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Coconut Chicken (again)

Made another set of coconut chicken, not sure yet when it’s going to be just right, but I’m working on the right combination.
Today’s was a little spicy but I loved it.

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour (quinoa is debatable as paleo since it’s a seed but considered a grain to some but I like using the flour better than almond or coconut flour for these types of chicken)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon desert salt
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened almond

Preheat oven to 350°
1. Mix together dry ingredients in a shallow bowl.
2. Mix egg and almond milk in another shallow bowl.
3. Dredge chicken in mixture, allowing any extra mixture to drip off.
4. Dredge in coconut and flour mixture and place on baking sheet. I used a slipat sheet to avoid any extra oil because I’ve found that the coconut will brown too quickly.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.

All About: Grass-Fed Beef

As Jo Robinson from says, ”If you eat a typical amount of beef per year, which in the United States is about 67 pounds, switching to grass-fed beef will save you 16,642 calories a year.”

So as we’re all making the change to fuel ourselves with better foods, let’s take a deeper look into why we should choose organic grass-fed meats over grain-fed and “average-joe” meats from the local supermarket. What makes this more expensive version better for you? Why should you select your meats carefully? What benefits will I get by choosing a grass-fed steak over a grain-fed? You not only want to think about your meats, but also the butter that comes from these cows!

Let’s start at the beginning: as a paleo convert, you are no longer consuming grains and legumes (which of course varies depending on your body, needs, and goals). What happens when you eat an animal that’s been fed with grain, corn, soy, and growth hormones to get all plump before butchering? All the work you’re doing to avoid gluten and grains goes out the window because essentially you’re eating what they did. These foods (which are often GMOs) create unhealthy environments in the digestive systems of animals, particularly the intestines. You’re facing a handful of issues when you’ve got unhealthy, GMO filled animals that most likely are also given growth hormones and are never given a chance to graze in pastures. 

When cattle is allowed to graze, they are able to convert the carotenids found in grass to convert to Vitamins A & E. Let’s not forget all the extra exercise and healthy muscles they are building from being able to roam (YUM!) What are these vitamins good for? 

Vitamin A is essential for your immune system, cell health, reproduction, eyesight, and skin, while Vitamin E provides antioxidants to defend against cancer, heart disease, and blocking nitrosamine creation (poisons in your stomach created from nitrates in the foods you eat). This meat also contains higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and are lower in fat/leaner.
What other nutritious high levels do these meats contain? 

  • Beta Carotene
  • Selenium
  • B Vitamins
  • Omega-3
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • CLA
  • Zinc

What about Omegas?
Your body needs both Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s, but with the American/Western diet as it is now, the Omega-6 coming into your bodies has been HIGH, at a ratio somewhere around 20-30:1. What you’re ideally looking for is a 1:1 ratio, but grass-fed beef has a 3:1 ratio, compared to 

Lean Cows
One thing to remember is that it is not only the grass that makes a difference, but also the breed and the cow itself. While you can have two different cows raised by the same farmer, one may be fattier and have more marbles in its cut than another. Not all cows are created equal, even in the same pastured conditions. You will even find that the fat from grass-fed cows have a different tint than the one that you have been used to. Because of the high levels of beta carotene, the fat tends to have more of a yellowish hue to it. Don’t shy away!

Paleo Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries and raspberries
  • coconut oil
  1. Heat a cast iron flat pan over medium heat and season with coconut oil.
  2. Blend all ingredients except for fruit and then fold in the fruit.
  3. Drop a 1/4 cup of batter on the pan and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes, depending on your pan. When browned on the bottom, flip once and allow to cook through and brown on the other side. 
  4. Serve with extra fresh fruit and maple syrup and enjoy!

Sesame Ginger Ahi Tuna Salad

What better way to enjoy a snow day than to spend all day in the kitchen? Well, this recipe doesn’t quite take a whole day to make, but between marinating, thinking about the recipe, comparing it to others, and finally making it, it felt like all day to me. And the anticipation?

Worth it.

Dierberg’s had a sale on yellowtail tuna loin this week, so I got a nice little 1+ lb cut and thought all week about what to make. Sushi-lovers will love the sesame and ginger taste, reminiscent of the sushi rolls that are only slightly paleo in your new world. But, I don’t miss the rice and I love how full I was when it was done. I think my favorite part of this was how the different flavors helped to cut out the bitterness of the arugula, which I’ve always had an issue with when adding it to salads. The salad served 2.

Sesam Ginger Ahi Tuna Salad

  • 1 1/4 lb yellowtail tuna loin
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 T white sesame seeds
  • 2 T sesame oil 
  • 1/2 piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 t raw honey
  • 10 T coconut oil

  • 2 handfuls organic arugula
  • 2 handfuls organic spinach
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 carrot, shredded
  • handful tomato cherries, sliced in half
  • 3 radishes, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
  • 3 baby red peppers, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  •  ~10 stalks chives, diced
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  1. Prepare tuna loin by cutting to about 1 inch piece, either square or loin shape. Place in a bowl and marinate with garlic and sesame oil. Cover bowl and let sit in refrigerator for about 2 hours. 
  2. While the tuna is marinating, prepare your salad. Layer the arugula and spinach at the bottom, topped with the tomatoes, red onions, celery, radishes, peppers, and carrots. To keep it fresh while waiting for the marinade to finish, you can cover it with a damp paper towel and wrap with saran wrap. 
  3. Heat a small cast iron pan with coconut oil to medium heat. 
  4. Add tuna loin and sear for 1 minute.
  5. Flip and sear the other side for an additional minute.  
  6. Remove the tuna to the side to sit for ~10 minutes. Prepare to candy the ginger by adding the raw honey to the hot pan.
  7. Add the ginger and saute for a few minutes. Remove the ginger to the side and remove the pan from heat. 
  8. Create your salad dressing by adding the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice to the pan, whisking to gather the flavors from the tuna, sesame, and ginger. 
  9. After allowing the tuna to sit for about 5-10 minutes, cut with the grain and slice your tuna slices onto your salad. Top with the chopped chives and a tablespoon or two of your salad dressing and enjoy!

Starting anew on the paleo diet

New year, new blog theme, new format, and new advice to restart on the paleo diet. 

As we learned at the first nutritional seminar yesterday at CrossFit Edwardsville, living the paleo life is really a cycle. While there are moments when you may stray from the lifestyle, you also want to learn that it shouldn’t just be a 30 day challenge, or even a 90 day one. What you’re looking to do is change your lifestyle, not just your habits for the month. 

I’ve been part of the paleo community for a little over three years now and I’ve definitely gone through my cycles, going back and forth between the paleo/whole food diet and the busy American life diet where, admit it, you don’t always make the best choices. I’ve moved between states, changed boxes, changed jobs, found myself in a flux of life changes and didn’t quite stick to what I should have. So as we greet this new year and greet the new challenge set upon our nutritional group at the box, it’s time to make some new goals and get back to the whole food life. 

So where do you start? We went over making your shopping list and your meal plan for the first week, but what happens when you go home and you’re putting everything away? You’ve still got all those sneaky ingredients staring you in the face that don’t need to be part of your new lifestyle! You’ve got two scenarios here: you’re alone and trying to change your lifestyle or you’ve got the household on board to make the change with you. Let’s go through both scenarios and see how you can succeed in this change. 

Scenario 1: You’re doing this alone, while the other member(s) of your household is(are) continuing to eat the way they have been. 

  • Clear away at least one cabinet or area where you have the food specifically geared towards your new paleo lifestyle. Consider all the other areas off limits and don’t even let yourself think about them. 
  • Do the same in the refrigerator. Set aside specific places for your fresh foods and alternative choices (i.e. dairy substitutes like almond milk). Keep yourself organized to know that this is where you’ll put your groceries, where your leftovers will reside, and where you keep your attention. Sure, there may be other non-paleo items in the fridge, but that doesn’t concern you. At least for the next 30 days, you want to stay strict and see how your body reacts. Once you start to reintroduce these other items into your body, you’ll understand why you probably don’t want to eat them in the first place.
  • Spices, spices, spices! Spices make the world go round and when you feel like you’re limited by choices because all you feel like you’re eating is meat and vegetables, spices can go a long way. You can have chicken and broccoli, but with a flick of a spice, you can have twenty different dishes that keep your mouth watering for your leftovers. 
  • Try to convince your household to eat this new way by not telling them that it’s “paleo”. Sometimes people get a negative image in their head because they think it’s a diet and automatically assume they don’t need to eat what you do. But remember,  just because it has a label doesn’t mean that anyone needs to be scared about it. Just make dinner and say “it’s just a different type of spaghetti and meatballs” and show off your new cooking skills that you can make spaghetti squash and bison meatballs taste just as awesome. As long as your flavors still stay the same, you’d be surprised how open people can be to whole foods. 

Scenario 2: Your household is on board to change with you.

  • Awesome! Congrats! Follow all of the above steps with one change: get rid of everything in the house that isn’t paleo. If it’s not there, you’re not tempted to have it. There’s so many substitutions that you can do that soon you won’t be craving that bag of Lays or even that pizza (try the Meatza!)
  • Rearrange your kitchen so that all the essentials are within reach for creativity into your meals. Spices, alternative flours, fruits, nuts; they’re all your best friends now when you run into a rut and find yourself just steaming chicken and vegetables day in and day out. 
  • Cook ahead of time and freeze your meals! Everyone’s usually got at least one day a week where you can spend your time cooking. Make it an enjoyable time and get the music going, dance in the kitchen, and plan out your week. There’s only two of us in our house, yet I always seem to cook as if there’s five other people coming over for dinner. Cook in the crockpot and save half of your recipe into portions that are freezable. You can freeze anything for up to 3 to 4 months; when you’ve got it ready there’s no excuse! All you have to do is take your pouch out the night before and then take it with you to work to heat up or stick in the oven when you get home. 
  • Avoid the microwave! You’ll feel better when you’re cooking on the stove or heating something up in the oven. There’s studies out there showing the nutrient deprivation that comes from heating up in the microwaves. Besides, do you really want cancer-prone food going into your stomach when you’re making such amazing, whole, organic, grass-fed foods to feed your system? Learn that to taste good, sometimes it takes the extra few minutes to heat in a pot or in the oven. I haven’t used my microwave in years and at this point, it feels weird to want to defrost something in there. 

Get yourselves started!

Blackening Seasoning

One of my favorite parts about cooking for yourself is creating your own spice mixes! I tend to make a lot of mixes of my own seasonings and saving them for the future so i can just create anything that strikes my whims. Sometimes I feel like I have more of my own creations than actual regular spices, but it’s worth it. You can get the same types of mixes from the store, but they’ve got preservatives and usually added preservatives, sugars, wheats, and soys that have no business being there. Plus those mixes tend to have a lot of added salt and sodium and you never really know how it’s going to end up once you buy it.

Remember to always check your labels and ingredients! Don’t forget the golden rule that ingredients are listed in the order of the greatest quantity and down from there, so if you see something that has sugar or ingredients that you can’t pronounce or identify as a whole food in the first few ingredients, steer clear! 

This blackening seasoning definitely has a bit of a kick and gives you a different flavor with the chipotle seasoning, but I loved how it came out. Try it on your next chicken or fish, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to label your leftovers!

Yields: About 2 cups

  • 4 T garlic powder
  • 3 T paprika
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 T onion powder
  • 1.5 T black pepper
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 t cayenne powder
  • 1 t dried mustard
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1/2 t chipotle
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