Triple Threat Chicken Recipes – 1 Bird, 3 Meals

One bird can feed 2 people for three days with a little creativity. Try these chicken recipes – they’re all easy, healthy, yummy, and frugal – it’s the total chicken package!

 Day 1: Roasted chicken

You can do this yourself (it’s not hard) or pick up a pre-cooked beauty at the grocery store on your way home. Did you know Whole Foods sells pre-cooked organic ones? That’s terrific if you’re exhausted and working late, but if you have time, try this:

A little rosemary on top makes for a beautiful and tasty presentation.

A little rosemary on top makes for a beautiful and tasty presentation.

Super-Easy Roast Chicken Recipe:

Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry.
Rub the skin with butter or olive oil. Dust with salt & pepper. You can also try thyme, sage, and of course rosemary.
Roast for 20 min/lb. Some chicken recipes call for basting every 20 minutes after 40, but I don’t bother and it comes out fine.

Seriously – that’s it! If you can wiggle the drumstick easily, it’s cooked! You can also use a meat thermometer – the inside should be 165 degrees F.

For some variation, slide orange slices, lemon slices, or garlic cloves under the skin. You can also cut up apples and put them inside the bird.

Serve with some veggies (of course).

After dinner, remove all remaining meat from the bones. Stick it in the fridge for Day 2.
Throw the bones, vinegar, and some veggies into a crockpot to start a broth (instructions here) for Day 3.

Day 2: Chicken Salad

Chop the leftover meat into small pieces. Combine with:

chopped celery
chopped dried cranberries (or raisins)
chopped nuts (I love Trader Joe’s rosemary almonds but plain almonds, walnuts & pecans are lovely too)
just enough mayo to moisten (making your own is much healthier)
salt & pepper (omit salt if using seasoned nuts)

This batch contained lots of smoked almonds and *wow* it was delicious!

This batch contained lots of smoked almonds. Delicious!

Serve the chicken salad as a sandwich, or over a green salad. You can also use tortillas or butter lettuce as a wrap.

Has your broth been cooking for more than 24 hrs? If so, use a slotted spoon to remove the solids (bones and veggies – these are nutritionally tapped out at this point), and pour the remaining liquid into a medium soup pot, which goes in the fridge for Day 3.

 

This batch of homemade chicken noodle soup contained chunks of chicken meat, celery, some leftover bacon, and pepper. Re-using an almond butter jar makes getting to work spill-free!

This brew of homemade chicken noodle soup contained chunks of chicken meat, celery, some leftover bacon, and pepper. Re-using an almond butter jar makes getting to work spill-free!

Day 3: Chicken Soup

Remove the congealed fat (white disk on top) from the broth. Put the broth on the stove, and add veggies, pasta or quinoa, and spices. This can be super-hearty with kale and sweet potatoes, or light nourishment for someone fighting a cold. Have fun experimenting! If you don’t want chicken a third day in your week, the broth will freeze beautifully. Just chill it in the fridge and remove the fat layer from the chicken jello before transferring it to the freezer.

Got any favorite chicken recipes of your own? Please share!

Cheddar Almond Crackers / Grain free crust

This is a remarkably fast, easy and versatile recipe using cheddar cheese and almond flour. You can make grain free crust (for pizza or savory pies), crackers, & biscuits.

The first time, I used Bob’s Red Mill almond flour and a sharp yellow cheddar. I rolled the dough into a flat, compressed sheet, and got a Cheezit-style cracker.

The second time, I tried a coarser almond meal (from Know Thy Food’s bulk bin) and a mild cheese. I threw in some rosemary, and didn’t roll them as heavily, and they made sort of a cross between a cracker and rustic biscuit. I found an identical recipe online that called for dropping fluffy dough balls onto a cookie sheet to make biscuits reminiscent of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Death Traps… but of course a much healthier version. I need to try that!

 

grain free crust and crackers

Rustic rosemary crackers: These were so stupendously satisfying and filling we dubbed them “Lembas Bread.”

These are by no means low-calorie, but they are higher in protein than regular crackers and are fine for the occasional indulgence. I plan to use this recipe for a savory grain free crust when I make beef & spinach pies for LARP this weekend. Come back for an update on how that went next week!

Cheese Crackers with Almond Flour (Gluten Free)
Modified from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elena Amsterdam. This recipe is half the amount in the book, so double it and make the full recipe if you prefer.

1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese, lightly packed into measuring cup
1 1/2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and cheese. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg and oil. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well-combined.

For crackers: Cut two pieces of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet. Put one piece of parchment on cutting board and put dough on top. Put the second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll out with rolling pin (or wine bottle!) until dough covers the parchment sheet. Roll it out the same thickness or the thinner pieces will burn.
Remove top parchment and cut dough into pieces 2 inches square. A pizza cutter works beautifully for this if you have one.
Slide the parchment with the cut dough onto baking sheet and bake crackers 12-15
minutes, or until lightly browned.
Let crackers cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

For biscuits: Butter your cookie sheet, or use a sheet of parchment paper. Drop small clumps of dough, about the size of a golf ball. Do not press or form them – let them stay fluffy and uneven.

Come up with alternate ways to use / modify this recipe? Let me know!

UPDATE 4/22/13: The meat pies were a hit! The insides were Vidalia onion, grass-fed beef, kale, fresh herb mix from Freddies, egg (3 for 2 pies), garlic, tumeric, salt, and pepper. I meant to add cubed carrots or parsnips, but I forgot.

"Adventurer Pie" with a grain free crust

“Adventurer Pie” with a grain free crust!

UPDATE 7/26/13: I have been using same recipe for a grain free crust for pizza. A double batch of the crust is the right amount to cover a cookie sheet. I use a second layer of parchment paper and a can of beans as a rolling pin to get it the same thickness all over. Top it with pesto sauce (no nightshades for me), salami, and cheese. Or try chicken, spinach, and mushrooms! Yum!!

Low Carb Egg Casserole

Another good “on the run” food. Make this low carb egg casserole ahead for a convenient breakfast! I made it to take for a LARPing weekend.

 

low carb egg casserole

The original experiment, with sausage, as described below. Sorry, it smelled so good I forgot to take a picture until it was mostly gone…

If you are strictly Paleo, you can skip the quinoa. If not, cook up a cup (with two cups water) but stop before it’s all the way done – “al dente” is a good goal. Drain off any excess water. Brown 1 lb of sausage (I *love* the Country Sage bulk sausage at New Seasons) in a large skillet with high sides – it reduces the dishwashing later. When it’s done, take it off the heat and mix in the quinoa and a dozen eggs right in the skillet. I actually did this last night with 8 eggs, since that’s what I had, and they came out fine, but I tend to buy XL eggs. You can add in spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, onion… you get the idea. Depending on how heavily seasoned the sausage was, add in some spices. Salt, pepper, dill, etc. Of course you can experiment with ground beef, turkey, or chicken. If you are vegetarian, use mushrooms in this low carb egg casserole instead of meat.

You can use a casserole dish or muffin tins. These won’t rise much, so go ahead and fill the tins pretty full. If you used quinoa and/or lots of veggies, it won’t all fit in one muffin tray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min. If you are doing dairy, sprinkle some grated cheddar on top about 5 min before the end.

Low carb egg casserole with spinach and bacon

Here’s a version with quinoa, eggs, spinach, pepper bacon, and a little cheese on top. I made both the bacon and the quinoa first, then threw them in the dish with the raw eggs and spinach. Baked at 350 until done.

 

These give you protein and some fat (great in the morning!) and some slower-burning carbs. Good stuff for running around in the woods killing bad guys with foam swords! Or, you know, paperwork at the office.

Bone Broth Kale Soup (aka LARP soup)

Okay, so these are not, strictly speaking, recipes. They are more of a set of guidelines, really. Feel free to experiment: That’s how these were born. I needed some nutrient-dense food that I could take into the woods for a weekend of LARPing (Live Action Role Play – improv acting meets D&D, aka exercise in costume), so I developed stuff that could travel and store well. I will be using these for busy work weeks, too!

LARP Soup: First we start with…

Bone Broth: This is amazing stuff. Use it as a base for any kind of soup! Since I started making it, my nails have gotten crazy strong. It’s terrific to build immunity, too.

CIMG0427

Here’s the short version:
More detail: 

 

I like beef, and ideally I get grass-fed /organic bones, but I have to admit sometimes I just use the ones at Fred Meyer. Throw as many as will fit into a crockpot, with a little splash of vinegar (that helps suck out the nutrients). Optional: an onion (sliced in big chunks) or carrots for flavoring. I keep a ziplock in my freezer to hold rinds from hard cheeses, veggie scraps, etc, and empty it into my next batch to deepen the flavor. I have done both fancy ones with everything in, and plain bones-&-vinegar. Use whatever you have. Add enough water to cover the bones. Set the crockpot to low. In a few hours, your house will smell amazing! If you like, add a bay leaf or two in the last few hours of cooking, not a whole bunch at the beginning as pictured here. This batch turned out too bitter. Bleech. CIMG0430

After 24-36 hrs (or AN HOUR, using an Instant Pot), use a slotted spoon to remove the bones and cooked-into-oblivion veggies. There will be a layer of oil on the surface. Do NOT attempt to “taste” the broth from that. It will not be a pleasant experience, trust me. Instead, pour all the liquid into a soup pot and put it in the fridge. When you come back to it, an hour or a day later, the fat on top will have congealed into a hard, white disc. Crack it like ice and peel the fat away from the gelatinous goodness underneath. You can save the fat for later use (it makes really tasty scrambled eggs) if you are into that sort of thing, or just chuck it. You can heat the bone broth and enjoy as is, or with a few add-ins like garlic or pepper.

Cooled broth

If you want to continue to LARP soup, put your soup pot containing the freaky-looking beef jello on the stove, medium heat. Toss in kale, sliced mushrooms, carrots, yams, parsnips… whatever you like! I love adding natural bacon (cooked separately, first). Trader Joe’s has a great chicken sausage that works beautifully, too. Time your additions so veggies go in first, then meats, then pre-cooked meats. Don’t forget fresh crushed garlic, grated ginger, or any other favorite herbs along with salt, pepper, etc. When the kale is limp and dark, you are done! Remove from heat, serve, and bask in the praise of your loved ones. This freezes beautifully for reheating later. If that’s your plan, take it off the heat a little earlier.

It looks (and smells!) better in person, trust me!

Enjoy!

 

 

Healthy carrot “muffins”

Here’s what they look like with crushed walnuts sprinkled on top. Don’t forget to butter the muffin tin before pouring in the batter!

These high-protein, non-grain, low-sugar muffins look, taste, and smell great, and even the texture is terrific! I altered them from a previously existing recipe, which is why there are actual amounts. :)

1 cup almond flour
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp flax seeds
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
8 oz pureed carrots
a squeeze of honey

NOTE: This resulted in essentially non-sweet muffins. Enjoy them straight up, decorate them with honey and butter when you reheat them, or  add sweetener (honey, stevia, etc.)  to the ingredients list if you must.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and butter your muffin tins. Mix dry ingredients first, in a medium size bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the moist ingredients. Slowly pour the wet into the dry mixture. You don’t want to over mix or your muffins won’t rise as much. Using a 1/4 cup, scoop batter into each tin. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Set aside for 15 minutes or until cool.

PS – My buddy Q says these are great cold. She also recommends adding coconut. Yum!

 

Digestive health (and roasted cauliflower!)

I’ve been seeing an increase in people coming in with digestive problems, and it correlates interestingly with a  little revolution in my personal dietary habits.

Acupuncture for digestive upset – in this case nausea and “grumbling” intestines.

Last month I gave you a recipe for steel cut oats. They are far healthier than regular cereal for breakfast, but ironically, I am longer eating those oats… I’m off grains for the time being. A high-carb/low fat diet is not consistent with our hunter-gatherer evolution, and for some people it causes all sorts of problems, from weight gain to heartburn. I’m reading an amazing book called “Primal Body, Primal Mind.” The author cites a satisfying glut of scientific sources. The information in it resonates strongly with everything I know about physiology, and everything I’ve experienced in my personal struggles with weight. I’ve known for ages that bread is bad for me (very bad for me personally – your metabolism may differ), but it took reading this book to get up the motivation to quit. Working out and eating a “healthy diet” wasn’t doing it… but this seems to be doing the trick. It’s too early to say for sure, but I *am* losing weight and feeling good. My clothes are finally getting looser!

The old-fashioned “food pyramid” (built by lobbyists for Big Food Business) and the emphasis on low-fat, high carb has built a nation of obesity… myself included. It’s time to recognize that science demands a shift in thinking. I want to be clear here that I am not prescribing a ban on grains for everyone. You need to figure out what works for YOUR body. There are a few basic concepts, though, that I think everyone who’s reading the latest research can agree on:

1) Processed food is no substitute for actual, human-made food. If the majority of your meals are coming in bags and boxes, you need to reevaluate.

2) Empty calories (white bread, pasta, and other starches) and sugars lead to chronic inflammation, fat storage, and blood sugar problems. Put down that soda and have some water instead.

3) Fats are not the enemy. We need fats for brain function, neural insulation, and padding for organs, among other things. The trick is to get them from good sources like extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, fish, and grass-fed meats, rather than chemically-altered trans-fats.

Delicious and nutritious! Cauliflower fights cancer and has a surprising amount of Vitamins C and K (important for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory function). Of course it’s also a great source of fiber.

So here’s my new “popcorn” – Cut up cauliflower florets (about the size of a quarter or slightly bigger) and spread them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil if you like, but it’s good without, too! Add a little sea salt, and roast at 350 degree for 45 minutes. Seriously – even my red-blooded, dedicated-to-his-American-diet boyfriend loved it. Super yummy. Big thanks to personal trainer extraordinaire Brandie Sylfae. :)

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to turn into a food blog. I’ll be back to more acupuncture-oriented discussions next month! :)

 

 

Fall Health tips

Autumn is my favorite season. The crisp blue skies, the exploding yellows and oranges in the trees… It makes me crave a walk in the woods and a crunchy, juicy apple. All of a sudden pumpkins are everywhere and I’m looking for a sweater.

 Asian tradition includes responding to the energy of the seasons. This is true both philosophically (Have you seen this beautiful Korean movie?) and physically.  Remember back in the summer when I mentioned cooling foods like watermelon? For fall health, try to eat fewer cold, raw foods like salads, and more warm, cooked meals. Enjoy soups and steamed or baked vegetables such as broccoli and yams. Incorporate yellow and red foods into your diet. Consider starting your morning with hot oatmeal to fuel your day. I love Steel Cut oats! You can get them at most grocery stores, and now  Fred Meyer even has them in the bulk isle!

You want about 1/4-1/3 cup of dry oats per person. The night before your intended breakfast, put the oats and twice as much water into a pot. That means I do half a cup plus a little extra shake for Robert and me (he’s a big guy!), and just over a cup of water. Cover and let soak overnight. In the morning, cook on medium heat for 6-10 minutes, depending on how chewy vs. soft you want your oatmeal.

You can enjoy as is, but I like to toss in some walnuts for some added protein and healthy fats. Fruit (dried or fresh), honey, even maple syrup are options, too. Get creative!

Of course hot tea, in a variety of colors and flavors, is essential for me in the Fall. My favorite when I’m chilled is ginger tea. You can buy packets, but it’s best to just grate fresh ginger into a mug of hot water and add honey. Ginger is supremely warming and a soothing treat for a sore throat. It even boosts your immune system!

There’s an article here about Damp. In Chinese Medicine, colds and flus are considered to enter the body at the nape of the neck. Scarves are an important defensive weapon against getting sick. Although I think it has more to do with insulating the carotid arteries at the side of the neck, I am a big encourager of scarf wearing. In addition to preventing infections, a toasty cover will keep your neck muscles warm and relaxed. Pick out a soft, colorful one and give yourself a woolly hug.

Anti-inflammatory Diet & Nightshades

If you have osteo-arthritis or an inflammatory disease (Fibromyalgia, IBS, etc), listen up: There are ways to alter your diet that will help decrease your pain! It’s also very helpful when you want to reduce inflammation after an injury.

1) Avoid sugar. This includes soda* and high-glycemic foods that will break down quickly into sugars. White bread, pasta, and starches will all contribute to inflammation.
2) Avoid fried foods. Enough said.
3) Grain-fed red meat is a problem for some people. Grass-fed meat is less inflammatory, since the fat structure is different.
4) You can counteract pain by eating ANTI-inflammatory foods. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach will help a lot. Berries (except for goji and blueberries), turmeric, garlic, celery, pineapple, cocoa, ginger, and foods containing good fats (extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts) are great, too. If you are sensitive to oxalates, however, be careful not to overdose on the dark leafy greens.

5) Foods your body doesn’t like. Some people are sensitive to dairy or wheat, for example. If you know you react badly to something, avoid it when you are in pain.

6) The Nightshade (Solanaceae) plants contain a small amount of an alkaloid toxin called solanine. Some people aren’t bothered by it. Other people, especially those with auto-immune issues & arthritis, tend to be sensitive to this family of plants. Most are unaware of the pain they are causing themselves, because they eat them so often, and because the inflammation & ache are delayed up to 24 hrs.

Tomatoes
Potatoes (Sweet potatoes and yams are ok)
Peppers, including spicy, chili, and bell peppers, and paprika (Black, white, and green pepper is ok- it’s actually a peppercorn. Long pepper is ok, too.)
Eggplant
Tobacco

Although less well known, Goji berries are nightshades, too.

Note: Blueberries, huckleberries, artichokes, and okra are not in the Nightshade family, but they also contain solanine.

The good news: It’s very easy to find out if you are Nightshade sensitive. Simply remove all of them from your diet for two weeks. Then have a big dose of tomatoes, potatoes, or drink a V8. See how you feel that evening and the next day. If within 24 hrs your pain is worse, you are Nightshade-sensitive. Wherever you have inflammation, that’s where it will show up. If not, congrats – you can go back to all the tomatoes you want.

The alkaloid is degraded by heat. Raw Nightshades are more toxic than cooked, and the extreme heat of deep-frying is even better … but fried foods are inflammatory for other reasons, so don’t get too excited. I will eat a small amount of potato chips on a special occasion because they are fried all the way through, but not french fries, since they are still squishy in the middle.

The combination of Nightshades and sugar is a doozy. I can get away with a small amount of tomato paste, but even a tiny squirt of ketchup will make my hands ache the next day.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is a relatively simple way to decrease your pain and make a real difference in your quality of life. Some people have inflammatory reactions to dairy or wheat, and that may be worth testing the same way as the Nightshades. You don’t have to be perfect all the time – just pick your battles, okay?

Spicy food junkies: Fear not! You can still enjoy horseradish, onion, garlic, and all the peppercorns.

Here’s a nightshade-free curry recipe and one for NonNightshade Mexican. Substitute either cauliflower or sweet potatoes for regular potatoes. Pizza and pasta are great with pesto sauce. There’s even a “No-Mato” marinara sauce I found online (OMG SO GOOD!!!! I used the higher levels of spice for everything and loved it!).

UPDATE 4/29/16: Now that I’ve been Nightshade-free for a decade, I’ve found that I can get away with cheating once in a while. There seems to be a cumulative effect. By staying away 99% of the time, and preventing a build-up of inflammation, I can enjoy the occasional indiscretion. 

*Diet soda isn’t a good solution. While it doesn’t contain sugar, the artificial sweeteners cause their own problems, including triggering the body to start storing more calories as fat.