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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: beef barley soup

if there is one thing i know, its that my life is made easier by my ownership of the slow cooker and food processor.

but to be honest, i really don’t use either to their maximum capacity.  i often find myself with a big pot simmering away on the stove or meat braising in the oven, when a slow cooker could definitely be doing that work for me.
and the same goes for my food processor.  sometimes i’m elbow deep in chopped vegetables working away for 40 minutes when it dawns on my that i could have just chucked these in the food processor and i could have been done in seconds.
so i’m working on it.

to me, the slow cooker is a magical device that slaves away when i’m at work.  i throw my raw goods in before i leave, and when i’m home i reap the benefits.  nothing could be easier.
but there’s no reason that i can’t be using it on weekends while i’m nesting on my couch watching movies.  and if i have to pop out to run an errand, its a-okay to leave it to do its thing.

so, on sunday i put it to use.  my biggest temptation is to constantly be lifting the lid & stirring & tasting.  but where the slow cooker is involved, thats bad news.  so i had to really restrain myself from fussing over it.

i used the food processor to chop: 1 onion, 3 giant carrots, some green cabbage and 4 stalks of celery into a pretty uniform dice.  then i threw that in the slow cooker with a frozen ziplock bag with some bone broth i’d made a few weeks ago and let that make friends for a couple hours while my stew beef was defrosting.

i tossed the beef in salt & pepper and browned it in ghee before adding it to the cooker.  topped it up with a bit of water, dried thyme and a teaspoon of beef better than boulion.  and because my husband loves barley, i added a half cup of pearl barley.  oh, and a can of tomato paste.

that hung out in the slow cooker and got delicious for about 5 hours.  we added a bit of chopped fresh thyme and flat leaf parsley and chowed down.

as a side dish, i whipped up some savory scones.  they kinda went down like this:

– 3 cups of flour- 1 tablespoon sugar
– 2 tablespoons of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon each of: dried thyme, garlic salt & dried jalapeno
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 stick of cold butter
– 1 cup plain greek yogurt
– 2 green onions finely diced
– 1 cup shredded cheese (i used cheddar & aged gouda)

preheat the oven to 400
mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
cut in butter with pastry blender
stir in cheese, onion & greek yogurt.  use a little water to thin if dough isn’t coming together – i probably had to add about 1/4 cup of water total
let chill 20 minutes. divide dough in half & roll out into a square.  cut into quarters and then cut each square diagonally to make a triangle.
brush with milk or melted butter (i used ghee) and bake for 15-20 minutes on parchment paper until golden brown.

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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: coconut steel cut oatmeal

this is a pretty long overdue post… i actually drafted this back in february and just didn’t get around to finishing it.
but, i did definitely want to share the recipe with you all because i thought it was a good one…

eating breakfast is an ongoing struggle for me.  i know its important, but i also know that laying in my bed until the last possible moment is important a lot of days too.
and because i know that productivity first thing in the morning isn’t a consistent strength for me, i have been working on ways to make it easier on myself.

juicing has been a big help for me.  i make juice the night before for the next morning, sometimes for 2 days… and i clean the juicer, put everything away and just have to grab a juice on my way out the door in the morning.
but honestly (and maybe TMI),  my insides can’t handle juice every day of the week.  its also a lot of sugar and so i try to juice two or three times a a week and thats it.

and i’m really breakfast picky.  my stomach is sometimes demanding and finicky in the morning.  i generally don’t like sweet breakfasts, it has to be savory… and in the past, the more carbs the better.  and i don’t love eggs.  so i’m a tough customer when i’m in a rush.

i came across this recipe for steel cut oatmeal that can be premade and reheated and decided to give it a shot.  i was pleased with the results…

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Here’s the recipe I was working from:

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut, toasted lightly
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups coconut milk (canned)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar or preferred sweetener (optional) {i used maple syrup}
  1. Place steel-cut oats, water, coconut milk, and salt in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes until thick and creamy.
  2. Stir in vanilla extract. Taste for sweetness, and add sugar if desired depending on your individual tastes.
  3. Spoon into individual bowls and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Serve.

*I made a few changes (of course) as follows:
– used a carton of So Delicious Coconut Milk drink instead of the coconut milk from the can & water.  It worked with no problems.
– I also stirred in a spoonful of chia seeds during the cooking process to add some extra goodness.
– and i didn’t toast the coconut because i’m lazy.
– for the “sugar” i used maple syrup.
– oh, i also added a pinch of cinnamon.

instead of serving right away, i put it into 1 cup mason jars, let cool and refrigerated until i was ready to enjoy.  (made 4 jars)

and then it’s as simple as removing the lid (metal bad) and microwaving for a minute until its heated through.
ta-da!

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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.

food: paleo beef stroganoff

okay… time for a recipe post, since its been a while.  what with all the traveling and such…
i’ve been trying to make a return to what i’m calling “practically paleo”. where for the most part, i’m eating paleo meals… my aim is 80%, but in current reality i’m probably sitting closer to 70%.  because i love carbs.

so i’ve been allowing for splurges in the form of sprouted brown rice and some white potato… and cheese.  definitely cheese.  because cheese is REALLY HARD to give up for me.

anyways.  the other day i whipped up a paleo stroganoff to satisfy my craving for some comfort food.
i had bought some precut strips of beef inside round –  “stir fry beef” as they called it in the store… but wasn’t really feeling the stir fry.  plus i didn’t have the right veggies.  so i decided to go with a stroganoff of sorts.

problem 1 – i only had 2 mushrooms.  so i filled out the mushroom quotient with a package of dried BC chanterelles that i’d had hanging out in my cupboard from the mushroom display at the PNE last year…

problem 2 – i didn’t want to do the dairy & flour thing to make it rich and creamy.  so i rocked a paleo version with coconut milk and a little cornstarch to thicken. (not super  paleo there, i know)

problem 3 -traditional stroganoff is really lacking veggies, so i threw in some dinosaur kale that i  chiffonaded.  because i just wasn’t in a side-dish kinda mood.

problem 4 – carb craving.  solution: sprouted brown rice.  ya, not my finest healthy moment, but damnit, it was tasty.

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so here’s my “recipe”…

practically paleo beef stroganoff

– 1lb (more or less) of sliced beef inside round
– 2 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
– 1 package of dried chanterelles
– 1/2 cup diced onion (optional – i didn’t put it in)
– 2 cloves of crushed garlic
– 2 cups of dinosaur kale, chiffonaded
– 1 tsp coconut oil (or more – for sauteing)
– 1 cup of coconut milk
– 1 tsp cornstarch (optional)
– 2 tsp dried thyme
– salt, pepper & siracha to taste
– splash of worcestershire sauce

  1. soak chanterelles in 2 cups of warm/tap hot water
  2. brown beef strips in coconut oil on both sides – remove from pan
  3. saute white mushrooms, onions & garlic, add kale
  4. remove chanterelles from liquid (save the liquid!) and chop into bite sized pieces.  add to saute pan
  5. add beef, coconut milk and half of mushroom liquid, spices & seasoning
  6. let simmer for a few minutes until the smell drives you wild.  add more mushroom liquid or let reduce further as you see fit.
  7. add cornstarch dissolved in a small amount of cold water to the pan to thicken if desired.  also could add a pat of butter to finish the sauce.

voila!  my finished plate.  (er… bowl)

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and then my leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch went without the rice and i basically ate it with a spoon.
that sauce was DELICIOUS.
loads of that delightful umami flavour that you’re gonna want in your meals to scratch that comfort food itch…

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food: fun with the juicer

so… on the weekend, i decided to buy a juicer.
this wasn’t an impulse buy per-say… my pal moonbeam fell back in love with her juicer at the beginning of the month and has been extolling the virtues to me for weeks now…

but i’ve honestly never been much of a juice gal. i’m not even a smoothie gal.
i have often cycled through buying oodles of frozen fruit in a misguided effort to start my day with smoothies, only to throw it all out a couple months later as a solid freezer burned mess.

actually overall, i’ve never been a fruit lover.
but i do love my veggies. and veggies make friends with a juicer too.

the other thing holding me back is that i have limited condo space and therefore i shy away from things that aren’t kitchen multi-taskers. and the juicer is very much a one trick pony.
buuuuuut… it was $99 and really isn’t *that* big, so i’m gonna give it a go.

so step one… obviously buying the machine.
step two… stocking up on fruit & veg.
step three… juice!

i started with a really husband friendly option in an effort to inaugurate him, as he often turns his nose up at my happy planet green juices. so i figured as long as it wasn’t super green i had a fighting chance.

so i went apple, orange & celery.

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they suggest you peel your oranges, so i did and there’s some debate about apple seeds, so i split mine in half and tunneled out the seeds and removed the stems. just to be safe.
celery just needed a wash and it was ready to rock.

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the results were delicious. the husband eagerly downed his glass and all were happy.

so i decided to take the leftover orange, apple celery base and green it up a little.
enter the addition of a couple handfuls of spinach, parsley, 2 carrots and a meyer lemon (skin and all)
to make…. this!

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definitely super yum.
the meyer lemon was definitely the most dominant flavour, but it smelled like parsley and celery. very interesting.
and i know you’re not supposed to “save” the juices because they lose vitamins or whatever, but i poured the rest into a mason jar and put it in the fridge for the next day’s breakfast.

last night, my two besties came over for hockey and one of them was sporting a bit of a hangover, so i whipped up a curing juice.

i decided on a couple apples, a cucumber, a few kiwis and a knob of ginger.
the kiwis were peeled, the apples de-seeded and the cucumber stem removed, but then everything was juiced together to produce this:

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i’m not entirely sure why it separated, but it sure was tasty.  the ginger made it spicier than i anticipated.  i used about a 1 1/2 inch piece and this batch yielded a little over a litre of juice total, but the ginger was the dominant flavour.
delicious, but a pretty strong after burn.  i imagine this would be awesome for if you were sick.

the kiwi maybe wasn’t the best plan ever.  the little seeds got caught in my blade and were harder to clean than i anticipated as they needed to be picked out of the teeth individually with my fingernail.

this morning, we went classic.  simple delicious orange juice.

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man, this is the best stuff.  just so good.

only downside is that i kept my box of oranges on the counter and i think i should move them to patio because my juice (obviously) is coming out at room temperature.

the next challenge is to find a good use for all the pulp i’m getting.
veggie pulp is easy… it can be added to soups, stocks, meatloaf/meatballs/burgers ect.
but the fruit pulp is something that will require some googling.

most of what i’ve read does say that the bulk of the vitamins & nutrients are coming out in the juice… but the pulp is pure fibre.  so while it might not have much in the way of flavour or vitamins, it’s definitely still worth eating.

also, wasting food really bugs me.  and since i don’t have a garden or compost, its making me feel guilty to pitch it.
the internet tells me that saving the pulp in freezer bags works too, and its good to separate it when blending juice… so like if i’m making a carrot whatever juice, do the carrots then stop and collect the pulp in a bag and then do the rest of the veg and store that separate ect.  makes sense.
i foresee carrot cakes in my future.

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