Life after Whole 30

Whole 30 is dead, but we’re alive and we still have to eat. And because planning is a big part of my bliss, I wrote out a 30 day menu for this adventure and damnit, I was excited about making some of those dishes. So, while for lunch we may be enjoying bagels on the veranda with a glass of blush…

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Dinners have still been largely whole 30 compliant. Except for the BBQ pork mac and cheese I ate last weekend. At a restaurant. With my big girl clothes on. That day ruled. This day was okay too — I made a chicken thigh dish with sun-dried tom-toms, green beans and olives, recipe available here. 

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It was aight. Heavily seasoned with rosemary, which I discovered was growing abundantly in our garden. What an adventure it shall be to watch what else blooms! As has been usual, Jared who looooooves chicken, has been happy with all the meals. I have felt they were all fine and could be made better with the addition of cheese. This process has taught me that I will happily eat half the meat if I can eat twice the cheese, but I’m not sure that’s how it works…

 

 

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My man LOVES chicken.

While Jared was living alone he developed a passion for chicken and kale. Specifically he would buy a rotisserie chicken from the Whole Foods every Monday and eat it with kale for dinner most nights that week. Side note: did you know that Whole Foods offers a rotisserie chicken punch card? Amazing.

Anyway, first he sautés the kale with garlic and sometimes red wine. He then adds red peppies, jalapeños and chicken into the pan. Once it’s all melded together, he tops it off with olives (and in our pre-Whole30 days, hummus).

It’s tangy, crunchy, tasty and healthy so it made for a perfect quick dinner earlier this week. The next night I made a disaster of a spaghetti squash dish that I won’t even go into because it was such a travesty. It does serve as an adequate segue into dinner last night, which involved the other half of the spaghetti squash.

This variety of squash is one I discovered only recently while residing in Nashville. I have a particularly fond memory of being unable to cut my very first spaghetti squash in half. I was on the verge of panic when my slight but powerful roommate Sam came valiantly to my rescue. “Let me try,” she says as she proceeded to beast one of our knives through it’s thick skin like it wasn’t shit as she casually mused, “I’d cook it cut side down,” she says, “that way it steams itself.” And she dropped the fucking mic.

She would have been ashamed of the monstrosity I created out of the first of the spaghetti squash (and rightfully so) but she would have applauded our commitment to not wasting food when Jared created this:

After yoga last night we were debating whether to eat out or eat in and ultimately reached the conclusion that, with a fridge full of food, there was only one objectively right thing to do. Said Jared, “Who do we think we are? Our fridge is full of fresh food.” Said me, “Yeah, we’re not babies, we can eat what we have.” To that end, I had snacks on snacks in this order:

  1. Veggie chips and guac
  2. Gazpacho
  3. Carrots and hummus
  4. Plantain chips and almond butter
  5. Trail mix

Because I’M NOT A BABY. I’m a big girl who really wants pizza and beer tonight. 🙋🏽🍕🍺

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Deliberate Eating

On the advice of an outside medical professional, we have decided to suspend the restriction of our dietary intake to the inexplicable guidelines as set out by the creators of Whole 30. Translation: I won.

Following a confusing episode this weekend it was determined that, from a health perspective, a diet devoid of grains is not ideal for persons as physically active as we are.

(No shit).

In light of this brand new revelation that I definitely haven’t been saying all along, we are going to amend this month’s challenge to avoiding alcohol, dairy and added sugars but to include the whole grains that have been widely accepted as an important part of a healthy, balanced diet since the beginning of time.

This doesn’t feel like a failure to me, mostly because I had absolutely nothing personally invested in this, but also because I have expanded my cooking repertoire vastly this week and am looking forward to continuing that. In one week, we’ve learned how to pickle vegetables, pan sear salmon, make semi decent Asian food without soy sauce and, most importantly, we learned that I was right.

Now, as promised – snacks.

First, deviled eggs:

Look at the variety!! The base is the same: equal parts mayo and mustard with onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Then some have capers, others chopped pepperoncinis and still others chopped olives. All topped with paprika, just like my mama taught me.

I brought these deviled eggs to a friend’s game night but they did not go over well, because the game night was at night and deviled eggs are no companion of red wine. Noted.

And now, chicken salad. What can I say about this substance that will adequately illustrate the depth of my love for it? For me, discovering chicken salad was like discovering The West Wing following the last presidential election. It’s everything I never knew I always needed. And now I can make it myself.

If nothing else comes of this month of deliberate eating (as I’m now calling it) I will never again over pay for sub par chicken salad when I can make it exactly how I like it at home. And store it in a Fage Yogurt container, just like my mother in law taught me.

*Praise hands*

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Whole wheekend

It’s a new thing I’m trying — pronouncing all my W’s as if they have H’s behind them. We’ll see how it goes. I’m not married to it.

Anyhoo. This weekend was a grand success. I made two dinners that were hearty and delicious. The secret? Potatoes. I hardly ever eat them in my real life but they do the job in this twilight zone I’ve submitted to.

First, a mustard crusted salmon with an L. Served it with ranch roasted potatoes and brussies. The potatoes came from this recipe. I drizzled with homemade ranch (literally just mayo, mustard, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, dill and chives). The brussies are just halved and thrown in the oven with some garlic at the same temp as the potatoes (400) until tender.

Salmon:

Rub with mustard balsamic sauce listed below.

Turn heat to med-high, add olive oil to cast iron skillet

When oil is smoking, add the salmon, skin side up.

Cook 4-5m

Don’t move salmon, Put entire skillet in 425 degree oven for 6-8m

Keep a close eye. Ours was ready in 6m. This was by far my favorite salmon I’ve ever cooked and the best meal of our Whole 30 adventure. It was the first time I’ve felt full. Both physically and emotionally. Moving on…

Last night I made this balsamic chicken with the leftover brussies and potatoes. I added kale and mushrooms, topped it with a lil avocado, some olives and voila:

This was super easy. First, we brined the chicken in water and salt for 20m, then cooked it in a 450 degree oven for 20m. So tender. The mushroom and kale were added to some garlic and shallot in a pan over medium. Throw in some balsamic vinegar and then the chicken. Toss it in the hot pan with the sauce (listed below) and serve.

Mustard-Balsamic sauce:

1 tbsp stone ground mustard

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Thyme

Chives

Salt and Peppie

This second dish was also a lesson in meal planning and not wasting food, which are two things we work extremely hard to incorporate both because the efficiency of it really gets me going (LOVE EFFICIENCY) and also because not wasting food is objectively the right thing to do.

For week 2, I’ll be focusing more on lunch prep because I was quite hungry a lot this first week. An apple and almond butter just isn’t getting the job done without other carbs. I’m thinking chicken salad and deviled eggs. Stay tuned.

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Cauliflower is better than rice

Hear me out. Rice is dumb. It takes a long time to cook, has to be heavily seasoned to taste like anything and can easily turn into mush.* I also think of it as a “nothing” food similar to pasta — it’s taking up a lot of space in my belly without bringing a lot of flavor or nutrients. I mean, I’m not best friends with cauliflower or anything, it also doesn’t have a lot of natural flavor (it’s no beet if you know what I mean) but it only took 5 minutes to cook and served the same purpose as rice underneath this sugar and soy-free beef and broccoli dish we had last night.

I’d make cauliflower like this again. The beef? Maybe. Fur sure once I can add brown sugar and soy to it. It was fine. I think I cut it the wrong way and cooked it a little too long, and everyone knows cooking beef past medium rare is letting the terrorists win.

I loosely followed this recipe. Maybe if I’d had less hubris and followed it more closely, the meat would have been more tender? Flavors were there, don’t get me wrong — I know how to make food taste good. Once again, it’s salt, people — the answer is salt.

Cauliflower is just finely chopped, sautéed in a pan with olive oil, garlic and ginger and spct (salt, peppie, cumin, turmeric — my classic four) cook over medium 5-8m. Looking forward to trying this caulirice with curry next week. Stay tuned.

*Real talk — I’m just bad at cooking rice.

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Raw fish and me? We’re married.

Truth is, I’ve never met a raw fish I didn’t like. Sushi, sashimi, ceviche, oysters, nom nom nom. But because I don’t have a professional fisherperson in my friend group (a position for which I am accepting applications by the way) the only dish I feel confident making at home is ceviche. I tell myself it’s safer from a tummy perspective because the fish “cooks” in the citrus but I honestly don’t have any evidence to back up that claim. It’s never made me sick, so that’s an n of 1 — but whatever, I’m the boss. I’ve also made ceviche before and know that it meets all the Whole 30 requirements so I will probably make it once a week at minimum just so I have something to look forward to. My life is V exciting.

Normally I make it with soy sauce and pickled ginger but those are no-no’s, so this recipe has a bit more apple cider vinegar, a touch of sesame oil and fresh ginger. I also added mango for sweetness — will be continuing that in the future. Also in my plans for eating more mango will be learning how to cut mango.

Recipe:

1. Chop or thinly slice: shallot, jalapeño, onion, mint and/or cilantro

2. Cut into cubes: cucumber, avocado, mango

3. Mix above items in bowl with apple cider vinegar

4. Take skin off salmon (just pull it off, much easier than you think) and cut into cubes

5. Put salmon cubes into separate bowl with lemon and/or lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and finely chopped ginger (normally I would also use soy sauce here, but instead I added a few drops of sesame oil). I also like to add wasabi, but found tonight that this really works much better with the soy sauce.

6. Salmon should be completely covered by the liquid — sit in fridge to “cook” for 10 minutes.

7, In the meantime, I like to crisp up the salmon skin on the stove for a little crunch, if that’s not your thing, maybe add some tortilla chips into the mix? Your call.

8. I put my ceviche over greens, tonight it was kale. Add salt. Then add some more. If your food tastes bleh, 87% of the time it’s because you didn’t season it correctly. Spices are everything.

Jared thought this ceviche was really good, I missed the soy quite a bit. He also wanted to add asparagus (to this and literally everything else we make) so I’ll be carrying on as captain of this ship for now. 3 days down. 20 to go. Math is hard.

Yes, we put kombucha into wine glasses. Cause we classy AF.

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Day 2: Attempting Positivity

After reading my first two Whole 30 entries, Jared furrowed his brow and mused, “You’re going to be like this all month then?”

I can’t imagine to what he could have been referring; I’m an extremely sunny individual. With that said, I’ve decided all on my own to approach Day 2 from a more proactive stance. In pursuit of that goal, I decided to make a proper lunch for myself rather than graze on garbage snacks all day.

Since my go-to treats, cheese plate and trail mix, are verboten, I have employed the most powerful tool available to me: vinegar. If it stands still, I will be pickling it — this week it’s cucumbers, onion and beets. Next week — the world!

Not sure if it’s my new attitude or my heavy hand with the seasoning but this salad was tasty. I’d say I didn’t even miss the bleu cheese, but no one would believe me because it would be total bullshit — I always miss the bleu cheese. It could be ice cream and I’d miss the bleu cheese. Still, a solidly delicious lunch. I’m amazing. But vinegar is the real star here.

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