Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Day of What?

Here in Austin it's been "spring" for a while...I've been working out in shorts and t-shirts and sweating to death for at least three weeks, maybe more because Texas doesn't seem to know that the first day of spring was actually today.  Ha, someone let me know when we officially hit summer too, I'd bet $10 it's summer here much earlier, ahh the pleasure of living in Central Texas.  While I moan about the heat I should stop to consider the irony of posting this recipe, who knew I'd be so behind that I would be posting pumpkin recipes the first day of spring...

So why pumpkin? Besides the fact that I'm completely obsessed with them every fall and that the seeds make tasty tasty snacks, they are hugely good for you, just a few things you should know:

  • Just like all brightly colored fruits and veggies, the gorgeous orange color of pumpkins is a key indicator that it's loaded with beta-carotene, which may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, offers protection against heart disease and the degenerative effects of aging
  • Just one half cup serving of pumpkin contains 5 grams of fiber which helps decrease cholesterol levels, control blood sugar and promotes healthy digestion
  • Pumpkin is rich in vitamins C and E which boost immunity, reduces risks of high blood sugar and promotes healthy skin
  • Pumpkin is also rich in potassium and magnesium which are extremely helpful to the body in a range of ways from promoting a healthy immune system to contributing to bone strength
Do you want to be less healthy? No, didn't think so.  Isn't pumpkin tastier than taking a fist full of pills to supplement your diet? Yes, it very much is. 

With a pretty little pumpkin that came in my weekly Farmhouse Delivery box I set to finding something to do with it.  I was a little unsure at first, pumpkin is something I don't cook with a lot, love carving them but cooking with them was a little foreign.  Inspired by the Farmhouse Table (Farmhouse Delivery's Blog) I grabbed some green curry paste and a good knife and went to work.

Thai Green Curry with Pumpkin
inspired by Farmhouse Table

4 oz green curry paste
2 14 oz cans coconut milk (full fat)
1 6 oz can coconut cream
1 Tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
½ small pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 pound cubed chicken
1 bunch basil, leaves picked

1. Place thick coconut cream in a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven, add curry paste and fry til fragrant.
2, Add remaining coconut milk, simmer for 5-10 minutes, then add fish sauce.
3. Add pumpkin cubes and meat.
4. Simmer til pumpkin is tender, then stir in basil leaves

The original recipe is served over rice, I roasted some cauliflower in the oven while the curry was cooking and served it alongside.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Post-WOD Nutrition Anyone?

Lately I find it is getting harder and harder to cook and want to eat after Crossfit, partly because I'm exhausted by that time and partly because it's been warm here and I've had no desire to eat.  Truth be told you've got to eat after working out that hard, some kind of nutrition is important so I usually give in even though I am not hungry and dig up something.  However, on those random days where the weather decides it's still winter I have a different issue, I want something warm, comforting and tasty...the problem is most of that kind of food takes time and I don't like to sit up all night waiting on dinner either.  So I search and search for things that I can pull together in a limited amount of time that will be worth eating.

After making a big batch of cauliflower 'rice' I knew this Chicken Tikka Masala would be the perfect compliment, actually I love this dish (and sauce) so much I could eat it on it's own...with just a spoon.  Yes it's that amazing.

Quick and Easy Chicken Tikka Masala - Paleo Style!
Inspired by Real Simple's Chicken Tikka Masala

1 15-ounce Diced Tomato
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
1 Tablespoon Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon Garam Masala (Indian spice blend)
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
1 1/2 Pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (about 8)
1/2 English Cucumber, Thinly Sliced
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Cup Coconut Cream
1 14oz Can Lite Coconut Milk
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1. In a 4- to 6-quart dutch oven, brown the chicken thighs in the olive oil.
2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
3. Remove chicken from dutch oven, add onion and garlic, saute until onion is translucent.
4. Add chicken back to skillet, add diced tomatoes and juice, coriander, garam masala, cinnamon, salt and pepper (to taste) and coconut milk.
5. Once all of items from prior step have been incorporated, add in tomato paste and stir well. Bring up to a simmer and let simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
6. Just before serving, stir the coconut cream into the chicken tikka masala.

Serve over cauliflower "rice" with the cucumber relish.