Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Curried Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

Another carrot recipe? What is it, carrot week?

Well, as a matter of fact it is. Each week on my business Facebook page I highlight a different healthy ingredient and different ways you can present it to your kids and family. This week I made crispy carrot fries, carrot and mango smoothies and this soup recipe. I still have a grain-free carrot cake recipe on tap for the weekend (let me know if you'd like to see it!)

While my kids got a little weary during cauliflower week (I don't make recipes including the featured ingredient daily, but at least 2-3 times in the week), I don't think they've even noticed carrots are the rock star this week. The vegetable is so versatile that you can honestly work it into just about every meal of the day.

I made this soup Sunday afternoon and have been having it for lunch and breakfast since. Soup for breakfast? Why not!

My kids tried this but I think I went a little too heavy on the curry powder for them. Perhaps it was my subconscious attempt to guarantee that the dish would be mine and mine alone for the week!

You can skip the coconut cream at the end at the soup will still taste delicious. I just happened to have an open can and decided to try it out. Likewise you can tweak the amount of ginger, curry and overall seasoning to suit your tastebuds.

Curried Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbs. olive or coconut oil
1 tbs. ghee
2 small minced shallots
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
3 medium carrots, peeled & sliced
1 tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 tbs. curry powder
3-4 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
salt & pepper, to taste
pinch of cinnamon
2-3 tbs. coconut cream (optional)

Heat oil and ghee in a large sauce pot. Add shallots and cook over medium heat until softened. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger and curry. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 3 cups broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover pot, simmering for 25-30 minutes or until vegetables or soft. If you find the mixture is too thick, add more broth as needed.

Puree mixture using a stick blender (or remove to a separate blender). Season to taste with salt, pepper and a little cinnamon. If desired, stir in coconut cream.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats with Grilled Chicken

So many of my friends who don't follow a paleo lifestyle are obsessed with Skinnytaste. And while I might not personally eat some of the dishes that Gina prepares, I completely respect her philosophy of eating "real" food (and find most of her recipes quite drool-worthy indeed). While the word "skinny" might not be too popular in the paleo sphere, please be open-minded about the website (and this recipe).

If you omit the cheese from this dish it's completely paleo, but I couldn't resist melting a little on top. I love the fact that you don't remove the squash threads from the "boats," which makes this pretty much the easiest dinner ever.

I actually think I might use the same technique with some homemade paleo pesto this summer, and might even incorporate some garlicky almond meal "bread crumbs" to top if off. For now I basically stuck to the recipe and it was simple and delicious!

Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats with Grilled Chicken
adapted from Skinnytaste

2 medium or 1 large ripe spaghetti squash
salt, pepper & garlic powder, to taste
4 thin chicken cutlets
garlic powder & Italian seasoning
2 cups warm marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and fibers with a spoon. Place on a baking sheet, cut side up and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast about an hour or until the skin gives easily under pressure and the inside is tender.

Meanwhile, while the squash is roasting, season chicken cutlets with salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Heat a grill pan (or a George formal grill) over medium-high heat, when hot grill chicken on both sides until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside on a dish.

Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven or microwave and carefully fluff the spaghetti-like strands on each half with a fork, leaving the squash in the shell. Season with salt and pepper, then spoon about 1/4 cup marinara in each boat.

Slice the chicken on the diagonal and place each piece on top of each squash half. Top the chicken with 1/4 cup each of remaining marinara sauce, then top with cheese and place back into the hot oven and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is hot, about 12 minutes.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crispy Paleo Carrot Fries

I'm one of those people who can't stand cooked carrots. I am still scarred from eating lukewarm cubed carrots from frozen mixed vegetables as a kid! I'm a sucker for any roasted vegetable, though, so I decided to finally try my hand at homemade carrot fries.

I used the trick I do with sweet potatoes to ensure extra crispness: a little coating of arrowroot starch. I thought about blanching the carrots first, but was pressed for time so skipped it. If anyone has ever used that method with success, please share!

As it stands these came out really well and everyone loved them. My daughter actually preferred them to sweet potato fries (which she loves) as they didn't get soggy at all.

We spent the last day of their spring break at the zoo, so I didn't have a whole lot of time for dinner. We enjoyed our fries with some green beans and burgers on lettuce. Delicious, easy and I've found a new way to embrace cooked carrots!

Crispy Paleo Carrot Fries

4 large organic carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1-2 tbs. arrowroot starch
seasoning of choice (I used garlic powder, salt & pepper)
1-2 tbs. melted ghee

Preheat oven to 425.

Place carrot sticks in a large zip-top bag. Add 1 tbs. starch and seal back. Toss to coat the carrots; if your carrots are extra large you might need to add a tiny bit more starch. Add seasoning of choice to bag.

Spread coated fries on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with ghee and toss to coat. Make sure your fries are in an even layer.

Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes or until starting to brown, turning at least once.