Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Paleo Chicken Salad for the Lunch Box

I used Texas Pecan Halves & Spicy Cayenne Pepper, be Creative & Enjoy.
Of late it seems that everyone in my family is on some form of Paleo (aka: Caveman Diet), Zone or Gluten Free Diet.  In truth I've been really trying to stick to the First Two food lifestyles.  We are always trying to find another way to exclude those favorite starches & find a meal which appeals to all of us.Bytes from Texas first found dozens of Paleo diet websites which eschew many starches & anything with grains or dairy.  I can take most of this diet lifestyle very well but the total lack of grains does get a little tedious for me long term but it the benefits currently seem to outweigh the negatives.  One of the best sources of Paleo recipes which are more than just a meat & veggie meal can be found at PaleoPlan.  In fact I borrowed liberally for my spicy version of the Lascaux Chicken Waldorf Salad.  I also used Agave Nectar instead of the site's version using honey.  I discovered Agave Nectar while living in Mexico.  The health benefits of Agave Nectar have long been recognized.  For more info on this sweet sugar & honey substitution check Here.

This past week when the Mister had to travel away from home I ended up having to figure out ways of using up an entire roast chicken.  (Not too much of a stretch actually!) I decided a cold dinner of a Paleo Chicken Salad would be just perfect. We had so much Chicken Salad left over that a lunch choice was of course a natural progression.  Throwing this yummy salad into a Bento along side a few veggies was wonderful.  You can dress up or spice your own chicken salad up or down.   I recommend making this salad as I did the evening before & chilling it well for a good lunch box addition. 

Paleo Chicken Salad
4 cups of cooked diced chicken, or whole roasted chicken, meat pulled off the bone & skinned.
2 large tart apple, cored & diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup homemade* mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons agave nectar
Cayenne pepper

Instructions for Salad

In a medium size bowl, combine chicken, apple, bell pepper & pecans.
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lime juice & agave nectar and mix until well blended.
Season to taste with cayenne pepper
Toss the dressing over chicken salad and toss to cover chicken & serve immediately or chill.
Mayonnaise is by nature friendly towards this diet lifestyle however if the chicken salad seems to need more moisture in the way of mayonnaise watch amount of extra mayo being added.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Red Chili Omelet, chopsticks, spoon or spork?

Really good meals must be enjoyed & eaten with the right tools even if happens to be your fingers.  I was wondering how best to eat this lunchtime omelet roll out of my bento box.  Kai Yad Sai is a traditional Thai recipe however with the liberal use of heat enjoyed in that cuisine I believe that my Tex-Mex changes will be more harmonious than offensive.  Eating the rolls with the sauce makes it a little more difficult because truth be told I could almost eat that sauce with a spoon!! Manners aside though it was easily eaten with either chopsticks or my new "spork".  I found a fold up "Beetle Spork" on my travels & thought it was the perfect stow-able eating utensil.  It even comes in a small storage case it folds into. Including a link here for the Foldable Beetle Spork. Enjoy the Chili Omelet rolls & Buen Provecho.

Beetle Spoon Fork Utensil

A dark color napkin is a good idea with the stain-worthy chili sauce
Red Chili Omelet Rolls Kai Yad Sai~Tex Mex Style

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp red chili peppers diced & seeded
2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tbsp thinly sliced cucumber
3 tbsp cotija cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup red chili sauce *see recipe below

Heat half of the oil in a wok high heat and stir-fry onion, red bell pepper for 1- 2 minutes or until cooked. Add the small handful of whole spinach leaves & turn off skillet when wilted & then set aside.
Heat a small skillet or omelet pan 9 to 12 in. diameter and add a drop of the remaining oil. Pour in enough egg to thinly cover the bottom of the skillet. Brown the omelet lightly on both sides, being careful to turn the omelet over gently halfway through cooking.
To stuff the omelet, spread thin mixture of Red Chili Sauce over surface of Omelet. Place 1 to 2 spoonfuls of the spinach, pepper mixture in the center, add cilantro, cucumber, cotija cheese then either roll like a tortilla or fold two opposite sides toward the center and then fold in the remaining sides so that the omelet forms a square. Place on a serving plate & serve either warm or room temperature. Garnish with extra sauce & cilantro.**This is also good with ground chicken or pork also.  In the interest of keeping a meal I can eat either at room temperature or cool I did not add the meat since my days are often high speed & on the run. This recipe can also have much more variety using any vegetables, try carrots, potato, baby corn or tomatoes.

*Red Chili Sauce
3 dried Guajillo Chilis
1 large clove garlic
1 small tomato, diced
2 black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 teaspoon of salt, more to taste
1 tsp sugar
Olive oil

Place dried chilies to a small saucepan and add enough water so that they are just covered. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, until the chilies have softened and plumped up. (OR pour place the chilies in a small saucepan and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let sit for 15 minutes, until softened.)

4 Reserving the soaking water, remove the chilies from the pan and place in a blender. Add the tomato, garlic, salt, ground pepper and 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid (taste the soaking water first, if it seems bitter, use water instead). Purée for 2 minutes, until the sauce is completely smooth. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings. If you want more heat, add in a few of the seeds or veins and purée some more. Add more salt or sugar if needed. I freeze my sauce at this point for future use for enchiladas or stews but it will keep in the refrigerator several days.
Recipe can be doubled & then some.  Freeze leftovers.