What's For Dinner: Slow Cooker Herb and Lemon Chicken

As I've been trying to introduce healthier options into my diet of late, I have been flirting with the paleo diet. And my flirting, I mean, I'm taking it real slow. As in, yesterday I ordered a paleo latte (coconut milk, espresso, honey, and a dash of cinnamon) at my favorite local cafe, and then paired it for breakfast with a "healthy" (their words, not mine) morning glory muffin from my favorite organic/natural foods store. So, yeah, baby steps, really.

However, even if I haven't fully committed to the paleo diet (and let's face it, I may never do so), I've been dipping my toe in the paleo pool by taking out loads of paleo cookbooks from the library. Because, even if I never go full paleo, there's no reason not to try out some paleo dishes. According to Dr. Loren Cordain (who is credited with the development of the paleo diet), this diet
"is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago. These foods include fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, if you can get it), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut, and flaxseed). Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars, and processed foods were not part of our ancestral menu."
I can definitely get behind eating grass-fed/free-range/game meats, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, seeds, and nuts ... but I balk at the lack of dairy, legumes, and cereal grains. (Okay, and maybe the refined sugars, too...) I mean, I love me some cheese and ice cream! And, bread! Glorious wheat-filled bread! But I am also currently reading Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis and I have to admit I'm intrigued. Right now I'm toying with giving up wheat for a short time period, as a little experiment. Will I give up wheat forever? Probably not. 

Anyway, all this to say that I'm open to trying new diets and seeing if any changes I make in what I eat manifests itself in the way I look (I'm looking at you, flub tub). One of the first paleo cookbooks I read was Arsy Vartanian's The Paleo Slow Cooker. We all know I love my slow cooker, and if there's a way to set and forget a paleo meal, I'm all about giving it a whirl. This cookbook features gorgeous photos and tantalizing recipes and is divided into chapters on appetizers, meat dishes (including chapters on beef, lamb, pork, chicken, duck, ad seafood), vegetables, and desserts. My first foray into paleo slow cooking was a recipe for herb and lemon chicken and it is definitely a keeper. The cooked chicken is super tender and the resulting sauce is bright with the fresh flavors of lemon, rosemary, and other herbs. I've made this dish twice in the past couple of weeks; the first time I served it over quinoa pilaf (questionably paleo) and the second time over white rice (definitely not so paleo). I'm sure if you are keeping to a strict paleo diet, this chicken dish would taste just as good over a bed of leafy greens or a pile of roasted vegetables. 

Slow Cooker Herb and Lemon Chicken (printer-friendly version)
makes 4-6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
freshly ground black pepper
fine sea salt

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides in batches, about five minutes, then set in the slow cooker.
2. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the large skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Saute the onions until softened and golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Spoon the onion and garlic mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker.
3. Add the red wine vinegar, lemon zest and juice, and vegetable stock to the slow cooker bowl. Top with the chopped rosemary, oregano, thyme, and basil. Stir with a spoon to combine.
4. Add the lid to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve over a bed of leafy greens or roasted vegetables if you are strictly paleo, otherwise a bed of quinoa or rice would do.

(adapted from a recipe in The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian)