my KETO journey – chicken bundles

Are we weary yet of chicken breast fried, baked, braised, roasted, fricasseed or chicken legs and thighs coated with crushed pork rinds and baked?  Are ya?  This keto challenge can be daunting when meal planning is on the agenda.  Can’t have this, no, can’t eat that, whatever happened to the nice side dish of brown rice or pasta?  Hmmm, out of necessity, new recipes are born.

I have always loved porcupines.  That was my grandmother’s name for cabbage bundles she created with ground beef and rice or ground pork and rice.  Of course by the time she added the onion, herbs and spices and then simmered those bundles in a zesty tomato sauce, all hands were on the dinner table waiting impatiently for her bowls of porcupines.  Served with a slice of homemade bread – Lord, it don’t get any better than that.

Ground chicken!  Yep, that’s right.  Grandma’s recipe can be just as delicious with ground chicken, a meat about half the price of ground beef.  With the keto plan we are no longer limited to lean breast meat.  No, just go ahead and enjoy the fat-enhanced flavor of dark chicken meat.  Of course, organic is a nice choice, but, we can’t always choose the organics which usually cost twice as much.

HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb ground chicken preferably dark meat and breast meat
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can finely diced tomatoes
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped including leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 large outer cabbage leaves (for 2 servings)
  • 3-4 tbs butter (yes, I said tablespoons – butter is now our friend)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 12 toothpicks
  • salt and pepper to taste

If you have fresh herbs, that’s wonderful.  Just remember to adjust your amounts.

DIRECTIONS
  1. Start with the cabbage by carefully removing intact 4 of the outer leaves
  2. Place them in a steamer basket and steam until barely tender.  You want the leaves to be pliable but not mushy.
  3. In a bowl mix the chicken, onions, garlic, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Place the butter to melt in a medium sized saucepot.
  5. Take each cabbage leaf, spoon 1/4 of the meat mixture onto the leaf and wrap into square bundles with the denser rib section as the last overlap.  Insert 3 toothpicks into each bundle.
  6. The butter, having melted over a medium high heat, is now ready to saute the bundles about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the bundles to a plate and add the tomatoes, the basil and oregano to the saucepot allowing the mixture to come to a boil.
  8. Return the chicken bundles, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 30 to 45 minutes, basting a few times with the tomato sauce.

35

CABBAGE, anyone?

bright-cabbage-color-134877

OK, I don’t want to hear any bellyaching about cabbage, “Ohhhh, it gives me gas,” or “I just don’t like cabbage or anything that smells like cabbage,” or “it stinks up my house when I cook it.”  Get over it!  Cabbage is wonderful.

My heritage is Pennsylvania Dutch.  Born and raised in Dutch country with traditional Dutch cooking, our New Year’s Day supper was always pork and sauerkraut.  Loved it!  But, I’ll cover that in another post sharing with you memories of cabbage fermenting in 5 gallon crocks in the cellar.  Mmmmm.

There are hundreds of ways to eat this vegetable, but one of our favorites happens to be a cole slaw recipe which I will gladly share with you after I trumpet the benefits of including this wonderfully nutritious vegetable in your diet – daily is not too often.  Sautéed and mixed with your morning scrambled eggs, simmered in a light lunch soup with garlic and tomatoes, or a robust stew with pasta for suppertime are just a few of the amazing ways to pack your diet with this delicious member of the brassica family.

First, let’s talk about the cousins of cabbage.  Yes, I’m sure you are familiar with most of them.  Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy (a friend begs my shrimp/bok choy/noodle bowl when constipation is a problem), broccoli, and last but not least, the famous sweetheart of super foods, kale.  So many ways to enjoy this treasure of the vegetable world that nobody should go through life lacking its benefits.

And those benefits are numerous indeed.  I’ll cover the highlights here for you, but check out the website nutrition-and-you.com for greater detail. These are percentages of RDA per gram of cabbage.  A small, one pound head of cabbage is 454 grams, so a person would consume several grams in one helping.

  • folates                                 13%
  • niacin                                  1.5 %
  • pantothenic acid               4%
  • pyridoxine                          10%
  • riboflavin                            3%
  • thiamin                                5%
  • vitamin A                             3%
  • vitamin C                              61%
  • vitamin K                              63% 
  • a host of minerals including potassium (helps control heart rate and blood pressure), manganese (used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase), iron, and magnesium.

Cabbage also packs phytochemicals, potent antioxidants known to protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers.  Additionally they help reduce LDL, the “bad cholesterol” in the blood.

(Medical disclaimer)  Cabbage family members contain “goitrogens”, a compound that can cause swelling of the thyroid gland in people with thyroid dysfunction.

Now, that you are absolutely sold on the greatness of cabbage, here’s my favorite cole slaw recipe.

HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS

  • about 1 pound of shredded cabbage (a small head)
  • up to 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (adjust this to your taste)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS 

Nothing fancy here – place the cabbage in a large bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients in a smaller bowl, taste it and adjust the dressing to your liking, mix well with the shredded cabbage, chill before serving.