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Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese, Wrapped in Bacon {Gluten-free, Low-carb}

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese, Wrapped in Bacon {Gluten-free, Low-carb}
Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken

Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken

I don’t know if low-carb, grain-free eating gets much better than this! Beautiful skinless, boneless chicken breasts stuffed with soft chevrie goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, walnuts and wrapped in bacon… ohmygosh! And to top it off, it’s easy-peasy 🙂 I enjoy recipes that use ingredients that I typically have on hand, or that can be modified easily.

This was a meal that I shared just with my husband on a weekend night at home while our son was spending time with friends, so we used ingredients we really enjoy like mushroom and spinach. (Yay, kitchen time together!)…I think next time I make this for all of us, I will let my son decide what to put inside his, so that he can enjoy as well. Why does pepperoni, tomato, basil and mozzarella come to mind?! 😉   Good for 2 of us, I also think that it would be great for a primal-ish dinner party, or even cut up in sections as an appetizer.

Normally, I do keep the skin *on* my chicken as a source of healthy fats, but in this case, I was happy to go without in exchange for some bacon-y goodness!! The filling was easy and could be tweaked in many ways to your own personal tastes (and pantry). I took several pictures along the way to show the process, but to be honest, the recipe amounts will just be a guess, as I made it up as I went along (as usual.) In other words, stuff it with whatever you want! The amount of stuffing you need will vary by the size of the chicken breast, so keep that in mind if you need to add a little more. The minced pork rinds are a great substitute for bread crumbs as a binder in stuffing recipes.

 

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Wrapped in Bacon (serves 2-4)

Spinach Filling

Spinach, garlic, mushrooms, onion, and walnuts for the filling

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (butterflied open)
  • coconut oil or butter
  • 1/2 C frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (1/4C or so)
  • 3 mushrooms, sliced thinly (used crimini, baby bellas)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4C pork rinds, finely chopped
  • 1/4C chopped walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3oz soft goat cheese such as chevrie
  • 6-8 slices raw bacon
Spinach Filling

Chicken breasts: butterflied and filled.

Directions: Preheat oven to 400. Prepare filling ingredients: I put the frozen spinach and chopped onion in a microwave-safe bowl, salt lightly, cover with wrap and microwave on high for about 5 minutes and then drain, but you can saute if you choose not to use a microwave (I just like the gentle sweetness of the onions steamed this way, and I can multi-task.) Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms and garlic in butter or coconut oil until done. Add the cooked spinach and onion, heat through, add the walnuts and pork rinds to complete the stuffing.

Wrapping in bacon

Wrapping in bacon

Lay out each butterflied chicken breast, salt and pepper to taste. Use 1/4 of the cheese on each breast, placing it near the center. Top each with 1/2 the stuffing mixture and the remaining cheese (if you have too much stuffing, don’t use it all.). Carefully fold each breast in half, keeping the stuffing in place with your fingers. Carefully wrap each breast in bacon strips, one at a time, spiraling around, making sure to cover all the stuffing. Bake on a cookie sheet (I used a silicone mat on mine) for about 20-25 minutes, (flipped chicken halfway through bake time.) I then broiled the tops for about 3 minutes per side to ensure bacon was cooked completely, but you may find that baking alone is fine.

 

In the pictures shown, I have a side salad of fresh spinach, tomatoes, swiss cheese topped with a simple vinaigrette of 2Tb warm bacon fat, 2Tb balsamic vinegar and 1Tb orange juice with a touch of tarragon, salt and pepper.

Stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, and simple spinach salad.

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Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken with Asian Inspired Shirataki Noodle Salad

 

Either you like crispy chicken skin, or you don’t… we DO! Mmmmm! It’s such a wonderful combination of texture and taste, and a good source of healthy fats. So, for the crispy-skin-lovers out there, I hope you enjoy this simple chicken recipe!

Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken with Asian Inspired Salad

Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken with Asian Inspired Salad

Most of the recipes I post here are for foods that traditionally contain wheat or high carbohydrate content, and that have been modified to fit into a grain-free, low-carb way of eating. This tends to include lots of baked goods… not because we eat lots of goodies (we don’t) but because that seems to be the hardest thing for people to convert within a new lifestyle.

This is a recipe that is just plain yummy, and it’s something I would have made in the pre-wheat-free days as well. If you enjoy a crispy skin on tender chicken, this recipe is a great base which can modified in numerous ways to fit the seasonings that you prefer or have on hand.

In this case, I was using Tamari, which is the gluten-free version of soy sauce, and it inspired me to season further with ginger, garlic powder, some fresh tarragon (because I had it on hand) and my homemade Gomasio. (If I’d had some green onion, I would have used it in place of the tarragon, but the tarragon was great!) Take note in the recipe that I pulled the skin back on the chicken to get the herbs and seasonings underneath. This helps to infuse the meat with wonderful flavor, and the skin to become nice and crispy, mmm. Don’t be afraid to mix up the flavors if you prefer lemon/garlic, blackened/cajun or any other combination you enjoy!

Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki Noodles

To accompany the chicken, I made a simple chopped salad of romaine lettuce, fresh avocado, cubed cucumber, shirataki noodles, slivered almonds and Gomasio, topped with a dressing I threw together that my husband ended up being crazy about. It’s very fresh tasting and was also an experiment in using the shirataki noodles in this way. Shirataki noodles are still a new ingredient to me, though I have been hearing about them for quite some time. They are in the refrigerated specialty section in some larger groceries, though they don’t carry them in my small town, so I picked some up when I was in a neighboring Kroger the other day. They are gluten-free and grain-free, and made of tofu, though I wouldn’t say that they have a tofu taste or texture. I quite liked them in this salad, and I also added some to a nice hot bowl of miso soup the other day, and enjoyed that as well!

Crispy Herbed Tamari Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken quarters (thigh/leg)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup tamari
  • 2Tb each fresh tarragon and parsley, finely chopped
  • garlic powder to taste
  • powdered ginger to taste
  • gomasio to taste
Seasoning under the skin

Seasoning under the skin

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Gently separate the chicken skin from the meat (leaving it attached at the sides) and brush under the skin with the tamari, season with the herbs and spices as desired (except gomasio). Pull the skin back into place and brush the chicken on both sides with tamari, season with herbs, spices and tamari. Bake for 45 minutes at 375, rotating the pan partway through cooking. Raise temp to 425 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165. Serves 4.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Asian Inspired Salad with Shirataki Noodles

Chopped Salad

Chopped Salad

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 2 cups chopped romaine hearts
  • 1 avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 C slivered almonds
  • 1 bag shirataki noodles, rinsed and drained
  • gomasio to taste

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 2-3 TB tamari
  • juice of one lime
  • 2TB honey/ginger balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 TB sour cream
  • 1 tsp honey or sweetener to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1TB fresh tarragon, finely chopped

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl, set aside. Combine all dressing ingredients, and use as desired on salad.

 

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Buffalo Chicken Salad {Low Carb, Grain Free}

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Last night we were looking for something to do with our leftover baked (GF) chicken from the previous evening, and we were in the mood for a salad. I also had some blue cheese on hand, so decided to make my easy blue cheese dressing, which led to this Buffalo Chicken Salad…

  • chopped greens (we used romaine and iceberg lettuce)
  • sliced fresh tomato
  • chopped cooked chicken tossed in a sauce made from 2Tb melted butter and 1/4C GF hotsauce
  • homemade blue cheese dressing
  • chopped celery

That’s it, super easy and delicious, as well as low carb!

 

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Warm Veggie Salad with Grilled Chicken

If you are like me, you eat plenty of salads, right? I know we love our greens and the health benefits that come with them, but I also get in salad “ruts” sometimes where I know I should eat them, but I also know just how they will taste, and get a little bored with the concept.

This morning I didn’t feel like eggs or a smoothie for breakfast, and decided to have a salad instead, so I started looking through the fridge to see what I had on hand. I knew there was leftover orange ginger grilled chicken breast that I wanted to use, and of course greens. I also had fresh crimini mushrooms, which i love, but the problem is that I only like cooked mushrooms, not raw ones. Cooking the mushrooms led to this delicious and light warm salad… for a vegetarian version, simply omit the chicken and cheese and use coconut oil to saute veggies. Having a late breakfast in the backyard listening to the birds singing up a storm was a refreshing start to my day, but I don’t think I will be hungry at lunch time!

Warm Veggie Salad with Grilled Chicken

  • 1/2 grilled chicken breast, cut up
  • 1 large leaf of napa cabbage
  • handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • handful of crimini musrooms, diced
  • butter or coconut oil to saute veggies
  • sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Saute carrot, celery and mushrooms in butter for a few minutes, cooking lightly and maintaining crispness. Add grilled chicken and warm through, remove from heat. Lay the napa down as a base for the salad, either whole for a wrap, or chopped. Add spinach over napa. Top with veggies and then cheese. Squeeze lime over the top and serve immediately.

 

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Gingered Walnut Chicken Salad {Gluten Free}

Ginger Walnut Salad with Strawberry

It’s been a busy day in the kitchen, getting some convenient foods ready for the weekend. We cooked a beautiful farm-raised chicken last night that my husband bought from a friend at work. What a treat to have fresh and unprocessed meat! We roasted it on the rotisserie and ate some of the dark meat for dinner; today I decided to make a chicken salad with the breast meat, and use the carcass, skin and scraps of the chicken to make stock; nothing gets wasted at my house! The stock is simmering on the stove with a little thyme and vidalia onion tossed in, and is reducing nicely.

I’m not quite sure what I will make from the stock, but I am thinking I will refrigerate it and probably come up with some sort of soup on Sunday. Already I took 2 cups out that I used to cook the brown rice that is one of the ingredients in the home made dog food that I am feeding my dog Suzie (golden retriever), nursing her past an illness. She seems to respond very well  to the concoction of ingredients that I put together for her, and I think that wet food, especially with some anti-inflammatory oils and ingredients added, is helpful to keep her hydrated and less itchy.

So back to the chicken salad… I had a lovely bowl of cubed chicken breast, and had to decide what to pair it with. I do enjoy a standard mayo-based chicken salad, but I was wanting something a little different, with a freshness, zing, and full of protein! I bought a nice bag of limes at the market yesterday, which ended up being my jumping off point, and I crafted the rest of the recipe around the lime and chicken. I decided to pair it with some frozen grated ginger, coconut oil, a little honey, thyme from my herb garden and some kefir for the dressing, along with walnuts (toasted with ginger and pepper), coconut flakes and celery. The walnuts add another layer of ginger flavor and spiciness, being toasted with ginger powder and fresh pepper. A little bit tropical, summery and fresh, delicious!

Gingered Walnut Chicken Salad

Fresh Lime, Thyme and Frozen Ginger

Dressing:

  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2Tb coconut oil
  • 2Tb grated ginger
  • 2Tb fresh thyme
  • 1C Kefir (probiotic smoothy similar to yogurt)

Salad:

  • 3 C cut up cooked chicken breast
  • 1 C toasted gingered walnuts (tip to follow)
  • 1/2 C flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 2 ribs celery, split and thinly sliced

Toast walnuts, set aside. Make the dressing: combine the lime juice and coconut oil in a medium bowl, and heat in the microwave for 10 seconds or so, to allow the oil and juice to whisk together easily. Whisk in the honey and thyme. Slowly add the Kefir, a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition. Set aside. Place the cubed chicken in a large bowl, and add walnuts, coconut, and celery, tossing well. Slowly add the dressing to the chicken mixture, stirring well after each addition, with the thought of allowing the chicken to slowly soak up the dressing. Serve over a bed of greens, in a cabbage wrapper, on cheese crackers, or topped with strawberries. Makes about 4 cups.

Tip: To make the walnuts, heat about a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet, add the walnuts and gently toast. Mix together 1/2 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper, a couple pinches of kosher salt, and 1 tsp turbinado sugar, and sprinkle over nuts, allowing them to toast 2 minutes longer, stirring frequently over medium-low heat, so they don’t burn. These are also great to snack on, so make a few more than you need 😉

 

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Crunchy Hot Wings and Blue Cheese

OK, first things first… if you are a chicken purist, and think that parboiling is akin to software pirating, please discontinue reading and forget you were ever here!

On the other hand, if you don’t mind some kitchen short-cuts to yummy, crunchy wings, that aren’t deep fried, you are in luck! This is the wings method I have been using for several years, though I don’t recall quite where the idea came from. I vary the sauce depending on what we are craving, and what’s in the fridge, but this is a pretty basic mild hot-wings style I have going here. It’s reassuring that one of our faves does NOT have to be altered to be gluten-free! I am watching the carbs though, so I stayed away from the sweet sauce this time around.

First, the Blue Cheese Dressing: Again, I admit that I really don’t measure things that I make frequently. To make a small batch of dressing, I would use about 4oz softened cream cheese, 1/4C mayo (regular or light), a few tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola, freshly ground black pepper, and maybe a pinch of rice wine vinegar. Combine well, and refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors come together. Simple! If it is too thick when you remove it from the fridge, just add a little milk.

To make the Wings: Thaw chicken wing sections (if frozen) and cover with water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Next, line a cookie sheet with foil to make clean-up easier, and arrange wings. Broil on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turn over and finish broiling another 8-10 minutes until wings are crispy and cooked through.

Sauce: Meanwhile, whip up a sauce of your choosing to coat the wings. I used about 1/4 cup of Frank’s RedHot sauce, a few tablespoons of butter and a dash of Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing, heated in the microwave about 90 seconds, until the butter melts. (I have also used Asian marinades, BBQ sauce, minced garlic, fresh ginger, dried ginger, sesame oil, soy, hot pepper flakes, pretty much anything you enjoy.) Place the wings in a large bowl and pour the sauce over the top; toss to coat.

Kitchen Tip: I usually serve with celery and sometimes carrot sticks. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get just as excited about celery leaves as I do about the celery stalks! I always save the leaves and dry them so that I can add them to soups. I just put the leaves on a paper plate and rearrange them every so often to help them dry over the course of a couple days. I think I may be one of the only people who choose their celery by how many leaves they have!

 

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Orange Stir Fry Veggies and Quinoa (keen-wa)… no msg or gluten in sight

Use any mixture of veggies and meat that you prefer!

Tonight was one of those nights that I didn’t really feel like cooking (yes, it happens), but wanted more than just a salad. I decided to gather up a bunch of veggies and do a GF version of my typical stir fry. The changes that I’ve made are mostly to use gluten-free Tamari instead of soy sauce, and to substitute for the higher carb rice with healthy quinoa.

I will admit that quinoa is a grain that I knew virtually nothing about until deleting the wheat from my diet a few weeks ago. I knew it existed (although in my head I was pronouncing it wrong!), but that was about the extent of it. It was a sacred seed in the ancient Inca civilization, and it turns out that quinoa is a gem in any diet, not just for those going without gluten. It is a complete protein, and a good source of Magnesium, Manganese and Phosphorus. It has a glycemic load of only 18, and is not inflammatory. Low in cholesterol, it is an important source of plant-derived calcium, and it has a pleasing nutty flavor to boot!

Kept in the freezer, fresh ginger root is easy to grate as needed for recipes.

Kitchen Tip: In this recipe, I also use fresh grated ginger. I have a trick for ginger that I learned from my Mom; I keep the whole root in the freezer in a ziploc, and just pull it out and grate it when I want to add it to a dish. If you are like me, even though you use ginger, you may not get through the whole root before it molds, and keeping it in the freezer is a great way to store it, and it is even easier to grate when it’s frozen.

Here you see my handy zesting tool, but you can also use a sharp knife.

 

The orange zest adds a little extra flavor boost as well, and I use a zesting tool that I picked up in a kitchen shop to do this task. In general I am not a gadgety person, mostly preferring sharp knives, but this is a nice inexpensive tool that I bought back when I was doing lots of zesting for holiday biscottis and baked goods. I will definitely be changing my holiday routine this season, and exploring new treats!

 

Orange Stir Fry Veggies and Quinoa:

  •  2 C cooked Quinoa 
  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into 1″ chunks (beef, pork or shrimp works too)
  • 2-3 Tb Olive oil

Veggies: (feel free to use my mix, or whatever you happen to have on hand)Veggies for stir fry

  • 3 Tb Olive oil
  • 1 C chopped Napa cabbage
  • 1 C chopped Broccoli rabe (or regular broccoli)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 Sweet onion, slivered
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 C Crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 of an orange Bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 C slivered Almonds
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 1/4 C frozen or fresh peas, thawed

Sauce:

  • 3 Tb Olive oil
  • Juice of one orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 C Tamari GF Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • dash of Cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tb fresh grated ginger
  • dash of Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C coconut milk mixed with 1 Tb arrowroot powder (for thickening)

Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl, except coconut milk and arrowroot. Set aside. Using a large heavy skillet (or wok if you prefer), heat 2-3 Tb olive oil and stir fry the chicken until just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Heat remaining olive oil and add all “Veggies” except peas. Stir fry about 5-8 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add cooked chicken, peas and sauce ingredients, heat through. Add the coconut milk and arrowroot, stir to thicken. Dish over warm quinoa and serve.  Makes about 4 servings.

 

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