Chicken Burgers

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Sid and I are coming up on our two year anniversary next week! We’ve been married for almost two years, but we’ve only been in our own place together for about 7 months. We’ve lived with other people, lived in a van, and now we are finally settled in our own little apartment. I wouldn’t trade the experiences we had in our first 1.5 years of marriage, but I must say it is SO nice being able to create a little home and invite people in :) We actually feel like a married couple now! We’re finding our rhythm and having a ton of fun living together. I mean, we finally even created a budget so that we can start saving for some bigger dreams. Better late than never, right?

Part of our budget is minimizing the amount of money we spend eating out (obviously), so I’ve been batch cooking lunches for Sid so that he doesn’t have to buy lunch during his work day. Some of the meals I like to make are curry, a pasta dish of some sort, soup, wraps, and chicken salad. I decided to try something new last week and made chicken burgers!

They are juicy, tender, and oh so versatile :)

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We grilled them on the back deck and they smelled AMAZING. The sun was setting, birds chirping, smoke coming off the grill, and it felt like one of the first true glimpses of summer.

We ate the chicken burgers, well, in burger form. Sid had his on fresh, homemade sourdough as a bun, and I chose to eat mine on a butter lettuce wrap. You could also use them on salads or in a bowl with rice, roasted veggies, and sauce. The flavor of the burgers isn’t super strong, so you could easily add something like bbq sauce or chipotle sauce to make them even more flavorful. Just keep them in the fridge during the week, or store them in the freezer.

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Chicken Burgers

Ali Beck | June 12, 2019

  • prep time: 10 min.
  • cook time: 10 min.
  • total time: 20 min.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. organic ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh herbs, chopped (I like basil & parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt & pepper

Instructions:

  1. Wash and very finely chop the onion, mushrooms, and fresh herbs.
  2. Combine the ground chicken, chopped vegetables and herbs, and spices in a mixing bowl. Mix with a large wooden spoon or your hands until well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture into four separate patties and flatten each patty to be 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  4. Barbecue on the grill for 5-7 minutes each side, or cook in a cast iron skillet on the stove for 10-12 minutes each side.

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Healthy Gut Healthy Mind

You know how you get butterflies when you’re public speaking; when you’re scared you might get a sinking feeling in your stomach; or maybe when you’re stressed out, your stomach feels upset? Let’s be real, I’m sure a lot of us have experienced our bowel movements getting a little out of wack when we are nervous about something.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the connection between your brain and your gut goes much deeper than some butterflies every once in a while. Recent research shows that there is a very significant connection between the gut microbiome and the brain. This connection is termed the gut-brain axis.

 
A homemade turmeric latte is an anti-inflammatory drink that can promote a healthy gut

A homemade turmeric latte is an anti-inflammatory drink that can promote a healthy gut

 

What is the gut microbiome? Each person has a unique make-up of bacteria living in their intestinal tract. The gut microbiome (or flora) plays an integral role in digestive health and also influences the immune system. This collection of bacteria is developed in infancy, but there’s a lot of factors that can influence it later on as well. Some examples are:


  • Whether someone was born vaginally or not

  • Whether someone was breastfed or not

  • Diet

  • Stress

  • Antibiotic use

  • Physical environment



Any one of these things can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut. Did you know that 80% of the immune system is found in the gut? A healthy gut is so important in protecting against a variety of issues, such as IBS, obesity, mood disorders, food sensitivies, and auto-immune diseases. When there’s a disruption in the gut microbiome, it can lead to a chronic state of inflammation, influencing a person’s physical and emotional health in a variety of ways. One way we see this happening is things like anxiety and depression.

There is a nerve that runs between the gut and the brain called the vagus nerve. The gut sends signals to your brain and vice versa. Feelings of stress, sadness, or depression can send negative signals to the gut, which can disrupt the gut microbiome. An imbalance in bacteria can send negative signals back to the brain, creating a negative cycle.

Many current studies have shown that there is a relationship between the bacteria present in the gut and disorders such as depression, anxiety, autism, auto-immune diseases, and more. There’s a lot more research to be done, but it’s exciting to think about how much more we are understanding about the relationship between gut health and a variety of mental health issues.

Thankfully, the gut microbiome can be healed and restored. There are holistic practices to utilize that may help relieve stress/anxiety as well as heal the gut. These are simple suggestions, and keep in mind that sometimes working with a professional or team of professionals is necessary. 


1. Meditation/Prayer

Setting aside 20 minutes of time in the morning to pray, meditate, and or even do yoga can have profound impacts on mental health and on the body healing itself. Allowing yourself  to slow down, breathe, and relax allows your body to release stress and focus on healing.

2. Anti-inflammatory foods

Eating a variety of anti-inflammatory foods is helpful for reducing inflammation in the body. Some examples of anti-inflammatory foods are:

  • Ginger

  • Turmeric

  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)

  • Chia seeds

  • Walnuts

  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard)

  • Beets

  • Broccoli

  • Blueberries

  • Flax seeds

  • Bone broth

It’s also helpful to stay away from inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol, vegetable oils (especially hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated & canola oil), processed meats (lunch meats), and red meat (unless it’s grass-fed).

3. Probiotics

It’s important to restore good bacteria in the gut through eating probiotic foods. Some people may need more help from a probiotic supplement. Probiotic foods include:

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Kombucha

  • Kefir

  • Yogurt 

  • Miso & tempeh (fermented soy products)


I hope this was informative and helpful for you! Now go buy some sauerkraut :)

My Story

I used to perfectly measure out my Go Lean Crunch for breakfast in the morning. 

I remember eating an apple and peanut butter for lunch because I knew it wouldn’t make the scale budge too much. 

Did I mention I was an athlete all year round? I ran cross country, played basketball, and did track & field. Sometimes I’d come home from track practice, eat dinner, then do more exercises afterward. 

I thought I was being healthy. I thought that limiting my food would keep me lean and fit. I was running faster and jumping higher, so it was all ok… right? 

I can’t remember exactly how or when this way of thinking started, but I know why it started. Like many of us do in some way or another, I was striving for acceptance and perfection. I wanted to be the perfect athlete, I wanted to be seen as beautiful, I wanted to feel like I belonged, and it slowly started to deteriorate my body, and my spirit.

I was working out too much, and I wasn’t eating enough. I started to lose weight that I didn’t need to lose. My hair started to get thinner. A lot thinner. I stopped having my period for two years, which I blamed on “sports”. Looking and being a certain way started to consume me. 

Senior year high school state track trip.

Senior year high school state track trip.

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“My hair. My hair. I hate my hair. Why is it so thin? Will anyone ever want to date me? Why is this happening to me? My hair used to be normal.” 

This is the type of record that would play in my head, over and over again. 

I saw other girls braiding their hair, curling their hair, and doing other beautiful things with their hair. People would say things like “Ali, why is your hair so thin?” or “Your ponytail is so little”. They didn’t mean any harm, but it would send me deeper into a downward spiral of shame. 

With my hair getting so thin, I felt like I needed to be beautiful in other ways to make up for it. I was afraid of eating certain foods or eating too much, because I was afraid of gaining weight AND having thin hair. I thought that I needed to stay skinny and be a good athlete, because those were the only things I could cling to for confidence. I was so consumed with being a certain way, I didn’t realize that I was further damaging myself in the process.

I wasn’t free.

I was ashamed.

I was stuck.

Food, the very thing that could help me heal, was what I was becoming afraid of. 

When I was struggling with various body image and health issues, I went to see a nutritionist. I still remember sitting in her office and briefly telling her why I was there (I wasn’t having my period, I had lost weight, and lost a lot of hair). She then connected me to a BMI machine and proceeded to tell me how many calories I should be eating every day. I was also given a list of foods that I should be eating. 

Did she know I already counted my calories, and that 2800 calories/day sounded impossible? In my mind, I was going to get fat on that kind of diet…

I’m know she meant well, but as a vulnerable high schooler that’s not what I needed to hear. I needed someone to ask me more questions, to listen, and to understand why I was where I was. Walking away from that appointment, I didn’t feel any more enlightened or understood. 

And now, looking back, I can see how that experience of seeing a nutritionist helped shape me into who I am today. That experience taught me so much about the type of nutritionist that I want to be - someone that digs deeper than the surface, someone that goes beyond the numbers, and someone that seeks to create a safe and loving space for clients. I want people to walk away from me feeling empowered and understood, not scared and confused. 

In all of my confusion and insecurity, I decided to study nutrition in college. I don’t think I knew it then, but deep down I was probably looking for some answers. 

Throughout my college years, I began to understand myself more. I began to see that there was so much more to who I was than how well I performed or how I looked in comparison to what this society tells us. I quit the college track team and started working out less. I began to let go of some of the standards of perfection that I had created for myself. 

One of the biggest reasons for the slow change that was happening was meeting my husband, Sid. I was loved, cared for, and encouraged in a way that I had never been before. Although the insecurities were still there, they were starting to dwindle in the love that I was finally opening up my heart to.  He helped me believe that I was beautiful, and that I was so worthy of love

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photos from our first summer dating!

photos from our first summer dating!

In the midst of all of this, my relationship with food began to change. I felt free to eat what I wanted, when I wanted. I began to value my health more than the way I looked. I began to see the beauty and goodness that is in real food, instead of getting caught up in restricting it. Also, my body began to HEAL. My hair started growing back, I started having a regular period, and my weight became stable and consistent. I began to love my body and the food that I was able to nourish it with. The thing that I spent all of my time obsessing over and worrying about before became a source of freedom and joy. I was able to let go of control, and I started to feel like a different person.

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It took me four years to get to a better place. It took my body four years for me to notice it was beginning to heal. There’s still a struggle, and I still fall into old thought patterns all the time. I still worry about my hair and get discouraged when it feels like I’m losing more than normal. It’s a constant battle. The difference is that now I know and believe that my body can and will heal. I know and believe that food is healing, restoring, and nourishing. I can use food to empower and heal my body rather than use it to cope with my insecurities. 

I want to help you find freedom for yourself, too. I want to hold your hand and guide you toward healing and restoration. I want to point you in the right direction, so that you don’t have to spend years of your life wondering why you feel the way you feel. I want to help restore balance to your body. I want you to find JOY and FREEDOM in your relationship with food and in how you view yourself.

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