Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Basil Pesto (AIP)

My basil plants got a little out of control. And there's pretty much only one reason I even plant basil: PESTO! Except I started the Autoimmune Protocol 12 days ago (go me!) and how in the world do I make pesto without dairy and without pine nuts that still tastes deliciously like fresh pesto? There was the option of pistou (pretty much just basil, garlic, EVOO, and sea salt), but I was afraid that it wouldn't have the fullness of flavor without the nuts. I made it, and I was right; it was good, but it wasn't what I wanted. So what is nutty but isn't a nut? And it finally dawned on me: coconut! Hello, right?! AIP-appoved pesto!

Basil Pesto (AIP)
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
4 cloves garlic
½ - ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
⅓ cup dessicated coconut
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste (omit for AIP)

Place the basil leaves and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add ¼ cup of olive oil, lemon juice, and coconut, and start the food processor again. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixture until the desired consistency is reached. You are looking for it to hold together but also be a slightly runny paste. Add sea salt to taste and pepper if desired.

Not sure how to eat your new pesto? See my serving ideas:

Bacon-Wrapped Pesto Chicken
Pesto-topped Beef Heart Strips
Pesto Chicken
Pesto Burger

Bacon-Wrapped Pesto Chicken Breasts (AIP)

Who doesn't love Italian? Ok, I'm part Italian, so maybe it's just in my blood. But who doesn't love bacon? If you said "me," you are definitely in the wrong place! Everything's better with bacon! Especially freshly made pesto and chicken and zoodles. Feeling Italian? Feeling chicken? Feeling pesto-y, bacon-y, chicken-y goodness? Get cooking!

Bacon-Wrapped Pesto Chicken Breasts
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat or sliced thinly
4 tbsp pesto or AIP-friendly pesto, plus more for garnish
6-8 slices of bacon
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat a cast iron skillet or other oven-safe skillet. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with sea salt. Lay flat and spread 2 tbsp of pesto on inside of each breast. Roll up chicken breast carefully. Wrap 3-4 slices of bacon around chicken breast, using the bacon to hold the chicken roll-up tight. Place the chicken into the hot pan with the loose ends of the bacon facing downwards. Cook 2-4 minutes on each side until bacon is starting to crisp. Place the entire pan into the oven. Cook the breasts 15-20 minutes until meat thermometer reads 165°F. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve over lightly sauteed pappardelle- or spaghetti-style zoodles. Top with additional pesto for garnish if desired.

Banana Cream Pies (AIP)

Oh dessert. The autoimmune protocol has been an adjustment, but it hasn't been quite as hard as I thought it would be until it came to desserts. You can't have nuts or eggs or refined sugars. And let's face it, that eliminates a LOT of options. I don't HAVE to have dessert, but the first week isn't exactly the easiest. And if having an APPROVED dessert means it's easier to stick to the protocol and stay on track, then I say "Go for it!" Luckily someone posted the crust from Autoimmune Paleo on an AIP group I follow and banana pudding just popped into my head. Well, say hello to AIP-approved Banana Cream Pies.

Banana Cream Pies
1 batch of Autoimmune Paleo's coconut crust
2 tsp coconut oil
1 banana, chopped or sliced into bite-sized chunks
2 4oz jars of organic banana baby food*
1 coconut milk can's worth of cream**
1 tsp vanilla extract, optional
3 tbsp arrowroot powder
Dash of sea salt
Whipped coconut cream, optional

Prepare the crust from Autoimmune Paleo, including baking. You can prepare a full size crust or use cupcake liners in a cupcake pan for mini pies. Use a food processor if you don't have a pastry cutter or to speed things up! In a small saucepan over medium low heat, add coconut oil and melt. Add the chopped banana. Saute for 1-2 minutes until starting to heat through. Add 1 jar of banana baby food, coconut cream, and vanilla, if using. Mix well. Mix remaining jar of baby food with arrowroot powder until well-blended. Slowly add to saucepan and mix together well, trying to avoid clumps (some may still be inevitable; this is ok). Add a dash of sea salt. When mixture just starts to bubble, remove from heat and pour into pie crust(s). Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until banana filling is firm. Top with whipped coconut cream if using.

*You can also choose to use 8 oz of banana puree. I like being lazy and banana food is a great consistency for this recipe.
**If you've never made coconut cream using this method: place a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight making sure the side that you open is upside down on the shelf. Flip the can over the next day and open. The watery part of the milk should now be on top. Pour this off and reserve it for drinking, smoothies, etc. Scoop the rest of the cream into saucepan for the recipe. Easy and done! If you can find coconut cream easily around you, the amount for the recipe is usually around ½ cup or so. I would recommend a rounded ½ cup for this recipe.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Roasted Rosemary & Orange Chicken (AIP)

I am a very big fan of Lemon Pepper Chicken. What's not to love about the nice, tart citrus flavor of lemon combined with a quick little kick of black pepper? Unfortunately, most Autoimmune Protocols don't allow for black pepper (or any other nightshades) during the elimination stage. So I'm experimenting with herbs this week to find new ways to incorporate lots of flavor. This turned out delicious! The dish has a nice punch of sweet citrus that is light yet flavorful and perfect for the transition from summer to fall. If you're sensitive to coconut or looking to change up the flavor profile, try making this dish with duck fat.

I have to clarify about the black pepper. It's been brought to my attention that black pepper is not a nightshade. I've done some additional research and have discovered that it's actually a dried berry. MOST versions of the autoimmune protocol allow for black pepper. There are some that recommend avoiding or being cautious with certain berries in the same family. These are: allspice, star anise, caraway, cardamom, juniper, black and white pepper, green and pink peppercorns, and vanilla beans (see Paleo Mom). This distinction in the protocol is clearly a personal decision. I've been doing great with avoiding these spices and am going to continue avoiding them for the rest of the elimination stage. But I am very glad to get this cleared up! And I'm glad that someone pointed out the error! The internet can be a very great learning environment.

Black pepper is definitely now OUT on the AIP. They can be the first to be reintroduced after 30 days, but should be avoided until reintroductions are made.

Roasted Rosemary & Orange Chicken
1 large navel orange
2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed and finely minced
1 sprig tarragon, stem removed and finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 pkg 6-8 chicken drumsticks, skin on (or 1 pkg leg quarters)
Sea salt, to taste (pepper optional)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced into strips or rings

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Zest the whole orange into a small bowl. Roll the orange around on the counter, pressing firmly to help release juices. Peel the remaining skin off with a paring knife. Cut the orange into chunks and set aside. Add rosemary, tarragon, garlic, and 1 tsp sea salt to the small bowl of orange zest. Mix thoroughly; this will form more of a rub than a dry spice mixture. Tuck a small amount of the mixture under the skin of the drumsticks or leg quarters, leaving a small amount set aside. Replace the skin and salt (and pepper, if using) the chicken skin to taste. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in cast iron skillet (or other oven safe skillet). When hot, carefully add the chicken to the pan (WATCH FOR OIL SPLATTERS). Sear the skin of the chicken on each side 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle leftover herb mixture over chicken, add onions and oranges to the skillet and put in the preheated oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 180°F. If you prefer your chicken extra crispy, turn the broiler on and cook under the broiler for the last 3-5 minutes.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mushroom Stuffing (AIP)

Stress is definitely not a pretty thing. Between school and work and physical therapy appointments, I slowly let it get overwhelming. And when stress kicks in, stress-eating is usually quick to follow. I've always been good at maintaining my gluten free meals, but avoiding some of the other foods that I know make me sick isn't always as easy. So I was slowly letting in more and more junk and letting stress take over which meant my psoriasis started flaring up and got the worse that it's ever been. I had chunks of hair falling out. You can always imagine how traumatizing that can be, but let me tell you, I never really knew until it happened. The look of horror I saw in the mirror—I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I finally decided I had to make some changes. I started the Autoimmune Protocol (also known as Autoimmune Paleo) five days ago. The AIP is 30 days of strict limitations: in addition to no grains, legumes, sugars, and vegetable oils, there is also no nuts, seeds, nightshades, eggs, dairy, NSAIDs, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol. The charts that I am following can be found on Autoimmune Paleo. This means that for the next 30 days ALL of my recipes will be AIP-approved for the elimination stage of the protocol. Let's go!

Mushroom Stuffing
3 slices of bacon
½ onion, chopped* (I used yellow but experiment)
1 14-oz can straw mushrooms, drained and roughly chopped**
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage leaves
1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves
1½ tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
½ tsp dried marjoram
½ cup chicken broth
Sea salt to taste

In a cast iron skillet preferably, cook bacon slices until super crispy. Remove bacon slices, crumble, and set aside. In still warm bacon fat on medium low heat, add onion and allow to cook most of the way through until mostly translucent. Turn heat to medium high and add mushrooms, garlic, and herbs. Saute 2-3 minutes. Then add chicken broth and salt. Allow to cook at medium high until most of the broth cooks off and condenses. Add bacon crumbles and mix thoroughly. Serve!

*Feel free to also throw everything into the food processor except for the chicken broth. Then you can throw everything into the pan at once. I prefer softer onions so I didn't go with this option, but it's there if you're in a hurry.
**You can also reserve the liquid and use in place of the chicken broth if you prefer. I used chicken broth because of its healing properties. It's good for your gut!