Southwest Chicken (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Southwest Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meal (LID)

On January 30th of this year, I underwent a total thyroidectomy due to papillary thyroid cancer. The surgery went well although it left me with a 6 inch scar on the front of my neck. The next step in my treatment is to ingest radioactive iodine (RAI) to ablate any remaining thyroid/thyroid cancer cells in my body. One of the things I have to do to prepare for RAI is to go on a low iodine diet (LID) 2 weeks beforehand in order to starve any remaining thyroid cells so that they will more readily absorb the radioactive iodine.

The low iodine diet is quite restrictive. Iodized or sea salt (Kosher and non-iodized salt is ok), dairy products, soy products, seafood, sea vegetables, eggs, cured foods, foods containing certain red dyes, any foods containing the previously mentioned ingredients, and most commercial bread products are not allowed on the diet. Basically, I can only eat foods I prepare myself with allowed ingredients. Planning ahead seems like the best plan of action to ensure I make it through the diet at a time when I may be so exhausted from not having a thyroid. Crockpot freezer meals prepared with LID-allowed foods will be helpful.

This Southwest Chicken (I know I labeled my bags as Cilantro-Lime Chicken, but I think Southwest Chicken better describes the meal) recipe is based on a bunch I’ve seen on Pinterest and adapted to fit my needs and taste. It can be served with rice (basmati is best for LID and should be limited) or in a salt-free tortilla (the corn tortillas I buy do not contain salt).

Southwest Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meal

Southwest Chicken (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Per freezer meal (double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to make multiple meals):
1 pound chicken breasts (skinless and boneless)
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a bunch of cilantro, washed and finely chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 15.5 ounce can unsalted black beans, drained or 1 1/2 cups black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lime

For each freezer meal, place all of the ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. It’s helpful to label the bag with a Sharpie before you add the ingredients. I write the date and cooking instructions on the bag. Remove as much as air as you can and seal the bag. Flatten out the ingredients and lay flat in the freezer. Once frozen, you can stand the freezer meals up vertically to make more space.

To cook, defrost the freezer meal in the refrigerator overnight. Pour ingredients out into the crockpot. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken, shred it, and then return it to the crockpot.

Serve the Southwest Chicken in salt-free tortillas (check label for other non-allowed ingredients) for burritos or tacos or with rice for a rice bowl. Some homemade LID-safe salsa would go perfect with these meal. If you are not on the low iodine diet, you can enhance your meal with cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, etc…. The possibilities are endless.


Rice Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

Rice Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables (640x451)

I’m a sucker for Asian noodle dishes. This one is spectacular. So good. I generally have a variety of Asian rice noodles in my pantry because I  always go a little crazy with the noodles when I go to the Asian market. For this particular dish, I used a broader, flat rice noodle. If you have an easier time finding a thin rice noodle (like vermicelli or a pho noodle) go ahead and use that. You could use beef, pork, shrimp, or fried tofu instead of chicken in this dish. I’ve made these noodles with beef and they were awesome.

Rice Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

Marinade:
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. minced garlic

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), thinly sliced

2 T. canola oil

1 large onion, halved, and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks

1 T. minced garlic

5 – 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, stems removed, and thinly sliced

Tossing Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or sake (Chinese cooking wine works too)
3 T. fish sauce
3 T. sugar

6 ounces flat rice noodles (chantaboon), cooked in boiling water until just tender, rinsed, and drained

To serve:
chopped fresh cilantro (Thai basil would also be very good)
chopped dry roasted peanuts

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until very hot. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove the chicken to a bowl and wipe out the wok.

Reheat the wok over high heat and then add the last remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onions, bell pepper, broccoli, and carrots and stir-fry until the veggies are tender, but still crisp (about 5 minutes). Add the minced garlic and shiitake mushrooms and stir-fry another minute. Add the reserved chicken, cooked and drained rice noodles, and tossing sauce. Lightly toss the mixture until the noodles absorb the sauce. Transfer the noodles to a platter, sprinkle with chopped cilantro (and/or Thai basil) and chopped peanuts and serve.


Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo Cauliflower

So, I have been seeing various recipes for Buffalo Cauliflower out on the interwebs lately. I tried two different versions, a roasted version and an oven-baked battered version. I preferred the battered version. It’s easy to make too! It might be my new favorite way to eat cauliflower. I included instructions on how to prepare the roasted version at the bottom of the recipe. It’s perfect for those on a gluten-free diet.

Battered Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, wash and dried, separated into florets
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt

celery
bleu cheese dressing (or ranch dressing)

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the flour, water, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and mix to coat. Using tongs, place the battered cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet. Throw out any left-over batter. Bake at 450° F for 20 minutes or until the batter becomes crispy and golden. I flip the cauliflower halfway so that it browns evenly.

Meanwhile, combine melted butter, Frank’s hot sauce, and salt in a large bowl. When the cauliflower is done baking, add it to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve the Buffalo Cauliflower with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, wash and dried, separated into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt

celery
bleu cheese dressing (or ranch dressing)

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix to coat. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 450° F for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and golden. I flip the cauliflower halfway so that it roasts evenly.

Meanwhile, combine melted butter, Frank’s hot sauce, and salt in a large bowl. When the cauliflower is done roasting, add it to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve the Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.