Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Il Pollo Monte Cristo

I like making dishes that seem fancy but take minimal effort and require pretty simple ingredients. This recipe from Shape Magazine definitely fits the bill - and it's healthy! It's taken from Il Sole in Los Angeles, a popular restaurant frequented by Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, and Britney Spears.

I made a few modifications to account for my personal preferences. I used organic chicken and organic pasture butter, and I substituted chicken broth for the veal broth. I also used brown rice flour instead of all-purpose flour because I made this for my parents and my dad avoids gluten.

If you want to impress guests - or just your hubby - give it a try!


  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup veal stock (or chicken/turkey broth)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour (I used brown rice flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts (organic!)
  • Cooking spray (I used a few teaspoons of olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 12 whole garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter


Assemble ingredients:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together chicken broth, veal stock, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.

Dredge each chicken breast in flour mixture, making sure to coat both sides.

Coat a large ovenproof skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to skillet and brown for 3 minutes on each side.

Add wine and garlic; cook chicken for 3 minutes more.

Pour stock mixture over chicken and place skillet in preheated oven.

Roast chicken for 12 minutes or until just cooked through. Beware - the skillet handle will be HOT! Don't make my mistake and grab it after your place it back on the stove.

Remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to a large plate.

Jess says "yum!"

Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Beware of wild animals that might want to sneak a bite...or Marla and Dexter...

Place skillet over medium heat and bring sauce to a simmer. Cook until it has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in butter and season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, lay out four plates and thinly slice each chicken breast. Arrange an even portion on each plate and top with sauce. Serve with seasonal vegetables, such as steamed asparagus or broccoli.

I served the dish with a big salad, gnocchi with pesto and cannellini bean sauce, and roasted vegetables.

Two of my three taste testers:



Monday, May 23, 2011

Another Reason Why Probiotics Are Important

A lot of people associate probiotics, or good bacteria, with improved digestion and better, er, regularity. Recent research suggests something rather interesting: gut bacteria may be linked to your brain chemistry and behavior. Researchers at McMaster University altered normal gut bacterial content in healthy adult mice using antibiotics, resulting in a change in both behavior and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, an important brain chemical. When antibiotics were stopped and healthy gut flora returned to normal, behavior also normalized.

This research is encouraging, as it further supports how important our gut health is to our overall wellbeing. Furthermore, it promotes further research that might better describe potential links between gut dysfunction and behavior alterations or neurochemical imbalances. Additional study in this area might help us explain links between IBS and depression or ADHD or autism and gut inflammation.

In the interim, it's important to supplement with probiotics, especially after a course of antibiotics. I actually recommend probiotics and fish oil to all of my clients, both adults and children, since omega-3 fast and probiotics are difficult to get in one's diet. My favorite brand is Genestra HMF Forte. I've been using it personally for 3 years upon recommendation by a naturopathic doctor, and I have also had wonderful and professional success with the product. "HMF" stands for Human Micro Flora. According to Genestra, HMF products are cultured from human (instead of cow or pig) gut and have greater adherence to the GI wall. I've recommended it to many clients, and even the ones with the most sensitive stomachs or those who have never had success with probiotics become big fans. You can purchase it through or through me.

Depending on your case and history, I recommend 1-4 capsules per day with food. There are also other HMF products that I like, depending on my client's situation. HMF Replete is a 7-day repletion protocol that is great for use right after a round of antibiotics. Make sure to wait 3-4 days after your last antibiotic dose before starting probiotics.

If you're planning to become pregnant, are prone to colds, have seasonal allergies, or have any gut compromise (like constipation, diarrhea, or GI upset), it's especially important for you to think about probiotics!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cider-glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice

This recipe is super simple and totally delicious. I've made it a few times now and receive rave reviews from those who taste it. It's also gluten-free, so it is appropriate for those who have gluten or wheat intolerances. I found it on Cooking Light's website, here. Don't be afraid to use the relatively small amounts of butter called for in this recipe. If possible, choose organic pasture butter (no for sale at Whole Foods). The fat profile is optimal because the cows eat grass - what they're meant to eat - and there are higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid. For more on the importance of eating meat that was raised properly (and more humanely), check out this article.

As a gift from my dad to my mom for their anniversary, I was hired as a "personal chef" to create 10 delivered meals. My mom doesn't have to worry about shopping, food prep, or cleanup, and I usually make enough for two meals.

**I doubled the recipe, so in the pictures the quantity will be larger**

Cider-glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice
Serves 4 (pictures serve 8)

  • 1 (3.5-ounce) bag boil-in-bag brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets (about 4 cutlets)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Assemble Ingredients:

Cook rice according to package directions in a small saucepan, omitting salt and fat; drain.

While rice cooks, melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

Remove from pan. Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until syrupy.

Add chicken to pan, turning to coat. Remove from heat; set aside.

Melt remaining 5 teaspoons butter in saucepan over medium-high heat; cook for 2 minutes or until browned and fragrant.

Lower heat to medium; add pecans, and cook for 1 minute or until toasted, stirring frequently.

Add rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well to coat. Serve rice with chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.

This is the pan I prepared to bring to my parents' house for delivery, plus I added a salad:

As my friends would say, "Nom, nom, nom!"



Monday, May 2, 2011

Coconut Quick Bread

I'm always on the lookout for healthy baked goods, and when I came across this recipe in my friend Maya's newsletter, the Weekly Fig, I was stoked. Maya is a registered dietitian with a holistic background who has a similar approach as mine. Her newest website, Intentful Chef, is officially launching soon, and she is both a wealth of knowledge and an excellent cook. Thanks for this recipe, Maya!

I couldn't have said this any better, so I will directly quote Maya's Weekly Fig issue:

"Coconut flour is gluten free, high fiber, and high protein! You can buy it at most health food stores. Gluten is what typically gives breads their structure, which holds them together. Since the flour is gluten free, the properties are very different from that of wheat flour. Hence the reason for 6 whole eggs, providing a new form of structure for the bread."

Don't shy away from coconut oil and real, organic pasture butter - we're learning every day through research that saturated fat is not what causes heart disease. Check out this article for more information.

Maya's Coconut Quick Bread

1 cup coconut flour (I got mine at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup real, unsalted butter (try organic pasture butter at Whole Foods)
6 eggs
4 T honey (you can use 2 or even a few dashes of stevia)
1/2 tsp. dirty sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)


Assemble ingredients:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl using an electric mixer until it becomes a "clumpless" paste.

Coconut flour:




Grease a loaf pan and drop in the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. The top will become golden brown or darker. Serve as is, with fresh made jam, or coffee (or Teeccino!).