I have confessed in the past to having a weakness for carbohydrates. This weakness of mine made certain aspects of the paleo diet very difficult. Suddenly cutting out all grains left me… wanting. I found myself constantly battling cravings until I discovered the joy that is a yam. Yams are completely paleo approved; sweet potatoes are as well, but as we know I prefer the taste and price of yams over sweet potatoes. I became fairly obsessed with yams for a month or two and we ate them often. My dear husband was kind enough to put up with the monotonous dinners we had those days as I indulged in what had fast become my favorite food.
I have never been a potato person. It took me years as a child to learn to like french fries and potato chips. Eventually I learned to like potatoes for a while and then shortly into my college experience I began to loose my taste for them again. Learning that potatoes did not make the cut on the paleo list was not something I struggled with. Do you know one of the amazing things about yams, especially compared with potatoes? Aside from their improved nutritional value, cooked yams taste amazing even without putting anything on them.
They don’t require lots of butter, cheese and sour cream to go on top of them, BUT I have found something simple that enhances and even improves their naturally incredible flavor… lemon juice. The only thing I add to my yams, baked or mashed, is lemon juice, salt, pepper and lemon pepper. Oh it is a magical combination! Now for those of you who love exact measurements for your recipes, I am sorry. Every time I make mashed yams I use a different amount of lemon juice and seasoning depending on my taste buds that day. Sometimes I use only a little lemon juice and other days I feel like I keep adding more and more. If you are nervous to not have an exact amount start small and taste it, add a little more lemon juice and seasoning until it is just right for you:-)
Along with my favorite mashed yams (they really are one of my favorite foods — it is my dinner and dessert at the same time) we had roasted vegetables and an incredible sesame soy citrus chicken for dinner last night. I have the recipes for the yams and the chicken below, but here are the roasted vegetables if you need a refresher:-)
My husband is actually the inventor of this chicken recipe. He is the king of experimenting! He never follows a recipe so he is constantly making things up, though repeating them is sometimes a challenge since there are no written amounts. He cooks by smell. He smells the food and adds whatever ingredient or spice he thinks it needs until it smells just how he wants it. He doesn’t taste it as he goes, only smells;-) I am the complete opposite. I have to taste it to see if it needs more of something or just to reassure myself that it will turn out okay. This is my new favorite way of cooking chicken. For a while it was my lime vinegar chicken, but maybe because this is new it has stolen its spot. Every bite is an explosion of flavor. The agave and sesame oil take off the edge of the citrus juice and soy sauce, so if you find the flavor to be a little too intense, try drizzling a little more agave onto the chicken. That should tone it down a little.
Mashed Yams (serves 2-3)
- Set oven at 450 F. Poke holes into the yams and wrap them in tinfoil. (I like to place my wrapped yams on a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil. This way if any juices leak out of their wrapping they will fall on your cookie sheet instead of baking onto the bottom of your oven.)
- Bake the yams for approximately an hour and twenty minutes, but check them after only an hour and see how close they are to being done.
- Remove yams from the oven, unwrap and let them cool for 5-10 minutes. Take the skins off the yams and place them in a bowl; mash yams and add lemon juice, salt, pepper and lemon pepper until they are seasoned to your taste.
Sesame Soy Citrus Chicken (serves 2)
4 pieces of chicken *
Scant 1/8 C sesame oil
Scant 1/8 C soy sauce
1/3 C lemon or lime juice
1 T garlic, minced
1 T agave + drizzle
- Thaw chicken if previously frozen and cut chicken into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Place chicken, sesame oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, agave and garlic into a pan and place the heat on medium high. Add a few pinches each of salt and pepper and a few dashes of lemon pepper.
- Cook chicken until all the liquid is gone; the sauce mixture will being as a light color and will darken as it cooks.
*Our chicken pieces are small so I use 3-4 when I am cooking for the two of us, but you can judge how much chicken to cook based off of size and appetite.
This is one of my favorite dinners. I hope you enjoy every bite as much as I did:-)