Monday, July 16, 2012

Changing traditions

Every July, Dave and I make our way to Chevys Fresh Mex, so he can indulge in their fresh Watermelon Margaritas.  I'm the DD and indulge on chips, salsa, and steak fajitas while he drinks watermelon margarita after watermelon margarita after watermelon margarita. 
While Chevy's isn't nearly as good as our local Mexican places, I do love getting the fajitas...the sizzling platter of meat on a pile of grilled veggies, surrounded by all the tasty "fixins"....that dollop of sweet corn tamalito served on a dried corn husk....the piles of soft, fresh flour tortillas to use as a vehicle to get all that deliciousness in your mouth...

Chevy's summertime watermelon margarita trips were pre-food allergy diagnosis.

Now that it's July, and watermelon margaritas are back in season, I can't join my hubby in our summer Chevy's date.  I'm allergic to wheat, soy, cumin, coriander, and a bunch of other things that are typically in Chevy's food.  While they do have a limited GF menu, I still have all the other allergies and just can't eat there, at least for now.  It makes me really disappointed to not be able to continue our summer tradition this year.  Hopefully, by next summer, my stomach will be tolerating many of those foods again and I'll be able to join him.

But for now, I cook at home, using ingredients that I know won't make me sick.But I still wanted our Chevys date.  What should I do?  I don't want to eat myself sick, but it's hard to not do things you love to do...

I remembered a few years ago, Chevy's put out a cookbook of some of there most popular items.  I did a quick search and saw that Chevy's was also kind enough to share many of their famous recipes online.  I found the recipe for their famous steak fajita marinade called "Aqua Negra" or "Black Water." I decided we were going to have our own at-home edition of Chevy's steak fajitas that would be safe for me to eat.

When you have food allergies and sensitivities, any time you make a new recipe, you need to look over the ingredient list and see if everything is safe for you to eat.  If there are things that aren't safe, then you need to ask yourself if there are safe versions of that item you could swap with, if there is something similar you could use instead, or if you could just leave the item out without ruining the recipe.

For example, if you want to make a quiche, but are allergic to wheat, you can use a gluten-free crust.  If you are allergic to cow's milk and the recipe calls for cheese, you could use goat, sheep or soy cheese, or just leave it out.  But if you are allergic to eggs, you may want to rethink making that recipe, and find something that would be easier to make with your restrictions.

The recipe called for soy sauce.  I'm allergic to both wheat and soy.  Most soy sauces have wheat in them, and all of them obviously have soy.  My friend who eats a Paleo style diet introduced me to a product called coconut aminos.  It's a wheat and soy free soy sauce alternative.  It's actually really good and tastes way less salty than regular soy sauce.  I've recently re-introduced cumin into my diet and haven't had any negative reaction, so I'm using that sparingly in my diet from now on.  I revamped their recipe and made a safe one for me to enjoy!

First, I thawed out my meat. Safely. In the fridge.  Please don't thaw your meat on the counter and get food poisoning.  And never in the microwave, because it makes it rubbery and gross.  

I buy my beef in bulk from a local ranch.  It comes individually wrapped and labeled.  It can be frozen for up to a year.  Much better prices than buying it on an "as-needed" basis at the grocery store. 

Next, I mixed up my marinade in a Ziploc bag.  I don't mix it in a separate bowl.  Why dirty another dish?  I think that the bags are much better for marinating than in a container becuase you use less marinade yet the marinade is always touching the meat.  

Meat marinating for 48 hours

I added my meat, squeezed out as much air as I could, sealed the bag, and squished everything around. Then I let it sit in the fridge for 2 days. Every 12 hours, I turned the bag over and squished things around to make sure the meat was soaking up all those yummy flavors! 

The night you are ready to eat the fajitas, start by prepping all your fixing.  The meat will grill up in no time.

all the "fixins"

fresh sliced heirloom tomato

 Then grill up your meat to a medium rare. 
Any more, and it will get overcooked, tough, and dry.   

Grilled carne asada

Now it's time to assemble all your ingredients and eat!  

Que aproveche!!!

 Carne Asada Fajitas

1.5 lbs organic, grass-fed carne asada
1/2 cup coconut aminos
1 cup crushed pineapple in 100% juice
1 tablespoons ground cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lime freshly squeezed

Your favorite "fixins":  shredded lettuce,  chopped tomatoes, beans, rice, salsa, crema/sour cream, guacamole/sliced avocados, shredded cheese, salsa, cilantro, diced onions, tortillas, etc...

Combine all ingredients in a Ziploc bag.  Add carne asada. seal, taking out as much air as possible.  Lay flat in the fridge, turning every few hours.  Marinate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.  

Remove carne asada from marinade.  Discard marinade.   Cook carne asada on a hot grill until medium rare, about a minute or two on each side, depending on the thickness of your meat.  Chop carne asada into strips or bite size chunks.  Serve hot. 


We grilled up a tray full of sliced onions and bell peppers, a tub of fresh pineapple spears from Costco, and slices of fresh yellow squash.  We wrapped everything up in a gluten free corn tortilla that had been softened in coconut oil.  You could definitely serve this without the tortillas or put on top of a salad!  

It was delicious.  It was the next best thing to going to Chevys. 

Actually, it was probably way better for us. 


I forgot to make the watermelon margaritas for Dave. 

The watermelon is still sitting on the counter.   


Next time.

I felt so bad, I took him to happy hour after work today
so he could have his watermelon margarita.  I stuck to a Sprite
and cooked us dinner at home.


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