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food: poulet en papillote

well hello there.  i know.  it’s been a while.
so let us catch up, shall we?

i’d love to account for my absence with fabulous holidays and tales of jet-setting, but i have been pretty homebound… so that’s not it.  and i’d love to say that i’ve been doing super secret recipe tasting for something fun and exciting like a cookbook, but thats not it either.

truth be told i have been on a super healthy life mission and its just plain keeping me busy.
i have classes and meal plans and exercise routines and all that fun stuff and so its taking my free time (otherwise known as blogging time) down to about nothing.  for more proof, see my giant stack of “books to read” that hasn’t been touched since xmas.

anyways.  i’m going to share one of my current favourite mega healthy recipes.

poulet en papillote sounds super fancy pants, but really, it’s just chicken steamed in paper.
this recipe took us minutes to put together, only 25 minutes to bake and was pretty cheap on the ingredients.
combine that with the super healthy factor and you have a winning recipe in my house.

so here’s how it looks as a meal for 2 people.

poulet en papillote

ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (whole – trim ends)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and thin sliced)
  • 1 small jar of artichokes in oil, drained
  • 10-15 kalamata olives (no pits)
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1/2 cup or so of feta (optional)
  • fresh herbs (we used tarragon & basil)

vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (we used myer)
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 & cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit chicken & vegetable pack.
  2. in a small bowl whisk lemon juice, mustard & honey.  slowly drizzle in olive oil to form vinaigrette.
  3. divide asparagus over two papers
  4. season chicken breast with salt & pepper and place on top of asparagus.  drizzle with 1 tbsp of dressing each.
  5. add other vegetables and feta and drizzle with another tbsp of dressing.
  6. fold over paper and crimp edges in a half moon shape to seal completely.
  7. bake for 25 – 28 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

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before (above) and after (below)

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this recipe must be tasted to be believed.
the chicken ends up wonderfully moist and tender – no easy feat for a boneless skinless breast, and it creates a natural juice that is to die for.  if you’re enjoying the bead, i certainly suggest that you get a baguette and sop up the deliciousness inside the pouch.

added bonus – the easiest clean up ever.  no pans, no pots, only a cutting board and your dinner plates.  and we ate out of the paper pouch, so even the plate was a breeze to clean up.

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food: spiralizer

I have an exiting new toy! my spiralizer.
I’ve been reading about these devices for years… but it always seemed like such an unnecessary novelty that I didn’t have room for in my limited kitchen space.
but, finally the temptation of being able to make a mountain of perfect zucchini noodles in seconds wore me down.
and I have zero regrets.
I bought mine on amazon.ca for about $20 and for that price I figured that even if I use it for a couple months and then ditch it, I still will have my money’s worth. but ya. I’m addicted. everything gets spiralized now!
zucchini is the obvious starter. it’s cheap, good for you and makes delightful noodles.

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I have also recently made friends with orange noodles… butternut squash and sweet potato work wonderfully.

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those ones pictured above I cut a slit into pre-slicing so that the noodles would come out macaroni-like for a mac & cheese dish.
I’ll post that full recipe and pics later, but it was delish. the only warning I’ll give is that it takes a little practice to tweak recipes for veggie noodles to compensate for the water content in the vegetables.
but it’s such an easy and delicious substitute for terrible-for-you processed carbs.
on valentines day we feasted on zucchini pasta with homemade pesto as a base for some seared scallops. I wish I had take a picture, but it was so tasty it was immediately consumed.
more spiralized recipes ahead!
and follow me on instagram at vancityrockgirl for lots of food pics.

food: all of the sweet potatoes

lately I’ve had a bit of a new food obsession. it’s to stuff everything and anything into a sweet potato.
for one, it’s obvs super healthy. sweet potatoes have less carbs than regular potatoes… blah blah blah… but mostly I just like the taste of them. and they are magical little vehicles for the yums.
it all stems from a paleo trick that I adopted a couple years ago to make a tuna melt using a half of a baked sweet potato instead of bread. to be honest, I was skeptical. but I decided to give it a go and lo and behold, I was addicted.

it’s so delightful and easy, I use it as a lunch for work often. I mix the tuna with fixins (I use chopped pepperoncini peppers, s&p and sometimes a smidge of mayo) and I load up the half sweet potato, pile on the tuna and top with some cheese. at work, I microwave and chow down.

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this is an obvious a solid meal choice, but honestly, I’m not always in the mood for tuna. and sometimes I have leftovers calling my name.
so, a week or two ago, we had leftover rappini from a dinner. it had been sautéed in ghee and had plenty of garlic in it. so, we reheated it in a non-stick frypan and piled it onto the sweet potato. topped with some smoked gouda and browned in the toaster oven. a little siracha on top and voila; quick & easy lunch.

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this maneuver kind of sparked a “what else?” train of thought in our house… and now the half sweet potato has become the go-to vehicle for leftovers.
If we’re baking or cooking something in the oven, I’ll scrub a couple sweet potatoes and toss them in to cook and then throw them in the fridge so they’re ready…
and I think this is my current fave stuffing; it’s kale sautéed in a little ghee with garlic and feta cheese. it’s salty, crunchy, sweet and garlicky. I could eat it every day.

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let me know if you have any sweet potato stuffing secrets! I’d love to get some new ideas.

food: kale & chorizo slow cooker soup

hello friends and welcome to slow cooker season. it is cold as, outside. (as my aussie friends would say) and so obviously we’re all about the soup right now.
and why not? soup is super healthy, easy to make and is perfect to make ahead and freeze for busy days.
I tend to fall into a rut with soup… I have a few puréed soups and a few chunky ones I do often, but I want something new and exciting. and in my canadian living magazine that was part of my magazine purge, I unearthed this gem for kale & chorizo slow cooker soup.

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it turned out wonderfully. the chorizo lost a lot of its flavor, but I used a raw chorizo and I think if I used a cured one it would have solved that problem. and really, it lost its flavor into the soup, so it’s not all bad.
because you had to fry the sausage and the onion before slow cooking, the prep time was a bit longer than my usual slow cooker recipes, but it was worth it. the broth was rich and lovely and we added a bunch of extra paprika because I like it and I have a lot that I brought home from Budapest.
we also served it with a dollop of sour cream on top, which I stirred in to make a nice creamy soup, but as leftovers I just had it without dairy. bon apetit!

food: paleo pumpkin bread

i did a bad bad thing this week.
a very bad delicious thing…
i had a starbucks pumpkin scone.  and then a pumpkin loaf.  aaaaaand also a pumpkin cream cheese muffin.
not all on the same day… but within a 7 day period.
basically i’m trying to say that i’m craving the pumpkin.

so instead of sliding further down the slippery slope of starbucks baked goods, i’m going to try to nip this in the bud and make myself a paleo pumpkin loaf.
as with most things, there’s many of the same recipe floating around the net, so with my usual tweaks in play, here’s what i ended up using…

Paleo Pumpkin Loaf

Ingredients:

-1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
-1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
-5 Eggs
-1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
-1 to 2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Spice (cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg)
-1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
-1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
-1/4 Cup melted Coconut Oil
-2 Tablespoons Raw Honey

Instructions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients in a separate dish.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient dish, mixing well, preferably using a whisk or electric mixer.
  4. Pour batter into greased baking dish, preferably an 8×8 dish, smooth top of batter
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

*This coconut flour pumpkin bread recipe can also be used to make muffins. For muffins, bake for about 15 minutes.

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okay… so I also added 1/2 cup of Hershey chocolate chips. because my ovaries told me so.
the loaf/bread whatever turned out more like a cake, which made it extra delightful… and it definitely satiated my pumpkin craving.

food: paleo veggie burgers

last week i decided it might be fun to totally make up a recipe for paleo veggie burgers.  or veggie patties.  or whatever you want to call them.
but at the end of the project i was aiming for something that was paleo, healthy and used up a lot of the veggies hanging out in my fridge.

because i’m a huge fan of things in cake or patty form, i figured the paleo veggie burger must exist.  and it does… kind of.
i read through about 20 different recipes online before deciding just to giv’er and see what i ended up with.

first things first – you NEED a food processor for this.  not ifs, ands or buts.
the idea of chopping all this by hand is actually insane.

second – what we’re going for here is a patty that hopefully will hold together.  so thats going to require a certain amount of moisture control.  so if its juicy; blot it, strain it or squeeze it before adding it to the big bowl.
i had to drain after chopping the onions, zucchini and the roasted peppers.

third – try not to get too out of control.  i used like a bazillion veggies and ended up with 16 really good sized veggie burgers.  thats a LOT of veggies.  so i’m going to tell you what i did, but you might want to downsize that shit.

alright… let’s get to it!

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in the above bowl i have the following that has been chopped pretty finely in the food processor.

– 1/2 head of cauliflower
– 1 sweet onion
– 1 medium zuchini
– 4 carrots
– 1 sweet potato (peeled)
– 4 or 5 kale leaves (i used curly)
– 1 serrano pepper
– 1 jar of roasted red & yellow peppers (drained)

to the veggie mix i added:
– 4 eggs, beaten
– 1/2 cup of oil (i used olive)
– 1/2 cup of coconut flour (or more depending on wetness)
– pepper and a touch of salt (you don’t want to draw too much moisture out of the veggies)

then form into patties and place on an oiled baking sheet or oiled silpat…

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and into the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes – flip when brown and give’em another half hour or so until they look beautiful.

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then nom on those bad boys with some paleo mayo.  they’re a delight.

i froze a bunch of the extras and ate them for lunch all week.  they were good cold or reheated.

food: paleo granola bars

the other day my husband called me up, all grumpy about how he’d read the label on his granola bars from his lunch and now he can’t eat them anymore because they’re full of junk.
ya… once you know, there’s no going back.

for years he’d been living the “granola bars are healthy” lie… i mean, they were nature valley (sounds natural and healthy, right?) and filled with nuts, not chocolate and marshmallows and whatever other junk they could have had…

but still, the label doesn’t lie.

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yikes.
there’s a lot of crap in there. sugar, refined oils, binders and just not-food.

and i don’t want him eating them either, but we’d kind of just accepted the necessity of it, as he works in the field a lot and sometimes needs something quick and easy and filling to tide him over.

but to be honest, until he brought it up, i didn’t realize there was that much crap in them either. i mean, i knew they were going to have some garbage, but ya, i was surprised too.

so, its time to make our own granola bars.
i actually used to make granola and granola bars when i worked at a bakery in my youth. so i know the basics… but i wanted to make something that was not only healthier, but also paleo.
the ones i used to make were full of oats and honey and dried sweetened fruits… all delicious things, but again, if you make a homemade version full of sugar, then really, what are you accomplishing? 😉

so i found this recipe from the paleo mom website and decided to give it a go.

Paleo Chewy Granola Bars

  • 1 ½ cups Sliced Almonds
  • 2 cups finely Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1/3 cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/3 cup Raw Pepitas (Shelled Pumpkin Seeds)
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sesame Seeds
  • ½ cup Blanched Almond Flour
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, natural Almond Butter
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbsp Flaxseed Meal
  • 1½ Tbsp water
  • ¾ cup Mini Chocolate Chips or your favorite chopped dried fruit (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9”x13” baking pan with coconut oil.
2. Mix ground flax seed with water and let sit for 3-4 minutes.
3. Pulse pepitas in a food processor a couple of times to break up to the size of sunflower seeds.
4. Add coconut oil, almond butter, honey and vanilla to flax goop and mix well.
5. Add almond flour and baking soda and stir to combine.
6. Add slivered almonds, shredded coconut, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chocolate chips or dried fruit. Stir to combine.
7. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan. Spread out and flatten well with your hand or the back of a spatula.
8. Bake for 22-23 minutes, until golden brown. They will puff up slightly while baking, so immediately after removing from the oven, flatten the bars with the back of a spatula (or something else heat resistant and flat).
9. Let cool completely in pan before cutting into bars (I actually like to refrigerate before cutting). Cut into bars (I usually get 18-20) and wrap individual bars in plastic wrap for easy travel (optional). I prefer to store these in the refrigerator.

Note: This recipe is very sensitive to small changes in the wet to dry ingredient ratio. Please measure carefully.

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they turned out great!  held together better than i thought they would and they were nice and soft/chewy and quite delicious.
i sprinkled a little flaked sea salt on top when they were out to finish them off…
the husband’s feedback was that they could have been a touch sweeter, so if your tastes run sweet, maybe increase the honey a bit.  but i liked them as is.

i also did not add any of the optional fruit/chocolate chips, so that would have impacted the overall sweetness as well.  for what its worth.

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