Super Useful Recipe: Delicious Versatile Freezable Crockpot Chicken

Prior to going Whole30, one of my favorite cooking blogs was Mel’s Kitchen Café.  I guess she and I have similar tastes because in the last few years I turned to her blog more than any other for family-pleasing recipes. Her main dishes are pretty light on processed ingredients–a major plus for sure– but they’re not intended to be paleo or Whole30-fied…so they’re not.  That’s where this here little blog comes in.   Knowing I would like to modify some of our favorites and share the successes with others, I wrote Mel and asked if she minded if I posted her recipes with modifications; she said yes.  Yay!  And if you see this, thank you again, Mel!

This comes from Mel’s Chicken Noodle Soup recipe.  We will not have any noodles here but I have long used the beginning of this recipe, the chicken part, as a kitchen staple.  I cannot tell you how EASY and DELICIOUS and VERSATILE this recipe is.  And you know I’m serious when I break out the all caps.  You put ingredients in a crock pot, let them cook, remove. That’s it.

 

Delicious Versatile Freezable Crockpot Chicken

3-4 pound whole chicken, neck and giblets removed

6 cups chicken broth, best is bone broth of course J

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

3 stalks celery, chopped in large chunks

3-4 carrots, cut in large chunks

1 onion, chopped in large pieces

Rinse the chicken, removing the neck and giblets. Place the chicken in a slow cooker and add the other ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Carefully remove the chicken and set aside in a large bowl until it is cool enough to handle without burning your fingertips off. Meanwhile, remove and discard the large solids from the chicken broth and strain the chicken broth into a large pot.

Now you have even more delicious broth.

Take the chicken off the bones.  That’s right, now you have bones.  For more broth!  Either make that and use it or freeze it of freeze those bones for later use.

But back to the chicken.

I usually break off all of the large pieces and either shred it or cut it up into cubes.

This freezes beautifully and can be used so many ways it is ridiculous.  I usually freeze it, take it out a day ahead, and you are then basically reheating it in whatever meal, see a few ideas below.  It’s also economical because you are buying the whole chicken and can use both the meat and the bones.  Best prices in my area for organic hormone free chicken is Costco and Trader Joes.

A few ideas:  Mix it with any veggie(s) and sauté as a nice healthy one skillet meal, toss it in salad, use it in soup as originally intended, eat it as the meat of a “sandwich” wrapped in lettuce, make some homemade salsa or pico de gallo and mix that with the chicken, and any other number of ways.

Magnesium

This past month I’ve tried to learn what “basic” supplements are necessary, helpful, or both, as I continue healing my body and mind.   It is incredibly difficult to find sources that are not trying to sell me something and I have no background in medicine or science…in fact I’m sad to say my eyes glaze over if a situation gets too science-y.  But eventually you have to go with sources you at least somewhat trust and make a dang decision.  And make a dang decision is what I’ve done.  Magnesium here I come.

A few of the more easy to understand (yes, please!) sources that played into my decision to go ahead with magnesium:

Dr. Dean’s “uncensored natural health blog”  http://drcarolyndean.com/

Wellness Mama’s summary:  http://wellnessmama.com/3610/are-you-low-on-magnesium

A thread from the Mark’s Daily Apple forum (you might need to log in to see this, not sure.) http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread87791.html

Order just placed for:

A book:  Dr. Carolyn Dean’s Miracle of Magnesium, (which I saw not only mentioned but referred to as a life-changing book in many places)

A bottle of magnesium oil to apply daily,

And another bottle Magnesium Glycinate capsules.

This brings my “not food” supplement regimen to: 

Zinc (one a day in the morning, I like Megafood brand)

Nordic Naturals Omega 3’s (fish oil capsules) – one or two with each meal.

Tumeric (organic.  after meals one and three)

Great Lakes Gelatin in my green smoothie or in plain water which I swear makes my skin way more better and is allegedly gut-healing too

Spirulina- disgusting green powder that I add to my green drink also.  Not completely sold on continuing this but my green smoothie feels so anti-inflammatory I hate to change anything.  So we’ll see.

Onward!

Milestone Time, yay! Thoughts After First Whole 30

Biggest Surprise?

I’ve been thinking about some heavy things out of nowhere and I get choked up easily it seems.   Is that the absence of emotional eating?   Don’t know but I plan to learn more about that during this next Whole30 days.  It’s a side effect that has truly taken me by surprise.

Was It Hard? 

Sometimes.

Eating so many nutritious foods felt downright luxurious and I love the 3 good meal way of eating.

The Sugar Dragon battle was/is the most difficult for me.  I had a few sugar “episodes” shall we call them?  And I was truly surprised at how long sweets stayed on my mind and how easily I would go from totally great to thinking about $#%@!.  I took this as a sign of how fragile my own progress was and that I should stick with my plan of a second Whole30 with no in between off-roading.  So I am.

When you come to the W30 in a “rock bottom” state (as in I’m at my personal rock bottom and ready to work frame of mind) it’s not as hard as you think.

 Tools That Helped?

The Whole 30 Forum in a few ways—

(a) you can obsessively search it for answers to your scatter-brained questions and as you sift through the thousands of results will inevitably learn the answers to other questions too.

(b) a “support thread” for those starting on the same day as you.  Many are facing the same issues and can relate well to each other.   Checking in with your group at the end of each day is so helpful!

A weird little tool that helped me also was a simple calendar on my kitchen wall on which I “X”ed off each compliant day.  After the first few I simply didn’t want to break the chain!  Anyway, it was a little game that did help.

Improvements?

Rosacea & Acne pretty much gone and a nice glowy-look coming back big time!

Weight loss—I think so.  My biggest pair of capris is a size 18 and they no longer stay up.  To wear them I have to roll the top over a few times.  However my 16’s are a liiiiiitle too tight to say I went down an entire pant size so let’s call it a half size down.  Overall all of my clothes fit better or are too big, rather that was inches or pounds I really don’t know.  Measuring today for the first time.     

Mood? 

I feel great.  I get impatient and as I’ve posted about feel so incredibly good it’s a slap in the face to look in the mirror and see an overweight person looking back because I don’t feel that anymore.  I feel that anything is possible with the right effort.  Sometimes things just fit, and the Whole 30 way is a great fit for me.  Not thinking about food lets me take care of other business in my life, and eating the right foods gives me the energy to do so. I cannot praise this way of eating enough.

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Mirror Mirror On the Wall…I Wish You Were A Big Fat Liar

Ever make a physical change–weight loss, begin working out, etc.–and in oh say, 29 days, you feel sooooooo much better?  You are lighter and brighter and stronger.  OMG you must look like Jessica Biel by now!  Then you look in the mirror and BOOM.  Reality punches you in the gut, throws a pie in your face and dares you to eat it.  Laughs at you and says Really? This will take longer than 29 days you silly silly optimist. 

Sigh.      

It sure didn’t take 29 days to get here and it won’t take 29 to get out.

Day 28!

Day 28.  Almost done with my first Whole30, but what’s really on my mind is that I must learn to make compliant Caesar salad dressing which involves learning to make the infamous Olive Oil Mayo.  First world problem for sure.

So about that Fermented Cod Liver Oil, link below is the best summary I can find that involves two people I enjoy following, Diane Sanfilippo and Chris Kresser.  (Diane Sanfilippo is the author of Practical Paleo, my first Paleo book/guide–highly recommend if you haven’t read already!)

But back to the FCLO.  Here’s what Diane thinks:

What Practical Paleo author thinks of FCLO

If you read that, you’ll see that she is saying forget the fish oil, go for FCLO.  I am not quite ready to do that because I have a history with, and loyalty to,  fish oil.  Not for myself but for my middle child.

Long story short: Kid #2 was struggling  (huge understatement) in school  and, not wanting him to take medication, I sought out alternatives.  Enter wonderful book titled ADHD Without Drugs, a total game changer for my son and really our entire family as when one is down we all are down aren’t we?

How is this possibly on topic?  The author recommends quality fish oil as an If You Do Nothing Else Do This sort of thing.  After trying cheap oils and seeing no improvement, I switched him to Nordic Naturals Omega 3’s.  Not Ultra, not 3-6-9.  Just plain old Omega 3’s.  You cannot imagine the difference after a few months.  Among many other anti-inflammatory benefits, my very simpleton understanding is the Omegas basically need to saturate the part of the brain that allows us to focus.  And that takes time, but after a few months, Kid #2 was a different child.  A happier and healthier child.   His focus and ability to complete math problems and reading comprehension worksheets was just remarkable.  He was able to control himself and get along better with his siblings, and I could truly go on and on.

At $37 a bottle, I have refrained from taking the same because I prefer he have it.  Until now, with my decision to change, I started taking it also.  Because let’s face it– I’ve got some serious healing to do.  So while FCLO sounds like a winner, I will at least be finishing what we have here already.

One of goals for my second Whole30, which commences two days from now, is to learn to eat salmon (canned as fresh regularly is cost prohibitive).  This is a great way to obtain Omega 3’s so if anyone actually sees this and has suggestions on Salmon Eating 101 I am all ears!

See you on Day 30!

Here Fishy Fishy

Short and sweet tonight for time reasons.

First:  Fermented Cod Liver Oil is my new research project.  Is this stuff really worth it?  Some of my most trusted sources give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.  I’m looking into it and will post here in case anyone reading this (oh right, does anyone read this but me?) is interested also.

Yes, made it through Day 4!  Meal photos posted.  I know, I know, more variety must be practiced.

Only news for me is I have only one very minor headache but not at all the constant throbbing head all day and night like the last few days.  I am so hoping that’s over!

breakfast (2) Lunch (1) Dinner

Day 3. Visions of Murder Danced In Her Head

By 9a.m. this morning I consumed gelatin, apple cider vinegar, delicious fermented ‘kraut, and raw garlic (minced and swallowed like a pill even though it’s really a weapon).  Homicidal images danced before my eyes; my guts the scene of the crime.  A bloody battle going on that no one would be foolish enough to call a civil war.  And my actions–my smart, nourishing, Whole30-ing choices–leave no question as to whose side I’m on.

Oh yes, my guys, the Good Bacteria, are well supplied at long last.  They are cute and plump, content from feasting on the delicious foods they are now provided three times daily.  They are probably curled up in colonies, leaning against my gut walls, so happy together.  Tonight they’ll sleep well and awaken stronger and ready to work.  Heck, they’ll probably multiply.

My victims aren’t faring so well.  You see, scattered around this scene of digestive peace lay corpses, lots of corpses, the garlic fumes too much to bear.  Excellent to see but my work isn’t done- there are still a bunch of Bad Bacteria hanging on.  Some are rumored to be part of a gang called The Candidas, and there are a LOT of them.

But here’s the thing–  I brought them into this world and I can take them out.  Sugars and undigested food bits feed these little bastards, pumps them up, lets them multiply like crazy.  The flip side is they starve easily.  And starved they will be in the coming days, months, lifetime.  Gasping for air, begging for food, only to be denied.  If they like it I don’t serve it, plain and simple.  It’s the perfect murder.

What did you say- I’m taking this digestive health thing a little too seriously?  Well what on earth would make you think that?  :-)

***

I remained compliant through Day 3.  Photos and meals below.  Not much variety as you’ll see but that was sort of on purpose as I prepared large amounts of the same veggies this morning to be eaten through this particularly crazy and overscheduled day.  The headaches stayed with me but that’s fine I’m still in Bring It mode.

Learning:   Pretty sure my gut needs healing and in addition to a whole foods lifestyle, these are the things I’m doing for the love of gut health; and the more I learn the more I’ll do:

  • take raw garlic three times a week, Mon.-Wed.-Fri. (too afraid of the odor to take it every morning)
  • Great Lakes gelatin once or twice a day
  • eat raw fermented ‘kraut daily
  • drink at least one glass of water with a few teaspoons of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar daily

I also take a probiotic but mostly because I am too cheap to throw away what I have.  That said, it’s the last I’ll ever buy as eating lots of fermented foods and prebiotics (favorite foods of good bacteris) seems far superior.  Here’s a list of prebiotics (scroll down it’s about hallway through): Feed Your Good Bacteria These Things     Definitely will learn to eat dandelion greens; I already eat most of the others.

photo (10)

Breakfast:

  • Kale Smoothie:  (1 cup coconut water, 1/4 avocado, 2 cups kale, 1 cup pineapple, juice of half a lime, 1/2 teaspoon spirulina, 1 tablespoon gelatin)
  • Grass-fed beef/hamburger patty
  • Raw & Local Sauerkraut
  • Fresh Green Squash steamed tossed in coconut oil and sea salt.
  • Sweet Potato
  • 1 glove garlic (minced and swallowed like a pill)
  • 1 probiotic pill

lunch

Lunch  (drank glass of water with 3 teaspoons Braggs ACV before eating)

  • Grass-fed beef/hamburger patty
  • Raw & Local Sauerkraut
  • Fresh Green Squash & Carrots steamed then tossed in coconut oil and sea salt.

dinner

Dinner

  • 2 eggs cooked in coconut oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sweet potato
  • Fresh Green Squash & Carrots steamed then tossed in coconut oil and sea salt.

No snacks (yay!)  but did have 3 cups of coffee, even worse than yesterday’s two.    

Day 2. Great Food and Sweet Cussing

Food wise I did great and remained Whole30 compliant- meals and photos below.

Had a fun little test of wills when on two occasions people in my workplace started talking about @%!^$&^  and   #@%!   (Any dessert is officially a cuss word here and will be displayed as such.)   Dammit.  I had no idea the mere mention would conjure up unwelcome images and start cravings—am I really this far gone down the Sugar Addiction path?

Yes, yes I am.

The oh-so-shiny silver lining is that knowledge really is power, don’t you think?  Knowing I will be triggered so easily helps me prepare and continue getting in front of that barrier.

Mentally I’m feeling good about this.  Great, actually.  I feel very prepared for the worst and while I haven’t read the book, the people over at the Whole30 forum are amazing and full of tips and knowledge.  Physically feeling tired from the constant headaches which are not even close to being the end of the world and I can totally cope with.

Learning:  (Well, really more of a reminder but a good one.)  I’ve used coconut oil cosmetically, first-aid wise (kids bug bites or scrapes), to season my cast iron skillets, and have been eating it for a couple years.  But I’ve been cooking with a combo of it, olive oil, and butter, in no particular order.  With the pastured butter out the door I am now using coconut oil exclusively and am reminded how AMAZING it is to cook with.  Really, is there anything that it doesn’t make taste even more delicious?  I. Think. Not.

Day 2 Meals:

Breakfast

  • Celery (3 stalks chopped up)
  • Cucumbers (almost half of an English one, with skin on) (that sounds really weird but I’m going with it)
  • 3 eggs
  • Raw (and local!) sauerkraut (it’s a little more than a 1/4 cup)
  • (drank glass of water with 3 teaspoons Braggs ACV while cooking)
  • Probiotic pill  

DSCF4177 DSCF4178 DSCF4179

Lunch 

  • Kale Smoothie (1 cup coconut water, 1/4 avocado, 2 cups kale, 1 cup pineapple, juice of half a lime, 1/2 teaspoon spirulina, 1 tablespoon gelatin)
  • Grass-fed beef/hamburger patty
  • Fresh Carrots and Fresh Green Squash steamed together and tossed in a spoon of coconut oil then sprinkled with sea salt.  AMAZING; the veggies were  definitely the best part of this meal.

DSCF4180 DSCF4181

Two Cups of Black Coffee  (trying to keep this to one)

Dinner:   I am not very hungry and plan to have a sweet potato and some walnuts in keeping with the three meal deal but for time mgmt. reasons am posting this BEFORE that so no pic yet.