Stuffed Pineapple Teriyaki (Deconstructed)-paleo, GF

Half of my enjoyment in traveling is to bring back everything that left an impression on me back to my life, share with the lives I touch, and create a more permanent memory of where I’ve been.  Food is a huge part of that, and I have been way too busy lately to create travel-inspired recipes, but I decided to take the weekend to get my life back in order.  This helped me carve out some time to experiment!!  My last business conference was down in Hollywood, FL and while at dinner one night, I have a roasted stuffed pineapple with shrimp.  It was the perfect marriage of summer flavors, and I wanted to share the idea with you guys!
As you know, I don’t have a ton of time these days to cook, but that doesn’t mean recreating the flavors isn’t completely doable and simple!  I created a simple teriyaki sauce to use, and the ingredients couldn’t be more simple for the deconstructed version.
Stuffed Pineapple Teriyaki
Pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
3 Bell peppers, seeded, cut into chunks
1 Red onion, chopped into chunks
2 Avocado, cubed
1 lbs. wild-caught shrimp
1/2 cup coconut aminos (or gf soy sauce)
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp of honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Place all the sauce ingredients together into a big ziplock baggie or glass container.  Place the pineapple, bell peppers, and onion in the bag to soak up the goodness.  You can go multiple directions here and make skewers with shrimp for grilling, you can grill it in a grill pan, or you can sautee it on the stove top over high heat.  If you sautee, place the veggies and pineapple in the pan until cooked through, add the shrimp for a few minutes so you don’t overcook it.  Top it off with fresh avocado.  You could serve this over rice or place in “pineapple bowls” if you want to be fancy!

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

While doing my March detox, I stumbled on this salad when I had avocado and grapefruit to consume before traveling one week.  It was one of the most addicting combos I have ever tasted!   Why?  I have no idea, but you should try it even if you don’t like grapefruit.  It’s like when their flavors get together it creates something different than I have ever experienced!  I should also add that it’s super easy, too.
Avocado and Grapefruit Salad
Salt and pepper
Protein addition optional
Section grapefruit and slice avocado.  Place them together.  Mix juice from a lemon, a splash of EVOO, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad.  Add cooked shrimp or other protein if desired.

Homemade Chicken Stock for the Lazy Folks

Homemade month is moving along and next on the list is chicken stock.  I think this may be one of the easiest things you can do in your kitchen because it requires nothing but a crockpot and a chicken.  The picture is from a frozen chicken in the crockpot with veggie scraps from trimming them at other meals.  I believe I have onion tops, shallot tops, carrot ends, celery ends, etc.  I start a bag that goes in the freezer and accumulate scraps for the moment when I want to make a stock.  This is exactly what I did:  I put a frozen chicken in the crockpot with a little salt and cracked peppercorns and obviously veggie trimmings.  Cover for 10 hours (if thawed, 8 hours), and set crockpot on low.  Around 6 hours or so all the juices will begin to accumulate at the bottom of the crockpot.  After your 10 hours are up, remove the meat off the bone and put the carcass back into the crockpot.  Fill the crockpot with filtered water and let simmer for another 4 hours.  Strain your stock into containers!  That’s it.  I didn’t measure exactly but I want to say that it produced 10-12 cups of stock for me.  Typically, the ones you buy in the store come in 4 cup cartons.  So, that means I made the equivalent of 3 cartons of chicken stock with leftover bones from cooking a chicken.  I was already cooking the chicken and using the meat for tacos.  Therefore, it’s hard to estimate a cost savings when you are simply using leftover parts!  The cartons I buy of organic chicken stock at the store at $3-$4 bucks.  The entire chicken cost me $12 through Honored Praire.  For $12 bucks, I got about 3 lbs of meat and 3 cartons of chicken stock.  Not too shabby.  I put the stock that I will use that week in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.  I use the stock for everything from soups to simmering veggies.  It is packed full of minerals and healthy collagen for the joints.

Here’s my opinion on the whole homemade chicken stock ordeal: (1-5 with 5 being the best)

Ease: 5 (you put a chicken in pot and leave it for heaven’s sake!)

Price: 5 (I would have spent the same amount of money for 3-4 cartons of chicken stock at the store without the meat!)

Worth the touble: 5 (I am set now for weeks)

Taste: 5 (Way better tasting and way more nutritious than its processed counterparts!)

Outstanding in the Field: A Magical Food Exerience

I recently had a magical food experience with a company called “Outstanding in the Field.”  As a doctor, I can’t emphasize enough just how important connection TO your food and with others OVER food is to your health.  The simple act of seeing where it was grown, picking it, touching it and the dirt it thrives in, chopping it, and putting love into its preparation changes the physiology behind the nutrition, digestion, and health benefits.  You heard me right.  Your connection to your food changes how much it nourishes you.  If you add the way in which you enjoy it on top of that, I may even venture to say that even an unhealthy choice can then have health benefits.  That discussion is for another time, but today, I want to talk about this idea of going to a farm, meeting the farmers, touring the grounds, having a professional chef pour love into the ingredient preparation, and sharing a table with hundreds of other people talking and eating family style.  That, folks, is exactly what Outstanding in the Field has developed.

I arrived at Kinnikinnik Farms in the early evening with a plate.  Why would I bring a plate?  Because it is tradition at the dinners to have guests bring a plate to further enhance the uniqueness of each event.  Even a dinner on the same farm will change based on what is in season, the chef taking artistic liberty in preparation, and the plates that sit atop the table.  The conversations will be unique, the animals on the farm will be new, and the farm will inevitably be different from year to year. The moment in time is taken as a place in time to celebrate all those farmers providing us food to nourish our bodies and souls.  Without farmers, what would you eat?  To take it one step further and honor the hard work that goes into farming organically and sustain-ably, they choose farmers that exemplify this at these dinners.

There was a cocktail hour, where a fantastic Chicago restaurant, called North Pond, provided champagne and a craft cocktail called the Cucumber-basil cooler.  While enjoying the cocktails and walking around the farm exploring, bite size tastings were offered:

Watermelon gazpacho

Goat cheese mousse, pickle gel and spiced pecan

Buttermilk egg salad, dilly beans, and a tart cherry

Roasted eggplant socca crepe, nectarine, and yogurt

These were all one bite (one delicious bite), and I tried really hard not to fill up before dinner even started! Walking around, I explored the tents they rent out for those wanting to unplug and experience life on a farm, the apple trees that have been there for years as gifts to the farmers, and the donkeys that brought me back to my time in the Peace Corps.  Donkeys were abundant in Mali, and I remember how beautiful I thought their marking were.  After a word of thanks to the farmers and getting a little bit of history of the farm, they took us on a tour.  This particular farm used to be mostly vegetables.  The farmers used to have regular jobs.  Just as the market, demand, and life evolve, so did the farmers that bought the farm, lived in a trailer, then above the barn before they could afford to renovate the farmhouse on the property.  As organic vegetable farming becomes less lucrative, the animal husbandry venture becomes much more appealing.  It was fascinating to hear how they evolved, how their animals live, and what they see for the future of the farm as they age.

Then it was time for dinner at a long table in the field, at sunset, family style with strangers.  You know how sometimes you eat something you’ve had quite a few times before and somehow this time it feels like the best thing you’ve ever eaten?  That is how every course (of the 4 courses) were.  I don’t eat bread typically, but I could not NOT enjoy and partake in breaking bread with my neighbors, smeared with cultured butter.  The bread was laid out on the table for tearing and I am pretty sure many hands touched it.  In some ways this seems unsanitary, and in other ways, this is a traditional way to gain exposure to a diverse set of probiotic microbes.  History can often unveil how important certain things are for our health today.

Every course had its own thoughtful wine pairing and the heirloom tomatoes made my eyes roll back…and I don’t even like tomatoes.  This is real talk.  Another way you know your food is magical: when things you don’t enjoy become somewhat addicting in that moment.  I won’t go through every dish served because descriptions don’t do them justice, but I remember thinking to myself how impressed I was with the thoughtful simplicity of the food.  The chef did an amazing job letting the food itself shine without any crazy techniques or wow factors, and sometimes that’s exactly how it should be enjoyed.  The experience lasted about 6 hours, and guess what?  I didn’t have my phone, and I’m not sure anyone sitting around me looked at theirs once (if they even had them available).  It was refreshing to enjoy a meal outside, at sunset, without the interruption of technology.

Needless to say, I will be back and encourage all of you to consider it if you are in the area of one.  It’s an experience of a lifetime, and will certainly enhance your appreciation for the land, the food it provides, the farmers that tend to the land, the environment you eat in, and the people which you share the simple act of eating with. If I could sum it up in one idea, it would be: “An experience of food from the land to moment you realize the satisfaction and nourishment it provided you.”

I think it’s important to also point out that you do not have to participate in an event like this to get to know local farmers, grow some food, prepare food, or share your food.  I encourage each of you to do more of each of those things, and you’ll never look at food the same ever again because it will always have a story.  Life is nothing more than a series of stories that fill up your soul.  Enjoy it! These were the only pictures I could wrangle without a phone!

Paleo Pizza Popovers

I am pretty sure every person reading this blog enjoys pizza.  I’m also fairly certain that most people reading this blog either eat unhealthy versions of pizza or go way out of their way to try and make a healthy version?  I may be wrong, but sometimes you really want PIZZA (and there are recipes for that), and sometimes you just want the pizza flavor.  This is for the time when you feel lazy, don’t necessarily need the bread texture, but do crave some Italian without the guilt.  These popovers can be made tons of different ways.  I currently have a sweet and savory option on the blog, but the pizza version gets it’s own post.
Paleo Pizza Popovers
3 Tbsp arrowroot or tapioca starch
2 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs, room temp
1/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
5 slices pepperoni minced
Preheat oven to 450F. In a small bowl combine the flours and salt.  In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs lightly and add the coconut milk and water.  Add the flour mixture and combine until smooth. Add in the seasoning and pepperoni. Put a little oil in each of the 6 muffin tins.  Put the muffin tin and oil into the oven for 5 minutes and remove.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into each muffin tin.  Cook for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 350F.  Cook until golden brown, which could be another 15 minutes. Serve over homemade basil pesto or red sauce.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Lemon Butternut Puree

When I was in Peru, this was dinner one night!  The puree that is the base was a lemon sweet potato puree.  I always try to come home and reinvent the things that inspired me.  This one also reminded me of the time someone brought lemon sweet potatoes to book club!  I knew I liked the combo ever since.
Meyer lemons are in season, and I had butternut squash.  So, it’s a similar concept, but a little different twist.
Lemon Butternut Puree
half a roasted butternut squash
2 Tbsp grassfed butter
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Roast butternut for an hour at 350F.  Once cooked, scoop half of the squash out and mix with the butter and lemon, salt and pepper.

Soup and Cracker Shortcut for the Sick

In an ideal world, we would all have some homemade chicken stock in the freezer that we can bust out at any given time.  Heck, maybe we are even lucky enough to have some soup made with that stock in the freezer!  When you feel yourself getting a little under the weather, the first thing you want to do is consume something warm that helps your immune system; however, the last thing you feel like doing is taking time to make homemade broth, make soup and gluten-free crackers.  It is totally within your capability, but totally outside your realm of desire at that moment.
Chicken soup has been linked to what people give you when your sick because the gelatin in broth is so healing!  However, storebought broth doesn’t contain that healing element.  So, here is the best shortcut you can do if your caught in the predicament of needing healing food but have no time or energy. It’s much healthier than Cambell’s and saltines!
Cheater Soup and Crackers
carton of organic, gluten free soup (any kind)
unflavored gelatin
store-bought crackers such as Simple Mills
Heat up your soup and add 1 Tbsp of gelatin.  Consume with grain-free or sprouted crackers.
*In addition to your soup, make sure you are getting adequate Vitamin D, probiotics, garlic in everything, and an immune support supplement to manage symptoms if needed.

Cilantro Pesto

When summer hands you so many herbs that you can’t keep up, you make tons of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.  You can make pesto out of any herb, and it’s an awesome way to add flavor, nutrients, and uncooked olive oil to your life.  It can also act as a marinade!
I don’t follow rules or measurements so I apologize in advance.  However, I think it’s good to point out that delicious food can come from mistakes, random stuff thrown together, or a fluke craving.  Follow your heart.  It never stears you wrong!
Cilantro Pesto
2 cups of cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup walnuts
salt and pepper
juice from half a lemon
In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, garlic, nuts, salt and pepper, and lemon juice until broken down.  Slowly drizzle in the EVOO until the mixture becomes the consistency of a soft spread.  You can then use it, put in the fridge to eat in the next week or two, or freeze it in ice cube trays to use later.
Place this on grilled meat, add to tacos, marinade shrimp, ANYTHING that you want a punch of flavor!

Sausage-Stuffed Butternut Squash

I always like to take time to make a special recipe on the holiday.  For me, it’s not necessarily about eating a ton or eating everything unhealthy, it’s more about eating amazing quality, more difficult to create dishes.  That usually translates to me as whole foods the way nature provided prepared in a way that I won’t typically take time to do on any Thursday night.  For me, that usually means it took a little more love and time, tastes amazing due to the flavor development, and was hard enough that I won’t get it again for a really long time.  This year, I created a stuffed butternut squash!  It wasn’t impossible, but it took more time because you have to bake the squash before you stuff it.
Stuffed Butternut Squash
2 butternut squash, cut lengthwise, seeds removed
1 lb Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 green apple, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
4-5 large brussels sprouts, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken stock
little bit of fresh herb chopped (whatever you like)
salt and peppr
Preheat oven to 350F.  Place butternut halves face down on baking sheets with some water in the pan.  Bake for 45min-1hr depending on how large they are.  While those are baking, brown your sausage.  Once sausage is browned, add veggies and tomato paste.  Sautee for 3 min and add the broth.  Cook for another 5 min.  Once the butternut is done, take them out and turn them over. Scoop the sausage stuffing into the bowl portion of the butternut and place back in the oven.  Bake for another 20 minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve!

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

As some of your are aware, I have added another title onto my list to juggle which means I am spending a lot more time on research, teaching doctors, and implementing lifestyle medicine ideas into programs.  That means I’m in Chicago most of the week, and I can’t be around in the same capacity for my patients.  In order to continue providing options for patients, I still take cases, do all the diagnostics, devise a care plan, etc.  However, when it comes to making it work for the patient in a way that works for their lifestyle, I have enlisted the help of a wellness coach named Carole Turnbo.  Some of you may know her as the amazing athlete and trainer.  I know her as my trainer but also as a colleague after all these years tag-teaming patients to change their life and health.
She recently posted a recipe for butternut squash soup that peaked my interest!  I obviously put my own spin on it, but love the original concept, and I encourage you to follow her blog for all her upcoming ideas about a Primal Thanksgiving!
A Balanced Life is the name and she would love to have you visit. ;)
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed
6 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 squirt anchovy paste (optional but so good)
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 can pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp maca
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 Tbsp curry paste
1 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
Sautee garlic, anchovy paste, curry paste, and oil for 2 minutes.  Then add the butternut, pumpkin, carrots, coconut milk, chicken stock, spices.  Allow to simmer until butternut is fork tender (about 35-45 minutes).  Blend with an immersion blender and serve!  Put in a thermos on a cold day!