Couscous Salad with Orange-Infused Chicken

My long time friend Jeff Berman is a fantastic cook.  Actually he and his wife Jan were the ones that inspired me to start exploring more gourmet cooking in the 80’s.  Jeff’s dishes are always delicious, easy to make and nutritious.  This dish is no exception.  I made it for a picnic on Saturday and it was a big hit!

In addition to Jeff being a creative cook, he is a creative guy when it comes to the home and gifts.  He just launched a web-based store dedicated to interesting and affordable gifts for the home and travel.  You might want to check out his store here!

Great for a picnic!

Ingredients

2 ½ C              Fresh Orange Juice[1], divided

2-4                  Garlic Cloves, crushed

1                      Shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp              Dried thyme[2]

1-1 ½ #          Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 whole

½ C                 Chicken Broth

1 ½ C              Couscous

2                      Green Onions, finely chopped

¼ – ½ C          Dried Cranberries

1                      Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

3 TBSP           Rice Wine Vinegar

3 TBSP           Olive Oil, good quality

S & P              To taste

Preparation

In a large sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups orange juice, garlic, shallot and thyme to a boil.  Add the chicken and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken breasts.  Reserve the liquid.

In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup orange juice and the chicken broth to a boil.  Remove from heat and add couscous.  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, fluff couscous with a fork and then add the green onion, cranberries and red bell pepper.  Mix well. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the couscous mixture.

Meanwhile take the reserved liquid (from the chicken) and boil until reduced to half.  Remove from heat and add the vinegar and olive oil.  Toss into the chicken/couscous mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-6

Note:  The couscous portion can be made a day ahead.  The chicken is best if made the day you are serving.


[1] Jeff says fresh juice makes the dish much better than when using pasteurized.  If you are lucky enough to get it fresh it is worth the extra cost.  You could also try squeezing your own but that might take a lot longer.

[2] I used fresh as I have it growing in my garden.  I used about 1+ TBSP.

Is Your Farmer’s Market All Organic?

I have been traveling a great deal to Pasadena, California to take care of my mother this year.  She has been battling cancer which I am glad to report seems to be in remission!

 

While I have been there I discovered there was a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays near where she lived.  I was so delighted to find it since I am totally addicted to our Boulder Farmer’s Market and rarely miss a Saturday during season.  I did notice when I went to the one in Pasadena that they had a big sign saying the produce was local but didn’t mention organic.  Consequently I made note of which stands specifically mentioned organic or ‘not sprayed’ as in the case of one of the strawberry stands and purchased from them.  It made me appreciate the Boulder market even more as I assumed it was totally organic. 

This week my friend Rowan Rozanski from Jay Hill Farm, where I buy all my greens every week, sent out an email on the entire organic subject.  I was sad to learn that not all is as seems, even in our Boulder Farmer’s Market.  I have asked her to share the following with you so as to better educate you about your local farmer’s market.  I hope you find it as enlightening as I did!

From Rowan…

This last bit is… well… a rant.  Feel free to skip it, but I think this is something that applies to anyone who tries to buy local and organic.  🙂   

One of our long term customers, Christine, recently asked:  

“On a completely different note, I read an article this morning about California Farmers’ Markets where the vendors are supposed to be growing their produce organically— but do not.  There’s simply not enough oversight to ensure they are meeting organic standards.  How does the Boulder Farmer’s Market ensure that all vendors are selling organic produce?”

She was referring to this article, which ran in the Huffington Post last week: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/california-organic-food-s_n_640654.html

She is not the first person to ask this question.  While the Boulder County Farmer’s Market, as my father and other early board members envisioned it, was to be an organic and local vendor’s dream, much of the dream has disappeared for the sake of plentiful vegetables and fruit.  While still local, there’s very little focus on Certified Organic growers.  Many of the new vendors over the last few years have in fact been the antithesis of what my family and I stand for.  

Please understand, this is not a rant about the market, it’s a problem of perception throughout many communities in America.  Farm stands around the country have been known to prevaricate as well.  “Family”, “Local”, “Home Grown” are all phrases that mean absolutely nothing. It is ILLEGAL to claim your produce is organic unless you are certified by the USDA and the state of Colorado or unless your yearly farm income is less than $5,000 a year. 

Many of the farms at BCFM are NOT organic.  ASK! When you hear a sentence like “we don’t spray”, that means absolutely nothing.  You don’t have to spray nitrogen, miracle grow, or any other substance to add it to the soil, ground water and produce.  Once of my biggest gripes with the market was that you can only use “Organic” on your sign if you’re certified, but nothing says you have to say “not organic”  Most people simply assume it’s all good, and go for the lower priced items that are not organic.  This is unfair and harmful to those of us who are certified. Yes, our prices are higher, but there’s a reason for that! 

The organic certification process is over 60 pages of documentation, almost $1000 a year, and requires a 3-5 hour inspection by a certifier once a year.  We buy organic seed (NEVER treated) when available at a high (sometimes more than double) premium, and make sure our compost and nutrients meet federal standards.  It’s a grueling, expensive process that is necessary, and worthwhile, for your peace of mind and ours.  *sigh* 

If you would like to see what farms in Colorado ARE certified, you can check at:

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1216022437979 (click on certified organic producers). 

Please understand that this rant is not to inveigle you into buying more produce from Jay Hill Farm.  Buy wherever you want! It’s so that folks understand the difficulties faced by those of us who give our word to you and your families that we are doing our best to grow locally, sustainably, and with as much care for the earth and our fellow man as we can. 

Thanks for your understanding and time! 

Cheers, 

Rowan

Agave Nectar Update

Agave Nectar

By Dan Butterfield

I received some interesting feedback from my article Agave-Health Food Fraud.  Some people were defensive or angry, others concerned or happy to be informed.  I stated that agave syrup was a chemically processed starch similar to the way high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made.  A number of people reported that Madhava’s agave syrup was not chemically processed.  Perhaps not.  The real issue is fructose, and what happens when it enters the body.  There continues to be more studies coming out implicating HFCS in heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and obesity. 

A recent human study compared two groups of people, one consuming glucose, the other fructose.  While both groups gained 3 pounds of weight, the fructose group also had elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and their extra weight was more abdominal fat than the glucose group.

When glucose is absorbed, it goes into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin to bring glucose to the cells for energy.  Excess glucose is converted to fat.  When fructose is absorbed, it goes directly to the liver and does not raise blood sugar levels.  It is touted as a low glycemic sweetener for this reason.

In the liver, fructose is converted to triglycerides for storage as fat through a process called glycosolation.  This causes glycation, or sugar damage to the liver and other tissues.  Glycation and oxidation are the two main ways that our bodies age.

Fructose is processed in the liver similar to the way alcohol is processed, creating some of the same side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the beer belly and can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fructose also raises uric acid levels, a cause of gout and chronic inflammation.  It also leads to weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL, increased LDL, and elevated triglycerides.  It is similar to drinking alcohol without the buzz.  This creates insulin resistance first in the liver, then throughout the body.  Insulin resistance causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer.

While there are more and more studies on the negative effects of HFCS, there are no studies that I know of on agave syrup.  However, we do know the potential damage that fructose can cause.  HFCS is 45-55% fructose.  Agave syrup is 56-97% fructose, having almost twice the fructose as HFCS.

Nature may have made fructose fattening, rather than energy producing for good reason.  In temperate climates, almost all the fructose in the form of fruits ripen toward the end of the summer and fall, so that mammals that hibernate and humans and mammals that don’t, can increase their fat reserves to survive the winter.

Bottom Line: 

          –  Agave syrup, or nectar, is not a health food.

          –  It is not a safe sweetener.

          –  In small amounts occasionally, not daily, will likely do little harm.

          –  Companies that market agave pointedly note that

             overconsumption of any sugar is unhealthy.  So while they lay the

             blame on consumers for overconsumption of fructose, they

             continue to push agave syrup as safe.  Meanwhile,

             large amounts of agave are included in soft drinks, ice creams

             and other food products, and consumers are continually

             marketed that agave syrup is low glycemic, “gentle” or safe.

Using Food to Normalize Weight

By Dan Butterfield

This is not about a diet to lose weight, then go back to your regular diet.  This is about a relationship to food that we can be faithful to for life, that will keep us healthy and help maintain a normal weight.

What helps most to lose weight?  Diet or exercise?  Diet is the most important piece of the weight loss picture.  Exercise, while important for health, is less important for weight loss.  In other words, you can be inactive and lose weight.  But if you don’t have food working for you, it takes a lot of exercise to lose weight, and depending on how you exercise, it may actually cause you to lose more lean body mass than fat.  When we lose weight, we want that weight loss to be fat, not lean body mass.

Why are we fatter?  Not just Americans, but worldwide obesity is rampant.  There are a number of reasons; we eat too much; don’t exercise enough, our foods are denatured from industrial farming and food processing, our metabolisms are stressed and we’re too toxic to lose weight.

For now, I’m going to focus on one thing, the hormone insulin.  Our DNA, our anatomy, our physiology and our nutritional needs are virtually unchanged in the past 40,000 years.  If you compressed all of human history into one year, we’ve only been farming and eating grains for the past day.  We’ve only been eating vegetables oils for the past ten minutes.  We’ve not yet adapted to these foods.

Humans evolved in a carbohydrate poor environment.  The hormone insulin is designed to maximize the effects of the few carbohydrates that were available to enable us to survive.  Insulin helps us store excess energy as fat.  Now that we live in a carbohydrate rich environment, eating far more carbohydrates than were ever available to humans before, insulin still maximizes the effects of abundant carbs into abundant stored energy in the form of body fat.

There is only one teaspoon of sugar in our entire blood supply.  Our bodies maintain tight control over blood sugar, as a little too much or too little blood sugar and we will pass out and die.  So the pancreas secretes two hormones, insulin and glucagon, which have opposite effects, ideally balancing our blood sugar.

So when we have a breakfast of cornflakes with some sugar, two pieces of toast with jam, a big glass of orange juice and 3 cups of coffee or tea with a spoonful of sugar in each one, if those 20 teaspoons of sugar went right into our blood stream we’d drop into a diabetic coma then die.  But the pancreas secretes insulin to first carry glucose into any cells that need energy then converts any of the excess to storage as fat.

Most cells in our body have thousands of insulin receptors, in which a molecule of insulin is required to bring a molecule of glucose into the cell.  When there is a chronically high intake of carbohydrates, specifically sugars and starches, which turn into sugar very rapidly, insulin levels stay elevated, eventually causing insulin receptors to shut down, making it more difficult for the body to dispose of extra glucose.  This is called insulin resistance causing more bodyfat, and sooner or later high blood sugar, leading to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory disorders.

This is known as metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance is one of the main reasons that as we age, it becomes more difficult to lose weight.  Our cell walls are damaged.  Out metabolisms are damaged.

So what do we do to repair our cell walls and our metabolism?  As Michael Pollan says “Eat real food.”  But more specifically, eat foods that don’t stimulate the secretion of insulin.

A low fat diet really means a high carbohydrate diet, an insulin stimulating diet, putting our metabolism into fat storage mode.  The low fat fad of the past 20-25 years has stimulated the tide of obesity and diabetes.

Dietary fat does not cause an insulin response.  Protein causes insulin release, but a corresponding release of glucagon, insulin’s partner, which tells the body to burn fat.  Sugars and starches however do cause insulin release, and no glucagon release.  Dietary fat does not make you fat.  Carbs do.  To heal our cell membranes, our metabolisms, our organs, our bodies and minds, we need to give them the foods that our bodies evolved on.  That means moving in the direction of our ancestral diets, sometimes called the Paleolithic diet or Paleo diet for short, for the time in human evolution when carbs were scarce, or infrequent, keeping in mind that our nutritional needs are unchanged in 40,000 years.

So what does a paleo breakfast look like? 

First of all, if you don’t eat breakfast, or mostly carbs, you end up eating yourself for breakfast, especially your muscles and bones – also called lean body mass.  We all wish that we’d burn bodyfat if we skip a meal, but what we burn is lean body mass.  And to make it worse, the next meal we have after a skipped meal, the body doubles the insulin release, increasing energy storage, because skipping meals, especially breakfast, tells the body that food is scarce, better store more fat.

A paleo breakfast is protein and fat abundant, carbohydrate poor.  Eggs, sausage, bacon, free range of course, or grass fed beef, bison or lamb.  Fresh fish for breakfast.  This is the most important meal to have protein.  Fat and protein will elevate our metabolism and keep insulin low and hunger at bay.  If you are hungry between meals, that means your insulin is elevated.  Fat and protein for breakfast gives us more long lasting energy and stable blood sugar the rest of the day.  When we have a carbohydrate breakfast, or no breakfast, our blood sugar is on a roller coaster all day, and we are trying to medicate it with coffee or sugar and other carbs.

We do want some carbohydrates at breakfast and every other meal as well.  We want low glycemic carbohydrates.  These are the above-ground vegetables.  Especially dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, chard, spinach and collards. 

What did I have for breakfast?  Two eggs, local pork sausage and kale, stir fried in coconut oil.   When we sit down to a paleomeal, our plate should be 3/4 produce, and 3/4 of that should be above ground vegetables, the rest root crops and fruits, but fruit must be restricted because of the sugar content, and most of our fruits should be berries.

The other 1/4 of our plate is protein, preferably animal protein such as grass fed meats, wild caught fish, and high omega 3 eggs.

How do we apportion our calories between fat, protein and carbs?  Just as this varied in the thousands of different paleo diets that human evolved on, depending where on the planet they lived, it will vary with each of us as well, depending on where we live and our individual needs.  But, if you need some numbers, 40-60% of our calories should come from fat, 20-35% from protein, and 10-20% from carbohydrates, as vegetables and fruit. 

This way of eating, reduces insulin secretion, and fat storage.  It encourages the body to use fat as fuel.

All of our foods should be nutrient dense.  That means more nutrients per calorie.  Above ground vegetables and animal and seafoods and fats are the most nutrient dense.  Brown rice? whole wheat? quinoa? Lots of calories as starches, few as protein or fat or other nutrients.

Here are some basic guidelines to use food to lose weight and maintain a normal weight:

Eat breakfast.  Eat protein for breakfast.  Eat three meals daily.  Have protein and fat at every meal.  Eat a high produce diet, mostly above ground vegetables.  Eat a low glycemic diet, avoiding sugars, starches and grains.  Don’t snack between meals.  If you are hungry between meals, you might not have had enough protein or fat, or you had carbs the previous meal, or as I said earlier, you are hungry because you are insulin resistant.  So if you become hungry between meals, first drink one or two glasses of water.  If you must eat between meals, make it protein and fat, such as a hard boiled egg, jerky, or nuts.  Avoid fruit juices and dried fruit as they are high in sugar.  And lastly, don’t eat before bed.

Let me make a few comments about fruit.  Fruit is high in sugar, especially fruit juice and dried fruits.  Fructose is readily converted to fat.  If you are trying to reach a normal weight, avoid fruit.  Keep it to one serving daily, and make that one fruit serving berries, especially blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  These still have some sugar, but are more nutrient dense than other fruits.  So keep this formula in mind – fruits equal sugar which equals stored body fat.

Here’s another formula to keep in mind – starches equal sugar which equals stored bodyfat.  So, chips, crackers, pasta, breads, cookies and grains of all forms, including whole grains, all turn into sugar, much of which becomes stored bodyfat.  Every farmer knows that if you want to fatten an animal, give it grains.

Fat and protein produce the most satiety, the absence of hunger, we feel like we’ve had enough to eat.  Carbs do not produce satiety.  That’s why it’s so easy to eat that whole bag of chips or cookies.  They never truly satisfy.

For most people, it is easier to make dietary changes gradually.  Begin by removing processed and packaged foods.  Day by day, reduce sugars, starches, dried fruits, fruit juices and grains replace these things with leafy greens.  Slowly increase protein and healthy fats.  Above all, enjoy shopping, cooking and eating.

Dan Butterfield is a regular contributor to the Health and Nutrition Experts blog.  To learn more about Dan VISIT HIS WEBSITE.  

This lecture was also recorded with additional questions regarding Glycemic Index / Glycemic Load and questions for the vegetarian.  I am hoping the podcast will be up here soon!  Come back and check. 

For more information on the Glycemic Index, check out THIS SITE.

April Recipe – Swiss Chard Sauté with Toasted Walnuts and Feta Cheese

I made this recipe as a one dish vegetarian meal.  It could also be great as 4 side dishes without the tofu.

Serves 2 Main Course, 4 Side Dish

Ingredients:

2+       TBSP Butter or Olive Oil or a combination, divided

4          Garlic Cloves, minced

1          Small Red Onion, chopped

1          Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1 tsp  Celtic Salt

25+     Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on their size

1/3 C   White Wine

½ C     Currants

½ + C Walnuts, chopped and toasted

2          Swiss Chard batches, ribs removed and cut into 2” pieces

This is my favorite!

3 oz    Feta or Goat Cheese

1 pgk Firm Tofu, chopped into 1” squares

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil).  Add garlic, onion, bell pepper and salt.  Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes adding white wine as liquid starts to evaporate.  Add in cherry tomatoes and currants cover and continue to cook over medium/low heat for an additional 5-8 minutes.  Add chard and cover until chard is wilted, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile in separate sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil) over medium/high heat and sear tofu. 

Combine chard mixture and tofu together.  Place on plates and top with cheese and walnuts.  Serve immediately.

March Cooking Tip – That Delicious Vegetable called Fennel

“In 490 B.C. in a fennel field some 26 miles from Athens, the Greeks defeated the Persians.  An Anthenian runner bearing this welcome news raced back to town.  Since then, the length of a marathon race has remained the same as from the fennel field into town, or 26 miles and 385 yards.  The Greek name for fennel is marathon.”   The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Rebecca Wood

Often we think of fennel seeds that are often used in the sausage found on most pizzas.  They can also be found in a variety of dishes, especially Greek recipes.  In Indian restaurants it is common to find them in small dishes found near the exit door.  In this situation, they are eaten at the end of a meal to assist in digestion. 

The bulb is a different variety of fennel used as a vegetable.  Mostly found in Mediterranean cooking, it is now available in most markets in the United States and is plentiful and fresh this time of year.  I enjoy the licorice taste of the raw vegetable.  It really adds to the flavor of a fresh green salad.  You can cut it very thin to enhance a variety of salads from a mixed green to a salad made mostly of fresh fennel and grapefruit.   In addition the fennel bulb can be baked or added to a dish like the chicken recipe this month.   When cooked, the strong licorice flavor diminishes quite a bit, leaving a subtle richness in its place.   

Generally speaking fennel seeds not only aid in digestion but help in reducing gas and spasms in the digestive system and aids in eliminating phlegm.  They are loaded with phytonutrients and contain a great deal of antioxidants so consequently have many health benefits.

If you have never used it, give it a try.  You too might find it a wonderful addition to your regular vegetable repertoire!

March Recipe – Spicy Chicken with Fennel

I was at Whole Foods yesterday trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  They had a big batch of fennel that looked delicious.  I decided to buy a bulb and come up with a dish that included it along with chicken.  I ended up going to Epicurious to get inspired and found an entrée that I’ve modified some.  It came out delicious so I thought I’d share it!

Ingredients:

1 tsp      Ground Cumin

½ tsp     Paprika

½ tsp     Celtic Salt

¼ tsp     Cayenne

½ tsp     Aleppo Chili Powder

2 lg        Chicken Breast halves, skinned, boned, and sliced in 1-2” strips lengthwise

4 TBSP   Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

3TBSP    Lemon juice, approximately ½ one large lemon

1 lg         Fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, ends removes and cut in ¾” slices crosswise

3 C          Chicken Broth

¾ C         Green olives with Pimentos sliced in quarters lengthwise

Preparation:

Mix all spices in a large bowl.  Add chicken, making sure to coat thoroughly, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. 

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat.  Add fennel and sauté until fennel starts to brown, approximately 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and lemon juice.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours covered.  At end of time, in a separate sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add chicken and lightly brown on both sides; approximately 1 minute per side.  Add chicken to fennel pan, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add olives to pan and continue simmering for additional 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 Serves 2-3 people

I served this with fresh steamed green beans and a simple mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Vitamin D – Myth or Miracle?

Vitamin D has been getting a lot of publicity for several months now because of the significant amount of health benefits being associated with adequate levels.  What do you know about Vitamin D?  Are you getting adequate amounts? 

Listen to this podcast by Dan Butterfield.  He will cover what Vitamin D really is, the latest research on health findings, how to determine sufficient levels and much more!

In his podcast he mentions the following for your records:

The Vitamin D Council

Life Extension Foundation for testing.  Either call 800) 208-3444 or visit their website!

Read more about Dan Butterfield on Our Associates page or visit him at Butterfield Wellness.

February Cooking Tip – Pass the Chili’s Please!

Chili’s come in a variety of sizes and shapes as well as a variance in hotness.  They are a fantastic source of Vitamins A and C as well as folic acid and carotenoids. 

Some people like it hot, some not.  If you are amongst those that like a ‘kick’ to your food, then you are one of the lucky ones.  Chili peppers, unlike sweet peppers, contain a substance called Capsaicin which gives the chili their hotness.  Capsaicin is not only ‘hot’ in your mouth but hot to the touch.   When cutting up a chili, especially one of the hotter versions like Scotch Bonnet, Habanero, or Chile de Arbol, make sure to wash your hands before touching your face, especially your eyes!

So what is so great about that Capsaicin?  It is a fantastic substance!  History and folk medicine used chili peppers for asthma, fevers, sore throats, and other respiratory tract infections, digestive disturbances, and cancers.[1] 

In addition, here are some of the great things capsaicin offers: 

  • It has been associated with having excellent antioxidant compounds
  • It increases metabolism, thus aiding in the burning of fat
  • Although seemingly hot, it actually has a cooling effect by lowering body temperature.  It simulates the cooling center of the hypothalamus in the brain.  This is why it is often common to find hot climates eating foods laden with chili peppers.
  • Is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes
  • Harvard studies show that it has the ability of blocking pain-receptive neurons without blocking other kinds of neurons that control other kinds of movements.  This work is related to the pain associated with arthritis and other inflammatory diseases[2]
  • It has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.  It reduces the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis by reducing blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Research at the University of Tasmania[3] is showing it “has the potential to lower blood glucose and insulin levels, reduce the formation of fatty deposits on artery walls and prevent blood clots – minus some of the nasty side-effects of traditional medications.”

Cultures that consume chili peppers on a regular basis have healthy cardiovascular systems along with many other health benefits.  Maybe it is time to add more chili peppers into your daily diet. 

Get out your various chili’s and start adding them to your favorite dishes!  This months’ Chicken Soup is a great place to start!  https://healthandnutritionexperts.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/february-recipe-%e2%80%93-julie%e2%80%99s-easy-chicken-soup/

 


[1] The Healing Power of Herbs by Michael T. Murray, N.D.

[2] http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/medicine_health/report-13188.html, http://golgi.harvard.edu/NewsEvents/News/ug-award_hoopes_6-3-09.html

 [3] http://www.hls.utas.edu.au/news/2009chilli/

February Recipe – Julies’ Easy Chicken Soup

When having dinner with a friend last night, I was inspired to pull out the old Crockpot and make something healthy and easy.  I decided that a dish somewhere between a one-course meal and a soup would be the answer.   Of course, you might want to add a salad to get some greens in.

The great thing about this dish is that it also works fantastically for breakfast.  Now I realize most people don’t even think of soup for breakfast but, as I have found out in my Asian travels, soup is often not only a daily breakfast but an incredibly satisfying one.  So double the recipe or save some for a cold morning!

The other fun thing about this recipe is it uses a chili that can be found in most grocery stores.  It is little but packs a great punch!  It is called chile de arbol or also known as a Thai chile.  Here is a picture:

Ingredients:

2         Chicken thighs, bone in with skin

1          Chicken split breast, bone in with skin

1 T      Olive Oil

Pinch Celtic Salt & Pepper

1          Onion, chopped

3          Garlic Cloves, minced

½         Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1          Orange Bell Pepper, chopped

2-3      Chile de Arbol

2          Carrots, cut into ½” pieces

1          28 oz Can Diced, Fire Roasted Tomatoes[1]

12       Medium to Large Shiitake Mushrooms, stems cut, quartered ( more if desired)

1 T      Fresh Ginger, finely grated

1 C      Vegetable or Chicken Broth

1 T      Celtic Salt

            Pepper to taste

1 C      Dry White Wine, optional

Preparation:

Place olive oil in medium size sauté pan over medium/high heat.  Sprinkle all chicken with salt and pepper.  Place in pan, skin side down.  Cook until chicken is slightly browned.  Turn and do the same.  Remove.  Take out all but 1 ½ T oil from pan.  Add onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chili’s.  Sauté until onion starts to become translucent, approximately 3 minutes.

Meanwhile place carrots, tomatoes with juice, mushrooms, ginger, broth, salt and pepper in Crockpot.  Place chicken on top followed by sautéed vegetables.  Cook for 7 hours.  About hour 6 or just before serving, remove the skin and bones from the chicken.  Shred the chicken and return to the pot.  Adjust seasonings and add wine around hour 6.

Serves 4-6


[1] I prefer Muir Glen brand.