Primal Chicken, Broccoli, and Artichoke Casserole

This weekend Nashville was hit hard by Winter Storm Jonas. Rain on Thursday night quickly turned to early morning sleet, followed by heavy snow that fell throughout the day and into the evening hours. I can honestly say I’ve never seen snow like that in the South. It was wonderful!

Snow2

SnowAlthough the roads were slick and our cul-de-sac dangerous to drive on, my parents and brother braved the elements and came to spend Saturday with us. We had cozy clothes, a roaring fire, plenty of mimosas, and a comforting casserole for dinner.

It was a Primal feast! Since my husband and I are right in the middle of our 21 Day Primal Blueprint Challenge, we knew we couldn’t overindulge too much, so I pulled out what I had in my fridge and freezer, got my mom to bring over a few supplemental items, and we threw everything together into a wonderful casserole.

Broccoli CasserolePrimal Chicken, Broccoli, and Artichoke Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1-1.5 lbs Organic Free Range Chicken Tenders
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Meal
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 bag frozen Broccoli
  • 1/2 bag Trader Joe’s (or similar) frozen Artichoke Hearts
  • 1 head fresh Broccoli (or 1 pack precut fresh broccoli)
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese (I shredded some Greyere and Kerrygold Dubliner)
  • 1 cup Primal Kitchen Mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. Sour Cream
  • Avocado Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. In a ziplock bag, place chicken tenders and toss them with some avocado oil, then add the basil and parsley, along with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your taste. Coat everything then arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then cut or pull apart into bite size pieces and set aside.

Using the same method as above, put bite size pieces of the fresh broccoli in a bag with avocado oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange frozen broccoli on a separate parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with avocado oil topped with salt and pepper. Both of these will go into the oven for 30 minutes, or until edges of broccoli begin to char.

While all this is baking, combine mayo, sour cream, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and cheese in a large bowl. Allow artichoke hearts to thaw enough to cut each in half, then add into this mixture, along with the almond meal and coconut flour.

When broccoli and chicken have cooled enough so as not to completely melt the cheese, combine everything and put in an 8×12 baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes and have two or three helpings!

 

Primal Mustard and Dill Salmon

Day two of the Primal Blueprint 21 Day Challenge and my son wanted salmon. He LOVES salmon and sweet potatoes, so that’s exactly what he got.

Luckily this was another meal that was super simple to prepare, so it didn’t take up much of the time I needed to spend with the kids. Earlier in the day I was able to make a great broccoli salad with Primal Kitchen mayo (another dish that my son can’t get enough of). Potatoes went in the oven and stayed there until after bedtime for Rowan and bath time was over for Griffin.

I served the salmon with broccoli salad and baked sweet potatoes covered in butter.

Mustard and Dill Salmon

Mustard and Dill Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1.5 lb. Salmon
  • 3 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Flour
  • 2 tbsp. Avocado Oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425. Mix all dry ingredients together, then add in avocado oil. Spread evenly over salmon and place on a baking pan with a non-stick rack (not necessary, but allows the excess fat on salmon to drip down instead of congealing and looking all white and slimy). Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on how done and flaky you prefer your salmon.

Primal Enchilada Chicken

When my husband really likes a meal I’ve made (and let’s be honest, I’m a great cook so he loves them all, right?) he tells me to remember the recipe so we can keep in on regular rotation. Which I ultimately fail to do. The recipe gets lost among the other thousand I’ve pinned to Pinterest, and never gets placed upon our table again.

But with the Primal Blueprint 21 day challenge in full swing at our house, combined with my need to simplify and spend less on everything including our grocery bill, I’ve had to get creative and attempt simple, tasty meals that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and are super healthy to boot. A task many would say might be near impossible.

But I was up for the challenge!

This week I’ve made three winners that are going to be on regular rotation not only because they fulfilled the above requirements, but because they were so easy that I wasn’t spending all afternoon cooking – which is pretty much a requirement when two small children are in the house.

First up was a recipe a friend of mine had texted me Monday morning, as I was on my way to the grocery store frantic that I didn’t have a meal plan. She said they cook it all the time in her household, and that the end result tastes just like enchiladas without the tortillas.

CheddarIt was so simple I was almost worried it couldn’t possibly taste good, but it did! It’s one of those recipes that doesn’t have precise ingredients, because it’s all about doing what’s simple and to your taste.

We ate this with roasted broccoli covered in butter. Mmmmmmmm.

Enchilada Chicken

Primal Enchilada Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1-1.5 pounds chicken thighs or breasts (whichever is your preference – we chose thighs because of cost)
  • Salsa of Choice (We used Trader Joe’s Organic version)
  • Organic Tomato Slices
  • Grassfed Cheese (Dubliner or Trader Joe’s Grassfed New Zealand Cheddar works well)
  • Scallions (Optional)
  • Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper as desired.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Slice tomatoes to about 1/2 inch thickness. Season chicken to your liking and place in an 8×8 casserole dish. Arrange tomato slices on top, then pour your choice of salsa over this. Cover with as much cheese as you like; I sliced up about 10 strips from the block of Grassfed New Zealand cheddar I had and simply arranged that way. Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken, and when cheese is very golden and starting to brown. Enjoy!

The Only Paleo Bread that Works for Me

I was thrown into the world of preschool parenting this week. There was no gentle nudge, but a well-meaning push sent me into the grocery stores to gather snack items for the children. I think I’ve mentioned that our school alternates families to purchase the week’s snack items. Well, I signed up for the first week, in order to get it over with (and control what my child was putting into his mouth). I’m neurotic, what can I say?

The list was long, and included many things my son wouldn’t be eating. Among those things were crackers, pita bread, and bagels. This was mostly for the lower elementary students, but I know some of it makes it’s way into our toddler class. However, there was one itemswith an asterick beside it – homemade bread. Griffin’s teacher knew we were on a special diet, and was also aware that I liked to cook. So she suggested my bringing in some Paleo bread for the class.

Wonderful, right?!

Except that it’s one thing to make something in the safety and seclusion of your own kitchen, knowing that no matter how it turns out your family will love you. It’s quite another thing to supply grain free bread to strangers and cross your fingers in hopes they don’t think you feed your children nothing but rabbit food and cardboard.

photoSo I spent yesterday baking.

And EVERY SINGLE recipe I tried was a failure. It didn’t matter how good the reviews were or how much the blogger raved about her perfected Paleo bread recipe. It either tasted exactly like scrambled eggs or it refused to rise. One managed to do both. Did I mention the recipe also had to be nut free, as well? With small children devouring my cooking, there was no way I was going to chance an allergic reaction. My own son has never even had nuts.

However, there is one recipe that has never failed me. It takes a bit more effort (which is why I was attempted new recipes in the first place), but it tastes just like homemade bread! Both my husband and my father give this a thumb’s up, which is a testament to just how delicious this stuff really is.

It comes from Sarah over at The Paleo Mom. She remains to be the only source I’ve found for a grain free bread machine recipe that actually rises and tastes like true, homemade bread. Sarah, Thank You, Thank You! The children at my son’s preschool will be thanking you tomorrow, as well!

You can find the Nut-Free Yeast-Based Paleo Bread here,  and check below to see my notes!

Grain-Free, Nut-Free Paleo Bread

  • For the Flaxseed, I have used pre-ground regular flaxseed before, but found it very easy to grind my own golden flaxseed with a coffee grinder.
  • For the Arrowroot Flour, I have had success also using potato flour, or simply doubling up on the Tapioca
  • Raw Pepitas are pumpkin seeds! Measure, then grind in either a coffee grinder or food processor.
  • It can be a little disconcerting not to mix everything together before putting it in the bread machine, but the machine knows what it’s doing! I do generally mix the dry ingredients together before putting them in, because I just can’t put 100% faith in my mom’s 25 year old bread machine.
  • Make sure to follow Sarah’s advice and use a spatula to help kneed the dough!! I did this about once every 5 minutes during the initial kneed cycle.
  • The top of this bread isn’t going to be pretty. Just cut the loaf on it’s side and use the crust to keep the bread fresh.

 

Do you have a bread recipe that actually works? Sometimes Pinterest is great, but I find that I spend more time sifting through the recipes than I do cooking!

First Foods: Lamb, Squash, and Creamy Leeks

For my own sanity, I’m attempting to introduce Griffin to the main ingredients I cook with as soon as possible. This way I will be able to make something for all of us and not worry about what he is going to eat. Now that he’s having 3 solid meals a day, I need to have things on hand that only require reheating.

Among the top foods and spices that make their way into almost everything I cook are onions, tomatoes, garlic, and Papa Spice – a concoction of various spices my dad is practically famous for. Up until this point, I’ve tried to be conservative with the spice. We’re now slowly but surely adding alot of different flavors into the foods he already eats.

leeksAs was suggested in some of my French baby food cookbooks, I began with leeks. Being in the onion family but not quite as strong in flavor, I felt safe offering this to Griffin. For the first try, most suggest just cooking the white portion, not the green stems, which look very similar to large green onions. I’m not a fan of those myself, so I didn’t care about throwing them directly in the trash.

The leeks were a huge success! I began with only the leek dish, then added a new spice each day for three days (how I typically introduce him to all foods).

On day three I decided to add some garlic powder and see how he liked it. It seems I was a little too enthusiastic when I sprinkled it on! He ate it all, but for the rest of the day he smelled very strongly of onion and garlic – we affectionately nicknamed him Zorba, because he smelled like a Greek cafe!

Lamb, Squash, and Creamy Leeks

  • 1 oz cooked and pureed lamb
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 leeks – white portion only
  • Spices to taste – Garlic, Curry, Cumin, etc

I had previously made a batch of lamb and froze it for recipes like this one. Using lamb stew meat, I simply added it to a crockpot along with broth, carrots, and soup bones. When the meat was cooked, I pureed it and froze into 1 oz portions.

Peel and cube the butternut squash. Steam until tender, then puree and set aside (if baby can tolerate, leave some lumps in it!). For leeks, cut the white as you would an onion, then saute with butter or coconut oil. When translucent, puree until desired consistency.

Combine lamb, 2 oz of squash, and 2 oz of leeks. Season however you would like. Don’t put in too much garlic or your baby will smell like a street vendor!

Makes approx. 3 servings

First Foods: Sweet Potato Bisque

I thought I would start a regular feature on the blog featuring recipes for the foods we’re giving Griffin, with success (and failure) stories thrown in, as well.

Up first is something we tried for the first time yesterday. Although he’s had sweet potatoes many times now, this was Griffin’s first introduction to soup.

Soup is a relative term though, because it’s primarily puréed sweet potatoes, with bone broth added to thin it slightly. This results in a very creamy, rich bisque. It was so good, Jeremy and I could have easily eaten it for dinner!

Sweet PotatoThe bone broth adds tons of nutrients that babies need, such as calcium, collagen, and especially iron. This last is very important for us, since I’ve chosen not to feed Griffin grains, which are generally fortified with iron (as a side note, this type of iron isn’t well digested and most just goes to waste).

It’s actually been difficult to find good baby food recipes. I’ve recently found some cookbooks based on the foods that French families serve their children. This has been really helpful, but I’m still making things up as I go. The cookbook that goes with my Beaba Babycook hasn’t yet come in, but I’m excited to look through it. I really adore my babyfood maker – it makes things so simple! Unless I can serve the foods raw, this is the primary way I’ve cooked his food. But anyone can easily make the same recipes using a food processor, as well.

BeabaIsn’t the Beaba a beautiful piece of equipment? The Latte Mint version matches my kitchen very well, so I don’t feel bad if it sits out on the counter all day.

Griffin was a HUGE fan of the bisque! It will now be in regular rotation.

Sweet Potato Bisque

For this recipe, I had previously pureed a batch of sweet potatoes with my Beaba. I did this by cutting up 3 small sweet potatoes, steaming them, then pureeing and dividing into 1 oz. portions (the Beaba food trays are 2 oz. portions, so I filled each only halfway).

For the bone broth, I expanded on my previous recipe by adding carrots, celery, and a small amount of parsley into the crockpot. I also added 3 chicken feet for extra collagen.

In a sauce pan, combine 1 oz. of sweet potatoes with the broth, stirring until combined and hot. Pour into your baby bowl of choice, allowing to cool slightly.

Serve warm to baby. Watch your little one gobble it up!

6 Months and Some Recipes for Baby’s First Foods

Half a year is now upon us.

6 Months3

This little boy has more than doubled in size! I realized this fully when feeding him last night. The tiny head that used to hardly reach the crook of my arm now hangs over the edge as he eats.

6 Months2

Rather than mourn for the newborn cuteness I’ll miss, I’m trying to embrace all the amazing things to love about this bigger, more aware Griffin. His laughter has to be the best by far. Those little giggles can send me into fits of laughter as well, and I would gladly make a fool of myself every time just to hear even a moment of them.

6 Months

Right now I’m looking at the monitor and watching him sleep on his side. This is literally the first time I’ve witnessed this during a daytime nap. Although he still hasn’t managed to roll over both ways just yet, he’s learning to settle himself into new sleeping positions – another sign he’s maturing and quickly growing up.

I’m also currently in the throws of making his first batch of solid foods. What an adventure that has already proven to be! I had never thought baby food would be so hard to attain, but in this world of convenience foods, finding pastured eggs, grass finished soup bones, and beef liver has been a process weeks in the making. I’ve literally scoured farmers markets and contacted local farms in the effort, and have yet to get everything I need!

We’ll be slowly introducing these foods to him beginning later this week, after his visit to the doctor and mandatory vaccines are well behind him. To give you an idea of what he’ll be dining on, I’m including recipes from Super Nutrition for Babies, my baby nutrition bible. It’s my go-to for all things related to Griffin’s food – the whens, whats and whys that answer all the questions no one else seemed to be able to. This book is SO vital for any parent interested in feeding their baby real, nutrient dense food!

Super Nutrition

Without further ado, here is Griffin’s menu for the next couple of weeks.

Soft-Boiled Egg Yolk

  • 1 Pastured Egg (the absolutely highest quality)
  • Pinch (less than 1/8 tsp) Celtic Sea Salt

In a small saucepan, boil water. Using a spoon, slip in the egg. Lower the heat to just below its highest setting, but continuing to boil the water, and cook the egg for 3.5 to 4 minutes. Remove from water with a spoon and drop in a bowl to crack it (it will be very hot). When the egg is open, peel away some white, which is semihard. The yolk should slip out in a malleable ball. Scoop up the yolk with a spoon and put into a different small bowl, leaving all the white behind.

The yolk should be warm and soft, not firm or “dry”. Add sea salt to supply additional trace minerals and improve taste. Spoon-feed it to baby.

Liver

  • 2 tsp Raw Grass Fed/Grass Finished Liver (grated if frozen, or finely minced if refrigerated)
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee, Coconut Oil, or Lard
  • 2 Tbsp Bone Stock

Saute the liver in fat over low heat for 1-2 minutes – liver should be a pinkish brown when done. Remove from heat, mash and thin with stock to desired consistency.

Optional: Mix the liver into your baby’s daily egg yolk, mom’s milk (or with other foods as you add them) for a fortifying, nutritionally superior meal.

Souper Stock

  • 1-2 Lbs Marrow Bones, Knuckle Bones, Oxtail, or Soup Bones from organic, grass-fed animals (Beef, Lamb, Poultry)
  • 2 Tbsp Vinegar (which distilled, raw apple cider, or brown rice)

*I found out the hard way that bones need to be cooked prior to making stock. To do this, roast bones at 400 degrees for approx. 45 minutes

In a slow cooker, soak the bones for 1 hour in the vinegar, adding enough water to cover. This helps to leach minerals from the bones. Add enough water to fill the pot and simmer on low for 12 to 72 hours (the longer the bones simmer, the more minerals and gelatin will be present in stock). Allow to cool in the refrigerator and then skim off the fat that rises and firms as a top layer. (This fat can be saved and later used to saute liver).

Add a pinch (less than 1/8 tsp) of Celtic Sea Salt into a serving for flavor and to provide trace minerals. Serve warm to baby.

 

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