A Journey for Every Body

About 3 1/2 years ago when my son went off to college (I was 48), I was at the peak of my partnership with my autoimmune disease. I noticed constant pain, and even the smallest amount of movement seemed like a huge struggle. I lived a rich life in my mind, spirit, and relationships, but I left my body behind. I knew it wasn’t how I wanted to live, but I accepted it was how things were going to be because I’d been so ill for so long.
 
With the kiddo away at college, it was much easier to get gluten out of my kitchen and eat in a way that was supportive of my body, and my health slowly began to change. For the first time In my life, I made food and movement choices that were about my health and feeling as well as I could instead of being about a) what I craved; b) how much I weighed; c) what was convenient; d) how I looked; e) what I thought my family would enjoy. For the first time ever, I made myself and my health a priority.
 
I started to incorporate gentle movement practices, as well (I started with seated Tai Chi and I gently and slowly went for walks that were as far as I could go). After being a personal trainer, competitive body builder, and aerobics instructor before I got sick, I stepped out of the mindset of “No pain, no gain” for fitness and into the idea of moving what I could in ways that felt good. Some days, what felt good was just rolling my shoulders, so that’s what I moved. Before, fitness for me was all or nothing – I could either take my body to the limit in exercise or not participate at all.
 
I also began to notice how I thought about, talked about, and spoke to my body. The messages I sent weren’t supportive. I thought of my body as broken. I thought it was a prison. I was angry, bewildered, betrayed, heartbroken. My thoughts were, “I’m fat.” “I’m out of shape.” “My body hurts all the time.” “I hate how I look.” “I hate how I feel.” “I don’t trust my body.” “I’m always sick.” These were just a few of the messages with which I bombarded my body. How could it have any choice but to comply with the thoughts and words I directed at it? I started to notice these thoughts and reframe them into communication that was more positive, grateful, and loving.
 
Yet, here I am now. I’m 51 years old and I move with ease. This past weekend, I spent my entire weekend in movement practice (Thursday through Sunday). My body moved at will throughout four days of Nia classes, free dance, learning specific movements, and more. Less than four years ago, even sitting in a class for more than an hour or so was a test in endurance of pain and discomfort. A three-hour car ride to drop the kid off at school was excruciating. Sitting through movies or concerts were tests of endurance. Walking up a flight of stairs had me in pain for days (not to mention gasping for air just a few steps up).
 
I tell you this not to show you how wonderful I am, but to offer you hope if you are struggling. If you had told me four years ago I would be here, I would have thought it was a fairy tale. But then I started to choose me and to make lifestyle choices to support my body and health. I changed the messages I sent to my body. What I thought was a broken body – a prison – just needed something different. My body needed me to notice it, think about it, talk to it, nourish it, and nurture it in a different way.
 
No matter where you are, there is hope. Your body is not your prison, but it is communicating with you. While the changes may not be as extreme as mine were (or they could be – if you release expectation, you stop limiting the universe), there are small (or large) changes you can make to nurture yourself. Ask yourself, what would feel good right now? And then tune in and listen. Your body will tell you. Honor its wishes. Start small. Every body is on a journey, and you are in control of yours.

 

photo credit: x1klima Woman and Grief via photopin (license)

Ending Acid Reflux

EasyAcidReflux_9781623158743_KoboBN

Available tomorrow!

While the way that works for me to eat is a low-carb, paleo diet, I’m also a big believer there isn’t a single diet for any one person. It’s about finding your best way to eat, and that’s often different for different people.

Research has shown people with acid reflux may need to eliminate certain foods, such as highly acidic foods, spicy foods, coffee and alcohol, and very fatty foods, among others. As someone who has stood looking down the barrel of a diet that seemed daunting with heavy dietary restrictions, I understand how difficult it can be to make a commitment to a different way of eating, even if it makes you feel better. This is especially true if there are over-the-counter medication solutions available that can help control the condition. After all, it seems easier to pop a pill than give up foods you love.

Unfortunately, acid reflux medications aren’t without potential serious side effects, so while they are the easy solution, they aren’t always the best solution for  your body.

I also acknowledge there are people who don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking – whether because they lack the time, or because they just don’t enjoy cooking.

At the intersection of these two populations…people with acid reflux who don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes on a meal, I offer the Easy Acid Reflux Cookbook. This is not a paleo cookbook – but it is filled with easy, 30-minute recipes for people struggling with acid reflux. It offers practical dietary advice based on the latest research and features easy recipes you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less. If you have acid reflux, I highly recommend it. I tested the diet myself when I was still trying to settle into my own way of eating, and I found it worked well to eliminate my symptoms and get me off the acid reflux medications I was taking every day.

The book is available tomorrow. If you’ve got persistent acid reflux, check it out. It could help you find your best way to eat.

Body Image

body

My perfectly imperfect body. No – I don’t dress or do my hair like that all the time. It was an 80s dance party last weekend. I danced for hours. Thanks, body!

by Karen Frazier

I went last night to a local theater to see a documentary about body image called Embrace. Sadly, a utility pole fire knocked the power out in the theater, and it wasn’t to be (although it is being rescheduled). Still, even planning to see the movie allowed me to truly consider my own experiences with body image.

When I participate in Nia classes, even now with my great love for all my body does for me, I can’t help but notice in the mirrors how I compare to others. I am strong, healthy, and energetic. I can dance for hours at a time. I can lift, create, move. I wake up every morning with fewer aches and pains than I’ve had in years (unless sleeping with a dog on my feet – but that’s really more about the dog than my body).

My body does all I ask of it and more. It serves me beautifully, yet at times, I’m still hung up on how it looks because it is not the ideal. This is thinking I work every day to quash and replace so I can exist in a space of joy and gratitude, but it’s a process. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t compare my body unfavorably to the ideal. Even when I was a size 2-3, I knew I was lacking something in the appearance of my body. Body image and comparison has always, as far as I can recall, been background noise (and sometimes in the foreground) as part of my self-awareness. Intellectually, I know. My body is magnificent, and I couldn’t be happier with all it does for me. And I’m taking the steps to have that knowledge move into my experience.

I wonder, what do those messages, that constant dialogue, do to our bodies? How much more amazing would our bodies be if we could eliminate the comparison to the ideal? How much more could we appreciate it, let go, and be in joy?

I am a huge believer our thoughts, words, and attitudes affect our outer experience. They affect our biology and physical expression. One of the best ways I can explain this is by sharing Masuru Emoto’s Messages from Water, which are a series of experiments Emoto conducted showing how different emotions and statements affected water crystals. Check out the link above – it’s fascinating stuff.

And if thoughts affect water crystals that way, what are our thoughts doing to our bodies?

Every day, I’m grateful for what my body does for me, and I express that gratitude. However, throughout the day, insidious thoughts of dissatisfaction creep in, too – the ones that tell me because I am not the physical ideal (I’m a size 14 with big boobs, butt, and thighs), my body is somehow lacking. What are these conflicting thoughts doing to my body?

I know I am not alone in my body image struggles. I see it daily among friends, family, and even strangers on the street. Societal messages about our bodies lead us to think we are somehow lacking. We feel ashamed when we fulfill the basic biological functions our body truly needs: eating and rest. We feel gratified when we push our bodies to a place where they are groaning in pain as we work out or our stomaches call out to us in hunger. Is this any way to treat something beloved? Would you push and judge someone you loved in such ways to force them to meet an unrealistic physical ideal?

Body image, negative self-talk, comparison to an ideal  – these are all bred into us from an early age and reinforced throughout our lives through various sources. And so we engage in various forms of self-abuse and self-torture because we do not meet that ideal.

How do we fix it? How do we heal? I think awareness is the beginning. Listen to the thoughts you have and the words you speak about your bodies. Be in awareness. And when the negative thoughts about your body arise? Stop them and replace them with words of gratitude. What has your body done for you today? Did you sleep? Wake up? Breathe? Eliminate? Move? Think? Experience pleasure? Hear the signals of pain? This is your body, trying its hardest to partner with you, something it can’t do if you continue to reject and malign it.

Listen to your body. It is talking to you. It is telling you something valuable. It’s sending you signals, telling you what it needs, wants, likes, and doesn’t like. All you have to do is listen and send it words of support, encouragement, and kindness – the very things you would do for someone you love, so why not do them for yourself?

I decided a few years ago it was time to start partnering with my body instead of fighting it, and when I did things changed. I lost weight. I became more mobile. My pain levels decreased. My energy soared. Three years ago, I was almost couch bound. But my partnership with my body has allowed me to move, dance, and experience joy and pleasure  I haven’t had since I was in my early 20s. Its an ongoing process, this partnership, and I admit I’m still not always the greatest partner because I have ongoing body image issues. But I’m working on it, and it is paying off.

This, then, isn’t an admonishment to you. It’s an invitation for you to ask your body what it needs and wants, to learn to speak and think to and about your body gently, kindly, and with gratitude. I’m inviting you to seek pleasure and be compassionate with yourself, and for you to enter into a partnership that can totally change your physical experience, if only you’ll allow it.

Kalbi Beef Ribs

galbi-ribsby Karen Frazier

Kalbi marinade is a Korean marinade that has lots of flavor and seems to have a true affinity for beef. I marinate flanken-style beef ribs, but you can use it on slices of beef or pork, as well.

  • 1 Asian pear, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 green onions, roots removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 packet of stevia (omit for Whole30)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (omit for Paleo or Whole30 and instead use 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 pounds flanken-style spare ribs
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  1. In a food processor, combine the pear, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, soy sauce or coconut aminos, stevia, gochujang or red pepper flakes, olive oil, and ginger. Process on high until smooth.
  2. Marinate the ribs in the marinade for eight to ten hours.
  3. Grill. I just pop them on the Foreman and grill them for about five minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onions.

photo credit: moonlightbulb Galbi at Asahi via photopin (license)

Beef Bulgogi and Sweet Potato Bowls

beef-bowlby Karen Frazier

I’ve been on a bit of an Asian flavor kick lately – so this recipe probably won’t surprise you. 🙂 These bowls are nothing but goodness with lovely spiced beef, starchy sweet potatoes, and lots of garnishes.

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger root
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar or coconut vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 packet stevia or 4 tablespoons honey, divided*
  • 1 pound flank steak, hanger steak, or flat-iron steak, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips against the grain
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1/4 cup bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2 eggs
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger root, cilantro, coconut aminos, sesame oil, 1/2 cup of the vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and 1 packet of the stevia or 2 tablespoons of the honey. Process until pureed.
  2. Place the strips of steak in a gallon sized plastic zipper bag and add the marinade. Seal and refrigerate for eight hours.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 packet of stevia or two tablespoons of honey. Add the cucumber. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  4. In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of the coconut oil on medium-high. Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about ten minutes. Set aside tented with foil.
  5. In the same skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of coconut oil on medium-high. Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Cook the beef in the hot oil until cooked through, about five minutes.
  6. In a small nonstick skillet, fry two eggs, sunny side up or easy over. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To assemble the bowls, divide the sweet potatoes into two bowls. Top with the beef, the carrots, the pickled cucumber, the been sprouts, and the green onions. Top with the fried egg.

*For Whole30, omit the honey and stevia and instead add 1 chopped medjool date to the marinade and omit any sweetener from the cucumber pickle.

photo credit: Dolsot bibimbap @ L’Arbre de Sel @ Montparnasse @ Paris via photopin (license)

Spicy Ginger Cucumber Salad with Crispy Pork Belly

3246364802_4c7c793966by Karen Frazier

I have to admit – I am not a huge fan of cucumbers except in certain circumstances. I won’t just sit down and eat cucumber – but I do like it as an acidic and refreshing counterpoint to something super spicy. So the other day, I picked up some organic cucumbers at the grocery store with the thought I’d do a refreshing and spicy dish of some kind. This is what I threw together today (I failed to take a photo of it – sorry), and it was super delicious.  I just put crispy slices of the pork belly right on top of the salad.

It’s low-carb, paleo, and can be Whole30 compliant, as well.

Crispy Pork Belly

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 pound pork belly, thinly sliced like thick sliced bacon
  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Preheat a skillet on medium-high.
  3. Season the pork belly slices with the seasoning blend. Put in the hot skillet. Cook just like you would bacon, until crispy. Slice and put on top of the salad (below).

Spicy Ginger Cucumber Salad

  • 4 organic cucumbers, spiralized into angel hair noodles (or just julienne them)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 1 cup julienned radish
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 to 2 thai chilies, minced (or 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese hot mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon expeller pressed sesame oil
  • 1 packet stevia (optional – omit for Whole30 or add 1/2 finely chopped Medjool date for a bit of sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  1. Put the cucumbers in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of the sea salt. Allow the water to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers and pat them dry with a paper towel. Put them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the radish, scallions, and sesame seeds and toss to combine.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine the ginger root, thai chilies, garlic, Chinese hot mustard powder, sesame oil, stevia, apple cider vinegar, EVOO, and the remaining half teaspoon of sea salt. Blend on high until emulsified. Toss with the salad.

photo credit: Vilseskogen harvest via photopin (license)

8 New “Rules” for Food: Honoring Body, Mind, and Spirit

kiwiby Karen Frazier

Almost every day, I write about food. On the days I am not writing about it, I am often editing something someone else has written about food. I spend hours a week combing through the latest studies about how food affects our bodies.

Scientific writings break food down into its components – macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) – and the roles each of these play in our bodies. Science studies and explains how food affects weight and how it affects health. It explains how our bodies break down and digest the foods, how they store them as saved energy (fat) or use them for current energy. It studies how our bodies absorb nutrients and what it does with them.

Science is at least beginning to acknowledge the foods we eat affect our physiology, and then people like me share that information with others who are looking to affect some aspect of their biology, such as gaining or losing weight, lessening inflammation, or controlling certain health conditions through food.

Food is fuel, we are told. Use it wisely, and your body can’t help but respond. Simple, right?

If it were that simple, everyone would be the picture of health. We would see food as fuel, eat the foods we need, avoid those we don’t, and all be in optimum health. Since we don’t and we aren’t, clearly something else is going on, as well. How food affects us physically is certainly an important part of the picture, but it’s not the only part. To pretend food should merely be treated as fuel does everyone a disservice.

Humans are not like a simple gas-powered engine in which you pour the right amount of fuel and the engine performs. We are complex, multi-dimensional beings made up of far more than biology. We are body, mind, spirit, emotions, memories, conditioning, members of families and societies, and so much more. And food – which sciences suggests should merely be fuel – weaves itself throughout every one of these aspects of self, rendering it impossible to separate it into a simple biological component.

Close your eyes and think of a food from your childhood – one that you loved. How does it make you feel? I would guess that while there is a physical response, that is only part of the answer. Whatever food you are thinking of most likely has associations that are familial, cultural, emotional, and possibly even spiritual.

Food is deeply entrenched in every aspect of our lives. It is part of family celebrations and cultural traditions. We use it as reward and punishment. We connect it to abundance and scarcity. We use it in spiritual ceremonies and traditions. We use it to show love, generosity, and sharing. It serves as a way to gather socially. We use it for humanitarian purposes. Some control it in order to retain power. It can be used for social and behavioral conditioning. These are just a few of the many aspects of our lives in which food resides.

Here’s the problem I see: when we treat food as simply biological and fail to acknowledge the key position it occupies in mind, spirit, and emotions, we create a system in which people are most likely bound to fail in their goals about food. Food has to be more than fuel if we want to use to to improve our health. So people like me, who write about the health aspects of food, must find ways to make sure food continues to meet the mental, spiritual, and emotional needs of the individual, as well.

Food has to do more than just be biologically nutritious if we want to make a lasting change that affects our health. In order to truly connect to eating for health, we also need to connect  to the things that truly matter about the foods we eat. We need new “rules” about food in order to truly begin to nourish ourselves in the ways we need for good health.

1. Start With Foods You Know Will Nurture You Physically

It still starts with food and selecting those that will help build your physical wellbeing. Choose the most nutritious, ethically raised, healthful ingredients available that you can afford. There’s plenty of information available about what these foods are – depending on physical health conditions and dietary needs. This is where you start, but it is important to go beyond just considering these foods as fuel.

2. Choose Foods That Please Your Senses

You eat with your all of your senses. Therefore, choose food that looks, tastes, and smells delicious. Consume foods with a satisfying balance of colors, textures, flavors, and aromas. Find foods with a delightful crunch or a satisfying slurp, or those that are pleasing to the eye and have your stomach growling before you take your first bite. Combine raw and cooked foods to vary texture and flavor. Cut foods into fun and interesting shapes. Use pretty garnishes. Balance the flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy, and umami.

3. Consume Foods From Cultural Traditions That Matter to You

Food is cultural. Therefore, it is essential to create and find nutritious foods from cultural traditions that matter to you. That doesn’t just mean foods from your culture, but also from other cultural traditions that have meaning – or that you just love because they make darn good food. Use herbs and spices to create a variety of flavor palates, such as the piquant and spicy Latin flavors, aromatic Asian flavors, or hearty, classing Western foods.

4. Choose Foods Connected to Good Memories

Food is tied to memory and comfort. Because of this, it is important to consume nutritious foods that are in some way similar to those you have eaten that have brought you joy in the past. They don’t have to be exact replicas, but rather have the essence of those other foods.

5. Skip the Foods That Have no Soul

It’s so easy to mindlessly eat something that has very little meaning or soul. Twinkies come to my mind for me as the ultimate soulless food. There is no love there. Nobody lovingly prepared a Twinkie for you. It’s a Frankenfood designed to be quick, sweet, and easy.

I’m not denying a Twinkie has its appeal. But does it have soul? There is nothing alive. There’s nothing that will nourish you.

Nobody created soulless foods with the idea of nourishment in mind. They were created for one reason: profit. While it may taste good, does the food has soul? Ask yourself who has made it, and for what reason has this food been prepared. If the answer doesn’t have to do with nourishment or some type of a personal connection, chances are it’s not a food that’s going to satisfy your mind, body, emotions, or spirit.

6. Prepare Foods With Consciousness and Intent

As you prepare your foods, do it with love for yourself and anyone else who will be consuming them. Intend, as you prepare the food, that its ingredients and nutrients will nurture you not only physically, but will also honor you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

7. Give Thanks

Food is spiritual; it’s often used in spiritual ceremonies and rituals. Therefore, if food is part of your spiritual tradition (or even if it isn’t), engage in a sense of spirituality and ritual when you eat. Before you eat, give thanks. If you eat animal proteins, honor the animal that provided the food. Give thanks to the earth for supporting and nurturing the plant-based ingredients you are about to consume. Then, offer the intention the food will nourish your body and your spirit, matching or raising your spiritual vibration.

8. Eat Mindfully

Pay attention as you eat. Make eating an event – not something you do as you engage in another activity. Create a space for eating where you are not distracted (put down the smartphone! Turn off the television!) Eat mindfully, chew slowly, and allow yourself the full sensation of that which you are eating. Notice how the food smells, looks, and tastes. Pay attention to its texture as you chew and how it feels as it travels down your throat into your stomach.

More Than Fuel

It’s time to acknowledge food is more than just fuel. To do anything else makes it difficult for us to truly allow foods to nourish us and support our overall health and wellbeing. Try these eight suggestions as you pursue good health through food to acknowledge the role food plays in all aspects of your being.

photo credit: Neil Tackaberry kiwi via photopin (license)

Paleo (and Whole30) Chicken Pad Thai with Thai “Peanut” Sauce

img_2661by Karen Frazier

Oh man do I love pad Thai, and it’s something I’ve missed eating in the few years since I went completely paleo. I decided – after 2 1/2 years – to make my own. It’s a bit labor intensive, but if you love pad Thai like I do, it’s well worth the effort. I made my tamarind paste from pods, but if you can find some with paleo/Whole30-approved ingredients, feel free to use that, instead.

Tamarind Paste

  • 10 tamarind pods
  • Boiling water
  1. Peel away all the tough outer shell of the pods, and use a sharp paring knife to remove any of the woody spines and discard them.
  2. Place the tamarind in a heat proof glass measuring cup and just cover them with boiling water. Allow the pods to soak in the hot water for 45 minutes.
  3. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the soaking water and set aside. Discard the rest of the water.
  4. Put the tamarind in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Remove any solids (seeds or more spines) and discard them.
  5. Place a wire mesh sieve over a bowl. Spoon the tamarind into the sieve. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the tamarind through the sieve. Do this for about five minutes, using a rubber scraper to scrape the paste from the bottom side of the sieve into the bowl every minute or two. You should wind up with about 1/4 cup of the paste. The goal is to get as much of the paste as possible away from the seeds and pulp.
  6. Stir in the reserved liquid.

Thai “Peanut” Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar-free almond butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Juice of three limes
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger root
  • 1 thai chili, finely minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon Red Boat fish sauce

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Pad Thai

  • 3 tablespoons Red boat fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin strips
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced and broken up into rings
  • 1 large carrot, julienned (or grated)
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1/4 cup tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 to 2 thai chilies, finely minced (or to taste)
  • 4 to 6 zucchini, spiralized into spaghetti style noodles (enough for about five cups)
  • 1/4 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, coconut aminos, 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and 4 of the garlic cloves. Add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 8 hours.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat two tablespoons of the coconut oil on medium high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, five to seven minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of coconut oil on medium-high. Add the shallots, carrots, red bell peppers, thai chilies, and half of the green onions. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Add the zucchini noodles and cook, stirring, for three to four minutes more, until the vegetables are crisp tender. Add the remaining 4 garlic cloves and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the tamarind paste, water, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Return the chicken to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the noodles are coated with sauce and water evaporates, about two minutes more.
  6. Serve garnished with bean sprouts, the remaining green onions, the cashews, the cilantro, and the lime wedges. Spoon peanut sauce over the top.

Paleo Ph’o

by Karen Frazier

img_2633The first time I tried ph’o, I knew I’d found something special. It’s possibly my favorite soup of all time (ha! I say that about a lot of soups. I just. Love. Soup!). Anyway – it’s been almost three years without it, and I knew it was time to give it a try. I had some flat iron steaks, and I realized ph’o would be the perfect use of the steak. Jim, who pretty much believes meat should be used as – well, meat – was skeptical. However, I’m happy to say he’s a convert.

The recipe uses fish sauce – and Red Boat fish sauce is both Whole30 approved and paleo. The recipe serves 4 to 6.

Paleo, Whole30 Ph’o

  • Grass-fed beef bones
  • 1 or two onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic bulbs, split lengthwise (tops cut off, but use both the top and the bottom)
  • 3-inch knob of ginger, sliced
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 or 3 thai chilies, split lengthwise (it’s up to you – they’re pretty spicy and they add a good bit of heat for how tiny they are. You can remove the seeds to minimize the heat a bit or leave them out altogether)
  • 6 star anise pods (or about a teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice – or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce (or to taste)
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 to 2 pounds sirloin steak or flat-iron steak, very thinly sliced against the grain
  • 4 to 6 zucchini, spiralized into noodles using the angel hair blade
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (or Thai basil)
  • Finely chopped thai chilies
  • Green onions, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • Bean sprouts
  1. In an 8-quart slow cooker, cover the beef bones, halved onion, garlic bulbs, ginger, thai chiles, and star anise pods with cold water. Add the fish sauce, peppercorns, and salt. Cover and cook on low for 12 to 24 hours. Strain into a large pot and discard the solids. Taste and add fish sauce, salt, or Chinese 5 spice as desired to adjust the flavor to your taste.
  2. Bring the broth to a boil. Add the beef and cook for one minute. Add the noodles and cook one minute more.
  3. Serve garnished with cilantro, chopped thai chilies, sliced green onions, lime wedges, and bean sprouts.

Next time, I’m adding sauteed shiitakes. Just because.

For faster ph’o, you can simmer your beef bone broth on the stovetop for about four hours.

Lebanese Garlic Chicken Thighs and Warm Spinach Salad

img_2619by Karen Frazier

I’m on day 22 of my Whole30 30-day challenge, and I’ve been tinkering in the kitchen. Yesterday, I decided to make Lebanese garlic sauce. Today, I decided to spread it on chicken thighs. The result? Delicious!

The recipe is Whole30 approved when you use sugar-free bacon (I like it from US Wellness Meats), as well as paleo and low-carb.

Lebanese Garlic Sauce

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

  • 1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups EVOO
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic cloves and sea salt. Blend, scraping down the sides occasionally, until the garlic cloves make a fine paste.
  2. Add the EVOO in a very thin stream with the food processor still running until it is completely incorporated. This step will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon juice and pepper. Blend briefly to mix.

This has pretty good kick, but you can taste and adjust by adding more olive oil or lemon juice to suit your own taste buds, which is what I do. Even after I’ve added the lemon juice, I add extra olive oil, just making sure it goes in a thin stream. This will store in your fridge, tightly sealed, for a few weeks. If you prefer a more neutrally flavored oil, you can use another expeller pressed oil, such as avocado oil, or use half avocado oil and half EVOO. I like the California Olive Ranch everyday EVOO, which has a mild flavor.

Lebanese Garlic Chicken Thighs

Serves 4

  • 8 whole chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons Lebanese garlic sauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the chicken thighs, skin side up, in a large baking or roasting pan and sprinkle them with the sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Spread each with one tablespoon (or more) of the Lebanese garlic sauce.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

I like to make enough for two meals – my motto is cook once and eat twice. It’s a great time saver.

Warm Spinach Salad

Serves 4

  • 6 slices sugar-free bacon, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice of half an orange
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  1. In a medium saute pan on medium-high heat, brown the bacon until all the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the fat in the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside.
  2. Add the shallot to the fat in the pan along with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
  3. Add the orange juice and vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half, three or four minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the spinach and the bacon. Toss with the warm vinaigrette and serve immediately.