Three words that can make your blood run cold, oh and crockpot chicken for days

What’s for dinner?

I’m pretty sure that phrase is said all over the world. It may come over the phone, via text or you may be bombarded by those words the minute you walk in the door from work. It doesn’t matter what language you speak either. The question is always the same. Oftentimes the knee-jerk reaction is anger and frustration because we didn’t prepare in advance.

We know we are going to eat every day, right? Why don’t we plan for it?

If you have mental roadblocks and struggle to create dinner ideas out of thin air, then you need to start adding structure your eating reperatoire. Get some paper and a pen (or pencil if you feel ink is too scary and permanent and smacks of commitment). Grab some cookbooks or grab your mouse and start cruising for meal inspirations. Throw cookbooks at your family and ask them what they feel like helping you make. Food is a two-way street, people. If you eat, you need to help make it or help clean up at the very least. Every cookbook I own has a multitude of post-it notes sticking out from recipes I think sound appealing. Some of my post-its include hand-written notes such as ‘make again’ or ‘this was awful, do not make ever again’. Write out the recipes that spark interest and jot down the ingredients. Remember to write out the quantities needed too. You don’t want to have to run out again for something you forgot. In our technology infused world, I suppose the easiest thing to do is to snap a picture of the ingredient list with your phone camera and you are away to the store.

This summer has been stupidly hot. Plus, parts of our province have been ravaged by wildfires, so the smoke has held the heat in and made it worse. Who wants to spend hours in the kitchen cooking in the heat? Not me! Out comes the crockpot and my life is happy once again. Remember the BBQ sauce from a few posts back? We are going to use that as a base for this chicken dish.

img_3266

BBQ crockpot chicken:

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8)
  • 1 batch of BBQ sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds

Whisk the oil and spices into the BBQ sauce. Layer the chopped onion into the bottom of the crockpot. Place the chicken on the onion and cover everything with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Take the chicken out, shred with two forks and stir in as much sauce as you like.

I like to put this on spaghetti squash as an alternative to a traditional meat sauce. It is also fantastic in a paleo-style wrap like the recipe by Otto’s Cassava Flour or in butter lettuce cups. The leftover chicken and sauce also makes for a damn fine pizza that does not need cheese. Add some leftover chicken to a breakfast casserole or savoury egg muffins. This one minimal effort prep can give you at least 4 totally different meal ideas. If you still have some sauce leftover after the chicken is gone, use it on roasted cauliflower or coat chicken wings with it.

Lazy girl out for now.

Thoughts on the evolution of the modern family and how our eating habits and health declined soon after

SPOILER ALERT! There are no recipes to tips or hacks in this post. No nugget at the end. This shall be strictly words. A rant if you will. If you choose to read anyway, thank you, I appreciate that. If you decide to close the tab, I understand, and hope to see you again on another post.

Health is like an RRSP.

You gotta buy into it. It’s best to make small, continual investments to see the gains. Start young. You can’t invest everything at the eleventh hour and think things will be ok.

In the not-so-distant past, households, could be sustained comfortably on a single income. This enabled one of the adults in the family to prepare meals for the rest. Shopping was done several times a week and with trips to the butcher shop and green grocer almost daily. You knew the butcher and he knew your name. The green grocer would let you know there were lots of squash coming in the fall as the crop was good this year. You supported one another in the community by purchasing from their shops.

Someone decided that we needed more. No, we more than needed more. We wanted it. Not wanted. Deserved. Yes, that’s it. We deserved it. We deserved more. We deserved bigger, better, faster and stronger. We devised ways to do more with less effort. We wanted a bigger tv, another car, a boat would be nice, Janey wears XYZ brand of jeans, why can’t I, primary school kids have to have the latest iPhone. We needed more money to get these things faster than our parents, so dual income houses became the norm. Meal time became a chore because both parents weren’t getting home until late afternoon/early evening and the kids were starving. We fixed this problem. We created instant food. Not instant like the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Acme Instant Martian ~ just add 1 drop of water, kind of instant, but food you can have it ready in an instant, or fraction of the time it would have taken to prepare from scratch.

We took our double income family and decided our kid was going to be the next hockey player/football star/doctor/lawyer/dancer/singer/ultimate fighter so we scheduled every waking moment with activities and lessons. We began placing a lot of importance of what our kid was rather than how or who our kid was. This over scheduling compounded our time problems too. Modern kids are more stressed than ever trying to do all the things we have them signed up for. Some training starts early in the morning for ice time, pool time, then a day of class, lunch bag filled with everything in a colourful package and wrappers, then after school care and more training sessions until dinner. Some more practices in the evening and weekends are reserved for games, tryouts, festivals and recitals. School work was supposed to be done in there somewhere. Meals on these nights are often on the fly. It is not uncommon to see a child with take-out coffee, whipped up coffee milkshakes and energy drinks to keep them going during their day. Those poor bodies. The justification is that it is a half-fat latte or a diet pop. We now recognize and are recognized by the drive-thru employees, pizza and chinese food delivery drivers. Weird thought: we tip these folks for bringing us sub-standard food. Why?

 

More and more of our meals came wrapped in plastic or in a cardboard box. We only need add water, oil or margarine. Occasionally there would be a sectioned meal covered in foil and frozen. These icy meals allowed everyone to choose something different for dinner and all could be popped into the oven at the same time. The family could still eat together but with personal choice satisfied. Of course, each choice came with the mandatory dessert of either apple spice cake or chocolate brownie. Inevitably, in the processing/handling stages, one or two of the veg would work their way into the dessert square. This was modern cooking.

Food products now come with extended expiration dates. Food is supposed to spoil, isn’t it. It is not meant to last indefinitely on a shelf. We are meant to get what we need for a short period of time, consume it within its window of readiness and then repeat. This constant replenishing of food allows us the opportunity for different vitamins, minerals and nutrients from our next selection. Variety baby!

Is it any coincidence our health issues have increased in alarming rates in this same time period? Type II Diabetes, or Adult-Onset as it used to be coined, is now becoming common in younger children. We all know cancer stats are rising. More children are battling cancers. I believe the rates are around 1 in 7 for breast cancer. I recall back when I was in school, it was 1 n 20. Increased numbers and varieties of auto-immune diseases. Autistic Spectrum Disorders and other cognitive function challenges are pretty common. As if Alzheimer’s Disease wasn’t enough, we now have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. This is being labelled as Type III Diabetes. The list seems endless.

What have we done to ourselves? Is it too late? Can humans be saved?

I think so. We are drowning but someone has chucked us a rope. We need to grab it and haul our sorry carcasses out of the water. No one is jumping in to save us.

Is it difficult to read every label? Yes. Is it time consuming? Yes. Can you avoid it? Yes, you can. Buy things that do not come with labels. Shop the aisles of the grocery store. Buy vegetables that are still vegetables. Buy fruit that is actually real fruit. Not crap like blue-raspberry flavoured gummies. Choose proteins like fish, chicken, pork, red meat, and organ meats (if you are game) that are ready for your personal flavour profiles. Write out meals for the week. Buy what is on your list. Prep it. Cook on the weekend. Use crockpots, pressure cookers and batch cooking to your advantage. Get others to help in the kitchen. Teach a child how to snap asparagus. You are teaching life-skills. Talk about the ingredients while you work. Taste things raw if appropriate.

The question is, how badly do you want to feel better?

 

The creator of Pili Nuts and why you want, nay, need them

Meet Jason Thomas. The man behind Hunter Gatherer.

IMG_2992

You can probably guess by his t-shirt and the banner behind him, what he was representing at PaleoFx 2017. You guessed it. Pili Nuts.

First, let’s make sure you are pronouncing it correctly. “Pee-lee” not “pill-ee” or “pill-lie”.

Over the years, I had heard various bloggers and podcasters talk about them and how addicting they were. As soon as I saw the Hunter Gatherer name on the exhibitor list for PFX17. I plotted my course to Jason’s booth. Ok, truthfully, I jumped up and down once or twice, I was so excited at the prospect of meeting him. As with many folks at PFX17, there is a real person with a real story behind each product. Jason was no exception.

But first, the nuts.

He smiled as he handed over my first sample. Coconut oil and Himalayan salt. His smile was almost smug. He knew what would happen. I would be hooked. The offer of the Turmeric and Black Pepper came next. Again, that knowing smile. Spicy Chili? Yes please. The final sample offered was the Raw Cacao. Done. That was it. My eyes closed and I think I may have swooned on my feet. To say I needed a moment alone with a bag of Pili Nuts would have been an understatement. The mouth-feel of each flavour is incredibly satisfying. This very humble looking nut hides a deep, rich and buttery taste with a silky smooth composure. Think macadamia nut, but smoother. Much smoother. Smoother than Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra kinda smooth. Yeah, that smooth.

I had the chance to chat with Jason while I was in Texas. This was no easy feat, as his is a very popular booth. Jason very graciously allowed me to monopolize his time for an interview and let me rearrange his demonstration table for some pictures. Don’t worry, I put everything back when I was done.

He told me about his days as a crossfit athlete, how a cycling injury derailed him for weeks and how a pili nut tree in the Philippines changed his life.

 

 

 

“The pili nut starts out as a green fruit. As it ripens, it goes very dark. Once it is ready, the fruit is harvested by knocking the tree and the ripe fruit falls to the ground. The outer fruit is removed and an ultra-hard nut is revealed. It is so hard, each pili nut is opened by hand using a machete. There are machines that can do the job, but the guys with the machetes are much faster.

“Once you open the pili nut, there is a brown covering, a testa, similar to the covering on a peanut that needs to be removed. We soak them for a minimum of 8-10 hours, usually overnight to remove that coating. The nuts are then cooked low and slow for 24 hours. Finally, we package them and ship them to the United States.”

img_3043.jpg

These little flavour bombs pack a huge nutritional punch too. They are naturally extremely high in fat and low in carbohydrates. The soaking and spouting process Jason uses enables your body to access the minerals and vitamins more readily. The high fat content also makes them very satisfying. Not only do I snack on them right from the bag, I like adding them to my salads as a topper. Not the raw cacao ones obviously. Those have occasionally found their way onto my chocolate avocado pudding and chocolate chia puddings.

If you want to read Jason’s complete story, check out his site www.eatpilinuts.com and be sure to order some of all the flavours. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on these.