Friday, April 8, 2011

Spicy Grilled Chicken & Mango Slaw

Challenge!  My husband and I have been given a 30 day challenge to change our eating habits in a major way.  It's pretty drastic, so this blog is going to look a little different in the coming weeks (no more of these or these for a while).  Based on the paleolithic diet, this 30 day plan focuses on clean eating.  It strips away processed foods and aims to reset your digestion and metabolism, curb cravings and promote strength and well being.  It brings us back to caveman times and encourages us to eat from the land.  Meat, fish, healthy fats (like those found in avocados or olive oil), vegetables, fruits and nuts.  Yep, that's it.  Cavemen didn't have the tools to process milk products or grains - so they're out.  If you read between the lines, you might have gathered that my vegetarian Hubby has made a huge change in his diet by taking on this challenge, adding meat and taking out all of his vegetarian staples.  No processed foods or beans means no soy products, which means no fake hot dogs and hamburgers!  The idea of eating meat has been marinating (sorry) inside him for a while now.  This challenge and the promise of feeling great and getting stronger was motivation enough for him to take the plunge after more than 10 years meat free.  This way of eating is meant to accompany a very active lifestyle, there is a large focus on protein of the highest quality to encourage strength building.

So here we go.  No dairy, no legumes, no beans, no grains, no sugar.  But have no fear.  I will not compromise the quality of the recipes I am offering you.  I have spent the last week researching and experimenting and I hope to bring you recipes that are healthy and full of satisfying flavours.  Stuff you would want to make regardless of what it's missing.

Although some of the recipes featured on this blog could be easily modified, looking back through my archives I found only one solitary recipe that fit the bill as is...a side dish, not even a complete meal.  The winner?  Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce.  I obviously have work to do!  If you'd like to check out the challenge, here is the info.


Without further ado, on to the recipes.  I'm off to an easy start.  I had no problem scarfing down these great dishes.  The mango slaw is probably my favorite mango salad ever, and I have had my share of 'em.  There is no soy or fish sauce (which contains sugar!) only tart lime juice and vinegar, balanced by a touch of oil, salt and spicy red pepper flakes.  I love the addition of mint in lieu of cilantro and cashews instead of peanuts...which works perfectly because peanuts are not on the menu as there are considered a legume and not a nut.  The chicken is a super versatile, easy dish that you can turn to anytime.  It can be grilled or roasted in the oven and you can use any part of the bird that you fancy.  Made with simple things that I always have on hand.  It hits all the right notes and is pure juicy goodness.

Spicy Grilled Chicken
Origin: adapted slightly from NY Times, Suvir Saran

Notes:  I have made this several times using just thighs or a mixture of thighs and breasts.  I have roasted it in the oven and grilled it on the BBQ, it always turns out great.  Its not too spicy and it's an easy recipe that will please whomever you are feeding.

8 chicken thighs (or 4 thighs and 2 breasts), with skin, pierced all over with a small knife
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated or minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander seeds or ground coriander

Place all of the ingredients in a resealable plastic bag and toss, squish, rub or smoosh everything around to coat thoroughly.  Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours.

Preheat your grill on high, (or preheat oven to 400 degrees).   If grilling, turn down grill to about medium and grill skin side down first, for about 25 minutes, turning once.  If roasting, put chicken, skin side up, in a roasting pan. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until done and the juices run clear.

Mango Slaw with Cashews & Mint
Origin: Smitten Kitchen

Notes:  This recipe is easily halved but I use the full 1/4 cup of mint and cashews because I'm baaaad!  A slightly firm, but ripe mango is best for this salad.  Deb at Smitten Kitchen has an amazing Thai-Style Chicken Legs recipe that goes perfectly with this slaw, but for the 30 day challenge, the spicy chicken recipe above does the trick.

2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned
1 to pound Napa cabbage, halved and sliced very thinly (savoy works too, sliced as thin as possible)
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, from about two limes
1/4 cup rice vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar during my 30 day challenge)
2 tablespoons oil of your choice (I used grapeseed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (or omit this and whisk in a chile paste to taste)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted cashews, coarsely chopped

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