A Health and Wellness Journey Starts with Chicken Marsala, I Guess

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It seems like I start one of these health and wellness journeys about three times a year. The desire to change my lifestyle is definitely there, but the drive…well, the drive could use some work. It isn’t as if I don’t know how to eat, how to exercise, and how to reduce the stress of my life. I mean, I’ve done years of yoga, taken classes on nutrition, worked with trainers and had gym memberships. I’ve designed meal plans, tried all the diets, avoided carbs, gluten, soy, red meat, dairy, fat, sugar, eggs, processed everything–and sure, I stick with it for a little while, but them BAM! Back to eating a steady diet of donuts, coffee, and salami slathered in cream cheese. Don’t give me that look, salami with cream cheese is delicious.



Here’s the problem. I’m 31, I’ve got two adorable children (3 years old and 2 months old), I’m about 60lbs more than I’d like to be, and a week ago I threw out my back. Something tells me that as a reasonably healthy, sort of active person in my early thirty’s, I should not be throwing out my back. I was immobile for about two days which, as anyone with two small kids knows, just doesn’t work. At all.

Before I got pregnant with baby two, I had been on the Ketogenic diet for about six months. The whole ultra-low-carb-super-high-fat thing was working–I lost 30 lbs in six months, bringing me down to my lowest weight in about 6 years. But high-fat-no-carb doesn’t work with hyperemesis gravidarum (aka vomiting 20 plus times a day) so during my pregnancy I ate a super-high-carb-only-donut-diet with the occasional green bean.

Flash forward to 12 months later and I’m back to the weight I started at pre-keto but now I’ve got two kids and about fifty gallons of breast milk to worry about. While I know the whole staying in ketosis thing worked for weight loss, I was miserable. I mean, I was in ketosis every day, but miserable. I never experienced the energy boost the die hard keto fans on Reddit go on about. I felt lethargic, frustrated, and like I had a 6 month bout of “carb flu.”

So here I am, the most out of shape I’ve ever been, covered in adult acne, spit up, and breast milk. I’m sore, exhausted, and feeling heavy. Not just weight heavy, but emotionally heavy. Like, all my energy goes to my kids and there’s nothing left over for me heavy. Queue wellness journey.

This time around I’m not doing a full blown keto diet. My daughter (like her brother before her) has an allergy to bovine protein, so I am avoiding anything that comes from a cow. I also recognize my bread addiction, so I will be avoiding baked goods–even gateway low carb breads. I’ve made myself a meal plan, a workout plan, even a meditation and journaling plan. I’m successfully on Day 3 of this plan that will last the rest of my life (hopefully) and so far I want to punch everyone and stuff my face with challah, but I’m pretty sure that’s just the sugar and bread detox talking.

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Simple Gluten Free Chicken Marsala with Wild Rice

2 large chicken breasts

2 tbsp avocado oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

12 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1 tbsp fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: In a traditional recipe, breasts are dredged in flour. For a gluten free option, dredge breasts in rice flour. For a low carb recipe, skip this step all together.

Slice chicken breasts in half. Then, place halves between two sheets of parchment paper or cling wrap and pound them with a meat tenderizer until they are about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. In a traditional recipe, these thin pieces of chicken breast would be dredged in flour, but in order to keep this recipe gluten free and low in carbohydrates, you can forgo this step.

In a large skillet, heat avocado oil. Place breasts in pan without crowding and brown both sides. Put breasts aside.

Deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine, then add the garlic, onions, and mushrooms. Sautee until softened. Add the chicken breasts back into the pan, then pour in the the chicken stock to simmer. Sprinkle in the fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste and reduce. If you’ve dredged the chicken breast, the sauce should thicken slightly. If not, it will be thin and brothy, but still very tasty.

Serve over wild rice. Garnish with fresh thyme if you plan on posting pictures to Instagram.

For Wild Rice:

1 cup wild rice

3 cups chicken stock or water

1 tsp olive oil

In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Pour in dry rice and sautee for about a minute or until rice starts to sizzle. Add stock and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. When the rice is fully cooked, fluff with a fork and then serve.

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