Chicken Enchiladas in Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

I am originally from Texas, so I have enchilada sauce running through my veins. Enchiladas are one of my all-time favorite foods, and the food I use to judge every Mexican restaurant. It would seem like a diet that eliminates all grains, most dairy, and canned foods would pose a real challenge to an enchilada-lover such as myself, but really it means I have to get creative.

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I present one variation of enchiladas that we have made and enjoyed, but there are so many possibilities. The tomatillo sauce featured here is sweet, tangy, and fresh, and I can imagine these being especially yummy paired with shrimp instead of chicken. I’d also like to work on perfecting a homemade red enchilada sauce soon. But, green enchiladas are and always have been my favorite, so I started here. These may not bear much resemblance to the cheese-sauce gooey, gravy-topped Tex-Mex enchiladas of my youth (thankfully) but I feel really good eating these enchiladas knowing they are filled with healthy vegetables and super lean protein. Like, I can eat these and not need a Mexican-food nap to recover afterwards. And Chris says he can’t even tell we’re not using “real” tortillas.

Making every part of an enchilada from scratch is a time-consuming process, so I recommend either making this on a weekend when you have plenty of time or making it in stages. If you use leftover chicken and make the tomatillo sauce and/or tortillas ahead of time it would be a snap to pull together on a weeknight. And, the good news is, it makes a lot so depending on the number of mouths you are feeding you can have leftovers for several meals (and they taste even better as leftovers!).

These veggies will be the basis of your enchilada sauce. Don’t be afraid of the tomatillos. They look hard but the husk just peels right off. Don’t worry if your tomatillos leave your hands sticky–it’s totally normal.P1000546

Roughly chop everything and throw them on a baking sheet. No need to be precise here.P1000547

Throw everything together in the food processor.P1000548

Yummmmy homemade enchilada sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Once it’s cooled a little, add yogurt if you want to. Don’t let anyone near this with tortilla chips…it will be all gone by the time you are ready to assemble the enchiladas!P1000549

Now start on your chickens if you aren’t using leftovers. Nothing fancy, just salt and some seasonings of your choice.P1000550

This is how my grain-free tortillas look. Against all Grain does a great job documenting the whole process, so I will spare you additional pictures. You can see they are not all the same size or shape, but they will work just fine for enchiladas. If your tortillas don’t look perfect, don’t sweat it!P1000551

Saute your remaining onion and garlic and add in your shredded chicken.P1000553

Set up an assembly line with tortillas, shredded cheese, chicken, sauce, and prepared casserole dish. If you have an extra set of willing hands around the house this is a good time to recruit them.P1000554

Fill each tortilla with a little chicken, a little sauce, and a little cheese.P1000555

Tuck your enchiladas into your casserole dish.P1000556

Smother with remaining sauce and cheese. Pop uncovered dish in the oven.P1000557

All done!P1000558

This meal deserves TWO pictures!P1000560

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients (Serves 6 generously)

  • 1.25 pounds tomatillos, husked and cut in half
  • 1 large onion, peeled and very roughly chopped
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper (or use 1-2 jalapenos instead if you like more heat)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, stalks trimmed off
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup plain strained yogurt (optional)

Against all Grain’s Grain-Free Tortilla Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • butter or other cooking oil

Enchilada Filling Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breast (about 1 1/2 large breasts; or, use leftover chicken for a quicker preparation)
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • sea salt
  • Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming spice blend (or substitute chipotle powder, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and any other pepper you like to be completely SCD legal)
  • 1/2 pound cheese, shredded (I used a lactose-free raw white cheddar, but a Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack blend would be nice)

Method

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place tomatillos, onion, bell pepper, and garlic on a parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined cookie sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
  • Add all roasted veggies to a food processor, along with lime, cilantro, and spices, and blend until almost smooth or to desired consistency. Add yogurt once the mixture has cooled a bit, if you like your enchilada sauce a little creamier.

Chicken Breasts

  • Coat both sides of chicken breast(s) with spices and sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165 degrees.
  • Shred chicken (I use the dough blade attachment on my food processor to make quick work of this!).
  • Turn oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add a bit of butter or cooking oil to your fry pan and cook remaining garlic and onion until soft. Toss with shredded chicken.

Grain-Free Tortillas

  • Prepare your grain-free tortillas. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 10 minutes, and beat again.
  • Heat up a small pat of butter or other cooking oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan (I use a Bialetti ceramic non-stick frying pan and it’s amazing!).
  • Add 1/4 cup of batter at a time. I find it works best to add a pat of butter to my pan and swirl it around. Then I hold the pan off the heat at an angle and add the batter at the top so that it runs down the pan–the thinner the better. If holes form you can always fill them in with a bit more batter. Set the pan down on the heat to finish cooking (about 1 minute, until the surface looks dull and bubbles form), then gently flip and let cook for another 30 seconds or so. This can take a little practice, but if some don’t turn out beautifully, don’t worry; after all, they are going to be smothered in cheese and enchilada sauce in a minute, so nobody will even know! Stack on a plate until ready to stuff.

Filling and Assembly

  • Assemble your enchiladas! Spoon a bit of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a glass casserole dish and spread thinly. Then, take each tortilla and add shredded chicken, a pinch of cheese, and a smear of enchilada sauce. You want the tortillas full but not so full that you can’t roll them all the way closed, so the exact amount of filling will depend on the size of your tortillas. Tuck the enchiladas into the casserole dish and repeat until all your tortillas are stuffed.
  • Spread remaining enchilada sauce on top of enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. I served mine with crookneck squash and grey Mexican squash sauteed quickly in butter. Serve with extra plain yogurt in place of sour cream, hot sauce, and slivers of avocado, if desired.

 

Leek and Bacon Breakfast Pie

This is another adaptation of one of Against All Grain’s absolutely amazing inventions. I’ve made this a few times and each time made a couple of tiny revisions, not because the original isn’t fabulous, but just to work better with the equipment and ingredients I usually have on hand. I think we’ve finally nailed it. This is a savory, rich treat that I would be proud to serve to at any brunch, or that we will happily gobble up as breakfast for dinner after a rough day. Feel free to play with this recipe–use sausage instead of bacon, add more veggies to the topping, or change up the herbs in the crust.

One thing to note is that this dish is rich in fat and calories. Usually this is not too much of a concern for IBD patients, who tend to be underweight anyway. While I am not underweight, personally, I have lost a lot of weight since being diagnosed with Crohn’s. Some of this might be the effect of the disease, but I also think that my body is better able to appropriately digest and utilize fats and proteins than complex carbohydrates. My husband and I both lost quite a bit of weight while on the Paleo diet, which is also a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet not so different from SCD. I think there is more and more evidence supporting the idea that complex carbs, too much sugar, and highly processed foods are behind weight problems, and that dietary fat (especially from good plant-based sources) is not what makes us fat. More on this later.

In the meantime, make this breakfast pie immediately. Chris kept talking about Heaven the whole time he was eating this, and I take that as a pretty good sign.

Mix up your filling first.P1000518

Then prepare your crust. Throw all crust ingredients into the food processor.P1000520

This is what it will look like when the dough is ready.

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Press it into a cake pan. Pop it into the oven.P1000522

Now get o work on your toppings. Saute bacon until about halfway cooked and then add shredded leeks. Your house will now smell like heaven. Try not to eat all the bacon and leeks now. You will need them for your pie!P1000523

Your crust should be ready for fillings now. Layer in the cheese and then the bacon and leeks. Pop it in the oven again until the cheese is all melty and delicious.P1000524P1000525

Crack eggs on top. Pop in the oven one last time.P1000526

Devour!P1000527

Leek and Bacon Breakfast Pie Ingredients (serves 4-5 as main dish; more as side)

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold goat or cow milk butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cold water or bone broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain strained yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cheese (I used a mixture of fontina and swiss because that’s what I had on hand), shredded
  • 1 leek, cleaned, trimmed of dark green leaves, and shredded
  • 7 slices bacon, diced (to be completely SCD legal, make sure it doesn’t have any sugar or other ingredients in it!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 6 eggs

Method

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add all crust ingredients to food processor with dough blade and process until a ball forms. Press into a 9-inch cake pan (the dough might not reach all the way up the sides, and this is ok).
  • Place the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Mix yogurt, shredded cheese, salt and pepper, and nutmeg together in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Brown bacon in a pan until halfway cooked; add leeks and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until bacon is cooked but not yet crispy and leeks are softened.
  • Remove crust from oven. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the cheese mixture first, then layer the bacon and leeks on top. Return the pie to the oven for 10 more minutes.
  • Remove the pie from the oven and crack eggs on top. Bake for 15 more minutes, or until the egg yolks are cooked to your liking, and let set for 5 minutes before serving. We like to eat this with a few slivers of fresh avocado. It would also be lovely with fruit and a simple green salad with vinaigrette or roasted tomatoes.

Spiced Pear Breakfast Nut Crumble

My mom was recently telling me about how my grandma can’t eat raw fruit anymore, and how much she misses it. Since I’m in the same boat, I started thinking about how to work in cooked fruit. I came up with this easy baked pear dish that is perfect for breakfast served with yogurt or even as a light dessert.

Start with the nuts!Image

Then bake them.P1000540

While that’s baking, prepare the fruit. Here’s what you’ll need.P1000541

And here’s what it will look like ready to go into the oven.P1000542

And coming out of the oven…P1000543

Breakfast of champions!P1000545

Sea Salt Nut Crunchies Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw nuts (I used half hazelnuts, half almonds, but any combination you like is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Spiced Pear Filling Ingredients

  • 4 pears, peeled, cored, and chopped into bite size pieces
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or equivalent of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Method

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Add all ingredients for the sea salt nut crunchies to a food processor with the blade attached. Process until they are broken down a bit but not yet turned into a nut meal.
  • Spread mixture on a parchment paper or silicone mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until they are fragrant but not browned. Resist the urge to eat all the warm nuts, but go ahead and eat a few because they are reaalllyyyyy good.
  • While nuts are baking, combine all ingredients except for butter in a small casserole dish. Resist the urge to gobble up all your spiced pears raw. Place the pieces of butter on top.
  • Turn oven up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 30 minutes, until fruit is soft and liquid is bubbling. Top with nut mixture and serve plain or with yogurt.

Lemon Shrimp with Tzatziki

This recipe is inspired by Against All Grain’s Lamb Gyro with Tzatziki. I have tried her recipe as is, and make no mistake, it is good. My husband declared it one of his all-time favorite meals (SCD or not!).

But I had a dilemma when I went to the grocery store recently and they were out of lamb. We have been trying to incorporate more seafood, anyway, so I decided to slightly alter the recipe to make it work for us.

Shrimp are a wonderful source of the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrient astaxanthin. This nutrient suppresses inflammatory messages like tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is actually similar to the way common IBD medications like Humira reduce inflammation in the body. Shrimp are also very high in B vitamins, which patients with IBD sometimes have to receive by injection because of chronic deficiencies, along with selenium and protein. They are a good source of iron, zinc, and several other minerals as well.

And let’s not forget that they are delicious and super fast to prepare!

First prepare your marinade by mixing all these ingredients in a large bowl.P1000442

Throw in the raw shrimpies, toss well, and put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to marinate. P1000446

While they are marinating, prepare your tzatziki.P1000443

Combine in a bowl.P1000444

Mix well. I forgot the garlic at first. DON’T FORGET THE GARLIC!P1000445

Once the shrimp have marinaded for awhile and the tzatziki is ready, heat up a large pan until very hot and dump shrimp, along with marinade, into pan. They will cook very quickly so don’t step away.P1000450

Cook, stirring regularly, until the shrimp are pink and curled and the liquid has reduced.P1000451

Serve with veggies of choice (pictured here with my Mediterranean Roasted Veggies) and a generous serving of tzatziki. I tried to make it look pretty for the picture but in reality we mixed it all up and inhaled. This would also be very good on salad greens if you tolerate raw vegetables well.P1000452

Shrimp Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 pound raw, cleaned shrimp, 40-60 or larger
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt free Italian seasoning (or equivalent of basil, oregano, and fennel)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Method

  • Combine all ingredients except the shrimp in a bowl and stir to mix.
  • Toss the shrimp in the bowl until evenly coated and let marinade in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat a skillet until it is very hot. Pour entire contents of bowl into the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are pink and curled with no translucent spots in the middle and the liquid is somewhat reduced.

Tzatziki Ingredients

  • 1 cup strained plain yogurt
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder (or 1 tablespoon grated fresh onion)

Method

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Best if prepared at least 30 minutes ahead of serving so that flavors can meld.

Mediterranean Roasted Veggies

Ok. Why does anyone ever eat steamed vegetables when roasting them is so easy and the results are tender, flavorful, caramelized deliciousness? You can roast pretty much any veggie, but this recipe is for a combination that I especially like when serving anything with a Mediterranean flare. The sweet peppers balance the earthy eggplant really well. Here are the veggies I will use. Gather and wash them.P1000439 Peel your eggplant and cut it into bite-size pieces. If you have time, sprinkle with salt and set in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. This will help draw out excess moisture and will make it easier to use less oil, but if you are in a rush you can totally omit this step.P1000440 Now chop up the rest of your veggies into similar sizes.P1000441 Toss all prepared veggies in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.P1000447 Spread out in a thin layer on a parchment paper or silicone-lined cookie sheet. The parchment paper or silicone mat helps make clean-up easier but if you don’t have any you can roast the veggies directly on the cookie sheet.P1000448 Bake until tender and slightly browned on edges. Serve with everything!P1000510 Mediterranean Roasted Veggies Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces, and drained if desired
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), cored and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a large cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. If the oil seems to be absorbed too quickly by the eggplant, add a little more until all the vegetables have a very light coating of oil but there is no excess in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Spread in a thin layer on prepared cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, until all veggies are soft and starting to brown around the edges, stirring every 10 minutes.

Tonight I served this dish with my Quick Salmon Cakes (recipe coming soon)!

Whole Roasted Chicken with Braised Vegetables and Bone Broth

Recently I have gotten into the habit of roasting a whole chicken and making homemade bone broth every week. This process requires a bit of up-front work, but then it makes meal preparations so easy for the rest of the week. One chicken easily feeds my husband and me for 4 meals, and I use the bone broth in the place of water in pretty much every savory recipe I make. Bone broth also makes a really good snack or very light meal, especially during a flare. It is very easy to digest and is full of nutrients that fight inflammation, reduce joint pain, boost immunity, keep bones strong, and strengthen hair and nails. This article among many others provides some good information on the health benefits of bone broth. Interestingly enough, I have found that both traditional and alternative sources strongly recommend broth consumption to IBD sufferers.

I feel like roasting a chicken should be a fairly simple operation, but we are so far removed from the natural state of our food that I feel like most people my age seem scared to buy and prepare a whole bird. I am going to walk you through the process step-by-step, and I promise that you can do it and even your grandma will be impressed with the result!

We normally eat the chicken and vegetables plain for a few meals, and then I use leftovers in recipes throughout the week. This week we used leftovers to make PaleOMG’s AH-MAY-ZING chicken pesto pasta. Since the chicken was already cooked, it was a total snap to throw this delicious dinner together!

Begin with roasting your bird and braising some veggies. Here are the veggies we are going to be using today:Image

 

Leeks have a tendency to collect a lot of dirt as they grow. To clean them, cut off the dark green leaves and the white end. Slice into the vegetable about halfway up the stalk and separate the layers so you can wash between them.Image

Chop off the tops and ends of carrots; then peel and chop in half. Throw the waste from the leeks and carrots into your crockpot for later.Image

Arrange the cut, prepared vegetables and one third of your fresh herbs in the bottom of a casserole dish and add white wine. Drizzle olive oil on top of the veggies and sprinkle a little sea salt and black pepper on them.Image

Prepare your spice rub by processing one third of fresh herbs and all dried spices and herbs in a food processor. Then combine with 3 tablespoons olive oil.Image

Now it’s time to give your chicken a spa treatment. Reach inside and pull out the gizzards. Set aside. Rinse your chicken inside and out with water and then set in your prepared roasting pan. Massage it inside and out with the oil/spice mixture.Image

Stuff the remaining aromatics inside the chicken.P1000463

Go ahead and put the chicken in the oven.Image

Once your chicken is done cooking, carve. If you’re not sure how to carve a whole chicken, this video is pretty helpful.

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Serve with braised veggies.P1000472

Finally we get to the part where you make chicken bone broth! Throw all the bones from the carved  chicken into your slow cooker, along with your veggie trimmings. Also….let’s deal with the gizzards now. I like to add the neck and heart to my broth, but not the liver (some people are quite averse to the taste of liver in broth). The first picture is the neck and heart, which I throw in.P1000464

Did I mention that I used to be a vegetarian?!?  The next picture is the liver, which I throw out. P1000466

Add celery and any other aromatics you want, along with the apple cider vinegar and gizzards. Fill the slow cooker with filtered water up to the fill line. P1000471

Cook on high for 2 hours, then on low for at least 6 hours, or up to 22 hours.  Then strain through a colander lined with a piece of cheesecloth into a large bowl. P1000479And there you have it. Beautiful, golden, nutritious bone broth! If you have any solid fat on the surface once it cools, scoop it off with a spoon and discard or use in the place of cooking oil.P1000481

Roasted Chicken Ingredients (serves 4-5, with leftover meat)

  • 1 whole chicken (organic and pastured is ideal)
  • 7-10 carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 4-5 small leeks, cleaned with green leaves and bottoms removed
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • several sprigs fresh herbs, divided three ways (tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, and sage are all good choices)
  • 1/4 cup very dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de provence
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Method

  • Preheat oven to 330 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pour white wine into large glass casserole dish. Arrange carrots, leeks, and 1/3 of the fresh herbs in the dish, with the leeks and carrots to the side and the herbs in the middle. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Remove gizzards from chicken and set aside. Rinse chicken inside and out and place in middle of casserole dish.
  • Combine all dry herbs and spices and another third of the fresh herbs in a food processor. Process until they are a fine powder. Mix with remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil (the consistency should be like a thin paste).
  • Rub the chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Stuff the remaining fresh herbs, lemon, and garlic inside the chicken. If desired, tie legs together with kitchen twine (I never do, but it makes for a pretty presentation).
  • Bake for 3 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Rotate veggies and baste chicken with juices about once every hour. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Chicken Bone Broth Ingredients

  • Raw chicken heart and neck (optional)
  • Bones with a bit of meat still on them from roasted chicken (smaller ones snapped, if possible. Yes, I am a monster.)
  • Vegetables (for this batch I used trimmings from 7 carrots, plus 2 more carrots cut in half, trimmings from 4 small leeks, and 3 celery stalks cut in half; at a minimum you should use leeks/onions, carrots, and celery, although other vegetables can be added and the ratios adjusted to taste)
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cold filtered water (enough to fill slow cooker to fill line)

Method

  • Add all ingredients except for parsley, salt, and pepper to slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours.
  • Cook on low for 6-22 hours.
  • Turn off heat and add parsley; allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Strain through cheesecloth and colander.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to five days, or in the freezer for several months.

Simple Almond Milk

There are a million recipes for homemade almond milk on the internet, yet I was still hesitant to try making my own. For one thing, it takes some time to get used to the idea of soaking nuts for 7 hours or more before you even do anything with them. Also, I have like a $20.00 plastic blender that I got from a discount grocery store, so I was concerned that it might not be up for the job.

Now, I’m realizing hesitating was a bad decision.

First of all, homemade almond milk is so good for you. I’ve tried to find a good source of information on the nutrient profile of homemade almond milk, without much success.  This source seems the most balanced to me. In short, it says that almond milk is surprisingly low in fat and calories. It has a little protein and a little fiber in it, and the fat that it does have is mostly heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Almond milk is also rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, manganese, selenium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous and calcium. Some of these minerals, like selenium and zinc, are important in regulating immune function. Magnesium facilitates many crucial functions and people with gastrointestinal diseases are one of the few groups at risk for chronic deficiencies (although you should not consume large amounts of magnesium when on antibiotics commonly prescribed for IBD, such as cipro). See this article for more information. Almonds are one of the best natural sources of this mineral, and it’s always better to get our vitamins and minerals from natural foods than from supplements, because our bodies are better able to absorb them and we are less likely to cause a new problem by introducing imbalance. And by straining out the skins and solid parts of the almonds, almond milk is even easier to digest.

So, have I convinced you to make almond milk a regular treat yet?

The first step in preparing almond milk is to soak the almonds for 7-24 hours in a salt solution.Image

This serves two purposes: first of all, it softens the nut and prepares it for processing—the longer the soak, up to 24 hours, the creamier the resulting milk; secondly, it breaks down and neutralizes enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors, which are present in many nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, are basically a defense mechanism of the plant. They prevent the plant from sprouting or breaking down in any way until conditions are right for growth. This makes it difficult for insects or drought to negatively affect the survival of the species, but it also makes it difficult for our own digestive enzymes to break down the food properly. By soaking the nut, we are basically tricking it into thinking that it is time for it to sprout and grow!

Once the nuts are soaked, the process is very simple: first rinse them in a colander with fresh water.Image

Then, blend with filtered water (I told you I didn’t have a fancy blender!).

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Strain through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.

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Pour it into a jar or wherever you want to store your fresh almond milk.

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Almond Milk Ingredients (yield 2 cups)

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups filtered water, plus more for soaking
  • ¼ tablespoon sea salt
  • Dates, honey, vanilla, or other flavorings (optional)

Method

  • Measure almonds and place in a bowl.
  • Dissolve sea salt in warm, filtered water, and pour over the almonds. You want to use enough water to cover the almonds with a few inches, since they will expand slightly as they soak.
  • Let almonds soak for a minimum of 7 hours, and a maximum of 24 hours.
  • Drain almonds. Discard the soaking water and rinse thoroughly. Place almonds and 2 cups filtered water in blender. If you like, add dates or honey, vanilla, or any other flavorings you’d like at this stage. I like my almond milk plain.
  • Blend on a high setting for about 4 minutes.
  • Using a nut milk bag lining a mason jar, or a colander or strainer lined with cheesecloth and set in a bowl, strain the almond milk. Gently squeeze on the almond meal to extract as much milk as possible.

That’s it! If you’d like, you can add the pulp to smoothies or oatmeal, or you can dehydrate it in the oven by spreading it thinly on a cookie sheet and baking at 150 degrees for a few hours, until completely dry, to use for baking. Store the milk in the refrigerator and consume within 3 days. Here are my favorite ways to incorporate almond milk into my diet:

  • Combined with a very small amount of coffee. SCD recommends only very weak coffee, so this way I get to feel like I’m drinking coffee but I get plenty of nutrients and less bad effects.
  • Mixed with a banana, ice cubes, yogurt or kefir, and cacao or 100% fruit jam for a probiotic morning smoothie.
  • In the place of liquid milk in recipes.

It’s also nice to drink plain if I have any leftover (which I rarely do!).

Creamy Carrot Puree

I paired my meatloaf with a carrot puree. I got the inspiration from Nom Nom Paleo’s Cauliflower and Carrot Puree. I love me some cauliflower fauxtatoes, but cauliflower, broccoli, and members of the cabbage family can be harder to digest than other veggies. Soft cooked, pureed veggies are easy to digest, and cooked carrots are especially belly friendly. So I decided to leave out the cauliflower and tweak the recipe a bit.

But forget about your bellies and let’s focus on your tastebuds. This puree is rich, creamy, and decadent tasting. It’s full of nutrients. It can be prepared in a single pot. The carrots make this side dish sweet and earthy, while the yogurt adds a pleasing tang. And to be honest, I would rather eat this than mashed potatoes any day of the week. Even on Thanksgiving. Chris, who doesn’t even like carrots that much, asked for seconds!

Chop your veggies and get out your butter and chicken stock first. Image

Throw that all in a pot.

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When everything is cooked and soft, remove from heat and plop the yogurt on top.

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Blend away!

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YUM.

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Carrot Puree Ingredients (3-4 servings)

  • ½ large onion, cut into large dice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • ½ cup chicken stock (homemade bone broth, if you have it)
  • 3 tablespoons goat or cow milk butter
  • ½ cup plain strained yogurt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  • Heat a stockpot over medium high heat and add the butter. I used goat butter because it’s extra delicious (don’t tell Chris! He hates goat everything!), but cow milk butter would work as well.
  • Add all the chopped vegetables and the chicken stock to the melted butter.
  • Once the liquid boils, cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Check on them occasionally to make sure the pan is not dry. Ideally by the end of the cooking time the stock would be reduced almost to a glaze, but there would be no burnt spots on your veggies.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add in strained yogurt and process with immersion blender until smooth. Please note: If you add in the yogurt when the vegetables are still very hot or reheat leftover puree, you will kill off most of the beneficial bacteria; but, since the lactose in the yogurt should have already been digested by the bacteria, this is still preferable to using other dairy products. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Voila. You have a simple, nutrient-dense, comforting dinner. You could feed this to your family and to your friends who don’t even know or care what SCD is. They’ll be happy, full, and everyone’s tastebuds AND tummies will thank you!

(ALMOST) SCD Legal Meatloaf

I recently saw a post about foods that people from outside the U.S. hate, and meatloaf was one of them. I was surprised—meatballs seem to be an almost universal food, and meatloaf is like a gigantic meatball! While it may offend the refined palates of my international friends, my husband and I happen to both love meatloaf. It’s inexpensive, easy to prepare (although it needs time to bake), and this version is full of healthy veggies. While some people with IBD find red meat hard to digest, it’s important to try to incorporate it occasionally because anemia, or iron deficiency, is also often a problem in this population, and red meat is one of the best natural sources of iron. Without further ado, here is a very basic but pleasing meatloaf recipe:

Here is all the stuff you’ll need for the meatloaf itself:

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Put it in a bowl and mix it all together. Get your hands in there!

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Now press it into your pan. Mmmmmmmm raw beef….

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Next, let’s get the topping ready. Nothing fancy here. Just plop it in a bowl and mix.

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And smear it on your loaf.  Mmmm, smeared raw beef…

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Ok, now put it in your preheated oven until your oven thermometer reads 160 (mine reads 180 in this picture…whoops…it was still juicy!)

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I served my meatloaf with a creamy carrot puree as a side (I’ll post that recipe soon, too!). Buen provecho!

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Meatloaf Ingredients (4-5 generous servings)

  • 1 pound ground beef (grassfed is always better)
  • ½ large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper, finely chopped (I used red because that’s what I had on hand, but green is more traditional)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Topping Ingredients

  • ½ cup extra concentrated tomato paste*
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Combine all meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix it all around, but be careful not to over mix because the heat from your hands will melt the fat in the meat and cause it to turn out denser.
  • Press the meat mixture into a loaf pan.
  • Mix together all the topping ingredients in a separate bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. Add a little more honey if you like your topping sweeter, or a bit more mustard or vinegar if it’s too sweet.
  • Spoon the topping mixture onto the meat and spread in an even layer.
  • Bake for about 1.5 hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. You may want to start checking after about an hour, since the amount of time this takes to cook will vary based on the type of pan you are using, its dimensions, your oven calibration, and so on. I recommend placing the meatloaf on the top rack and a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of your oven underneath your meatloaf to avoid a mess if your loaf pan is very full like mine is.
  • Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. You may notice that this meatloaf is swimming in a lot of juices and does not hold together quite as well as traditional meatloaf. This is normal; it occurs because there are no grains in the mixture to bind the ingredients and absorb moisture, but the flavor is still very pleasing. Just remove slices very gently using a spatula, and you can drain off excess liquid once the first slice or two are out. It is possible that using coconut flour instead of almond flour would yield a drier loaf because coconut flour is more absorbent; I may try this in the future and report back—if you try it, please let me know how it turns out!

*Please note: No canned vegetables are SCD legal. I used them anyway because that’s what I had on hand, and, as I’ve mentioned previously, my goal is to adhere as closely to the SCD as possible without it dominating my life. So, I used canned tomatoes. Here are my recommendations to make the recipe 100% SCD legal: Chop about 4 large tomatoes into large dice. Toss with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and about a teaspoon of Italian seasonings. Roast at 375 until very soft. Process the tomatoes in a food processor until they are just slightly broken down. Substitute this for the canned diced tomatoes. For the tomato paste, simmer plain tomato juice on the stove until it is very reduced and season to taste with salt, then add the honey, mustard, and vinegar; or, substitute SCD legal ketchup and cut back on the honey and vinegar.