Perfect Whole Roasted Chicken in 3 Easy Steps

Chicken is a staple in the diet of almost every American family. In fact, chicken outsold beef for the first time in 2013, making it America’s favorite protein — with breast meat accounting for 55% of all chicken meat sold. Crazy! It’s not hard to see why chicken is a top-seller: it’s generally cheaper and easier to cook than beef, has a better health rap, and it goes with just about everything. However, the chickens you find in most supermarkets aren’t raised healthfully. These factory-farmed chickens are raised for rapid growth and have a ton of health problems due to unsanitary living conditions — PLUS they’re fed everything from antibiotics to arsenic to GMOs, which you in turn consume when you eat them. Yikes!

Perfect Whole Roasted Chicken in 3 Easy Steps // Naturally Lindsey

So what’s a chicken lover to do? Go free range! I know, I know: the first thing people think when they hear “free range” is “empty wallet,” but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whole organic, free-range chickens are generally just cents more than the boneless skinless chicken breasts sold in the market, and because you’re using the whole chicken and not just paying for “parts,” you’re saving money at the same time. Plus, since they live a better life, so will you! Free-range, organic chickens have virtually none of the health concerns of factory-farmed chickens, and you’ll also get the nutritional benefit of the vitamin packed giblets (put them in the freezer for later) as well as the bones (save them to make stock – recipe to come!). And the best part? It tastes better than factory-farmed and could not be easier to make! Some people get grossed out over the sight of a whole chicken, and to those I say this: since when did it become repulsive to see where your food comes from?

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Creamy Dairy-Free Chicken & Winter Squash Soup

Soup. The word itself almost makes time slow down. Standing over the stove, stirring as it simmers… a taste here, a dash there… then curling up on the couch with a big ol’ bowl and a blanket. Sounds like a perfect night to me!

Often times the most comforting soups contain dairy, which is a no-no for my sensitive tum. This recipe uses blended winter squash and white beans to provide a creamy, dairy-free base with a ton of flavor and nutrients. If you don’t have a food processor or blender, you can leave the beans and squash whole. It won’t have quite the same effect, but I’m sure it will taste just as delicious.

Creamy Dairy-Free Chicken & Winter Squash Soup // Naturally Lindsey

I used acorn squash for this recipe, which has a sweet yet slightly peppery flavor. I really love it for more savory recipes that use squash, where sweeter squashes like butternut can oftentimes over power the other flavors and become a bit too sweet. That being said, you can certainly substitute butternut, kabocha, Hubbard, or even pumpkin in this recipe!

No matter which squash you choose, your soup will be chock-full of nutrients. Just one cup of winter squash contains 214% of the RDA of Vitamin A which is great for vision, a healthy immune system, and the growth and repair of cells within the body. Conversely, it is thought to slow or prevent the growth and production of DNA within cancerous cells. Winter squash is also a good source of Vitamin C and fiber among a host of other nutrients! Did I mention it also tastes delicious? Seriously, guys, there’s really no downside to eating squash…

Creamy Dairy-Free Chicken & Winter Squash Soup // Naturally Lindsey

And then there are the beans! White beans (aka navy beans or great northern beans) are a wonderful source of low GI fiber, which not only fills you up but stabilizes blood sugar while providing you with a lasting source of energy. They’re also a good source of folate, iron, potassium and magnesium. They also contain 15.2 grams of protein per cup. That is one well-rounded bean!

This recipe is
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Nut-free
• Soy-free
• Sugar-free

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Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Broccoli, Cucumber, Chickpea, Tomato Salad

I haven’t felt much like cooking lately. With a two-week long heatwave and no air conditioning, it’s very easy for one to become uninspired. However, yesterday it started to cool down… with 87% humidity. No, that’s not a typo. Yes, I too thought I lived in California and NOT Florida. But I digress…

Recently I’ve been try to eat more paleo (not completely – I love a good legume, as you’ll see here!), but I wanted to make my boyfriend a delicious meal that he would enjoy but that I could eat (no gluten, dairy, or soy) while also not spending a ton of money by using things I had on hand. Chicken breasts and bacon in the freezer. A can of chickpeas in the cupboard. A bag of red onions in the pantry. Two cucumbers and a bag of spinach in the fridge. Little did I know where my inspiration would take me.

My FastPaleo app (seriously download it, 99 cents and best recipe filtering I’ve seen on a food app –including a dairy/non-dairy option!) pointed me in the direction of The Civilized Caveman’s B.O.A.R.S. Chicken Breast and then I stumbled across Martha Stewart’s Broccoli, Chickpea, and Cherry Tomato Salad… buuut seeing as I can never seem to be able to leave a recipe alone, I turned them into Bacon, Peach, Spinach Stuffed Chicken and a Broccoli, Cucumber, Chickpea, Cherry Tomato Salad, respectively.

I made the salad first and let it chill while I cooked the chicken. Though more time consuming then my normal dinner, the recipes were really delicious (IF I don’t say so myself) and I would definitely make both of them again!

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Both recipes are

• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Nut-free
• Soy-free

The chicken is • Paleo and the salad is • Vegetarian/vegan (and can be Paleo if you remove the chickpeas)

Bacon, Peach, Spinach Stuffed Chicken

• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 4 slices of bacon
• 2 fresh peaches, diced
• 1 large red onion, diced
• 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• handful of fresh basil leaves (5-7 leaves), torn
• sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• kitchen twine – enough for 4 chicken breasts (ask the deli section of your local grocer – they’ll probably just give it to you for free!)

1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook your bacon until almost crispy, then add in the diced onion and cook until soft.
2. Add in your peaches and spinach. Once the spinach wilts, remove from heat and stir in the basil. Set aside.
3. Place a large cast iron skillet (mine’s 12″) or oven-safe sauté pan on the burner. Preheat to medium-high heat.
4. While the pan is heating, butterfly open your chicken breasts and pound them down to 1/4″ thickness with a mallet or other flat heavy object (full disclosure: I was at my boyfriend’s house [read: no kitchen tools] so I placed two layers of saran wrap over the chicken and just used a hammer). Sprinkle salt and pepper inside each breast and spread the B.B.O.P.S. reduction on the inside of the breasts, saving some for a topper if desired.
5. Preheat your oven to 350°. Tightly roll the chicken breasts lengthwise and secure with twine to make sure none of the filling comes out while you cook.
6. The pan should be nice and hot now, so go ahead and place your chicken rolls in the pan. From here, you want to sear every side of the chicken for about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes so there’s a slight char around the outside of each breast and no white spaces in between. When you get to your last side, place the pan in the oven until the chicken is cooked all the way through, another 10-15 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and garnish with the extra B.B.O.P.S. stuffing or basil leaves OR just devour them as is.

Broccoli, Cucumber, Chickpea and Cherry Tomato Salad

• 1 pound broccoli, separated into florets
• 1/2 large cucumber, diced
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small red onion, finely chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. In either a sauce pan or pot with a steamer insert, steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegars, oil, and onion until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumber, and broccoli and stir to combine. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve room temperature or chilled.

Lemon Garlic Chicken with Spring Vegetables

After doing a lot of reading on the topic and hearing some opinions, I decided to try organic free-range chicken. After all, any antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts that chicken consumes are also being consumed by you. It is pricey, yes, but Trader Joe’s had a deal for 2 breasts and 4 legs at $2.99/pound so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I wanted to let the flavors of the meat come through with a simple preparation. I decided on lemon and garlic mixed with olive oil and stuffed it under the skin of the chicken while it cooked to lock in moisture and add a good amount of flavor. The result was delicious, and I will definitely be buying organic chicken in the future as I felt the meat itself had a much better texture and flavor than the “regular” stuff, though the free-range part my have to take a backseat until my wallet gets fatter (sorry chickens!). I paired the chicken with Martha Stewart’s Sauteed Spring Vegetables, an eternal favorite especially when made with veggies straight from the famers market (recipe here). I also added a sweet potato baked at 350° for 45 minutes.

This recipe is:
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Soy-free
• Refined sugar-free
• Nut-free

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Lemon Garlic Chicken

Ingredients:
• 2 lbs organic free-range chicken, skin on
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 1 lemon, thinly sliced, about 1/8″
• juice of 2 small lemons
• salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the center. Combine all ingredients (except chicken) in a bowl, mixing until well-combined.
2. Place chicken in a 13×9 roasting pan or other large baking dish. Gently find the open end of the chicken skin. Using a small spatula (or your fingers… no metal here) gently rub garlic mixture under the skin and onto the meat. Repeat on all pieces, evenly distributing all of the garlic mix amongst the chicken until there is none left.
3. Place the lemon slices under the chicken skin, taking care to keep the skin in tact.
4. Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 15-25 minutes, until juices run clear when sliced. The cook time will depend on the size of the pieces, so you may need to remove the smaller ones (legs) first and leave the larger ones (breasts) to cook a bit longer.
5. Remove the skin and serve with lemon slices on top.

Have you tried organic and/or free-range chicken before? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!