Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Paleo Continues: The Best Chicken Ever

My first day of being Paleo was a few weeks ago, and overall it's been a great experience.  So far I've dedicated the weekdays to being Paleo and allowed myself to be more relaxed on the weekends - like indulging in a small piece of dairy-free chocolate cake!  Aside from ensuring I am aware of consuming adequate carbohydrates during the week (see my previous post), I have found the Paleo diet to be one of the cleanest ways of eating that I have discovered to date, and I feel fantastic!

Today, I just have to share with you simply the best chicken recipe ever, which I've adapted from the book Delicious Detox by Carol Morley, ND.  It relies on heart-healthy almonds for its base, which are known to lower LDL ('bad') cholesterol, increase HDL ('good') cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Almonds are also an excellent non-dairy source of calcium, as well as being rich in vitamin E, magnesium, fibre, protein, and monounsaturated fats (the same health-promoting fats as in olive oil).  This chicken is easy to make, incredibly flavourful, lightly 'breaded' yet moist, and superbly healthy.  If that combination sounds good to you, you're in for a real treat!

Rosemary Almond Chicken with steamed broccoli and carrots

Rosemary Almond Chicken

1/2 cup almonds
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 chicken breasts
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 360°F, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with olive oil.

Grind the almonds and spices in a blender or Magic Bullet until they have reached a crumbly consistency, similar to that of breadcrumbs.

Ingredients for almond mixture, clockwise: Almonds, salt, pepper, parsley, 
rosemary, basil, oregano.  Final almond mixture in centre.

Generously coat chicken breasts with almond mixture on both sides, and drizzle with olive oil.  Save leftover almond mixture in a glass container in the fridge.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  Flip chicken breasts, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until cooked through.  Enjoy with steamed vegetables of your choice, and use any of the baked almond mixture left on the baking sheet as a sauce for the vegetables!

Bon Appétit!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Carb it up, buttercup! - Day 2

Although it usually takes an extreme diet to severely affect your metabolism, I have heard of some people feeling unwell while following this diet because they weren't consuming enough carbohydrates.  Remembering my colleague's promise that this is not a low-carb diet if done properly, and also wanting to prevent hypoglycemia, I loaded up on root vegetables at dinner tonight.

The first half of the day's meals weren't too remarkable, aside from adding shredded coconut and sunflower seeds to my mixed fruit at breakfast, and as promised, leftover frittata for lunch - see yesterday's post for the recipe!

Then, working in my office toward the end of a long day, my body was asking for an early dinner (5pm is early for me!).  Although my original goal was to do all this Paleo cooking myself, as a busy clinic intern, you often have to adapt.  So, the special in our delicious CCNM cafeteria today?  'Gourmet Poutine'; which isn't really poutine at all, but rather a hearty and nutritious dish of roasted yams, sweet potatoes and beets, spinach, mushrooms, onions, salsa, homemade hot sauce, vegan gravy and a side of kale salad - I can feel my salivary glands perking up at the sheer memory of it!

'Gourmet Poutine' - in a box!

This dish is a perfect example of how to follow the Paleo Diet while ensuring you are consuming sufficient carbohydrates.  Root vegetables such as the ones featured in this dish are rich in complex (slow-digesting) carbohydrates as well as high quality fibre.  Yams and sweet potatoes have the added bonus of being rich sources of beta-carotene (plant source of vitamin A), while beets earn their nutritional stars from pigments called betalains, which give them their deep red colour.  Betalains are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and liver detoxification properties.  Turnip, rutabaga, parsnips, radishes, celeriac and all varieties of squash are additional sources of paleo-friendly carbohydrates.

My dinner bears a striking resemblance to my computer...

I had to share this picture of because it made me laugh - the compostable to-go container is nearly the same size and shape as my MacBook.  Yes, I admit that I was multitasking; not the best thing for my Spleen Qi, but at least my meal was (mostly) cooked!  What is Spleen Qi, you ask?  I'll talk more about Traditional Chinese Medicine next time, including my views on raw vs. cooked foods.

Until then, stay tuned for the next chapter in my cavewoman adventure!


Monday, March 11, 2013

My Cavewoman Adventure: Day 1

Today was the first day of my ‘Cavewoman Adventure’, so to speak.  In my previous post, I discussed the potential benefits of following a Paleo Diet, and while I have been mindful of the diet’s principles, I’ve decided it’s time to go for it 100% and see what happens!  A large part of my motivation comes from the fact that several of my colleagues are doing it as well – and what better kind of motivation to keep on track than having others for support?  Our group’s goal is 4 days, and depending how it goes, I’m hoping to last longer than that!  As I snack on plantain chips and trail mix, let me tell you about my first day as a pseudo-cavewoman!

Breakfast wasn’t too out of the ordinary.  In my usual bowl of mixed fruit, nuts and almond milk, I replaced my homemade granola with – you guessed it – more nuts and more fruit.  Not a bad start!  Together with a cup of green tea, I was well fueled for my morning class and dance rehearsal, and wasn’t hungry until lunchtime.

This was my big protein-dense meal – chicken breast (skin on!) with mixed greens, chopped avocado and tomatoes, and flax oil dressing.  Mmm, mmm.  If you’ve ever had the organic chicken from Hearty Catering (the cafeteria at CCNM), then you know what I’m talking about!

Afternoon Snack
I attended a MediHerb lecture this afternoon, and lucky for me I was able to navigate the food offerings to make a substantial Paleo-friendly plate of snacks.  A mandarin orange, mixed berries, and a handful of cashews were enough to keep my energy up throughout the afternoon.


For dinner, I made one of my favourite dishes which I make all the time – Fritatta!  This recipe is so good, I just have to share – see below!  You can think of this as basically a crust-less quiche (and in my case, cheese-less also!).  I pack it full of veggies and healthy fats, and hold it all together with free range omega-3 eggs.  I made it in my large stainless steel pan, so I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Trust me, this is one of those things that tastes so good the next day, you’ll be happy to eat it cold!

Evening Snack
Tonight I’m babysitting my two-year-old ‘niece’ (my friend’s daughter), and while she’s sleeping, I’m catching up on work and enjoying the snacks her parents left for me.  Somehow, all these snacks are paleo-friendly – how did they know?!  There’s a sizeable bowl of almonds, pistachios, and plantain chips, with dried prunes on the side.  Together with my peppermint tea, I’m feeling pretty content at the end of Day 1 of my Cavewoman Adventure.  I’m excited to see – and taste – what tomorrow will bring to my plate!

Scarlett’s Frittata
½ tablespoon coconut oil
½ onion
3 large collard leaves
1 roma tomato
1 ½ cups zucchini, chopped
A dozen black olives (optional)
5 eggs
Dash of salt
Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
As much cayenne as your spice tolerance will allow!
Drizzle of olive oil or flax oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F on broil setting. 
Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces. 
Melt coconut oil in a large stainless steel frying pan over medium heat.  Add vegetables, and lightly sauté. 
Add eggs and spices, and mix well to combine.  Allow to cook without stirring on low-medium heat until mostly done; then put pan in the oven to allow the top to cook.
Once the top is firm (no uncooked egg visible), your frittata is ready!  Cut into slices and serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil or flax oil on top, and save the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.