Thai Green Curry Chicken Skewers with Ginger “Quinoa”

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Sometimes, especially when I’m busy, I lack creativity and ideas.  This is when I pull out my favourite cook books.  I have many favourite authors, but my go-to recipes are always by Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver and Giada DiLaurentiis.  When I flip through the pages of these cookbooks, I salivate because the food looks so fresh, flavourful and satisfying.  Although these particular chefs have healthy ideas, their recipes aren’t particularly low-carb.  So this is where I work my magic.  So today, I’m taking liberties with Donna Hay’s recipe of the same name from her latest cook book, Fresh and Light.

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My biggest change?  I didn’t use quinoa.  I used cauliflower.  This recipe is super filling because you really can eat as much cauliflower as you want with good conscience.  You’re also getting a nice big dose of protein because each serving is a whole chicken breast.

Why you should eat this :

1. Protein.  You need protein to build those nice, lean, sexy muscles and to recover quickly from your workouts. It also is satisfying, so you won’t need a midnight snack if this is your dinner.

2. Cauliflower.  A.k.a. cruciferous vegetables.  These should be a part of every diet where fat-loss and an increase in muscle are the goals. Just ask Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper. They both encourage eating these every day. Aside from all the nutrients cruciferous veggies provide, they may also increase testosterone.  This might sound scary for the ladies, however, this is a good thing for burning fat, increaseing muscle, and generally having an elevated motivation for physical activity. So eat up!

What you need :

  • 2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 4 chicken breasts sliced as evenly as possible into strips
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • a head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • lime cheeks and extra coriander to serve

How to make it :

1.  Soak your skewers!  If you’re using wooden rather than metal skewers, you must soak them for a long time.  I soaked them for 30 minutes and this wasn’t even close to being enough time.  At least an hour should help to prevent the skewers from burning.

2.  Start with your washed head of cauliflower.  Put it in the food processor on the grater setting.  I don’t have one of these nifty kitchen appliances, so I went to my mom’s house and used hers. This will save you so much time.  Honestly if I tried to grate it all by hand it would probably take me at least 15 minutes.  With the processor it was about 2.  The entire head yielded about 4-5 cups of shredded cauliflower “quinoa.”

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3. Make sure your chicken breasts are evenly sliced.  Mine weren’t, which lead to a bit of a hassle when it came to grilling them.  I made 4 slices per breast, but feel free to make more.  With the topping for the chicken, the meat stays nice and moist even if you cook them well and have small pieces.  IMG_0132

4. With that out of the way, mix up the coconut cream and the curry paste.  I used these brands and they worked well and tasted amazing:

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The creamed coconut has almost the consistency of lard, so it’s a bit finicky to mix it, but it’s definitely worth it in the end because it tastes so good.

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5. Now it’s time to smear it all over those breasts.  You’ve really got to work it in so that every square millimetre of surface area is covered to maximize the flavour.

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I know it looks a bit nasty, but it smells delicious!

6.  Now time to skewer the meat.  Make sure you do it well so that the meat stays on the skewer throughout the grilling and eating process. I sort of weaved mine onto the skewers.

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7.  Onto the grill!  I preheated my grill for about 10 minutes on high and then reduced the head to medium high.  The pieces are small enough that they cook through fairly quickly so a hot grill is ok.

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Grill for 5-7 minutes and then flip and cook for another 5.

8. Meanwhile, we can get going on the “quinoa” which isn’t really quinoa.  Now I know that quinoa is a super trendy health food with a very high protein content considering that it’s a grain.  My thing about quinoa is that it’s quite calorie dense and I don’t really care about it as a source of protein because I eat meat.  Not to mention the fact that it only has about 5 grams of protein per serving, when I’m looking a whole lot more than that for my meal.  So anyway, enough about that.  In a pre-heated pan on medium heat, heat some olive oil (or grape-seed or whatever you want).  Then add in your cauliflower and sauté.  Then add in your tablespoon of ginger, green onions and sesame oil.  Once some of the cauliflower gets a bit golden, add in your cilantro and then remove it from the heat.  This doesn’t need a ton of cooking time, really the purpose of the sauté is to add flavour and to mix all of these beautiful ingredients together.

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9.  Plate it up and enjoy!  This made 4 meals for me, each serving with a mountain of cauliflower “quinoa.”

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Taco-less Salad

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So I fell off the wagon a little bit.  This weekend was my 30th birthday.  So it was a little bit excessive.  But awesome.  And worth it.  But now’s the time to get back on to continue with my progress.  Just a little update – I’ve gone down 2 sizes since I started eating this way.  So it works!

Recently, I’ve started to try to go a little lighter on the fats.  Some fats are good, but perhaps, in the long run, the quantities of saturated fats that I’ve been consuming might do more harm than good.

The following recipe is a result of this lower-fat variation on my diet.  It has nice bright flavours that make you happy to eat.

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Ingredients:

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 450 g ground meat – I used chicken
  • 1 tsp each of cayenne pepper, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander
  • 5 mini-sweet peppers – or 2 large bell peppers – I used orange and red ones
  • 1 large lime
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt – I used course sea salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • a good amount of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 head ice burg lettuce
  • 1/2 romaine lettuce
  • 4 tbsp 0.5% pressed cottage cheese (you could probably also use light feta)

How-to:

1. Turn up the heat on a large frying pan.  Add non stick cooking spray lightly – maybe 2 seconds worth.

2.  Chop onions as small as you want.  I had the patience and skill to do this:

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It all shrinks down in the end.  But if you want it to sort of melt into the ground meat, then go smaller.  Add to the pan.

3. Cook onion for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

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4.  Mince garlic as small as you can and add to the pan.  Cook for about 2 minute and then add the meat.  Cook in the pan for another few minutes – til it starts to brown.

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5.  Add the spice blend.  Oregano, cumin, coriander, cayenne.  At this point you could add a bit of salt too.  I didn’t though – with the delicious salsa that’s coming up next, I found the seasoning was great.

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6.  Give a good stir and then add 1/4 cup of water.  Let this cook for another 10 minutes or until all water is evaporated and the meat is cooked through.  Then shut off the stove and let it stand while you assemble the rest of the salad ingredients.

7.  For the salsa, finely chop all peppers – the jalapeños more finely than the sweet bells.

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7.  Chop cilantro and add.  Squeeze all the juice from the lime over and add in your tsp of salt.  Mix it up.  Taste it.  Mmmmm.

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8. Remove the flesh of the avocado from the peel and the pit.  Slice/chop it and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over it to prevent it from turning brown.  I feel justified adding in a high-fat ingredient like an avocado because we’ve skipped on the fat elsewhere in this recipe.

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9.  Chop the lettuce.  I chopped it into 1 inch by 1 inch squares.

10.  Assemble!  You can do this all on one plate to present to a small crowd or you can plate it up in individual portions on 4 plates.  Start with the lettuces, then  pile on the beef.  Then 1/4 of the avocado mixture and the salsa.  Top it off with the cottage cheese – which adds salt and texture and it also looks nice.  Dig in!