Cardamom Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Apples

This Whole30 eating experience hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Well at least so far. I’m only on day four, but I already feel like by pre-planning and prepping meals that are delicious and packed with nutrients, I’ve avoided the anxiety of eliminating certain foods from my diet. Instead of going out to eat, I’ve been inviting friends over (which is my favorite thing to do anyway) and making feasts of veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and quality meat for everyone to enjoy. I love all the colors an fall flavors I’ve been bringing to the table. This chicken dish is my favorite recipe creation of the month (maybe the last few months) and it is just pure, whole foods of the best quality and packed with fall flavors. The key is cooking it on low heat for a good chunk of time so the flavors really have time to come together. In case it hasn’t been apparent, I have a bit of an obsession with cardamom. I think it makes most things more delicious, especially in the fall and winter when a warming spice is really a welcome addition. That being said, if cardamom isn’t your cup of tea, you can make this recipe with less cardamom pods, or substitute more cinnamon and some fresh ginger. I ate this chicken with a side of baked sweet potatoes and a salad topped with pumpkin seeds to really cover all my bases of fall foods.

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Ingredients:

4 bone-in organic chicken thighs

3 Tbs. coconut oil or olive oil

1 medium yellow onion

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 medium fuji apple, peeled

1 tsp. cinnmon

1 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

6 cardamom pods

1/2 tsp. red chili flakes

sea salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup thompson or golden raisins

3/4 cup chicken broth (preferably home made)

Heat 1 tbs. oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Thinly slice onion and add to the pot. Stir well. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium and let onions cook down for 10 minutes. Thinly slice peeled apple and stir into the onions along with the balsamic vinegar. The vinegar will help the caramelization process. Allow to cook down for another 3-4 minutes. Then remove the apples and onions from the pot. Add the remaining 2 tbs. of oil and brown chicken thighs, 3 minutes on each side. Also season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the onions and apples back into the pot and stir in the rest of the spices. Stir in the raisins. Add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer and then turn the heat down to medium low, cover the pot and let cook 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to disperse spices. It’s hard to over cook a chicken thigh because they have a lot of moisture. If it starts to look like the apples and onions are sticking to the bottom of the pot, turn the heat down and add a splash more broth. If you have large pieces of chicken you might need more time. Use a small knife to cut into one of the thighs to make sure no part of the meat is translucent or stick in a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature of the meat is at least 165 F. Taste the apple, onion and raisin mixture surrounding the chicken to see if it needs more salt and season to taste.

Enjoy!

 

Serves 4

 

 

 

 

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Creamy Spiced Oatmeal with Pumpkin Seeds and Figs

Here’s a perfect breakfast for a late fall morning. The days are getting so short up here in the north and we haven’t even changed the clocks back yet! I guess the plus side of turning back the clocks is that we’ll have a little more light in the mornings. For the past few weeks, I’ve found it difficult to adjust to waking up in the pitch dark. In the summer I forget that the flip side of  the long long days of a Northwest July are the dark days of fall and winter. But warm breakfasts and my vitamin D lamp are doing wonders. Plus, I appreciate this drastic change of seasonal light and the rainstorms rolling in when I think of the constant summers of my drought-stricken home state. This is the time of year when I start to miss California sunshine, but I have to be grateful for the well-hydrated town I live in and for the brilliant afternoon pauses in the rain when the sky opens up to reveal snow-capped Olympics over the sound. I get to visit L.A. soon enough. I only wish I could bring some rain with me.

Now, back to the food at hand. I am actually beginning the Whole 30 challenge today (basically paleo eating for a month–yikes) in an attempts to nip my seasonally typical bad eating (rainy weather + holidays= sugar consumption for me) in the bud. I’m also determined to prove that I can walk the walk of the program in Nutritional Therapy I just completed last week. This program trains practitioners to work with clients on the foundations of nutrition in order to support balance, health and holistic well-being. I am very excited to be starting my journey as  Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, but don’t feel like I can very well suggest to a client that they cut out all white sugar, when I can’t seem to mange that successfully in my own life for any extended period of time. So I’m more motivated than I’ve been in the past.

That’s not to say I won’t still be making delicious food this month. On this particular whole food challenge, it is suggested that you not eat grains of any form. So I’ll be trying that and won’t be having this oatmeal for a while. But in everyday life, I would suggest this oatmeal recipe to any client as a whole food alternative to sugary cereal, yogurt and granola (which can often be very sweet) or toast. The fiber in oats sustains you throughout the morning, and toasting them in coconut oil add an extra satisfying, stick to your ribs element that provides essential, healthy saturated fats that keep you full longer.

In the upcoming months, I’m going to be incorporating more nutritional advice into my blog and recipes and transitioning my recipe and cooking lesson mini business into a Nutritional Therapy Practice that includes recipes and cooking advice along with a client based practice focused on helping others discover vitality through food.

I’m excited to share with you.

Ok. Finally–the recipe!

 

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Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (preferable organic)

2 tsp. virgin coconut oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 cups water

1 1/4 cups milk, cream or coconut milk

2 tsp. honey

4 figs, fresh or frozen (organic)

2 Tbs. raw pumpkin seeds

Melt coconut oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add in oats and spices. Stir with a wooden spoon until spices are aromatic and oats just start to brown. Pour in water and cream or milk. Turn heat down to medium low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes, until oats are tender but not mushy. Chop up figs and stir them in. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Divide among 2-3 bowls, depending on how hungry your family or guest are. Or, if it’s just for you, take you fair share and save the rest to be reheated later! Top each bowl with a sprinkling of cinnamon and pumpkin seeds.

Serves 2-3.

 

Curried Veggie Stew for a Fall Day

This is my take on curry made with whatever seasonal vegetables I have, coconut milk or coconut cream (depending on how decadent I’m feeling), some raisins and an apple for a bite of sweetness and warm spices that are perfect for a chilly day. About 5 years ago, I ate a coconut curry at the Drift Inn in Yachats, Oregon that had raisins and toasted coconut and pear. That dish has stuck with me ever since because of the balance of sweet and spicy that made it so comforting and it’s been an inspiration for my curry-making ever since. My version has more vegetables and I don’t use toasted coconut, though you certainly could throw some in at the end. I almost hesitate to call this curry because it doesn’t have actual curry powder in it, yet it has many of the spices that make up curry powder, so I figure that counts for something! Mostly it is something simple, inexpensive and unique that I wanted to share as autumn settles in. I think the vibrant color of the turmeric must work as a replacement for vitamin D for the day!

 

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Ingredients:

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

4 yukon gold or ozette fingerling potatoes, cut into half moons

4 medium carrots, cut into half moons

3 small zucchini and/or pattypan squash, cut into half moons

1 medium fuji apple, peeled and diced

1/4 tsp. chili flakes

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)

1/3 cup thompson or golden raisins

1 can coconut milk or coconut cream

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts (optional)

2-3 cups cooked rice or quinoa

Melt oil in a large frying pan. Sauté onions 5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, and zucchini and cook, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the apple and the spices (through salt) and the raisins and stir well. Cover and let cook 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk or cream (milk if you want a lighter dish, though I really suggest you go for it with the cream because it’s just that good) and cook, uncovered for another five minutes. Stir in the walnuts and taste to see if you need to adjust the spices. It might need more salt or you might like it a little spicier than I do. Poke a potato with a fork to see if it’s tender. If not, turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered for 5-10 more minutes until potatoes are tender.

Serve over rice or quinoa. Make sure to serve this dish piping hot.

Serves 4.

 

 

Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chèvre

For the weekend– this is the quickest, easiest crowd-pleasing appetizer I know. Top it with a little balsamic honey glaze, and you’re golden!

 

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Ingredients: 

20-30 large medjool dates

16 oz. plain goat cheese (chèvre)

20-30 piece high quality, center cut bacon

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 375. Use a pairing knife to slice each date open on one side and remove the pit. Make sure you keep half of the date intact (so it looks a little like a hot dog bun). Take a teaspoon full of goat cheese, roll into a ball, and stuff into each date. It’s ok if it overflows a bit. Next Wrap each goat cheese stuffed date with a piece of bacon, making sure it wraps all the way around. It is so worth it to splurge on the bacon. Really, it makes all the difference. If you’re in the Seattle area, go to the Ballard farmer’s market on Sunday and get bacon from Skagit River Ranch. It tastes like candy.

Arrange dates on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until bacon is crispy.

Meanwhile, heat balsamic in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once it begins to simmer, stir in honey, reduce to medium low, and let cook about 8 minutes, until it thickens. When dates are done, arrange on a platter and drizzle with glaze.

Serves 12-16 as an appetizer.

 

Roast Whole Chicken and Bone Broth

Fall has come to Seattle. While it fills me with childlike wonder to see the leaves changing color and go for runs in the biting evening air, I also sense the return of the melancholy that comes over me each autumn. I see fall as a time for reflection, for patience, and for setting limits and caring for oneself. After summer, which is full of possibilities and often travel, the shift of the seasons is, for me, a welcome time to remember to put extra effort into nourishing my body with warm dishes and forgiving myself for whatever lofty goals I wasn’t able to accomplish during the summer, while remaining grateful for those I did accomplish and for my community, my space, my little corner of the earth. October is a season of birth and death in my family and I try each day to honor or celebrate a memory of days gone by through music, through food and through conversation.

It’s nesting time. The smell of roast chicken stirs up thoughts of the holidays to come in the next few months and it’s an easy way to give nourishment to the body and soul for days. Making a simple bone broth with the chicken carcass minimizes waste and provides vital nutrients and layers of flavor to all your fall soups.

Chicken:

1 organic, free range chicken (6-8 lbs)

1 large lemon, cut in quarters

3 sprigs rosemary

5 sprigs fresh thyme

5 sprigs fresh oregano

2 Tbs. butter, room temperature

2 Tbs. olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cups apple cider

2 cups dry white wine

Preheat oven to 375 F. Rinse the chicken and remove any organ meats from the inside cavity if the chicken came with any. Pat the chicken dry inside and out. Inside the cavity, stuff 1 Tbs. butter, the lemon quarters and the herbs. Drizzle the inside with 1 Tbs. olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub the remaining butter and oil over the outside of the chicken and sprinkle the outside generously with salt and pepper.

Place, breast side up, on a roasting rack positioned in a roasting pan. Use twine or a silicon band to tie the feet together at the base of the cavity. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, until the skin starts to brown. Turn the oven down to 350 and pour the cider and wine into the bottom of the roasting pan. Use a baster or a brush to coat the skin of the chicken with the mixture every 10-15 minutes. Continue to cook the chicken for another 1.5-2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165- 170 F.

Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 mins before carving.

Serves 6-8

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Broth:

The bones and carcass from one chicken

1 large onion

4 carrots

3 stalks celery

salt and pepper to taste

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. oregano

1 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 clove garlic

1-2 corn cobs (optional)

1/2 cup fresh parsley

Filtered water

Make sure all the meat is removed from the bones ( you can use the leftover chicken meat to make stew or chicken salad!). Heat the butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high. Roughly chop the onion, garlic and celery and add to the pot. Sauté until onion begins to turn translucent. Add the carrots, roughly chopped, along with the spices, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well. Add the corn cobs if you want. This will make a bit of a sweeter stock. Add the chicken bones and carcass. Add enough filtered water to cover all the veggies. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to the lowest temperature and let cook, partially covered, for 2-3 hours.

Turn off the heat and strain out the bones and veggies. Add more salt and pepper to taste.