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LF Herbed Chicken Salad

We love chicken salad. It’s a great way to utilize leftovers or the meat off a chicken you’re using to make bone broth. Sure, there are a lot of chicken salad recipes out there, and they’re all pretty much the same, but here’s where mine differs: I use LF mayonnaise. I use AnnMarie of CHEESESLAVE’s recipe…tweaked just a little bit. I like a bit more mustard, and a bit more lemon, but that’s just me. Use your favorite mayo recipe, but for goodness sake, don’t use commercially made mayonnaise! Homemade is super easy to make–all you need is a blender or a food processor and 5 minutes. I have it down to a science, LOL.


Fresh Basil

Please note that the I haven’t listed amounts really…this is deliberate. If you have only one chicken breast, that will work, as will the meat from a whole chicken. If you like it creamier, add more mayo or sour cream. Not so fond of lemon juice? Apple Cider Vinegar will do the trick. Don’t have basil on hand? Try fresh thyme, rosemary, or even italian parsley. You get the idea: get creative!

LF Herbed Chicken Salad

Leftover chicken, diced
Homemade LF mayo
Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche (I find this locally sold as “extra rich sour cream.”)
3 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
1/2 onion, peeled and finely diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
A bunch of fresh basil leaves, julienned
A bunch of fresh italian parsley leaves, julienned
Juice from 1/2 of an organic lemon
RealSalt to taste
Organic black pepper to taste

Combine the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl; set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add dressing and fold together until well combined. Transfer salad to a serving bowl (I don’t know about you, but my mixing bowl is much too big for my fridge), cover with cheesecloth, and let rest at room temperature for about an hour before storing in the fridge. The resting at room temperature allows the lactobacilli to proliferate, increasing nutrients and digestibility. The overall flavor improves with time, as well–I try to make this at least one day ahead of when I want to eat it. 🙂

Enjoy and be well!


Traditional Food #2: Kefir

Today’s post is about kefir, the second item in my Top 10 Traditional Foods list. Kefir is a cultured milk beverage, similar to yogurt, but typically thinner–think “drinkable”. Like yogurt, kefir contains friendly bacteria (probiotics) that aid in digestion. Unlike yogurt, the bacteria found in kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract–providing a fantastic defense against pathogens.

So where can you get kefir? Some grocery stores carry it; Lifeway and Helios are two brands I can find locally. You can also make your own kefir; it’s very simple. Kefir is made when kefir grains, placed into milk, are left to culture (ferment) for usually 24 hours. So what is a kefir grain? Sounds weird, right? Here’s what Dom, the Kefir Guru, has to say about them:

A batch of kefir grains consist of many individual white to bone-coloured mostly self-enclosed bodies made up of a soft, gelatinous biological mass somewhat resembling cooked cauliflower rosettes. The complexity of the kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, lipids [fats] and soluble-polysaccharides. Kefiran a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues, is the major polysaccharide of kefir grains and is also found in kefir. The bacteria and yeasts not only create the bio-matrix structure, or the grains, the organisms are also harboured by the very structure that they create; abiding on the surface, and encapsulated within the grain itself

Check out Dom’s site here. He is truly the Kefir Guru and you will learn more than you ever thought possible about kefir. It’s fascinating reading; kefir grains can also be used to culture sugar water–I haven’t tried it yet, but I may this summer when the weather warms up.

Kefir Grains

Kefir Grains

So why do I drink kefir? The taste, for starters. I love fermented foods and the effervescent quality of kefir really makes it for me. I substitute it for milk whenever I can–I made coleslaw dressing the other day with kefir, and it was fabulous. It helps with digestion; drinking some always helps settle my stomach and has helped with nausea. It has another, intangible aspect as well. When I drink kefir, I *know* that it’s good for me. It’s almost as if the effectiveness is immediate. Some people (Dom) claim it has spiritual properties. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it is wonderful.

Kefir is also relatively inexpensive to produce. The grains will culture any kind of milk (and non-milks such as pumpkin seed, etc); I use organic whole milk. A one time investment of under $10 will last a long time as grains reproduce and can be maintained indefinitely. I should qualify that I’m not actively culturing any kefir at the moment; my grains didn’t survive our move home last summer. I’ve been buying Lifeway lately and am pleased with it, but I can’t wait for my new grains as I prefer my kefir on the tart side. Commercially prepared kefir tends to be very mild.

My kids enjoy it, too: kefir smoothies are a huge hit in our house. We’re on a strawberry kick right now; here’s Mo’s Strawberry Smoothie:

1 cup kefir
2 large organic strawberries, washed
1 tsp of your favorite sweetener (we use raw honey)
1 tsp virgin coconut oil

I throw everything into my processor and whizz until done. Sometimes I omit the honey; it depends on the sweetness of your other ingredients.

Kefir resources for your viewing pleasure:

Dom’s Kefir in-site

Our new favorite vegetable

I am married to a serious “meat and potatoes” man. His meal is incomplete if it doesn’t include protein and he will let me know about the error of my ways. I’ve stopped trying to sneak vegetarian meals to him (Why fight a losing battle, right?), and instead focus on finding vegetables that he will eat and creative ways to serve his favorites.

A bunch of broccoli rabe

A bunch of broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe (aka rapini, broccolini, or raab) is one veg that I’ve been dying to try for quite some time, lover of all things pasta that I am. It’s a relative of broccoli and turnips; it looks like a cross between broccoli and mustard greens. Since hubby will not eat broccoli, I was hesitant to try it, but he does like greens, so I thought it was worth a shot. Our bunch had edible flowers on it, as well, which was great for the kids–they needed no enticement.

Broccoli rabe has a very strong flavor, which tastes as you might expect: like broccoli. Only more pungent. Some people think it has a bitter taste, but I didn’t think so. Pungent? Yes. Bitter? No. It goes well with pasta or beans; I sauteed mine with garlic (a lot of garlic), red pepper flakes, and onion in olive oil before adding in some rotini and chicken stock. And for the meat lover? Sliced italian sausage. The dish came together beautifully; the girls really enjoyed it and cleaned their plates.

One note, however: when searching for recipe ideas, I found that most called for a blanching step prior to sauteeing the rabe. I took a chance and threw the raw rabe right into hot oil. My thought was that the stock would do the job the blanching would, and it would add another depth of flavor as well. Here’s the finished dish:

Broccoli rabe with italian sausage and rotini

Broccoli rabe with italian sausage and rotini

I’m a huge fan of chef Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. If you’re not familiar with her cookbooks or her PBS show, read about her here. Her cooking style is all about quality and simplicity, and it was with this in mind that I purchased not just the rabe but also the most expensive pasta ever…DeCecco. I about peed my pants when I saw the price, but it was worth it. Best. Pasta. Ever. If it’s carried by your local grocery store, try it. It’s worth it.

Why I love teriyaki (migrated)

I love teriyaki. Absolutely love it. It’s easy to make, stands up well to any type of protein, is extremely adapatable and kids really like it. There are plenty of teriyaki joints in Seattle (I think it was invented here, LOL) and there are so many variations. The flexibility is what I enjoy most; if I’m out of one ingredient I can always find a substitute in my pantry.

Here’s my basic teriyaki sauce recipe. Use it with chicken, beef, pork, salmon, halibut, or tofu; whatever you like, really. A thought: I’ve never tried it with lamb. Hmm.

2 cups tamari or soy sauce
1 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/2 c packed brown sugar or equivalent amount of Splenda
Red pepper flakes or Cayenne pepper to taste

That’s it! My basic recipe. I also like to add any or all of the following, depending on my mood:

  • chopped fresh ginger
  • sesame oil
  • garlic
  • Hoisin or Oyster sauce
  • fish sauce

Note: using Splenda not only cuts calories and carbs, but imparts sweetness without burning during cooking, as sugar will. Don’t like Splenda? Use stevia, agave, or whatever floats your boat. It’s all good.

Combine all in a plastic bag large enough to hold your chosen protein. Marinating is essential, but not for too long; 30 minutes is enough. Any longer, and the citric acid in the juice will begin to “cook” the meat, resulting in a mushy texture.

Cook your protein according to your preferred method; for our dinner last night I baked bone-in chicken thighs. Reserve a bit of the marinade, too. It’s great on either rice or noodles–but be sure to bring it to a boil first–want to make sure any bacteria from the protein are taken care of.

I also prepared a stir fry of red and yellow peppers, green onions, and chinese cabbage. This is the part the kids enjoy the most–Mom wielding a sharp knife with such colorful vegetables! Mo was allowed to scoop out the seeds and pith from the peppers; and she also scooped out the coconut oil for the wok. I boiled some japanese soba noodles, added them to the veg, and threw the reserved teriyaki in as well—delish!