It’s January! Woo hoo! Right? Seriously, no offense to January but this has the be the most boring month of the year. It’s not only as cold as a cast iron commode but there’s only one holiday to celebrate – Martin Luther King Jr Day – and all we moms get is a day of our kids back at home telling us how bored they are. Of course, if you mention they could be working on school work they instantly find something to do.
It’s even kind of boring in the kitchen. November and December were full of pretty cakes and yummy breads and lights and PSL and all kinds of joy-inducing activities. My cake platters are now all shiny and clean and back on display. Our calendar allows us breathing room, but it’s promptly filled with home projects that have been staring at me for months. I’m trying to take advantage of the slow time to focus on my health. Who isn’t? Now, I’m not going all Whole30 on you because, let’s face it, most of what I cook is basically Whole30-approved (except for breaking the whole rule about not using ANY kind of substitutes for sugar). Good thing it’s only for 30 days, right?
This time last year my husband and I were on the Daniel Fast. We felt we were prepared for the challenge: me already eating a restrictive diet and my husband combating cravings by bringing leftovers into work. We weren’t prepared for the bland and tasteless meals we would be eating. I’d spend hours in the kitchen chopping up vegetables until my wrist was sore only to take the first bite and…well, many of the meals didn’t need second bite to know they weren’t edible. My stomach growled in frustration each time I trashed our meal. I’m not sure how vegetarians do it but I’m sure glad God put animals on the planet for our meals. Our family just can’t go without meat. In fact, my wonderful husband is bringing home two more shipments of venison next week for our freezer! And let me just tell you we can cook up a tenderloin that will beat any restaurant meal!
This year we’re taking a more relaxed approach: no special diet at all! We just don’t feel led to make any huge changes to our eating and would rather focus on making wholesome and hearty meals that will fill the dinner table with food and conversation. There’s something special to me about gathering the family around the table for meals. I truly believe the studies that eating regularly with the family keeps kids out of trouble and families closer. We’re not perfect, but I never apologize for not having anything planned for the evening but a warm meal and time spent together.
A salad like this Thai Chicken Salad works well for our health-focused January. Don’t be scared off by the vegetables – this bowl is full of chicken so flavorful you’ll have trouble keeping it away from your mouth before it gets in your bowl. And the chopping won’t hurt your wrist. Oh, and the peanut sauce! I may as well tell you to go ahead and double the sauce recipe. You’ll be all conservative at first thinking you don’t want to take more than you should all because you don’t want to be selfish. But then you’ll take a few bites and decide that if the rest of the family wants some peanut sauce they can make their own! I’m kidding! (just a little)
- [i]For the chicken marinade:[/i]
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 2 Tbs honey
- 2 Tbs white vinegar
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- 2 Tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp Celtic Sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- [i]For the salad:[/i]
- 1 small head red cabbage, cored and chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
- 2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced (white parts only)
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, cored and julienned
- 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
- [i]For the yummy peanut sauce:[/i]
- 4 Tbs peanut butter
- 2 Tbs rice vinegar
- 2 Tbs honey
- 3 tsp water
- 3 tsp gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
- 1 1/2 tsp Celtic Sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- Mix all ingredients for the chicken marinade in a ziploc bag. Add the chicken, making sure it’s coated. Place bag in refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take chicken out of the refrigerator and pour the entire contents into a glass baking dish. Bake chicken in the oven for 30 minutes, or until chicken is done and no longer pink. While the chicken is cooking, it’s a good time to make the sauce and cut up the salad vegetables.
- To make the peanut sauce, combine all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Can be thinned more with additional water.
- Prepare salad vegetables and place in a large bowl.
- When chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and let rest on a cutting board 5 minutes. Shred chicken.
- Serve with lime wedges, avocado or additional peanuts.