halloumi, pineapple & chicken skewers
Ok for those that don't know me that well, you will get to learn pretty quickly that I LOVE cheese. I mean, I LOVE cheese. As Monica on Friends said, I could totally live in a house made of cheese, bread and wine. But mostly cheese. Okay and bread and wine.
So I have been on the Carnivore diet for almost a month now and while dairy is allowed as it comes from animals...I have eliminated it from the start to let my body adapt to not having it. Dairy is know to be one of those things that promotes inflammation in the body and can effect lots of people in different ways. It's been incredibly difficult. I'm not a huge meat eater, having grown up with a vegetarian mom, we didn't eat meat all that often. So with this way of eating, only being able to eat meat, eggs and salt has been a game changer for me. I promised myself that after 30 days, I would reward myself for making it that far by adding in some dairy and seeing how my body reacted. Well the good news is that after cutting ALL sugar from my life for the last 30 days, my craving for it has all but disappeared. It is absolutely wild since I am such a sweets person but I literally can have a fully frosted cake in front of me and be like, I'm good. Mind blowing. I guess what all the experts have been saying are true - sugar is truly an addiction that can be broken!
Now the bad news. My love affair with cheese is still holding strong. I broke and added in a limited amount of cheese a few days before my 30 day milestone because I HAD TO. So here are the results. Without diary, my inflammation and joint pain in my hands were at a level 4 (stiff and painful in the morning/afternoon but not too bad by early evening). With having added dairy back into the equation...my hands are (drumroll please)...about the same! No real noticeable difference. Hence, I will continue to eat it sparingly and keep doing what I am doing.
Back to one of my favorite recipes! Can we just talk about halloumi cheese for a second?? It is this salty, firm cheese from the Eastern Mediterranean that is traditionally prepared from a goat's (or sheep's) milk. It looks similar to mozzarella in that it is semi-hard, unripened and has no rind. However, it is a brined cheese with a very salty taste and slightly spongy texture. It has a very high melting point so the best part of halloumi is that it is the perfect cheese for grilling or frying. Like a marshmallow, grilling it makes it come alive. Instead of a rubbery texture when eaten raw, it gets a crispy charred exterior with a warm gooey interior. Simply delicious in every way!
Pairing it with something sweet like pineapple, really helps to balance the saltiness of the cheese. As we all know...salty sweet is my jam! So this recipe was created with this in mind. I used to make this in the oven under the broiler which is amazing on it's own but now with my air fryer (which is basically a small broiler on steroids), it is even that much simpler.
First step is the marinade. This couldn't be more simple. Just cut all your ingredients in 1 inch cubes and put them in a ziplock bag. Then toss the marinade in, seal the bag and swish everything around so all the ingredients are coated.
So if you have the air fryer that I have, it came with metal skewers and a multi-purpose rack to hold the skewers so that they are elevated from the bottom of the air fryer basket. If you don't have an air fryer, no worries. As I mentioned, I used to make this recipe all the time using my oven's broiler. My method was to get a baking dish that had a semi-deep lip and placed the skewers on top on the lip so that the contents of the skewer weren't touching the bottom. However, if your only choice is to put the skewers directing on the pan, that would work fine. Since we are cooking it under the broiler, we will essentially be cooking each side under direct heat and flipping them so they will cook fine either way! The best part of cooking it this way is that they take absolutely no time to cook...making this a pretty fast recipe to get on the table. I usually eat them paired with some brown rice and tomatoes and drizzled with some balsamic glaze. Yum!
Halloumi, Chicken & Pineapple Skewers
225 g halloumi cheese
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 red onions
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce, low sodium
1 Tbsp honey, warmed in the microwave for a few seconds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Cut the chicken and halloumi into 1 inch cubes. Cut the red onion in quarters and the peppers into large chunks. Transfer them to a ziplock bag.
Mix up the marinade and add to the bag. Swish around until all the ingredients are coated. If you don't have a ziplock bag, you can do this step in a big mixing bowl.
Place your rack in the air fryer and preheat at 400F for 5 minutes. (Alternatively, turn on your oven's broiler on high - let it get nice and hot for at least 10 to 15 minutes before cooking the skewers)
Take the skewers and thread on the chicken, vegetables, pineapple, and cheese.
Bake in the air fryer for 10 to 12 minutes at 400F, turning the skewers halfway through cooking. Check them at the halfway mark as all air fryers are different. You want each side to be lightly charred on the outside. (Alternatively, bake in the oven under the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes on each side so a total of 8 to 10 minutes. Check on them frequently as all ovens are different and you don't want them to burn. A nice char on them is nice though!)
Once done, lightly sprinkle with some sat salt and some freshly ground black pepper and serve warm!
If you are using wooden skewers, please soak them in cold water for about 30 minutes prior to cooking so that they don't burn.
As I said, I like to pair these yumminess with some sort of grain (i.e. brown rice or cous cous or quinoa) and some grape tomatoes, raw red onions and everything drizzled with a balsamic glaze. But you can pair it with just about anything or just eat them alone!
Doesn't that look amazing? Wait until you bite into the salty halloumi and roasted sweet pineapple. To die for!