Nopalitos con Pollo

Ok, so I lied… One more chicken recipe (I swear I’m not a one-trick pony). I just made this at the last minute because I thought we were buying dinner, but that didn’t end up working out. This recipe is super simple–chicken and cactus (nopales).

What is that my friend? You’ve never had nopales before? I can’t say I’m surprised. Entonces, dejame ayudarte (“Well, then let me help you,” for my monolingual friends). Cactus may sound weird or exotic, but it’s just another veggie–and super simple and versatile, too.

Nopalitos con Pollo (This made about 2 servings)

  • Chicken breast, cut into strips (My package had about .65 lbs)
  • 1 small bag of fresh cactus/nopalitos (most readily available at Latin markets)
  • 1 can of Mexican tomato sauce (I used El Pato)
  • Seasonings to taste: Menudo or pozole seasonings, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper
  • Garnishes: Radishes, cilantro, green onion

In a large saucepan, bring salted water to boil (enough to cover all your nopales). When it comes to a boil, add your nopales. Let you nopales cook in the boiling water. They will change color and texture. They will also get slimy. No frets, we will fix this.

When your nopales are finished cooking, strain them in a colander. Rinse with cold water to get the slimy stuff off and allow as much of the excess liquid to get off.

In another large saucepan, bring your tomato sauce and seasonings to simmer (check for taste before you add your chicken). Add your chicken pieces and allow your chicken to boil in the sauce. When your chicken is almost done, add the drained nopales. Allow your nopales to cook in the sauce, and allow your chicken to fully cook.

When everything’s finished cooking, serve and top with sliced radishes and chopped cilantro and green onion.

Dinner’s done!

 

Lazy Day Paleo

To call my day lazy would be a misnomer. I woke woke up at 5:30am, caught the 6:50 am train, got to campus, set up for the class I TA for, went through the class, ran errands, made copies, figured out section, then got on the bus to LA Union Station. For whatever reason, it seemed like everyone and their mother was eating pretzels from the pretzel place in Union Station. It was like they were all mocking me. I would have to say that I’ve been really strong and nothing has tempted me, but every now and then the idea of bread, cheese or cheese covered bread almost makes me cheat. So while everyone was tempting me with their pretzels and cheese dipping sauce, I find solace in hoping that maybe, just maybe, I was making them feel guilty about their choices as I indulged in my crisp salad with leftover rotisserie chicken and homemade vinaigrette.

Once I got home, I argued with myself for about an hour about going to Crossfit. I haven’t been since Monday since my schedule doesn’t allow me to make it on Tuesday, and I will have to start going to the 6am class on Wednesday (I apologize to Ivan and Mando in advance). The wod seemed really hard and relaxing sounded so much better. Regardless, I got ready and made it to the 5:30pm class. So glad I ended up making it. I got through the workout and felt so much better after I did it.

Once I got home, it was time for my next challenge. Dinner. What to make? What to make?

This is a super quick and easy dish for those days when you’re feeling lazy. It’s delicious and versatile. Enjoy.

Zucchini Pasta (mine made 2-4 servings)

  • 2 large zucchinis
  • Salt
  • Tiny bit of your cooking fat of choice

This couldn’t be any simpler. All you do is wash your zucchini and cut the weird little ends off. Then, using your Titan Peeler or other julienne peeler (what?? you don’t have one yet??!!), just work at making your zucchini look like beautiful ribbons of linguine. Salt the zucchini and pat with a paper towel to get off as much of the excess moisture as you can.

Try to draw out as much of the liquid as possible

Just before serving, heat a wok or skillet with a little fat. Toss in the zucchini, just until it’s warm, then remove from the heat (so it doesn’t overcook and get soggy). If you just heat the zucchini to get it a little warm, it will have a nice little bite, almost reminiscent of al dente pasta. Almost.  Toss with your sauce just before serving.

Just make sure you don't overcook it!

Marinara

  • A jar of your favorite paleo marinara sauce (I used White Linen Collection Gourmet Pasta Sauce by Victoria’s All Natural Marinara Sauce. If my memory serves me well, it’s available at Costco. The ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, onions, basil, garlic, sea salt and spices). If you don’t have a sauce you like, just refer back to my eggplant recipe for my sauce.
  • Seasonings to taste: Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt, pepper
  • Tomato sauce and/or tomato paste to adjust the consistency (optional)
  • Mushrooms (sliced)

My mother never served anything out of a can or jar without doing something to it. I believe I’ve inherited that tradition. Saute your mushrooms with some seasonings. Once they’ve sweated a bit, add your jar of marinara sauce and the other ingredients if you choose. Let this simmer in the background until your zucchini is done. Then, just toss with your zucchini and this dish is done!

If you’re serving this on the side of some protein, I would leave meat out of the sauce. If this dish is your main dish, add some meat to your sauce to make it a little heartier. I served this with an herb-crusted pan seared chicken.

This is very simple, and is often a recipe I fall back on. For variations, just change the sauce. Tired of marinara? Try a coconut milk “alfredo” sauce (I can post that recipe another day).

So for the weekend–I foresee less chicken recipes (you guys are probably sick of them… but they’re soooo easy, so expect many Monday-Friday), and an experimental and hopefully delicious recipe for your slow-cooker.

 

Enjoy!

Nuts.

I just got home from my first day of school. I still haven’t decided what to make for dinner, so I decided to make this to kill some time. These nuts are sinfully delicious. While you shouldn’t overzealously indulge in them, they do kill a sweet tooth (they also taste great with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk). Hope you like them.

Sinfully Sweet Nuts

  • About equal parts of three different kinds of raw nuts (I used about 1 2/3 cups each of walnuts, sliced almonds and hazelnuts. I’ve also done this with walnuts, sliced almonds and pecans. Be creative. Use four varieties, or just one or two. Use your imagination!)
  • About 1/2 cup of dried, shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1tsp to 1Tbsp of coconut oil (depends how much nuts you use. I think I used about 1.5 tsp)
  • 1tsp pure almond extract and/or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Lots of cinnamon
  • Drizzle of honey and/or agave nectar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Throw everything in a mixing bowl and mix.

Layer a cookie sheet with some parchment paper (so your nuts don’t stick.) (That sounded dirty.)

Pour your mix on your cookie sheet.

After mixing, pour your nut mix on the parchment paper & cookie sheet.

Flatten the nuts into a flat, single layer.

Flatten nuts onto a single layer, top with more coconut, honey and/or agave if you want it sweeter.

Bake for 15 minutes (stir, mix about halfway through so they don’t burn) and allow to cool.

Once the nuts have cooled slightly, place them in tupperware. Once they cool completely, they will form little clusters. Soooo good.

These held up fine for a week in tupperware on my kitchen counter. I doubt they’ll last much longer because they’re delicious.

Snack’s Done!!

Spicy Shredded Chicken

I love Mexican food. Before I went paleo, I could have literally eaten tacos for dinner every single day without getting sick of them. I love all the flavors and spiciness from Mexican food–chiles, cilantro, garlic and onions are staples in my fridge. Consequently, you guys will probably get more Mexican recipes than you bargained for. I will not apologize. =)

Today’s dinner was part leftovers, part improvisation, total deliciousness. Amie, my boyfriend’s sister, helped me with this one. Hope you enjoy.

Spicy Shredded Chicken

  • 12 chicken tenders (or chicken breast)
  • Water
  • Cilantro
  • Spices and Seasonings: LOTS of–cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chile powder, paprika, menudo or pozole spices, salt, pepper, lemon pepper, chile flakes

There are a few methods to preparing this dish. I will provide another method in the variations.

For this quicker recipe, get a pot, fill it about halfway with water (Just enough water to cover all the chicken once you add it). Then, add a lot of your seasonings. Our water turned red from all the spices we added. Heat the water and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add your chicken tenders. Allow your chicken to boil in the seasoned water. It will take about 15-30 minutes to cook (don’t worry if you let it boil for more time).

Once your chicken is done, pull it out and put it in a bowl. Let it cool. DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR BROTH!! Let your broth continue to simmer or boil in the background.

Once your chicken has cooled, break it apart with your fingers or with a fork.

Spicy Shredded Chicken, between ladles of broth.

Heat a pan, add a little fat of your choice if you’d like. Add your shredded chicken. Slowly, add a ladle of the leftover broth into the shredded meat. This will keep your chicken moist and bring back a lot of the flavors you developed in the sauce. Once the meat has absorbed the broth, add another ladleful. Continue until you’ve added most of the broth back into your chicken.

Check for seasonings before serving.

Dinner’s done!

This chicken can be used in a lot of ways. Serve over shredded lettuce, with tomatoes, onions, and lime juice for a taco salad. I served mine over some leftover cauliflower rice–and then topped it with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and lime juice (and tomatillo salsa). =)

Spicy Shredded Chicken, served over leftover cauliflower rice and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro.

Variations: Slow cooker!! Don’t worry about bringing the water/seasoning mixture to a boil. Just throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker, carry on with your day and come home to a deliciously slow cooked chicken. Just shred and reintroduce the broth to the meat before serving.

Fajitas!! (And yummy Mexican Cauliflower “Rice”)

Today’s recipe is so flavorful and delicious, you can serve it to your friends who aren’t paleo and they won’t miss a thing. I’ll present you with two variations. I made my boyfriend shrimp fajitas (which I will base today’s recipe on), but I made myself chicken fajitas since I’m not a big fan of seafood. To round at the dish I made a simple cauliflower dish to imitate Mexican rice. Top with sliced avocado, guacamole, pico de gallo (or all three) and you have a delectable dinner. The cauliflower dish takes longer, so if you’re going to have to two together, begin prep for the cauliflower before you start cooking the shrimp. Enjoy!!

Shrimp Fajitas (I’m guessing this makes about 4-6 servings)

  • A little of your fat of choice
  • 2.5 lbs of shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 onion (I used a red onion), sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (I used green), sliced
  • Green onion, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice from a lemon, or lime (I used a little bit of both)
  • Seasonings to taste: granulated onion, lemon pepper, salt, pepper, and menudo or pozole seasonings (This is an ingredient that is readily available at Latin markets. They contain a combination of dried oregano, garlic, citrus peel and chile flakes. Certain varieties–like those at Sprouts–contain sugar. Read the ingredients. Those at Latin markets don’t generally have sugar).

If your shrimp is frozen, let it thaw. Either way, rinse. In a large bowl (big enough to toss your shrimp), mix all of your seasonings then toss with your shrimp. Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of your veggies.

Slice your onions and bell peppers, chop your green onion and cilantro, and mince your garlic. Set aside half of your green onion, cilantro and garlic for the cauliflower “rice” (recipe to follow).

In a large pan (I used a wok), heat your fat of choice over medium, then add the onions, bell pepper and garlic. Once your veggies have softened a little, add your shrimp that you have allowed to sit in the seasonings. Squeeze in a little bit of the juice of a lemon or lime (or both). Once all the shrimp turns pink, remove from the heat. Add more seasonings to taste.

 

Mexican Style Cauliflower “Rice”

  • I head of cauliflower
  • 1 can/jar of diced tomatoes (drain excess liquid)
  • 1 can/jar of tomato sauce
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Seasonings to taste: Menudo or pozole seasoning, salt and pepper

To prep your cauliflower, rinse, then cut into florets. Dump your cauliflower into a medium saucepan (with a lid). Add a couple inches of water and heat. Boil/steam the cauliflower until it is soft. Once it’s soft, drain off all the excess liquid. Using a potato masher, break the cauliflower down until it “rices.” Add the cilantro, green onion, and garlic you reserved (above) to the mix in addition to the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Reheat while checking for seasonings. Once you have achieved your desired taste, serve the cauliflower “rice” with a little bit of your fajita mixture on top.

Chicken Fajitas Over Cauliflower "Rice"

 

Shrimp Fajitas Topped with Sliced Avocado and Fresh Pico de Gallo

Dinner’s done!!

Variations: You can substitute any other meat for the shrimp. I used chicken breast. Just adjust your cooking time. Fajitas are just like stir fry. Add as many different kinds of veggies as you’d like. Almost any veggie you have on hand would work in this dish.

 

Blueberry Crumble

Today was an incredibly busy day. Well, maybe not so much, but it felt like it. I began this morning with the olympic lifting class at RCCF then stayed for the metcon then finished off the day with a nice paleo potluck (Thanks again to Matt and Tamara for hosting!)

I wasn’t initially sure what kind of dish to take to the potluck. After my workout, though, I had no interest in going to the store (a recurring theme?) and really just wanted to rest. I decided I would go to the store later. I forgot, however, that I had maintenance coming over to make a few minor repairs–therefore hindering my ability to go to the store. I decided to make a dish with what I had on hand.

I had frozen blueberries. Lots of them. And almond meal. Bingo, blueberry cobbler. I skimmed a few recipes online for paleo blueberry cobbler, but they all had egg. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had just eaten our last eggs with some salsa for lunch. Coupled with my inability to go to the store between the hours of 12pm and 3pm, I knew I had to improvise. Not having the egg necessary for a cobbler, I decided to opt for a lower-maintenance crumble. Enjoy! This tastes like the top of a blueberry muffin without all the extra guilt. This would also go great over some paleo ice cream.

Blueberry Crumble

  • 1 small bag of frozen, unsweetened blueberries (let thaw and drain the excess liquid)
  • About 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1-2 Tbsp. almond butter
  • About 1/8c. – 1/4c. coconut flour
  • About 1/4 c. almond meal
  • About 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or 2 Tbsp. organic, unsalted butter (softened)
  • About 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • About 2 tsp. pure almond extract
  • Lots of cinnamon
  • Drizzle of honey and/or agave nectar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix everything except the blueberries into a baking dish. Break down the coconut oil or butter and the almond butter.

Add the blueberries and mix into the almond meal/coconut flour mixture. Add more cinnamon, honey and/or agave if you desire.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Hard to really say. I pulled mine out just before my blueberries burst.

Dessert’s done!!

Spicy Lemon Herb Chicken and Ratatouille

I impressed myself with this one. I had no idea what to make for dinner, and I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store after finishing my wod at RC Crossfit. I figured there would be something I could pull together from what I had at home.

The spicy lemon herb chicken was a no-brainer. I had plenty of chicken in the freezer and an abundance of fresh lemons in my fruit bowl (I left a bag of freshly-picked lemons at RCCF, have you been grabbing them??!). I knew I could bring the two together easily, but I had no idea what to do for a side dish. I looked at the vegetables I had in the fridge–leftover unadulterated eggplant from yesterday’s recipe, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and lonely little zucchini glared at me. Then it hit me, ratatouille!!

Today’s recipe is super easy. You can cook the ratatouille while the chicken is in the oven. I used chicken tenderloins so they cooked up super quickly. Enjoy!

Lemon Chicken

  • Olive oil
  • 5 chicken tenderloins
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Seasonings to taste: Garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasonings, lemon pepper, crushed red pepper flakes (I use a blend from Sprouts), salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange your chicken tenderloins. Season liberally then squeeze about half of the lemon juice over the chicken. Place in the oven. The chicken tenderloins took about 20-30 minutes. Halfway through, I flipped them, lightly seasoned the other side and squeezed the rest of the lemon juice over the chicken.

Ratatouille (The amounts I used are in the paragraphs, makes about 2-4 servings–two generous servings, four small servings)

  • Olive oil or other fat of choice (I have this amazing olive oil infused with garlic and this other amazing olive oil infused with basil.)
  • Eggplant (about 3 or 4 leftover medallions from yesterday’s eggplant recipe), diced
  • Zucchini (1 small little guy), diced
  • Bell Peppers (half of one green, though any color would be fantastic), diced
  • Carrots (half of a carrot, leftover from the chicken wrap slaw), diced
  • Tomatoes (one and a half), diced
  • Fresh parsley or other herb of choice (optional, I used about a Tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley)
  • Seasonings to taste: Garlic salt, pepper, Italian seasonings, lemon juice

*There are a few ways to make ratatouille. I didn’t want my vegetables to turn into mush, so I went with the slightly more time consuming method. I will cover the other method in the variations.

Heat a pan with a little bit of your fat of choice. Grab a clean bowl to keep nearby.

Add your eggplant to the hot pan and season lightly with your Italian seasonings, pepper, and a little bit of salt.

We will be salting and seasoning the veggies throughout, so don’t oversalt or overseason. You just want the salt and seasonings to help bring out some of the moisture and get a little flavor on your veggies.

Once the eggplant is just slightly cooked, remove from the pan and place in your bowl. Set aside.

You may need to add more oil to your pan between veggies. Use your own discretion. Add the diced zucchini to the hot pan. Season lightly. The hotter your pan, the better color and carmelization you can get on your veggies. Once your zucchini is nice and carmelized, remove and place in the bowl with the eggplant you set aside.

Re-oil your pan if necessary, add your diced peppers and lightly season. Remove and set aside with the eggplant and zucchini once they’re slightly softened.

Repeat the above steps with your carrots. Once they’re caramelized, remove. Ideally, your carrots will still have a little bite to them.

Now, add your tomatoes to the pan and repeat. These should be heated the longest to fully break them down and almost create a sauce. Once your tomatoes have thoroughly mushed, add the veggies you had set aside. Season to taste. This was when I added a splash of lemon juice to impart some acidity to the dish and tie my ratatouille to my chicken.

Dinner’s done!! Enjoy.

Eggplant

It’s my last day off before school begins again next week. Tomorrow it’s orientation/collaboration between the professor, writing instructors and other TA’s I work with. It appears I will be on campus Tuesday-Friday this semester, but I may add on another class. I’m hoping I can juggle everything fairly efficiently this semester.

I decided to make this dish because I had leftover meat sauce from a zucchini pasta dish I made the other day. I really wanted to use up the rest before it went bad, so I bought an eggplant from Sprouts.

Sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • Ground beef
  • Seasonings to taste: Italian seasonings, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper
  • Canned/jarred diced tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste

Heat pan with a little olive oil, and add ground beef and seasonings. When the beef is fully cooked, add the tomatoes, sauce and paste. If the consistency is too thick, add water. If it’s too thin, add more tomato sauce or paste. Add more seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Eggplant:

  • 1 smallish eggplant (I got  9 medallions out of mine)
  • Almond meal or coconut flour (I used coconut flour)
  • An egg (or two depending on the size of your eggplant)
  • Seasonings to taste: Italian seasonings, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash and cut the ends off of the eggplant. I peel the eggplant every inch or so around it (sometimes I find the skin too tough to cut through).

Cut the eggplant into (approximately) 1/2″ medallions.

Lay them on a cutting board and salt them to bring out some of the moisture.

Meanwhile, set up your other ingredients. You’ll need an egg, mixed with a little water in one shallow bowl or dish and in another shallow bowl or dish, place your almond meal or coconut flour with a generous mix of your seasonings (distribute with a fork).

Dip you eggplant medallions into the egg, then into your coconut flour mixture. Place the “breaded” medallion onto a cookie sheet. Repeat.

Once you’ve finished “breading” your eggplant, drizzle with a little olive oil (to help with crisping) and place into the oven for about 20-30 minutes (flip medallions about halfway through the cooking time).

Top with your meat sauce, then dinner’s done!

*Note. This was my first time making eggplant with coconut flour. Initially, I was thrilled that it had a texture more like flour, but I found that too much coconut flour caked on the eggplant does not cook well in the oven. If I were to use coconut flour again, I would probably pan fry. Almond meal works great either way, but it imparts a grainy texture that I don’t always appreciate. Try both and see which you prefer.

Variations:

Cook on the stove top. Heat a pan with your fat of choice and pan fry the eggplant medallions. This will usually get them a little more crispy. But unless you feel like babysitting a hot pan, putting the eggplant in the oven allows you to get some other things done.

For your vegetarian friends/family: Simply use a meat-free marinara sauce. Just don’t add the meat.

For chicken: Prepare the chicken breast just as you would the eggplant for a delicious main course option (I would probably use a meat-free marinara sauce if I was eating the chicken). This would go great with zucchini pasta!

Chicken Wraps

 

So here’s my very first post. On January 2, 2012, my Crossfit gym, RC Crossfit began a 40 day paleo challenge. I started my paleo challenge on January 1, 2012. It was the first Sunday of a new year and it just seemed to make sense.

I was a vegetarian when I first started Crossfit. After about a year, I slowly started to eat meat. During my first attempt at paleo, I was only eating chicken. I was still getting accustomed to the tastes and textures–which sometimes prevented me from eating after a few bites, even if I was still hungry. Needless to say, that attempt ended in failure.

This time around, I’ve started eating more kinds of meat. I feel more comfortable with the textures and I’ve gotten a little bit better at making meals that satisfy me. It’s the end of day 4, I haven’t cheated, I just ate paleo at a restaurant and turned down tortilla chips. All without an ounce of regret or second-thinking. I’m hoping this time will be a little more promising. So far, it appears that way.

Anyway, on to the food.

I apologize in advance–I’m terrible at determining ingredient amounts. I don’t generally (i.e. ever) measure when I cook, so play with your food according to your own tastes! These are all guestimates.

Also, there’s debate over vinegars, honey, agave and things like that. If they don’t have actual sugar, grains, rice, or any of the main things that scream “I’m not paleo,” then I’m comfortable using them in moderation.

Feel free to modify according to your own dietary tastes or needs.

Chicken Wraps with Slaw

Ingredients:

1 Rotisserie Chicken

Vinaigrette:

  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • About 1 Tbsp. of Honey
  • About 1/8 to 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Seasonings to taste: oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper

Vegetables for Slaw (I just made the slaw for myself and I had leftovers. I would guess this is enough slaw for 4 wraps)

  • Cucumber (I used about half of one)
  • Carrots (Again, only about half of one)
  • Cabbage (One big leaf)
  • Celery (One stick from the stalk (Is that what you call it?))

Wraps

  • Cabbage or lettuce leaves–whatever you have on hand (I used lettuce since I had cabbage in my slaw)

 

Pull chicken meat from bones and set aside.

 

For the vinaigrette:

Mix all ingredients except olive oil. Whisk mixture while slowly adding olive oil until you reach the desired consistency of your vinaigrette.

 

Slaw:

Wash and peel all vegetables (except cabbage) using a julienne peeler (I have the Titan peeler, it’s stainless steel and I highly recommend it!)

Slice cabbage into thin julienned ribbons (about the same size as all the other vegetables so all your veggies are consistent)

Mix veggies and toss with the vinaigrette (you probably won’t use all of it).

 

 

Assemble your washed lettuce or cabbage leaves, pile on some slaw and top with the chicken (I topped mine with tomato slices)!

 

 

Dinner’s done.