Tag Archives: Paleo in Maine

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Mango Salsa

I’ve always liked stuffed peppers; my mom used to make them with a tomato sauce, white rice and ground beef stuffed into a green bell pepper and covered with cheese. I have always liked tacos, too. This recipe was my (successful) attempt to mix the best of both- a mexican-style stuffed pepper. Pair the stuffed pepper (with slightly spicy ground beef) with a side of sweet mango salsa and it is absolutely delicious! (Of course, I am biased…)

Ingredients for Stuffed Peppers:
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small bunch chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 tsp chili powder (depending on spice preference) 
1/2 tsp cumin
2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
3 peppers (for stuffing)
1 cup tomato salsa for topping

Ground beef cilantro onion

Steps:
In a skillet or frying pan, add butter, onion, garlic, spices, cilantro and ground beef
(set peppers and salsa aside for now)
Cook over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the beef as it cooks

While beef is cooking, prepare your Mango Salsa

Ingredients for Mango Salsa:
1 cup chopped mango (can use frozen and thaw out, or cut fresh mango)
Small bunch fresh chopped cilantro
Small bunch fresh chopped dill
1/4 chopped red onion
(I also like to add tomatoes)

Mango Salsa Ingredients

Steps: 
Mix all ingredients together

Mango Salsa from Keirstens Kitchen

Now for the rest of the stuffed peppers…

Once the beef is done, set aside
Preheat oven to 375 F
Cut peppers in half and de-seed, as pictured below

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Stuff the peppers with the cooked beef mixture
Top with salsa
Bake at 375 for approximately 15 minutes, or until peppers are desired texture (I like mine still a bit firm)

Keirstens Kitchen Stuffed Peppers

Remove from oven and allow a few minutes to cool before serving

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Enjoy!

Keirstens Kitchen Stuffed Peppers with Mango Salsa and Avocado

Suggested purchase: Glass Pyrex baking dishes! You can get a set of 3, HERE on Amazon for $20.00 (at time of post) and they even have lids. You can bake in these, then cover and refrigerate. Easy to hold leftovers and oven and dishwasher safe! 

Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

I have 2 nieces (ages 6 and 3) and a nephew (age 10.) Whenever they come over for dinner, they ask for pizza or pasta, sometimes “salad tacos” (tacos on Romaine lettuce leaves in lieu of corn taco shells, recipe HERE.)

On pizza nights, I usually make this Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Crust. On “pasta” nights, I throw together some spaghetti squash (recipe for Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce HERE) along with a good protein and vegetable on the side. I didn’t use cheese for this recipe, but I imagine it would be delicious; a gluten-free fried chicken recipe turned chicken parmesan!

Ingredients:
3-4 chicken thighs (can use bone-in thighs, drumsticks or breasts, too. Just adjust cooking times accordingly.) 
2 cups almond meal
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasonings (usually contains parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, etc.)
few pinches of dried rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Oil for frying (coconut oil recommended. I use THIS ONE.)

Steps:
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until melted
While oil is melting, mix almond meal, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasonings, salt, pepper and dried rosemary together in a medium bowl

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Coat chicken in the mixture
(I hardly ever use an egg wash due to cooking for people with egg allergies, but feel free!) 
Place coated chicken in skillet (may splatter a bit, so be careful)  

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Cook over medium heat for approximately 10-12 minutes without flipping

Flip chicken and continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes (longer if using breasts or thicker cuts of chicken) 

 

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Serve fried chicken with pasta and sauce for a chicken parmesan-type meal, over a salad, with a side of vegetables and gluten-free carb source or simply enjoy with some Ranch dip (recipe HERE!)

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Enjoy!

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Orange Chicken with Cabbage Slaw

As a kid, I loved Chinese food. Beef and broccoli, General Tso chicken, lo mein, egg rolls, pork fried rice… and orange chicken. I used to make orange chicken, pre-Paleo, and use soy sauce and orange juice concentrate. I hadn’t even thought about this in years, until I went to Seattle last week for Thanksgiving. We ate out at lots of different places, mostly Asian-influenced restaurants, and I wanted to eat everything on the menu. At one particular place, it was a toss-up between orange chicken (gluten-free, but not necessarily “Paleo”) and a duck noodle salad (also gluten-free.) So, of course, I got the duck noodle salad (it was delicious!) but I’ve thought about orange chicken since…

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Gluten: The Anti Food

Gluten is the protein that binds wheat, barley and rye. It is in all wheat-based foods and is most potent in grain-based foods- in the form of gliadin- such as pastas, breads, cereals, granola, barley, bran, couscous, kamut, orzo, tabbouli, etc. Gluten is often an ingredient used as a “filler” in some foods, and may not even be required to be on the label! Sausages, hot dogs, frozen burger or chicken patties and deli meats often contain a gluten-based filler. Other processed foods, like baked beans, instant coffee, imitation crab meat, etc.  may also contain gluten.  Some others that may surprise you?… Soy sauce, brown rice syrup, Worcestershire sauce, flavored vitamin drinks, white pepper, seasoned tuna or fish, some toothpastes, lipstick, frozen dinners, chocolate (mostly the “cheap” brands), salad dressing (bleu cheese!) … the list goes on… sadly…

… So Why Is It So Bad?

Consuming gluten, even in small amounts, eats away at the tiny hair (called villi) in our intestines. (Yes, even for a “healthy” person.) The wearing away of these villa cause inflammation and damage the mucosal membranes of the small intestines, disrupting the absorption of nutrients. Over time, this inflammation and wearing down of villa can cause sores, infections and even holes in our digestive tracts.  Celiac Disease is a chronic disease associated with consuming gluten. The longer your body is exposed to the harmful effects of gluten, the more irreversible the damage to your body becomes! The scary part…? Not everyone will show symptoms!

Celiac Disease (and gluten intolerances) are NOT food allergies.  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder.  And there is no magic pill to take to make it go away.

Our immune systems are engineered to protect us from antigens (bad stuff) like toxins, bacteria, viruses, cancer, etc. When these antigens come in contact with our body, our immune systems are equipped to fight them off and defend our bodies.  For people with autoimmune diseases, like Celiac Disease, the immune system gets confused about what an antigen is versus what our healthy body tissue looks like. The immune system recognizes our healthy tissue as the enemy, and prepares to attack it.

The villi that are destroyed can no longer absorb nutrients we eat. They look like this:

             

Where A shows a healthy intestine, complete with villi and the finger-like structures that can “reach out” and grab the nutrients, C shows an intestine slightly affected by the consumption of gluten and E shows the complete wearing-away and loss of the finger-like structures that “grab” our nutrients and bring them to out intestines to be digested. (Picture courtesy of www.scdlifestyle.com  in their article How Gluten Causes Celiac Disease.)

Celiac Disease is arguably the most underdiagnosed condition that exits in the modern world, specifically in Western cultures. Recent studies show that there has been an increase in gluten-intolerance cases- up to 400%- over the past few years. Studies are beginning to shed more light on how gluten affects other systems of our bodies and how eliminating it may help to cure or prevent other ailments and illnesses– acne, bone/ joint/muscle pain, fibromyalgia, anemia, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities in children, chronic fatigue syndrome, colon cancer, alopecia (hair thinning/loss), Crohn’s disease, dehydration, depression, diarrhea, eczema, epilepsy, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), hyperthyroidism, impotence, infertility, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease, low bone density, low iron, lupus… just to name a few.

…So How Do I Know If I Have A Gluten Intolerance or Celiac Disease?

Everyone has an intolerance to gluten; it doesn’t naturally exist in our diets, evolutionarily speaking. Our bodies were not designed to break down gluten or to deal with the ramifications of cross-contamination.  The question is—is it too late to reverse the effects? As mentioned previously in this article, not everyone will display recognizable symptoms of the effects of gluten. This does not mean that there is nothing bad happening in your body! Testing for Celiac Disease requires a biopsy of the intestine to measure the devastation to the villi. These tests are invasive, require sedation, have associated risks, and are quite expensive. Celiac Disease is inherited. Chances are… if your sister, your brother, your mother, your father, or your great great uncle on your mother’s father’s side had it… you may also have it.

In newer studies, research shows that continued consumption of gluten and people with untreated Celiac Disease suffer immense repercussions from consuming gluten. If the damage to your intestines is severe, there is little hope that your body will ever fully recover. According to this study only 8% of adults with Celiac Disease were healed on a gluten-free diet. 65% of patients with Celiac Disease still have a “raging fire in their gut.” 56% of patients with Celiac Disease had poor vitamin status after 10 years gluten-free.  The article references a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, siting that patients with Celiac Disease, who had eaten a gluten-free diet (but had continued inflammation as an ongoing complications related to gluten consumption) had a 4.66-fold increased risk of death the first year after diagnosis and a 72% increased risk of death over the study period

A 72% increased risk of death!

…So What Do I Do?

-Eliminate gluten in all forms, immediately; it is a toxin
-Become familiar with ingredients contaminated with gluten
-Read food labels
-Learn where you can eat out and be confident that your food is gluten-free
-Avoid processed and boxed foods
-Avoid frozen dinners, deli meats, hot dogs and sausages (when you don’t know the ingredient list!)
-Ask about food preparation- is it a gluten-free kitchen? (Doesn’t count if your burger with no bun is -grilled on the same grill as your friend’s burger bun!)

Your “cheat days” should still be gluten-free!

It can take anywhere from 6 hours to 6 months (or even longer, according to the study referenced above) for the effects of gluten to wear off– inflammation of the intestines, irritation of the GI tract, inability to absorb nutrients from your food, inability to digest food properly (throwing off your pH balance and producing either too much stomach acid or not enough), diarrhea, feeling fatigued, bloated and general stomach pain. If you insist on you one-day-per-week “cheat day”… eat a gluten free pizza or some non-GMO corn chips and fresh salsa or guacamole. (If you want more ideas… email keirstenskitchen@gmail.com)

Resources for this article and for going Gluten-Free:
Mayo Clinic
Gluten-Free Maine
Celiac Solution
The Celiac Diva
Finer Health and Nutrition

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