Healthy Inspiration: Blogs I’m Loving

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While in the throes of all that is Whole30, I may have limited my perusing of non-Whole30 focused blogs, simply to save myself from all the cravings that would soon follow. This week I was back into my old blog reading ways and finding inspiration everywhere! It’s so refreshing.

My main source of inspiration this week has come from Hummusapien. Alexis is a registered dietician and knows how to make crazy yummy recipes that are jam-packed with veggies. Her Avocado Black Bean Burgers are on my list of all-time favorites and I am ready for next week to get here so I can make them already. If you’re of the vegetarian persuasion, or just like eating as many veggies as possible and all the hummus all the time, you must check her out. I also have her Super Easy Mexican Crockpot Casserole (with a few slight modifications) and her Mediterranean Quinoa Salad on my list for next week.

Another nom-inducing blog I’ve been all over this week is The Roasted Root. Julia’s cauliflower fried rice is calling my name, and paleo to boot. I can’t decide if I want to add a little meatiness to the dish or leave it as is. If we’re being honest, I really want a side of egg rolls and spicy mustard to go along with my fried cauli rice, but we all want what we can’t have. Also, she has endless treats over on her blog (many of them gluten-free and paleo) that I am looking forward to making real soon (I’m looking at you Grain Free Almond Butter Pumpkin Bars and Fudgy Paleo Beetroot Brownies.

What are your go-to blogs for healthy eats?

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A {Very Late} Whole30 Wrap-Up

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In typical Julie fashion, I failed to ever post my last week of Whole30. I bet some of you thought I didn’t make it out alive. Well, surprise, surprise… both Pal and I made it out alive and well.

As with the first attempt, I was pretty much over it the final week. However, we stuck it out and I may have learned a little more this go round than last time (or I chose to pay closer attention… either way…).

I think sugar is what bothers me most, which isn’t a huge surprise. I’ve also kept a limit on grains, especially corn (and gluten, duh), which I think helps a ton. I’ve also not fallen face first into the overly processed, packaged, gluten-free foods. Keepin’ it real and whole, y’all.

Much to my utter joy, beans and quality dairy haven’t bothered me (hashtag yay). I plan on trying quinoa next week, because I have been craving it like crazy, Mediterranean style, like the good ol’ days. I need a bean-y, quinoa-y salad all up in my life. Also, hummus on everything.

Oh, and there were results! I lost 7 inches overall and 6-7lbs. All water weight, I’m sure, but it was nice to de-puff a bit. 😉

All in all, it was a good experience. What’s not to love about eating nothing but goodness for a month straight? Will I do it again? We’ll see.

Whole 30 Days 19-24 + Other Things

Saturdays that involve me leaving the house precisely one time (usually to buy groceries) and showering just to change into fresh pajamas are my favorite. Today was one of those Saturdays. This morning I found myself at the farmers’ market 30 minutes before it even opened (knowing good and well that they wouldn’t let anyone in a minute sooner), and let me tell you, that is a new kind of torture. Being out in the world before 9:00am on a Saturday, and having to just sit in my car and wait, is not my idea of a grand time, but boy was it sweet to have all those aisles mostly to myself.

On an unrelated, but equally exciting note, I got to break out my new spiralizer again this week! I had Monday off and was able to spend the late morning cooking and prepping all I needed to for the week ahead. It was glorious! I love feeling prepared.

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I spiralized four zucchini and two Japanese sweet potatoes for spaghetti (vegetti?) and burrito bowls, respectively. I let the zucchini sit in a paper towel lined bowl for a couple of days before I needed to help dry them out a bit before cooking. So much water in those suckers! The sweet potatoes sat for a few days as well, but do not require draining. 😉

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On the spiralizing agenda for this, our final week of Whole30? Carrots! More Japanese sweets! I’m pretty pumped about the carrots.

Speaking of weeks, days 19-24 have come/gone and it’s starting to get a little more difficult. I’ve hit the “Why isn’t three weeks enough?” part of Whole30 and am sort of looking forward to the end. Not in a ‘drown myself in pizza and ice cream’ sort of way, but in a less restricted sort of way. Also, Pals have a fun celebration dinner planned for day 31.

Cheers to the final week, you can do it! I know you can!

Recipe Fails: Whole30 Edition

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Sometimes recipes do not go as planned. Sometimes they simply do not live up to your expectations. Sometimes you’re home from work, in a rush, and just cannot deal with the letting something set for a half hour or more before starting the cooking process. And sometimes, sometimes there are unexpected body parts in your can of fish.

Body parts, you say? Now that I have your attention, let’s start there. I had high hopes for a salmon patty recipe I came across. Reputable source and a pretty dish in pictures; it gave me the courage to leave all the reservations, err fears, behind that I have harbored since the days of smelling my grandmother’s foul, and probably burnt, salmon patties of my youth. That being said, I was excited to give these a go and change my view on the salmon patty for good.

All my hopes and dreams went down the drain when Pal opened the can and said, “What’s this?”. A vertebra. A vertebra followed by another vertebra, followed by most of spine and several teeny, tiny bones. Despite Pal’s careful deboning of all visible skeletal intruders, there was really no winning me back by that point. I went on to form the patties (much stickier than I anticipated and a total waste of homemade mayo) and only then did I notice that these puppies needed to set for at least half an hour. An extra half hour on a weeknight, post-gym, is pretty much an eternity and more or less unacceptable. So I allotted fifteen minutes tops for the setting of things, which led to them promptly falling apart and my interest dwindling further. Several minutes later, with one bite under my belt, I gave up and had fruit with a side of green beans for dinner. Pal powered through, but I was not that strong. The next day, following a Facebook post of my woeful experience, I discovered that this fish skeleton situation is a common one with cans of salmon, not just the off-brand farmers’ market variety, and that, if I dare go the salmon patty route ever again, salmon in a pouch is a much safer bet.

Now that I’ve regaled you with what we shall forevermore refer to as Fish Fail ’15, my other culinary disappointments with pale in comparison. Let me leave you with this: textures are important (steer clear of what your husband might liken to baby food), ingredients are a crystal ball of sorts as to what your finished product will be like (if there is nothing in the recipe to transform a few paltry items into something rich and stewy, all the hope in the world won’t magically turn the said items into more than broth with chunks of meat).

Oh and, hey there day 19! Minus the fact that the smelling of pizza feels like a new and terrible level of hell, this second stab at a Whole30 has been breezing by.

Whole30 Days 5-10 + My Menu for the Week!

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Hey, hi, hello! With, what feels like no time at all, here were are at day 10. Day 8 brought a bit of a slump, along with some crankiness, and day 9 was similar. Earlier today I had a horrific headache that felt like it was going to turn into a migraine. I took some ibuprofen and huffed a bit of peppermint oil and now all is well. Other than the aforementioned bumps in the road, this Whole30 continues to be easier and much more enjoyable than the first.

Last weekend us Pals drove to see family, which is a 2-hour trip each way. I drive down, Pal drives back; it’s a tried and true system. I had cookbooks in tow so I spent my not-driving time flagging recipes to try this week.

Here is what is on the menu:

  • Breakfast: Hash browns with sautéed peppers, onions, and pork sausage.
  • Nom Nom Paleo’s Mulligatawny Soup via Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans – there’s fruit! coconut! spices! and it’s all blended together into a warm, tasty bowl of awesome.
  • Nom Nom Paleo’s Slow Cooker Chicken + Gravy, with mashed cauliflower and sautéed green beans. – I might be most excited about this one! We’re still working on that oven thang, so roast chicken in a crock pot sounds like heaven.
  • Nom Nom Paleo’s Southwest Cowboy Chili via Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans – CHILI. Nothing more to say here.
  • Skirt steak with sautéed mushrooms and onions over arugula with a mustard vinaigrette – same as last week’s, but dang was it good!
  • Zoodles with a sauce of pureed avocado, olive oil and garlic with tomatoes – I ordered a spiralizer and cannot wait for it to get here! It’s super fancy and has three different blades, for three different types of ‘noodles’. I feel like this will be a game changer, kids.

Paleo Cookbook Wishlist

I love cookbooks. I love curling up with one, as if it were a novel, and reading it cover to cover. I love the stories behind the dishes and working up an appetite getting lost in their pictures. Paleo recipes, while typically simpler in nature, are just as fun to get lost in. It took me a while to realize that, that Paleo ingredients can be just as fun and inspiring as the the ingredients was comfortable with and accustomed to. Maybe that’s why so many (myself previously included) are wary of a Paleo lifestyle – it’s uncomfortable at first (as all changes can be), it can be challenging (which makes a newfound favorite recipe that much more delicious), and the simplicity of it can come of as rather boring (but it doesn’t have to be at all).

That being said, I am looking to add to my Paleo cookbook collection down the road. My current go-to books, and the only strictly Paleo cookbooks I own, are Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans and Against All Grain. They have been huge helps in the kitchen and I enjoy them both very much, but being a bit of a cookbookworm has me craving more. Yes, Pinterest is an amazing resource and will work for now, but there’s not much better than flipping through a pretty new collection of recipes and bookmarking all the delectable things I want to recreate.

Here are a few I’ve got my eye on:

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Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple – Keeping things simple is a big win in my book and since I already am in love with one of her cookbooks, I feel confident that this one will be awesome as well. Also, she made the Amazon top list in food books for 2014!

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The Paleo Kitchen – A Paleo cookbook on the New York Times Bestseller list? Sold. And let’s be real, those pancakes on the front are going to happen post Whole30 (or 45, or 60).

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Practical Paleo – Another Paleo NYT Bestseller! Paleo, for the win!

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Well Fed & Well Fed 2 – I have only made Melissa’s recipe for ketchup, but it lived up to the hype. I am excited to see what else she has in store!

What are your favorite resources for Paleo and Whole30 recipes?

Whole30 Days 1 – 4 (Plus my menu for the week!)

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Beef + Guacamole Sliders

Here we are, four days in, and I already feel like we’re winning this thing. I’m not sure if it comes with the territory, but so far the second attempt is going much more smoothly than the first. I haven’t had cravings (other than the dream about eating a slice of 6-layer chocolate cake, and only when debating a second slice realizing that it’s a.) not gluten-free and b.) that I’ll have to start Whole30 over again); my energy has been up, I’m less snacky, and the hives on my hand are pretty much gone. One thing I have noticed is that the skin on my chin is really dry. With a little help from Google, it turns out that the dryness could be a result of a change in digestion and/or your body releasing toxins from having had too much sugar and processed foods in your system – just a hunch here, but I am willing to bet it’s a bit of both. My body, and the reality that everything within it is so intertwined, continues to amaze me.

This week us Pals have a pretty tasty menu planned. Check it out:

  • Breakfast: Chicken chorizo sausages with scrambled eggs… check your sausage ingredients! We are lucky enough to buy ours from a farmers’ market that make them on-site and additive-free.
  • Beef + Guacamole Sliders, inspired by Stupid Easy Paleo. I nixed the bacon and added sauteed onions and homemade ketchup, with sauteed snow peas on the side. The combination of guacamole and sweet potatoes was something else. However, it is worth nothing that, while they look like little burgers, they are still a knife-and-fork food. Also, one sweet potato didn’t quite stretch far enough for me to have “buns” for all the patties, but that’s not really a big deal.
  • Crockpot Pot Roast with carrots, onions, and potatoes. I’ve looked around at different Whole30 pot roast recipes to see what they have in common. Searing the meat, a little broth, and a lot of garlic. We’re going to wing this one and hope for the best. Fingers crossed, kids.
  • Steak salad with caramelized onions and mushrooms over arugula. Skirt steak, mustard vinaigrette, hallelujah.
  • Pan-cooked chicken thighs with crash hot potatoes and green beans. CHPs are life… and can even be made with a faulty oven! I boil them a little longer and use the broiler to crisp them up post-smash. If there was an option to only eat creamy, dreamy, crash hot potatoes for a month, I’d do it.
  • Meaty Marinara over sauteed zucchini. I have yet to purchase a spiralizer, so for now, zoodles are a distant dream. That’s not stopping me from eating a spaghetti inspired dinner, no dang way. I’m using Silver Palate “Thick + Sassy” sauce, adding ground beef, and serving over sauteed zucchini bits. Silver Palate sauce happens to be compliant, so I’m taking a shortcut in lieu of making my own. Again, check your labels and make sure you’re not getting a jar chock full of sugar. 😉
  • If I do find myself in need of a snack, I have an almond/pecan mix, bananas, clementines, and apples on hand.

Here’s to another incredible week of Whole30! You’re killing it, I can see it from here.

P.S. I may be doing swell, but Pal just said he wanted a hotdog burrito. Heaven help us.

Whole30 Ketchup

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you’re feeling great and ready to tackle all that 2015 holds in store. We watched Harry Potter + The Sorcerer’s Stone and were in bed by 11pm… a good night all around.

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This morning, after my requisite Gilmore Girls viewing, I whipped up some homemade ketchup to go along with my sweet potato hash browns and eggs. I found the recipe at The Clothes Make the Girl and it’s from her second cookbook, Well Fed 2. Based on my Pal’s reaction to the ketchup (the word fantastic was tossed around), I’d really like to get my hands on a copy.

The ketchup comes together pretty quickly, though if you’re one who prefers cold ketchup no matter what, you won’t want to make this right before you need it. On the plus side, warm, homemade ketchup on hash browns is pretty dynamite.

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The initial mixture (tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, boiling water and dates) has to sit and meld for 10-15 minutes and it is pretty pungent. I’m not sure about you, but the sweetness of dates combined with the acrid aroma of ACV is not what I really want to get a whiff of early in the morning. But, hang in there, because the end product is nothing like what you see above.

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Once things are spiced and boil and simmer and get stored in a mason jar, you get this. Sweet, flavorful, and decadent. This Whole30 is going to be alright, friends!

Kickass Ketchup from Well Fed 2

**Please note the original recipe did not include salt. Make as you wish!

Ingredients:
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 dried figs (or dates), coarsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground allspice
1/2 cup water

Directions:
1. Place tomato paste, 1/3 cup boiling water, vinegar, and figs in a blender or food processor. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes to soften the figs, then purée until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times to make sure the figs are incorporated. Set aside.
2. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt, about 2 minutes. Add dry mustard, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to pan and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Remove from heat, then add tomato purée to the pan and stir until combined. Return to heat and cook 2-3 minutes, then add remaining 1/2 cup water, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes. (The ketchup will thicken as it cools, but if you like it thicker, allow it to cook slightly longer. Want it thinner? Add a bit of water.)
4. Cool the ketchup to room temperature before you eat it. Transfer to a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

Hamburger Soup {Whole30 Approved!}

Happy, happy New Year’s Eve! Us Pals are staying in tonight with a yummy stir-fry and plenty of Netflixy things to watch. In preparation for my second Whole30, which officially starts tomorrow, I have been playing around with some new eats.

This Hamburger Soup, via The Pioneer Woman, was at the top of my list to make and for good reason. It is fantastic!

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Chock full of veggies and protein, this soup was easy to make Whole30 compliant. Always make sure to check your labels for any sneaky additives, especially broths. The original recipe called for beef broth, but I couldn’t find an additive-free one, so I used veggie broth instead. It worked like a charm.

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Oh man, veggies for days. The red potatoes help this soup keep you full and the different textures are so very satisfying. I can’t get enough.

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I see us Pals noshing on a lot of this soup during the next 30 days. If anyone has any must-have paleo eats they want to share, please do! I am trying my best to stay on top of menu planning and not get in a rut this time around.

Also, since it is NYE and resolutions are on the brain, my goal for 2015 isn’t just a Whole30… it’s a whole switch to paleo. I’ve tried before and was not as dedicated as I could have been. The more I’ve read the more I have come to realize this is what’s best for me. There is too much junk in processed food, and from gut to brain, it’s frightening how deeply it messes with us. I want to feel like my best self. So, here’s to a new year and a healthier me!

Hamburger Soup (makes approximately 6 entree servings):

Ingredients
2-2.5 pounds Ground Chuck
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 can (14.5 Ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
4 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
4 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
5 whole Red Potatoes, Cut Into Chunks
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, More To Taste
2 teaspoons Dried Parsley Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Ground Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more To Taste)
Preparation Instructions
In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat with the onion and garlic. Remove the pot from the heat and drain off some fat (removed approximately 1/2 cup, but kept the rest).
Return the pot to the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 15-20 more minutes, until potatoes are tender but not overly mushy.
Soup should be somewhat thick, but if you’d like it to be more “soupy,” add 1 to 2 cups more broth OR hot water and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed.

Whipped Coconut Cream + A Week 2 Update!

Though paleo-fied desserts are definitely not promoted during Whole30, sometimes I want to feel like I’m indulging, even if the whole bowl of amazing I’m downing is 100% good for me. I didn’t make paleo cookies or a paleo cupcake. I didn’t even make banana ‘ice cream’. See, those are big no-nos for me right now, despite how much I want them and despite the fact that I spent an unmentionable amount of time thinking of Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies in church this morning.

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What I did do was take refrigerated a can of coconut milk, remove the liquid, and whip the cream into a dreamy oblivion.

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IMG_4462Then I served it over fresh berries and patted myself on the back. The sweetness of the berries was enough to not miss any sugar in the whipped cream. Also, with all the good, rich fats from the coconut I was blissfully satisfied after my last bite. Had this been whipped cream of the aerosol variety, I would have probably gone back for thirds.

As for my Whole30, I’m past the halfway point! And coconut whipped cream might give me the strength to carry on! I kid, mostly. Week two was more or less a breeze. There was a day where I wanted chocolate so bad I could have screamed, and another day where I actually heard Swedish Fish calling my name, but alas, I haven’t caved. Honestly, the hardest part of this week was my meal planning. By Saturday afternoon I had a good list together that I am excited about, but I had to force myself to be creative in order not to suffer through the week eating mundane foods. I haven’t had the “I’m missing out” feeling I’ve been dreading, either. I’ve been so content with being well-rested and not bloated that the things I’m not drinking /eating have not been much of a temptation.

 

Whipped Coconut Cream (Original recipe from Oh She Glows)

Ingredients: 1 can full-fat coconut milk (Do not use light! The consistency will be off.)

Refrigerate coconut milk for several hours or overnight.

Chill the bowl you’ll be using (glass or stainless steel) in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove coconut milk and flip can upside down (try not to jostle too much!)

Open can and remove liquid from the top. You can use the extra in smoothies or for cooking.

Either with a stand mixer or hand-mixer whip the coconut cream until fluffy. It will be a little thicker than traditional whipped cream.

If not on Whole30, a bit of vanilla or sugar would be tasty!

Makes 3-4 servings.