Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stuff Yourself (Some Chicken) and Play Dress Up (With a Bonus Recipe)

We have some company this week - my great friend from our Hawaii days and her little son are in town - and it's been fun trying out some ketogenic recipes on her. She's loving them, and she's even thinking about adopting the way of eating soon to see if it helps with some of her inflammatory health issues - yay! For now she's following up some of the keto meals with a spoonful (or three) of oreo-cookie-butter, but hey - baby steps, right?? (Maybe I need to experiment with a making a low-carb oreo-cookie-butter? YASSS.)

I made this chicken dinner the other night for us, and even my mushroom-hating girlfriend thought it was fab! 

Gruyere Stuffed Chicken With Mushroom Sauce


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6oz each)
2 oz gruyere cheese, chopped or shredded
4 Tbs olive oil
20 oz mushrooms (I used half bellas, half button), sliced
1/2 cup red or white wine (I used Apothic White because I had it leftover from another recipe)
2 tsp tamari soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
1/2 Tbs steak sauce or worcestershire

Preheat a large skillet over med-high heat, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper, silpat, or foil (for easy cleanup).

Use a small knife to cut a slit in the top (thicker, meatier part) of each chicken breast. Using your flat palm (placed on top of the breast *teehee*) as a guide to feel what's going on, carefully move the knife slowly back and forth inside the chicken to create a pocket for the cheese. Try NOT to cut all the way through the top or bottom surface of the breast, as this will create an escape hatch for all your melty cheese. 

Carefully stuff the pockets you created with about 1/2 oz of cheese per breast. Use a toothpick to help close up the slit at the top to secure the cheese inside. (You can also use an extra toothpick - or THREE, in my case! - to help close up any whoopsies on the surface of the breast you may have made with over-zealous knife skills.) Remember how many toothpicks you used so that you know how many to remove at serving time (or at least warn your diners about them... LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, PEOPLE!).

Coat your chicken in about a tablespoon of olive oil, and any seasonings you'd like (salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, whatevs). Sear the breast for a few minutes on each side, then move them to the prepared sheet pan and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through (165 F internal temp). Let rest a couple of minutes before serving.

While the chicken cooks in the skillet, slice your mushrooms if they didn't come that way. Once you've removed the chicken from the skillet, add the other 3 Tbs olive oil to the pan along with all the mushrooms. Let them cook/brown for a few minutes before seasoning with salt and pepper. Give them a good stir every few minutes to promote even cooking. Once they've cooked down and browned nicely, remove about a quarter of them from the pan and place in a blender along with the wine, tamari, and steak sauce. Puree until smooth. Add a half cup of water or so and blend again if the mixture seems too thick. Pour the mixture back into the skillet with the mushrooms, and simmer a few minutes to let the alcohol evaporate. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. 

Serve the sauce with the chicken, along with any other sides you love. I chose roasted asparagus and eggplant (which I roasted alongside the chicken).

Serves 4
Approximate nutrition per serving ~ 437 calories, 23g fat, 6.3 net carbs, 43.9g protein


Dress up your boring old salad routine with a rich and creamy and NUTRITIOUS salad dressing (that also makes a great dipping sauce for all kinds of foods).

The star of this simple dressing is tahini, which is the sesame seed equivalent to peanut butter. (It's also the ingredient that takes hummus from chickpea-puree to something really yummy.) Sesame seeds are so much more than those little things they sprinkle on burger buns and Chinese takeout - they're little super foods! 

Health Benefits
Not only are sesame seeds an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

Easy Tahini Dressing


1 Tbs tahini
2 tsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar
big pinch of salt
sugar substitute to taste (about 1 tsp sugar equivalent)
optional - garlic powder, cumin, paprika, or any other spice you love

Whisk all ingredients except the water in a small bowl. Add water a little at a time until it reaches a consistency you prefer. Feel free to adjust the amounts of the ingredients to suit your tastes.

Serves 1
Approximate nutrition per serving ~ 105 calories, 9.5g fat, 1 net carb, 3g protein

The tahini dressing was delish on my lunchtime salad of spicy Italian chicken sausage, hard-boiled egg, peppers, greens, and hemp seeds! I'd love to hear what you dress up with yours!

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