Spicy Orange Chicken (Paleo)

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! I hope you day hasn’t been a series of awful events, mine has been pretty great… I had the day off from work, didn’t fall down hiking, haven’t run into any walls, didn’t burn down the kitchen… it’s one for the books! Anywho, as people are off to the races trying to stick to their “New Year’s resolutions” I wanted to throw a wrench into your gears and talk about finding balance.

Often in the beginning of the year you see an influx of people hitting the gym, starting new diets, chanting that “this is the year” they are going to make some fitness and nutrition goals and stick to them. But- what are your goals? Are they realistic? What’s kept you from attaining them before? If you have attainted them before why didn’t they stick? I feel like these are the questions we all dig to make excuses for, but ultimately they should be the number one thing you address when you start something new.

Setting goals is something everyone should do, going out and working towards them is wonderful! But keep in mind, you need to do so in a sustainable way. If you haven’t been to the gym in a year and decide to hit it hard for 5 days straight off the bat, you’ll likely find that your body has other plans, and let’s face it, who WANTS to go workout when you’re so sore you can’t get out of bed? Perhaps slow and steady is a better approach…

The same goes for diet changes. Say you sign up for a nutrition challenge, you dive in head first, throw out all of the sugary processed crap in your house, kill it for the first 3 days, and then come home late one night, realize you didn’t prep for dinner and are too hungry to wait, so out of desperation you order the quickest delivered pizza in town and then deem yourself a failure. Perhaps if you took some time to restock your cabinets with canned wild alaskan salmon or sought out places that make fresh healthy prepared meals you’d have a solution to that problem without falling off the diet-wagon for the night, or for good.

With that being said, should you have to be 100% strict on your conquest to being the healthiest, most fit version of yourself? Whats wrong with a taco here and there, a skipped gym visit, or a glass of wine? In my opinion, nothing.

I personally believe that if you want to make a lifestyle change STICK, it has to be sustainable, and to be sustainable, you can’t restrict yourself all the time. You can and SHOULD make better choices most of the time, but you also shouldn’t sacrifice a night out with friends, a family get together, or spend your whole vacation worrying about how your going to burn off the calories in that Pina Colada you just had. You only live once- and your journey to better yourself is a lifelong one, so take the time to plan out your new goals, conquer them, and celebrate with no regrets. Food for thought 🙂

And now to the part you’ve been asking for, the recipe! This is the second time I’ve made orange chicken and I think I finally got it right! Tell me what you think 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. chicken breast
  • 1 Tb. avocado oil
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced (*zest before juicing!)
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 Tb. fresh grated ginger
  • 3 Tb. tomato paste
  • 2 Tb. honey
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. arrowroot
  • 1-2 Tb. sesame seeds

Instructions:

-Dice chicken into 1″ cubes

-Add avocado oil and chicken to a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook (turning once or twice) for 7-10 minutes until chicken is no longer pink inside

-While chicken is cooking combine orange zest, juice, coconut aminos, ginger, honey, salt, garlic, and red peper flakes

-Add sauce to the pan with chicken and simmer on low (stirring often to coat chicken) for 5 minutes or until the sauce reduces to about half

-Turn off heat and add arrowroot to thicken the sauce, toss thoroughly to combine

-Add sesame seeds to the chicken, pair with your favorite veggie and rice-variation and enjoy!

 

Surf & Turf Stuffed Summer Squash (Paleo, AIP, LowFodmap, 21DSD)

I am starting to feel myself again after having some time off from one of my jobs and from weightlifting. Not to say those were the issues but it has given me some time to really reflect on things and organize my life. This morning at physical therapy I was finally able to play with a barbell again and given the “OK” to add some lifting back in! I plan on taking my time and really focusing on improving my form, technique, stability and mobility so I don’t end up back where I started. Every time I injure myself I take it as a learning experience and use it to grow stronger and more aware of my body’s capacity. I tend to get so wrapped up my goals that I overlook smaller details in my training that need attention. This past week was quite humbling and a good reminder that I am still recovering from years of being sick and treating my body like crap. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and having strong foundations inside and out is without a doubt the most important. 

I won’t bore you with too much blabbering about myself today, but stay tuned for an update of my bio within the next week or two. I left it with a little bit of a cliffhanger because I wasn’t sure that I was ready to share my full story at the time. But after the loss of a friend who was a big influence on my life and ultimately some of the reason why I am where I am today, I feel compelled to share in hopes that it might reach some people that are struggling or have struggled with the same issues that I have and give them a glimmer of hope.

Anyways, to lighten up the rest of this post lets get to the recipe! This is based off of my all time favorite recipe from the 21 Day Sugar Detox . If you don’t own the books or haven’t tried the detox, you need to! I can honestly say that through many years of being Paleo I always continued to struggle with an addiction to sugar. It’s one of those things that is INCREDIBLY hard to shake, probably harder than smoking although I’ve never smoked so I can’t compare personally, but the withdrawals are real! Once you realize that you don’t need sugar for energy, your body can start to fuel itself properly and you will get a whole new and sustainable level of energy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large zucchini or summer squash
  • 1 TB. cooking fat (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 TB. coconut aminos
  • 3-5 drops fish sauce 
  • 1/4 cup scallions, diced
  • 1 cup shrimp, peeled, deveined and minced
  • 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Instructions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out as much of the insides as possible (the more you scoop out the more room for stuffing!!)

  

-Place the squash face down on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes (depending on thickness) until they are easily pierced by a fork on the inside

-While the squash cooks, melt the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium heat 

-Dice the remaining squash and add it to the skillet along with the onion, carrots, celery, coconut aminos, fish sauce, salt and pepper

  
  

-Satuee veggies for 5 minutes then add minced shrimp, ground beef, minced ginger and scallions to the skillet

-Continue cooking until the shrimp are pink and the ground beef is browned

  
-Remove squash from oven when fully cooked and flip them over on the pan

-Stuff each squash as much as possible! Then broil them in the oven for 2-3 minutes until they are nicely bribes in top

-Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and some more diced scallions and enjoy! 

  
Notes: The recipe in the 21 DSD cookbook is called “cabbage-wrapped dumplings”. Diane gives a recipe for a delicious sauce to top these with but I will keep that a secret… Grab the book to find out!😜

Also- to make this lower FODMAP leave out the white onions and add more scallions. 

    White Velvet Hash (Paleo, AIP)

    Hey everyone! I apologize for neglecting my blog lately I have just been consistently wrapped up in too many things! It’s definitely gotten to me as my adrenals are telling me they can’t keep up. Between long hours of work, cooking, baking, personal training, lifting, WODs, and now physical therapy, there just isn’t enough time in the day! Lucky for my readers and for myself I have decided to (and been forced to) make some changes in order to restore my health once again and to get back to doing the things that make me happy (like THIS!).

    For those of you that know me, I continue to struggle with spinal issues. It’s a work in progress and at this point it just one thing after another, but I hope that eventually my troubles will be much farther and fewer between. Most currently I have been dealing with a pinched nerve in my lumbar spine that was causing muscle weakness in my right leg and subsequent knee pain because my right leg was failing to get into the proper position. Since I went back to Physical Therapy (shout out to ProEX in Springfield for being amazing!) I have seen a HUGE improvement in my right leg. In fact I ended up getting a PR on my snatch a few days into PT. On the downside, the pain has since centralized itself to my lumbar spine which is far more uncomfortable than my knee! It’s a process that needs to happen though, and since i have had back pain I have been advised to cease all activity that compresses the spine…. It doesn’t take long to realize that cuts out mostly everything besides a few specific exercises. Luckily I should be able to get back to lifting in about 2 weeks or once the pain is gone. Until then I’m all about them core exercises! And my compex, which has super helpful in muscle recovery and also has strength settings so I don’t feel like I am doing NOTHING for the next 2 weeks!

      
    On the plus side, my relatively nonexistent workout load gives me some much needed time to let my creative wheels turn again in the kitchen! (I’m sure my boyfriend will be happy about this because I’ve been cooking the most basic and uninteresting things lately! lol… sorry Mickey!) Some of you might have seen my recipe for Red Velvet Hash, which was AH-mazing! Well, this one has similar ingredients but a whole different flavor profile, a MUST try!


    Ingredients:

    • 1 large white sweet potato (Japanese or Hannah), shaved
    • 2 medium golden beets, peeled and shaved
    • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 2-4 TB. coconut oil
    • 2 TB. fresh chives, diced
    • 1 TB. tarragon
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1.8 tsp. pepper

    Instructions:

    -In a large skillet melt 2 TB. coconut oil over medium-high heat

    -Add diced onion to the skillet and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes

    -Add shaved beets and potato to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice

    -Add the rest of the ingredients (including the rest of the coconut oil if you need it) to the skillet and stir to combine

      
    -Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beets and potatoes are soft

      
    -Add in some cooked meats if desired, top with some eggs or use as a delicious side dish! You could also turn the skillet to high and really crisp up the hash if you prefer it crispy! Lots of possibilities with this one!

      
    Enjoy!

    Guacamole Stuffed Squeeler Bugers (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    Yesterday was my day off for the week so I celebrated by hanging out with some of my best friends and of course cooking all day. I love cooking and it makes it even more enjoyable when you have appreciative mouths to feed! I also got to ride my horse in the morning and took a nice long Epsom salt jacuzzi bath to add some therapy and relaxation into my day. More about the importance of magnesium and Epsom salt baths coming soon!

    

    This is how three gluten free girls get down on a Sunday: tea’s all around!


    I started the burgers by making individually wrapped guacamole squares and throwing them in the freezer so when we were ready to cook the burgers, the guacamole was frozen. Avocados are listed as a “moderate FODMAP” food, so in order to keep these on the lower-FODMAP side I used one slightly ripe avocado and one unripe avocado. If you have a hard time determining how ripe avocados are the coloration is a pretty good determinant, but you should also feel each one. The more ripe the avocado is the more “squishy” it will be. Be careful not to buy avocados that are over-ripe because they will have black spots on the inside. 

    

    From left to right: the darkest avocado is the most ripe, while unripe avocado is green. 

     Ingredients for the Guacamole:

    • 2 avocados (one slightly ripe, one unripe)
    • 1/2 fresh lemon (or lime)
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

    Instructions: 

     -Cut the avocados in half and remove the seed 

     -Scoop the meat out of the avocado into a large mixing bowl. For the unripe avocado you will have to use a little elbow grease to get the meat out, and before adding it to the bowl I suggest chopping it into small pieces because it will not “mash” like the slightly ripe avocado will 

     -Add the lemon, cilantro and salt to the avocado 

     -Mash with a fork until the mixture is well incorporated and on the softer side 

     -Scoop about 2 TB. of the mixture onto some plastic wrap or parchment paper, forming into small squares or circles

     -Wrap each glob of guacamole individually and throw them in the freezer for a few hours until frozen

    

     For the Burgers:

    • 1 lb. grassfed ground beef
    • 1 lb. pasture raised ground pork
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    Instructions: 

    -Preheat grill to medium-high heat 

     -In a large mixing bowl combine beef, pork, salt and pepper 

     -Toss well to combine then section into 1/4 lb. balls 

     -Remove your frozen guacamole squares or circles from the freezer and work them into the center of each meatball forming them into patties 

    -Grill for 5-8 minutes per side depending on how you like your burger cooked 

     -Top with whatever you like and enjoy!

    I topped our burgers with Irish bacon and wrapped them in rainbow chard. Yum!

    

    Orange Chicken Meatballs (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    The hard part of my week is officially over, I finished the Smolov Jr. squat program today and will be testing my back squat next week to see how I have improved. Honestly if I hit my max of 205 again with better form I will be happy with that! The only thing I have left this week is the opens WOD tomorrow. Chest to bar pull-ups and overhead squats… I actually really like the format of the workout but those movements are still pretty questionable for my almost-healed back and pinched nerve that affects my right trap (especially overhead). So, here I am again stuck between the fact that I know I can do the workout RX’d but not sure if thats the best choice for my physical health at this point in time. I plan on trying to mash the crap out of my traps tonight and hope to be feeling good in the morning.

    Anyways, I got a bunch of ground dark meat local chicken at the coop the other day and wanted to take another shot at making orange-glazed chicken so here it goes!

    Ingredients:


    For the Meatballs:

    • 2 lbs. ground chicken
    • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
    • 1 TB. arrowroot
    • 1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp. turmeric

    Instructions:

    -Preheat oven to 350 degrees

    -In a large bowl combine all of the above ingredients and mix well

    -Form meat mixture into 2 inch balls and place on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet

    -Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway

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    For the Orange Glaze:

    • Juice of 2 oranges
    • 2 tsp. ginger, finely grated
    • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
    • 1 TB. apple cigar vinegar
    • 1 tsp. arrowroot

    Instructions:

    -In a large bowl combine the orange juice, coconut aminos, ginger and vinegar

    -Bring liquid to a low boil then simmer for 5 minutes

    -While whisking continuously, slowly add the arrowroot until sauce reaches desired consistancy (this is important to do slowly or else the arrowroot will clump and the sauce will not thicken!)

    -When meatballs are done, toss them in this delicious sauce and serve!

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    Salmon Cakes (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    Happy hump day! Wednesday’s and Saturdays’s are usually my days off, but the next two weeks I am helping out my parents who are going away, and also picking up extra shifts at the restaurant because one of the girls there is also away, so my days “off” are now, well, gone. Therefore my routine is kind of out the window until further notice. This is when I tend to over-do myself because even though I am working more hours, I still plan on continuing to do all of my other daily activities- cooking, cleaning, working out, baking, personal training, etc. My mom always asks how I do everything and she usually isn’t happy with the answer that I just don’t stop moving. BUT! In the midst of the hustle I have thoughtfully scheduled myself a massage and an extra visit to the chiropractor this week. Hopefully that will help balance out the madness. I should also mention that my comcast modem/box/thing that makes the world go ’round, has decided this would be a good time to stop working… so if my posts are lacking this week then you can conclude that I haven’t had time to get a new box yet. Though it is on the top of my priority list seeing as its hard to multitask when your at starbucks and everything you need to work on is at home, Grrr.

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    And by multi-tasking I meant cuddling with my kitten while cooking and blogging 😉

    On another note: Have I mentioned I have been on a seafood kick lately? I love salmon and am usually perfectly happy having it baked with a little lemon, dill, salt and pepper, but recently I have been trying to get more creative with it! I’ve personally never made or really had salmon cakes, or crab cakes for that matter. I’ve always been skeptical about whats in them. So, here is my first ever salmon cake recipe! I think it came out pretty darn good! I plan on experimenting more to see what other flavors I can pack into these bite-sized omega-3-packed cakes. Obviously being on the autoimmune protocol and low-fodmap diet limit my options at the moment, but that won’t be a forever thing.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 lb. cooked salmon (preferably wild caught alaskan salmon)
    • 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
    • 1/4 cup scallions(the green part), diced
    • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and diced
    • 1 TB. dill
    • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1 TB. coconut oil

    Instructions:

    -Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    -Bring small pot of water to boil on the stove and add diced parsnip. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the parsnip is soft then drain the water from the pot.

    -In a food processor add the diced zucchini, salmon, scallions, parsnip, dill, lemon and salt. Process until no large chunks remain and the mixture starts to come together.

    -Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

    -Pack mixture into a 1/4-1/3 inch measuring cup then transfer to the baking sheet to create several cakes. You can use your hands to help shape them if you have trouble getting them out of the measuring cups.

    -Brush the top of the salmon cakes with coconut oil and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes.

    -After 15min, flip the cakes over carefully and brush the other side with coconut oil. Bake for 5 more minutes.

    -Let cool for about 2 minutes and then serve!

    These are great cold, too. Enjoy!

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    Fish Tacos (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    Fun fact: yesterday when I left for work it was 15 degrees and felt warm out. New England = the new Canada? I sure hope not…

    Anyways, lately I have really been craving fresh seafood. We got a taste of it when we were in Maine the other week but living in western mass, fresh fish is harder to come by. When there is some high quality wild caught fish available I get super excited, so I decided to celebrate with this amazing fish taco recipe.

    Before I share the recipe I would like to fore-warn you that there are a few steps that could be done ahead of time to make dinner time less stressful. The taco shells take about an hour (or longer if you have a small oven like me and have to make them in batches) and the coleslaw also takes about an hour. I recommend making these two parts the day if you won’t have an hour+ of prep time.

    With that being said, lets begin! The taco shell recipe was based off of this recipe from The Primitive Homemaker! I added some turmeric and cinnamon for an anti-inflammatory kick.

    Ingredients for the taco shells:

    • 3 green plantains, peeled and cut into large chunks
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

    Instructuons:

    • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
    • In a food processor, add all ingredients and process until smooth.
    • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
    • Scoop balls of your plantain mixture onto the parchment paper and using the back of a spoon spread the dough into preferred taco size circles
    • Bake for 25 minutes or until dough is cooked enough to handle without coming apart
    • Transfer shells onto a roasting rack so the wings are facing down, or onto a taco holder (see pictures below)
    • Bake for another 15-25 minutes until the shells start holding their shape but are as soft or crispy as you would like
    • Let cool for 2-3 minutes

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    Ingredients for the Coleslaw:

    • 1 cup jicama, peeled and shredded
    • 1/2 small head red cabbage, finely chopped
    • 2 large carrots, shredded
    • 2 scallions (the green part), diced
    • 2 TB. apple cider vinegar
    • 1 TB. coconut amines
    • 1 TB. cilantro
    • 1/2 tsp. salt

    Instructions:

    • Using a mandolin, shred jicama and carrots into a large bowl.
    • Chop red cabbage and scallions finely and add them to the bowl with jicama and carrots
    • In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, coconut aminos, salt and cilantro
    • Add vinegar mixture to the cabbage mixture and toss well to combine
    • Marinate in fridge for an hour
    • Toss again right before serving

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    Ingredients for the fish:

    • 1 lb wild caught white fish (I prefer cod or haddock)
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice
    • 1 TB coconut oil
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions:

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    • Place fish skin side down on a tin foil lined, rimmed baking sheet
    • Drizzle coconut oil and lemon juice over fish
    • Season with salt and pepper and bake for 12-15 minutes until the fish meat easily flakes

    Putting everything together: I pre-made the taco shells and coleslaw so after popping my seasoned fish into the oven I got them out of the fridge and began assembling the tacos. I put the coleslaw on the bottom, then the fish (once it was cooked) and then added some spinach sautéed in coconut oil and coconut aminos, and a slice or two of avocado. Prepared to want to eat them all! These are seriously amazing and the taco shells add the perfect amount of crunch that us paleo people don’t get all that often… Enjoy!!

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