Daikon Fries

Doing a 30 day cleanse is no joke. A couple of days ago, I surpassed the halfway mark, and thought to myself “I’m not done yet?!” Nope. I still have many many many days to go.

So, remember how I told you I wasn’t going to white-knuckle my way through this? Well, I started to feel my grip tightening this week. I felt my resolve shaking and the draw for a piece of cake grew larger. This was no longer an issue of commitment, it was the beginning of deprivation.

Deprivation is NOT okay. Deprivation sends me (and you, too) into really unhealthy mindsets and behaviors. So, how do I deal with my deprivation and still stay the course?

I compromise.

I add rice noodles to my chicken and veggie soup when I’m feeling white-knuckly. I make some healthy chocolates. I grill a burger, top it with tomatoes, homemade pickles, fresh cilantro, and then I wrap it in butter lettuce.

I found organic daikon radishes at the salvage grocery store last week for less than $1. I had no idea what to do with them. I knew they would be slightly spicy, an unusual texture and fun to play with. So, what’s a girl on a white-knuckle free cleanse to do?

I MADE FRIES.

Daikon Fries

Those nagging feelings of deprivation, the unhealthy beginnings of berating myself while feeling out of control while attempting to exert ALL the control evaporated.  I gave myself permission to eat, to enjoy a compliant treat. I just needed to think outside the box for a minute.

Full disclosure: These are oven fries. They don’t get super crispy. They are also naturally spicy on their own, which I love but my friend didn’t. But I thought they were damn tasty and I would eat them again, cleanse or not.

Daikon fries would also be great with some siracha mayo, especially if you’re a fan of spicy food. (Siracha mayo recipe: add siracha sauce to mayo and stir until combined. Rocket science, right?) The fries were plenty tasty on their own with just a little salt and paprika, though.

Ingredients

  • 2 large daikon radishes
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • paprika
  • sea salt

Directions

  1. Peel daikon radishes like a carrot.
  2. Cut into matchsticks. (The skinner the cut, the crispier the fries will be.)
  3. Coat in melted coconut oil, and spread evenly on a baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle with paprika, and bake at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes, turning fries over halfway through the baking process.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt.  Eat immediately.

You could probably deep fry these as well, and they would taste super amazing.  I’ll probably try that sometime when I’m feeling like I need some deep fried goodness.  Until then, the oven is great, and the daikon might be my new favorite veggie.

Fries Forever,
Carrie

 

 

 

Zesty Kale Chips

kalechips

Kale chips, by far, is my most frequently requested recipe outside of desserts.  Friends, family, readers, and remarkably self-aware Portland toddlers demand good kale chips.  There are a million ideas on the interwebs, and I feel as though I’ve tried them ALL.  And I don’t love them, I’ll be honest. Well, except for this brand.  I can eat that spendy kale goodness all day long.  But in general, I can’t quite get used to the bitter flavor of the brittle, crispy kale.

However, I’m always up for a challenge unless it involves something that I don’t want to do, like running a marathon or laundry.  Then I’ll gladly say Uncle! and curl up on the couch with a good book and glass of wine.

Given my love of kale and your great interest, though, I actually feel morally compelled to find a kale chip recipe that is not only passable, but doesn’t make me want to eat a whole cake afterward just to get the taste out of my mouth.

Cake Is A Liar

So, when I created a kale chip recipe that I wanted to eat compulsively, I did a little kitchen dance of joy. These little guys took  about 6 tries before I was satisfied with the results, and I ate them until I was almost full. Because you can’t REALLY get full on kale chips.

They taste wonderfully spicy, a little cheesy, and satisfied my snack cravings.  The only problem?  I wanted more.  I also used coconut oil which helped with the bitter flavor.  It is my favorite oil to use on the kale chips by far.

So, I give you Zesty Kale Chips!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, de-stemmed, and dried thoroughly
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil  (This coconut spray worked REALLY WELL, but I can’t vouch for it’s nutritional value or purity.)
  • 2 tsp favorite salt-free seasoning mix (I chose a Grill’n Chop kind, but Spike would work.)
  • smoked sea salt (which you can find at Trader Joe’s for cheap, or in the bulk bins at Whole Foods)

Directions:

  1. After you’ve torn the kale into bite-sized pieces, put in a mixing bowl and spray or drizzle oil over leaves.  Mix well.
  2. Spread leaves over a baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Sprinkle nutritional yeast over the kale, and then follow with salt-free seasoning and a very light sprinkle of salt
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.
  5. Kale should be dark green and even a tiny bit brown in some places, but crunchy.  Consume immediately.

So, there you have it.  My You-Don’t-Want-To-Eat-Cake-After-Eating-These-Kale-Chips Recipe.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

All Hail The Kale,
Carrie

The Joy of Detoxing…and Fried Chicken

Can we talk about fried chicken for a hot second? I know this post is about detoxing and other super fun stuff , but I want to talk about fried chicken first.

Here’s the deal. I LOVE FRIED CHICKEN.

Not just regular fried chicken, but a Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s fried  chicken. It was my first real job at the tender age of 15. I washed dishes, prepped the chicken, made coleslaw by the gallon using vats of industrial mayonnaise (gross), and rung up combo meals for mall patrons, all with a “How may I serve you?” and a smile. (Yeah, that was weird.)

My second brother, who happens to be a pretty funny guy and chicken-lover himself, wrote a song about me and it went like this:

ChristianPoultryGirl
This is my actual senior photo from 1997. Also, making chicken wasn’t really that fun.

Needless to say, I’ve changed quite a bit since my teens, but this song lives on in iconic mid-90’s jingle glory, and bunch of illiterate cows took my job as A Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s mascot.

I continued eating A Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s fried chicken long after I quit my job at the tender age of 16, and that same chicken fueled me well into my 30’s. When we visit family in Texas, I still try to eat it…but then I feel awful because it’s full of all kinds of things that don’t agree with my body. Like MSG and wheat. Super duper SAD FACE.

I lost a bunch of weight several years ago while we lived in Texas. You can read about it here, but that’s not the point of this story. I experienced some success, lost several lbs and was feeling fantastically good. And I mean good like my energy was returning and my hormones were evening out and I was starting to remember what it felt like to live without chronic inflammation. I was within spitting distance of the weight range where I felt (feel) strong, and I could begin thinking about slipping into my favorite little black dress that had been collecting several years’ worth of dust in the back of my closet.

So, I was on my way to work one morning, during a phase when I was eating from a very specific menu but feeling basically bionic , and I passed A Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s fried chicken. I passed this particular location twice a day on my commute to work, and before I started my detox, I ate there a couple of times a week. But on this day, with my weight dropping and my hormones balancing and my energy vibing, ALL I WANTED WAS A DAMN CHICKEN BISCUIT.

My palms actually started sweating. I could taste the buttery, fluffy biscuit surrounding the perfectly pressure-cooked, deep-fried chicken and crispy tater tots posing as hashbrowns. My pulse raced. I envisioned myself taking the exit, pulling up to that drive-thru and eating the crap out of that deep fried goodness. The thought of the instant, flavor-filled. orgasmic mouth joy was so powerful, I took my foot off the gas pedal.

And then I took a mental pause.

I could eat a chicken biscuit. I would enjoy the hell out of it. I could give myself permission to veer from my restricted menu for one meal and then get right back on track. But there was a bigger issue at hand for me.

That chicken biscuit represented something far more powerful than an indulgent meal or comfort food.

It represented joy.

This is the moment I realized how unhappy I had been for years. The only consistent joy I found was in food. Not in my friendships, not in my marriage, not in my community, not in my career. Those all seemed complicated and often stressful, but food? Food was JOYFUL. It was simple. It was a happy escape with instant gratification.

I put my foot back on the gas pedal, and continued on my drive to work. With every mile I put between me and crispy chicken joy,  I became increasingly and acutely aware of how desperately I needed to find other joyful things. So, I started a list of things that brought me joy, in addition to food.

  • Adventures in Nature
  • Traveling
  • New Experiences
  • Reading
  • Dates with My Husband
  • Community
  • Hate-watching The Real Housewives of NYC
  • Creating Recipes
  • The Beach
  • The Mountains
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Yoga

Pretty fun list, right?

So, here’s The Thing. Finding joy in food was never the issue. Food being my only source of joy was, though. And this is why I love a good cleanse/detox/whateveryouwanttocallit. It gives me an opportunity to become present to my life, my food, my choices, my cycles of self-sabotage, my passion, and pushes me to do hard things and become stronger in areas that have zilch to do with eating. It also helps me reconnect to the joy of living, of really tasting and anticipating what’s is in front of me. And if I’m ever disconnected from those truths, if it becomes about deprivation and white-knuckling or a number on the scale, I stop. Because my mental and emotional health drive my physical health, and I will not sacrifice one for the other.

Every part of me matters.

There will be no Before and After pictures. Not here. The internet is full of those shots, and that’s not my style. I am not ashamed of how I look now, and I am proud of my body at any size. Anyway, PICTURES LIE. Just ask the creators of Photoshop and every celebrity ever.

There will be no How To Detox plans or tips, other than EAT REAL FOOD. And maybe avoid sugar, refined flour, too many salads, and cold foods (Yep, I’m looking at you, Juice Cleanse). Drink water and be gentle with yourself.  The end.

There will be an invitation, though. You’re welcome to rediscover what brings you joy as I reconnect with mine over the next 28ish days. I’m going to share my #platesofinspiration, both what I’m eating and other food I’m loving from around the internet, over on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be posting my original recipes here, and if you click “subscribe” at the bottom of this post, we can keep track of each other, encourage each other, and share some great food along the way.

I still love chicken.  But these days, it looks more like this.
I still love chicken. But these days, chicken looks more like this.#platesofinspiration

And just so you know, if you need to stop and get a chicken biscuit, there’s NO SHAME IN THAT GAME. Because chicken.

Forever Buttering Buns,
Carrie

Brown Butter Sage Spaghetti Squash

SpaghettiSquashA few months ago, we stumbled across a fantastic little indoor farmer’s market.  It’s on the cusp of suburbia with a select variety of foods from local farmers and suppliers at a really low cost.  It’s almost ridiculous how cheap it is.  We’re talking $0.38 a pound for organic Jazz apples.  Granted, you have to be ready to consume the produce quickly since it’s definitely the last stop before becoming compost, and you have to be very discerning about what you put in your basket since some of it should actually BE in the compost heap already. But, hey!  Any steps we can take to reducing our family’s toxic exposure and consume organic produce at a super low price is a definite win. And since the indoor farmer’s markets carry seasonal produce, it’s an even bigger win because I can feed my family what our bodies naturally crave during a particular time of year to provide optimal fuel for our immune systems.

I found two spaghetti squash the last time I was there and experimented with how best to prepare them.  Confession: I’ve tried making spaghetti squash a few times and always found it to be either crunchy (i.e. underdone) or super watery (i.e. over-steamed).  Either way, the squash was pretty flavorless and, well, sad.  This time, I decided to infuse the squash with as much flavor as possible and change up my cooking method.  And it worked! The new method I tried was something I read about over at Elena’s Pantry.   Instead of steaming it, or trying to wrestle and butcher the squash before it’s cooked, you cook it first.  Revolutionary, right?  Poke holes in the raw squash.  Roast it.  Cut it.  Scoop out the seeds and discard, then scoop out the perfectly cooked squash and consume.

This changes EVERYTHING.

Ingredients:

  • 1 largish spaghetti squash
  • 3-4 Tbsp brown butter (see below for directions)
  •  6-8 fresh sage leaves
  • cheese cloth, or double-fine mesh strainer
  • S&P to taste


Directions:

  1. Using a fork, poke two sets of holes in whole spaghetti squash.
  2. Place squash on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 80 minutes.
  3. While your squash is baking, begin preparing your brown butter. In a small sauce pan, melt 1/2 cup (one stick) of butter on medium-low heat (4 of 10) and allow to simmer slowly.
  4. When squash is finished baking, cut open lengthwise to make two halves, then scrape out seeds and discard.
  5. With a fork, scrape out the sqaghetti squash into an oven safe dish.  Cut up your sage leaves and sprinkle them over the top of the squash.
  6. Check on your melted butter.  It should start to brown a bit by now, with the solids falling down to the bottom of the pan and turning golden brown.  It will also smell amazing.  Be careful not to let it burn, which requires watching it fairly closely.  :)
  7. When your butter is a dark golden brown with a caramely-nutty smell, remove it from heat and filter out the milk solids by pouring the mixture through a cheese cloth or double-fine mesh strainer.  You’ll be left with a clear, golden brown butter and a strainer full of  brown crunchy milk solids.  :)
  8. Pour butter over sage and squash, give it a gentle stir, and return to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes until ridiculously tender, the sage is soft, and the butter is soaked in.
  9. Remove the squash from the oven.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

You will NOT be disappointed, my friends.  Unless you hate butter.  But I can’t help that.