January 29, 2016

Low-So Dinner Skillets

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Happy 2016. And, well, also happy January to you, too. I know. It’s been weeks since I posted. And I have received some (wonderful!) emails from you concerned about my health. And of course, that I had stopped cooking.

But the absolute opposite was true. I have been so focused on wellness and, YES, food, that I haven’t had a moment to write. And that’s because I’ve spent all of January tackling an anti-inflammation diet. One based on a hybrid of plans outlined in Whole30, Dr. Ann Myers The Autoimmune Solution, and Dr. Susan Blum’s The Immune System Recovery Plan. All finessed and fine-tuned by my own naturopath. Because remember, it is ALWAYS important to check in with those professionals to make sure any change in diet is right for you and your body.

Why? I’m not going to lie. Last year was hard. Actually, the last two years have been hard. Actually, they’ve been total poop. And it feels like I’ve been in a constant state of emergency, moving from one life disaster to the next. And by this past December, I felt totally lost. Totally wiped out. Totally out of control. My body felt inflamed and angry. I felt exhausted. And so I did what I’ve always done when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges; I turned to food.

Which is why I spent January literally consuming books on diet and inflammation. The gut and how it leaks. Poop (the real kind). And all the wonderful ways to heal and get your body back on track. Which in my case meant cutting out coffee and caffeine, legumes, dairy, wheat and gluten, soy, nightshade vegetables, and (because of my kidneys), some protein as well. And eating a whole lot of cauliflower, sweet potatoes, spinach, and beets.

So that’s where I’ve been. Back in the kitchen, faced with even more limitations than usual. But totally inspired by the ingredients I could eat and the many ways to use them. And while the first week felt hard — how many ways can you cook purple cabbage and not barf? Is it actually possible to function like a human being without coffee? By week two and a half, though, I fell into a routine. I got back into batch cooking and food prepping on the weekend. I discovered new tricks (roast that cabbage!) that woke up my seemingly tired food. And I found an ease in my new limited diet. As well as some new dishes to liven up the weekly routine. Totally unintentionally, by simplifying my diet, I think I gave it a total reboot in creativity and flavor.

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And in celebration of that, I give you this: The Low-So Dinner Skillet. My new favorite weeknight, one-pot, crazy easy meal. It’s packed with flavor and nutrients. And it serves as an edible reminder that basic meals can be great meals. For added awesomeness this dish can be easily modified to fit any diet you choose to tackle — Paleo, pescatarian, low-so, you name it. Or any ingredients you find hanging out in the fridge.

The equation is simple:

Cook your choice of protein (in my case, boneless chicken thighs) in an oiled skillet, in the oven. Midway through, add some veggies (like broccoli and tomatoes, in this case), and let them bath and roast in all those savory meat juices. Add some thinly sliced citrus (hello, lemon!) to lend tang and acid to the dish. And then finish cooking until the protein and veggies are cooked to your liking. In final minutes, add a little coconut milk to the pan (as desired). And finally, serve over grains (cauliflower rice shown here) with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro (or any herb you have on hand). That’s it.

You can check out the Sodium Girl Instagram feed for more detailed instructions. And lots of other easy, quick-fix recipes  and tips. I’ll be posting more of my real-life meals there in the coming weeks. As well as more content here.

So don’t worry. I’m back and feeling better than ever. Or at least better than the past year. And I’m ready to tackle 2016 and whatever it brings. Which right now seems to be a lot of cabbage. And life without coffee. Neither of which are that bad afterall.

Ginger January 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Can’t wait to make this! Going to my mothers tomorrow to make lo-so dishes for her. Used several of your recipies. Glad to hear you are feeling better .

Stephanie Weaver, MPH February 2, 2016 at 10:15 am

Jess, glad you on the path to wellness again. Don’t give up. I know it’s discouraging, I’m on a similarly restricted diet too and it is hard sometimes. This looks yummy. Nourish yourself.

Denise February 2, 2016 at 10:45 am

Jessica, I am so happy to see a new post on your site! I’m very sorry to hear how rough it’s been lately, but it sounds like you have risen to the challenges with your humor still intact 🙂 Looking forward to your next post. Oh, and thank you for suggesting chicken thighs instead of breasts for this recipe; it’s my prefersnce, too.

Jenn April 29, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Hi-

I am currently on a 2000mg/day sodium diet, that also includes at least 100mg/ meal protein and > 2 liters fluid intake per day. My primary source of “money” for purchasing foods is my state’s Food Stamp program. I am on a waiting list for a liver transplant. I thank you so very much for sharing recipes that I can make! I have the horrible challenge of having someone else who does NOT like to follow my diet doing the primary shopping.

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