Cheesy chicken pot pie

I friggin’ love pot pies, but could do without the carbs. They leave me foggy-headed, hungry  between meals and craving sweets. I decided to consult one of my favorite cookbooks Cooking with Coconut Flour by Bruce Fife to see if there were some better crust alternatives (coconut flour is a gluten-free, lower carb flour, very high in fiber and low on the glycemic index).

There was a chicken pot pie recipe in there that looked good, but I wanted to omit starches in the gravy by using a cheese sauce instead. Our whole family loves cheese plus we get to avoid those carbs and boost our fat and protein–perfect!

The tart pastry crust recipe was the crust recommended for the pot pie and it sounded yummy so I gave it a try.

Tart crust:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 T honey (I would use less next time, probably only 1 T & add a little melted butter if it needed more moisture)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 6 ounces cream cheese

I just mixed this up with my hands and then pressed it into a glass pie dish. I don’t own a rolling pin, but luckily, I didn’t need it for this easy crust.

Pot pie ingredients:

  • 4-6 free-range boneless chicken thighs (I used 6, I like a lot of protein)
  • 3 T grass-fed organic butter
  • 1/4 cup organic cream
  • 1 cup cubed organic yellow cheddar
  • 1 large carrot cut into bite sizes
  • 2 stalks celery cut into bite sizes
  • 1/2 cup organic frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup organic frozen peas
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp mace
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Cut up the chicken thighs and the veggies into small bite sizes.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet and add veggies, chicken, spices and cream. Put lid on and cook on medium heat for about 20 mins until chicken looks done and veggies are fork tender (not overcooked).
  3. Add cheddar cheese. At this point, you want to reduce the juices in the pan, so stir and leave lid off.
  4. Once cheese is melted, use a slotted spoon to put all the pot pie goodness into the pie dish with the uncooked crust. I put some of the juice in the pie dish, but didn’t want it to get soggy or too soupy so I just saved the rest in the pan to add later if we wanted to (it didn’t dry out though, so our dog got to enjoy the leftover juice).
  5. Add another 1/2-1 cup of cheddar cheese slices on top. Bake uncovered for 30 mins at 350 degrees.

We loved this pot pie! The sweetness of the crust contrasted beautifully to the savory pie filling. It felt really balanced in terms of protein, fat and carbohydrate, but can easily be altered to fit any metabolic type (carb types can use chicken breasts instead of thighs, add a top crust and/or more starchy veggies like potatoes or parsnips, and reduce the cheese). It was also a lot easier to make than I thought it would be. I can see myself making this every week or two and not just on special occasions.

I’m still enjoying the leftovers. 🙂 Hope y’all love this recipe as much as we do!

The mood food connection

I’ll be giving a free wellness lecture on this topic on Tuesday, June 12th at 6pm at the west side New Leaf.

Protein, Amino Acids & Neurotransmitters

There is a one-to-one relationship between what we eat and how we feel. Food supplies us with amino acids: the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that exert influence on sex drive, motivation, feeling calm or anxious, feeling alert and focused or foggy headed, impulse control, appetite, and they also  play a key role in sleep, memory, and depression.

Because most drugs and externally taken neurotransmitters won’t pass the blood brain barrier, foods are your best and healthiest way to raise levels and support your emotional wellbeing.

Causes of Neurotransmitter Imbalance

Many things can disrupt neurotransmitter balance including alcohol, drugs, cigarrettes, medications, lack of sleep, chemical cleaning products, processed sugar and flour, and lack of animal protein in the diet (trytophan, the amino acid precursor to serotonin is generally the lowest quantity amino acid in foods, but higher in animal proteins, and we need relatively large quantities to maintain proper serotonin levels especially when we are under stress).

Anti-depressants & Neurotransmitter Balance

Medications are not effective long-term at balancing neurotransmitters since they usually only work on single neurotransmitters and not the relationship between the neurotransmitters. For example, SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are intended to increase the levels of serotonin in the body by extending the time that serotonin is available to be taken up by nerves. This has two important caveats. First, the body functions on a feedback system. If it receives information that a chemical is high, what do you think it will do? If you guessed “turn down the volume”, you are correct. The body maintains balance through feedback loops.

Secondly, the body has a variety of checks and balances. If one chemical goes up, generally another must go down. They fluctuate depending on what the body is trying to accomplish. Dopamine is serotonin’s counter hormone. If the brain keeps getting messages to boost serotonin, what do you think happens to dopamine in the long run? That’s right, it will go down. So, while SSRI’s may help in the short-term, many people who are on them long-term end up both dopamine and serotonin deficient.

Diet & Mood

A diet rich in seafood, eggs, meat and poultry, dairy, and leafy greens supply an excellent base from which to make the neurotransmitters you need to support emotional wellbeing. There are plenty of other foods that contribute that I will be covering in detail in my lecture.

Other factors

Exercise, sleeping on a 10pm-6am schedule, minimizing caffeine, sugar and alcohol, getting some exercise daily, and reducing environmental and chemical toxins are all excellent focal points for improving neurotransmitter balance.

3 simple summer snacks

We all love convenient snacks. Whereas convenience is important, eating a quality snack is more important AND it will save you time in the long run by providing adequate nutrients to stabilize blood sugar levels. Most store bought convenience snacks provide only a brief increase in energy followed by an increase in appetite and cravings for something sweet because they do not provide adequate quality protein and fat and provide too much carbohydrate or sugar. Striking the balance between protein, fat and carbohydrate is essential to a satisfying snack.

Give these 3 simple summer snacks a try!

  1. Nut butter crunch: Combine your favorite nut butter with your favorite crunchy fruit or vegetable such as celery with peanut butter, apples with almond butter, jicima with cashew butter, or pears with walnut butter. Click here for delicious local brands of nut butter.
  2. Pemmican: traditional Native American food that you can buy by the tub or in stick form (nice portable option). Pemmican is tallow, meat, and a small amount of cherries, sea salt, and honey. If you’re not a fan of pemmican, try jerky, cheese and a handful of summer berries. Click herefor great brands of jerky and pemmican.
  3. Cottage cheese cantaloupe: just scoop out the seeds and put the cottage cheese right in. No bowl required. Choose full fat organic cottage cheese to balance out the macronutrient ratio. Kalona cottage cheese is made with grass-fed milk and can be found in health food stores in the Bay Area.

Fine-tune these snacks so that they work for you. That may mean having more or less fruit if you are especially sensitive to sugar OR more or less fat to keep you satisfied and free of sugar cravings. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Finger Foods For Toddlers

As discussed in my Paleo Baby blog, parents seem to revert to processed, convenience foods over whole, nutrient dense choices too often these days. It is my goal to educate parents and provide guidance & recipes so that they choose to start their kids off on a healthy diet. If I need to shout from the rooftops the essential nutrition lessons to start in childhood and continue later in life, well, I think it a worthwhile sacrifice.

I’m teaching a class at the The Santa Cruz Village: Birth & Family Enrichment Center on Mon, May 21st. Register now.

Here is some of what will be covered in class:

Age Appropriate Foods

  • Kids do not have the enzymatic and digestive capabilities to thrive on carbohydrates until they are at least 2 years old. This means that rice cereal, refined cereals like O’s, crackers and chips should NOT be the finger foods of choice. Children need primarily fat and protein through this developmental stage. Their physiology is not set up to break down carbs, especially grains, until much later.

Finger Foods For Toddlers (an abbreviated list)

  • Mini sliders (ground meat of choice, pastured is best)
  • Pemmican
  • Jerky or beef sticks (grassfed, no sugar or artificial additives of any kind)
  • Frozen organic veggies like peas, corn, or carrots
  • Raw and/or organic cheese
  • Liver slices (sauteed in organic butter and sea salt)
  • Nori
  • Soaked and dehydrated nuts & seeds

Ideas & Recipes For Picky Eaters

  • Baby led feeding
  • Variety within reason
  • New recipe schedule

I hope to see you at this class and if you can’t make it, please post your comments or questions to my blog. 🙂