January …… the month of “detox” and all of those of internet talks about the best way to cleanse and the good decisions we are going to make. For the next few weeks, anyways.
If you’ve read along here for a while, you know that I am not really into detoxing. I have never done a juice cleanse, or any kind of cleanse, and I never will. I am all for balance, and I am sure that you are too. By balance that means enjoying those days of indulgence during the holidays, but keeping it clean with salads and veggies on the in-between days. Drinking one too many glasses of champagne on new years eve, and a green smoothie the morning after. I like my balance to be weighted heavier on the side of health and wellness, and less on the side of general over-indulgence ….. Because I actually really really enjoy that healthy feeling, and it also makes the fun, less healthy treats feel even more special.
In lieu of detoxing, I prefer to keep healthy in check by eating well most of the time …. all year long. I like to have realistic healthy habits and realist goals that are easier to stick to, always leaving a little room for some french fries etc once in a while.
Speaking of french fries, or fried food in general …. I have to say that is my #1 weakness. It’s something I crave, and the longer I keep the fried bits away, the more that I want them. I’m always looking for ways to better re-create that fried food satisfaction, and we all know crusting and baking is the next best thing.
So the other day when I had a fried food craving, I whipped up these almond crusted sweet potato tenders. More like a chicken tender than a sweet potato fry (because of the big, chunky cut of the sweet potato). These gluten-free treats are just as satisfying as they are good for you. That’s the kind of balance I like to go into the new year with, because it’s the kind of balance that I will stick with all year long.
Almond crusted sweet potato tenders + mint and pistachio chutney
2-4 people as a snack or app
For the mint + pistachio chutney:
¼ cup of pistachios, shelled
½ teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 ½ cups of mint (loosely packed)
1 clove of garlic
¼ cup of onions, diced
½ teaspoon of lemon zest
1 small, mild green chili (seeds removed)
½ teaspoon of salt
2-3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil)
for the almond crusted sweet potatoes:
3 sweet potatoes, sliced into wedges (sliced in half lengthwise, and then in half again)
1 cup of almonds (with no skins, preferably), finely chopped
1 cup of almond flour
2 teaspoons of hot paprika
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
olive oil for drizzling
*Pre-heat the oven to 425º.
Make the chutney:
- Toast the pistachios and coriander seeds lightly in a small pan over low heat, for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.
- Place the toasted pistachios and coriander into a food processor along with the other ingredients for the chutney. Pulse several times until a thick paste has formed (I like to keep some chunks for texture). Transfer to a small dish and set aside until you’re ready to serve. You can also do this a day or so in advance (it would actually be better since the flavors will have time to develop). You can also add a little more (neutral) oil, if you like, which makes it a little smoother for dipping.
Prepare + bake the potato wedges
Mix together the ingredients for the almond crust: chopped almonds, almond flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Lightly beat the egg in a wide-rimmed bowl.
One by one, dip the wedges into the egg and then into the almond crust mixture making sure all sides are evenly coated, and then place it onto a large parchment lined baking sheet. Do this until all of the wedges are coated. Drizzle the tops with olive oil, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove, flip the wedges over (using tongs), and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Bake for another 20 minutes. When they are done they should be light brown and crispy on the outside and fork tender on the inside. Serve immediately with the chutney on the side for dipping.