Happy News, and a Whole30 Chicken Curry Recipe

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yesterday I received some of the best news I've received in a while. For weeks (months?) now I've been applying for jobs, and other than an interview last week for an online teaching gig, I haven't heard anything. YESTERDAY, though, I found out I won a summer fellowship from my university so that I can work guilt-free on my dissertation all summer. Essentially, I'm being paid to make dissertation writing my full-time job this summer, which frees me from having to continue the disastrous job search right away. I couldn't be happier.

The annual English Department award ceremony is on Friday, and they will be announcing the winners of the fellowship then and presenting them with...something (a certificate, I assume). At first I thought about driving down for the ceremony and staying the night with my friend Jamie, but then I started trying to figure out how I could pull off two days away and stay true to my Whole30 diet and decided it wasn't worth the stress. That's the biggest problem with this diet: you can't really go out to eat. I'm sure if I lived in L.A. or New York I could find plenty of restaurants that cater to the paleo lifestyle. For that matter, if I were in New York or D.C., I could just eat at Chop't every meal and be perfectly happy. But here, not so much. Even if I were to order a grilled chicken salad, I'd have to worry that they cooked the chicken in vegetable/canola/peanut oil. There probably aren't too many (or any) restaurants cooking strictly in coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.

I just wonder how people on a strict paleo diet travel. Since travel is such an important part of my life, I can't imagine giving it up for any diet, no matter how healthful. I've decided that I'm going to try to keep eating a paleo diet at home after Whole30 is over, but I'm not going to restrict myself when I want to go out or when I travel. I definitely think this a healthier way of living, and I've really enjoyed the foods I've made these past nine days, but I'm not going to give up all the foods I love forever. I'm just going to eat them with far more moderation than ever before, seeing it as a treat to eat cheesecake/coffee cake/strawberry shortcake/etc. and not as a right.

Until May 8, when I can welcome those things back into my life, I'm going to be satisfied with meals like these:

Tuesday, Day 9
Breakfast: leftover Sweet 'n Savory Quiche and a side of raw baby carrots
Lunch: leftover tarragon chicken and grilled onions, zucchini, and squash from last night's dinner, and a plum
Dinner: smoky kale chips, chicken curry, and Indian-spiced sweet potatoes

This is the chicken curry I made tonight, from my own recipe! Really, it's a combination of several recipes I found as I tried to compensate for my lack of some fairly standard curry ingredients, such as garam masala, and to replace some ingredients that weren't Whole30 friendly, like sugar and yogurt. I also didn't bother to make rice to go with this curry because I just didn't have the stomach for cauliflower rice tonight.

Here's my recipe:

Whole30 Chicken Curry

1 lb. chicken breasts or tenderloins
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp. curry
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. salt (preferably kosher)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
additional salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut chicken breasts in halves and trim them.
2. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil 2-3 minutes. While oil is heating, salt and pepper each side of the chicken to taste.
3. When oil is hot, reduce heat to medium-high and place chicken in the pan. Flip them after 2.5 minutes and cook the other side 2.5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a clean plate.
4. Add garlic, onions, and ginger to the skillet. Cook until onions are soft, nearly translucent. Reduce heat to medium.
5. Add coconut milk, spices, chopped cilantro, and lemon juice to the mixture. Allow to cook together for about a minute. 
6. Add chicken back in, cover with the sauce, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Allow chicken to simmer 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

I paired the curry with these delicious Indian-spiced sweet potatoes:

Seriously. SO good.

We were supposed to have leftover grilled veggies as our second side, but due to an accident in which the leftover veggies were left out all night, I decided to whip up my first batch of kale chips instead:

Instead of making the regular kale chips with just sea salt and olive oil, I decided to make these smoky kale chips because I thought the smoked paprika would complement the Indian dishes. I ended up eating them almost as an appetizer instead because I had to prepare them first so I could roast the potatoes at a much higher temperature. I really can't wait until we get our double oven so I can say good-bye to that issue!

For my first time making kale chips, I was pleasantly surprised at how they turned out. They were just as good and just as addictive as people say, although after having the smoky variety, I'm not sure if I'll be able to switch to just salt.

Doing Whole30 right is time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes even a little stressful, but with meals like this one, it's so worth it.


Tawnysha Greene April 17, 2013 at 8:26 AM  

Congrats on the award! That is so exciting!

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