I get cravings quite frequently for comfort meals, and to me Butter Chicken classifies as one of those dishes.
It’s creamy, warm, cozy and delicious, but it’s also traditionally laden with dairy (hello butter, yogurt and cream) that my gut tends to reject (gas, bloating, the works).
So, I set out on a mission to create a more gut-friendly Butter Chicken, still robust in flavor but much easier on the digestive tract, limiting uncomfortable symptoms and maximizing that feel good factor.
Thisis also especially important for your hormones, as the state of your gut health is intricately tied to hormone function, and keeping your microbiome balanced leads to better hormonal health.
GUT HEALTH + HORMONE HEALTH — THE CONNECTION
In today’s world, we’re exposed to a variety of toxins, chemicals, pollutants, processed foods, prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and stress that wreak havoc on our gut microbiome, causing what’s known as dysbiosis, or an imbalance of the gut bacteria.
When gut bacteria becomes unbalanced, food and nutrients aren’t absorbed well, and larger molecules are able to cross the gut wall, causing food sensitivities and increasing inflammation in the body. This can provoke an immune response and trigger an autoimmune condition if left untreated, leading to hormone disruption, such as impaired ovulation or progesterone production (infertility), overstimulated estrogen or testosterone (painful periods, PCOS, endometriosis and breakouts) and blocked thyroid hormone (metabolism, temperature, mood, etc.).
It also affects hormone production, as nutrient absorption via your gut is necessary in order to synthesize hormones (i.e. it’s not just what you eat but how well you actually absorb it).
GUT-FRIENDLY + HORMONE HEALTHY INGREDIENTS/SWAPS
In order to optimize both gut and hormone health without sacrificing flavor, I added/swapped in the following ingredients to this Gut-Friendly + Hormone Healthy Paleo Butter Chicken recipe:
+ Grass-Fed Ghee
One of nature’s richest sources of butyrate (butyric acid), a short-chain fatty acid that helps to heal + repair our intestinal tract.
+ Coconut Milk + Yogurt
Made up of medium-chain-triglycerides that help the gut metabolize fat and remove waste from the body. Coconut yogurt has the additional benefit of being fermented, adding natural probiotics that help your good bacteria thrive (speaking of probiotics, this is my fave probiotic supplement to enhance gut-health).
+ Cauliflower Rice
Rich in glucosinolates, a sulphur compound that helps protect the vulnerable lining of the stomach, reducing the chances of developing leaky gut syndrome or other digestive disorders.
+ Spices (cumin, ginger, turmeric, etc.)
Spices like cumin and ginger aid in bile and stomach acid production, which helps you digest and absorb food properly, while turmeric has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a digestive healing agent, working to decrease gut inflammation and permeability (aka leaky gut).
+ Bone Broth
Loaded with gelatin, which has been shown to protect and maintain the function of the intestinal wall, helping to prevent gut permeability (aka leaky gut).
This Gut-Friendly + Hormone Healthy Paleo Butter Chicken recipe is rich in powerhouse nutrients (b vitamins, vitamin c, zinc, magnesium) that work to boost progesterone so levels can get high enough to offset pms and properly thicken the uterine lining.
This cozy + comforting dish gets a gut-friendly upgrade by swapping dairy for ghee, coconut yogurt + milk and adding in cauliflower rice + bone broth.
Author: Lauren Chambers
Recipe Type: dinner, entree, comfort food
2 pounds organic boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 cup fermented coconut yogurt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric
black pepper to taste
4-6 tbsp grass fed ghee
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups grass-fed bone broth
1/2 cup fresh cilantro roughly, chopped
4 cups cauliflower rice
Make sure chicken is cut into bite size cubes, then toss in a bowl with yogurt, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp sea salt, ½ tsp turmeric and black pepper, making sure chicken is evenly coated. Marinate for 10 minutes (if short on time) to 24 hours in the fridge (the longer it marinates the more robust the flavor!)
Once chicken is done marinating, heat 2 tbsp grass fed ghee in a large, deep skillet or stovetop pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until browned, about 2 minutes. You may have to do this in batches (2 for me) and add in more ghee depending on stickiness of the pan.
Once chicken is done cooking, set aside on a plate. Turn heat to medium and add in 2 more tbsp of grass-fed butter to the skillet/pot, along with the chopped onion. Cook 5 minutes or until softened.
Next add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp sea salt, ½ teaspoon turmeric and black pepper to taste. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Turn heat to high and add in 2 cups bone broth water and 1 can full fat coconut milk. Stir to combine until boiling, then reduce to a simmer, cooking 5-10 minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens.
Add back in seared chicken to the skillet/pot and continue to simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked through.
While chicken is cooking, add another tbsp grass-fed ghee in a separate skillet over medium heat and add cauliflower rice, sea salt + pepper to the pan, cooking 5-10 minutes or until cauliflower rice has softened and cooked through.
When everything is done cooking, remove from heat. Add a generous helping of cauliflower rice to a bowl or plate, then layer with the butter chicken and sauce. Top with fresh cilantro.