Butter chicken that tastes like butter chicken – grain free – primal

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I finally did it. After years of experimentation and an assortment of varying failures,  I pulled off butter chicken so good that I found myself compelled to make it three times in one week.

Even my kids who usually hate anything curry related devoured it.

I’m not sure why it took so long or was so hard to get the flavours right, I’ve followed countless online recipes only to be disappointed in the end.

I’ve gone to specialty grocery stored searching out ingredients like menthi leaves or garam masala, certain they would be the smoking gun, finally pulling everything together and replicating the savory, sweet, tangy and slightly spicy combination I had come to enjoy in restaurant versions.  My kitchen would always smell glorious, but when I would taste the finished product it was a major let down.  The flavours would never live up to the promising aroma and I would be forced to rely on a mountain of basmati rice to help wash it down.

Since dropping grains from my diet there is not room for error in curries or sauces, it has to taste good enough to be eaten solo or I might as well save my ingredients and make something fool proof.

Still, there is something about butter chicken that brings upon occasional cravings so intense the only solution is a big bowl of hot creamy buttery goodness.  And with my new primal way of eating, to heal my autoimmunity, takeout is generally not an option.

In this recipe I used real grass fed butter because I have done an elimination diet and found my body actually loves the stuff, but for the yogurt I found plain almond yogurt worked beautifully.  If you eat dairy, go for some really good full fat Icelandic yogurt, and always choose grass fed.

I also discovered what I believe to be the secret ingredient for nailing this flavour profile… pumpkin pie spice!  I added it on a whim and it really brought this bad boy together.  I know its not traditional, but try if you try it, let me know what you think.

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Butter chicken (that tastes good enough to eat) grain free – primal – whole 30.

 

Ingredients:

2 pasture raised chicken breasts

1 small yellow onion

2 roma tomatoes

crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken or beef stock

lemon juice

1 cup full fat coconut milk

grass fed butter or butter replacement

vegan or grass fed plain yogurt

1 clove garlic

1″ piece ginger

1tsp cumin seeds

1tsp coriander

1tsp paprika

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 tsp pataks curry paste

pinch menthi leaves

coconut sugar or honey

cilantro for garnish

cooking oil (olive or coconut)

 

Directions:

  1. Mix 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 heaping tsp curry paste and juice of 1/2 lemon into a marinade. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Marinade whole chicken breasts for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan and lightly sauté cumin seeds and chopped onion and cook until soft.
  4. Toss in spices, remaining curry paste, ginger and garlic and sauté 30 seconds.
  5. Add Roma tomatoes and stock.
  6. Bring it back up to a simmer and place whole chicken breasts and the yogurt marinade in the saucepan.  Transfer to a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
  7. After 25 minutes remove the chicken breasts from the cooking liquids, add 3/4 cup of coconut milk and 2 tbsp. butter to the rest of the ingredients.
  8. Once the butter has melted, use an immersion blender (or any old blender will do) to puree the onion tomato liquid mix into a creamy sauce.
  9. Finally, add the sugar and menthi leaves, shred the chicken back into the sauce and drizzle the remaining coconut milk over the curry.
  10. Top with fresh cilantro if desired.

I made a pot of basmati rice for my grain loving family, but ate my curry over a bed of wilted spinach and a side of aloo gobi.  It was so good I didn’t miss the grains at all.  Seriously.

Next time I’m going to serve it with a warm, soft platter of paleo naan bread in an effort to encourage my family to eat less grains.

Both my Aloo Gobi and Paleo naan recipes are coming soon!

 

 

Super easy weeknight roast beef

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I used to be a vegan.  People change.

For the entire decade that I abstained from animal products I was iron deficient.  I would go through phases where I would diligently supplement, see my ferritin levels bump up a couple notches, get constipated, quit taking them and end up back at square one.

I went through this cycle for years before finally accepting that my compromised gut was just not properly absorbing certain nutrients from plant based foods.

Many people with hashimotos, and PCOS also have low iron levels.  I believe this is because all disease starts in the gut and malabsorption of nutrients + too many anti nutrients ends up leading to a myriad of issues.  Once you have one autoimmune disease it is common to get more and I believe this is partly because people with autoimmunity often refuse to fully change their diets.  Those poor white blood cells are constantly being bombarded by food triggers and in an effort to protect us, they end up attacking our own bodies!

Since quitting gluten and adding pasture raised meats back into my diet I feel better than I did in my early twenties. It’s like I can feel the energy flowing into my veins with every bite.

I do still think a vegan diet is a compassionate choice and does have many health producing benefits when done correctly.  I also still maintain a healthy repertoire of plant based recipes that I will toss onto the blog.  Eating meat again was simply a choice I had to make in an attempt to heal a debilitating chronic illness.

When the plane is going down you have to put your mask on first.

This roast is an easy way to get a filling grain free meal on the table.  I make it in my trusty cast iron skillet for an even bigger dose of iron.  It usually takes about 10 minutes to prep and put in the oven, and I can walk my dog while its cooking.  When we return the whole house smells glorious and this juicy bad boy is ready for carving.  Serve it with a loaded salad or roasted root veggies and you’ve got dinner.

 

Easy weeknight roast

 

Ingredients:

One 3-4 pound pasture raised beef roast

Quality olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup beef stock

A sprig of thyme

Chopped veggies I use carrots celery mushrooms and whole garlic cloves.

 

Directions:

  1. Drizzle the roast with olive oil and rub generously with salt and pepper.  I love to use Himalayan sea salt and fresh cracked peppercorns.
  2. Heat a skillet, I love my cast iron, and sear the roast to golden brown on all sides.
  3. Toss the veggies in around the roast.  You can get creative and use whichever veggies you like.  Aromatics give a beautiful flavor to the gravy and the carrots come out tasting gourmet.
  4. Sprinkle the leaves of thyme over the meat and veggies.
  5. Pour the stock and wine over the veggies.
  6. Place the whole thing into a preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for 18-20 minutes per pound. When in doubt use a heat thermometer but I find these numbers have never failed to produce a perfect roast that is consistently pink in the middle but not red.
  7. Remove from oven, set the meat and veggies on a cutting board.  Let the roast rest for at least another 10 minutes before carving.
  8. Go ahead and make gravy with the pan dripping using your favorite grain free flour,  it will be heavenly.

 

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Enjoy.

 

 

 

Lemon Dill Salmon

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Salmon is not my favorite fish.  But due to its high omega 3 content, relatively low mercury content and the fact that it can still be sustainably wild caught here in Canada, its one of the few fish I ever eat.  Still, to really enjoy it I’ve got to work it, and this recipe does the trick.

I love Asian inspired flavours with salmon, but I also love the freshness of dill and lemon.  It might seem like a bit of a weird combo but works really well here.

This can be on the table in under an hour from start to finish and even my kids love it.  I like to serve it with a creamy dill sauce and salad.  Usually I’ll also prepare some wild rice for my kiddos who are so not on board with my grain free lifestyle.

 

Lemon Dill Salmon

Ingredients:

A fresh wild caught salmon filet

Three cloves grated garlic

Two tablespoons honey

Four tablespoons coconut aminos (or tamari if you still consume soy products)

Drizzle of olive oil

Juice of one lemon (or lime)

Teaspoon of fresh chopped dill

Salt and pepper

Chopped veggies (I used cauliflower, shaved brussels sprouts and mushrooms)

 

Directions:

  1. Mix the oil, garlic, aminos, honey and most of the citrus into a marinade in the bottom of a baking pan. (Reserve one wedge of citrus for later)
  2. Add the salmon to the marinade and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Marinade it for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  4. Place the salmon and veggies into a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  6. Drizzle with the remaining citrus and top with the fresh dill.

Tip: Cook the salmon skin side up for crispy skin and more moist fish.

 

Creamy dill sauce (essentially my take on tzatziki)

Ingredients:

1 cup plain non dairy yogurt

1/2 cup finely grated cucumber

1 or 2 grated cloves of garlic

lemon zest

a squeeze of lemon

a generous amount of chopped dill

salt and pepper

drizzle of olive oil

Directions:

  1. Grate the cucumber, garlic and lemon zest into the yogurt.
  2. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

 

If you try it out and like it please let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

My kids (and my) favorite green juice

Green juice can be scary the first time you try it, and quite honestly depending on the ingredients you choose can range from shockingly delicious to plug your nose and chug it down gross. The first time I tossed back a cup of the green stuff I was fully expecting it to taste completely vile and was actually surprised by how light and refreshing the flavours were.

Having owned a juicer for a while, I have been known to get a little experimental and have concocted some flavours that are more revolting than refreshing, yet knowing all those beautiful nutrients are flowing directly into my cells, they still somehow taste ‘good’….at least to me.

So, my game plan for getting my little ones to drink juice was to make sure the first one would be so undeniably tasty that they wouldn’t be scared off by some of the more unconventional versions. (Fyi mixing beets or carrots with greens does not produce an appetizing color.)

And… it worked! I managed to get my kiddos so hooked on the crisp addictive flavour that they now come running whenever I tell them I have made them a ‘shooter,’ and will happily chug down whatever I have made, (even if it looks like sewage water) often they will ask for seconds!

(I serve their juices in a small glass and call it a shooter, this for some reason has worked to get them to drink it consistently so I’m going with it, all parents do weird things to get their kids to eat right?!)

If you don’t yet own a juicer its time to get on board! Seriously. It is the easiest, most pain free way to get a whole heap of nutrition into you and your families bodies.

There are many juicer options out there and they are not all created equal, but if you’re just dipping your toes in the juicing pond any centrifugal juicer is a great, low-cost, place to start. If you are ready to get serious about juicing for health and are willing to make a bigger investment you want to look at masticating juicers. They extract more juice and preserve more nutrients than centrifugal ones. Also, the juice made in masticating juicers doesn’t oxidize as fast so less pressure to chug it down seconds after juicing.

So, on to my favorite juice…. It is loaded with tons of nutritional benefits including liver and kidney detoxification, it has antiseptic qualities and contains vitamin c, a handful of b vitamins, a healthy dose of key minerals, is highly alkalinizing and is a rich source of chlorophyll.  Plus it’s 100% yum.

If you make just one juice for the rest of your life this should be it….

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(My favorite) Kid fully approved green juice

2 apples (washed seeded and cored, the green ones have less sugar or you can leave them out entirely if you’re watching your glucose and add more cucumber)
½ cucumber (washed and peeled if not organic)
6 stalks of celery (washed)
1 lemon or lime (peeled)
1” piece of ginger (peeled)
2 hand-fulls of spinach (or other organic greens ) you should be sure to cycle your greens weekly which I will talk more about in another blog post.

Juice them all and enjoy as soon as possible.

*Juice tip* If you have made your juice in a masticating juicer and want to save it for later, add a little pulp back into your juice, and fill your glass container right up to the brim before sealing it and storing it somewhere cool. The fibre in the pulp will slow the oxidation process. Citrus juices are also good natural preservatives and they taste amazing so I usually include a lemon or lime in all my mixes.

Bottoms up!