance, it’s simply easier to maintain the status quo and to just keep moving on. But wow, am I so overjoyed that I opened that door. It’s been more than worth it to help these patients, and there’s a whole new chapter to be written in this journey.

Mark Su, MD is a graduate of Cornell University and Indiana University School of Medicine. He was later the Academic Chief Resident at Tufts University in Boston and received the national Mead-Johnson Award for outstanding scholastic performance in a Family Medicine residency. He has practiced medicine in the north shore of Massachusetts since 2003, opening Personal Care Physicians in 2014. Mark is passionate about basketball, loves his wife, is religious about fitness, is a dutiful father, and is enamored with photography. With four children and his wife in healthcare research, he often feels like he’s barely able to hang on to his own Monkey Bars! Mark defines himself as a patient advocate, a truth seeker standing for justice, and God-honoring.

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad Recipe - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Sometimes happy accidents happen in my kitchen. A few weeks ago, I was staring into my refrigerator willing the shiny appliance to make me some lunch. I ended up mixing together some left overs with a can of beans and Rustic Sweet Potato Salad was born.

This recipe is a perfect make ahead lunch to grab before work, or an easy Meatless Monday dinner. Serve it over a bed of arugula or just dig in with a spoon. Maybe add a fried egg and try it for breakfast. You can eat this Rustic Sweet Potato Salad anytime!

Next time you have the oven on, throw in a few sweet potatoes (roughly 400 degrees for about 45 minutes). Sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes and are full of vitamins (A, C, B6 and potassium). Add in some black beans for fiber and protein; then onion and pepper for crunch. The recipe is naturally gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and delicious! 

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad comes together quickly. Mix it in one bowl for easy clean up. I always start with the dressing and just whisk it at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t worry about cutting everything perfectly; that’s what makes it rustic! Be generous with the sea salt. Maybe even add a few cracks of Himalayan pink salt when serving.

Cómelo todo!

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad
Serves 2
Write a review
Maple Vanilla Vinaigrette
  1. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  2. 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  3. 1 cup of cooked, cubed sweet potato (skin on!)
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  1. 1. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  2. 2. Add black beans, pepper, sweet potato, and red onion.
  3. 3. Gently stir to combine.
  4. 4. Serve chilled, warm, or at room temperature.
  1. - Use organic ingredients when possible.
  2. - Double the dressing ingredients for another day's garden salad.
  3. - Always check your labels: sometimes canned beans are full sodium. I love Eden Organic because there's no added salt.
Under the Monkey Bars

Kelly’s Breast Cancer Story

Meet my cousin Kelly Carroll, today’s guest blogger who shares her incredible story of how she survived breast cancer. Kelly is a stay at home wife and mom with a blended family that keeps her on her toes. Active in the local Charlotte, NC community, Kelly runs an outreach program for foster children called Mosaic-Style with Love. She has learned that each day is a blessing to cherish, and laughter is the best recipe for healing!  

Kelly's Breast Cancer Story - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

In September of 2009 at 38 years of age, I found a lump in my left breast. Several days later I was sent to the hospital for a mammogram. Within minutes, a radiologist said with tears in her eyes, “You have cancer and it’s bad!” She went on to tell me that I had 5 large tumors that had spread out of the breast to my lymph nodes. Her words were “you need to move quickly with treatment as this is life threatening.”  

The whirlwind began as the diagnosis was confirmed to be stage 3 breast cancer. I received my first chemo treatment within a few weeks of my diagnosis. I became violently ill within hours of receiving the 4 hour long drip of rat poison, which is basically what chemo is. It kills both bad and good cells throughout your body. A mediport was placed in my upper right chest beneath my skin for the medicine to go immediately into my main artery. The vomiting was so violent it caused my mediport to literally flip upside down under my skin. That night I thought I was going to die and I asked God: “If you know I am not going to beat cancer, please take me now as the suffering and pain is beyond comprehension.” That was only the beginning!

By the time I reached my 5th out of 10th chemo treatment (I had been hospitalized after each treatment), my skin was a grayish color and paper thin. It would rip if I just gently bumped it on something. My fingernails were gray/black and green with a few nails ready to fall off. My whites of my eyes were yellow. My throat was raw and it felt like razors all the way down when I just swallowed water. I was weak and my bones ached like the worst flu times 10 and finished off by what I would imagine felt like a semi truck running over your body. My brain cells would not fire and I could not retain names and simple words to complete a sentence. Every single piece of hair on my body was gone as the chemo kills ALL cells. There were days that I laid without the ability to move, no matter how bad I wanted to. I am a determined person and always on the go with a high pain tolerance.  

At my 5th chemo treatment, my oncologist told me they may lose me when the chemo drip went into my veins, as my body was not reacting well to the drugs. She told my family that my eyes may roll back in my head and I may stop breathing. A crash cart was pulled up next to my hospital bed and they were there waiting and ready to revive me if this happened. I am so thankful they did not have to use the crash cart that day, but the days that followed were the worst of them all. This chemo treatment was several days before Christmas and I was determined to be home with my children and my husband, not in the hospital. 

I fought my body for as long as I could until it started to shut down on Christmas Eve, when I was admitted to the hospital for 7 days. During that time, others have told me they didn’t know if I would leave that hospital. They truly believed that was possibly the time they would say their goodbyes to me. I recall a female doctor sitting at my bedside one evening when we were alone and she asked, “Do you believe in God?” She too thought these were my final days here on earth. But God had another plan and I praise him each and everyday for his goodness and his healing!  

I was released from the hospital and told by my oncologist that she could not give me another ounce of chemo or she would kill me with it. She said I also needed radiation, but my body would not respond well and it could kill me. She went on to say “all we can do now is perform a mastectomy, remove your lymph nodes and hope for the best.” I endured that painful surgery, only to find out they messed up and left more cancer cells behind. Several days later, I received a call that I needed to go back into surgery ASAP. I was still full of cancer cells and they didn’t get it all. It was then I decided to try something different from anything I knew previously: combine conventional medicine with holistic medicine.  

I went to Sanoviv Medical Institute in Baja, Mexico for integrative treatments for whole body health. Sanoviv was founded by a world famous virologist, Dr. Myron Wentz. After 4 extensive days of medical testing at the institute, a group of doctors created a treatment plan for me in a non-toxic environment. This included detoxing my body of all the harmful toxins that had built up from the chemo, as well as all of the harmful foods that I was eating. They began to teach me about clean eating. Everyday began with a pH balance strip which the doctors used each day to regulate my food intake so that I would be alkaline. Sanoviv treats cancer patients with a concept that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment and find it difficult to survive in an alkaline environment. Cancer cells make your body even more acidic as they produce lactic acid.

Sanoviv started me on a USANA vitamin regimen. I would take about 20-25 all natural pills in the morning, in the afternoon, and again in the evening. My nutritionist provided green juices to include cancer fighting dark green leafy vegetables in my diet each and everyday. Wheatgrass shots were given to me several times a day. This is nature’s finest medicine. Two ounces of wheatgrass juice has the nutritional equivalent of five pounds of the best raw, organic vegetables. It is also a powerful detoxifier, especially of the liver and blood.  

Each day at Sanoviv, they taught me about food products my body was ingesting that are toxic. For example: beef produced in the U.S. is heavily contaminated with natural and synthetic sex hormones, which are associated with an increased risk of reproductive and childhood cancers. For other types of foods, they taught  me that if it contains more than 5 ingredients, don’t eat it! I also received high-dose vitamin C by intravenous IV infusion. Vitamin C has been shown to slow growth and spread of certain types of cancer. 

Every other day I went into a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber. This increases blood oxygen levels and is proven to work with a number of illnesses, and will overcome one of the main influences of cancer. Cancer exists in a low-oxygen environment and plentiful oxygen can kill it off. It has the potential to be a simple alternative cancer treatment. I also received another treatment where the doctors took about a billion of my T-cells (a type of white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors) and at the lab they inserted them with new genes that would program the cells to attack my cancer. The altered cells were given to me by stomach injections every other day.  

I witnessed miracles at Sanoviv during my 30 day stay at the hospital. I watched other patients with debilitating illnesses be cured before my eyes! I am a true believer of a holistic lifestyle. When I was 39 years old, near death, it revived me in 30 days and made me feel and look like I was 18 years old again! I still have an oncologist here in the U.S. who orders bone scans yearly to watch for my cancer to return, but I decline all of the pharmaceutical medications they say are required for my survival. I just celebrated 5 years in remission this past May of 2015.  

Each and everyday I thank God for my healing. It is my goal to live each day with true purpose!