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?

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. ūüėČ

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.

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 11-18 + My Menu for the Week!

We are over the hump, people! More than halfway and right smack into what those crazy Whole30 folks call ‘Tiger Blood’ aka feeling really good stage of the game. The past two days have been much easier, which I love. I did have an issue with something I ate yesterday – hives behind my ears and on my neck. It was minor and they went away by this morning. The only thing I ate out of the ordinary was a restaurant salad dressing. It was a vinaigrette, but I suppose you can’t be too careful and asking for the ingredients is always in your best interest. Had I not been too lazy to make my own before going to work, this may have been avoided. ūüėČ

Chocolate + Spices

Chocolate + Spices

Here’s what us Pals will be noshing on this week:

  • Nom Nom Paleo’s Southwest Cowboy Chili I mentioned last week. For once we had too much food and I just got around to making this tonight. Chocolate in my chili… I can’t wait to see how this turns out!
  • Pioneer Woman’s Hamburger Soup – This was a total winner last time and I am pretty stoked to revisit it.
  • Chicken and Zucchini Burgers with green beans and okra – There is something magical about mixing zucchini with ground chicken. So much moisture and flavor! I just might top these babies with some avocado if I’m feeling fancy.
  • Zoodles and Meat Sauce – We are officially in the spiralizing business! Pal wasn’t too keen on my zoodles with an avocado sauce (too mushy), so here’s hoping a hearty meat sauce will set him straight.
  • Burrito Bowls with Sweet Potato Spirals – Ground beef, spices, avocado and onions over a bed of lettuce with salsa and sauteed sweet potato spirals. I think the sweets will add a fantastic texture to my burrito bowls and a little more staying power.

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 saut√©ed 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 saut√©ed 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 saut√©ed 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.

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. ūüėČ
  • 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.

Whole30 Inspiration

My second Whole30 will begin January 1. I’m pretty excited to give it another go – I now know what to expect and what I’d like to do differently. Further, in effort to keep me motivated, I’ve already begun planning menus and pinning lots of new drool-worthy recipes to keep me from feeling burnt out by week 3.

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1. Kickass Ketchup via The Clothes Make the Girl. I must admit that I never really outgrew my deep love for ketchup that I had as a child. Hamburgers and french fries, of course they’re bettered by ketchup. But have you ever tried upping your pot roast game with a little tomatoey dipping sauce? The meat, potatoes, carrots… They are begging for some ketchup love. Last go ’round I didn’t make my own and regretted it immensely.

2. Paleo Sliders via Food Republic. These little cuties will go perfect with my homemade ketchup. The little sweet potato buns look promising, too.

3. Hamburger Soup via The Pioneer Woman. This soup looks like the perfect Sunday soup, especially in chilly January. Also, it’s really versatile and the veggies and spices can be switched up each time you make it.

4. Monkey Salad via Good Cheap Eats. With a little coconut butter or almond butter, this might just work for breakfast; because I know for a fact 4 weeks of eggs aren’t happening.

What are your favorite Paleo and Whole30 recipes? Share with me your knowledge, friends!