kelp noodle chicken & veg stir-fry

Disclaimer: NO! They don’t taste ‘fishy’! PROMISE!! It took us a while to find these bad boys (aka kelp noodles), because in my head I was totally picturing something else. I don’t know why, but I was imagining noodles of the ‘hard/dry’ pasta sorta ilk. Wrong I was…they are actually a mound of soft, curly noodles, packed in water and found in the refrigerated section of your health store/Asian market. When we finally confirmed their existence…we bought a couple packages to take home and experiment with.  Another bonus is that they have a long ‘fridge life’.  Since we tried them initially (several months ago), we haven’t looked back. They are now a mainstay in our regular line-up and serve as a fabulous alternative if you are wanting that ‘noodle(ish)’ type texture, or perhaps something a little different than our good ol’ faithful spaghetti squash.

‘Kelp Noodles are a sea vegetable in the form of an easy to eat raw noodle. Made of only kelp (a sea vegetable), sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water, Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in carbohydrates and calories. Their noodle form and neutral taste allow for a variety of uses including salads, stir-fries, hot broths, and casseroles, while their healthful content provides a rich source of trace minerals including iodine, which kelp is well known for. Their unique texture completes the package, making Kelp Noodles a one-of-a-kind healthful and tasty alternative to pasta and rice noodles. Best of all, no cooking is required. Just rinse and add the noodles to any dish and they are ready to eat!’ (taken directly from Sea Tangle Noodle Company’s website)

This recipe of ours is derived from something similar my husband and I used to make when we first started dating. The major difference being that back then, we were using more processed types of sauces in our stir-fry dishes, of which included gluten…derived from wheat and other nasty ingredients we couldn’t even pronounce. When we used to make this dish, the bulk of it was actually just the veggies and chicken (kinda boring)…but we have since kicked it up a notch, by adding in the kelp noodles, mixed sea vegetables, ginger and lime to give it a delightful pop of flavour! So pleasing on the palate! As many of you know…I am totally in love with trying out and testing new food items/products. For some time now, we have been using coconut aminos as a wonderful substitute when cooking and enjoying various Asian-inspired dishes, such as different stir-fry meals and also sushi. I even sneak it in my purse and bring out for dinner with us, when we go to our favourite Sushi restaurant. It serves as a fabulous and tasty alternative to ‘regular’ soy sauce, which of course is made from soy and various grains. Try it out…I think you will LOVE it! (PS – check out the above ‘coconut aminos’ link to discover some of it’s health benefits compared to soy-based sauces and additional health properties)

‘Our Mixed Sea Vegetables package contains a combination of nine different sea vegetables. Some are commonly known such as kelp (kombu), wakame, and hiziki while others are not widely available, such as seaweed stems and montagne. Sea vegetables are a tasty and great source of fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and iodine. We are proud to bring these fresh, unique and healthful sea vegetables to you.’ (taken directly from Sea Tangle Noodle Company’s website)

Note: Stay tuned for additional recipes to come, which will incorporate the use of kelp noodles to create a variety of different dishes! (both hot and cold) These noodles are oh SO versatile!!! We honestly can’t wait to play around with them a little more, to see what we can come up with!

kelp noodle stirfry
main
2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 2-4 chicken breasts - cut into strips or chunks
  • 1 medium onion - diced
  • 1 pkg mushroom - chopped
  • 3 medium carrots - coined
  • 1 bell pepper - sliced
  • 1 medium head broccoli - chopped into florets
  • 5 cloves garlic - minced
  • ginger - 1-2 inches finely grated (we used a zester)
  • 1 pkg kelp noodles - washed and chopped
  • coconut aminos - to taste (generous amount)
  • 1-2 limes - juice, freshly squeezed
  • mixed sea vegetables - to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. begin by cooking chicken in a skillet/wok, until slightly browned (don't overcook)
  2. remove from heat, and set aside
  3. prepare all other ingredients and have them ready to go
  4. start first by adding the chopped onion to the wok, sautee until translucent
  5. next, add in the mushrooms and cook until softened
  6. after that, add in the carrots and bell pepper to the mix, stirring occasionally (used the mandoline slicer for this)
  7. then, toss in broccoli florets, cooking until slightly softened
  8. following this, add in garlic and ginger and combine to flavour
  9. after all these ingredients are cooked to your liking, re-add the cooked chicken back into the wok
  10. in the meantime, wash and chop kelp noodles into manageable strands
  11. then, add in the noodles, coconut aminos and lime juice, stirring regularly so that all ingredients are tossed together nicely (we use tongs for this)
  12. allow a few minutes for all of this to warm on the stovetop, as the last few ingredients are right out of the fridge
  13. continuing by adding in more coconut aminos, until you have reached desired taste
  14. plate and garnish with additional mixed sea vegetables (optional)
  15. enjoy!
Notes
* the brand of kelp noodles/mixed sea vegetables that we use comes are both from 'Sea Tangle Noodle Company' * the first time we made this recipe, we threw all the veggies in together, but have since revised using a more patient, step-by-step process of adding each in and cooking in a set order * leftovers (if you have any) taste really delicious, after all the flavours have had a chance to meld together - YUM!

rid the back to school lunch blues with these ideas…

Here is my lunch bag set up – my PlanetBox (which comes with 2 containers and cool carrying case), a 16oz Klean Kanteen that I use for water, and a 12oz Klean Kanteen that I use when I am bringing hot food (e.g. soups or stews).

Guest post by Cynthia Roulston ~ This September will mark my 12th year of teaching. As an elementary school teacher, the start of a school year often feels more like the beginning of a new year then it does on January 1st. It is often a time I set new routines as I try to balance my life in a way that does not end up with work taking over every aspect. As part of that organization, it is also a time to think about how to continue my awesome success with a paleo lifestyle. I have been paleo for about 3 years and friends and family often bombard me with the same 4 questions:

  1. What do you eat for breakfast?
  2. What do you eat for lunch?
  3. What do you eat for dinner?
  4. What do you eat?

The last question is probably the easiest one to answer. I eat real food. I avoid grains, legumes and processed food. I seriously limit/avoid dairy. That means I eat the best quality protein sources I can afford, lots of veggies with a bit of fruit, and some nuts and seeds. Pretty simple, and yet when I manage to convince my friends to try a Whole30, to give the paleo way a try, these same questions surface.  One of the key elements to being successful with this way of eating is dropping your preconceived notions of what a meal is. I no longer look at foods in terms of “breakfast”, “lunch” or “dinner”. Most of the time I am successful eating 3 meals a day, and I simply look at them as that – meals. I view meals as the food that will nourish my body, and fuel it in the healthiest way possible, to sustain me throughout the day. This mental shift has shown me that no food is off limits just because of the time of day.

Cindy has invited me to write about lunches as we prepare to get back to work. So whether you are a teacher like ourselves or some other professional, a student, or have children attending school, hopefully there will be some ideas in this post that you can use. I will also include some photos (show casing my awesome Planetbox) of some easy awesome lunches I made recently.

One of the most important ways I keep on track with my paleo lifestyle during lunch is having awesome containers to pack my lunch in. I never really need an excuse to buy myself a present – but being able to keep your food fresh and tasty is going to help you enjoy it much more. Last year I discovered Planet Box lunch containers and they are fantastic! They are environmentally friendly, and keep your food fresh! The only down side to the lunch box I purchased is that it only works with cold meals. They have recently changed this in their newest version which is also a bit larger then the one I bought (darnit!). However, I have also discovered Klean Kanteen, which is another amazing environmentally friendly product that can hold hot or cold beverages, as well as leftover meals like stews and soups. The 8-12oz Klean Kanteen perfectly holds a warm meal (I heat it up in the morning before work and it is still super hot by lunch) and fits snuggly into the pocket of my Planetbox Lunch bag. I also have a 16oz Klean Kanteen that I use as my water bottle throughout the day. I have also tried and still occasionally use an impulse purchase I made at Deserres bento lunch box which looks pretty funky but isn’t as useful as the Planetbox, and doesn’t have a matching carry case. It’s amazing what you can find at the checkout line of an art supply store!

So now that you are equipped with an awesome lunch bag – it’s time to fill it with awesome food.  This diagram comes from Planetbox (a USA – based company), but I wouldn’t be surprised if Canada’s food guide were turned into a plate it would look very similar. I do like that they have made an attempt to market such an amazing lunchbox while encouraging environmental sustainability as well as healthy eating. Obviously we significantly differ on what we consider healthy eating.

If I was to re-create this diagram for my Planetbox to reflect a more paleo/primal balance it would look like:

The obvious difference is the removal of the grains and dairy groups, and larger portion of veggies as the main carbohydrate source.

General Meal Guidelines:

  1. I like to base each meal of my day around my protein source. Protein ideas are endless – fish (I like salmon fillets, or tuna salad with my own homemade mayo), boiled eggs, poultry, beef…you name it! I also like nitrate-free deli meat when I can get it. Using meat for wraps is one of my go-to favourites. Find a good local butcher – we love Royal Beef  as they have the best deli ever in addition to their other amazing quality meats.
  2. Next I choose my fat source. Sometimes my fat may already be incorporated in my meal – e.g in a stew if I am reheating leftovers. Otherwise, I may need to add some.  Fat Sources I like -  Olive oil, or walnut oil I frequently use as a base in my salad dressings, a handful of nuts, or a couple of table spoons of almond or cashew butters are great for dipping fruit in. Avocado, olives, coconut milk and coconut flakes are great, easily portable fat sources too.
  3. Lastly – I go to town on the veggies. I like to experiment with variety as I look for different combinations that work with my protein sources. Carbohydrate Sources are even more endless – I always like to favour things in season, although lettuce leaves for wraps, as well as carrot, celery and cucumber seem to pop up a lot in my rotation because I love them and they are easy. No one can claim boredom here though!! Ways to prepare veggies are as numerous as there are kinds! As for fruit I try not to go too crazy. I use it more like a garnish/condiment or dessert. Definitely a smaller portion compared to veggies. As with my veggies, when it comes to fruit I also like to be adventurous and experiment with what is in season.

Top/Left –> Clockwise ~ * Hormone/antibiotic free ham slices wrapped around sliced tomato and avocado, coronation grapes, almond butter for dipping apple slices into and some cucumber * Grassfed roast beef, carrots, banana with almond butter for dipping, kiwi slices, 90% Lindt cacao chocolate * Tuna Salad Wraps in a Bento Box * Leftover roast chicken, cashews, cucumber slices, watermelon pieces and 90% Lindt Cacao chocolate

Still hungry? Make up some homemade baggies of this or something similar! Also, check out PALEOdISH’s last blog post for loads of additional snacky(ish) ideas that are perfect to pack in your lunch box!!!

Emergency Snack mix – grassfed beef jerky, prunes, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds

Other Lunch Suggestions:

  1. Be prepared – I like to make a plan for the week and I assemble my lunch as part of my evening routine so that in the morning I can just grab my lunch from the fridge and go.
  2. Sunday Night Slow Cook – I like to prepare a large cut of meat (e.g. a roast or whole chicken, spaghetti sauce, chili, soups or stew) where I know there will be lots of leftovers and I’ve got an easy yummy protein source ready to go for at least 2 lunches during the week, or can be frozen for later. It’s nice starting the work week knowing you’re set up for the first couple of days.
  3. Leftovers Rule – During the work week I will often make extra amounts of my third meal (dinner) which lends nicely to lunch-able leftovers.

Cynthia Roulston has been an elementary school teacher for 12 years. With a MSc in Nutritional Science she has also worked as a clinical research associate in breast cancer prevention trials at Princess Margaret Hospital. This background in nutrition is what led to her interest in the paleo diet.  A former national and world-level Ultimate Frisbee player, and former track athlete, physical fitness has been a significant part of her life.  Cynthia currently competes in kettlebell sport. As a part-time Movement Coach at StrengthBox, she derives satisfaction by helping others achieve their personal best. She’s a great motivator and specializes in making workouts fun. She firmly believes in setting a positive example for her students, and continues to amaze them with her feats of fitness and strength. She recently became a MovNat Certified Trainer and enjoys as part of a paleo lifestyle, encouraging and teaching her clients how to move naturally with ease, power and grace. Check out her blog, which includes some good stuff related to MovNat, kettlebell training and living a paleo lifestyle.

bacon-wrapped chicken thighs

Okay…so who doesn’t love pretty much anything bacon-wrapped?!  If you don’t then we probably aren’t friends and never will be…and you should stop reading this blog right now!  (Just kidding (not really)  Anyhoo…we are def bacon lovers over here.   Having said that…I am not a huge fan or promoter of eating crappy quality bacon.  Perhaps a bacon snob of sorts!  I fully admit it!  Hehe!!!  Trust me though…once you do away with the low-grade grocery store variety…you will taste and notice such a HUGE difference.

If you are able to make the change to bacon that is sourced from a local farm near you….DO IT!!!  This is what we do.  Sure it may cost a little bit more…or take a little more digging around to find a high-quality standard…but in our opinion it matters.  Worth every penny!!!  Check out the ‘Eat Wild‘ site for a farm near YOU!  Your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.  If you frequent farmer’s markets, this is also a great opportunity to pick up some delicious swine.  Check out Evergreen Brick Works and the St. Lawrence Market if you are in the Toronto area.  We also buy some of our meat from The Healthy Butcher, Rowe Farms, Cumbrae’sFresh From the Farm and occasionally Fiesta Farms.

Happy bacon shopping!!!  If you haven’t yet tried wild boar bacon…I highly recommend you do!!!  OINK…OINK…

5.0 from 5 reviews
bacon-wrapped chicken thighs
appetizer, main
2-4
 
Ingredients
  • coconut/olive oil - a couple splashes (I eyeballed it!)
  • balsamic vinegar (good quality) - several splashes (again...I eyeballed it!!)
  • 9-12 chicken thighs or you could use 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic - minced/crushed
  • 1 package of white mushrooms (approx. 10-12) - chopped
  • bacon slices - quantity is dependent on number of chicken pieces used
  • sea salt and ground pepper - to taste
Instructions
  1. prepare the above ingredients and place everything into a large glass mixing bowl
  2. then add chicken thighs into the mix as well
  3. in the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  4. use your hands to combine and ‘massage’ the mixture into the chicken pieces
  5. one-by-one, remove chicken pieces from the bowl and wrap with a slice of bacon (I stretch the slice of bacon a little bit before doing so, to make it wrap more easily around the poultry)
  6. place the bacon-wrapped chicken thighs in a single layer, in an oven-proof dish (Corningware) or on a foil-lined baking sheet
  7. before placing in the oven, top with any of the extra marinade mixture that may be left behind in the bowl
  8. bake for approx. 45-60 minutes, until juices run clear and bacon is cooked (watch them, as you don’t want to overcook/dry-out)
  9. broil for an additional 3-5 minutes if you want the outside crispy (optional)
  10. remove, set aside and serve
  11. enjoy!
Notes
• The combination of the crispy bacon, onions and mushrooms is delightful!!!

 

spicy taro chips


Happy day of birth!!! I can’t believe it…how quickly the time has flown by…PALEOdISH is 2 years young today! What started out as random postings of pics of facebook…has turned into a full-on passion that I am so happy to share with many through my website.  I just got in from being out while enjoying a stroll on the beach! While walking, I had time to reflect on how grateful I am for all that I have. To all of you ~ THANKS for your support, questions and feedback…you have continued to help me learn and grow. ♥ Cindy 

New food.  Taro.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we are making it a point to try to introduce a NEW food into the mix once a week.  Why?  Well…because there are just so many amazing foods out there that we have not tried as of yet.  Oh ya..and we want to…we LOVE trying new things!  They may end up being ‘one-hit wonders’ or perhaps frequent our plates, as ‘weekly hits’, within our rotation.  So there you have it…on deck this week (which was actually last week – sorry for the late post), was taro root.  I have heard many people speak of them, and have since been curious as to how they would taste/turn-out.

Similar to that of my beet and sweet potato chips recipes…this starchy tuber was sliced into thin coins, using the ever-so-handy mandoline.  I have said it before, and will say it again…if you don’t have one of these wee tools in your kitchen yet, get one!  You can pick them up for around 15 dollars…and you will be so happy you did.  I used 1 taro root…but it was massive.  There was actually enough to feed both of us.

We REALLY enjoyed their super-crispiness and ‘nutty’ type flavour.  They were a side to our ‘akuri’ (spicy scrambled eggs), but would be just as nice solo…or paired with homemade salsa or guacamole.  Next time, I think I may even make up a larger batch and serve them as the main contender on a ‘nacho’ platter, with loads of bacon.  Oh so good ~ can’t wait!  I also wanted to point out…not all grocery stores may carry them.  You might have to do a little hunteroo at an Asian market, if there is one in your town/city. Sidenote ~ these little rascals are highly addictive!  Crunch away!!!

4.0 from 1 reviews
spicy taro chips
appetizer, snack
2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1-2 large taro roots - thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil or butter - melted
  • 3 tbsp - spice mixture (equal parts cayenne, paprika and red chili)
  • sea salt and ground pepper - to taste
Instructions
  1. start by peeling your taro root
  2. using a mandoline, thinly slice into a large bowl
  3. pour in melted oil/butter and desired spices and mix together to coat, using your hands
  4. place slices on a foil-lined baking sheet
  5. cook in a pre-heat oven at 300 - 325 degrees, until browned and crispy
  6. during this process, use tongs to flip them a couple times
  7. remove, set aside and allow to cool on a wire rack
  8. enjoy!
Notes
• cooking time may vary depending on oven (keep a close eye) • feel free to experiment with your favourite spices • you will know that they are close to being finished when the edges start to 'curl up'

akuri (spicy scrambled eggs)

I woke up Sunday morning…to a sweet ping on my blackberry.  Yes…okay…it was nearly 11:00 am…and maybe we should have been up and at it, but we were still fully nestled under the sheets!  After all, many of you folks know how much we love our sleep around these parts.  Sleep-ins on the week-end are very much cherished and something we adore!  Coziest of cozies!!!  Anyhoo…my dear friend and co-worker Jasmine made me smile by emailing and sharing with me one of her favourite recipes.  Akuri…a spicy egg dish, commonly eaten in Parsi culture.

Jasmine had been speaking about it’s wicked-awesomeness at work…and it sounded truly incredible.  I couldn’t wait to try this new little number.  Sunday is typically our big ‘grocery shop’, so I was able to pick everything up for the dish when we were out and about.  We made this ‘scrambled egg concoction’ Sunday for dins…and again on Monday night, because we loved it like crazy!  Jokingly, we were literally arguing over who got more in their bowl.  When dins was done…both of us chuckled, as we still wanted more!! HA!

Thank-you SO much Jasmine for introducing us to this goodness.  A terrific alternative to reg scrambled eggs.  Try ‘em…give it a go and spice up your life a little.  A total game changer in our opinions.  Excellent solution to those looking for a quick, easy and delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner idea!  Hope you like…

akuri (spicy scrambled eggs)
main
2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 eggs - scrambled
  • butter, ghee, coconut oil
  • 1 medium white onion - diced
  • 2-3 tomatoes - diced
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced/crushed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper or 2 green chile peppers - finely chopped (remove seeds if you don't want it too hot or add more if you like it really spicy!)
  • handful of fresh cilantro - chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • a few pinches of sea salt - to taste
Instructions
  1. start by chopping up all your veggies and herbs
  2. in a pan, heat 1-2 tbsp of butter/ghee or coconut oil
  3. add in diced onion and sauté until translucent
  4. next, add in tomatoes, garlic, peppers and cilantro and cook on medium for a few minutes, until tomatoes soften
  5. add in your turmeric and season with salt, while stirring together
  6. meanwhile, get eggs ready by cracking them and whipping them together in a large bowl (I added in some cold water to the mixture, to make them more fluffy)
  7. turn up the heat a little, and add your scrambled eggs to the pan
  8. cook and keep stirring, until eggs are scrambled to your liking
  9. garnish with more chopped cilantro if you wish
  10. enjoy!

 

squash & sweet potato soup

We love soup over here in this house.  In all honesty, we could eat it and enjoy any night of the week…and any season for that matter.  Homemade soups are probably one of the easiest and yummiest meals to make.  What it boils down to (pun intended) is basically choosing your veggies of choice…washing, peeling and chopping them up, and then throwing them in a pot.  Next, add in some liquid goodness, a couple herbs/spices…puree and voila.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.  This simplification isn’t far off.  Super quick to make, yet filled with comfort.  With a few simple ingredients, you can create a warm and soothing dish that your family will love any day of the year.

squash & sweet potato soup
Appetizer, Side
4 +
 
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash – skin removed and cubed
  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes/yams – cubed
  • 2 small- medium onions - finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups or 1 tetra container of vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • coconut oil
  • a pinch or two of ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • ground pepper and sea salt
  • a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
  • fresh chives - chopped for garnish
  • bacon – chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. begin by taking your cubed butternut squash and sweet potato and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until slightly browned (toss in coconut/olive oil and fresh rosemary, in a large bowl and then spread out cubes on a baking sheet)
  2. in the meantime, sauté the onion and garlic in coconut oil on low-medium heat on the stove-top, in a LE CREUSET/dutch oven, until softened and translucent
  3. when done roasting, take your butternut squash and sweet potato and add them into the dutch oven/pot
  4. next, pour in your vegetable broth and bring to a boil
  5. reduce heat and season with a few teaspoons of ground nutmeg and/or cinnamon (sorry, I didn’t measure the amounts here, but I wasn’t shy)
  6. then, take an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth
  7. at the same time, add in the coconut milk slowly, and continue blending until desired consistency is reached (if too thick...add in some broth or water)
  8. allow time to simmer on low/medium heat for flavours to meld together - stirring occasionally
  9. serve it up in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper
  10. finish with a few dashes of hot sauce if you want a little bite!
  11. finally, garnish with some freshly chopped chives and crumbled bacon (sweet vs. salty flavouring = wickedness)
  12. enjoy!
Notes
• I am using onion, garlic, chopped up squash and sweet potatoes…but you can basically choose any veggies you like…add in some broth and coconut milk (if you want it creamy) and grab a handy immersion blender to mix it up and you are laughing. You can also play around with different spices and fresh herbs if you like as well. If you aren't into 'creamy' type soups - skip the coconut milk step and ditch the pureeing business. • Also, you can modify the consistency of your soup by adding in a little bit more broth or water, if you find it's too thick. Have fun with this one…choose some veggies that are in-season and you are off to the races. Any type of squash is always a good bet as well!!! Oh ya…when re-heating the leftovers (this makes a ton), I also added in some more liquid to even things out.

Time-saver: • If you want to save time, you can do without the roasting of the veggies...and pretty much chop them up and cook them in the dutch oven on the stove-top as you go. The choice is yours, although I find roasting them add more flavour to the dish. YUM!