Clean Eating: Dirty Rice with Chicken

I have posted previously about our journey to eating “real Food” which for us meant going organic and healthier. In doing that I lost about 25 pounds and Karol lost 40. I have kept those 25 pounds off for about two years, but it is time for me to take things to the next level. In doing so I am doing a “30 day detox” using my Arbonne products. Protein shakes, fiber, energy fizz sticks, and removing food items that can cause problems such as gluten, corn, ground nuts, coffee (although we can have green tea and caffeinated Arbonne fizz sticks). Removing coffee is about removing acidic foods.

Anyway I am currently on day 4. I have found quite a few recipes we are going to try and I will be happy to share them here. The one I made last night was “Dirty Rice with Chicken”. It was super easy and super yummy!!

Dirty Rice with Chicken

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, diced
1/4 cup onion. chopped
2 cups brown rice
Creole Seasoning: I used Tony Chachere seasoning but you can make your own with:
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup organic frozen mixed vegetables
Directions:
1) Cook brown rice according to the directions on the package.
2) Put the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the zucchini and onion and  saute until soft.
2) Add cut up chicken and cook until chicken is browned.
3) When chicken was almost done I added the mixed veggies. (Corn is actually not allowed during a 30 day detox, so I just picked it out and gave it to my cat as a treat…he loves corn….weirdo….)
4) Add in the rice and stir it together to marry the flavors.
5) I actually “overcooked” it a bit so some of the rice would have a crunchy texture, but that is definitely up to your personal preference.
Serve. Made 4 servings. (no leftovers….this was too delicious!!)
dirtyrice
Enjoy!!

Creamy Quinoa Chicken Broccoli Casserole

So, I have a secret to share….a bit of a confession to make…..

Ready for it???

I am the person who doesn’t let my food touch on my plate.  Whew, there I said it out loud.  **weight lifted off my shoulders**

Yes, I am THAT person.  I separate my food on my plate.  Nothing touches, AND I really don’t like mixing flavors, for example I don’t like sweet and sour, fruit with meat, sweet AND savory. I like my flavors to be separate.

However there is always an exception, right??  Well I do have an exception.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE casseroles!!  Chicken and dumplings, Minnesota hot dish, stews, chicken broccoli and rice, pot pie, shepherd’s pie, now those foods feed my soul y’all……not even joking!  But, they are less than healthy at times.  So I do my best to recreate these super yummy dishes in a more healthy version.

Today I am sharing one with you.  I absolutely adore the Cheesy chicken rice broccoli casserole, but white rice, cream of chicken soup, and lots of cheese is not so friendly to my waistline! So instead I found and tweaked a recipe to make it healthier.  I now want to introduce you to:

Picture used from myutensilcrock.com
Picture used from myutensilcrock.com

Creamy Quinoa Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:
2 cups natural chicken broth (I use organic chicken base, and mix with water)
1 cup almond milk (Can use fat free milk instead if no lactose issues)
1 tsp of poultry seasoning
½ cup almond flour (If you don’t have gluten issues, you can use white whole wheat)
2 cups of water, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 pound of boneless chicken breasts
3 cups of fresh broccoli florets
Sea salt and pepper to taste

(optional: 1/2 cup shredded organic cheese)

Directions:
1) Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish. Bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of almond milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other 1/2 cup almond milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms. Do not add to quickly because it can get quite lumpy.

2) Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, and quinoa, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dice the chicken and mix it into the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with more poultry seasoning if you like. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

3) Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under the cold water to blanch it. Set aside.

4) Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes to get the right consistency. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked and the sauce is thickened, add the broccoli, shredded cheese, and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir up easily in the pan. The amount of water will depend on how thick you want the sauce to be.  I don’t always need to add any more water.

This was truly a delightfully yummy dish.  You could change it up to make it vegan by removing chicken and chicken broth, and adding in more veggies, or tofu in place of chicken.

Chicken broth base I used:  (I bought it at Harris Teeter)

chickenbase

We switched to “Real Food”

I have struggled with my weight for many many years! I have written blogs about it, complained about it, and had finally given in and decided to accept it when something amazing happened to me.

A couple of years ago, Karol and I went to see Jillian Michaels.  Going was kind of a fluke.  We love Jillian Michaels, and to be honest I had no idea she was doing a speaking tour.  I happened to stumble upon the information on Facebook, and checked out the price of tickets.

The night came and we went to see the amazing Jillian Michaels.  The first hour she talked about food and the second hour she talked about living a full life without “shoulds” and guilt, etc.  I have spent years in therapy, that stuff I knew. But the food stuff that I should have known, had eluded me somehow. That night we chose to make some changes to the foods we were purchasing and consuming.  We switched to “Real Food”.

I was a bit worried about switching to organic because of the price of organic food.  Which is really stupid, by the way.  Why is it that food which requires less chemicals, less spraying, less feed, etc be more expensive??  It should actually be cheaper because the crops require “less” care essentially. I have written about my huge grocery bills. Switching to an organic diet was daunting to say the least.  I was worried about the cost, and how I was going to afford to feed my family of 5 and not break the bank.  But Karol and I were committed to eating better.  No more pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other nastiness in our food. However, the cost of switching really concerned me.

So we entered the Real Food genre slowly.  Just purchasing the food we were making for ourselves.  The interesting thing was the first week we purchased all organic for ourselves we reduced our grocery bill by almost $100.00!!!

Photo courtesy of Blue Planet Green living
Photo courtesy of Blue Planet Green Living

So we ventured out farther into the organic realm and purchased organic meats and dairy.  I have to say that the milk was the hardest for me.  Spending $6.00 a gallon almost gave me a heart attack, but I figured it was the right thing for my family, so I just took a deep breath and put it in the cart.  Two of them…..  The most interesting thing is, my boys like the organic foods.  They say they taste better!!!

We bought organic peanut butter, organic crackers, cereal, creamer, etc.  It has been an interesting transition.  The second week we bought organics, the grocery bill was a bit higher than the first week, but we had cat litter, cat food, and some cleaning supplies, so it was not all food.  Actually we put the animals on organic food as well.  The cats eat an organic cat food, and the dog gets organic grain free food.  He no longer has an itchy skin problem!

I am excited to keep going and see how healthy we can get!! No more chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics for my family!!