Curried Pork Lettuce Wraps – From 2012 Austin Parade of Homes Chef Night

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I was honored to be selected as one of the featured chefs for Austin’s 2012 Parade of Homes Chef Night at the PGM Design + Build home. PGM owner, Edgar Prats, and I later reunited on the He Said, She Said radio program. He’s been begging me ever since for he pork recipe I prepared that night. This curried pork is a test of patience, but well worth the wait to prepare. I originally served this as a one bite amuse-bouche at the event, but it’s especially delicious served wrapped in a crisp lettuce cup. The cool crunch is an awesome compliment to the sweet spice of the pork. I usually will buy an entire pork shoulder at a time (about 12-18 lbs). If entertaining, you can cook the entire shoulder or split the butt (upper part) from the picnic (lower part) and freeze one for a later use.

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Ingredients:
1 pork butt, bone in
1 sweet yellow onion, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 – 12 oz can coconut milk
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 stalk lemongrass, bruise with heel of knife
equal parts Penzey’s Sweet and Hot Curry Powder, about 4 Tbsp each mixed
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 head Boston lettuce

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Season butt completely with curry powder, then sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.
3. In large Dutch oven, heat coconut oil over med-high heat.
4. Sear butt in oil on all sides until browned. Remove and set aside.
5. Add lime juice and coconut milk to Dutch oven to deglaze the pan.
6. Return butt to pan, add remaining ingredients except lettuce, cover and place in oven.
7. Once in oven, immediately reduce heat to 200 degrees F.
8. Cook for 4 hours, basting every 20-30 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before shredding pork butt with fork.
10. Strain pan sauce and save it for remoistening pork if needed.
11. Serve in lettuce wraps by themselves or topped with fresh chiles, your favorite salsa, shredded cabbage or cilantro.

Note: This can also be made in a crockpot. Turn crockpot to high and allow to heat completely. Once this is done, sear the butt in a sauté pan. Transfer pork to crockpot and deglaze saute pan with lime juice and coconut milk as above then transfer sauce to crockpot and add remaining ingredients. Cook high for 4-6 hours or reduce heat to low once all ingredients are added and cook 8-10 hours.

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Chicken Enchilada Stew

chicken soup

When I wake up to rainy days like today, only one thing sounds good. Soup. I had just enough time to throw this in the crock pot before heading to class, can’t wait for the amazing smell when I get home later, NOMS!

Ingredients:
2lbs chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapenos, sliced very thin
4 Hatch green chiles, charred with torch or over stovetop burner, deseeded and chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 (14oz) can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 (7 oz) can tomato sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
bunch of cilantro, to garnish
avocado, to garnish

Method:
1. Season chicken breasts with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Sear lightly in saute pan with coconut oil on both sides until they begin to brown. Don’t cook through completely.
2. Add chicken and all ingredients to crock pot on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8 hours.
3. After 6 hours remove chicken breasts and shred with a fork before returning to crock pot to finish cooking.
4. Garnish with fresh cilantro and diced avocado.
5. Enjoy!!!

Note: I make this typically in large batches. It can be eaten as more than just a soup. By straining the stock, the chicken and veggies are amazing in omelettes and on salads.

Faux-lafal… Yep, had to go there…

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Gotta keep with the theme for National Falafal Day with a paleo friendly version I worked up. These make a great side dish, salad topping, or by themselves with some tzatziki sauce. And for another twist on the traditional recipe, check out my good friend Chef Amy over at What Jew Wanna Eat.

Ingredients:

2 cup raw cauliflower, pureed in food processor
1 cup ground almonds or pecans
3 tbsp Penzey’s Greek Seasoning
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 clove garlic, minced
4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
4 large eggs
6 tbsp coconut flour
coconut oil, as needed for sautéing

Method:

1. Mix all ingredients well in a bowl.
2. Form mix into 3 inch patties.
3. Add and melt just enough coconut oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat to coat bottom of pan.
4. Sauté patties a few at a time. Flip when you begin seeing the sides brown.

Avocado, Citrus and Fennel Salad

citrus fennel

This is a great little salad I like to whip up when it starts warming up outside. The avocados are a no brainer as I always have them on hand and they go in just about everything I eat. A great vegetarian source of protein, avocados contain all 18 essential amino acids to form a complete protein. They are also a great source of high density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol) and have incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Combine the peppery spice of the arugula with the sweetness of the citrus and the fennel’s aroma and it’s a win.

For those who know me, my favorite things to make are soups and sauces, and that includes dressings. There really is no reason for anyone to visit the salad dressing aisle in the grocery store other than to get some ideas of a dressing to make at home themselves in a batch to use and also store for later.

One of the first ingredients to look at in our diets whether it be for weight management, performance or just simply to be healthy is where our fat comes from. Rather than get into too much science here, for now let’s just stick with the refined oils used in salad dressings. When oils are processed, their chemical structures are manipulated by manufacturers in order to increase shelf life, maximize smoke points for high-temp cooking and any number of other reasons. These alterations also increase the likelihood of oxidation of the oil and making them molecularity unstable and potentially becoming carcinogenic free radicals within the body. The list below are oils to avoid and those recommended. Keep in mind that we are only talking about for cold uses. I will spend significant time in another post discussing oils safe for cooking as many listed here like olive oil are very dangerous to cook with for the same oxidation concerns.

Oils to Avoid: Canola, Corn, Vegetable, Soybean, Grapeseed, Sunflower, Safflower, Rice Bran

Oils Recommended: Olive, Sesame, Nut (walnut, pecan, macadamia), Flaxseed, Avocado

Next time you’re at the store, pick up a bottle or two or ten. Read the labels and I challenge you to find many if any at all that do not contain these processed oils. Look especially close at those that advertise being “Made with Olive Oil.” Sure, the are technically made with some olive oil, but there are no guidelines set as to what percentage must be olive oil and what can be the other junk.

The Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette recipe below is a great example of what you can do yourself. The ratio of vinegar to oil is one that can be kept standard for you in other dressings so with that you can get creative and play with other flavors from fruits to berries, nuts and spices. This leaves you in control not only of the flavors you are in the mood for, but also the quality of ingredients you are putting into your body.

Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 cup blood orange juice (may substitute orange, lime, yuzu or any citrus juice)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon organic local honey
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salad
4 cups arugula, rinsed
1 whole avocado, peeled pitted and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 whole fennel bulb with frond, bulb sliced very thin with knife or mandoline, with sprigs reserved for garnish
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1 grapefruit, cut into supremes

1. Mix all vinaigrette ingredients except oil, salt and pepper into a bowl and whisk together or blend with a hand mixer.
2. Very slowly drizzle oil while continuing to whisk until an emulsification begins to develop. Oil may be added a little faster at this point. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Lay avocado slices across bottom of plate as a base for arugula.
4. Toss arugula, shaved fennel and red onion lightly with just enough vinaigrette to coat but not soak and wilt the leaves. Place on top of the arugula.
5. Garnish with supremes and fennel sprigs.
Note: for added protein, this salad goes GREAT with smoked salmon, ahi tuna or lump crab meat. Enjoy!!!

I’m sure they only have the most ethical intentions with this technology… Scared yet???

GMO-alert-Eating-GM-wheat-may-destroy-your-liver-warn-scientists

By Judson Parker

Experts in the biotechnology field say that genetically modified (GM) wheat currently in development could potentially silence human genes if ingested, resulting in premature death and risk of passing the defect on to future generations.

The wheat, developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), is engineered to turn off undesirable genes permanently.

However, the wheat genes intended to be silenced are a match for the human GBE gene sequence, according to Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety, who published a report on the experimental wheat.

Through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes,” says Heinemann.

GBE dictates glycogen storage in humans. Children who are born with this enzyme not working tend to die by the age of about five. Adults with malfunctioning GBE genes can experience cognitive impairment, pyramidal quadriplegia, peripheral neuropathy, and neurogenic bladder.

The real danger behind this genetically modified variety of wheat is that scientists used double stranded RNA, or dsRNA, to achieve their desired results. Heinemann describes the dsRNAs present in modified wheat as “remarkably stable in the environment.”

The dsRNA is able to withstand processing and cooking, and can also survive the human digestive system and enter into the blood stream. It then circulates through the body, where it amplifies into more and different dsRNAs and alters gene expression.

These altered genes can be passed on to later generations, assuming the consumer doesn’t die of cancer or liver damage before procreating.

Using dsRNA to silence genes is not without precedent. Monsanto, the world’s largest manufacturer of bioengineered seeds, has published research in the past about how to commercially exploit the fact that dsRNA survives digestion in insects.

The company genetically engineered plants to produce a dsRNA, which insects ingest when they eat the plant; the dsRNA survives digestion in the insect and then silences genes in the insect to stunt its growth and kill it.

While not yet commercialized, the GM wheat is currently undergoing field tests in Australia. If approved, it will likely be grown alongside conventional wheat and sold unlabeled to consumers.

The Monsanto Protection Act… Obama and Congress Pull a Rope-a-Dope on America While Eyes Elsewhere…

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President Barack Obama signed a spending bill, HR 933, into law on Tuesday that includes language that has food and consumer advocates and organic farmers up in arms over their contention that the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” is a giveaway to corporations that was passed under the cover of darkness.There’s a lot being said about it, but here are five terrifying facts about the Farmer Assurance Provision — Section 735 of the spending bill — to get you acquainted with the reasons behind the ongoing uproar:

1.) The “Monsanto Protection Act” effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. The advent of genetically modified seeds — which has been driven by the massive Monsanto Company — and their exploding use in farms across America came on fast and has proved a huge boon for Monsanto’s profits.But many anti-GMO folks argue there have not been enough studies into the potential health risks of this new class of crop. Well, now it appears that even if those studies are completed and they end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear.

2.) The provision’s language was apparently written in collusion with Monsanto. Lawmakers and companies working together to craft legislation is by no means a rare occurrence in this day and age. But the fact that Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, actually worked with Monsanto on a provision that in effect allows them to keep selling seeds, which can then go on to be planted, even if it is found to be harmful to consumers, is stunning. It’s just another example of corporations bending Congress to their will, and it’s one that could have dire risks for public health in America.

3.) Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the bill they were voting on. HR 933 was a spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown and ensuring that the federal government would continue to be able to pay its bills. But the Center for Food Safety maintains that many Democrats in Congress were not even aware that the provision was in the legislation:“In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”

4.) The President did nothing to stop it, either. On Tuesday, Obama signed HR 933 while the rest of the nation was fixated on gay marriage, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument concerning California’s Proposition 8. But just because most of the nation and the media were paying attention to gay marriage doesn’t mean that others were not doing their best to express their opposition to the “Monsanto Protection Act.” In fact, more than 250,000 voters signed a petition opposing the provision. And Food Democracy Now protesters even took their fight straight to Obama, protesting in front of the White House against Section 735 of the bill. He signed it anyway.

5.) It sets a terrible precedent. Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.

“I think any time you tweak with the ability of the public to seek redress from the courts, you create a huge risk,” Seattle attorney Bill Marler — who has represented victims of foodborne illness in successful lawsuits against corporations — told the New York Daily News.

Chocolate Mocha Mousse

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Perfect for a romantic night or for no reason at all. This Chocolate Mocha Mousse is so rich and creamy that nobody will suspect that it’s completely grain, dairy and egg free!

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados
4 T coconut oil, melted
4 T *dutched cocoa powder
12-14 drops liquid stevia
1/4+ cup honey (to taste)
1 tsp powdered espresso (VIA Starbuc
1/4 tsp salt

Method:
1. Melt coconut oil and honey over low heat until liquid, but not warm.
2. Add all ingredients to a high powered blender. Blend until smooth.
3. Taste, add more sweetener if desired.
4. Portion into fancy glasses and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
5. Drizzle with maple syrup if desired sweetness has not been achieved after mousse has been refrigerated.

WTPh… This is Phokin Delicious…

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This is an exciting dish for me. I am a soup lover first, but I am pho phonatic!!! There is something amazing about the savoriness of pho that few soups can touch.

Pho originated in Northern Vietnam early in the 20th century, but is believed to have been inspired by a French dish, pot-au-feu (beef stew). A peasant dish in simplicity, there is nothing simple about how this soup pleases your palate. Traditional ingredients, beef meat and bones, herbs, spices, water (soon to be broth) and noodles.

Yes, I said noodles. And, this is one of the dishes I missed most when I went paleo as I typically would eat pho once a week. Traditionally made with rice vermicelli, even with these noodles, it is a healthier option than any gluten containing wheat based noodle. I finally found a grain free substitute at our Asian market. Kelp noodles. Yes, seaweed noodles. They are made from kelp and sodium alginate (a salt extracted from brown seaweed), and are excellent in soups, salads and stir fry dishes. You should be able to find them at any local Asian grocer and even sometimes at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. They are fat free, gluten free and very low in carbs as well as being mineral rich and a great natural source of iodine. Try em, trust me…

Ingredients:
2 lbs Chuck Roast, cut into cubes
2 1/2 – 3 lbs Short ribs on the bone
1 Pkg Beef marrow bones
3 Cups Chicken stock
3 Tablespoons Coconut oil
2 Yellow onions diced
8 stalks of Celery roughly chopped
4 Star anise
2 Cinnamon sticks
10 Cloves
1 Tablespoon Lemon grass
a pinch of Coriander
a pinch of Chinese 5 spice
7 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 good sized chunk of Ginger, cut into thick slices
2 Bay leaves
1/4 Cup of Fish sauce
enough water to finish filling the Dutch oven
big square of Cheese cloth

Garnish:
2-3 slices fresh jalapeño
Chopped Green onions
Chopped fresh Cilantro
Chopped fresh Basil
Shredded Kale or Spinach

Method:
1. Place star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, lemon grass, ginger, coriander, 5 spice, and bay leaves into cheese cloth. Tie it up into a sack with some kitchen string and set aside.

2. Pre heat the oven to 450 degrees, and in a cast iron skillet (if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can use a cookie sheet covered in tin foil) place the marrow bones Roast the bones for about 20-25 minutes until the bones are a little browned and some of the marrow has melted out of the middle.

3. While the marrow bones are roasting heat a Dutch oven on med-high heat, and starting with the first tablespoon of coconut oil brown the chuck in batches, making sure there is a nice crust on all sides. Continue adding oil as needed setting each batch aside in a bowl as you finish. Do the same with the short ribs being sure to brown on all sides including the bones.

3. Brown onions until just translucent and add the chicken stock. Scrape the bottom of the Dutch oven getting all the bits incorporated into the stock. Add the celery, garlic, marrow bones and liquid, browned meat and any juices that are in that bowl, fish sauce, and sack of spices.

4. Finish up by filling the Dutch oven nearly the rest of the way with water. Bring to a rolling boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook 4-5 hours or until all the marrow has melted out of the middle of the bones.

5. Get a bowl. A BIG bowl. To serve, add spinach or kale to bottom of bowl, top with pho, and garnish as you’d like with sliced jalapeños, cilantro, basil, and green onions. It’s best when it’s piping hot! Eat up and enjoy!

The Power of Healing Yourself with Food

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I believe that with every action we take, every thought we think and every morsel we put in our body, we are moving towards greater health and vitality or we are moving towards faster aging, illness and death. What if we had thepower of healing and living at optimum health at our fingertips? I believe we do.

Our diets are a key component to the functioning of EVERY part of our body. I was thinking about the food I used to eat. I don’t think the food I ate as a child and young adult were much different than the average person in this country. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pretzels, bagels and cream cheese, homemade chocolate chip cookies, apples, grapes. As I became an adult, a few more greens, other veggies, whole wheat and other grains made their way into my diet, along with more variety (and a few more indulgences).But, along the way, my body began to break down, and it didn’t take long. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata when I was 8 years old. Then as a young adult, I learned that I had an underactive thyroid and then Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which really turned out to be leaky gut syndrome (yes, its as bad as it sounds).

Unfortunately none of the many doctors I saw ever suspected my sugar, gluten, dairy, low-fat and preservative-filled diet could have had an impact. Diet and possible food sensitivities were never discussed.There are countless studies that point to the direct impact of our diets on our health. A recent paper inThe New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 diseases that can be caused just by eating gluten. Most people with a gluten or food sensitivity often attribute their symptoms to something else – not food.Not only does food have the ability to do damage, but it also has the ability to support our body in its natural healing processes.

After many years of symptoms, some obvious and some not so much, I’ve discovered the power of healing with food. Making dietary changes aren’t necessarily easy, even if the goal is as important as healing an illness. But it’s critical to add in the life-giving foods that our body needs to thrive — like fruits, veggies, healthy fats and water— and begin removing inflammation-causing foods, like gluten and sugar. At times it’s been overwhelming and frustrating. Why would I want to give up eating warm, delicious French bread in my favorite restaurant or my mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, that I’ve known and loved my entire life? Is it really worth it? As I began realizing the tremendous impact my diet has had on my health and the possibility of healing my body of the Alopecia Areata that I’ve had for 36 years, I’ve often thought, “Ok, I can do this. It’s not that hard.” That is, until I’m face to face with that cookie! More than once, I’ve said to myself, I’m willing to sacrifice a few hairs for this cookie. (Can you tell I like cookies?) Seriously, one cookie is not going to determine the growth of a single hair or my overall health. But it has never been just one cookie.

The truth of the matter is, in order to actually heal our body (yes, it is possible to heal our body even with autoimmune disease) we need to make our health and our diet a priority. It really is about everything we put in our body, and the many lifestyle choices that we make each day, each moment. Making our health a priority is about feeling good, having optimal function of every part of our body and wanting great health more than satisfying a momentary craving with our favorite treat. It’s also about balance and discovering new favorite foods that support our health instead of destroying it.It’s about being patient and allowing our body to heal. It takes time to heal.It’s about trust — trusting that sound nutrition and whole natural foods support healing and good health and our body has the capacity to heal.
And it’s about knowing that we can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results.Take back your power. Take back your health. You are the captain of your ship, the one and only one you’ll ever have. The time is now. 

By Jodi Briden at Mind Body Green

Gluten-Free Dining Out… Austin, Get Ready to Have Some “Finn”

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I had the opportunity this week to get a sneak peak into The Domain’s new hot spot, Blackfinn Ameripub. With over 100 menu options, they have something for everyone.

    What does this have to do with Against the Grain?

    Navigating restaurant menus can be very intimidating and is something I spend a great deal of time with when working with clients. Most of the time I deal with selecting options that are supportive of fitness and wellness goals. Basically, “eat this and not that” and specifically, how to make substitutions without worrying about getting on the chef’s bad side. Believe me, this does happen all too often with over zealous chefs who tend to live by the ideal of “keep your lifestyle choice out of my restaurant”. Whether it be a lifestyle choice for those of us choosing grain free or paleo, or health related choices resulting from celiac disease or other inflammatory conditions, an attitude like that is the surest way to ensure Customers won’t be back or recommend the spot to others.

    Many restaurants are making an effort to cater to options like light fare and vegetarian, gluten-free is a whole different animal due to issues of cross-contamination and lack of consumer education on what lesser know ingredients may be in the other ingredients. Lesser known gluten containing items like soy, worcestershire and other sauces, bouillon, salad dressings, and even processed oils can make it downright scary to try and safely order in a restaurant. How many times have you been to a restaurant and asked a server what items are gluten free only to be met with those deer in headlight eyes and answered with “ummmm I need to go ask my chef/manager” because they haven’t been educated properly.

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    Blackfinn has taken it beyond just educating the team members. They have come up with a way to clearly label gluten free items on the menu and have gone one step further. They are labeling which items on the menu contain gluten, but can’t also be prepared gluten free by the kitchen. No more guess work wondering “If I just order it without that, maybe it’ll be ok.” They have also taken strides to prevent cross contamination issues in the kitchen. No worries about the cook accidental grabbing the bottle of soy sauce instead of the gluten free tamari. They only use gluten free tamari. This pro activity is the future of dining out as these lifestyle choices move away from being looked at as being “alternative”, and very admirable of the creative team at Blackfinn.

    Blackfinn Grand Opening Party
    Be sure not to miss all the “Finn” this Friday night. Print, fill out and bring in the image below for VIP access and entry into a drawing to win 2 VIP Badges for SXSW!!! Under invited by, write Michael Dunlap/Against the Grain Fitness to be sure your entry gets in. I’ll see ya there at the party!!!

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