2/15/18

Coconut Chicken Soup | SCD + Paleo

SCD chicken coconut soup
SCD chicken coconut soup
SCD chicken coconut soup
SCD chicken coconut soup
SCD chicken coconut soup
"I live on good soup, not on fine words."
Moliere

Chicken coconut soup has always been a long time favorite in our household. The spicy coconut scent always whisk me away to moments when my husband and I would duck out for the night, before kids were involved, and tuck ourselves in the corner booth of our local Thai restaurant. It reminds me of long summer nights, chardonnay and endless conversations.

These days, we have a new perception of these subtly sweet scents; it means Sunday family gatherings, long conversations about school and ballet and sports, deep discussions about Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. In our family, food is far more than just a substance we consume, it is treasured time with ones we love. It creates memories for us, the process of cooking and baking together, tasting and testing, laughing and living in the moment. Food is a part of who we are, it keeps us grounded and gives us roots. I just hope I can pass this passion on to my children and I hope we always continue these traditions of family meals and cooking together, even when I am old and gray and walking with a cane.

This coconut chicken soup is the perfect remedy for a chilly day, especially since, here in Ohio, we're not in the clear of winter yet. It is very satisfying, filling and full of flavor.

COCONUT CHICKEN SOUP
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-Free
yield: serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut into thin strips, about 2 inches x 1/4 inch
3 Tbs avocado oil or EVOO
4 cups bone broth
2 cans coconut milk, full fat
3 Tbs fish sauce
1 tsp red curry paste
1 1/2 Tbs lime juice
1 tsp turmeric
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and chopped (see notes below)*
2 tsp organic raw honey
3.5 ounces shiitake mushrooms
pepper
sea salt
chopped cilantro, for garnish
chopped green onions, for garnish
red pepper flakes, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven, sauté the chicken until lightly browned.
2. Add the bone broth and coconut milk and whisk until well combined. The milk may be thick and clumped together, but as it is heated it will whisk into the broth.
3. Add the fish sauce, curry paste, lime juice, turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, honey and mushrooms.
4. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
5. Dish into individual bowls and add optional garnishes.

HOW TO CHOP LEMONGRASS:
+ You can usually find fresh lemongrass in most Asian grocery stores. Look in the fresh produce section, it is often sold in bundles of 2 or 3 stalks.
+ Remove the outside two layers. These are generally the most tough and resemble a husk. The softer, inside part of the lemongrass is what you want to use in cooking.
+ Cut off the end (the root end) and discard.
+ Use a knife to cut the lemongrass in half, lengthwise, so you have two pieces.
+ Place that flat side of the piece on the cutting board and chop the lemongrass into fine small pieces.

2/2/18

Moments From December

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”
-Roald Dahl

December may be long gone, but it was far too magical not to share. Most often, our life is dictated by the boys' hectic soccer schedule and Jessica is along for the ride. But this month, the month of December, was her time to shine. We traded in our soccer shoes for ballet shoes and eagerly awaited her performance in the Nutcracker. I'm sure we have many years ahead of us with ballet and I'm sure there will be several more performances, but you only dance as a Polichinelle once and it was such a magical moment to watch her and the other children emerge from Mother Ginger's giant dress.

I'll be back soon with plenty of recipes, parenting thoughts and health updates. But in the meantime, I am enjoying the simple life of slowing down. It's good for the soul.

1/24/18

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER STEAK WITH EGGPLANT PURÉE & CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

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In sticking with my New Year's resolutions, here is a plant-based meal that we are loving these days. Surprisingly, this meal is very filling and packed with flavor. Serve it with a salad loaded with fresh greens and a light lemon dressing and your dinner is all set. While there are multiple steps to making this meal, it is very simple and does not take much prep time. In fact, the purée and chimichurri sauce can even be made a day ahead of time!

Cauliflower is a weekly staple in our home. Because of it's subtle flavor, this superfood accompanies any style of dish, combines well with any sauce and can easily be made into rice or a mash. It also totes a lengthy list of benefits. It can reduce your risk of cancer. Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound in cruciferous vegetables that contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory elements. It has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, therefore slowing tumor growth. Some researchers believe eliminating cancer stem cells may be the key to controlling cancer. Cauliflower also fights inflammation, is high in vitamins and minerals (including Vitamin C and K), boosts brain health and aides in digestive health.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER STEAK WITH EGGPLANT PURÉE & CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Dairy-free, Vegan
yield: serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
Cauliflower Steak
1 large head cauliflower
2 Tbs Avocado Oil*
¼ tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
salt & pepper

Chimichurri Sauce
½ cup parsley
½ cup cilantro
1 cup basil
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
lemon juice from ½ lemon
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Eggplant Dip
2 medium eggplants, cut in half
1 Tbs Avocado Oil
Himalayan salt
Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut cauliflower into about 1 inch steak slices and arrange on a baking tray.
2. Combine oil and spices and drizzle over the cauliflower.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, flip over half-way through cook time to ensure equal browning on both sides. Cauliflower should be tender and lightly browned on each side when done.
4. While cauliflower cooks start to prep the eggplant dip. Slice eggplant in half and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
5. Drizzle eggplant with oil, salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes, or until tender and slightly browned. Set aside to cool. Purée in a vitamix or food processor, adding a small amount of olive oil until desired consistency.
6. Make the chimichurri sauce. Place all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix and blend until smooth. You may have to adjust the oil and vinegar to get your desired consistency. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as you blend.
7. When plating up, place a dollop of eggplant purée on the plate, place the cauliflower steak on top and add the chimichurri sauce. Garnish with red pepper flakes and parsley.

*I use avocado oil for roasting because it has a high smoke point, is loaded with vitamins and minerals and boosts nutrient absorption. Lately, I've been using this brand on Amazon.
* Store the chimichurri sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Use on roasted veggies, steak, chicken or fish.
* Use the leftover eggplant purée as a veggie dip.
* This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase an item that is linked in a recipe (or elsewhere) I may receive a small commission. This does not result in an increase of the sales price of that product to you.


1/15/18

Honest Resolutions for 2018

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Every year I compile a general list of resolutions: focus on priorities, find balance, spend quality time with family, implement clean eating and simple living. While these are real resolutions, they are very broad. This year I wanted to create an honest list of resolutions, well thought out goals that require my focus and dedication all year long.

Eat a Plant Based Diet.
This is a resolution that has carried over from last year. I always focus on incorporating as many fruits and vegetables into our diet as I can since we know that eating a variety of phytonutrients is key to a healthy life. This past year I noticed my meat intake gradually increasing and I can tell my body functions better when I eat mostly veggies, lots of greens and small amounts of meat. We are now focusing on plant based meals that contain a range of protein, vitamins and minerals and occasionally adding a small portion of meat.

Reduce My Carbon Footprint.
There are so many small steps that be taken to reduce our carbon footprint on this earth. For me, the biggest challenge is cutting out to-go coffee cups. Having a daily coffee while out and about is definitely my weakness, but I am trying my best to make my afternoon coffee at home and save those purchases for special occasions. Besides the waste I am producing from all those accumulated coffee cups, I am also consuming coffee that is not organic or fair-trade. Did you know, unlike conventional coffee, organic coffee does not promote deforestation. In fact, it aids in the conservation of wildlife, birds, vegetation, and the prevention of soil erosion and diseases.

We have also pledged to cut out plastic bags. I keep a large sack in my car that is filled with cloth bags of all different sizes and those are what I’ll use when I go shopping. Other plastics we are trying our best to avoid include: plastic straws, water bottles, produce bags, packaging and toys.

With the kids involved in so many activities, cutting back on driving isn’t much of a choice for me. But, I can be more conscious of my purchases and try my best to reduce and recycle.

Teach My Son to Keep a Food Journal.
I can’t even begin to stress how important a food journal is for anyone who suffers with IBD. I am constantly referring back to our journal from one, two and even three years ago. As a parent, I’m able to keep detailed records of the foods my son eats, his symptoms, exercise, doctor appointments and more. But I can’t write his food journal forever. It’s imperative that I teach him the skills to document his own journey with Crohn’s disease. He has started using the app My Fitness Pal to keep track of his calorie intake; it’s important he understand that if he burns so many calories in soccer than he needs to consume that amount in calories so he doesn’t run out of energy or struggle with weight gain, a concern for several kids with Crohn’s. In addition to the app, it’s great to have a hardcopy journal to reference. With the start of a new year, we are starting a new journal and my son is responsible for tracking his food this time around. I just ordered this journal from The Food Diary Co. and we can’t wait to get journaling.

Get My House in Order.
I can’t stand clutter and prefer a minimalistic life, yet it seems I can never ever achieve these goals. I feel like my home is always cluttered, it’s always a mess and if someone just popped on over I would be embarrassed by its current state. Please say I am not alone!

This is the year I am finally getting it together. We’re clearing the clutter, getting rid of everything we don’t need or use and becoming more conscious about the purchases we make. This past year has been very eye opening for me, I found myself wanting more and more. I think it’s fair to say that we live in a materialistic society that is drenched in consumerism. But my home doesn’t need any more material objects, our closets are filled, the storage is filled, the garage is filled. This is the year to focus on less in order to gain more. Rather than material objects, I would like to focus on adventure, travel and memory making.

I could certainly add to this list, but I figure this is a great place to start. What are some of your goals and resolutions for the New Year?

12/23/17

A Time To Focus

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“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
Henry David Thoreau

Each holiday season, in the midst of the chaos and disorder, I force myself to sit down and write. Usually with just a couple days before Christmas, I find myself tucked away in the office, the door tightly closed, and a hot cup of coffee in hand. There is no topic in mind, no prompt and no direction. It’s a moment for myself, just a moment because that is all I can spare. It is a time to reflect. A time to focus. Depending on our lives at the moment, my writing takes shape. Slowly molding itself into a story, words become feelings and feelings transform into meaning. I have written about gratitude, I have written about a sense of wander and slowing down, I have written about embracing the season, a cliché topic but one that always hits home for everyone.

But this year, I keep silently repeating the words “A time to focus,” over and over. I find myself saying these words in the shower, in the laundry room, when I’m driving and most often when I am in the kitchen.

The holidays should be a time to focus, but what exactly should we be focusing on? Slowing down? Living in the moment? Embracing family?

Well, yes. The answer is yes to all of the above, but our focus should reach deeper and spread much further than just the holiday season. Our focus should be a lifestyle change; a change for the better. Over the past few months I have found myself unintentionally pulling away from social media. It seems with every click I make I find myself landing on a page that is perfectly curated. Our moments are no longer candid. Our lives are styled and edited to perfection. Just by scrolling through Instagram I have found myself wanting more; a new designer purse, more cloths, new jewelry, fashion-forward clothing for my children and oh so many decorations for my home. I’ve caught myself dreaming of remodeling our house; a bigger kitchen, more light, taller windows, white walls, trendy wall paper, unique tile. Pinterest and Instagram will do this to you.

But wait, where is my focus? Because surely if I am allowing myself to become distracted by these wants and material objects of desire then my vision is out of focus. I don’t want to stream our life online and I certainly don’t want to be a mother whose main accessory is her phone. In fact, I want the opposite. I want simplicity, I want less.

My focus for the holiday season, no for the year, is on finding meaning in the small joys of life. It’s on stepping away from the distractions that blind us; like social media, materialism, nonessential desires and negativity. It’s amazing how the negativity in our life can build up within ourselves and wear us down. I choose to be positive and surround myself with like-minded people, because frankly, who really has time and energy for pessimistic people.

At the end of the day, I look at what I have in life. I have an almost teenager (yikes, need I say more), a young son who is easily influenced by those around him and a young daughter that I hope makes her mark on the world and shatters some glass ceilings. As a parent, I have my work cut out for me, but I plan to dive in and mentor my children to the best of my ability. In order to succeed, I must focus. Focus on becoming a role model, focus on slowing down in a hectic society, focus on embracing family and surrounding my loved ones with positive people, focus on moments not materialism.

And most importantly, focus on values. Because a family with solid values is a strong family.