Full Moons…. and Zesty Ginger Sesame Chicken Wings (Paleo!)

Happy Monday…. um, Tuesday! Definitely feels like a Monday, but that kind of thing usually happens over a long weekend.

How was everyone’s Memorial Day? Ours was just crud weather in the mid-Atlantic… but I sort of feel as though the weather in general has been pretty bad. I also feel as though I’ve prematurely aged mentally where I insist the weather/flies/mosquitos/hurricanes/snow/potholes/pollen/life in general gets harder or worse each year. I’ll have to press the reset button on that…. that’s not good energy to be putting out there.

Friday was a busy day, too. I worked from home — after a flurry of appointments, I finally had a chance to COOK STUFF!!! Not that I haven’t been cooking, I’ve just been making food that’s much more palatable to my family. I’ve been cooking a lot of non-paleo, non-vegan and non-keto foods since we’re all around more. I can definitely tell a difference with my body, and it does not like it. My jeans don’t, either. Oh also, I forgot how much I like beer? Yeah, this weekend wasn’t good for that.

In other news, we’ve got an interesting Full Moon. This one falls under Sagittarius, which is the best opportunity to give us a fresh perspective.

Is there anything you’ve been struggling to wrap your head around? Have you been wrestling with thoughts that you just can’t seem to get behind? This is an amazing time to really gain a different lens and to garner better insight to everything going on in your life. Sagittarius energy is really about building on what you already know and already have, and broadening  your horizons. What have you done so far that’s really propelled you towards where you want to go? How are you going to use this to get where you’re going next?

This sounds vague, but it really isn’t. It applies most closely to whatever you’re experiencing in life. If there’s something you’ve been waiting to do, wait no more. If you’re waiting to take a risk, move somewhere, take a job, make a big decision, splurge on a vacation, this is the perfect time to start the momentum on that and get it moving. Reevaluate your goals to make sure they still fit you, and to check your state of mind to ensure you’re an open book for growth.

Onto the foodies…. these wings have made an appearance in quite literally everyone’s house this weekend. I made them. All. Weekend. I love them! The key is keeping a bit of the marinade separate and brushing it on right before serving so they keep that really tasty briny and gingery flavor. Try these out on the grill… I whole heartedly believe that good wings always belong on the grill. Plus, while chicken wings certainly aren’t the bare essentials of paleo eating, who doesn’t love a good wing? YUM.

Zesty Ginger Sesame Chicken Wings (Paleo!)

prep time: 20 active min, plus marinating time

cook time: 20 min

Serves anywhere from 1-5 people, depending on your appetite

Ingredients

  • 2 packages organic or all natural wings (separated into wings and drumettes,
  • 1 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 stalks of scallions, green and white parts, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste (or miso, if not strict paleo)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (black and white preferred for aesthetics, but any color will do)

Directions

  1. Whisk together your tahini and coconut aminos in a large bowl first to emulsify.
  2. Once the sauce is thoroughly mixed, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. It should taste VERY briny — chicken absorbs a lot of the salty flavor, so it should have enough zest to really taste salty. Set aside a 1/2 cup of the mixture in a small bowl.
  3. Place your chicken wings in a bag, pour your sauce over them and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, up to 24 hours. Refrigerate your separate sauce as well.
  4. Once ready to cook, preheat your grill to 400 degrees. We want high heat to make sure the skin is crisp.
  5. Place the wings on the grill, about 1 inch apart. Turn as needed, once the wings darken and appear blackened. They aren’t necessarily burnt — the caramelization from the coconut aminos will just make them appear darker.
  6. Continue to turn until thoroughly browned on all sides, about 15-20 minutes in total.
  7. Remove from heat, and brush with remaining sauce. Garnish with a pinch of scallions.

Enjoy!

-S

Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs (Paleo)

What weather!!!!

We went from having 80 degree days, to 40 degree nights. I can’t lie, this is my favorite part of the year. Sweaters, jackets, boots, scarves, AHH. And pumpkins! We are having a neighborhood potluck this Saturday, and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. I will definitely be enjoying some pumpkin beer.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately – far away cities for work, traveling back to my alma mater (WE ARE! #2 in the country, go PSU football!), and more or less, not getting enough sleep. Not getting any sleep, for that matter. It was fun putting on nice clothes, a ton of makeup, curling my hair and pretending I was in college again. It was not fun walking around in heels everywhere, though… I’d likely do it again. Kids these days don’t know what life was like before Uber when your campus was huge, your shoes were awfully uncomfortable, taxis were too expensive and subzero temperatures were just brutal.. but you didn’t care, because it was college, and you already had 14 shots so you were still warm.

The only bad thing about traveling is that, unless you’re doing an Airbnb and have full access to every amenity you have at home, you just can’t get a home cooked meal. Though I did get to eat some really delicious things, like shrimp and jalapeno cheddar grits, a real kobe beef burger, jicama fries, tostones, s’mores in a can, Better Cheddar dip, campfire ahi tuna…. among others, I really just wanted to cook myself a dinner and watch tv with my dog.

And that’s exactly what I did last night. I was inspired by hearing someone talk about meatballs on the radio, but… I just don’t like beef meatballs and red sauce. I don’t really like any standard pasta in red sauce, or any accessories that go with it. I wanted something light, but spicy, definitely flavorful, and not time consuming.

Chicken it was!

I thought about doing something like cauliflower rice to make the whole thing paleo, but a good basmati rice is just delicious…. You can definitely put this over something like veggies or cauliflower if you’re strict, though. These lil babes are delicious, full of protein and pretty filling, and they keep well for lunch the next day. And so, it is – Paleo Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs for you.

 

Paleo Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs

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Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Serves 2-3

 

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp almond flour

For the sauce:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs/seeds removed, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste

Optional: 1 cup of basmati rice, OR cauliflower rice, if strict paleo

 

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet, heat coconut oil over medium high heat. Add first half of onion, and sauté until browning, about 8-10 minutes. Stir to ensure they do not burn. Set aside and let cool a bit.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F as you prep the meatballs.
  3. In a large bowl, add chicken, almond flour, ginger, red curry paste, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, onion and cilantro and mix thoroughly. The mix should have a slightly red tint to it — if you’re brave and like spice, feel free to add another tsp of red curry paste.
  4. Roll into 1-1.5 inch balls and place on a greased/parchment-lined baking sheet. I covered my hands in a bit of coconut oil first, because chicken sticking to my fingers freaks me out a bit (oh, also.. it’s easier to roll them…)
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they start to brown.
  6. Meanwhile, add rest of onion and red pepper to pan with a splash of oil over medium high heat, stirring to coat. allow to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, add tomato paste, red curry paste, garlic powder and salt – stir to mix thoroughly.
  7. Once the mixture is coated with the curry and tomato paste, add coconut milk. Stir thoroughly, allowing to bubble and simmer.
  8. Remove meatballs from oven, and add to the skillet with the sauce — let simmer while moving onto the next step.
  9. Lastly, for the rice – bring 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt to a boil. add rice, and turn down to a simmer, allowing to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until water dissipates. Fluff with a fork. If using cauliflower, cut core of cauliflower head out/most of the bulky stem, and pulse the remaining through a food processor until rice-like consistency – heat with 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium high heat until tender, about 4-6 minutes.
  10. Serve meatballs and sauce over the rice in a bowl.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Spiced Chicken Tostadas (Paleo)

I’ve been feeling really sluggish recently. There’s been a lot going on in the world, and as a worrisome little empath, I’ve found that avoiding the news is probably the best tactic (albeit a selfish/ignorant one). So much destruction down south from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, a president that could double as a candied yam, work issues, and lots of ups and downs in life including not getting a good nights’ sleep in weeks… it’s a stressful time, these days.

As with every Sunday, we were deliberating what to make for the big group. We had some odds and ends to cook with… and while Sundays are for getting creative, we really just felt too out-of-sorts and tired to make it to the store for more ingredients. After some digging in the freezer, several chicken thighs made their way onto the smoker for some slow roasting. Great! One step down. Chicken it was.

After more digging around in the freezer, we were able to find a bit of frozen corn, and a bag of corn tortillas. Continuing to scavenge around the kitchen, we pulled some sweet potatoes, a little box of grape tomatoes and a can of black beans. That’s when I knew we were onto something good. No impromptu trip to the grocery store, here! I was tired, thank God.

Tostadas! Delicious, easy, throw-together food you eat with your hands. Perfect. But, in typical Sarah-fashion, it had to be different…. I was going to smother the crap out of everything with spice. Spiced everything. They’re actually pretty easy to make, which I love. There’s a few steps, but this was definitely a “win” in the dinner book… and after our worrying that we would have to go out, spend more money, more time and more effort, there’s always a way to make it work.

This actually made me think about a recurring theme in my life. I can remember being young, and watching some movie that I probably stayed up late to watch because I wouldn’t normally be allowed to. It was some sort of action movie, and while I don’t remember the plot or details, the guy, the main character, was trudging on after literally having his arm nearly ripped off, his people killed… everything. I’m not sure why it made such an impression on me, especially since it was so long ago, but I do remember that for days after, I noticeably heard people reassuring themselves or someone else “well, there’s always a way!”

This rings true even today. There has been a lot of obstacles out there, both in my life and in others’ lives. With enough perseverance, motivation or sometimes downright foolishness, the only way to go was forward towards the light at the end of the tunnel. With enough praying, enough deliberating and belief that all problems come to an end, there is always a way. Sometimes you’ve already been given your tools, other times you need to go find them. Regardless, never turn down an opportunity to shine and come out on the other side, even if it means you’re going to have to go through the mud. As long as you can see a chance for growth – it’s the right thing to keep going until you find a way.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do 🙂 There’s a few parts to this recipe, but feel free to swap things out as you choose.

Note: this recipe includes non-paleo alternatives for flexible dieters – substitutions may be made.

Paleo Spiced Chicken Tostadas

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Prep time: 45 min

Cook time: 50 min

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:

  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning, plus more to taste
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

For the tostadas:

  • 8 almond-flour tortillas
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder

For the “sour cream”:

  • 4 oz refrigerated coconut cream (or Greek yogurt for those flexible with dairy)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • juice of half a lime

For the succotash (non-paleo, optional):

  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 8 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
  • 1 8 oz can of black beans
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • juice of half a lime

(corn and beans can be removed, tomato and salsa mixture is also delicious)

Optional:

  • Sliced jalapeños for garnish

Directions:

  1. For the tostadas, mix together avocado oil, parsley, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, onion powder in a small bowl. Lay tortillas out on a parchment lined baking sheet, careful not to overlap.
  2. Brush them generously with the oil mixture, making sure to cover the edges.
  3. Bake or grill at 400 degrees F, until crisp (but not quite charred). Once finished, set aside on a baking rack to cool. Keep grill or oven running at 400 degrees for the chicken.
  4. Place chicken on a large plate or baking sheet and brush with avocado oil. Generously coat the chicken with spice mixture, covering the entire outside. Grill for 20-25 minutes until chicken is done all the way through. Remember to get a clean plate from the first one you used! 🙂
  5. While the chicken is cooking, start the veggie succotash. Start by putting a very small amount (~ 1 tsp) of avocado oil in a pan, over high heat – we want these to stay a little dry. Add tomatoes and onion (corn and beans can be added if not strict paleo). You want to sauté the veggies over high heat so that they brown quickly, but still stay a bit crisp. If you find they start to burn, continue to stir and turn the heat down a bit.
  6. Season veggies with salt, and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl. Mix in cilantro, ½ of the lime juice, and a pinch more of salt, if needed.
  7. Take a 1 minute break to find a margarita or beer, because this is sort of time consuming.
  8. Back to the chicken. When it’s cool enough to touch, remove the skin and shred with fingers (or a fork to avoid getting your hands messy), also removing the bone. Taste the chicken, and add any additional taco seasoning with another tsp of avocado oil, if needed.
  9. Lastly, mix together the coconut cream (or Greek yogurt), other half of lime juice and cilantro in a small bowl.
  10. Arrange ingredients on a tostada and serve. Enjoy!

 

-S

Crispy Dijon Chicken (Paleo)

When I was a kid currently, and likely for the rest of my life, I will love chicken fingers. If there’s nothing good on a menu when you go out to eat, chicken fingers will never let you down, no matter what dive restaurant you end up at. They’re safe, you can tell if they’re funky the moment you see them, and you can dip them in anything.

There’s something to be said for consistency – as a self-proclaimed creature of habit that also suffers… no, *cancel, rip burn* THRIVES from OCD, ADD, BBQ, WTF, etc, I. Hate. Change. I mean…. If this were a job interview, I’d tell you I love change, I love switching it up, I love waking up and not knowing what the hell I’m doing for the day….but that also might be a partial fib. I don’t like the mundane, but I also enjoy knowing what’s around the corner. Always. I will ruin any surprise party anyone tries to throw for me… because I must know what’s going on.

I am also a bad liar, so… I can’t pretend I don’t know things, either.

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On a more serious note, I think it makes life a little easier when you have even the smallest predictable habit in your schedule – it gives you a little comfort in knowing some things won’t change in your life, even if it’s a morning coffee routine, walking your dog every night, or walking to lunch with a co-worker. You could even commit to something amazing, such as 10-15 minutes of meditation, or a positive affirmation of your intentions before bed? When it boils down to it, having something you can mentally rely on to be there, no matter how small, helps you muscle through the really hard, unpredictable and gritty parts of life. Sometimes you just gotta go get your chicken fingers after a hard day.

So here makes the arrival of a little experiment I did a few weeks ago, and again this weekend. Having several people in my life that need to eat gluten free, I’m determined to find Paleo alternatives to things that I love. I’ve made variations of this before (of which I will definitely share at some point!), but nothing is better than a good ol’ chicken finger. Plus, I’m saving you a step by including sawsie goodness right into the chicken finger itself. (plot twist… there’s always extra sauce… if you learn anything about me, it’s that I love sauce on everything….)

**For you non-meat-eaters, you could also do this with strips of tofu. I like to sear the tofu to give it a nice crust for some extra crunch – but to each their own.

Crunchy Dijon Chicken

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20-25 min

Serves 4-6

  • ~1 to 1 1/2 lb chicken breast, or 2-4 breasts (depending on size), sliced in half thickness-wise
  • 1 cup of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut Flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups of Crushed Plantain Chips
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons of Coconaise, or Vegenaise, plus more to taste
  • 1 Small Shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp raw honey

For the Extra Sauce

  • 1/2 cup of Coconaise
  • 1 Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp raw honey
  • ¼ cup of scallions for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Crush up plaintain chips in a bag. I’ve used unsalted, but I find that using salted ones are just the right amount of flavor. Add to medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. In a small non-greased pan over medium high heat, toast the coconut until most of it is lightly browned. Remember to stir – you don’t want it to burn! Once browned, add the coconut flakes to the plaintain chips, add salt, and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl,  mix the dijon, honey, shallot and mayo to make the sauce mixture. It should be tangy, a little sweet, and savory. Feel free to add a bit more mayo or dijon if you need to.
  5. Dip the chicken in the sauce mixture until generously and thoroughly coated. Next, dip into the crust mixture. Repeat this for all chicken pieces and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Discard any remaining sauce in the bowl and the plantain/coconut – you don’t want to risk anything with the raw chicken!
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until crust starts to crisp and brown.
  7. As the chicken is baking, prepare the extra sauce. Mix mayo, Dijon, honey and scallions in a bowl. Spread over chicken once finished cooking.

Enjoy! 🙂

-S