Actually-Good Cooked Broccoli

I mean I think the title says it all.

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Actually-Good Cooked Broccoli

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 5 minutes   Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1-2 servings

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli, florets removes & cut into small pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp clarified butter

1 tsp Italian herbs of choice (I use a basil/oregano/rosemary mix)

Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

 

Directions

  1. Prep broccoli as indicated above and melt clarified butter on a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add minced garlic to melted butter and sear for about 30 seconds, until it just starts to brown and become aromatic.
  3. Throw in the broccoli florets and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper.
  4. Mix around the contents of the skillet so they are well-combined, and allow to cook for a few minutes before mixing again.  Cook until broccoli just starts to become brown and crispy on one or two of its sides, and then turn off the stove and serve broccoli, leaving in the chunks of garlic for extra flavor if desired.
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The Evil of Hunting

I realize that this  is, for whatever reason, a controversial thing to bring up with a lot of people.  Which makes sense – it does involve the taking of a life, after all.  I understand when people tell me they don’t think they could ever do it themselves.  That’s their choice and I really don’t care how they spend their spare time.  I was raised around it, which I know makes the idea much easier for me to go along with.  And most of the time, people are indifferent to my choice to partake in hunting.  But I recently had someone tell me that my participation in it was “evil,” and I wanted to hit on that.

I will be the first to admit how we hunt in Texas.  Our feed laws are looser than most Northern states, so hunters are allowed to set up feeders to attract deer (though hogs, coyotes, and raccoons are just as likely) for hunting.  I still use a rifle, but my father has been bow hunting since he was a teenager and so has my brother.  My goal for next season is to ditch the bullets, too.

Anyway, the particular person that sparked this article told me that they thought sitting in a blind, waiting for the deer to come and then just shooting them seemed awful.  Granted, when worded that way, it does.  But it’s not like we just shoot every living thing that walks into range.  Plus, let me just point out that there are many things that can go wrong, even in this scenario.  The deer smell you, you accidentally crack your water bottle when taking a sip, one rogue spike buck thinks something is off and scares away the whole herd.  And with bow hunting, you need to be CLOSE.  Like, hear-them-chewing-their-food-close.  Sure, we may not be stalking them down like real cavemen (ha) but if Grok could have figured out how to attract his meat to him in this way, he sure as hell would have.

And if your argument for hating hunters is that you love animals so much that you went vegan, this may not be much of a convincer for you.  I may disagree with you and tell you you’re ruining your health by going vegan (1), but you were so passionate about animals that you changed your lifestyle because of it.  You personally would not want to go through every step it takes to get a piece of meat on the table: shooting, skinning, cleaning, processing, storing, cooking, serving.  But what I don’t understand is when people who are perfectly fine with going to the grocery store to purchase factory-raised meat tell me that what my family does to feed ourselves is morally “less than.”  I’m not saying that if you don’t hunt you should go vegan, but using the argument that store-bought meat is somehow more ethical than hunting to feed yourself for the year is just erroneous to me.  Just hear me out.

What I think of as evil does not line up with what I picture when hunting.  When I think about animal cruelty, I picture America’s main source of meat: factory farms.  Animals are bred just to be separated from their mothers too early (2), kept in cages (3) so they can’t run when hormones are shoved into their muscles daily, and squeezed of every last bit of milk, eggs, or fur they can produce before being slaughtered (sometimes slowly) (4) and ground into glue. (5)  I picture consumers purchasing a single hamburger that can have muscle fibers from as many as 100 different cows (6).  Most of all, I picture people not taking a second thought to consider this as they fund its continuance every time they purchase this unethical meat.

Tell me again how a quick death after a full life of running around, sleeping wherever they choose, breeding with whomever they like, and eating as much as they want is “cruel” when compared to factory farming.

Don’t get me wrong there, I do purchase some meat.  But most of the time I get it from one of the many farmer’s markets that happen weekly in the Austin area.  I meet the person who raised the animal and will receive honest answers about its upbringing and life.  When that isn’t an option, I make sure I only buy grass fed (7) or pastured (8) products at the grocery store.  That is a respectable and ethical middle ground for those who choose to eat meat but do not want to hunt it themselves.

I understand that I was raised with it and not many people have had that privilege, so they come from a different standpoint than I.  And yes, there is a lot of nostalgia attached to the ranch for me.  Some of my fondest memories of growing up come from standing around the meat-cleaning station with hands numb from cold and leftover adrenaline.  But I also think my argument for hunting is a valid one.  Here are some of the good, objective things for society that most people don’t know about hunting:

  1. Every hunting license purchased goes toward the paychecks of game wardens (6) that will prevent the actual threat to game animals: poachers.  This fee also goes toward wildlife conservation (9).
  2. Deer populations can easily outgrow their environment, causing large numbers of them to starve to death (10).  Hunters are a form of population control so this result doesn’t occur.
  3. Hunters donate tons of food (11) each year to feed the homeless.

On top of these benefits, there are personal growth aspects involved with hunting.  It teaches patience.  Stillness.  Embracing quiet.  That not everything can come from instant-gratification.  It’s a wake-up call to how small you really are.  You learn how to be in nature.  It teaches you how to fail; few things are more disappointing than waiting for hours with nothing to watch.  This, then, also teaches discipline.  Some (including myself) would even say it shows you your true self.

It’s funny.  When I’m told by someone that they think hunting is cruel, I have to disagree.  I have never killed something out of malice or because I thought it was fun.  I feel like a lot of people who are against hunting think of us as animal-haters who just go around shooting things.  But I love these animals.  I fully respect every meal I eat that involves one I have taken myself because I know how much work went into it.  I woke up at 5AM, shivered my butt off for hours with some cold coffee and a good chance I won’t see anything worth shooting.  I forgoed certain animals I did see because they hadn’t lived a full enough life yet for it to be okay to take it away from them.  I spent the next few hours cleaning the game I was able to harvest.  I lugged it back home to spend more hours cleaning the cuts into the different categories for production.  And then I processed & sealed  it.  After all of that, a place must be saved to store it so the family can eat for the year.  When I’m at school, I cook it for myself, too.

So now you know that the title of this piece is the exact opposite of what I think.  Excuse me while go I eat my omega-3-filled (12) venison burger from this ONE deer that I shot a few weeks ago.

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Sources

(1) Kresser, C.  February 20, 2014.  Chris Kresser.  Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/why-you-should-think-twice-about-vegetarian-and-vegan-diets/

(2) n.a.  n.d.  Mercy for Animals.  Retrieved from http://veal.mercyforanimals.org

(3) n.a.  n.d.  ASPCA.  Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/factory-farms/animals-factory-farms

(4)  n.a.  n.d.  The Humane Society of The United States.  Retrieved from http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/slaughter/

(5) n.a.  2016.  Made How.  Retrieved from http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Glue.html

(6) Rawsthorne, T.  November 7th, 2014.  Daily Mail.  Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2826020/How-one-Big-Mac-contains-meat-100-cows.html

(7) n.a.  n.d.  American Grassfed.  Retrieved from http://www.americangrassfed.org/about-us/our-standards/

(8) Padgham, J.  2005.  American Pastured Poultry Producers Association.  Retrieved from http://www.apppa.org/content/10775

(9) n.a.  n.d.  Texas Parks and Wildlife.  Retrieved from https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/licenses/online_sales/

(10) n.a.  2015.  Nature Works.  Retrieved from http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/whitetaileddeer.htm

(11) n.a.  2016.  National Shooting Sports Foundation.  Retrieved from http://www.nssf.org/huntersfeed/

(12) Shaw, H.  May 22, 2013.  North American Whitetail.  Retrieved from http://www.northamericanwhitetail.com/home-featured/what-every-hunter-needs-to-know-about-venison-nutrition/

Limited Time Offer for Training With Me!

Hey y’all!  As many of you know by now, I have finally made things *official* and gotten certified as an ACE personal trainer.  I’ve been wanting to offer workout programs for a while now, and now I finally can!  I’m often asked what I do for my workouts or how I’ve had success, and now I can give specific routines to you for what you’re trying to accomplish.

As much as weight loss, fitness, and nutrition goals for the new year have become a cliché, they are very real and very important.  Don’t worry about the people mocking you now – they’ll be the ones asking for tips on your success later.  There are so many benefits to getting your body moving and I’m a huge dork about every single one of them, but those are for different blog posts on different days.  Today, I want to talk about this:

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My own 6-month back progress picture

Since this is the new year, and I know everyone has new health and fitness goals, I’m offering my followers a deal on my new online personal training program.  I have a limited number of spots open that will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis and I would LOVE for you to have one of them!  Here’s the deal:

  • You will receive 25% off of my regular rate for your first month with me.
  • We’ll discuss what you want from your time with me and what you like to do for exercise.
  • I will send you workouts each week that are designed to help you reach the goals we discuss.
  • I will help you with new food decisions, because what you eat drastically affects how much progress you have in the gym and what you see outside of it.
  • If you decide that following Body By Butter (what I use to stay on track) is something you want to try, you can click here to sign up with 25% off for Anne Marie and James‘ 6-week bootcamp to keep you on track with that part of your lifestyle change.  Let me get you moving and them fill your plate!
  • I will be your soundboard 24/7 for questions, concerns, and of course, celebrations!
  • I will make a custom workout playlist for you periodically, according to what music you say you like.
  • Feature opportunities on my social media channels are offered if you would like to showcase your transformations during your time spent with me.

If you are interested at ALL, please email me at flabstofitness@gmail.com with any questions.  This deal will run through January 10th, 2015.  There is no obligation in contacting me with any level of interest, and I’d like to think I’m a nice person to talk to about anything.  You may even get a good pun or two in my response, if you’re lucky.

Please note that we will be personalizing and designing a program that is right for YOU, works best for YOU, and makes YOUR body respond in the best way possible.  I’ve found what works for me and I want to help you do the same for yourself.  And because I know people like transformation pictures, here are a few more of myself from different points in my own fitness journey:

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30 days of eating and exercising right.
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Dates not shown, but this is roughly 6 months of progress.

I’m a real human that wants to make other real humans feel great about themselves again.  Let’s work together.  Hit me up at flabstofitness@gmail.com for more info.

Cinnamon Baked Pineapple

This recipe is special.  I’m in a bible study that two of my kinesiology professors run and announce invitations to every class they teach each semester.  I joined it after they told my introductory-level class of theirs my freshman year.  To give you an idea of how many people they invite to it, they each teach two lectures of around 200 students and then several upper-division classes every semester.  Anyone interested in joining can simply email or talk to them and they will give their home address to that person.  I think that is so kind and brave of them.

Anyway, even with the number of people invited, only a handful of us join and stick it out each semester.  This past year so far has had several of our members diagnosed with food allergies.  One person has recently been told to follow the low-FODMAP diet, and another girl is so sensitive to gluten that she cannot even be around it.  The female professor who runs the bible study is gluten and dairy-free, and the friend I began bringing this semester is as well.  Needless to say, I am not alone in this group of people in when it comes to avoiding certain things in my diet.

As the semester ended, the bible study leaders invited all of us to join together one last time for dinner at their house.  Everything they cooked would be gluten and dairy free, with as much consideration for everyone’s dietary needs as possible.  I was asked to bring something sweet since Anne Marie and I have recently released Paleo Cookie Exchange.  I knew that all of the recipes in there were paleo, but not all things paleo are compliant with low-FODMAP and the other diets being followed in our group.  So, I needed something else to make because I wanted everyone to get to enjoy dessert.  That is where this recipe comes in!

It is very simple, but so delicious.  This dessert doesn’t have any added sugar and can just as easily be enjoyed as a snack or side dish.  It is compliant with: Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, AIP, paleo, primal, low-FODMAP, low-oxalate, whole 30, and vegan diets.  Without the baking, it would taste just as good and would also be raw-vegan compliant.  Needless to say, I tried to make it so that anyone can have some.  I hope you do, too!

Cinnamon Baked Pineapple

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 15 minutes   Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: One 9×9 pan

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Ingredients

1 large or 2 small pineapples, cored & diced

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until pineapple looks like all of the pieces have an even amount of cinnamon covering them.
  3. Add mixture to a 9×9 baking dish and cook in oven on center rack for 15 minutes.  If you want some juice retained, the dish is done at this point.  If you would like it drier, mix it around and leave it in for another 10 minutes.   If you wish to make this raw-vegan compliant, simply skip the baking and let your mixture chill in the fridge for 30 minutes so that the flavors marry before serving.
  4. Serve immediately for a pie-filling-like dessert, or serve cool for a sweet-and-tangy refreshment.

The Healing Kitchen

Wow, what a busy semester it has been for me!  For those of you who follow my Instagram and Twitter accounts, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit more MIA lately.  As I’m a double-major, I’ve taken 17 or more hours per semester the last year and a half to try and graduate on time.  This semester was the hardest yet, with a course load that was 19 hours strong.  On top of “hell week” (the week before finals), I was working backstage as a spotlight operator for UT’s fall musical, The Wild Party.  It was tiring, but so fun.  It definitely reminded me why I’m working just as hard for my acting degree as I am for my kinesiology one.

Finals finished for me last Thursday, the 10th, when I left my 7-10pm Spanish test.  I’ve spent the weekend getting back to “reality” and also visiting my grandmother, who fell and broke her pelvis a week ago yesterday.  Luckily, she healed weeks faster than they anticipated and is already back home from the hospital!  The doctors and I both credit her active lifestyle before the injury for her rapid recovery.  Just another reason to keep up the physical activity throughout your whole life!

With the end-of-semester craziness finishing up, I was even more excited to receive a pre-release copy of The Healing Kitchen by my friend Alaena Haber (of Grazed and Enthused) and Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (AKA The Paleo Mom).  Alaena recently moved to Austin and has joined the Paleo Girls’ Night that Leslie Auman started up with a bunch of us paleo eaters and bloggers in the area.  She is so fun to be around and we are all very excited for her publishing debut with Dr. Ballantyne.

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Each of these women knows what she’s talking about when it comes to using food to heal. Both of them have fixed a number of issues in their lives, ranging from a slew of autoimmune diseases each to achieving major weight loss and maintenance thereafter.  And if their personal experiences with these things aren’t enough to qualify them for the task of writing this book, their professional experience sure does.  Alaena has a huge compilation of beautiful paleo/AIP recipes on her website, built up from years of eating paleo and AIP-compliant to heal and improve her way of life.  Dr. Ballantyne has spent many years researching in different areas of science, spanning from physics to immunology. She has won dozens of awards for her scientific achievement over the years and now applies that knowledge to help others achieve the health success that she has.  These two women put together make dynamite!

A section unique to this book that I really like is the explanation of functional foods with the visual help of balance scales.  These pages show different types of food and “weigh” the good vs. bad aspects of each one.  If the good is heavier, it’s worth eating to further your health.  If the bad is heavier, it’s best avoided in a healing kitchen.  This is a great harmony of science plus application.  If you’re the type to want to know what’s in your food and why it does (or doesn’t) help you, then the explanatory pages before the visual help will benefit you immensely.  If you are really just interested in eating according to a set of guidelines and aren’t big into knowing why they help, simply go to the “yes” and “no” food pages at the end of the section.  The best of both worlds are right there for both types of people!

After the first half of the book comes the recipes.  And let me tell you, these babies are KILLER.  Classic favorites like biscuits and gravy, oven-fried chicken, and strawberry milkshakes are strewn throughout each section.  New creations like spicy African kale, monkey bars, and pesto chicken pizza are also just as prominent.  So whether you’re looking to recreate a favorite meal in a healthier fashion or are an ambitious cook looking for a new taste, this book caters to both desires!  No pun intended.  Okay, maybe a little.

If you’d like to buy a copy of The Healing Kitchen for yourself or a loved one (or both!), it is available online both at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

One last thing – I’ve got a recipe from the book to share with you!  I will definitely be making this one throughout the holidays.  Hopefully it’ll help you spice up your gatherings, too.  Thanks to Alaena and Dr. Ballantyne for allowing me to post it!

Red Sangria

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: None   Total time: 8 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

1 pear, diced

3 strips fresh orange peel

1/2 lemon, sliced thinly

5 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 (16-ounce) bottle unflavored kombucha, chilled

Ice, for serving (optional)

 

Directions

    1. Combine all the ingredients except the kombucha in a large glass jar or pitcher.  Place in the refrigerator to steep for 8 hours or overnight.
    2. Just before serving, remove the cloves and cinnamon stick and stir in the kombucha.  Serve over ice, if desired.

THE HEALING KITCHEN 1000-288

*Disclosure:  I receive a small compensation for these reviews.  This does not affect my honesty about the product.  Companies or authors interested in having me write about their product or book can email me at flabstofitness@gmail.com.*

Bacon Fried Rice

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So… this is a recreation of the famous “fried rice” that everyone orders at Asian restaurants, but this time you actually know what’s in it.  As you can probably guess, I’m way too happy with this recipe.  And it is SO. EASY.  I know I say that about a lot of things, but seriously.  This is a well-rounded meal that pulls together excellently and will leave your friends thinking you’re a culinary genius when you really just threw some things in a pan and mixed them up.  Isn’t that the best kind of dish?

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Bacon Fried Rice

Prep time: 5 minutes    Cook time: Varies depending on rice choice   Total time: Around 30 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

Rice*:

1/2 cup dry white rice

1/4 cup + 2tbsp beef broth

2tbsp coconut aminos

*If you are strictly against grains, omit the above ingredients and instead prepare a batch of my Cauliflower Rice with beef broth.  If you are wondering why I have incorporated white rice into my Paleo lifestyle, click here.

2 slices of bacon, cut in half

2 eggs 1 green onion, chopped

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions

  1. Mix together beef broth and coconut aminos and bring to a boil on high heat in a small pot on the stove.
  2. Add dry rice to the boiling broth, reduce heat to medium-low and place lid on top of the pot.  Allow rice to simmer on low until it absorbs all the liquid, then turn off the stove and keep the lid on the pot and allow steam to fully finish cooking the rice.
  3. As rice is steaming, slice the green onion and bacon.  Set the onion aside and cook the bacon to the wellness of your liking.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Leave the pan on the stove with the burner on, keeping the bacon grease warm.**
  4. When rice is done steaming, remove the lid from the pan and sprinkle the chopped green onion, garlic powder, black pepper, Chinese 5-spice powder, and cayenne pepper on top and mix together thoroughly to fluff the rice and incorporate the flavors.
  5. Carefully pour the rice into the heating bacon grease, watching for any splatters.  Spread the rice out and mix into the grease, allowing all of it to “fry” a bit.  This should only last about 30 seconds.
  6. Crack the two eggs onto the frying rice, and quickly begin mixing them in with the rice, using a spatula.  You’re essentially scrambling the eggs into the rice.
  7. Once eggs are fully cooked, turn off the stove and pour rice into a bowl.  Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with bacon slices on top.  Eat and you will go to food heaven.

**NOTE: This is the bare base of the recipe.  At this stage in the process, I also recommend throwing in additional veggies, such as diced bell peppers, sweet onions, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, etc. to this dish and sautéing them for a few minutes, then adding the rice to them to finish it off.

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The Paleo Cupboard Cookbook

Wow… what a week this has been for new recipe sources!  First Michelle Fagone released Ladle, a soup and stew ebook which you can read about here.  Then yesterday, Anne Marie and I released The Paleo Cookie Exchange, a FREE ebook perfect for the holidays that can be downloaded here.  And now today Amy Densmore is releasing her debut cookbook, The Paleo Cupboard Cookbook.  I am so excited about the chance to share about all of these with you!  This post is focused on Densmore’s book, because it deserves every positive review you are sure to read about it.

Paleo Cupboard is a blog with modest beginnings, as so many of the best ones are.  After ditching her low-fat, calorie-counting eating habits for a paleo lifestyle, Densmore’s family wanted in on her new-found energy and weight loss.  She began Paleo Cupboard as a way to easily share her recipes with those in her life who were curious about why she felt so good.  In time, she began gaining more readers and the website grew to be a huge influence in the paleo community.  This cookbook is like an all-star conglomeration of her best recipes, plus new ones written exclusively for the book.

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It is clear that Densmore truly put a lot of time and care into this piece of work.  Besides the incredible recipes (which cannot be understated), she has included an “about me” blurb, the story behind the book, an informational section about the paleo lifestyle and which foods to enjoy/avoid, how to stock a paleo kitchen, a clarification on different flavor types and how to create them with real food, and even an 8-week meal plan with a shopping list.

I have seen many of these features included in other books, but the flavors section is something new that I never would have had thought to include if I were writing a book.  It is something that many people don’t think about because the different flavors are recognized without needing names, but Densmore’s decision to elaborate on how to make them is a genius move.  I know I can get stuck in flavor ruts, so I’m sure everyone has the same issue from time-to-time.  This is a great resource to have no matter what your cooking experience is.

On top of all the features that make up this book, Densmore has done a fabulous job of capturing her personality along the way.  She is charmingly funny and from what I can glean from the few personal exchanges I’ve had with her, very friendly.  You can truly tell when reading everything from the prose to the recipes that she genuinely loves what she does and wants to make others smile when she shares it with them.  That is something truly special.

Okay… one more awesome thing.  Amy is letting me share this butt-kicking and oh-so-simple recipe from her book.  It also happens to be the food featured as the cover!  I made these babies for dinner and they are just as easy as they are delicious.  Give them a go this week while you’re waiting for your copy of the full book to come in the mail! 🙂

Lemon and Thyme Chicken Thighs

Lemon Thyme Chicken Thighs

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 30 minutes   Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter), lard, or tallow

1 large lemon, sliced

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Heat the ghee in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down, and cook for 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the thighs without touching them for another 10 minutes, or until the skin has released from the pan (the skin will initially stick to the pan and then will release once the fat has rendered).  Drain any excess fat from the pan, then transfer the skillet to the oven (remember, the handle will be hot).  Cook for 10 more minutes.
  3. Remove the skillet from the oven and flip the chicken pieces over.  Nestle the lemon slices and thyme sprigs between the chicken pieces, then return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the juices run clear when a knife is inserted and the meat is no longer pink inside, or the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF.  Remove from the oven, drizzle with lemon juice, and serve.

If you would like to purchase The Paleo Cupboard Cookbook, it is available NOW from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

*Disclosure:  I receive a small compensation for these reviews.  This does not affect my honesty about the product.  Companies or authors interested in having me write about their product or book can email me at flabstofitness@gmail.com.*