Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Sprouting Summer: Meal #2

Sometimes, it is easy to become bored with common dishes, such as chicken. Especially in the summertime, chicken seems to never go away. After many barbeque parties, chicken salads, chicken enchiladas, and just plain chicken, many people grow weary of the overused entree. Yet, sometimes, all it takes is a little extra kick or twist to revive weary eaters from the chicken blues. 

There's nothing like fresh, sweet pineapple in summer time!  Rather than placing the pineapple as a side, it was used in the dish to spice up the common grilled chicken. Combining with the tartness of the ginger-pineapple and the sweetness from the pineapple chunks made this classic summer dish a spectacular hit.


Pineapple Chicken Skewers w/ Roasted Broccoli

Serves 3
Total Time: approximately 30 minutes

For the chicken:

Ingredients-

1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 lemon
pinch of salt
3 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
3 cups pineapple chunks

Directions- 
 Preheat the grill to medium to high heat.
 For the pineapple glaze, combine the diced pineapple, olive oil, garlic, juice from the lemon, and salt in a small bowl. Puree in a food processor, and set aside. 
 Skewer the chicken and pineapple chunks, alternating each time. Cook the skewers on the grill for approximately 15 minutes, occasionally brushing the pineapple glaze on the chicken  skewers.
Remove from grill and serve.

 * ON the grill- lightly brush sauce over the chicken

For the Broccoli:

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Chop one head of broccoli into chunks. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper for taste.
Place the broccoli in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes, turning the broccoli halfway through. 
Serve with the chicken.



Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Sprouting Summer- Mint Chip "Ice Cream"

 Since it is summer, many Paleo and allergy-free people alike dread the hot days without the comfort of ice cream, frozen yogurt, berry pies, and such. For us, we resolve to our frozen mangoes and cool cucumbers for a summer treat. But no longer do we have to watch in disdain as our friends eat that frozen temptation, for here is one of the most spectacular things I have ever made: ALLERGY- FRIENDLY MINT CHIP ICE CREAM!! With the main ingredient as hemp seed, you may be thinking, Ha! this isn't ice cream. How do you get creamy deliciousness from a small hippie delicacy? Yes, it sounds strange, but the taste and texture are enough to knock the socks off of any skeptics' feet.


This is seriously the best ice cream EVER! Even better than the sugar-filled, dairy, real-deal stuff. I'm not exaggerating. It is so addicting! I had some after dinner last night. An added bonus to this recipe- its SUPER DUPER easy!!! Literally, just blend hemp seeds, add coconut milk, honey, peppermint extract, chocolate chips, blend some more, and stick it in an ice cream maker. It's that simple!

With enough allergies and sensitivities to cause someone a headache, I often have a hard time finding staples, such as chocolate. However, Enjoy Life produces some amazing chocolate chips, along with chocolate bars. With a slogan that boasts that their products are "free of the top 8 allergens," these Enjoy Life products are enough to make someone like me jump for joy. And might I add, the chocolate chips are delicious. Since this ice cream recipe only requires 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips, use the rest to make cookies, top the ice cream, or better yet, eat by themselves! :) 

Hemp seeds, since they are usually associated with clothing material for hippies and hipsters alike, can be an odd thing to eat with that in mind. However, despite their tattered past, these seeds are health bombshells, packed with essential fatty acids, including healthful omega-6. With a nutrient- packed seed like this in your frozen treat, you can now have your ice cream and eat it too!



{The Most Wonderful Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream}


Ingredients:
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1 can or 13 ounces of coconut milk
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 Tablespoon allergy freindly vanilla extract*
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Blend hemp seeds for 30 seconds in a blender. Add coconut milk, honey, and extract(s), and chocolate chips until the chips are broken into pieces. Add the liquid to the ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions. 


ENJOY!







* A note on vanilla extract: I've yet to find a vanilla that either doesn't derive its "vanilla" from corn or chooses to outline all of its ingredients. Though vanilla extract seems harmless, its mysteries could prove to be devestating to the unsuspecting eater. Therefore, your best bet, if you are trying to stay away from allergens, is to either make your own extract, or omit it all together (I often choose the latter).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Sprouting Summer: Fitness

 My Random and Out-of-Order thoughts on Fitness 

What is fitness? With summer comes the rush of "get fit quick" schemes and promises. Yet if I've learned anything, it's that fitness and health is a lifestyle, not a month-long endeavor. In a society that paints a picture of an impossible achievement and beckons women to follow, its no wonder that most women are insecure about their bodies. As I seek to live in the world, yet not succumb to its lies, I've begun to ponder, what does God want with my body? I certainly don't have all the answers, but I hope you'll join me on a journey through my thoughts.

In the times of the Old Testament, the Temple was meticulously cared for, cleaned, and made to look beautiful for its Dweller. In 1 Corinthians 6:19,  Paul urges readers to remember that they are the temple of the Most High, since His Spirit dwells within them. So then, are we not called to take care of the home of the Spirit well?

So, then, what does it mean to "keep house?" I think God desires more how the inside of His temple looks, not necessarily the outside. He cares more about what is in our HEART. Even in 1 Samuel 16:7, He reminds the prophet Samuel that while human nature tends to make judgements based on appearance, He looks first and foremost at the heart. Yet, we tend to even judge ourselves by our outward appearance, letting how we feel about ourselves govern our emotions, thought patterns, and attitudes. We must remind ourselves that God made each and every person beautifully and wonderfully. God does not make junk!  As followers of Christ, we must strive to balance a healthy outlook of ourselves as one that seeks after God's own heart, that seeks to obey Him and follow Him, and who seeks to take good care of the temporary shell God has given us (that's all a body is- a temporary shell for our spirit that longs for heaven). God's prescription for a healthy and fit soul has never changed- follow Him.

With that in mind, how does God want us to treat our physical bodies? Certainly He doesn't call me to obsess to look like something I'm not. God gave us healthy and movable bodies for a purpose, so move! Even in fitness, its important to keep GOD as our focus and motivation. If our motivation is to look like so-and-so, and if we are driven by an inner voice that tells us we're unacceptable if we aren't ____, that's a pretty rotten crowd to cheer you on daily towards fitness. What if our motivation became to glorify God through my fitness and give Him my best? What if we stopped obsessing over a size or a number and started exercising as an outward expression of thankfulness for the gift of our bodies? What if we started to enjoy fitness and being healthy and were finally set free from the bondage the world threatens to shackle us with, the lies that threaten to overtake?

I believe God wants us to enjoy the gifts He's given us. If you love dancing, then dance. If you love running, then run. Don't live by the standards set by the world, don't buy into the lies that your worth depends on your outward appearance. Remember that your Heavenly Father wonderfully made and crafted you, and He seeks to grow a healthy heart that loves Him. Fix your eyes on HIM as you seek to live a healthy life. Again, being healthy is a process, a long journey, rather than a short sprint. But good for us, we have the Master Guide right beside us, to catch us when we fall, and to remind us to watch out for the pits along the side of the road.

So go, live in the wonderment of God's love, surrender the lies you've believed, begin on this journey living a balanced life (in ALL aspects), and bask in the beauty of the Lord's creation- YOU!








Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Sprouting Summer: Meal #1

With school over and the weather warming, SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY HERE!!! But summer is not all rest and relaxation, for I have many things to accomplish!  One of my goals this summer is to cook at least once a week for my family. As the only Paleo eater in a family of four, I find myself often cooking  for myself, but by the third day of leftovers, my creation gets old. Now that I can cook for the family, I'll be able to create and experiment more, at their expense Thus, I'm calling this period of intensive cooking  "A Sprouting Summer," as I learn and create yummy summer meals. I'm excited to try new varieties of food and create new ideas. 

My first attempt at a yummy summer meal for the family was a complete success! It hit the spot!Creamy, flavorful, and healthy, this chicken salad was the perfect kickoff to my summer meal. This is so easy to make, and so worth the little time that it takes! My dad, who I consider the ultimate food taste-tester, couldn't get enough of the salad!

I served this delicious dish with watermelon, but I'd also suggest a side potato salad or fruit salad, yet it's satisfying enough by itself! This is also the perfect dish to bring to a summer party or picnic. 





Chicken Salad with Avocado-Herb Dressing

Makes approximately 4 servings

Ingredients:

Salad- 
4 oz of chicken breast, baked and shredded
1 up broccoli/carrot slaw( I get mine from Trader Joe's)
1 head of red leaf lettuce, chopped and washed

Dressing-  
1/2 ripe avocado
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup parsley
1/3 cup fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt


Directions:

1. Bake chicken 450 for 40 minutes.

2. While the chicken is baking, combine dressing ingredients in food processor and pulse together. If the dressing is too thick (consistency like guacamole), add more oil, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.  

3. Chop and wash lettuce. Set aside in serving dish

4. Once chicken is finished, take it out of the oven and shred it. 

5. Toss the shredded chicken with avocado dressing. 

6. Serve, or store in an airtight container for later

 
The chicken-avocado mix













The Chicken Salad with Watermelon