Chicken and Avocado Salad with Thai flavors

  When salads are your whole meal, you want to pack a lot of punch in it. At least I do.  Most days for lunch I will have some left over protein from dinner the previous night – usually some fish or chicken and then I just eat that along with some lettuce and celery. I don’t even bother chopping the lettuce or celery since – hey what does it matter, my teeth can do that 🙂

But somedays I get motivated. To create something fancier. Fancy meaning not as in ‘gourmet’ or ‘classy restaurant’.  Fancy as in ‘whatever makes me happy’ 🙂 I had been making broth with chicken legs the previous day and had added some kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to the pot along with my usual spices of whole black pepper and bay leaves.  The broth came out very tasty and the chicken legs gave out a lot of meat which I saved up for my salad.  Now as I opened the container of the chicken pieces, the smell of kaffir lime and lemongrass was still lingering and reeled my senses. hmm…I got transported to ‘Thai’ world or Thai..land rather!

So I decided to just continue with that theme and make a flavorful and colorful salad out of it.!  I guess I was thinking of the ‘Thai Larb gai’ (which I totally love!) although what I ended up with was not similar to that although you could say that some things were common like the lemongrass and lime flavor.

For my dressing, I just decided to mix Lemon juice, ginger and honey  which further accentuated the already ‘flavorful’ chicken. And Avocados and pomegranate went in to do their ‘colorful’ bit! And voila, within 15 mins I had this beautiful looking and fantastic smelling chicken salad looking at me. Last minute I decided to quickly make some instant pickled onions and throw them as a garnish!  The salad was just perfect!  It seemed like a large plate but oh the flavors were so good I just couldn’t stop eating and cleaned up the entire plate!

Chicken Salad with Thai flavors
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad, paleo
Cuisine: Fusion, Thai
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
A delicious, flavorful salad consisting of Chicken pieces cooked with thai spices, fresh avocados and pomegranate with a honey ginger lemon dressing
Ingredients
  • 2 cups shredded chicken pieces( see below for cooking method)
  • ½ of a ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ cup shredded lettuce
For dressing
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger grated or ginger juice
  • handful of pickled red onions (see recipe below)
For cooking chicken:
  • chicken thigh pieces or chicken leg pieces 4-6
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon grass, chopped
  • 2-3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 inch by 1 inch fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4-6 whole black peppercorns
For pickling onions:
  • ½ of a red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • pinch salt
Instructions
  1. First cook the chicken by adding all the ingredients listed under 'For cooking chicken' in a large pot and slow cook covered for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and after cooling, take the chicken pieces out and shred them. Reserve the chicken broth after straining to get rid of the spices.
  3. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and keep aside.
  4. Mix all the ingredients listed under 'pickling onions' in a small bowl and using your fingers crush the onion pieces a bit. Keep aside.
  5. For assembling the salad, arrange the chicken pieces with the lettuce, avocado and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle the dressing on top and scatter the pickled onion slices on top!

 

Apricot Coconut Balls (Vegan, Paleo)

I have been ‘refined sugar’ free for more than a year now and tell you what…I don’t miss it at all!  In fact I feel so awful that I was eating all that unnecessary refined sugar all these years.  Once you go completely sugar free you will start reaching out for the natural sugars as in fruits, dried fruits and other natural products like honey and maple syrup.  And the best thing is that the natural products do not give you a sugar rush plus they all provide beneficial nutrients to your body in addition to just sweetness.

But sometimes you do crave for sweets because you crave for that texture.  For example even though I have not felt deprived for the most part, I sometimes have this craving for Indian sweets like coconut barfi (fudge) or coconut ladoo (sweetened balls)!  That’s when I began to experiment.  I made date, almond and coconut rolls which are absolutely delicious and are now a permanent snack in my home – my son just loves them! My Date nut truffles are also equally amazing and so decadent they feel like an absolute treat!  I also made a dates and Nut Barfi (fudge) with dates, almonds and walnuts and that is again absolutely delicious with the gooey fudge texture.

So two weeks ago my cravings for texture meant I had to experiment again since I am on the Autoimmune protocol diet and so I cannot do nuts either.  So I scratched my brains and scanned the available items for me in my pantry and apricots and dates were the winners!. I really wanted something that had a texture like a coconut ladoo and so that made me come up with these apricot coconut balls.  Oh boy, the texture of these balls are amazing. The coconut flour just gives it the soft but dense texture that I was craving for! And that’s not all – it gets even better! OK so all you need for this recipe are just 3 ingredients! Yes! Dried Apricots, Dates and coconut flour. And Shredded Coconut to roll them in.

And yes you do need a food processor. These balls came together in less than 15 minutes though from start to finish. The first time I made it, I had made a very small experimental batch and I could make around 8 balls and they were all gone in 2 days! And that was just me eating all of them!  SO then of course I had to make them again. And again. You see I had to perfect the recipe too so I could share with you guys 🙂

I used lemon zest the first time to get an additional burst of flavor and that gave a wonderful freshness to the balls.  The second time I tried cardamom powder so that I could get the taste to be very close to the Indian coconut ladoo.  I loved that too. SO you can pick your flavor. Maybe you will come up with some additional ideas. Even if you don’t add anything the apricots give it enough flavor already. If you are 100% AIP compliant then you cannot do cardamom.  Over the past one month I have been able to add all my spices (Indian) back to my diet without much complaints. So I am ecstatic. And completely blissful when I eat these apricot coconutties!

Linking this recipe to the Plant based Potluck party Link up this week!

Apricot Coconut Balls (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Healthy Snack
Cuisine: Raw, Vegan, Paleo
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Delicious and healthy treat made of dried apricots, dates and coconut
Ingredients
  • 10 Apricots
  • 10 Dates
  • ½ cup warm water for soaking
  • About ½ cup coconut flour (I used 'Let's Do Organic' brand)
  • ¼ tsp zest of one organic lemon (or ¼ tsp cardamom powder)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut for rolling (I used 'Let's do organic' brand)
Instructions
  1. Soak the dates in a small bowl in the warm water for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor bowl, add the apricots and the dates along with the water used for soaking. You should get a thick pasty mixture.
  3. AT this stage, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the coconut flour and the lemon zest or cardamom powder to it.
  4. Mix the coconut flour with the apricot date mixture using a spatula or your hands to form a smooth non sticky dough. (You may need to add slightly more coconut flour if your dough is sticky)
  5. Roll the dough into small balls and roll in shredded coconut
Notes
You could add the coconut flour also to the food processor and form the dough in it.
For AIP compliant, use only lemon zest and no cardamom

Beef Cutlets with a crispy coconut crust (Paleo)

Beef Cutlets are a specialty of Kerala’s Christian community.  Growing up in Mumbai, we had ‘Mallu (short for malayalee which in turn means someone who belongs to Kerala 🙂 ) Christian’ neighbors.  Kunjimol aunty always hosted great parties – be it Christmas or Easter or her kids’ birthday parties! One of the appetizer dishes was always these crispy and spicy beef cutlets! We all loved them! Our parents did not eat much beef however even they liked these cutlets perhaps because ground beef is used to make them and the nice flavors from the ginger, garlic and other spices makes the beef very delicious. And then the best part is the crispy coating that the beef patty gets from the bread crumbs!  Pan fry or deep fry these babies and serve them with either ketchup or a sweet spicy sauce and they are gone in seconds!

My mom who actually never cooked beef regularly at home did learn this recipe from Aunty. I am so glad she did! And so over the years I have made cutlets the same way using either ground chicken or beef. And they are always a crowd pleaser!  However now being on a paleo diet for the past year, I hadn’t eaten any cutlets in a while 🙁

And this had to change…and so this is how it happened. I had some cooked ground beef leftover in my fridge.  So one fine afternoon when I was really really hungry and was really craving for something really really satisfying , the image of beef cutlets popped into my head!  At first I brushed it off thinking there was no way I would be able to make a paleo version! And that too an eggless paleo version since I am sensitive to eggs too! But then necessity is indeed the mother of invention, right? 🙂 🙂

And so in about 30 minutes I had these crispy beef cutlets with a coconut crust that were ‘melt in your mouth’ delicious!  I gorged about 3 of them and had to stop myself from eating more!

So how did I do it? What were the substitutions? Well first for the potato, I subbed yucca (cassava). Incidentally I also had some leftover boiled yucca in the fridge. How convenient was that! Then for the crust part, I used shredded coconut and tapioca starch slurry. These came out so delicious. My kids ate the rest of the cutlets as a snack when they came back from school! The yucca made the cutlets somehow feel more richer than when you use potato.

Reading the recipe you might think its too time consuming but that can be easily rectified if you plan to make the kheema curry beforehand i.e. cook the ground beef with spices.  This kheema curry can be eaten with a salad on the side. That is one of my regular Paleo meals.SO once you have some leftover kheema then making these cutlets is a cinch! Either way guys this is totally worth the effort!

Linking to Saucy Saturday this week.

Beef Cutlets with a crispy coconut crust (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, main course
Cuisine: Kerala, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Paleo version of the Indian Beef cutlets made from ground beef and yucca cooked with Indian spices and coated with shredded coconut and shallow fried in coconut oil
Ingredients
Precooking the Beef:
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2-4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (omit for AIP version)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper) (Omit for AIP version)
  • 1 bay leaf
For making kheema
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • ½ of a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder (sub cilantro leaves for AIP version)
  • 1 tsp garam masala (skip for AIP version)
For the cutlets:
  • about 1 cup of boiled yucca (cassava or kappa) pieces, mashed well
  • 2 tbsp of tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
  • ½ cup dry shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil for pan frying
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients under 'pre cooking the beef' into a pressure cooker (or an ordinary pot with a tight fitting lid) and cook for 3 whistles. If not using a cooker, you need to add about ¼ cup water.let cool and keep aside.
  2. In a sauté pan, add the oil and add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the onions get softened and you get the cooked smell of ginger and garlic. Next add the coriander powder and garam masala and stir for a minute.
  3. Next add the cooked ground beef to this onion mixture and let cook together for 4-5 minutes or until all water is gone.
  4. Let this kheema mixture cool nicely before you start making the cutlets.
  5. For making the cutlets, take a large mixing bowl and add the cooled kheema (beef mixture) and the mashed yucca pieces.
  6. Make patties out of this mixture and keep aside.
  7. Place shredded coconut in a plate and in a small bowl mix the tapioca starch with about 2 tbsp water to form a slurry
  8. Next Taking one patty at a time, dip the patty first into the tapioca slurry and then coat with the shredded coconut. Place the coated patty onto a plate. Repeat similarly for all of the patties.
  9. Heat a non stick frying pan and add the coconut oil to it.
  10. When the oil is hot, turn heat to medium and shallow fry the patties until both sides turn golden brown!
  11. Transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil and serve warm!
Notes
For an AIP compliant version, omit all the spices as indicated above in the recipe

 

 

Caribbean Chow/Indian Chaat Style Salad

I think you can guess from the title of my post that I was struggling to come up with a proper name for this creation 🙂 It started with me coming across a caribbean mango cucumber chow recipe on a recipe forum. My sensory buds tingled at the mention of mango. And with cilantro and lime thrown in? Wow, even more mouthwatering stuff.

So that was the inspiration for my salad. So I got myself a mango two weeks ago – yes mangoes have started making an arrival here in our grocers! And note I said ‘ got myself a mango’, which meant that I was NOT willing to share this with anyone else at home. Yes I mean it. When it comes to mangoes, I become an infant …’Its mine!”  OK OK so my family left me alone.  They had the infinite wisdom that once mangoes start making more of an appearance especially at the Indian grocers, mom would get a crate of them and at that point she will be willing to share some with us.

So the recipe I had seen was fairly simple – onion, garlic, green chillies, lime juice and …Culantro.  Yes no typo there, it is Culantro.  I looked it up and it says that culantro or shado beni is a special herb grown in the caribbean.  It is supposedly slightly different from Culantro or shado beni but cilantro is a close substitute.  I am definitely very interested in laying my hands on this herb!  Please let me know if any of you know where I can get it in the US?

Continuing with my salad, I added diced avocado, cucumber and mango together.  For the caribbean chow,  you pound together the onion, garlic, chillies and culantro and add this to the mango/cucumber pieces. Toss with salt and pepper and you are good to go! So I did this and then decided to add some chaat masala since the green chili and cilantro mixture along with lime was so reminiscent of the chaat we used to have back in the streets of Mumbai.  So I added some chaat masala – the salad started tasting so good and I continued to sprinkle more and more of the chaat masala till I felt that it was just perfect – ‘You could eat the whole bowl’ kind of perfect!  Yum!

After that day I started getting mangoes every week and I have made this salad at least three times in the past two weeks!. This last time I made it, i also added cooked beets and sweet potatoes to it.  Tasted wondrous and a perfect side dish to my pan fried salmon.

Chaat masala btw is a blend of several different spices and has a dominant sour/tangy flavor from the dry mango powder and the black salt (pink salt) but it has a little bit of heat also from the other spices and cayenne pepper. I always buy store bought chaat masala but here’s a recipe for it if you would like to see the ingredients – Chaat masala recipe

Linking this delicious salad recipe to Plant-Based Potluck Party Link Up and Saucy Saturdaythis week.

Caribbean Chow/Indian Chaat Style Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad, Paleo, Vegan
Cuisine: Caribbean , Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
A tangy and sweet tropical salad consisting of cucumber, avocados and mango deliciously spiced with cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and chaat masala
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ red onion
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • ½ ripe mango, cut into medium size chunks
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and diced
  • ½ boiled potato (or sweet potato), diced
  • ½ of a medium beet cooked (optional), diced
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chaat masala
Instructions
  1. In a mortar or pestle or a small food processor, add the cilantro, garlic, red onion and the lemon juice. Blend well until you get a chunky kind of paste. Keep aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the avocado, cucumber, mango, potato (or sweet potato) and beet (if adding). Add the cilantro mixture to this. Add the salt, pepper and the chaat masala. Toss well to mix the spices well with the vegetables and fruits. Serve fresh!
Notes
For Paleo version, Use sweet potato instead of potato
For AIP version, Use sweet potato instead of potato and Skip chaat masala

Link up your recipe of the week

Caribbean Style Grilled Shrimp (Paleo)

Shrimp is an all time favorite of mine!  My parents having been born and raised so close to the coast in Kerala, shrimp was my amma’s ‘go to’ ingredient for added flavor.  Yes she would add prawns in even vegetable dishes to enhance the flavor!. And boy that sure got us kids to eat all their veggies plus lick the plate!  Shrimp or ‘Chemeen’ as they are called in Kerala are used to make so many wonderful dishes like chemeen curry with coconut(thengarachu curry), chemeen varatharachu curry,  chemmeen green mango curry, prawn masala, prawn cutlets,  dried prawns chutney, prawn pickle etc etc.  Gosh my mouth is watering!

So you can imagine my joy when I was allowed to eat shrimp again by my naturopath after having abstained from eating it for more than a year! This is one of the reasons I like my Paleo diet. !

When we had visited Cancun a couple years ago, the resort we stayed in had a beautiful lunch buffet menu. One of the items on that buffet was ‘carribean style’ sizzling shrimp! My husband would grin at me as I loaded up my plate with these wonderfully spiced and perfectly grilled shrimp every single day of the 5 days we were there!

Last week as I pulled out shrimp out of the freezer to grill some quickly for my lunch, on a sudden whim I decided to try making it the carribean style – the way we had it at the resort. Going by my memory of the flavors, I quickly put together a marinade using cilantro, ginger,garlic,lemon juice, pepper, and some honey and this wonderful dish was created in less than 30 minutes.  My son was home that day with me for lunch and we both couldn’t stop marveling at how good these shrimp turned out to be! And they were pretty darn close to the ones we had at the resort!  Chef Mom deserves a pat on the back!  ‘Thank you’ Thank you’ , I say taking my bow as I clean up the table 🙂

I made this recipe again a couple days later since I wanted to share these ‘wicked good shrimp’ as my son had called them, with my husband. That time I tried grilling in the oven since I had pan fried it the first time and the grilled ones came out perfectly too. So I give directions for both ways in my recipe below.  What are you waiting for? 🙂

For a strict Paleo AIP version, omit the chillies and these will still be fantastic I am sure.

Linking this recipe this week to the following link parties:

Saucy Saturdays

Inspiration Galore Project Party

 

Caribbean Style Grilled Shrimp (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer; Main course
Cuisine: Caribbean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Shrimp marinated in a tangy, sweet and spicy marinade consisting of cilantro, lemon, garlic and honey and grilled or pan fried in coconut oil to perfection!
Ingredients
  • 16-18 pieces of medium size shrimp (or about 10-12 pieces of jumbo shrimp)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 by 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 green (serrano) chilies
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp sea salt or as needed
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Place all of the listed ingredients other than shrimp and coconut oil in a food processor (use small grinder) and blend well. Mixture may be a little chunky and that's ok. Marinate the shrimp in this mixture for about 10-15 mins.
  2. Heat a non stick frying pan. Add the coconut oil. Grill the shrimp in the pan and cook 1 min on each side.
  3. If grilling in oven, turn oven to Broil setting. Place the shrimp in an Al foil lined tray on skewers and place on the top rack about 4 inches from the flames. Cook for about 2 mins and then flip once and cook for about 1 minute on other side. Take the shrimp out and serve immediately. (Do Not overcook the shrimp as they will turn hard)
Notes
For a Paleo AIP version, skip the green chillies and use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce

 

 

 

 

 

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