Step by Step: How to make tostones (fried green plantains)

Wow, what a week it has been! This past Sunday was Mark and mine’s first anniversary and we celebrated on Tuesday by going to probably the best restaurant in St. John’s, Raymond’s. We’ve been planning and saving for this dinner for a looooong time, so I did not stress about staying AIP-compliant. They were, however, very accommodating in making sure everything I had was gluten-free. It was a perfect night out!

Then on Wednesday I graduated from university with my B. Sc. in Ecology and Conservation Biology! I won’t drone on about how freaking amazing it feels to go from high school dropout to college graduate, but DAMN it feels good! Whoever you are, don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. If you put in the time and hard work, you really can accomplish anything.

I celebrated by going out for lunch with Mark and my dad, then Mark and I took Bella for a nice hike out to Freshwater Bay (where there was an iceberg) and we spent some time relaxing in the sunshine before hiking back. Then we came home and drank a bottle of champagne! I would be completely happy if the only alcohol I could ever have again was champagne. It is soooo delicious and it never makes me feel like crap! Obviously, I chose not to worry about AIP this day either. 

But I’m back on the AIP train, at least until we embark on our road trip back to Kentucky. Thankfully one of my favourite foods, plantains, is AIP-friendly! I thought I would share a little step-by-step of how I make my tostones, or fried green plantains. If you’ve never tried plantains before, now is the time. That are so crunchy and salty and just absolutely freaking amazing. And even though there are a few steps involved, they really aren’t difficult to make. I’ve gotten pretty quick and efficient at since I make them pretty much any time I find plantains at the grocery.

 

Start with green plantains! It’s okay if they are starting to turn yellow, but they should still be mostly green.

Chop the ends off, cut the plantains in half, and then score down the length of the plantain with a knife. You want to cut through the peel, but not too deeply into the flesh.

Then peel them! Sometimes the peels come off easily, but other times not so much. If part of a peel is being very troublesome, I will slice it off with my knife. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Next, slice the plantains into about 1-inch thick slices.

Now is when you cook these little guys for the first time (yup, you need to cook them twice!). I use coconut oil because it can withstand heat well and I don’t find it gives any coconut flavour, but avocado oil would be another good choice. Anyways, you want enough so that 1/4 to 1/3 of the plantain is in oil. Cook covered on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes per side, until they are lightly golden.

While your plantains are cooking, set up your plantain smashing station. You will need a small bowl of cold water, a small plate for smashing, a surface to smash on, and paper towels to drain the plantains after dipping in water.

Once your plantains are done cooking, transfer them to your smashing surface. If you have patience, it helps to let them cool down a few minutes before moving on. If you are like me, then go ahead and use your plate to gently smoosh one plantain at a time. If it is stuck to the plate use a fork to carefully remove it. Then dip the plantain in the cold water and set on a paper towel to drain. Repeat one million times for the rest of the plantain pieces.

After you have smooshed, dipped, and dried all the plantain pieces, turn the heat on your pan up to medium high and throw those precious plantains back in the pan! Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Add more oil as needed… you really want them sitting in the oil, not just a dry pan. I also usually have to do the second cooking in two batches, because, ya know, they take up more space now that they are flat. Once they are done cooking, transfer to fresh paper towels to soak up some of the oil before serving. 

These are perfect to eat plain with a sprinkle of salt, or you can really doctor them up. They are great loaded up with pulled pork, taco meat, or chipotle mayo. And a classic is to eat them with them with some avocado. Another winner is eating these with some fried eggs. The possibilities are endless!

These are great leftover too… just reheat in a lightly greased pan and they taste exactly like they do freshly made!

 

Tostones (fried green plantains)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 medium green plantains
  • ~1/2 cup coconut oil (amount will vary based on the size of your pan)
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Chop the ends off the plantains, cut in half, score the skin down the length, and remove the peel.
  2. Cut into 1-inch thick slices.
  3. Cook covered in large pan over medium with enough oil to reach ¼ to ⅓ the way up the sides of each plantain slice. 4-5 minutes per side, until lightly golden.
  4. Once cooked, gently smash one slice at a time with the flat surface of a plate. Dip the smashed slice into a bowl of cool water, then transfer to paper towel to drain.
  5. Turn the pan up to medium high heat.
  6. Return the smashed and drained slices to the pan to cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Add more oil as needed to ensure the slices are really sizzling in the oil. You may need to cook the smashed plantains in two batches.
  7. Transfer to fresh paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  8. Eat them all!

 

Continue Reading

AIP “Chocolate” Banana Smoothie

Holy moley you guys… I’m graduating in two weeks and I’m moving back to Kentucky in four weeks. AH! Time is flying by so fast. And I have sooooo much to do before we leave, but I am not exactly sure what I need to do. Things come to me at random moments and I just think to myself “Ah well, remember to get that done when you have a minute!” But then I forget. I should probably start a list or something, because lord knows I will never remember everything. Unfortunately, I’m not much of list person… I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person. My stress would probably drop by half if I became a list person. Maybe someday…

Anyways, enough about that. Let’s talk about this smoothie. When I first started AIP, I was hungry for a week. I just didn’t realize how much of my normal foods had become off limits and I was unprepared. I was also saddened knowing that chocolate wasn’t allowed. This may sound terrible, but these things led me to create this DELICIOUS smoothie, which I now have about 3x week. It’s rich and creamy with a good ratio of fat, carbs, and protein (if you include the collagen peptides), which helps  keep me full when I didn’t have quite enough real food prepped for breakfast or lunch. And it’s chocolatey, thanks to carob powder. If you aren’t on AIP, feel free to swap the carob powder for cocoa powder. Another bonus is the maca root powder, which has excellent hormone balancing properties, something most of us could use, especially if you are dealing with a chronic illness. So there you have it… stop reading my babble and go make this smoothie!

 

AIP "Chocolate" Banana Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ tbls maca root powder
  • 1½ tbls carob powder
  • 1½ tbls collagen peptides (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

 

Continue Reading

Sorry, I’ve Been Too Tired to Post

Well, I think after I gave up coffee that was it… I just didn’t have the energy to post for 6 months. Rough times. 

Haha okay so I really did not have the energy to post these last few months, but it wasn’t because I gave up coffee! Let me give you a quick synopsis of the health issues which have been keeping down these past few months… 

Last summer the severe fatigue began settling in. I struggled to get through every day and regardless of how much sleep I got, I just needed more. Things that I used to enjoy, like hanging out with family and riding horses, became nothing more than a big vacuum sucking the life out of me. I thought it was just the summer heat and all the running I was doing in preparation for my half-marathon, so I brushed it off and told myself to just suck it up and push through. In hindsight I really should have listened to the big loud warnings my body was giving me to just slow down a little, but of course hindsight is 20/20. When I noticed my hair falling out and a bald spot on my scalp in September, I began to realize something actually might be wrong. So I went to the doctor, who took some blood and told me everything was fine. Thanks, doc, that really helps me feel better! Not.

I began to suspect hypothyroidism, as I had the classic symptoms (fatigue, hair loss, cold feet and hands, brain fog, migraines, poor exercise recovery, and on and on…). I went to a naturopath, who seemed to agree that I had something going on with my thyroid and also likely adrenal gland imbalances. It felt amazing to finally have someone listen to me and believe me! However, I still didn’t have the lab results to prove it and while the natural remedies I used did help some, I never really felt 100%. And then I crashed again over Christmas break, where I did little but sleep and lose more hair, gaining another bald spot!

I was luckily able to get in with a new doctor in January. Ah yes, this doctor would run a complete thyroid panel and answer all my questions! Or so I thought. While he was a nice man, he refused to run a thyroid panel based off the excellent blood work that had been drawn months ago (despite my numerous symptoms…). He referred me to a rheumatologist, suggesting I might have lupus or fibromyalgia. The rheumatologist didn’t seem to agree, but he also didn’t have any idea why I would have these symptoms, but finally agreed to run two of the thyroid tests I had asked for. Those came back normal, though I never was actually able to see the results, so they could have very well been low but in range.

Frustrated with doctors telling me it was all in my head, I forked over the cash and purchased my own thyroid assessment from True Health Labs, the results of which I got back a few weeks ago. While several numbers were quite normal, several others were not (like my free T4 hormone which fell at the bottom of the reference range), and could very easily explain many of my symptoms. 

Enter AIP…

AIP, the autoimmune protocol, is a special diet used to reduce inflammation in those with autoimmune disease or chronic illness (read more about it here). Even though I don’t have a diagnosed autoimmune disease, I had thought about trying out this diet for several months to see if it could help with my symptoms, because inflammation is a huge factor in any type of chronic illness. My Canadian visa expired recently, and with it my healthcare, so I decided to jump in a give it a go because I am quite literally out of other options. I have been on AIP for 3 weeks now, and I feel AMAZING!!! While I am still experiencing many symptoms, the worst one, fatigue, is disappearing. I have energy and motivation again! Hence why I am blogging again. 

I still don’t have a really clear picture of what is going on. Could it be the beginning of Hashimoto’s disease (a thyroid autoimmune condition) or are my thyroid problems secondary to my adrenal dysfunction (resulting from high physical and mental stress)? I hope to find an answer in the coming months and in the meantime I plan to share more about my journey! 

Continue Reading

My brush with insanity: giving up coffee!

9716coffee

Let me begin by making one thing clear: I love coffee. I love coffee black, I love it in a latte, I love it in its many other forms. I’ve been drinking coffee every single day for at least ten years. The amount I drink each day has varied, from 1 or 2 cups to an entire pot. Unfortunately, I don’t think coffee loves me (not right now anyway). 

It’s really about the caffeine, not so much the coffee. Drinking caffeine first thing in the morning causes your adrenal glands to shoot adrenaline and cortisol into your system in a classic “fight-or-flight” response. This is what makes us feel more awake and alert, especially if we didn’t get enough sleep the night before, and is partially why we love it so much. It may not seem like a very big deal, but to your body, it’s a fairly stressful experience. This, coupled with many lifestyle factors, can lead to some problems with your adrenals and their natural rhythm. 

Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you give up your daily coffee. Most people living healthy lives can handle a daily cup of coffee without problem. However, if you’re in place where you are under chronic stress, which is in and of itself already taxing on the adrenal glands, it may be worthwhile to think about checking your caffeine intake. So when I discovered that I have some degree of adrenal dysfunction (more on that in another post), I knew it was time to ditch the caffeine. I decided to to just go for it and quit cold turkey. I’m still fairly sentimental about my daily coffee ritual though, so I’ve switched to decaf coffee for the time being. Here’s how it went:

Day 1

The worst day. I was up at 6am, in my usual fog, and got ready for a full day at school sipping my decaf. The fog never subsided, and the headache had set in by 9am. I struggled to stay awake through my first two classes. I was hoping eating lunch would help, but alas, I ended up dozing in my chair for 20 minutes after I finished eating. Just to be clear, I’ve never been the “falling asleep at school” type. I aroused myself, and set out to find something sugary to give me a jumpstart. Since I was on a Whole30, actual sugar wasn’t an option so I settled for a Larabar, followed by a walk around campus. It helped a little, but I struggled through the afternoon. I took Tylenol mid-afternoon, and by evening I was feeling a bit better. Unfortunately this led to difficulty in getting to sleep that night.

Day 2

I had a late class and was able to wake up naturally and this made a huge difference in how I felt. I was a bit foggy and had a dull headache, but overall I didn’t feel too terrible. It gave me hope that I could do this!

Day 3

I was back to waking up early to my alarm, and this definitely made things more difficult. This day was a lot like the first day, though perhaps not quite as bad. Luckily I only had two classes later in the day, but it was a struggle all day to get anything accomplished. My brain just didn’t want to function! I ended up taking a nap mid-morning and that helped a little, but not much. Once again though, as evening came, I started to feel better, leading to sleep difficulties that night. I’m thinking that perhaps because I am no longer use caffeine as a crutch to help me through the mornings, that I am now feeling the true dysfunction in my adrenals, which is low cortisol in the morning and high cortisol in the evenings, opposite of what it should be.

Days 4 and 5

These days were not great. I felt a cold starting in on day 4, so naturally I was tired. My brain was still foggy and I had a dull headache, which I attribute to the caffeine withdrawal, but the fatigue was certainly because of the cold. Luckily, I was able to manage one good night of sleep and rested a ton throughout both days.

Day 6

This was the light at the end of the tunnel. Despite sleeping horribly, I woke up feeling quite good. Sure, I would have loved for bit of coffee to give me that extra boost, but I felt like I could manage without it. No headache, no brain fog, and my cold symptoms had subsided. I made it through the day feeling relatively good! Who knew that was possible without coffee?! 

Day 7

Yes, I can do this. Coffee is not necessary for life, contrary to popular belief. I felt good upon waking and throughout the day. I did (and still do) feel a bit slower getting fully awake in the mornings. I’m no longer jolted into the day with coffee, and now it’s more of slow roll into being fully present.

 

So, is caffeine out of my life for good? I don’t think so. But for the time being, daily consumption isn’t an option. I mean, I’m not going to let these days of misery go to waste! 

Continue Reading

“Did Not Start”: Choosing not to the run the Huffin Puffin Half-Marathon.

92516didnotstart

I shared much of journey training for the Huffin Puffin half-marathon on here, so I thought I should explain why I never actually ran it this morning. Making the decision not to run was not easy. Even last night I found myself still going back and forth in my head: to run or not to run? But the answer was ultimately no. 

I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed tears this morning as I watch the competitors run by my house this morning. I worked SO hard this summer to be able to be one of those runners. But it just wasn’t meant to be. You may remember 5 or so weeks I sustained a strain to my lower quad muscle. I thought for sure I would be healed and back running within a week, but every time I tried to run, it hurt. It hurt in weird ways and in all sorts of different places between my hips and my knee, during a run and long after I had finished. Running was not going to help anything, so I thought if I just stopped running altogether, it would heal in time for me to run a slow and easy half-marathon.

However, last Sunday I attempted an easy 3 miles to test out how it was feeling, and it became apparent to me that if I ran 13.1 miles I would likely end up in worse shape than when I first got hurt. That’s when I came to realize that my half-marathon dreams were not going to come true. Not this time anyway. I have no idea when I will be able to run again. My body is resistant to healing and demanding rest right now, so that’s what I’m going to give it. 

Continue Reading

Whole30 Thick and Smoky BBQ Sauce

I haven’t really mentioned it, but Mark and I are in the middle (literally, day 16!) of another round of Whole30! We jumped on the September Whole30 bandwagon just two days after arriving back in Newfoundland. Starting immediately really sets the stage for making good choices through the rest of our time here. This Whole30 has been fairly similar to last one… that is, it has been easy. Now, this comes after four other not-so-easy Whole30s (and several more unsuccessful attempts), so if you are rolling your eyes at me as you struggle to forgo the bread, trust me when I say, I’ve been there! At this point though, it is much more natural. Honestly, I think life after Whole30 is much harder than doing the actual 30 days. So perhaps that will be my next goal… dealing with things better in life after.

So Mark and I have gone wild for these BBQ Bacon Onion Bombs from Fed and Fit and have been making them regularly. After starting our Whole30 though, we’ve had to tweak them a bit to make them compliant. First we had to ditch the bacon, because compliant bacon does not exist in Newfoundland (I still check every time at the grocery store though… you never know…) Then we had to come up with a compliant barbeque sauce. That is another very tricky thing to find, so I just decided to make my own! 

9/19/16-whole30bbq

Now, I’m typically a sweet barbeque sauce kind of gal, and unfortunately that is a bit hard to achieve when you’re cutting out sugar. Luckily I was able to add a touch of sweetness using dates and I think I made up for the rest by adding in delicious smoky hint, thanks to smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder. I hope you enjoy it too!

9/19/16-whole30bbq2

Whole30 Thick and Smoky BBQ Sauce
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: ~3 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tbls ghee
  • 4 large pitted dates
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1½ tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp all-spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by placing the dates in a small bowl or cup and covering with ½ cup very hot water. Cover the dish with a lid, allowing the dates to soak for 10 minutes.
  2. While the dates are soaking, add the remaining ingredients to a medium sauce pan under medium heat. Whisk the ingredients together then bring to a simmer.
  3. After the dates have finished soaking, the outer skin should have started to separate from the date. Peel this off. You do not have to get every last bit, but getting most of the skin helps contribute to a smooth consistency once they are blended.
  4. After peeling, place dates and the water they were soaked in in a blender and blend on high until a smooth, pourable paste forms. More water may be added as needed.
  5. Transfer this date paste to the sauce simmering on the stovetop and combine.
  6. The sauce can be used immediately, or it can be cooled and placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Continue Reading

Small Steps to Sustainability: Personal Hygiene

I talk a lot about food on here. I love food. Talking about it, making it, eating it… it all makes me happy. But as it turns out, there are a few things other than food that are worth my attention. Once I started paying attention to what I was putting into my body and how the food I purchase affects my community, the environment, and the world, I started thinking about what I put ON my body too. It’s been a real eye-opening journey realizing how many hundreds of toxic chemicals are in a basic body care products. These toxins are not only absorbed directly into our body, but also make their way into the environment when we wash them down the sink or throw away that mostly empty bottle of shampoo. 

I’m still working on making changes to less harmful products, but I thought I would share some of the basic personal hygiene areas where I have made changes and the products that I use and love! And if you looking for more information check out the Environmental Working Group’s consumer guides, especially their Skin Deep database, which allows you to search different products to see how safe they are!

Soap/Body Wash

drbronners

Dr. Bronner’s is my all-time favourite soap. I use it as a body wash and for shaving, but it can be used a million other ways (like as shampoo or as a veggie wash). The ingredients are completely natural, with most of them being organic and fair-trade. I feel good using it knowing it’s less harmful to the environment, to those that grow the ingredients, and to my own body. And it actually works really well! Another bonus is the bottle is made from recycled plastic. My favourite scents are peppermint and lavender!

Deodorant

primalpitpaste

Pretty much every conventional antiperspirant or deodorant you can find on you local grocery store’s shelves are chock full of bad stuff, like aluminum, parabens (estrogen mimickers), and triclosan. Antiperspirants of any kind are not the best for you, because sweating is a actually good thing– expelling toxins, cleaning pores, and maintaining optimal body temperature. I’m not looking to mess up the good thing my body has going, so I just stay away from antiperspirants unless I have a big presentation or a job interview.

That leaves me with natural deodorants. I’ve tried quite a few, and most of them didn’t work. That was until I found Primal Pit Paste! I used it all summer, where I worked outside on a farm in 90+ degree heat, and I didn’t send anyone running from my stench. It does take a little time to get used to natural deodorants, and sometimes there is even a short period where you seem to sweat more and stink worse. But if you just hang in there, it’s worth it! Lavender and Jasmine are my favourite Primal Pit Paste scents so far. I have used both the stick and the paste, and I like them both equally, but the stick is a lot more convenient for travel.

Shampoo/Conditioner

jasonshampoo

I tried going totally crunchy and did the no-poo method, using a baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse, for about 5 months. It actually worked quite well, but my hair just didn’t feel as soft or have as much body. So I switched back to store-bought shampoos and conditioners. Instead of going back to Dove or Herbal Essence, I sought out a more natural formula, especially one without parabens and phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors (they mess with your natural hormone system!) Currently, I’m using the Jason line of products and I’m quite happy with it. I have also used Hugo Naturals with success! These brands are typically easy to find and don’t break the bank. 

Continue Reading

Grain-Free Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Banana Bread

I’m baaaaack! I’ve spent the past two weeks, packing, traveling, then unpacking as Mark and I made the long journey from Kentucky to Newfoundland. The trip itself took 4 full days of driving, plus one overnight ferry ride, but thankfully it is over and we are all moved into our new apartment! I’m pretty excited about our apartment for a few reasons. We lived in a 10×10 room all summer and shared a kitchen and bath with roommates, so this is our first real home together as newlyweds! It’s also in a beautiful neighbourhood and has a large backyard that backs up to a river. Even better, our upstairs neighbours seem to be fairly normal, respectable people, which is a far cry from my previous upstairs neighbours who I’m 99% sure went bowling down their hallway between 11pm and 2am every night. So overall, I’m pretty happy about our current situation.

Unfortunately it is sooooo cold here. We went from temps in the 90s in Kentucky, to the 40s here. It could be worse, I suppose, because at least the wind isn’t blowing 100 km/h (though I know it won’t be long before I get to experience that!). Ah well… as it is my last year in Newfoundland, I am determined to enjoy it– bad weather and all.

On to Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Banana Bread. Well now that’s a mouthful! Of deliciousness. One night when I was chewing on a banana and Mark was eating some chocolate covered espresso beans, I decided to try the two together. It was pretty awesome, and because I had just gotten a giant bag of cassava flour, I knew I needed to turn it into a banana bread! Guys, if you have never used cassava flour, it will change your grain-free lives! This is the brand I use, and so far I’m pretty happy with it’s texture and taste. I’ve never been wild about the results I get with grain-free baking, but this tastes and feels like the real deal! I used chocolate-covered espresso beans from Trader Joe’s, which have a fairly clean ingredient list. 

9:5:16bananabread

Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Banana Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup chocolate covered espresso beans
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ coconut oil (softened)
  • ¾ cup reduced fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add the lemon juice to the coconut milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. While the coconut milk sits, mash the bananas in a medium bowl until smooth.
  4. Add the coconut milk and remaining wet ingredients (coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract) to the bananas and mix well, stirring for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients (cassava flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, espresso beans) in a separate medium bowl.
  6. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until well combined.
  7. Pour the batter into a lightly greased or parchment paper lined 8"x4" loaf pan.
  8. Bake for ~1 hour.
  9. Once removed from the oven, allow the bread to cool for 15 min, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Eat a slice slathered in butter!

 

Continue Reading

Creamy Chicken Salad

8:18:16chickensalad

I haven’t run in almost three days. I’m going insane. And it’s my own fault. Okay, so this past Saturday I was having a blast swimming at my aunt’s pool. I was going hard, trying to beat my husband and get more diving rings than him, even though he ALWAYS wins, and felt a slight strain on my lower quad. No big deal. I kept swimming, ran a 5k later that night (setting a PR!), then 10 miles the next morning. Of course the slight strain started to feel a bit worse after all that, so I took Monday off from running. Then Tuesday I got up and pushed through to do a difficult 8.5 mile interval run, followed by work (where I’m on my feet all day), and by evening I could barely walk. Silly me. So yesterday I was stuck laying around all day not running, today I didn’t run, and let’s be honest, I probably shouldn’t tomorrow either. My body has just felt so run down lately, and I should have listened to it and backed off a little on my mileage, but I didn’t. Well now I’m paying for it! I’m sure it will be fine, but just take a lesson from me, and listen to your body. It knows what’s up!

Alright, so enough sadness. Here is a delicious recipe to cheer up this post! Chicken salad is mine and my husband’s favorite lunch ever. Seriously. We have “chicken salad week” about once a month, where we prep 5-6 lbs of this stuff and eat it for lunch every day through the week. It’s really the best. I use my homemade mayonnaise in this recipe, which adds a bit of different flavor than using store-bought mayo. Not to mention it’s healthier. I love to eat this over a bed of greens, though it would be great with lettuce roll-ups or between some gluten-free bread! Also, so long as your mayo and dijon are compliant, this recipe is Whole30-friendly.

8:18:16chickensalad2

 

Creamy Chicken Salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and finely diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1½ cups grapes, halved
  • 1 batch homemade mayo
  • 2 tbls dijon mustard
  • 1 tbls dried parsley
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Get your mayo started by bringing the egg to room temperature. While the egg is sitting out, finely dice the chicken and celery and halve your grapes.
  2. Make your mayo accordingly.
  3. Add spices to mayo and stir until well combined.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, celery, grapes, and mayo dressing.
  5. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and serve later!

 

Continue Reading

Small Steps to Sustainability: Switch Up Your Fats!

When you’re diving into the “real food” movement and trying to learn what’s healthful for your body, it can be so overwhelming. There’s a lot of information out there and even more ways to change your diet and lifestyle. If you are looking to change, it can be very helpful to just start small. No need to overhaul everything at once (though if you are up for it, feel free!) These small changes are much more sustainable in the long run than being overwhelmed by one huge one. When I first started reading about real foods, my mind was boggled because it was just so radically different from anything I had ever heard before. I was committed to trying it though, and I began by making simple changes, such as swapping out bread for a lettuce wrap.

            One simple and fairly easy change that can have a drastic influence is switching up the fats you use. Fats are so important to the proper function of our bodies. Taking it back to high school biology, every one of our cells has a lipid (that is, FAT) membrane, which gives the cell its integrity. It prevents molecules from entering and exiting the cell all willy-nilly. There are a few different kinds of fats:

8:16:16fats2

-Saturated fatty acids (SFAs). They have no double bonds in their carbon chain allowing them to sit very tightly next to one another and remain stable. Because of this, these fats are often solid at room temperature.

-Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). They have a single double bond in their carbon chain, which throws a “kink” in the chain and makes them slightly more unstable than SFAs. They are usually liquid at room temperature, but solidify when chilled.

-Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). They have multiple double bonds in their carbon chain, causing more kinks and even more instability than MUFAs. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are PUFAs and are necessary in our diets, as our bodies cannot synthesize them.

-Trans fatty acids. These are unsaturated fatty acids that have been hydrogenated in a lab to change the type of double bond in the fatty acid chain from a cis to trans double bond. This removes the “kink” in the chain so that the fat resembles a SFA. These fats are rarely found in nature, and they are very reactive in the body, making them a pretty bad deal. Some countries have even banned them.

 

8:16:16fat

 

So, what’s good or bad?

Saturated and monounsaturated fats are good! We need both in our diets and in our cell walls. SFAs give our cell walls rigidity, while the MUFAs provide enough flexibility to our cells they can slide around without causing damage.

Trans fats (sometimes called partially hydrogenated oils) should be avoided at all costs. They are foreign to our bodies and have been found to be associated with heart disease. There is just nothing good about them!

 

What about PUFAs?

Polyunsaturated fats are… well, it’s complicated. We certainly don’t need a ton of PUFAs in our diet, and what we get from eating a well-balanced, whole foods, diet should provide us with exactly what we need. They are found in nuts, seeds, seafood, and meats. However, because of their instability, PUFAs have a tendency to become oxidize, form free radicals, and wreak havoc in our bodies. This is especially true when you are using high-PUFA oil for cooking and eating, where it has a huge opportunity to oxidize, which can happen anytime it’s exposed to heat, light, or air. Generally, it’s best to steer clear of these types of cooking fats and plan on getting your omegas from food sources, 

 

Now that you’re an expert in fats, here’s a list of some common cooking/eating fats to avoid, followed by a list of what you can use to replace them!

 

Avoid:

-Corn oil

-Soybean oil

-Canola oil

-Sunflower seed

-Safflower

-Grape Seed

 

Enjoy:

-Butter: no one needs to be told how delicious butter is. Now you can eat it without fear!

-Ghee (clarified butter): It’s better tolerated by those with dairy intolerances and great used anywhere you use butter. Ghee also has a fairly high smoke point, making it great for sautéing and roasting. I love roasting sweet potatoes in ghee, cinnamon, and salt!

-Rendered animal fats: lard, tallow, duck and chicken fat… it’s all pretty darn tasty. They are great for frying or roasting, and lard in particular is perfect for baking. Try to source your fats from the best possible source to ensure they haven’t been bleached, hydrogenated, or had anything else weird done to them.

-Avocado oil: this fat is mild in taste while also being quite stable, allowing it to hold up well to heat. It’s great for roasting or for making mayo and salad dressings.

-Coconut oil: coconut is high in SFAs, making it veeeeery stable and excellent for high heat cooking. Not to mention it’s delicious. Try to stay away from the refined and stick to the virgin oil. I use it every day to fry my eggs in!

-Olive oil: it’s no secret olive oil is a good fat! However, it’s best for use at low heat or for finishing a dish and in dressings. It doesn’t have a high number of SFAs, allowing it break down more readily when exposed to heat. Plus, the flavor is much better when it hasn’t been cooked!

Continue Reading