Monthly Archives: January 2013

Choco-Almond Snack Bites

Choco-Almond Snack Bites

I found these delightful things over at Kitchen Stewardship. They satisfy that urge for something a little sweet and are full of flavor and nutrition, and – even better! – they’re also full of inflammation fighting ingredients! They’re similar to a chewy, nutty granola bar, and with the optional thin layer of dark chocolate on top they transform into an indulgent-feeling treat! There is coconut in the recipe, which adds to the sweetness, but if you don’t like coconut, don’t worry: I don’t find that it makes it taste much like coconut at all.

These have been a HUGE hit with my daughter. She’s delighted that I let her eat pretty much all she wants, and thinks that they taste “like frozen cookie dough!” (We keep them in the freezer.) That’s good endorsement!

The first time I made these I followed the recipe exactly as it was, but then I started to switch things around (of course…I can never just leave a recipe alone.) The biggest change was to add dates so that I could reduce the amount of sweetener and make it more anti-inflammatory, but this is really the kind of recipe that can have infinite variations. You can throw in all sorts of things, and I have a lot of ideas to try that should keep things interesting for a while!

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Chicken Corn Chowder

Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder

One of the culinary staples in certain areas of Pennsylvania – especially in Penna Dutch country – is Chicken Corn Chowder. During sweet corn season, it’s pretty much ubiquitous, and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love it. I mean, sweet corn and chicken in a creamy, slightly spicy broth? There’s nothing not to love about that!

This is NOT sweet corn season, as it’s only January, but that didn’t stop me when I came across this fabulous recipe by Pioneer Woman.  I had immediate cravings for this soup that would not be silenced! So, instead of using fresh corn like she does in her recipe, I just went out and got some cans of organic sweet corn. Of course, since I can never leave well enough alone, I had to change it up just a little bit and add chicken and garlic to it, and obviously I had to make it anti-inflammation-friendly by changing the flour from all purpose white flour to whole grain spelt flour. Besides that, though, it’s pretty much just like the original. You can go on over to the Pioneer Woman’s site for the original, but I’ll also write down the recipe with my changes here.

So, I made it, and – Oh My Gosh…it’s so, I mean SOOO good. The Pioneer Woman never disappoints, after all! This version has bacon and colorful peppers and Pepper Jack cheese. Oh goodness. You’ll love it.

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roast chicken

Simple and Delicious Roast Chicken

Most people I know have never roasted a chicken. For some reason, just the thought of it intimidates them. If that’s how you feel too, then this post is for you! It really is one of the easiest things you’ll ever make. All it takes is time.

This is one of the best things you can learn to make on this diet. Not only is it ridiculously easy, but having cold chicken on hand throughout the week is often a lifesaver. There have been many times that I’ve waited too long to eat and have let myself get hungry, and that quick, easy protein has saved me. It’s absolutely delicious and tender and satisfying. Since we no longer eat lunch meat, it’s a perfect protein for lunch, and my kids pack it for their school lunches often.  Basically, having cold roasted chicken on hand is just plain convenient, and so it’s a great food to have around.

And, it’s cheap! The organic chickens I get from my regular grocery store are just $1.99/lb! You could never get the equivalent amount of meat for this cheap if you were buying separate boneless parts.

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popcorn

Awesome Butter Infused Popcorn

So, what does an inflammation-fighting, real-food-eating person do when she wants a crunchy, salty snack? Most chips are cooked in unhealthy (and illegal on this diet) vegetable oils, so they’re out. Pretzels are made with white flour. So what to do? The answer – in our house, at least – is popcorn. Huge bowls full of popcorn!

But not that gross, toxic microwave stuff full of partially hydrogenated oils, diacetyl, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, potassium chloride, “natural” flavors (whatever that means), and artificial flavors. Yuck.

No, I’m talking awesome, flavorful, stovetop popped popcorn that will knock your socks off! You may be someone who thinks that microwave popcorn is the bomb, but I’m hoping that this post will convince you that there is an alternative to that which is infinitely tastier – not to mention healthier – and that you’ll love it so much you’ll never look back!

The thing that’s so great about the way I do popcorn? The butter and salt are infused directly into the popcorn kernels during popping. We used to use an air popper and then melt butter to pour over top, but that resulted in soggy, greasy popcorn. The way we do it now makes light, airy, crisp popcorn with tons of flavor.

The other secret? Coconut oil. This is the stuff that movie theater popcorn used to be popped in (though they’re increasingly pre-popped in hydrogenated oils and stored or popped in canola oil now…boo!) It’s what always gave theater popcorn that distinctive flavor, though, and is smells divine!

Hungry yet?

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hummus

Roasted Garlic Hummus

I always thought I didn’t like hummus. It’s this stuff that everyone seems to love, and I really wanted to love it too, but…meh. It just didn’t do anything for me. The only way I could get it down is if I rewarded myself with a gulp of root beer for every bite I took, and, really, that’s rather defeating the purpose.

But then our local CSA visited my son’s school and made hummus with them, and sent the recipe home with the kids. My son was raving – RAVING – about this hummus and how awesome it was, so I of course had to make it. Anytime my kids are that crazy about something that’s actually healthy, I have to make it for them!

And – surprise! – guess what? I love hummus! It was fan-tas-tic!!! I never knew hummus could actually be that good, so I suppose that this is the difference between something made in your home with fresh ingredients and something that’s been sitting in the grocery store for who-knows-how-long!

The thing that really makes this hummus superb (in my opinion) is the entire head of garlic that’s been roasted in the oven until it’s soft and buttery and sweet and creamy. Oh, my, roasted garlic is just heaven. And, if I’d had chives on hand, I would have thrown them in too – I definitely will next time! I think this is the kind of thing you can change up as you want with adding different things in.

I whipped this up today with the kids, and for lunch we had heaps of hummus with carrots and cucumbers, plus left-over roasted chicken and sliced strawberries. It was a feast!!!

So, if you think you hate hummus too – or if you like hummus, but have never made your own – you have to try this out. If even I love this then, really, everybody will!

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chicken and dumplings

Chicken and Spelt Dumplings

Since I had this huge pot of Everlasting Chicken Broth – with a big old chicken in it just waiting to be transformed into something – and since I’m still in “comforting anti-sick-feeling food” mode, I decided to make Chicken and Dumplings. This is one of the recipes I make that I grew up eating, so has the additional comforting component of being a childhood favorite – the only thing different is that I use spelt flour now. That, and it’s an easy, quick meal to make – and those are always my favorite kind!

Normally, I start this recipe by putting chicken parts in a pot with some spices and cook them up for about half an hour, but this time I already had cooked chicken and broth waiting for me, so I skipped that part. I’ll give instructions for how I did it this time, but then also for how I normally do it so you have options.

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chicken broth

Everlasting Chicken Broth

In case you haven’t heard, there’s this flu epidemic thing going around. Everyone’s sick. And I’m determined not to be, so I’m doing all the immune-boosting things. Drinking lots of water, getting plenty of sleep, eating lots of fruits and veggies, taking Vitamin C, being strict about staying away from the list of “no-nos” on this diet. And, of course, chicken broth.

chicken broth

I don’t mean chicken broth from a box or a can. I mean boiling a chicken in a big pot of water with onions, garlic, and spices for hours until it’s a powerhouse of nutrients that helps support your body’s systems – including the immune system. If you are actually getting sick, this chicken broth soothes the throat like nothing else and makes you feel good and warm and cozy inside. Who doesn’t want to feel good and warm and cozy inside?

And…AND!…added bonus! Chicken broth has been found to be highly anti-inflammatory! That, and the collagen, proline, glycine all the other great joint-supporting elements from the chicken bones seep into the broth to make your bones happy. If you’re on this diet for joint reasons, this is an excellent thing to start drinking. Bone broth also is extremely healing and soothing to the digestive tract, and is a key component in gut-healing diets. So, there are lots of reasons to drink this on a regular basis, but especially through cold-and-flu-season.

For this, you really want to use the best quality chicken you can find. You’re ingesting the very essence of the animal, so you want that essence to be healthy and wholesome. That won’t be found in a factory-bred chicken. This is the time to invest in a chicken that is preferably pastured, but at the least organic. My CSA slaughters their chickens that are no longer laying eggs and sells them as stewing chickens for a good price, and that’s what I use.

This is all you have to do: take your chicken and put it in a large stock pot filled with water. Put in about 5 whole peppercorns and 5 whole allspice berries, half of an onion, one clove of garlic cut in half, and a bay leaf. Simmer for most of the day – at LEAST 5 hours.

chicken broth

Drink it as it is, or turn it into a recipe. Use the broth in soup, or creamed chicken and mashed potatoes, or chicken and spelt dumplings.

I simply drink it from a mug. Delicious and soothing!

broth

If you’re wanting to drink the broth regularly over the course of a week – whether for general health reasons or to feel better over the course of sickness – I saw this idea at Kitchen Stewardship. This is where the “Everlasting” part of Everlasting Chicken Broth comes in. Put the broth, including chicken and all the other things in it, in a covered crock pot. If you’ve already used the meat in a recipe, just put the bones in. Let it cook on low all week, taking out mug-fulls of it as necessary. Replace the removed broth with water as you use it, and let it continue to cook. By the end of the week, the bones will be very soft, as all the minerals and nutrients in them have cooked out into the liquid – and are being used by your body! Pretty nifty idea.

chicken broth

Everlasting Chicken Broth

  • 1 whole chicken – preferably pastured, but at least organic
  • Filtered water
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp turmeric (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot, filled with water until it’s full. Simmer over low heat all day, or at least 5 hours. Taste and add salt if necessary. (I find that a lot of salt really adds to the flavor.) To keep the broth over the course of a week, put all the ingredients in a large crock pot and cook, covered, over low or warm continuously for a week, drinking the broth daily and replacing what you use with water along the way. Use the meat in any recipe, or just eat it as is.