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Friday, March 28, 2014

I can't believe it.

Two more days and I am done with my first ever Whole30. The last 2 weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of personal changes. I worked from home and assumed I'd have more time to cook.

Spoiler alert: That didn't happen.

As a matter of fact, I ended up working more than I had been when I went into the office. It's the perfectionist in me and drives me towards obsessive tendencies. She's an asshole.

In other news, I've picked up on the cooking front this week.

I started out with a roast butterflied chicken in bell pepper sauce with carrots and sweet potatoes. I've eaten this for lunch and/or dinner for 3 days without issue. It was delicious.

I was lazy.

There were no pictures.

I then moved on to turkey meatballs (using my main Whole30 meatball recipe) served with zucchini noodles in marinara. My easy weeknight meal. So delicious. The sauce is what makes it. Have I mentioned how much I love Rao's jarred marinara? They casually post the recipe on their website and I suspect they just sit back and laugh, "They think they're so smart they can make the sauce. Hah hah hah! HERE! Have it! Hah hah hah"

Tonight my food buddies on zeh bookface served as my inspiration.

Beef & broccoli stir fry with coconut "riced" cauliflower.

Perhaps I set my bar pretty low since cauliflower is not my most favorite thing, BUT! this came out really tasty!

I'll post recipes soon! Promise! Much more food coming your way. I plan on ending this Whole30 journey with a BANG.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Luck o' the Irish?

Week 2 was a total success! I pretty much repeated the previous week, kept stock of hard boiled eggs and continued experimenting with DIY coconut milk. More on that another time. This post is all about tonight's dinner.

Inspired by the ever-nearing Saint Patrick's Day, I decided to give a Whole30 Shepherd's Pie a whirl.

It was so worth the effort.

I started with my root vegetable mash. A combination of turnip, carrots, cauliflower and garlic covered in cold, salty water and olive oil.

I knew the turnips were ready to be mashed when I could do this with ease.

I reserved about 2 cups of the liquid as I strained the veggies for later use. I mashed the veggies with a standard potato masher, 1/2 cup of ghee (I kind of OD'd on it but just wait) adjusted flavor with salt and pepper as needed and then added some of the reserved liquid back before whipping it with my immersion blender. Heavenly.

Next step was to brown the meat. I used a very unique combination for this shepherd's pie: duck bacon, ground turkey and very lean ground beef. Duck bacon? Why duck bacon (and how weird does that sound)?

Well, as per the guidelines for Whole30 eating, if you can't find good, pastured pork, you're better off eating a different cut of meat. Good pork is surprisingly hard to find! That said, duck bacon is delicious and completely enhances the flavor profile of this dish in a way pork belly bacon couldn't ever do adequately.

I diced up about 4 oz. of duck bacon over low heat to render out as much of the amazeballs fat as I could. I then added my ground meats and raised the heat to medium to cook everything through. Once the meat was cooked, I set it aside. I added 1 tbsp ghee to my enameled cast iron pot and then added leeks, onions, carrots, and salt and pepper. 

Once these were translucent, soft and fragrant, I added some tomato paste and a couple splashes of coconut aminos. I then put the meat mixture back and tossed everything together. I forgot to mention I also added frozen string beans at this point. I then made a slurry of the reserved liquid from the root vegetables and some arrowroot powder. 

I added this to the meat and veggie mixture to create a gravy. Tossed everything around and adjusted seasoning with salt and pepper. 

I then spread the mixture into a glass casserole dish and covered it with the root vegetable mash. 

I popped this in the broiler and watched it attempted to watch it like a hawk. ~10 minutes later, I was lazy and not paying any attention when I started to smell burning. It was, in fact, perfect.

You see, you can only get this effect if you add a shit-ton of butter/ghee/fat to the root vegetable mash. This isn't an every day dish. It's far too elaborate. But I was in a celebratory mood and I've been kicking sugary sweet ass on this diet and this is how I rewarded myself. 

Like I said, totally worth it.

I'll write up the legit recipe tomorrow and add it here. Have a good one!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Week One = DONE

Super proud of myself. I took this week in stride. It wasn't without effort, it's just that it was without effort right now because I made a significant effort last month. I practiced meals, finding lunch at a place near my job (that wasn't a salad) and not being lazy.

Well. I did it.

And I ate spectacularly.

Monday (Day 3) consisted of black coffee -that I'm beginning to love, btw- lots of fruit and fresh veggies and delicious meatballs.

I could eat this every single day. Multiple times a day.

It starts like this.

Puree together one medium yellow onion and garlic. Toss the onion/garlic puree in a large bowl with fresh basil, if you have it, and all the other ingredients.

Toss in whatever blend of local, pastured (hippie) ground meat you'd like. Pork and beef work well but so does turkey. Use your clean HANDS to work the ingredients together and then (after washing your hands), use an ice cream scoop to dole out even sized meat balls. I use a cast iron grill for this because the cast iron caramelizes the ingredients together and work an incredible magic called the Maillard reaction.

I heat up Rao's marinara sauce (my favorite) in a shallow pot that will accommodate all the ingredients. Then I spiralize at least 4 big ol' zucchinis. I prefer green zucchini to yellow squash and plan to spiralize some eggplant soon. 

Then I toss them all in the sauce and cover it until I'm ready to chow down. By then, the noodles are tender and perfectly compliment the meatballs.

After the meatballs are done, I toss them on top of the sauce and allow everything to meld together or a few minutes before serving. DROOOOOOL.

Tuesday was about fresh produce, my coworker's AMAZING Whole30 Shepherd's Pie and leftovers.

Wednesday, I made this classic slow cooker peril (so incredibly easy and never fails) and served it alongside carrots and sweet plantains that I grilled on my fav cast iron griddle (seriously, what can't I cook on that thing??) and topped with Whole30 Peruvian Salsa Verde (1 cup of packed cilantro, 2 jalapeños (with seeds), 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of Whole30 Mayo, salt and pepper to taste - blend).

You're welcome. 

Mas frutas frescas en jueves y cafe. Siempre cafe.

And then Today. Friday, March 7.

I've learned that my new favorite variety of omelette (and, not coincidentally, my toddler's) contains grilled pancetta and broccoli. Mmm. 

And then there was tonight's dinner. 

Butterflied, pastured chicken that I roasted at 350F for 1.5 hours and sat atop a bed of sweet potatoes and shallots. Sitting the chicken on the potatoes and shallots made the dripping fat caramelize the veggies (aka the best flavor ever). I accompanied the roast with cauliflower puree and sautéed spinach.

So my Friday night was banging and I definitely rounded out my week on an upward swing. Hope your week was as awesome!

Meatball Recipe

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I will Champion the Cause for Chipotle Mayo

I love Chipotle Mayo. 

Did you hear me?

Here, let me repeat myself: I LOOOOVE CHIPOTLE MAYO. 

Whoever first decided to throw (or accidentally threw) chopped chipotle peppers into mayonnaise was a culinary mastermind on par with the likes of the inventor of fitted sheets. 

BRB stuffing my face...

Appetizer in a hurry!

If there is one trait every single person in my family shares, it's our ability to get HANGRY. What's that, you ask? Oh, that's the mood you get in when it dawns on you you need to eat immediately OR THERE WILL BE DIRE CONSEQUENCES.

That happened late this afternoon as we waited patiently for our food delivery order to arrive (because I already spent all my ambitious cooking energy for the weekend and lived mostly off of photo-shy leftovers). I knew I needed to whip together something super quick and not awful tasting. We set the bar pretty low here. 

Well, I really outdid myself with this one. 

Meet my Mushroom & Avocado appetizer. I was inspired by a conversation I had with dear friends yesterday and an incredible dish I had at a tiny NYC tapas bar named Las Ramblas in the West Village. Super fragrant, super rich, super quick. This will surely be making more frequent appearances in this house! 

Coffee, coffee, coffee. I love coffee.

True story: I only started drinking coffee only after having my daughter. Before then, I was strictly a tea person.

I blame my husband for my complete infatuation with the stuff now. During the past month, while I prepared to embark on my Whole30 journey, I struggled with reconciling no sugar and no dairy in my morning cup of joe. 

My first cup of black coffee was had yesterday. Another true story? I didn't hate it! 

There was a number of little things I did to make the experience a better one. 

First, I added 2 scoops of medium roast beans to my burr grinder, set to a medium grind. 

Second, I added the ground coffee to my Aeropress (which I highly recommend, btw) and added one tsp of ground cinnamon to the grounds. 

Third, the temperature of the water was barely boiling - so probably around 200F/94C - before I poured it over the grounds. I used about 10 fluid oz. 

This was the result:

Hope this helps you kill your sugar demon! 

Coffee Recipe

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Thank goodness for Brazilian buffets.

After all my cooking today, I sure didn't feel like cooking tonight. Leftovers were unappealing for no good reason, other than boredom, and so I went to a local place with amazing food. Everything in their diverse buffet is delicious and I frequently find myself trying things I can't easily identify. 

On my plate tonight (clockwise from top left): baked sea bass, baked chicken leg, roasted broccoli, carrots and zucchini, rotisserie beef sirloin with pan drippings and bacon wrapped chicken thigh. aka perfection. 

If (and it's a big if) I get hungry later, I'll grab some pineapple and douse it in lime juice. It's been a good day. 

My mayo didn't break!!

Ive tried making mayo before and it was an utter failure. This time I followed Melissa Jouwen's recipe in her book "Well Fed" and...


I took one kinda sorta short cut and it really turned out well. From my previous errors, I knew the mayo would break if I over mixed as I added the oil. In the past, my problem was either I drizzled too slowly or too quickly. This time I used a small food processor and added oil in 1/3 cupfuls and pulsed 6 times after each addition. After the last 1/3, I ran the processor for... maybe 5 seconds? until I saw the mayo thicken and I stopped. 

I threw some in tuna with my own spice blend of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and tumeric (hence, it's very yellow). I ate this alongside some halved cherry tomatoes. 

It came out sooo yummy that it's toddler-approved!! 

Quick midday snack

Sliced, sweet, tricolor peppers and the remaining balsamic vinaigrette from this morning. 

Saturday morning goodness

Best Parent Award goes to this gal. I heard my stealthy toddler (oxymoron?) say "Eck!" after spitting something out while she stood behind me. I turned to find her dumping my black coffee on the floor. At least it was 4/5s of the way done.

She was able to get away with grabbing my coffee for two reasons: 

1.) I didn't realize how much she's grown and she can now reach things off a table that was previously a safe zone for my coffee.

2.) I was consumed by my (delicious) meal prep!! 

So here is what I made: Eggs baked in marinara sauce, plantain home fries and a breakfast salad. 

Here's how it was done:

Peel, quarter and season 3 green plantains with 2 tbsps of coconut oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for an hour. Set an alarm for 30 minutes in. 

Wash and peel 6 mushrooms, an onion and 6 asparagus stalks. 

Blanch the asparagus, dice the onion and quarter the mushrooms. At the 30 minute alarm, toss everything together, add more salt and pepper and put it back in the oven.

Fill a small ramekin with 1/4 cup of marinara sauce (my fav is Rao's marinara) and place an egg on top. I overfilled mine because I'm in love with this sauce. Place the ramekins in an oven safe baking dish and fill halfway with steaming (not boiling) water. Bake on 350F for 15-25 minutes, depending on how well you like your eggs done. 

Prep the salad greens and assemble your favorite dressing. My fav dressing goes like this. 1 tbsp whole seed mustard, 1 tbsp superb balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsps good evoo and salt and pepper to taste. I put it in a small mason jar and shook it all up until thick and delicious. 

Get your coffee ready. We're big fans of the Aeropress and I get to customize my coffee by adding a dash of cinnamon to the grounds. 

Everything should finish cooking right around the same time - unless you're like me and you realize you should've put the eggs in the small convection oven since that has reliable temperature control instead of your old apartment oven and your eggs are well underdone. 20 minutes later, I took these: 

If you're the type who likes to keep different parts of your meal separate, by all means, keep the eggs in the cups. I opted to turn it all out and slosh the eggs and marinara with the home fries. Mmm!! 


Friday, February 28, 2014

Here goes nothin'

I have been on my first official Whole30 for exactly 51 minutes. I'm more nervous now than I was yesterday and wondering "if I can". Up until now, I haven't had shred of doubt since I decided on this food and health journey - mostly because I've been preparing. I've been cooking up a storm, testing meal ideas. I've been making Whole30 approved food choices as frequently as possible just to see "if I could" and, by and large, I did!

Side-note: If you're wondering what Whole30 is, it's a diet that focuses on eating whole foods (e.g. meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts/seeds) and nothing processed for 30 days as a way to determine how your body responds to a lack of carbohydrates, dairy and legumes. It's also a way to put your body into a state of ketosis, if that's your thing (though ketosis is not the expressed purpose).

I guess here is a good place to post my current stats.

Current weight: 141.00 lbs. (63.96 kg)
Current BMI: 27.5 (falls smack in the middle of the 'Overweight' category)

I started this journey thinking "Oh great! Here's a way to lose weight and not have to give up bacon!" and while that's true, during my study and prep month (February), I learned so much about health and nutrition, I'm not focusing on weight loss. I'm not weighing myself until the last day. Losing weight will be an added bonus to jump-starting my healthy-eating perspective, possibly discovering food-related issues I never knew I had and awakening my tastebuds from their sugar coma.

If you'd like to learn more about the Whole30 food plan, check them out at and I strongly suggest you buy a copy of "It Starts with Food" by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. It's a great read, it's well cited with peer-reviewed articles and makes a strong case for why we should eat this way the majority of the time.

See you in the A.M. with my first Whole30 recipe: Eggs poached in tomato sauce, baked green plantain home fries and a morning salad.