Post 78 – The Process of Elimination

When I started this blog, I wanted to write about all the wonderful recipes and foods in the world that I loved to cook and eat. Erin Eating Everything was supposed to mean that nothing was off-limits and that my followers would enjoy reading about a variety of delicious and often healthy recipes. Lately though I have felt restricted in what I eat and therefore in what I cook due to my digestive issues caused by my acid reflux/GERD. In reality I am probably eating much healthier now than I did before by eliminating sugar, which is a major cause of inflammation. It has been frustrating and upsetting, but I have taken my health more seriously lately and decided to do everything I can to feel the best that I can. I thank you all for continuing to follow along with me throughout this journey and I promise to still give you delicious recipes along the way!

Today is day 9 of my Elimination Diet (ED). I know what you’re thinking. I know that diet often has the connotation of crazy fad food regimes where you eat 600 calories a day and starve yourself to lose weight, but that is not the case for me. I have started the ED with the guidance of a doctor and nutritionist in an effort to get off reflux medications, improve my health (since my symptoms have not gone away despite avoiding supposed trigger foods), and feel better. As the name suggests, I have eliminated all potential (most common) allergens and will reintroduce them one at a time to test for which ones may be the culprits. It requires patience, planning, and persistence and of course it helps to have your support.

Rather than focus on the negative (what I can’t eat) I want to focus on the positive and share with you all of the delicious things I CAN eat.

IMG_4142

Like my coconut curry chicken with rice that I shared with you last post – full of flavor and a feast for the eyes as well!

I also enjoyed salmon that I topped with fresh ginger, cilantro, and sesame oil with roasted asparagus and sweet potatoes on the side.

 

photo 1(26)

photo 2(23)

And for few days this week we savored oven-roasted pork chops (recipe follows)photo 3(21)

photo 4(13)

First I brined the chops in a salt-water solution for an hour, then I pan-seared them and finished them in the oven. They were moist, flavorful, and delicious. Brining them helps to keep them moist and inject a little bit of flavor with the salt. The recipe is not entirely hands-off, but it is well worth it if you don’t want a dry pork chop. I hope you give it a try!

In other news, spring has sprung here in Boston and I am taking advantage as much as possible of the warmer weather, longer days (notice the wonderful natural lighting for my dinner!) and sunshine. I’ve been biking to work most days and playing frisbee with a spring hat league, which are both great ways to get out. I hope you are enjoying the spring weather as well.

 

Oven-Roasted Pork Chops

inspired by America’s Test Kitchen and The Kitchn

4 center-cut pork chops (I used boneless but bone-in works too)

spice rub mix of your choice

salt

sugar (optional)

olive oil

 

Prepare your brine by dissolving 3 Tablespoons of Kosher salt in 6 cups of cold water in a large bowl (optional to also add 3 Tablespoons of sugar to the brine). Add your pork chops, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove pork chops from the brine and discard liquid. Pat each chop dry and rub on both sides with your favorite spice rub. I used (an unmeasured mixture of) salt, black pepper, and paprika. Heat a large oven-safe skillet (cast iron works well) over medium high heat and add a light coating of olive oil. Swirl to evenly distribute in the pan. When the pan is hot, add your pork chops carefully so as not to splatter yourself with hot oil. You should hear a fairly loud sizzle when they hit the oil. If not, your pan is not hot enough. Sear for 3 minutes on the one side, until the pork chop is well browned on the underside. Flip your pork and immediately transfer the pan to the hot oven (don’t forget to turn off your burner). Cook for 6 to 10 minutes (depending on thickness of the chops) or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees in the thickest part of the meat (or longer if you are worried about under cooking your meat, though see this link for more information). Remove the chops from the pan and put on a plate, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. This step is very important if you want to keep your pork juicy!

Serve with your favorite sides. Enjoy!

 

 

Advertisements

Post 77 – Coconut Curry Chicken

I love going out to eat. I love the wonderful flavors and new dishes you can find when leaving your home and I love not having to clean up afterward. Nonetheless sometimes a Saturday night in with take-out can be just as nice after a long (or short) week. Get comfy, wear what you like, and just relax on the couch when you’re done (and hope someone else will clean the kitchen – 😀 ).

IMG_4132

IMG_4129

IMG_4139

This Coconut Curry Chicken tastes like it came from your favorite Thai restaurant, yet it takes so little time and effort to prepare at home. I love Thai and Indian food, but too often when I see recipes that call for curry powder, I rule it out because I don’t have it in my spice cabinet. Turns out actually I do. I stumbled upon a recipe explaining that curry is simply a term for many variations of a spice blend, one that you can easily make at home if you already have all of the spices. The coconut milk adds a wonderful richness and its own unique flavor and the spice blend takes care of the rest. Then you just toss in your protein (chicken, shrimp or tofu would all be equally delicious) and whatever veggies you want and let it simmer away until everything is cooked. This recipe also happens to be gluten free and can easily be made vegan by switching to tofu. Delicious, easy, and adaptable always make for a great recipe.

Don’t be intimidated by what seems like a long list of ingredients. If you’re really lazy you can just buy “curry powder” and add it to your liking, or follow this recipe to make your own.

Serve over rice to soak up all that yummy sauce!

Coconut Curry Chicken

adapted from Simply Recipes

1 can coconut milk, light or regular depending on preference

3/4 lb. chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

Mixed vegetables – I used the following:

1 potato, washed and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 cups chopped kale

fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced

(could also try with peppers, onions, snow peas, mushrooms)

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. coriander

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

dash of allspice

1/2 tsp. turmeric

3/4 tsp. salt

a few grinds of black pepper

1 cup (low-sodium) chicken or vegetable broth

cilantro, for garnish

 

Start by prepping all of your ingredients, though you can also easily do this in the process of the cooking. Chop your chicken, carrots, potato, ginger, and kale. The main thing is to cut the potatoes and carrots the same size so they cook at the same rate, and not too big so that they don’t take too long to cook. Measure your spices into a small bowl and mix.

IMG_4134

Get out your favorite skillet – I used my new cast iron one – and heat over medium. At this point you can basically throw everything in and bring it to a very slight boil, before turning it down to simmer and letting it cook for about 20 minutes or until your chicken is cooked through and your potatoes and carrots are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary, adding more broth if you want to thin it out or even water if the flavors are too strong for you.

IMG_4142

Serve over hot rice and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

Post 76 – Bacon-wrapped Ricotta Chicken

photo 2(22)

Remember the bacon exception? It’s the theory that even if you don’t eat meat or fat or animals or what have you, most of you will make an exception for bacon. Alright, alright there are some of you who are actually virtuous enough to adhere to your bacon-less diets, but for the rest of you, here is another delicious way to make bacon a part of your menu rotation.

photo 4(12)

Bacon-wrapped Ricotta-stuffed Chicken

Could it get any better?

You get a creamy, flavorful filling and a crispy, salty outside layer that keeps the chicken moist and flavorful. The bacon also holds everything together so the chicken doesn’t pop open. The recipe I followed recommended securing the chicken rolls with toothpicks, but I found this unnecessary and annoying.

photo 3(20)Just look at these beauties!

If you are skilled enough to tuck in your chicken on all sides like a burrito, you will keep your cheese filling tucked in. If not, just don’t waste the yummy stuff that oozes out onto to your pan.

Mmmm.

 

Bacon-wrapped Ricotta Chicken

adapted from allrecipes.com

2.5 lb. chicken breasts, thin sliced cutlets if possible

1 lb. bacon

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 T. chopped fresh basil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

 

Prepare a sheet pan lined with foil. Preheat oven to 350.

If you bought chicken breasts and not cutlets, lay your chicken breasts out on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet until thin and even. In a medium bowl mix your ricotta, basil, garlic, and Parmesan. Add salt and pepper as desired (remember that the Parmesan adds a lot of salt and the bacon will as well). Lay out your chicken breasts and divide the ricotta mixture between them, making sure not to fill them too full. Carefully roll up the chicken breasts from the short side, doing your best to contain the cheese. If desired, sprinkle the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Wrap with a strip or two of bacon and place seam side down on your prepared pan. Repeat with the remainder of your chicken. I ended up with 8 rolls of chicken and I used all the bacon, cutting some pieces in half to wrap around parts of the chicken.

Bake at 350 for about 45 min, depending on thickness of the chicken, until the chicken is cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes and then serve.

Note: The bacon doesn’t get super crispy at this temperature, so you could try turning up the temp and baking for less time OR broiling the chicken for a short bit once it is almost done.

We enjoyed ours with homemade pesto and pasta!

photo 1(25)Bon appetit!

Post 75 – Homemade Almond Milk

Fact: I have always loved to experiment with new recipes. I started out trying basic recipes when I was younger and as I’ve become a more proficient chef and baker I have graduated to slightly more unusual recipes. I’m not talking crazy-out-there-no-one-has-ever-done-this recipes, just ones that your average home cook wouldn’t make. Some of my experiments have been motivated by my desire to feed those with special dietary requirements such as vegans and gluten-free folks, and some simply by my desire to see a new process actually work. This almond milk recipe meets both of those needs – vegan, gluten free, and a new process for me.

photo 1(22)

The past several months have been filled with on and off frustration for me when it comes to food, thanks to my GERD. I have mostly looked at this “disease” as an inconvenience that keeps me from eating the way I want to eat. Until recently…

After talking with someone who knows a lot about food, nutrition, and digestive health, I saw a different perspective. She said something along the lines of: You may be frustrated now, but think of this as an opportunity. Your body is telling you something is wrong and you have the opportunity to fix it. Though it took a few days for her words to really sink in, I realized she was right. I have the opportunity to improve my health immensely while I am still young, and hopefully I can prevent anything too serious from happening in the future.

I like to think of this homemade almond milk as part of my opportunity for better health. When I went through a test period of eating dairy free, I made this almond milk to go with my favorite homemade granola. I have generally disliked the store-bought kinds as they taste too strongly of toasted almonds, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make mine how I wanted it. And the recipe was easy. It only requires some preparation and a little bit of time. Keep in mind that without the preservatives it will only keep a few days, but if you make small batches this shouldn’t be a problem. Whether you’re dairy free or not, I hope you try this recipe and discover something new. And I hope it doesn’t take something like GERD for you to realize your opportunity to achieve your best level of health.

Homemade Almond Milk

Below is a photo recipe. For details, check out this recipe that I used.

First soak your almonds overnight in water. Drain, rinse, and add fresh water and blend in a blender or food processor. If you are meticulous you can remove the skins from all of the almonds (they slide off easily after being soaked). Just pinch them lightly between your fingers and be ready to catch the almond that might go flying out!

photo 1(22)

photo 4(11)The almonds will get broken up and make a creamy milk and almond meal.

photo 2(19)Place a thin kitchen towel or cheesecloth over a container and pour in your blended almond milk and almond mixture. Squeeze all of the liquid from the almond solids.

photo 3(18)

 

photo 5(5)Once you have squeezed out all the liquid you will be left with slightly moist almond solids and almond milk! Refrigerate your milk and almond solids and save for a tasty recipe.

I enjoyed my fresh almond milk with strawberries!

photo 1(23)

And the almond meal went to work as gluten-free almond meal chocolate chunk cookies later in the week! We ate a few on our road trip and put the rest in the freezer for later.

Recipe for cookies here – note: I used butter in place of coconut oil

photo 2(21)

photo 1(24)

Cheers to better health!