Spicy Chicken Stew {paleo…well sort of}

Marshall and I have been following the guidelines of a Paleo diet almost exclusively for over 3 months now. Can hardly believe it. To refresh your memory a paleo diet would consist mostly of lean meats, fruits and vegetables. No dairy. No grains. No sugar.*

It was challenging at first. I finally cook pretty well and losing some of my staples: cheese, pasta, bread…well it was a bit of a challenge.

But we are still going strong, losing weight in a slow, steady, healthy, keep it off kind of way. Even better is that our overall health has improved. Marshall recently had blood work done and all his numbers were great and he even lowered levels in some areas that it’s near impossible to lower.

So here is a recipe that’s pretty darn close to paleo. Some might argue with the sweet potatoes being a starch and all but oh well. It’s tasty and I used all fresh veggies.

I found the recipe in this cookbook we received as a wedding gift. Totally not a Paleo Cookbook but one littlle adjustment and voila Paleo Approved.

So here goes the recipe and the slight modifications:

Ingredients:

All the ingredients...chopped up and ready for cooking!

2tbsp vegetable oil ( I used Olive Oil)

1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed

1 onion finely chopped (I didn’t quite use an entire onion and it was chunky pieces not fine)

1 green bell pepper finely chopped (chunky pieces)

1 potato diced (didn’t use a potato)

1 sweet potato diced (I used two)

2 garlic cloves

1-2 fresh chiles seeded and very finely chopped

7oz canned chopped tomatoes (didn’t use them; Mar isn’t a fan)

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (I used dried)

1/2 teaspoon salt ( no salt)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups chicken stock ( I used 2 cups homemade vegetable broth** and 2 cups water)

Instructions (and variations)

Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned.

I guess this is what browned chicken looks like ; )

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, bell pepper, and sweet potato. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.

Nice and colorful!

Add the garlic and chiles and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and half the cilantro and cook for 1 minute. (again I didn’t use the tomatoes or salt and I used dried cilantro)

Pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Yum!

Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro just before serving.

All ready to eat!!

Cooking is really fun and finding ways to cook and eat healthy is definitely not as hard as it seems. My encouragement and advice to anyone wanting to eat better and/or cook better is the same. Try one new thing at a time. I didn’t go from jar/processed spaghetti to a from scratch meal overnight. This has been a three year journey that I am STILL on and learning more every day how to cook healthy meals for my wonderful family.

*Marshall has done a way better job at sticking totally to this new way of eating. My weakness is sugary drinks and the occasional breaded something.

**for another time and another blog

Paleo What???

I know I’ve mentioned this before…BUT. When Marshall and I got married, I was a bit lost in the kitchen. If it didn’t come in a jar or a box, I didn’t have a clue how to make it. Mar isn’t a complainer but one day he happened to mention how I was repeating the same meals over and over. This got me to thinking and well that is when I began making a food calendar. Think school cafeteria menu and you have a pretty good picture of what I started doing. Oh how I loved it. Made grocery shopping so easy and eliminated trying to figure out what to eat each night. I started experimenting with new recipes and soon I had a recipe repertoire of meals that would set Mar to drooling at the very mention of the meal.

THEN. I. GOT. PREGNANT.

Yep. Things went semi-down hill from there until a month or two post partum when we dusted ourselves off and got back on the health wagon.

We were doing great. Asking the important questions like what was good about this meal? What should we change? Was this a healthy choice? Etc.

THEN. Marshall went to see our Wellness doctor who suggested this diet.

The Paleo Diet.

I won’t claim to be an expert because I’m not but here’s basically what he challenged Marshall to eat and not eat for the next 60 days.

GENERAL DIETARY GUIDELINES

  • Gluten Free, Casein Free, Soy Free
  • Avoid Cross-Reactive Foods
  • Will probably do best on GRAIN FREE
  • Blood Sugar Control Diet
    • Can’t skip meals
    • Eat every 2 to 3 hours
    • Protein and Veggies, Low-glycemic fruits sparingly
    • No Vegetable or Fruit Juices
  • RULENO fruit juices.  NO Vegetable juices
    • Small exception:  if juicing the entire VEGETABLE and consuming the ENTIRE VEGETABLE you can have it, but not more than you would eat of the whole veg.
  • You can have WHOLE stone fruits such as apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries.  BUT you MUST eat it with a protein source.
  • RULE:  NO tropical fruits such as bananas, mangos, or pineapple.
  • MUST:
    • Lower carb consumption
    • NOT consume Adrenal stimulants
    • Go Gluten-Free

PROTEIN–BASED DIET

  1. Eat breakfast:   high quality and colorful vegetables
    1. Chicken breast
    2. Eggs (if allowed on YOUR diet)
    3. Steak
    4. Porkchop
    5. Smoked salmon
    6. Turkey sausage
    7. Bacon
    8. It doesn’t have to be a typical “breakfast” food.
    9. Could have Gluten-Free oats, or Quinoa
  2. 2 hours later eat a protein-based snack:
    1. Handful of almonds, walnuts, or pecans
    2. Handful of seeds:  sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
    3. Beef jerky, or other meat jerky
    4. String cheese (if casein is allowed in YOUR diet)
  3. Lunch:   should be protein-based and include colorful vegetables – same rules as breakfast.
  4. 2 hours later eat a protein-based snack.
  5. Dinner:   protein-based and include colorful vegetables

Looks very similar to The Southbeach Diet and the Adkins diet. The hardest part for Mar? No dairy. The hardest part for me? Making meals that do not have carbs or dairy. Just bust out any cookbook and try to find a recipe that doesn’t call for rice or milk or cheese or pasta. Near impossible.

But after 10 days of following this, Mar lost 6lbs. Pretty impressive.

I’m not following it totally. I’m breastfeeding and my number one priority is making sure that Dominic gets the nutrients he needs to be healthy and grow.

I have to admit though that the bad carbs and excessive dairy I was consuming has gone down and I’m losing too. But at that healthy “this is how you lose baby weight” rate.

One thing I’ve always felt very strongly about is that I wanted to LEARN how to eat healthier. I wanted to DEVELOP a healthy exercise regimen. None of this fad diet or extreme exercising stuff. If it’s not a habit, the weight comes back and you start hitting snooze when the exercise excitement wears off.

So the other night when Mar ordered his meat heavy , vegetable loaded meal that looked amazing, and I nibbled on my fries and cheeseburger (it sounded really good at the time), I realized that I didn’t even like what I was eating and this paleo thing might be worth exploring in more depth.

BUT at a LEARNING rate.

So here we are learning daily how to eat better. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more and update you on the weight loss and maybe even share some successful recipes as I come across them.

By the way, if you are a local friend reading this. Please don’t worry about us coming to dinner or going out with you. We’ll do just fine and really don’t mind (catch the sarcasm) a carb or two here or there! : )