End of week 1: begin cravings

I’ve been having a hard time the past few days. My cravings are crazy and I feel like I was actually doing better when I was able to eat a little sugar, dairy and grains. I honestly have begun to question whether this is worth it! Maybe it’s because we had a hard weekend with a sick baby or my sleep hasn’t quite been adequate. I feel like my moods are all over the map (almost like they would be with sugar). What gives? I think the first week was easier because I was needing that cleanse, but now… How have I been coping? Quite honestly, not very well. I’ve eaten more nut butter than I care to disclose – my crutch that I need to go without. Dried fruits, too. I need to eat fewer of them. I find myself really wanting that bite of chocolate after my toddler gets out of bed for the 3rd time in a row and I’m getting annoyed with having to traipse up and down the stairs to tuck him in. I am going to try to re-wire these cravings into something positive: do dishes or clean up rather than head for the cupboard. I have been jumping in the shower after tucking Liam in to try to get out of the grazing before bedtime habit.

One of the biggest temptations of this Whole32 has been to not get on the scale. I’m going to admit that I didn’t win this one. It was kind of accidental, but I had to get Ansel’s weight for Tylenol dosing purposes, so I had to step on the scale with him and then without him to get his measurement. I found that I have dropped a few pounds from when I started this Whole32…but not as much as I’d like. I need to not be discouraged because I know the scale can lie. But still. No more scale and no more cravings!

But one thing to help with the craving if you’ve got it bad for chocolate like me: warm up quarter cup coconut milk and add 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa. Mix and drink…yum!

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Pureed Soups

I’ve been having this thing for pureed soups lately. They are just so versatile while eating a clean Whole30. They are great for a side with dinner, but they also serve well for breakfast or lunch. The great bonus is that I can feed them to Ansel, who is still needing his food to be pureed or strained. I made an old favorite from our vegetarian days (hahaha, remember those?) that I clipped from the Twin Cities co-op magazine, The Mix. This is really tasty and quite easy.

Creamy Cashew Carrot Soup

Susan Jane Cheney

4 servings

Blended cashews add a velvety richness to this soup. Fresh ginger contributes a flavor kick.

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 medium to large onion, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 pound carrots, thickly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
6 cups water or mild vegetable stock
1/2 cup lightly toasted cashews
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 to 3 teaspoons shoyu
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Add the oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until it appears translucent. Add the garlic and carrots, and continue cooking for several minutes longer. Stir in the ginger and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the water or stock and bring the liquid just to boiling. Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Cool the mixture somewhat.

In a blender, combine the cashews with about 2/3 cup of the soup mixture. Blend until thoroughly smooth, adding more soup solids or liquid as needed, and transfer this to a soup pot. Blend the remaining soup in batches, leaving part of the mixture slightly coarse in texture. Stir the blended soup and reheat on a low flame. Add lemon juice and shoyu to taste. Serve the soup hot, garnished with the cilantro.

Refigerator Roundup

I’ve spent the week cooking, and fruits of my labors have actually resulted in a rather full fridge. We often don’t have too many leftovers lying around since we all eat them for lunch (or breakfast) the next day, but somehow I made enough to earn myself a night off! My dad always used to call leftover night “refrigerator roundup.” The allusion to herding cattle was lost on me as a child, but now I think the term is rather cute… calling all lost little leftovers! Here is the rundown of what we ate for dinner this week, in case you’re trying to plan your own Whole30 meals.

The art of salad

Luc insists that I make the best salads. I tease him that he only says that to get out of making them for me, and I sometimes believe that’s true. I didn’t grow up eating too many salads that I can remember. Occasionally we’d have a lettuce salad, but those iceberg creations didn’t inspire me much. But over the years, I’ve made some pretty good ones. There’s no special trick, except maybe to add lots of variety: all sorts of colors, textures, ingredients can come together to make a great salad. I usually include nuts, but since I’ve been snacking on them far too much lately, I skipped them last night. Here’s what we ate on the side of our pork tenderloin with prociutto, fig, and onion jam. This salad made 3 large side-salad servings.

  • 5-6 loose cups mixed baby greens
  • handful micro greens
  • 3 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/3 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • scant 1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, sliced
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • dressed with roasted red pepper vinaigrette (from Health Bent’s cobb salad recipe, also amazing!)

Bacon, Avocado, Spinach, and Egg breakfast

It can be hard to eat veggies in the morning, especially if you’re used to eating breakfast cereals. One of the easiest ways to work some veggies into your breakfast is to use greens. I add spinach to my eggs or even eat salads in the warm months. Today I made a really tasty breakfast skillet meal. While it may require slightly more clean-up than a bowl and a spoon would, making eggs in the morning doesn’t really take much time. Here’s my creation:

Ingredients:

  • 2 strips bacon (Beeler’s is our favorite)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 med-sized handfuls spinach
  • 1/4 avocado, diced

Process:

Crisp the bacon in your frying pan, then remove and set aside. Add eggs break the yolks to lightly pan-scramble. Add in the spinach and give a stir with your spatula. Dice the cooked bacon and add to the pan. The eggs should be ready about now – cooked just to the point of not being runny. Remove everything to a plate, top with the avocado, sprinkle with salt (if desired) and devour!

 

Bean-less Chili?!?

When you live in a cold-winter climate like we do, a good chili is nearly a dinner requirement. So what do you do when you stop eating beans? Make bean-less chili, of course! When I mentioned this to my mom on our last visit, I received some raised eyebrows. How can you possibly have a chili without beans? Luckily, there are some good recipes out there. Robb Wolf and his Paleo Solution crew threw out a search for the best Paleo Chili, and while I can’t quite procure all of the peppers required to make the winning recipe, we’ve tried several from the very huge number of entries. Monday night I tried a new one, but it doesn’t quite compare to our tried-and-true chili recipe, below. I did not come up with this recipe but can’t credit the person who did, as we gleaned this from the Internet years ago.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds beef chuck roast (or other roast meat)
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage (Beeler’s breakfast sausage or other)
  • 2-3 green bell peppers + poblano pepper, if available (about 2-3 cups chopped peppers total)
  • 1 large onion, sweet or yellow
  • 6+ cloves garlic
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 4-5 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T liquid smoke
  • 2+ T chili powder
  • 1+ T salt
  • 1+ t black pepper
  • 1-2 t cumin
  • cayenne, to taste
  • Tabasco, to taste

Process:

Cut your beef into bite-sized cubes. This can be easier if your meat is not quite thawed, as the frozen beef holds up to the knife. Add all of the cubed meat to a large bowl. Add the pork sausage, breaking it up with your fingers as you go. Dice and add the onion and bell peppers, then mince and add the garlic. Add your salt, pepper, Worcestershire and liquid smoke, and then mix well with your hands. Cover the bowl, and let the chili marinate in your fridge all day, or overnight if possible. Minimal marinating time is 4 hours.

After marinating, brown your meat and peppers mixture in a large saute pan in several batches. When the meat is done browning, add it to the soup pot you’ll be cooking your chili in. Once all of your meat/peppers are done browning, add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and Tabasco. Simmer covered for 2 or more hours, until the meat is super tender. If you want a thicker chili, you can simmer uncovered for some of the cooking time.

The best laid plans…

I try to plan our meals for the week on the weekend when I have Luc around to distract the boys. That way I can at least mostly wrap my head around trying to get things to balance: meats, veggies, no repeats within the last few weeks. It is a big job, and one I frankly tire of sometimes. But my family and I appreciate the thought that goes into the preparation when we’re sitting at the table. The advanced work also helps during a busy week. Who wants to come home from work deciding what to make for dinner that night,  much less have to stop at the store to pick something up? While I go some weeks planning one meal at a time, that usually ends up in lots of extra trips to the co-op. This is fine on occasion but not how I ideally operate.

Sunday morning I sat down with my cookbooks and paged through the recipes. I keep a collection of recipes from the Internet, magazines, etc. in a 3-ring binder which I’ve divided into sections: beef/lamb, poultry, pork, seafood, salads & soups, and baked goods/treats. I find it easiest to start planning with my protein, then fill in with veggies. I try to pick a variety of protein sources for the week so that we’re not eating beef for three nights in a row. Also, I plan for a higher-carb dinner on the nights that Luc lifts weights: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. While all of this may seem rigid, it can actually be helpful in planning to give my week a framework.

After I’ve picked my recipes, I sit down with my grocery list and make sure I have everything I need for my dinners. I don’t really plan breakfasts or lunches, since these are usually just leftovers from dinner. Easy! Yesterday I was doing my monthly discount trip, so I had to take extra time to check the pantry, fridge, and freezer for things that we often buy (more on this later). All told, it probably took me about an hour to do all of these things. Now I was ready to shop.

Weekend eating

The weekend’s over. What did we have to eat? Usually the weekend is a time for me to make indulgent breakfasts, though this is mainly for my son who loves anything related to bread. Oh, the injustice for poor Liam! But he had his special breakfast with Daddy on Sunday (a trip to Dunnum’s Cafe – aka “the Giant Spatula Restaurant” for a Belgian waffle), so don’t feel too badly for him.

Breakfast: two-egg with spinach omelet drizzled with homemade balsamic dressing on Saturday; egg with sliced hot dog on Sunday (yolks eaten by Ansel, most of the rest eaten by Liam), followed by a bowl of squash soup.

Lunch: refrigerator clean out! more beef stew, leftover curry and broccoli, banana

Dinner: Mandarin chicken with broccoli and baby bok choy on Saturday; Sauerkraut and Sausage with veggie soup on Sunday.

February 15 – day one

It’s my first day of my Whole32. Here’s a look at what I had to eat today.

Breakfast: leftover Vitamin A Bisque, coffee. I’m drinking decaf right now to minimize the effects of caffeine on my nursing baby. I’ve also noticed my sleep quality decline when I do drink some caffeine. With as much sleep interruption as I get, I don’t need anything else impeding my rest!

Lunch: leftover Beef Stew and then a little leftover chicken curry, topped off with a few bites of Liam’s sardines.

Dinner: NY Strip steaks topped with carmelized onions and a dash of balsamic vinegar, roasted broccoli, and pineapple.

To make: trim broccoli into small florets; peel and dice stems. Lay out on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil (I used olive oil), salt and pepper. Toss around on the sheet with a spatula then bake in the oven at 375 for 15-20 minutes. I usually just check to see the edges of the pieces and florets getting a little brown.

While the broccoli is in the oven, slice an onion and saute in coconut oil or ghee over medium to medium-high heat until the onion becomes very soft and browned. It should taste sweet. Prepare your steaks while the onions are cooking: salt and pepper on each side. This is also when I cut my fresh pineapple. Once the onions are out of the pan, turn the heat up to medium-high/high and place steaks in pan. I cook them for about 2-3 minutes on a side, then finish them off in a hot oven for a few minutes. Let them rest for about 5-10 minutes while you’re setting the table, then serve.