Salt & Pepper Plantain Chips & Kefta Kebabs with Grilled Peaches & Chimichurri
Everywhere I look, people are going crazy for #Whole30Steptember. And why not? It’s the perfect time to get your head right about food before the tempting and crazy holiday season hits. So I’ve whipped up some awesome Whole30 friendly meals that I will be sharing with you throughout the month of September. If you are not familiar with the Whole30 program, check it out HERE. It’s a great place to start (or revisit) if you need a reset for your body in regards to diet. Life has this tendency to get away with us and sometimes it can be good to get an overview of how our bodies and diets are doing, kind of like periodically reviewing your overall budget. Especially when crazy busy and often emotional times are about to hit….like the holiday season! Or as I like to call it MARSHMALLOW season, kidding. (sort of)
Now to be clear, I don’t choose to eat healthy or exercise so that i can indulge in “bad” things later. Treats are not my reward. Really to me, there are no bad foods. There are just foods that make me feel good, foods that make me feel terrible and foods that I can eat sometimes and feel ok. And then there are those foods that make me die…those I never eat, for obvious reasons, like gluten. I LOVE food!!! And I love holiday foods and pastries, and marshmallows and hot cocoa by the fire.
My approach to food is a sort of balancing act…
I like to think of it as my own personal food pyramid.
Foods are placed in order of appropriate consumption to best suit my body. 80% of the time my diet is pretty simple. 4-5 ounces of meat with a steamed or baked low carb veggie that I can tolerate well or a salad and loads of healthy fat. 15% of the time I do starchy carb-ups like you will see in this recipe (cause let’s be honest, yoga is a workout…but it’s no Crossfit, so minimal on the starchy carbs for me!) AND of course, you have seen my affinity and love for pastries. But to be clear, this is not a sugar addiction driven affinity. This is more of a passionate artistic love thing. So about 5% of the time, and this is spread throughout the year, I have my cake and eat it too. Not because I “earned it”; not as a “cheat” and definitely not because of an addiction…but because it’s simply part of my food priorities, my food pyramid. Because eating is really about so much more than just the nutrient dense foods we take in. And when my food pyramid starts to get out of balance I start to feel bad, really, really bad. So I have ample motivation to keep it where it should be. And when I don’t…It’s Whole30 or The 21 Day Sugar Detox for me!
SO here’s is the first installment of my #septemberwhole30 meals! What is is you ask? Well if the pictures don’t’ tell you already (and pictures don’t lie…or is that “Hips don’t lie”) it’s freaking awesome food! First up, Crispy Plantain Chips. Plantain chips are allowed on the program as long as you make and bake your own. No deep fat frying like traditional chips. Plus, when you make your own, you are much more aware of just how many actual plantains you are eating (insert shock emoji here, haha) Yea, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that when we grab a bag of plantain chips and start eating, we are generally getting a lot more than one piece of fruit! So baking our own chips has two bonuses, awesome tasting chips, and perspective. You just can’t pay for that. Anyway, these chips are crazy thin, light, airy and delicious and you’re gonna LOVE them.
Next we have the Kefta Lamb Kebabs…Kefta is simply ground lamb, beef or both, seasoned with cumin paprika, onion, cilantro (coriander) and parsley. All things that make lamb perfect and tasty. I love the meat skewered long like a sausage, instead of meatballs. It cooks fast and looks pretty. And you know “pretty” matters to me. Oh the lenghts I go to to make food pretty. Some people jump through hoops for beautiful hair or nails… I jump through hoops for beautiful food! And I like to serve these with a side of grilled peach and Chimichurri Sauce (recipe below as well).
And on that note…..
Put Chimichurri Sauce on EVERYTHING!
Put it on the plantains, the lamb, the peaches, your fingers….everything! Then lick the plate to get it all.
Salt & Pepper Plantain Chips (Chifles)
Note: Plantain Chips can be made up to a day ahead. If they need to be re-crisped, you can place them in a 350°F oven until warmed and crisped up.
Ingredients: (Whole30 Friendly)
Green, very firm plantains, as many as you’d like
Olive oil or other preferred oil for coating
Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
2. Slice the plantains by starting with very firm plantains, otherwise they tend to get too soft for super thin slicing. The thinner the slice, the more airy and crispy these are. To get really thin slices, you need to use a mandoline slicer. I use THIS one on the smallest 1/16″ setting. I also use THESE cut resistant gloves, as the safety guard that comes with the mandoline only works for about half the slices before the plantain is too thin for it. (If this is all too much trouble for you, simply thin cut these into small round slices.)
3. Carefully lay the slices out on a large baking sheet; if needed you can line it with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, brush each side of the plantain slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (or any seasoning you like).
4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Times can vary significantly based on how your oven heats and how thick or thin the plantains were cut. So just roll with it. Rotate the pan half way through baking to ensure even browning. You can flip them over after 8-10 minutes, but you may not need to if you have a convection oven or if your oven heats very evenly. My $200 oven…not so much. I’ve been known to flip them more than 3-4 times, because I’m crazy like that!
5. Once they are crisp and golden, you can remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Some will need to be taken out of the oven before others. So keep an eye on them. They will crisp up even more after they have cooled. They ususally have a mix of golden banana yellow and dark spots, especially if the ends are thinner than the center of the chip. This rusticness is one of the things that makes them so beautiful!
Lamb Kefta Kabobs w/Grilled Peaches
Ingredients: Whole30 Friendly
1/2 cup packed parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1.5 pounds of ground lamb (or 50/50 mix lamb and beef)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
1 teaspoon salt, plus more more sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
2 very firm peaches, sliced in half & cored
1. Preheat your grill or oven broiler (to high). If using the broiler on an electric oven, place the rack close to the coils.
2. Very finely chop the onion, cilantro and parsley together, then in a large bowl, gently mix all the ingredients together. Let the meat rest at room temp while you prepare the chimichurri sauce (recipe below).
3. To make the kebabs, use 4-5 ounces of meat and shape into sausage shapes. Skewer the meat and continue to mold it to the skewer as needed. Sprinkle them with more salt and pepper.
4. To cook, grease the grill grates, then place the skewered meat over hot coals or or preheated gas grill, about 5 minutes per side, or until done and somewhat charred on the outside. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the kabob and the cooking heat. If using an oven broiler, cook in the same way, turning the skewer a few times to ensure even browning. Try not to overcook the meat or it will come out dry.
5.To grill the peaches, brush with a little olive oil and place cut side down on the hottest part of the grill. Just sear it to get the marks, otherwise it can get too soggy. Remove from heat.
Ingredients: Whole30 Friendly
1/2 cup olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, chopped, or more to taste
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf Italian parsley, stems removed
1/4 cup oregano leaves
Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until a thick sauce is formed. Add more or less liquid to get desired consistency. Stop as as needed and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the container. Lick out the container….preferably after you remove blade!