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Spotlight On: MCT Oil

No, it doesn’t stand for Magical Coconut Tree Oil, but it should. Instead, MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides which are naturally found in coconut and palm kernel oils.

Because of its light flavor and nutritional benefits, I use it for salad dressings, put it in my coffee or superfood tea, and make an excellent mayonnaise with it. I just get it on Amazon but they also sell it at my local health food store for a few dollars more.

Smarter sciency people [wiki here] will tell you all about MCT Oil’s benefits, such as:

  • It is more easily and rapidly digested than other fats, making it good for malabsorption issues (no bile or energy needed to digest.)
  • It can help support a fat burning, instead of a sugar burning metabolism (more and sustained energy.)
  • It is purported to stave off neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, by bypassing the liver and directly fueling the brain with ketones/triglycerides that the brain is lacking and needs to function.
  • It can help you lose or manage your weight and increase your metabolism.
  • Um, did I mention it makes an excellent mayo?

So slip some in Grandma’s (and your own) coffee every day, be smarter, faster and leaner, and enjoy 😉

Carrot Habanero Soup

This is the best soup I’ve ever made, hands down. I ordered carrot habanero soup at one of my favorite little hangouts, the Circle J Cafe, and it was amazing! Sweet, savory, spicy, smooth. I could taste the ginger and citrus and heat, and it was in a creamy coconut milk base. I HAD to try to recreate it. I think I did a great job, if I do say so myself! 🙂 This is delicious served hot or chilled. I adapted (“paleofied”) the recipe found in Cooking Light.

A note about habanero peppers: I was considering cutting them, de-seeding and de-veining etc. to take out the excessive heat (they are hundreds of times hotter than jalapeno peppers!) and then sauteing them with the other vegetables but decided against it after researching it and saw the recommendations about wearing gloves and goggles and handling them outside for safety reasons. I was too chicken for all that so tried another recommended method, which is piercing them several times with a knife to infuse the heat into the soup without overpowering it. The first time I made this soup, I just used one pepper, and it had a nice warmth to it. The last time I made it with three peppers and it had a bit more kick so that was perfect for me!

You can also prepare this in a slow cooker instead of a Dutch oven or soup pot (just scrape/ladle the veggies after deglazing into a slow cooker, then add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.) If you use that method, add 2 more cups of water as it gets pretty thick. This yields 6 servings.

That lemon should be an orange
That lemon should be an orange

Ingredients

1.5 tablespoon coconut oil, ghee, or pasture butter (or combination. I used 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1/2 tablespoon butter)
1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large, washed)
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 pound carrots, (about 7-8 medium chopped)
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 large sweet potato)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-3 whole habanero peppers depending on desired heat
1/4 cup dry white wine*
4 cups water
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
1 can coconut milk (14 ounces) reserving a few tablespoons for garnish if desired
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (optional)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
Fresh dill, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Heat the fat in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add leek, onion, sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger and garlic, and sauté 7-10 minutes or until tender and browning.
  3. Stir in the wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. (This is called deglazing the pan. See below for alcohol-free options.)

    Deglazing the pan
    Deglazing the pan
  4. Pierce the habaneros several times with a knife and add to the pot.
  5. Add the water, orange juice, (and if juicing the orange, zest some of the peel) coconut milk and coconut aminos, and bring to a boil.
  6. Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes.
  7. Add ground coriander, sea salt and turmeric, and stir to combine the ingredients.

    Simmering
    Simmering
  8. Remove and discard habaneros.
  9. Blend the ingredients using an immersion blender until smooth.

  10. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with reserved coconut milk and fresh dill, if desired.

* If you are avoiding all alcohol for any reason, (Whole30, anyone?) you can use almost any liquid to deglaze the pan, such as stock and lemon juice or vinegar diluted in water. There are a lot of good alternatives discussed here.

Spicy Kale Chips

I love kale chips. I am embarrassed to admit how much I will pay for a tiny bag of these things! Why do I do this when they are so easy to make? Excellent question. I like this version because it’s a little spicy and “cheesy” (from the nutritional yeast) but you can make this recipe seasoned just with salt and pepper or any other of your favorite savory seasonings.

Ingredients

1 large bunch of kale, pretty much any kind. I have used curly in the past but chose Lacinato this time because it looked good.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less to taste, also optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse kale leaves and pat dry with a towel.
  3. Cut out or pull off stems (a handy trick is to start at the base where the stem is thickest, start tearing each side up the stem a little bit, then pull the leaf part away from the stem.) The stems (especially at the base) are too tough to really want to eat.

    Pulling the leaves away from the stem
    Pulling the leaves away from the stem
  4. Chop or tear the leaves into large pieces.
  5. Mix the ingredients together until blended, then pour over kale pieces. Gently massage the oil mixture to evenly coat the leaves.

    Dressing the kale
    Dressing the kale
  6. Spread the coated leaves in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.

    Laying out the chips before baking
    Laying out the chips before baking
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until crispy. Check after about 10 minutes and use a spatula or tongs to scrape free any pieces that are sticking to the pans.
  8. Let cool a little and then eat. They will not last long. I’m talking more stuffing them in your face wise more than storage-wise.

Chicken Satay

I brought these meat treats on a stick to a GMO Free Josephine County potluck and they disappeared in seconds. So much flavor! I have included more commonly found ingredients, along with more traditional Thai ingredients in parentheses below. I wish I could find local fresh galangal, the flavor really isn’t identical to ginger, but we work with what we can find.

Ingredients:

6-8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin strips
1 package wooden skewers

Marinade:
Juice of 1/2 large lime, about 2 tablespoons (or 3 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass)
1 shallot OR 1/2 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste (or 1 fresh red chilies, sliced)
1 tablespoon ground ginger (or 1 thumb-size piece galangal root OR ginger root, thinly sliced)
1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric (or 1 teaspoon minced fresh turmeric)
1 tablespoon  ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons coconut aminos
4 tablespoons fish sauce (all the Paleo hipsters use Red Boat brand. I used Tiparos because that is what I could find)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Dipping Sauce:
I used the Sunshine Sauce recipe from the amazing cookbook Well Fed. You can also find the recipe on Melissa’s blog The Clothes Make the Girl. Didn’t change a single ingredient. Whipped it up in a mason jar with an immersion blender (adding coconut milk last–don’t want coconut whipped cream this time) and it is creamy, spicy, tangy perfection.

Ingredients listed here for your convenience, (but please check out Melissa’s blog): you will need 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon), 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon coconut aminos, 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger, 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter, dash ground cayenne pepper (optional),  and 1/4 cup coconut milk.

Preparation:

  1. Cut chicken into thin strips and place in a large ziplock plastic bag.
  2. Place all marinade ingredients in a mason jar to use an immersion blender, or place in a food processor or regular blender. Blend well.
  3. Taste the marinade. Traditionally some sugar is used, but I believe the coconut aminos provide plenty of sweetness. Add more of whatever flavor or spice you want to highlight.
  4. Pour the marinade over the meat in the ziplock back and knead it around to combine. Allow the chicken to marinade in the fridge 1-24 hours.
  5. Soak your bamboo skewers in water (to prevent scorching) for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

  6. When ready to cook, thread meat onto the skewers, leaving the lower half empty to easily pick up for cooking and eating. (I inserted then deleted a picture of the skewered raw chicken. You’re welcome. It looks so gross raw!)
  7. Broil the satay in the oven, turning every 5 minutes, or grill them on the BBQ until cooked, about 20 minutes.
  8. Prepare your dipping sauce while the satay is cooking.