Game Day Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken & KaleI’m always a little bummed when Labor Day arrives and brings an end to summer, but then I remember the good news – football has finally returned!  Lounging around all weekend, going to tailgates and attending watch parties can make it hard to eat healthy, but I try to take the challenge as an opportunity to create new versions of typically not-so-healthy foods.  Today, I’m sharing an easy twist on fried chicken that will totally satisfy your finger-food cravings.

Ingredients:

  • Approx 1 lb organic chicken (breasts, wings & drumsticks will all work for this!)
  • 2 organic, pasture-raised eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

Preparation:

Rinse the chicken and then pat dry.  If you are using chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch thick strips to make tenders.

Whisk the eggs in one wide, shallow bowl.  In another bowl, mix the coconut flour and spices.

Take each piece of chicken and coat it with egg, let excess drip and then dredge it through the flour mixture until completely coated.  Place these pieces on a new plate, put on your apron and you’re ready to fry ’em up.

Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat on the stove in a frying pan.  For some extra flavor, I love to add a tablespoon of bacon grease to the oil.  You’ll know the oil is ready when you add a piece and it sizzles. Add 3-4 pieces to the pan and let it sizzle for 3 minutes per side.  Work in batches so the oil stays hot…. once those 3-4 pieces are done, you can add the next round.

Once you remove the chicken from the frying pan, place it on a baking sheet (best to add parchment paper underneath for easy clean-up).  If you made chicken tenders, they are likely ready to eat right-away, but thicker cuts, especially those bone-in, may need some time in the oven to finish cooking.  Use a meat thermometer to test so you don’t overcook.  I usually put drumsticks & wings in a 325 degree oven for just 5-10 minutes.

This fried chicken is crispy, tender and flavorful with just a bit of kick. Plus, it is gluten-free, paleo and full of health benefits from the coconut oil it’s fried in!

Best served with an ice cold kombucha & kale chips… Enjoy!

A Year in Review & Looking Forward

New Years Eve2015 is upon us… does anyone else find that as insane as I do?  I really feel like 2014 just flew by.  It was a a pretty crazy year for me, with an amazing  trip to Europe and fun moments with friends & family, but also lots of work (aka stress) the rest of the year that took over my life and effected my health. As I look back, I am so thankful for all that I’ve learned and I’m ready to tackle 2015 with some big resolutions.  They aren’t much different than what I was inspired by in Europe, I am only more determined by not accomplishing them in 2014:

  • Nourish my body – I’ve really taken a step back in what I eat due to convenience and it’s certainly not making me feel great.  My goals for this year are to meal-plan weekly to ensure I am getting adequate protein and veggies, to shop local & organic at the Farmer’s Market at least twice per month, and to cook from scratch at a minimum of 5 times per week. This used to be routine for me, so I know it’s realistic to achieve. I am not really a calorie counter or weight watcher, but I am committed to consistently tracking what I eat on an app and making goals to lose weight & inches where needed in order to keep myself accountable.
  • Get moving – I need to exercise more, plain and simple.  I got a Jawbone UP 24 for Christmas (loving it so far, by the way!) and it is astounding how little I move throughout the day.  I’ll never reach my step goal if I don’t do some intentional fitness daily.  I want to explore more resistance training to build muscle and get back on my spin bike that’s just sitting upstairs.  And, again, I want to take more walks with my sweet puppy who so loves them. Belle Walk
  • Learn to relax – I am still trying to figure out what this means and how to accomplish it.  I am hoping the two above goals aid in reducing stress, but I truly want to learn how to leave work at the office.  I want to come home and be able to focus on my family and my health. Reading & writing are both so relaxing for me, and I want to read more health books, do a bit more research and share about it here on this blog.  One main area I want to explore more this year is essential oils.  I have been using them for a couple of years now and seeing great results, so I recently became a distributor with Young Living in hopes to share my experience with more people.  There is so much to learn about these natural oils from plants that God provided to heal us.  Plus, I have recently discovered how effective they are at helping me relax – I have the “Joy” and “Stress Away” blends in my diffuser right now bringing loveliness to my home.

I’ve said it before, but I am always astounded by how many people this blog has reached.  I started it on New Year’s Day only 2 years ago thinking it would just be a way to keep myself accountable and share with friends and family.  This year, I reached over 10,000 views!  To close out 2014, I wanted to do a recap of the most popular posts of this year:

2nd Year Running Most Read Overall – Kombucha Home-Brew

Most Pinned on Pinterest – Health Foodie Series

Most Reader-Shared – Healthy Hygiene Routine & Part 2: Deodorant

Most Read Book Review – Coconut Oil

Most Read Post in 2014 – Emphasis on Hopeful

If you want to make sure you don’t miss any future posts, be sure to hit the “Follow” button at the top right corner of my site to get an email whenever I publish a new blog.  If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to see more of, please leave a comment and let me know.  It’s certainly motivating if I know it’s something people want to hear about; most often it’s just a surprise after I write it!

Wishing you a healthy & hopeful 2015!

Fabulous Fermentation Week – Kombucha Home-Brew

Kombucha Bottles

In the healthy food blogosphere, this week is known as “Fabulous Fermentation Week” and I thought this would be the perfect time to share my recent experimentation with fermentation and all benefits it has to offer!  When you think of fermented foods, mostly likely only pickles and sauerkraut come to mind, but actually many of our favorite foods & drinks were created through fermentation – wine, beer, coffee, yogurt, cheese and chocolate.  It’s a process discovered thousands of years ago, probably by chance, as a preservation method that happened to add nutrients in the process; it has provided profound health benefits to humans for generations.  Defined by Webster’s Dictionary, fermentation is “an enzymatically controlled transformation of an organic compound.”  Dr. Cate describes it best in Deep Nutrition – “With an arsenal of enzymes, microbes can break down toxins that might otherwise sicken or kill us outright, turn simple sugars into complex nutrients, make vitamins our diets might otherwise lack (such as K2 and B12), and wage chemical warfare on would-be pathogens.”

One main benefit to fermentation is that it produces live cultures with good bacteria – probiotics – that work with our immune system to fight the bad bacteria – pathogens – that attack our system and cause allergies, autoimmune diseases & inflammation.  Many of us are consistently lacking enough probiotics in our system, and therefore have poor-functioning immune systems – story of my (former) life.  By incorporating probiotics into your diet, you’ll quickly see great changes to your digestive system.  Whenever I have an upset stomach, I go straight for pickles or kombucha (before you ask – no, they’re not pregnancy cravings) to feel better fast. Probiotics are also really essential when you are taking antibiotics.  Antibiotics kill bacteria with no discretion – the good and the bad.  Without replenishing the good kind, you are compromising your immune system even more, opening yourself up to more infection (and yet I’ve never had a doctor tell me that).

While you can certainly take pricey probiotic supplements to boost your system, you could also start eating fermented foods like (raw, unpasteurized) yogurt, real (no preservatives) pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut OR by drinking delicious kombucha.  For those of you who have never heard of it – kombucha is a probiotic-rich, fruity, naturally carbonated beverage that you can find in lots of different flavors at your local grocery or health foods store.  It’s a great substitution for those of you who are addicted to soda, and you can even use it as a cocktail mixer – I tried some gin in a ginger-blueberry kombucha last week and it was pretty awesome.  What you might discover is that it’s also pretty expensive – around $3-4 per bottle.  I had always heard that it was easy and cheap to make it at home, so I decided to try it. And wow, definitely lived up to that promise.  The hands on time for this was maybe only 20 minutes spread out over 2 weeks. Some of the fermentation processes are a little gross, but nothing that you can’t handle!

I started with an organic home-brew starter kit from Kombucha Brooklyn.  However, all you really need to get started is a 1 Gallon glass jar, which you could find at a local beer home-brew store, a piece of cotton & rubber band, and then some organic unflavored tea and cane sugar. What makes the magic happen is something called a SCOBY – symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast – which is basically a strange, disc looking thing you put in your jar of sweet tea and let ferment.  You can get a SCOBY online, in the starter kit, or, if you live in Austin, I can give you one from one of my batches! Once you start with one, each batch will produce another so that you can continue brewing and never buy again.

First, you boil 4 cups of filtered water.  Take off the heat and add 6 organic, unflavored black or white tea bags.  Let steep for around 20 minutes, then add 1 cup of organic cane sugar and stir.  Once dissolved, add 8 cups of cold, filtered water and pour into your one gallon jar.  After that, you simply add the SCOBY with 1.5 cups of kombucha liquid from your last batch (or that the SCOBY comes in). Cover with the cloth and rubber band and then put into a warm, dark place where it can breathe – as long as you don’t keep your house super cold, it’s fine anywhere but your pantry or by a window. Let sit for around 2 weeks and watch a new SCOBY grow  as your kombucha ferments. After that amount of time, taste your kombucha to see if you like it… taste will tell you when it’s done (I like mine sweet, rather than sour).  When done, simply take out the SCOBYs and set them aside with 1.5 cups of the liquid.  Pour the tea into bottles – I used 6 old 16oz bottles I had saved.  If you want to add a flavor,  you must do it after fermentation, during the bottling process.  I used dried mango, raspberries and ginger & blueberries for 3 different kinds.  Once in your bottles, put the lids on tight and let sit out of the fridge for 3-5 days so that it will carbonate.  After that, refrigerate and enjoy your refreshing & healthy beverages!

*If you’ve never tried Kombucha before, I recommend you go to the store now and buy some! Austin’s local Buddha’s Brew is the sweetest, so it’s a good starting point to get used to the flavor – the honeydew flavor is my absolute favorite.

What’s your favorite fermented food or drink?  Have you ever tried kombucha?

For more fermented food recipes, you can find the participants in Fabulous Fermentation Week at My New Roots.