Recipe: Sticky Spiced Chicken Wings

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Chicken wings, along with marylands, are my favourite part of the chicken. With their high ratio of skin to fat, wings are especially delicious when coated in this spicy Asian marinade and roasted to golden brown perfection.

Twice in one day, while out shopping, I overheard people being afraid of fat. A woman next to me at the butcher was asking if they had soup bones with less fat. Another woman, to whom the butcher was recommending his range of inhouse-made smallgoods, declined them as she said they were too fatty. The two women were of different ages and ethnicities but were united in their fear of fat.

I can understand why they feel this way. When I was around 12, I went on a totally orthorexic phase and removed the chunks of fat from lup cheong (chinese sausage) and ate my toast without any butter or margarine. Fortunately that phase didn’t last for long, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I have allowed myself to revel in eating fat, and – even better – with the knowledge that the healthy fats now turn out to be actually good for us (such as animal fats, coconut oil, lard, tallow, butter, ghee, macadamia oil, avocado oil, olive oil). I won’t bore you with the scientific details (if you are interested, check out the Further Reading references below), just to mention that fat is necessary for hormone production, improves brain function, nerve signaling and immunity.

I never used to cook chicken wings until I came this recipe and now it makes a regular appearance at dinner, plus leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Sticky Spiced Chicken Wings

16 chicken wings (including wing tips and drumettes)
Lemon juice, to serve

Marinade:

  • 10 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp macadamia oil or extra light olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes (to taste)
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • ⅛ tsp ground star anise (optional)
  • 2 tsp dry sherry or chinese rice wine (Shao Xing)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp (or 1 stalk) chopped lemongrass
  • ½ tsp sumac (optional)
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
  1. Combine marinade ingredients and mix with chicken wings. Marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C.
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  4. Line an oven tray with foil and set a baking rack on top. (If the wings are in direct contact with the foil, the skin tends to stick.) Place the marinated wings on the rack (top side down). Baste with any leftover marinade. Bake for 15 mins, then turn over and bake for a further 15 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Squeeze over some lemon juice before serving.

Further Reading

3 ways with Broccoli

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Broccoli is currently in season, it is an absolute bargain so I wanted to present 3 ways to cook it as a side dish for your Go Paleo meals, ranging from the simple and quick to the elaborate and absolutely delicious.

Steamed Broccoli

Suitable for:

  • When you have no time, you want dinner and you want it literally NOW.
  • You don’t have an oven.

Prep and Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Fill a small saucepan with around 1.5cm water. Bring water to the boil. Meanwhile, wash broccoli and cut into florets. When the water boils, place broccoli in the pot, cover and steam for 4.5 minutes. Drain. Eat.

I have tried steaming broccoli in the microwave but find that sometimes the broccoli turns out rubbery, so I would not recommend using the microwave.

Roast Broccoli

Suitable for:

  • When you have a little more time, an oven, and a willingness to have your life changed by the loveliness of roast broccoli with its little crispy edges, such that you can never go back to eating steamed broccoli again. It is well worth the extra time, the flavour intensifies and the broccoli develops delicious crispy caramelised edges.

Prep and Cooking Time: 20 minutes

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Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with foil and brush lightly with olive oil (or cooking fat of your choice, macadamia oil, butter, coconut oil etc). Wash broccoli and dry thoroughly using a tea towel, shaking out the excess water. Cut into florets. I like to cut the florets quite small so they cook quicker with more surface area to brown. Place broccoli on tray in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes. Around 5 minutes into cooking, open the oven door to release the steam. Turn the pieces and bake for further 5-7 minutes or until nicely singed but not burnt.

You can also use the same technique for cauliflower, although it will take longer to cook.

Roast Cauliflower, Broccoli, Spinach and Mushroom Bake

Suitable for:

  • Entertaining, special occasions, lunches, wedding proposals (yes, it is *that* good)
  • NB. Contains dairy

Prep and Cooking Time: 1 hour

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Serves 5-6

  • Cooking oil of your choice (such as olive oil)
  • ½ large cauliflower head, washed, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1 broccoli head, washed, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1-2 tsp butter
  • 300g button mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 box (250g) frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I am currently loving King Island’s Surprise Bay cheddar)
  • 140g sour cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 45g parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Brush some olive oil on a large baking dish and set aside. (I use a large rectangular pyrex dish)
  3. Bake cauliflower and broccoli according to instructions above, turning once during cooking. The broccoli will be cooked before the cauliflower, remove from oven and set aside while cauliflower finishes cooking. You want the florets to be lightly caramelised. (Keep the foil from the roasted broccoli/cauliflower to use later.)
  4. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, sauté the mushrooms in butter with a little salt until they have released their liquid and have browned. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the following:
    • eggs
    • sour cream
    • sautéed mushrooms and onion
    • spinach
    • cheddar cheese
    • roasted broccoli and cauliflower
    • salt and pepper, to taste
  6. Lower oven temperature to 175°C. Pour everything into the baking dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and bake for further 10-12 minutes or until nice and golden on the top.

Variations

  • Add ½ a butternut pumpkin, cut into 2 – 2.5cm cubes and roasted together with the cauliflower. If including pumpkin, add an extra egg to bind it all together.
  • Add a white sweet potato (I like the way the white version stays firm and not mushy when cooked) diced into 2cm cubes, baked along with the cauliflower, they take the same time to cook.

You can prep this dish up until (and including) step 5, and refrigerate until you are reading to bake. If you do this, add an extra 5 minutes to the initial bake time.

Breakfast Egg Bake

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I love egg bakes. They make it easy and delicious to pack in a big serve of veggies and protein at breakfast and can also be eaten cold on picnics. If you subscribe to a vegetable box, egg bakes are the perfect way to use up veggies that you don’t quite know what to do with. Basically egg bakes are frittatas, except that mine invariably turn out to be more like a mass of vegetables bound together with some egg. The only downside is that they take a bit of time to prepare, as I sauté some of the veggies beforehand to get rid of the water which would otherwise seep into the egg bake, but I make a big enough batch for several days and it saves so much time in the mornings.

Silverbeet, Leek & Bacon Bake

  • 1 bunch silverbeet, chopped into small pieces (kale or spinach works well too)
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 3 rashers bacon, diced
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 80g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Coconut oil, for sautéing veggies

Method

  1. Fry bacon until browned and crisp. Set aside.
  2. Cook leek, mushrooms and capsicum until they have released most of their water. Set aside.
  3. Cook silverbeet until it has released its water and is wilted. Place in a large mixing bowl with the bacon, leek, mushrooms, capsicum and parsley. Add the beaten eggs and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Pour mixture into a 9” square baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until a knife stuck in the centre comes out clean.

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Roasted Taro

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In an impulsive fit, I bought a taro the other day and it languished in my fridge for days as I didn’t know what to do with it until I came across a recipe on The Paleo Mom for savoury roasted taro.

If you’ve never seen taro before, it looks very much like something you could imagine your prehistoric ancestors digging up, and then grunting excitedly to each other. Here’s one:

It is available from asian grocers and is a very popular ingredient in Chinese cooking and desserts, although I personally never understood the appeal of taro-based desserts. There is even a taro dim sum (it is the shape of a giant rice bubble, deep-fried with a brown lattice shell). They taste bland and starchy with a similar texture to that of potatoes except drier. Some people extol taro’s “complex flavour”. In terms of their nutrient profile, they are higher in carbs than potatoes (taro has 26g total carbs per 100g vs 17g in potatoes), 112 cal (taro) vs 77g (potato), higher in potassium, fibre and calcium. Taro has a similar profile to potatoes for iron, Vitamin B, magnesium, protein and sugar.

I chopped up my taro into quarters, leaving the skin on for the time being and cooked it in the pressure cooker using the steamer basket for 7 minutes. It could also be conventionally steamed for 10-12 minutes. You don’t want to overcook it otherwise it crumbles, so I cooked it until it had a texture similar to firm potatoes. Once cooked, the skin peels off easily. I chopped it into smaller pieces and tossed it in a large bowl with melted fat left over from roasting chicken (really tasty). Sprinkle with salt and put under the grill (broiler) for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until nicely browned. The edges crisp up deliciously. My favourite parts were the little chunks of taro which had broken off as they ended up uber-crunchy.

So would I eat them again? Maybe. If you can’t tolerate potatoes, taro is a good alternative. It would probably work better in a stew-type preparation as it can absorb the flavours.

Passionfruit and Ginger Smoothie

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Now that the weather has turned cooler, the hot water bottle and winter doona have come out yet I long for summer still, so I was delighted to pick up a bargain bag of passionfruit from my greengrocer, which turned out to be the sweetest juciest passionfruit I’ve ever had. I took the opportunity to savour the last memories of summer with this vibrant smoothie.

Ingredients
Makes 2 serves

  • 70g chia seed porridge (or 2 tbsp chia seed soaked in 60g water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 passionfruit
  • 1/3 lebanese cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 small carrot, unpeeled, diced
  • 1.5 cup kale leaves
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 kiwi fruit, unpeeled
  • 1.5-2 cm knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 290g iced water
  • 1/4 cup parsley, stems removed (optional)

Blend for 30 seconds.

Image Credit

Kanga Kheema

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One of the Paleo myths or criticisms I often come across is that the Paleo diet involves eating a lot of meat. Before I went paleo, this is what I thought too. In fact, many Paleo-eaters describe themselves as carnivorous vegans, meaning that vegetables form a large part of their diet. I am always looking for ways to add vegies to dishes for variety, taste and nutrition.

Today’s recipe is something I make a lot. I like it because you can throw in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, it is economical and saves time as I make a big batch of it and it lasts for days, dare I say, even improving with age.

Kheema refers to a type of dry, mince-based curry. It is delicious made with grass-fed beef mince ($8.99/kg from Aldi) but recently I tried it with kangaroo mince (available from Coles and Woolworths) and it was superb. Kangaroo is in many ways the ideal paleo meat. It is one of the few truly free-range meats available to us, and thus guaranteed to have eaten a natural diet. After all, as Michael Pollan pointed out, “you are what what you eat eats”. (It took me a few seconds to think that one through.) Kangaroo is high in protein and low in fat (not that I am fat-phobic, it’s just one of its qualities). The only time I had eaten kangaroo previously was many years ago in a restaurant when I was served a rubbery rare kangaroo steak drizzled with some sweet sauce. So it was with a little trepidation that I used kangaroo mince, but was delighted to find that it wasn’t chewy at all. If you didn’t know it was kangaroo, you’d probably think it was beef.

The only supermarket source of certified grass-fed beef mince I have come across is from Aldi. The supermarket-branded beef from Woolworths comes from livestock which is able to range freely on pasture, but this does not mean they are exclusively pasture fed. According to Woolies, “livestock must range freely on pasture, not be given any growth promoters (including antibiotics) and have no genetically modified inputs”. Woolies beef is primarily grass-fed but in circumstances where there may not be enough grass they may be grain-fed. Coles advised that their beef mince is sourced from “a combination of grass and grain fed cattle depending on seasonal conditions to obtain the best quality beef available”.

Kanga Kheema

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, macadamia oil or ghee
  • 2 large onions or a leek, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Spices

  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 5 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)

Vegetables

  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 choko, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can of sliced champignons or 300g button mushrooms, sliced

To serve

  • Lime juice
  • Chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and a little salt, fry till onion softens. Add mince and spices, break up any lumps, and cook until browned.
  2. Add vegetables and 1 cup of hot water. Season. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are cooked.
  3. To finish, sprinkle with coriander and serve with rice (white rice or cauli rice).

Green Smoothies 101

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So they look a bit like pond slime, but I confess to being a green smoothie convert. Formerly I was a member of the “I don’t drink my calories” brigade, but for the last couple of months I’ve been enjoying one every day and love how it keeps me full for ages. I am not much of a raw vegetable eater so it helps me get down a good portion of green leafy vegetables in a very convenient and quick way. If you are in a rush to get out the door but don’t want to skip breakfast because you know you’ll otherwise make unhealthy food choices in the paleo food desert that is the outside world, smoothies are your solution. Sip on one of these at every red light or on the train and you will be well nourished and set up for the day.

I am giving you my base green smoothie formula to which you can add your favourite fruits or whatever is in season. I don’t need my smoothies to be very sweet at all, they are packed with healthy vegetation and don’t contain a whole lot of fruit in comparison with normal smoothies.

Makes 2 large glasses.

It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie
Base ingredients
80g chia seed porridge – available here or make your own by soaking chia seeds overnight (1 part chia seeds to 7 parts water, by weight), or simply use 2 tablespoons chia seed
25g coconut milk or coconut cream
30g protein powder (I use whey protein isolate)
200g water and ice cubes (about 1/3 of the weight in ice cubes)
1/2 lebanese cucumber
60g spinach leaves, washed (about 3 handfuls)
1/4 avocado (optional)
+ the fruits below as per your preferred variation

Variation 1:
1/2 nectarine
1 passionfruit
1/2 kiwi fruit

Variation 2:
1/2 banana
1 mango cheek (frozen mangos work well too)
1/2 kiwi fruit

Variation 3:
1 cup frozen mixed berries (120g)
1/2 banana
1/2 kiwi fruit

Variation 4:
1/2 green apple
1/2 kiwi fruit
1/2 banana
1/2 nectarine

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds or until smooth. I use an Omniblend which is a high speed blender similar to a Vitamix (but at a third of the price), but you could make green smoothies in any blender, you might need to process it a bit longer.

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  • Other ingredients which can be added for extra flavour include basil, mint, parsley, ground cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder (probably not all in the same smoothie).
  • It is fine to combine the ingredients the night before and blend it the next morning.
  • I don’t bother peeling the cucumber or kiwi fruit, just give them a good rinse. The kiwi hairs are not detectable in the smoothie.
  • If you want it a bit sweeter, add a couple drops of stevia, although I find including 1/2 a banana makes it plenty sweet.
  • Other possible substitutions are almond milk or coconut water for the water, yogurt for the coconut milk, baby kale &/or salad greens for the spinach.

PS. I was so impressed with the Omniblend that I signed up for their Affiliate program so you dear readers could score a discount if you buy one on the Omniblend site using the coupon code below.

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What are your favourite green smoothie combinations?