This recipe is so good that once I made it the first time, I made it again only 5 days later. The first time was for a few friends who came over for a Sunday night dinner and we all knew right away that this was a winner.
I probably took the most complicated route to making this recipe, since I roasted the chicken myself and toasted/ground my own spices, but don’t worry because I show you tips along the way that will save you some time in the kitchen. I think no matter how you piece them together, these flavors are good friends and play together well, so you can’t really go wrong.
This dish makes for a filling meal on its own, or is also great when served with brown rice to soak up some of the sauce. Enjoy a big pot of it with some friends or family!
Roasted Chicken Coconut Curry
1 large yellow onion (about 1 lb)
3 medium carrots (about 1/2 lb)
A whole 3 lb roasting chicken – or about 1 and 1/2 lb of both drumsticks and bone-in breasts
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 red bell peppber
1 green bell pepper
1 head of broccoli
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tbsp coriander seed
2 dry Thai chilies (aka bird’s eye chili)
2 tbsp turmeric powder
2 cans of coconut cream
Splash of fish sauce or soy sauce (optional)
NOTE: this is a large recipe and can easily be halved.
1. Roasting the chicken
Preheat your oven to 325F.
Start by pealing and chopping up the onion into medium-sized chunks. Peel the carrot and cut into long but thin strips. Line the bottom of an enameled cast iron dutch oven or a roasting pain with the onion and carrots.
Make sure your chicken is completely thawed before using, even if chicken is a little frozen on the inside it will affect how it cooks. Rinse your chicken and lay over the veggies in the pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken evenly (2-3 tbsp is plenty) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover your dutch over with a lid or if you are using a roasting pan then cover well with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then flip the chicken, re-apply olive oil, salt and pepper to the other side, cover again and bake 30-45 minutes more. You only need about 30 minutes for chicken pieces. But you’ll need more like 45 minutes for a whole chicken, maybe even a little bit longer, check the meat before cutting it all apart.
Once cooked set the chicken aside on a cutting board to cool and the onions and carrots into a bowl. When the chicken is cool enough to handle you can pull the meat off the bones (and save the bones for bone broth if you’d like.)
If you are using a dutch oven then save it for making the curry in, don’t rinse it out as it has a lot of flavor coating it.
NOTE: if you don’t want to roast your own chicken then you can grill up some chicken breast, chop, and add in later. Just steam the carrots to soften a little and saute the onion in some oil, salt and pepper.
2. Prepping other veggies
Rinse both the broccoli and bell peppers. Cut the florets of the broccoli, cut them down to evenly sized pieces if any are larger. Cut the flesh off the bell peppers, leaving seeds and membranes behind, then slice the peppers into thin slices.
Lightly steam both the peppers and the broccoli over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the broccoli is bright but slightly tender to a fork, the peppers should be slightly softened. Don’t over cook these or they will be mushy later.
NOTE: I made this a few weeks back when it was still possible to get some fresh bell peppers in California, but that season is quickly coming to a close. But you can use many other veggies that go well in curry, try sweet potatoes, peas, green beans, or spinach.
3. Toast the spices
Measure out your whole cumin and coriander seeds into a small pan along with the chilies. Over medium-high heat toast all these together until they become fragrant and are starting to brown, this takes a minute or two so keep your eye on it.
Once toasted, remove the stems of the chilies and put them in a spice grinder with the seeds. Grind until well ground into a fine powder, then mix with turmeric powder and set aside
NOTE: of course you can use a pre-mixed curry powder! You will need about 2 tbsp worth to replace the cumin, coriander, chilies and turmeric in this recipe.
4. Now you’re making curry
Like it said above, if using a dutch oven then you are going to build the curry right in the pan you roasted the chicken in before, it still has a lot of flavor in it. You want to pour the coconut cream in and put on the stove over medium-high heat, then scrap down the dutch oven with a wooden spoon to get all the cooked on bits into the curry sauce. This is called deglazing and it is one of my favorite ways of getting extra flavor into a dish.
If you aren’t using an enameled cast iron dutch oven then just build your curry in a large stew pot and skip the step above, pour in the coconut cream and heat up.
I must say, I don’t usually like to eat food from cans, but there truly is no replacement for coconut cream. I have made fresh coconut milk before, and make curry from it as well, but it’s not possible to get fresh coconut milk as creamy as coconut cream. If you want that authentic creamy curry that you’re used to then you really do have to use the canned stuff.
Add in the curry powder you prepped and stir until completely incorporated.
Once the coconut base is warm you can gently add in all your prepped ingredients, the pulled chicken, onions, carrots, bell peppers and broccoli. Now that everything is in you just have to adjust the seasonings to your liking and it’s done!
I recommend a little bit of fish sauce, a little goes a long way so try 1 tsp to start. If you don’t have fish sauce on hand then you can use soy sauce or something similar. If you don’t want to use either, then you can just add salt and any other spices you’d like to accommodate your palate.
You can store this for leftovers, just keep in mind the veggies won’t be quite as fresh and the coconut milk will thicken in the fridge, but will liquify again when heated.
Yields at least 10 servings
I told you yesterday about all the Amazing Benefits of Bone Broth, so today I knew I had to tell you how to make it yourself!
As an Acupuncturist, drinking bone broth is one of the single most frequent nutritional suggestions I make to my patients. I drink it myself every morning. While I believe most other aspects of diet should be tailored to a specific person’s needs and constitution, bone broth is one of the few things that nearly everyone should include in their daily diet. However, it is often difficult to convince Americans to make their own broth when most of us are conditioned for convenience. I’m here to tell you it’s not that hard! And definitely worth the effort, especially when you use kitchen scraps to make broth, it one of the more affordable ways to stay healthy.
If you aren’t up for the effort of making it yourself, I still highly recommend getting your hands on some bone broth because of all its health benefits. Search your neighborhood for a deli or specialty grocery store that makes their own.
Choosing Your Bones
Once all the meat is removed from the bird I use the bones as well as the carcass to make the broth. I think this is the best place to start if you’ve never make bone broth before. (Note: when poultry comes with the neck, liver and kidneys inside I will also use those in the broth, but that is optional.)
Any other time I cook meat with bones in it I will often use them to make a broth, including ribs, duck legs, pork chops or roasts. Keep in mind if the bone is small or doesn’t have much connective tissue on it then you won’t get much broth out of it. I don’t usually cook whole fish, but if you do you can also use fish bones and heads to make a broth.
If you don’t cook much meat on the bone then you can get bones just for making broth with. Big bones from cows, pigs and lambs are particularly good for making broth because bigger bones contain more bone marrow. You can get them from a whole animal butcher or from certain farmers markets, they often call them stew bones or dog bones. If you are taking this route, then simply roast your bones before making the broth (400F for 30min.) This helps to soften up the marrow and reduce any bitter flavor in the broth.
The Other Ingredients
If you are putting on a pot of broth during a big prep day or while a making dinner, then you can often use veggie trimmings that you would normally throw away, things like onion roots and skin, carrot tops and skins or celery trimmings. Just avoid adding starchy veggies, like potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes, as they will make the broth thick. And I’ve found the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccili, kale, collards) can get a funky smell to them when cooked for a long time.
Herbs like bay leaf, oregano, parsley, basil, cilantro, cumin and coriander are all great additions. You can use fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand just keep in mind dried herbs have concentrated flavor so you don’t need as much.
You don’t need to add much salt while cooking, you can wait until the broth is cooked to add salt to taste. And keep in mind that you need some form of acid to help extract many of the minerals in the bones. I usually use a lemon or lime for this but you can always use a touch of whatever vinegar you have on hand.
Brewing It Up
I usually use a crock pot for making broth, so I can leave it on overnight without worrying about it. You can of course do this on the stove but you want to keep it on low so the broth doesn’t turn cloudy.
If at any point during cooking you notice a film forming at the top of the pot you want to skim it off with a large spoon and dispose of it. These are the toxins rising to the top and they make the broth taste awful if they cook in.
Small bones like poultry or fish only need at minimum a few hours, but I still usually leave them on over night. Bigger bones need a minimum of 6 hours, but again can be left on overnight.
If you want to separate the fat out from the broth then at this point you can put the whole strained batch in the fridge and any fat will come to the surface and solidify so you can separate it out. If you don’t mind the fat you can simply jar the broth up at this point and each jar will have a small layer of fat at the top that will melt in when heated.
Broth keeps up to a week in the fridge but should be kept in the freezer for longer storage. I keep them in the freezer for several months and they keep fine.
I don’t go through all the steps to sterilize the jars and lids like you would for storing shelf stable jams and preserves, because I always keep broth in the fridge or freezer. Even if you did go through all the steps I don’t even know if you would be able to store broth at room temp.
Of course you can use bone broth in any soup, stew or sauce that you are making, it is also great for braising veggies. But that won’t necessarily get enough into your daily routine. It is traditional in many Asian cultures to have soup for breakfast, since it is so easily digested and because it helps our digestive energy to get started for the day. So bone broth in the morning is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.
I make a kind of egg drop soup, which I like to call “breakfast soup,” by simply whisking up 2 raw eggs and slowly stirring them into some simmering broth until it has all cooked in. I often enjoy it as is, or I might then add in some cooked greens like spinach, kale or broccoli, but my new favorite thing is to add chopped up avocado once it has come off the heat. My “breakfast soup” leaves me satisfied but with a very happy and not-too-full belly. The protein and good fats usually keeps me going a few hours later through several hours of work and an intense workout.
You can also simply heat up a cup of plain broth and enjoy it by itself, sip it from a mug like tea! It makes for a light and warming snack, especially if you have an upset stomach or feel bloated but need something in your system.
While many commercial broths available today are only made with skin and may contain MSG, bone broth has been a staple of many cuisines throughout history and across the globe. This is both because of its economic value (using every part of the animal) but more importantly because of its nutritional value (delivering many essential compounds to the body.)
Minerals for example are plentiful in broth, and it can be difficult to get the same levels elsewhere in the diet. Gelatin, which broth is also rich in, is a very important and easily digested protein which improves tissues all over the body. And new benefits of bone broth continue to be discovered, telling us what humans have already known for thousands of years! While I thought I knew all there was to know about bone broth, I must say that doing the research for this post really enlightened me to the seemingly endless number of benefits.
Broth can be particularly beneficial to drink when overcoming illness, but as an Acupuncturist I recommend daily consumption to most of my patients. Conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, IBS, IBD, infertility, hypothyroidism, chronic inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, menopause or even just your standard stress, low immunity and fatigue can all benefit from bone broth.
Tomorrow I will post about how to make your own bone broth, but for now learn more about how good it is for you:
When cooking with bones that still have a good amount of joint tissue on them (like necks, knuckles, ribs or the leftover carcass from a roasted chicken) that tissue cooks down and dissolves into the broth. Joint building blocks like gelatin and chondroitin sulfate (which are sold as expensive supplements to treat and prevent osteoarthritis) are readily available in bone broth, easily absorbed by our bodies and are quickly employed to rebuild and repair our connective tissue, which including joints, tendons and ligaments.
2. Improves Hair, Skin & Nails
Another wonderful effect of gelatin is its ability to strengthen our hair, skin and nails. It is used topically for beauty treatments, but is even more effective when taken internally.
3. Benefits Bones
This may be obvious but bone broth is great for your bones! The more bones are cooked, the softer they become and the more minerals they release into broth. Minerals do not break down with heat, they are continuously released as the bone cooks. Calcium and Phosphorus are the main minerals released, since those are the main mineral stored in bones, but also Silicon, Sulphur, Magnesium and other trace minerals.
In addition to the minerals, all the other components of bone break down and are available in bone broth, which benefits our skeletal system because it provides everything we need to build new bone cells.
When recovering from a bone fracture or dealing with a chronic bone disorder like osteoporosis, broth should be consumed daily to insure their is plenty of material for bone to rebuild with. Broths are particularly important long-term if there isn’t sufficient calcium in the diet from dairy or plant sources.
4. Heals the Digestive Tract
Bone broth is one of the easiest foods to digest and is traditionally used when recovering from illness, especially digestive problems. Just think of all the soups that are used as antidotes – in many Asian cultures they have congee, in Jewish culture there’s matzo ball soup, and Americans often turn to the classic chicken noodle. Diets like the GAPS diet recognized this and put a strong focus on bone broths in order to heal the digestive system, particularly after the digestive lining has been damaged, like in Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. The high gelatin content of broth is considered particularly healing to wounds along the digestive tract.
5. Supports Nerve Function
The minerals dissolved in broth are essential for proper nerve function as they are used to conduct electrical signals from cell to cell. The fats found in the broth are also essential to nerve health since many nerve cells (especially those in your brain and spinal cord) are coated in fat to help their signals travel faster.
6. Ultimate Brain Food!
What is good for the nervous system is good for the brain, because it is the center of the entire nervous system. Plus, a hormone produced in bones known as osteocalcin (more on that below) has been proven to have a direct effect on brain function, improving memory and mood.
One of the most common questions I get as an Acupuncturist and Herbalist is what to eat to improve brain function. Whether it is a stressed businessman, a burned out student or a busy mom, I always tell them that bone broth – as well as cod live oil – are the ultimate brain foods!
Keep in mind that our brain in particular is made up mostly fat, so we need plenty of good fats to support it.
7. Muscle Function
Muscle cramps can result from too many or too few minerals in the system, but the modern American diet lends more towards mineral deficiency. Calcium and Magnesium are the main minerals involved in muscle contraction, and both are found in broth.
8. Blood Cell Production
Bone marrow is where our bodies manufacture red blood cells and white blood cells. It contains a high concentration of stem cells, which are starter cells that are capable of producing several new blood cells. By cooking down bone marrow you get everything you need to build those new red and white blood cells. Gelatin in particular helps to regenerate red blood cells (and is used to treat anemia.)
9. Source of Dissolved Minerals
As discussed above, the minerals that are dissolved in broth play important roles in many different aspects of the body, including bone health, nerve health, and muscle function just to name a few. While you can get a handful of minerals that are easily absorbed by the body from several different foods, nothing compares to the full spectrum of minerals present in broth. And while many people turn to supplements for their mineral needs, most pills only contain a few compounds and aren’t nearly as easily absorbed as broth.
10. Immune Tonic
White blood cells are the cells in our bodies that control our immunity and handle infections, and they are made in the bone marrow. So the bone marrow contains plenty of fresh white blood cells as well as the stem cells that produce new cells. While cells usually break down during cooking, all of their components are still there and help our bodies build new white blood cells.
Onions and garlic are also usually added to broth for flavor but they too benefit the immune system, in Chinese Medicine they are used to treat common colds. Some people also choose to add herbs which further improve immunity, like astragalus or ginger.
11. Protein Source
When there is not enough protein in the body it is very hard for it to function properly. Many people only think of muscles when it comes to protein, but nearly our whole body is made up of protein. Our intestines, glands, blood vessels, enzymes, much of what makes up our cells and how they function, it’s all protein!
Our digestive tract in particular is made of muscles and relies on enzymes to break down food, so low protein can hit the digestive system first. This may cause lack of appetite, indigestion or nausea. This makes it difficult to stomach additional protein even though it is desperately needed. So broth can be particularly helpful to keep protein up even when digestion is at its lowest.
While broth doesn’t provide complete protein (it doesn’t contain all essential amino acids our bodies need) it does have a good amount and helps to extend other protein sources, so you can make a little meat go a lot farther. This was especially important to cultures during times of famine or even just reduced resources, but it can also help a modern family on a budget.
12. Quality Fat
Even if you don’t cook much of the fatty tissue or skin into your broth, the bones themselves contain a good about of fat that melts right in when warm. Some people prefer to chill their broth to let the fat collect on top, then separate it out, but I don’t shy away from it.
While animal fat has gotten a bad reputation in the past few decades, keep in mind that animal fat is the closest to the fat we have in our bodies! Therefore it is much easier for us to absorb and put to good use in our tissues. Don’t take that to mean it makes you fat, our bodies usually store fat in our tissues as a result of consuming bad fats we don’t know how to process or excess carbohydrates that get converted to fat. Animal fats on the other side are more easily used for digestive functions, creating new cells and repairing the nervous system. With new research now surfacing, it is most often fat from overly processed meats (like hotdogs, lunchmeat or fast food) or lower quality plant-based fats (like soy, corn, canola or cottonseed oils) that are shown to cause problems to our health.
Sure, some of the basic benefits I have listed here can be duplicated with supplements, but would cost you a lot more. Broth’s ability to extend protein content really makes a dollar go farther as well, so its a must when you are looking to eat organic but don’t want to spend a fortune.
If you don’t have the time for making your own bone broth you don’t have to go without it’s benefits. Find a local deli or grocery near you that makes it in house, ask to make sure they used bones and cook it for a few hours. In my neighborhood I love Cookbook, which makes their own beef and chicken broth with bones, simmered no less than 6 hours. Even though it is not as cheap as the homemade version, it is still much cheaper than supplements or prescriptions!
Broth is often used during times of cleansing and fasting, especially during Phase II detoxification. While the current trend in detoxification seems to be raw vegetable juice cleanses, those can actually be much harder on a damaged digestive tract. Broth is healing to the intestinal mucus and aids in detoxification. When my patients ask about cleanses I often suggest a combination of bone broth and herbal teas, with specific suggestions based on the patient’s specific presentation. The quality of the broth is of the utmost importance when using for detoxification, make sure you make it from organic bones – poultry should be pastured and beef/bison should be grassfed.
15. Balances the Endocrine System
A somewhat recently discovered protein known as osteocalcin is produced by bone cells. It acts as a hormone and regulates different functions all over the body, such as helping the pancreas produce more insulin, improving memory and mood, plus signalling the testes to make more testosterone. Gelatin also helps the body to deal with excess estrogen which can stress the endocrine system of both sexes.
I has long been known that the endocrine system has an effect on bone, but only recently was it discovered that bones have an effect on the endocrine system. It seems new research is constantly revealing how interconnected the human body truly is.
16. Boosts Fertility
In studying the actions of osteocalcin it has been found that it has a direct result on the testes’ production of testosterone. Since low testosterone can impair fertility, a higher osteocalcin level is associated with improved fertility rates in men.
While there is not a direct correlation between osteocalcin and fertility for women, the other benefits of bone broth support women’s reproductive system. For example, increased red blood cell production from the bone marrow and gelatin levels. Or the minerals like calcium and magnesium which are needed by the uterine muscles to function properly. Gelatin also helps the body to process excess estrogen, which can be harmful to reproductive health.
17. Beneficial in Pregnancy
I have already discussed the importance of protein for digestion. In early pregnancy the symptom of morning sickness is usually due to low protein, and it can be difficult to get protein down when already feeling nauseated. That’s why I always suggest my patients with morning sickness sip bone broth to keep their protein levels up. But I then suggest all my pregnant patients continue drinking bone broth throughout their entire pregnancy.
Of course it helps provide an easy source of protein, which women need more and more of throughout pregnancy, but it also provides good fats, which pregnant women need in greater amounts. Because broth also supports the nervous system, endocrine system and brain function, consuming it during pregnancy helps the forming fetus develop new organs, which grow rapidly and need a great deal of nutrients to form correctly.
18. Calms Anxiety
Osteocalcin once again has been found to have a direct correlation to improved mood and reduced anxiety. Plus Calcium and Magnesium have a soothing effect on muscles and in turn the whole body.
19. Improves Wound Healing
I have discussed above how gelatin helps heal the digestive tract, create new red blood cells and repairs joint tissue, so it makes sense that it helps healing elsewhere in the body. Gelatin is rich in an amino acid called Glycine, which is needed in DNA production and thus is necessary for forming new cells anywhere in the body. Broth is helpful to consume during the recovery of nearly any illness or injury because of this, it helps repair cells that have been damaged or compromised.
20. Use in Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine seems to have known about most of these benefits for thousands of years before our scientific research could prove them. In Chinese Medicine bones are associated with the kidney system and the bone marrow is associated with kidney jing, which is the deepest level of our body. Jing represents our foundation, life force, genetics, libido, fertility, memory and brain function.
Bone broth is used to improve energy, longevity, fertility, metabolism, the nervous system and endocrine function – particularly the adrenals. Bone marrow specifically is considered a tonic for the brain, as the brain is said to be the “Sea of Marrow.” Being that bones are heavy in nature they are also said to have a calming effect on the spirit, so bone broth is often used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Now that Halloween is over but Thanksgiving is not quite here, this is the perfect time to roll out one of my weeknight favorites. This is a recipe that I make so often I don’t usually think much about it, but I have been tinkering with it for years now so I’m really happy to share where it’s at.
It started as a variation of a meatloaf recipe from the South Beach Diet. The original version calls for ground turkey, egg whites, ground oatmeal and shredded zucchini, among a few other ingredients. I’m not one to shy away from good sources of fat, so I almost always have preferred making it with ground grassfed beef and whole eggs instead of their leaner counterparts.
Over the years the ground oatmeal has turned into ground nuts or seeds, usually some variation of flax, chia, almond or pumpkin seeds. The zucchini, however, has always been there, it fills out the meatloaf, adds moisture and is an easy way to sneak extra veggies into dinner.
I have found that the more I make this recipe the more eggs I use. They really help keep the meatloaf moist and add a lot of flavor, it’s almost like swirling a little bit of quiche into every bite. If you aren’t as into eggs as I am, or you don’t like a really moist meatloaf, just scale them back and the recipe will be fine.
Don’t be afraid to make a big batch of this stuff because it makes great leftovers. And if you feel like mixing it up a bit try adding bacon or mushrooms!
1 lb grassfed ground beef
1 medium summer squash/zucchini (1/3-1/2 lb)
1/2 red onion (about 1/4 lb)
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F
Add the chia, flax and pumpkin seeds to a spice grinder or food processor and grind to a find powder. If you don’t have any of these ingredients on hand then equal parts of other nuts or seeds will work just as well. Also, here I’m showing white chia seeds and golden flax seeds, both have different colored varieties but I don’t know of any big nutritional difference between the two so I usually just get whichever is cheaper in the bulk bin.
Rinse the zucchini and trim, along with the onion. In a food processor or by hand shred both and set aside.
In a large bowl mix the ground beef, eggs, shredded veggies, ground seeds and seasonings. I find it is easiest to mix by hand, you can use a glove if you don’t want raw meat on your hands.
Grease a 9 x 5 bread pan and fill with the meatloaf mixture. Bake for 1 hour, then let cool thoroughly before slicing and serving.
Yields 4-6 servings
Peas are such a simple food. You can easily toss them in a soup, curry, pot pie or casserole, but even when you cook them up by themselves they don’t need much to bring out their flavor. A few minutes in some boiling water or a sautee pan with soften them up, then a little butter, garlic and whatever fresh herbs you have on hand will do the trick.
Unlike mashed root vegetable which can turn into a creamy texture, the less starchy peas don’t break down quite as quickly. Even after generous food processing it maintains a unique crumbly texture which is some much welcome variety when I get bored of my usual veggie sides.
This dish is perfect for someone looking to cook up something seasonal, introduce a new veggie into the dinner routine, or someone who doesn’t like spending too much time cooking. With under 10 minutes and a handful of quality ingredients, you can try something new for dinner tonight!
Simple Mashed Peas with Garlic and Mint
1 cup fresh peas (removed from the pod)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic
about 10 fresh mint leaves (or herb of your choice)
salt and pepper to taste
If you are using whole peas then be sure to shell them first. You can often find them at the farmers market already shelled.
Rinse the peas and mint and let them drain well. Also peel and crush the garlic.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and add in the crushed garlic cloves. Let this simmer for a minute or two to let the garlic infuse. Then add in the peas and cook at least 5 minutes or until the peas have softened, tossing ever minute or so.
Once the peas are cooked, add them to a food processor with the fresh mint. Pulse several times until well broken down. You can have a taste now to get a feel for the taste and texture. Then add salt and pepper to taste and continue to pulse/season until you get it just the way you want. You can also always add more butter if you’d like.
Serve up immediately while still warm. And enjoy!
Yields 2-3 servings as a side