Lately I’ve been loving avocados….I go through phases where I can eat them everyday and then can’t stand them.  I’ve recently been capitalizing on their versatility and using them as a substitute for mayo to make chicken/tuna salads.  I love cold curried chicken salad, so I decided to try making it using avocado as the cream base.  This recipe is super easy and tastes awesome in lettuce wraps or on a bed of greens with some extra lemon juice.

Ingredients (makes 3 servings):

– 1 whole cooked chicken – meat removed from the bone and shredded/chopped
– 3 celery stalks – chopped
– ¼ onion – chopped
– ½ red pepper – chopped (you could use a fruit here instead…pineapple or apple would work well)
– 1 + ½ or 2 avocados – very ripe
– 2 Tbsp curry powder
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 1 tsp turmeric
– Juice of ½ a lemon
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Romaine leaves for the wraps (optional)

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine chicken and veggies.
2. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the spices and lemon juice – mash/mix well to create a creamy texture
3. Mix together the mashed avocado curry mixture with the chicken and veggies.  Mix thoroughly.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste
5. Serve in lettuce wraps or on a bed of greens.  When I served mine on  a salad I used extra lemon juice to liquefy it a bit more.
6. Enjoy!

No Fully Primal Husband testimonial this time…I hogged these all to myself:)

I love Food Renegade and yesterday she posted a recipe for “Tom Kha Gai: Thai Coconut Soup”.   She indicates that it is from Nourishing Traditions and I was like, “OMG, I’ve got that book!”  You must realize the book has >600 pages, so it is easy to overlook recipes.  FUN FACT: This book is actually part of my curriculum at school…I was very happy when I heard that.  Anyways, the soup looked so good and I was craving something Thai-ish, so I cracked open Nourishing Traditions (p198) and busted out this gem.  I’ve modified it to include chicken (as per Food Renegade’s version), kelp noodles and kale.  Another bonus….This recipe is SO EASY!  I think this would be really good with lemongrass too, but I didn’t have any on hand.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
– 1 whole roasted chicken – meat removed and shredded (i picked up a Beretta roaster from Loblaws)
– 1 L of chicken stock
– 1 and 1/2 cans of coconut milk
– 2 bunches of Kale – stems removed, leaves chopped
– 1 bag of Kelp Noodles – rinsed
– 1 bunch of green onions – chopped
– 1 Cup of chopped cilantro
– 1 Tbsp of minced ginger
– 1/4 tsp of chili flakes

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat stock.  Once it reaches a simmer, add coconut milk, ginger, chili flakes and kale.
  2. Stir around and wait until kale shrinks (about 5-7 minutes).
  3. Add kelp noodles and chicken.  Bring to a simmer and let it go for 7 more minutes.
  4. Add green onions and cilantro.  You could top it with this afterwards, but I just added mine right into the pot.
  5. You may need to add more stock or coconut milk if there is not enough liquid or you prefer it soup-ier.
  6. Enjoy!

You may be wondering why I haven’t posted any Fully Primal Husband testimonials as of late…we just haven’t eaten any of these meals together (plus, I often make these recipes for my lunches at work), so I’m not capturing his candid reactions.  I refuse to post his second thoughts.

Now onto the Whole30 + no caffeine update:

DAY 11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We are more than 33.333333% through!  WOOOOT!  I think I am finally getting accustomed to my zen state in the mornings and don’t notice the lack of caffeine as much.   I’m able to converse with co-workers and piece together sentences without stumbling on my words and drifting off into space (seriously, that was happening ).  My productivity at work has been better this week, although I could use an afternoon nap.  My AM workouts have been going well and I didn’t try to murder anyone with a kettlebell & skipping rope this week….this is also because I started bringing an herbal tea with me to class (thanks to my readers who suggested this!).  My sleep continues to be AMAZING.  I am hitting the pillow, passing out right away and sleeping solid through the night.  The real challenge is going to be this weekend.  Last weekend was HARD, so I’m bracing myself for a similar experience this weekend.  The weekend is tough because it is not just the lack of caffeine…it’s the fact that I’m not having my glass of red wine with my steak….Or my weekly dose of Healthy Butcher pulled pork (because I am certain there is some sugar in their sauce)…or my dark chocolate ( i usually indulge in a 80% bar).   grrrrrrrrrrrr.  I am hoping that this weekend will be better.

How is everyone else doing?? Any struggles??

My friend Amy sent me this picture and I had to post it.  I love it. I think it sums up my “before” situation very well:

 

nice legs!

 

Even though my vacation feels like it was months ago, I’m still inspired by the food that we ate and want to continue posting some recipes.  Here is a simple coconut curry recipe that I made using chicken thighs & legs – we ate many coconut curry dishes while in St. Lucia.  This also relates back to my post on chicken a few weeks ago where I recommended buying a whole chicken to save money.  As long as your buying quality meat – naturally raised and/or free-range – the legs contain good fat.  Like most men, people are partial to the breasts (couldn’t resist that one), but legs and thighs are equally delicious.  I served this on a bed of cauliflower rice.

Ingredients (serves 4):
– 4 chicken thighs & legs (still in tact), skin on
–  1 cauliflower (to make the rice)
– 1 Tbsp coconut oil
– 1 Onion – finely chopped
– 5 garlic cloves – smashed and roughly chopped
– 1 red chili pepper – seeds removed, chopped (I used a Scotch Bonnet pepper)
– 1 can coconut milk
– 2 Tbsp curry powder

Directions:

  1.  In a large skillet, heat coconut oil to a med-high heat
  2. Put chicken pieces into the skillet and cook until each side golden-browned (about 3 min per side)
  3. Remove chicken and set aside.
  4. Add onion, garlic and chili – saute for about 3 min or until soft
  5. Add the coconut milk and curry powder – mix together thoroughly
  6. Add back the chicken and simmer at medium heat covered for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  You can use a meat thermometer to check and it should be about 155 before you stop cooking it (it will continue to cook up to 160 which is the perfect internal temp).  The coconut milk that the chicken is simmering in should cover about 1/2 of the chicken – if yours’ doesn’t you can add more coconut milk or some chicken stock.
  7. For the cauliflower rice, either use your food processor to chop the cauliflower to a rice consistency or use a cheese grater.  If you have a microwave you can cook it in the microwave for 3 minutes and it’ll be good to go.  Otherwise you can steam it for a few minutes.  I always cook my cauliflower after I’ve grated it.
  8. Serve the chicken on a bed of cauliflower rice.  
  9. Enjoy!

I even served this to my non-primal dad and he loved it!  I was really hesitant about his reaction to the cauliflower rice, but he quite enjoyed it.  Semi-Primal Husband gave the following testimonial, “This is delicious.  Ya, really good.”

 

 

simmering

 

 

Happy Chickens are Delicious Chickens http://www.fenwoodfarm.com

 

Who knew chicken could be like a fine wine? The taste will vary based on the quality – much like wine, you get what you pay for.  More than the taste, the nutritional characteristics also improve dramatically when you choose a quality chicken.  Semi-Primal Husband and I attended a Chicken Butchery Class at The Healthy Butcher last week with Head Butcher, Dave Meli.  No, we did not kill chickens or de-feather them!  The purpose of the class was to take a whole chicken and learn how to truss it, cut it up in various ways which would enable you to try different recipes and preparation approaches.   I learned so much more than this and I want to share some of this knowledge with you and encourage you to get in better touch with where your food is coming from.

When I first started eating Paleo, it was a big enough change for me to get used to.  The second phase of my Primal journey started when I watched the movie Food Inc and was horrified to see where my meat was coming from.  We are so disconnected from our food sources that we take for granted how our food ends up looking so clean, displayed in nice packaging, sometimes with pictures of farmers on the front and often advertised on TV by showing professional looking butchers cutting the meat with care.  In case you didn’t know, that’s all a facade that is driven by genius marketing.  After watching Food Inc, I immediately decided to take my Primal eating to the next level – grass-fed beef, organic & humanely raised chicken, pastured pork and other meats.  I also pledged to start learning more about where my food comes from and shorten my food chain as much as possible.

When I started shopping at The Healthy Butcher, the sticker shock and increased grocery bills were what impacted me at first.  When you’re accustomed to buying 2 chicken breasts for $7 and suddenly your spending $20, that’s a huge increase and you wonder why it’s so expensive – especially if you eat as much chicken as I do!  During the Chicken Butchery class I learned so much from Head Butcher Dave Meli about the farming behind chickens and why their meats are higher priced.  I highly recommend taking the class or doing research to learn more on your own, but here are a few points that I took away (hopefully i’m not ‘butchering’ these…couldn’t resist that one):

  1. Why are the chickens at the Healthy Butcher so expensive? There are 2 factors that drive the price of a chicken: real estate and quota’s:
    1. Real Estate: Much like the real estate in Toronto, farming real estate is not cheap.  The analogy that Dave shared was to think about a chicken pen like you would think about your condo/house….In order to pay your monthly mortgage, how many chickens would you need to sell and therefore fit into your condo?  In a standard commercial chicken coup, you could have 70,000 chickens stacked up in cages – that’s the $7 chicken you’re paying for.  With “Free-Run” you might have 50,000 chickens bunched together in a pen.  At Fenwood Farms (farm that supplies the Healthy Butcher) you would have 2,000 in the same amount of space – keep reading to find out why it’s important for the chicken to have some more space.  When you’re selling 2,000 chickens vs 70,000 you’re going to have a much higher price tag associated with it.  
    2. Quotas: In order to produce chickens for commercial sale, farmers need to buy a quota which is a way to ensure chicken supply is meeting demand in Ontario.  This can be very expensive which adds to the fixed cost of the farm. For more information on quota’s in Ontario, check out this link.
  2. What does “Free-Run” really mean?  We see Free-Run chickens at our local grocery stores and imagine visions of happy chickens frolicking and playing hop-scotch on green grass.  Not a chance.  Free-run is a fancy way of saying that the chickens are not in cages.  They are still subjected to close corners with little room to move around – especially as they get bigger and near the end of their life (only 40-42 days).  They are also kept indoors – in Canada this has a lot to do with the weather as chickens need warmth and light to eat, therefore couldn’t withstand the majority of the weather in Canada.  Chickens only eat when it’s light, so the shortened days would slow the growth of the chickens – in the indoor pens, they keep it light 24 hours a day to ensure the chickens don’t stop eating.  Now, depending on the farm the free-run chickens might have more room to move around.  As I mentioned in point #1, Fenwood Farms would only have 2,000 chickens in the same amount of space where another farmer might have 50,000 and can still call it Free-Run.  To figure out the difference, ask your butcher about the farm or look online to see if you can find information.
  3. Better muscle composition = more deliciousness.  The taste of chicken is directly impacted by the food they eat and their movement. Much like our own bodies, chickens need proper nourishment and movement in order to improve their muscle composition.  Without getting to science-y, movement improves the blood flow to the muscle, therefore the more space a chicken has to roam around the better muscle composition they will develop.   The food that the chickens eat directly impacts the taste as well – do you really want to eat a chicken that’s been ingesting hormones, anti-biotics, GMO corn and animal by-products?  I swear if you try one of the chickens from Fenwood Farms you will taste the difference! 
  4. Feed and animal by-products: Building on that last point, it is important to understand what your animals are eating before you eat them.  As we were cutting the chickens, we tossed any excess fatty skin into a bin that would later be picked up and used as ‘animal by-products’ which are often fed back to factory farm animals.  The chickens from Fenwood Farms eat a mixture of barley and oats which Dave indicated he had eaten and enjoyed – this also drives up the price tag associated with these chicks, but you’re getting much better quality.
  5. It won’t kill you…today.  If you’re reading this and know anything about nutrition, then you know that our modern-day food is killing people.  The effects of factory farm meat on our health and well-being are only now being brought into the limelight.  The skin on a factory farm chicken contains loads of saturated fat, whereas with free-run there is about 30% less.  For more on the nutritional differences, check out this link

Understanding that not everyone can afford to pay $20 for 2 chicken breasts, here are a couple tips to help: 1.  Buy the whole chicken – it’s often just as much as 2 breasts and you can eat all the different parts: legs, thighs, wings….it’s all good when it’s a quality chicken.  Use the neck and other pieces to make stock.  2.  Don’t eat as much – 1 serving should be about 4 ounces which is the size of your ipod and about ½ a breast.  If you’re used to eating 1 whole breast, try eating half.  When you’re eating a quality piece of meat you’ll probably find you’re satisfied on less.  3.  Pick up directly from a farm or invest in a farm share.  Check out eatwild.com for farms in your area.

Jamie Oliver just had a special on the Food Network called Jamie’s Fowl Dinners which went into detail about chicken farming and the benefits of humanely raised chickens.  I highly recommend watching it to see the differences for yourself.

Before you read this recipe, take a minute to learn about the tragedy in Haiti and how you can help.  Here is a link where you can donate $5 via text – every little bit will help.

I don’t have enough time to sit and eat a nice breakfast every morning – it’s usually in my car (i use nice silverware to be civilized).  I also tend to eat lunch at my desk and snacks on the go.  These are all bad habits.  But, I’m busy and sometimes that means eating and multi-tasking.  This recipe is PERFECT for these occasions and they look very gourmet (especially compared to the hunk of chicken and 1/2 cucumber that you’ll normally see me eating at my desk).  This is totally portable and would make an excellent breakfast, lunch or snack.   Or appetizer for a dinner party. Radicchio is also in-season…extra bonus!

Ingredients (makes 8 Radicchio Wraps)
–  2 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts – shredded or cut in small pieces
– 1 radicchio
– 2 celery stalks – cut into small pieces
– 1/4 C chopped basil
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
–  2 Tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic)
– salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Carefully peel and separate the leaves from the radicchio.  Soak them in cold water for a 1-2 minutes – this will help to crisp them up so they maintain their curves.  Let them dry.
  2. In a bowl mix together the chicken, celery and basil
  3. In a small bowl mix together olive oil, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper
  4. Pour the dressing into the chicken salad and mix
  5. Scoop some of the chicken salad into the radicchio wrap. 
  6. Enjoy!

My Semi-Primal Husband saw me eating these and wasn’t too interested.  I asked him if he wanted a bite so he obliged and said, “wow, this is actually really good.  I want to make these for my lunch!” Then he proceeded to eat the rest of the wrap.  I will take that as a compliment.


My Semi-Primal Husband is 1/2 Hungarian (other 1/2 is Finnish) and grew up eating Chicken Paprikash that is a traditional Hungarian meal.  It was homemade with love by his Mom and Grandma who are amazing cooks.  The traditional recipe calls for cream/sour cream and flour to thicken the sauce.  I’m pretty sure that it’s usually cooked in butter and served on noodles.  I wanted to see how it would turn out if I swapped the cream and flour for coconut milk and coconut flour.  It turned out really well and it’s a super-simple recipe that requires little prep and ingredients.  The only Hungarian vegetable I could think of was Cabbage and I didn’t have any on hand, so I paired it with some spicy basil broccoli – not the ideal combination of tastes, but I made it work.  

Ingredients (serves 2-3)
– 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts – cut into 1/2 inch strips
–  2 small onions – chopped
– 1 red bell pepper – cut into strips
– 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 3 tsp Paprika
– 3 Tbsp coconut milk (I used the cream part of the coconut milk from the can – if you don’t shake the can before you open it, usually the coconut cream is settled at the top and you can get a thicker sauce by just using this portion)
– 1 Tbsp coconut flour 
– 1 Cup chicken broth 

Directions:

  1. Heat 1/2 of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes until there is no more pink.  Then remove and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, add the rest of the olive oil.  Add onions, garlic and paprika.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes until onions have softened
  3. Add coconut flour and broth.  Stir it around and bring it to a simmer.  
  4. Add the bell pepper.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are softened. About 5 min.
  5. Add back the chicken and coconut milk.  Continue to cook and stir until chicken is fully cooked and sauce is creamy. About 2 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Final stage of cooking

 

For the broccoli, I steamed 2 big bunches until it was 90% cooked and then added it to a wok with 2 tsp of olive oil, 2 tsp red chili pepper paste, 1 Tbsp garlic and 2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil.  Stir fry it around for about 3-4 minutes until the broccoli is fully cooked.

Semi-Primal Husband loved the broccoli!  He also liked the Paprikash, but I told him not to give me a testimonial this time because of the conflict of interest with his grandma:)

 

Warm and spicy - perfect for a freezing day.

I took this recipe from my Women’s Health Magazine and modified it to remove any non-primal ingredients (chickpeas and couscous), add more veggies and I also added chicken to pack it with protein.  Note that this doesn’t have any fat in it, so be sure to eat a handful of nuts or some avocado to get your fat for energy.  It’s hearty, spicy and delicious.  

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
– 4 C chicken stock
– 2 large cooked chicken breasts – boneless/skinless, cut into bite size pieces
– 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes (I bought the whole tomatoes and crushed them up with my hands).  Don’t drain the tomatoes – include the water.
– 2 zucchini, sliced in half circles
–  4 artichoke hearts, cut into bite size pieces (if you buy the one’s in the jar, rinse them first to remove other additives like salt)
– 3 C ground up cauliflower – use a food processor to get the cauliflower to a rice-like consistency 
– 3 scallions, thinly sliced
– 1/4 C fresh chopped parsley
– 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
–  1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp cayenne
–  1/2 tsp oregano (ground)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring stock plus 2 cups of water to a rolling boil
  2. Reduce heat and add all other ingredients
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until zucchini is cooked 
  4. Enjoy!  

Semi-Primal Husband provided the following testimonial: “Great flavours.  This soup is really filling.”

Simmering soup