Spicy Coconut Lime Chicken (Paleo)

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My husband and I did it. We went Paleo about 5 weeks ago. Well, mostly. (I’ll tell you more about the mostly part a little later.)

I approached this new way of eating with a mixture of curiosity and speculation. Could I give up breads, pastas, and all things gluten? Possibly, though I wasn’t sure I’d like it.

What about cheeses and other dairy foods I’d readily included in my dishes and diet? Could I walk away from them? Maybe.

And sugar. O my love for sugar. I knew it wasn’t all that good for me, but I sure did like it. Could I give up refined sugars in my diet? That just might be the hardest part.

And what about the convenience of grabbing a box of crackers or some tortilla chips for a snack? Could I tackle this new way of food prep, where most of what I ate required some work in the kitchen? One thing I had going for me here is I love cooking and spending time in the kitchen.

My discovery of the Paleo way of eating happened quite by accident. After Christmas, I browsed through the book table at Costco and stumbled across Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. The recipes in this cookbook looked delicious and seemed to support some of the other books I’d been reading about good fats and the dangers of refined sugars. So I decided to purchase the book.

Over the next several days, I read through the book and eagerly learned about Paleo. My excitement grew as I thought that this might be a new way of eating my husband and I (and even my six-year-old) could adopt. I shared tidbits about it with my husband and asked if he’d like to try it. He agreed, and so we plunged into this new way of eating at the beginning of January.

The benefits of Paleo were obvious early on. For starters, my husband and I have each lost over 10 pounds since the beginning of the year. The foods I now eat seem to satisfy me longer, and I don’t experience the crazy cravings (common before I began Paleo). I’ve also noticed that my complexion has cleared up over these last few weeks. In recent years, I’ve had some problems with acne, something I didn’t really have to deal with in my teens and twenties. Since I’ve eliminated gluten and refined sugars from my diet, I’ve not had any major breakouts. (Yay!)

Almond Cups

Almond Cups

I’ve also discovered many delicious and flavorful Paleo recipes. How can you go wrong with recipes that use REAL butter (none of that fake stuff), an abundance of coconut (Did I mention that coconut is my favorite food? :0), and an assortment of fresh, REAL foods?  I even get to indulge in some desserts every so often, like almond cups, coconut cookies, and truffles. Yes, they’re gluten-free and are slightly sweetened with pure maple syrup, raw organic honey, and/or fresh fruit. What I’ve noticed is most of the recipes are simple, with a small list of ingredients and easy preparation instructions. The baked goods and desserts tend to be a little more involved, but since I don’t make them all that often, I’m okay with the extra work.

Now I did mention earlier that we’ve mostly adopted the Paleo way of eating. Here’s the mostly part: I still use an organic half-and-half cream for my coffee. I don’t use much, but I haven’t been able to let that go. Also, this last week I went to a baby shower and decided to try a small sliver of the cake made by a specialty bakery. It was a tasty slice of cake, but it was rich and sugary. And the next day, I didn’t feel all that well. That was the first dose of refined sugar I’d eaten in a month.  The way I felt afterwards just may have cured me of my sugary cravings.

So my husband and I are committed to continuing on with Paleo. What about my six-year-old son? How’s he fairing with this new way of eating? Well, we haven’t moved him over to it a 100% yet, but we are heading in that direction. I’ve significantly reduced the amount of gluten and refined sugars in his diet . He eats many of the Paleo dishes I make, and he likes most of them. One of his favorites is carrot gingerbread muffins from Practical Paleo. All in all, Paleo has been a good way of eating for my entire family.

During the last five weeks, I’ve tried many of the recipes in Practical Paleo, and I’ve liked most of them. But now, I’m beginning to experiment with some of my own recipes.

The other night I made up a Spicy Coconut Lime Chicken that was a hit with my whole family. Drizzled with a sweet and spicy sauce, this coconut-crusted chicken delights the taste buds. The only downside: I didn’t make a large enough batch to enjoy as leftovers. Yes, I was the kind and loving wife and sent the lone piece of coconut chicken in my husband’s lunch the next day. The next time I make this recipe, though, I’ll be doubling it.

Spicy Coconut Lime Chicken

Coconut Lime Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into large slices (chicken tender size)
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil, melted
  • ⅔ cup almond meal
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Sweet & Spicy Sauce

  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp honey (preferably raw, organic honey)
  • ½ to 1 whole jalapeno (depending on how spicy you’d like the sauce), finely chopped

Directions:

(1) Preheat the oven to 400 ° F. Coat a baking sheet with the coconut oil.

(2) You’ll next three shallow bowls for the mixtures that coat the chicken. In the first bowl, mix almond meal and cumin. In the second bowl, lightly beat the egg and mix in the coconut milk and lime juice. In the third bowl, add the shredded coconut. Now take the chicken slices and coat each piece with the almond meal mixture, then egg mixture, and finally the shredded coconut. Place each slice on the prepared baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is done.  Discard the three batter mixtures.

Another baking option: One of my friends suggested placing a rack (like the one you use for cooling cookies) on the baking sheet, coating the rack with oil (you won’t need as much), and cooking the battered chicken on the rack. She said the chicken will be crispier and won’t stick to the baking sheet. I haven’t tried this yet, but I plan to the next time I make this recipe.

(3) While the chicken is baking, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, add the lime, coconut milk, and honey. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the jalapenos and cook for another minute or two (the jalapenos should still be a vibrant green). Remove from heat.

(4) Drizzle the sauce over the chicken, and serve the excess sauce on the side. Makes 3-4 servings.

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