Sweet Potato Curry

IMG_5486

Today is day 29 of my Whole30 experience.  I can see the finish line from here!   You aren’t supposed to weigh yourself during the 30 days because that ‘defeats the purpose’ of what you’re trying to achieve.  Something like that anyway.  Out of curiosity (and because I’m a big time rebel who doesn’t care about the rules, man!), I stepped on the scale a few days ago and let me tell you…the numbers were not encouraging!  A paltry ONE pound lost after three and a half weeks of turning down many offers of desserts and all other manners of deliciousness.  Well, for the most part.  I may have had a very mini piece of my most favorite chocolate rum cake on my birthday.  But on my birthday!  When your age begins with any number higher than a 2, you deserve cake when that number creeps up yet another digit.  I wasn’t perfect.  Mistakes were made.  Overall, I feel pretty great about my choices.  I did not start over after my very infrequent indiscretions, so let it be said that I completed Whole30ish.  I’m comfortable with that.

I will say that my fat pants button up now.  Progress!  Just not in the realm of numbers I suppose.  Oh well, I’ll take it!  I feel my body may be hanging on to this layer of pudge as a reserve in case I decide to stop eating and starve my child.  As if not eating were a possibility!  (Also, starving my child.)  Even though I am almost done with Whole30, I don’t feel any sudden desire to dive into vats of chocolate and melted cheese.  Melted cheese simply does not have the right viscosity for swimming.  (Ooh, viscosity!  Somewhere out there my high school Science teacher is dabbing a single tear from his eye.)  I’ve felt really good during the last 30 days.  My energy level has been really consistent, and my digestion has been more than cooperative.  The only banned substances I feel like dabbling with are the occasional natural sweetener (raw honey, I’m looking directly at you) and a SWYPO here and there.  Paleo pancakes, to be specific.  It’s been really nice to kick the dessert habit, if only temporarily.

Here is a last-minute dish I threw together.  I love making Indian food, it just has a way of stinking up the place.  All those spices!  So delicious, yet so odoriferous. No matter.  Open your windows and whip this sucker up.  I decided to try celery root for the ‘rice’.  I had no experience with it previously.  The only thing I’d heard about celery root is that it helps in balancing your PH levels.  Who couldn’t use a little of  that?  It tastes like…well, it tastes like celery.  Listen, I was shocked too. But the flavor is a little milder than the stalks, so it’s perfect for use as rice.  The flavor won’t distract from anything you’re eating it with.

 IMG_5472

I peeled this ugly thing and spiral-cut it with my spiralizer.  If you don’t have a spiral cutting device, I strongly recommend getting one.  It’s the easiest way to replace rice and noodles with yummy and wonderful vegetables.  You might also find yourself experimenting with veggies you’ve never heard of.  What fun!  After spiral cutting the celery root, I pulsed it in my blender until it reached the size and shape of grains of rice.

IMG_5475

Next, I put the celery root rice in a saucepan with some olive oil, and sautéed until soft.  I added a little salt too.  It should cook between 5-10 minutes, depending on how much you have in your pan.  Once the rice was ready, I set it to the side to concentrate on the sweet potato.  I cooked mine in the microwave for 7 minutes, after poking some steam vents into it with a knife.  If you are microwave averse, you can definitely cook it in the oven ahead of time. I will take the bad microwave mojo for the sake of time management.

IMG_5478

World’s largest sweet potato.

After the sweet potato was cooked, I scooped out the flesh and put it in my blender.  Next I added the coconut milk and some beef bone broth I had on hand.  You can use chicken broth, or if you like your curry pretty sweet just use water.  I blended until it reached a smooth consistency.  I put the sweet potato mixture in a  large sauce pan with some chopped up cauliflower and chicken thighs.  I would recommend chopping the cauliflower into very small pieces.  You can also use chicken breast or whatever meat floats your boat.  Chicken thighs are kind of a pain, but the meat is so much more moist and flavorful than breast meat.  But that’s just me. Add the lime juice and spices.

IMG_5481

The sweet potato mixture will thicken as it cooks.  If it gets too thick for your liking, add water to thin it out.  I ended up adding a few tablespoons of water by the time it was done.  Cook on medium-low heat until the meat is cooked through and the cauliflower is tender.  Serve over celery root rice, or actual rice of your choosing.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 celery root
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/2 c canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 c water or broth
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

This recipe serves 4.

Plantain Bread with Raw Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

IMG_2469

Continuing on with my recent rhubarb prescription…

Today I adapted two recipes, and together they are super ultra delicious.  The plantain bread is an adaptation of zenbellyblog’s Plantain Tortillas.  I had ripe plantains, but wanted something fluffier than a tortilla.  I added a few more ingredients to make the finished product the consistency of corn bread.  The plantain makes this a little on the sweet side, so I whipped up something sour to go on top.  I’d been meaning to try Thankful Expressions’ Strawberry-Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam after a wild rhubarb search on Pinterest.  I added more rhubarb and strawberries, and swapped out the honey for dates.  The refrigerator jam is meant to set up overnight, which a patient person could definitely do.  I ate mine immediately, and see no reason to subject yourself to that amount of waiting.  Especially if you are hungry, and want your jam right this instant.

I think this might technically be SWYPO.  If you’re not familiar with Whole30, SWYPO (Sex With Your Pants On.  No, really.) is a term for making healthy dishes that mimic junk food.  The idea is that the healthy imitation isn’t as good as the real thing, so eventually you’ll just eat the real thing.  I decided to take it easy on myself though, and made it anyway.  Hey, someone has to look out for your best interest right?  And today my best interest was using up the rhubarb in my fridge, and eating something that tasted good when I ate it.  Easy decision as far as I’m concerned.

Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe plantain
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil (olive or coconut oil would also work)

IMG_2471

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Spread evenly on greased baking sheet.  You could also bake this in a 8×8 baking dish to make it thicker, in that case I would double the recipe.  Bake at 350 for between 15-20 minutes or until the bottom starts browning. This serves 4.  I only wish I had more plantains at the moment so I could make more!  I ate 2 servings back to back.  That’s probably why you shouldn’t SWYPO.  Very rarely am I like, ‘GIVE ME SEVERAL HELPINGS OF THAT RAW VEGETABLE!’  But that’s just me.

The jam is very easy to make.  You can do it while the bread is baking.  Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  And that’s it!  Slather over the plantain bread with some pasture butter or ghee, and try to contain yourself.

Jam Ingredients:

  • 1 c chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/3 c strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 dates

Strawberry Rhubarb Juice

IMG_2492

Recently I went to a holistic health/acupuncture appointment (thanks, Living Social!).  You know what the best part was?  Lying in a dark room by myself for 30 minutes.  In total silence.  I didn’t even care that I was covered in tiny needles.  I hadn’t taken a nap by myself since my 3-year-old was born!  It was heavenly.  Anyway, during my consultation the practitioner suggested I try eating rhubarb for my postpartum hot flashes.  (If this is a glimpse of what Menopause is like, no thank you!  I’ll just skip that part of aging if you please, along with all the rest of it if possible.)

I don’t have much experience with rhubarb.  I think I’ve had it in pie once or twice, but it was most likely covered in sugar.  I knew it was sour, but I couldn’t say exactly what it tasted like by itself.  So I took a bite of some.  I wouldn’t recommend that exactly.  But it was quite delicious in this juice I concocted.  I know juice isn’t really Whole30.  Of course I do.  But I’m really tired of being overheated, and plus Rhubarb is technically a vegetable. I threw some kale in there too to balance out the fruit.  And also I’m on day 22 and I’m not starting over!  (I’m sticking my tongue out right now in protest)  I don’t use my juicer that much in general these days.  I don’t like losing the fiber of the fruits and vegetables, plus juices can be a little high in calories without being filling.  However.  I think a little juice here and there is a fine idea.  Especially when there are strawberries involved.

It’s too early to tell whether the rhubarb is affecting my unholy hot flashes, but the juice was so good I don’t even care!  I put 3 fruits in this juice to counteract the sourness of the rhubarb, but I think 2 would have been fine.  (I would probably leave out the apple next time.)  The taste of the strawberries comes out the most in this juice, with just a little punch from the rhubarb.  Drink some for your hot flashes, or just drink some for fun.

IMG_2487

Ingredients:

  • 1 red apple (I used Fuji)
  • 1 pear
  • 1 stalk rhubarb
  • 5 small strawberries
  • 2 handfuls chopped kale

Fish Taco Bowl

IMG_2313

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t need an excuse to eat Mexican food.  I have been known to eat it every day for days on end without realizing it.  But since I stopped eating, oh I don’t know…beans, rice, corn, tortillas…I haven’t been eating much food from south of the border.  Recently on Cinco de Mayo, I found myself with a powerful fish taco craving.  Ordinarily I would make a tortilla exception, but I’m doing Whole30!  A tortilla wasn’t worth starting over again.  I decided to make a fish taco bowl instead.  It was so good I may even prefer it to fish tacos.  And I felt so good after I ate it.  There is something about the Paleo/Whole30 diets that make my body feel really light and energized after eating.  Maybe it’s because there isn’t half a loaf of bread weighing my stomach down.  Hmm…maybe.

In lieu of rice, I cooked up some cilantro lime cauliflower rice.  You just pulse chopped cauliflower in a blender until the pieces are about the size of grains of rice, then sauté in a little olive oil.  While cooking, I added the juice from 1 lime and a handful of cilantro.  You can take the cilantro out once it’s done cooking, or chop it first and leave it in.  I’m crazy (for cilantro), so I left mine in.  A half head of cauliflower is enough to feed about 2 people with a little left over.  I like to blend up a whole head of cauliflower at once and store half in the fridge for later.  I’m just really a forward thinker like that.  For the fish I used a fresh Tilapia filet, but mostly because it was on sale.  Oh, you fancy?  Then throw some exotic and pricey sea creature in there! Any fresh or frozen fish you have will work.  In a shallow dish I combined the  juice from 2 limes, minced garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, paprika and salt.  I marinated mine for about 30 minutes before I cooked it.  It was plenty flavorful, but I would have let it sit longer if I had the time.  Time…does anyone else have any of this?  Maybe the fancy fish eaters do.  Don’t ask me. I cooked the Tilapia in olive oil and what was left of the marinade for a few minutes on each side, adding a little more seasoning to taste.

The best thing about this recipe (especially if you’re doing Whole30) is how many vegetables you can cram into it.  I mean…you’ve already got a veggie as your rice, but why stop there!  I threw in pretty much everything I had in the fridge.  Red cabbage, avocado, onion, cilantro, Daikon radish, jalapeño, and some fresh pico de gallo.  To finish it off, I added some lime juice and salt and pepper.  Ole!  So tasty!

Ingredients:

  • Tilapia or fish of choice
  • 3 limes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • veggies of choice
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • handful of cilantro

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Beets

IMG_2261

There’s nothing like going on the Paleo or Whole30 diet to make you appreciate sweet potatoes.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t see a sweet potato outside the confines of Thanksgiving dinner. You know the dish I’m talking about.  The one in which our no-nonsense tuber gets all dolled up in butter and brown sugar and is then smothered with ooey gooey marshmallows?

Yum.

But maybe not the best thing to be eating on a regular basis.  Plus the sweet potato is capable of so much more!  Since I’ve been doing Whole30, sweet potatoes have almost become a treat to me.  Does that make you feel sad for me?  I can see why it might. However, since I started the diet I’ve noticed desserts have become less tempting for me.  ‘Junk’ food in general seems to be losing its appeal.  If something unhealthy ever does sound good, I can usually think of how I’ll feel after and it immediately sounds less appealing.  I think that might be the point of the diet!  Hooray!

Back to our sweet potato discussion.  I’ve found myself cooking them with just about everything, even eating them for breakfast.  Thus, this super simple and ultra delicious recipe. The tart apples go very well with the sweetness of the beets and sweet potatoes  It’s also an easy way to sneak beets into your diet.  Don’t get me wrong, I love beets…in theory.  I love them in the sense that I know they’re good for me, but I kind of have to talk myself into eating them.  Beet lovers, please don’t take offense!

I peeled the beet but left the skin on the apples and sweet potatoes.  You can peel those too if you want.  Chop everything into uniform sizes.

IMG_2274

Pretty, no?

Place everything in a medium-sized bowl.  Add pecans.  Drizzle with enough balsamic vinegar to lightly coat ingredients.  Add cinnamon, rosemary, and salt and pepper.  Stir to distribute seasonings evenly.  Transfer to an unlined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

IMG_2267

Ingredients:

  • 2 tart apples (like Granny Smith or Pink Lady)
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 beet
  • 3/4 c pecans
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • pepper

These seasoning measurements are approximate.  I don’t usually measure when I cook…so feel free to adjust according to your taste!

 

Thai Chicken Salad

IMG_2283
Thai Chicken Salad

Fish Sauce.  I love it.  I just try not to inhale when in its presence.  I’m realizing more and more that sometimes the stinkiest food is the best tasting.  Is that a metaphor for life?  You decide.  I, however, will probably continue taking showers.

Back to the fish sauce.  Fish sauce is used a lot in some of my favorite cuisines.  Thai and Burmese to name a few.  And for good reason.  It adds a saltiness and tang that’s hard to replicate.  Plus, it’s on the Whole30 approved list.  Huzzah!  If you haven’t used it before, don’t let the smell stop you.  In fact, just try not to smell it.  Your taste buds will thank you later.

This afternoon I found myself starving, staring down a head of purple cabbage.  I always end up wasting cabbage.  I buy it for fish tacos or something, use a tiny chunk of it and the rest grows ever stinkier in the back of my fridge.  This time I was determined to break the habit.  I had a dozen Pink Lady apples from Costco, so those needed to be used up too.  I’m really trying hard these days not to waste produce.  A coleslaw-type chicken salad sounded appealing, but I didn’t want the mayonnaise base for the sauce.  What I came up with is basically a vinaigrette with fish sauce.  And I’m so glad I did it!  This salad was everything.  The savory flavor of the fish sauce, the sweet crispness of the apples, the soft and creamy avocado coupled with the kick of the jalapeno… So good.  My husband even liked it, and he is generally afraid of most fruits and vegetables.  Once he was about halfway done eating his he said, ‘This sure doesn’t look like it should taste good, but it does!’  Ahh, the things that warm your heart after 7 years of marriage.

This salad is easy to put together if you have the chicken already cooked, so make sure to have that done first.  It made enough for my husband and I and there was about a serving left over.  Next time I will definitely double the recipe!

Core the apple but leave the skin on.  Slice all ingredients into long strips and put into a medium-sized bowl.  Remove the seeds from the jalapeno if you don’t want it very spicy.  Put the fish sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and Dijon mustard in a jar with a lid and shake.  Add to the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

IMG_2298

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 c. shredded chicken
  • 1/4 head purple cabbage
  • 1/2 Jalapeno
  • 1/2 white or red onion
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 Pink Lady apple
  • handful of cilantro

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Cholula Burgers

IMG_2277

So it’s been a month since I gave birth to my sweet, adorable daughter. One month. I know in the reality based portion of my brain that a month isn’t long enough for one’s body to recover from the previous nine months it took to look so terrible. But still! I long for my ‘fat pants’ to button up.  I long for the end of slimming undergarments. I long for them now. I don’t want to wait several more months to wear my normal clothes. I am sick of my fat lady uniform of stretchy pants and flowy tops.
Enter:Whole30. It sounded a little harsh when I first read about it. Now it’s sounding downright reasonable. As long as I see some solid results, I don’t care what I have to do! Bring on the restrictions! No honey? No problem! Just take my muffin top. Please. I also have some thyroid/skin issues I’d like to see improved.  Whole30 has promised me as much.  So what have I got to lose?  (Answer: my muffin top.  Pay attention!)
If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 program, it’s like a stricter version of the Paleo diet.  Not only do you forgo gluten, dairy, legumes and the like…you also cut out all sweeteners.  That’s right-no agave, honey…nothing!  You’re not supposed to snack, or cook up those wonderful Paleo recipes that try to mimic junk food.  No almond flour muffins or banana pancakes.  I love those!  And here is the real kicker.  If you falter…if you have one tiny taste of something on the forbidden list… You. Start. Over.  Oh, you were on day 29 of your 30 day commitment? Too bad!  Start over!  This diet is like the Soup Nazi of the nutrition world.  And that’s exactly what I need right now.  I need some borderline unreasonable guidelines to get things moving in the right direction.  Here is the official website for both the nitty and the gritty: http://whole30.com/ 
I’m only on day 4, but it actually hasn’t been that bad so far.  One thing it’s made me realize is how much I crave sweets. I don’t eat refined sugar often, so I didn’t think I had a problem. But apparently I eat honey and other natural sweeteners quite a bit!  I’m really feeling their absence.  I’ve also had a hard time with the no snacking thing. Apparently I’m used to eating basically all day long.  Grazing, some might call it.  Part of it might be the fact that I’m breast-feeding and hungrier than normal. Who knows.  So I do my best. If I feel legitimately hungry, I eat a little something. I don’t want to mess with my milk supply. (Yeah I know…I graze and I produce milk.  Moo.)
One good thing Whole30 has done for me so far is to make me focus on using healthier ingredients. I’ve found myself trying to fit as many vegetables as I can into my meals. Not a bad habit for anyone to be forming, yes? I think that’s the point of undertaking something like this. Focus on the things you should be eating more of instead of what you can’t eat.   So for the next month or so I’ll be sharing some of my Whole30 creations.  And here’s the best part, you don’t have to commit to the diet to eat them!
This burger recipe is a simple way to amp up the flavor quotient on your bun-less burger. Honestly, I never miss the bun. Who needs it!  You can use a lettuce wrap or just dig in with a fork. Don’t forget to pile on as many veggies as you can. Cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, jalapenos, sprouts… Get crazy.  I chose Cholula because it’s on the Whole30 approved list.  Plus, have you tasted it?  Duh.
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. Cholula
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Form into patties.  Cook as desired.  I cooked mine with bacon grease in a skillet.  Top with any yummy thing you can think of.  I topped mine with a fried egg, avocado, cilantro and onion.
Whole30 never tasted so good!