Sunday, February 1, 2015

Taking a healthy dip

So I'm technically done with the Whole30, but I'm still adhering to a lot of the things I learned and I am also slowly adding foods back in. One thing that I seriously enjoyed while on the Whole30 was baba ghanoush. A friend who was doing the program with me mentioned that one thing she really missed was being able to dip vegetables into hummus. I got through that craving by making the best baba ghanoush ever (recipe not surprisingly from The Clothes Make the Girl).

Baba ghanoush is a traditional middle eastern dish made with roasted eggplant and tahini. There are tons of recipes out there and I have made it in the past, but not with as much success as this version. I have made it twice now and changed the consistency based on how long you let it go in the processor. The next time I make it I will reduce the tahini and see if the taste can be as awesome with a little less fat.

This is a great way to change up your raw vegetable consumption. The flavors are amazing and it is a wonderful way to eat some eggplant, a vegetable not everyone consumes as often as they should.

Now that I am back trying to follow the container system of the 21 Day Fix, the only bummer that I'm seeing is that due to the tahini, I'm only allowed 2 TB of this a day and then it cancels out other healthy fats, like avocados. That is one of the areas that might be a little gray for me now that I have finished the Whole30 and have less fear of healthy fats, but we'll see.

What is your favorite dip?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Whole30 comfort food - paleo spaghetti pie

I'm nearly done with my first Whole30. Today marks day 24! I have honestly loved this experience and it has encouraged me to find new recipes that I might not have made before. I don't always worry about whether the rest of my family will eat it, because if they don't there are just more leftovers for me!

Friday night has become pizza or pasta night around it. In the past, if I made pizza for the family, I would do something like a portobello stuffed mushroom with cheese on top, similar to a pizza. But since the Whole30 says no to all dairy, that's out of the question. Last night, I went with a recipe originally posted on PaleOMG for pizza pie.

Her recipe assumes that when you eat pizza you eat it with meat on it, but that's something I never do. So I took her concept and turned it vegetarian and used sugar free marinara instead of pizza sauce. The outcome? AMAZING!

You start with a large spaghetti squash, my current comfort food, and a big plate full of vegetables. I went with mixed peppers, mushrooms, spinach and onions. I wound up adding additional spinach when I was cooking it.

Mix in the sauce and eggs as per her recipe and cook for an hour until it is crusty on the top.

I served it with a delicious salad of red cabbage, arugula, peppers, carrots, tart apple and walnuts with lemon juice as the dressing. It was so good, that I ate it for breakfast this morning!

A friend who is doing the Whole30 with me asked what I planned to do when the whole thing was over. I'm loving how I feel. I want to add back in the eliminated foods slowly to see what was giving me problems. I think I am slightly lactose intolerant, which I never would have figured out without this. I had guessed that maybe a year ago, but was unwilling to give up dairy until committing to the Whole30. I will probably stay mainly paleo, but I need some baked goods and legumes every once in a while. As a whole though, the Whole30 was one of the better decisions I've made in a long time.

Happy eating!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Enjoying some cauliflower rice

One of the things about being on the Whole30, or adhering to the paleo lifestyle, is being more creative with your side dishes. I can eat vegetables almost any way you serve them, but I am always looking for ways to get the rest of my family in on the action. I didn't get to try this one out on anyone else since we had some illnesses this past week, but I fully enjoyed making cauliflower confetti rice.

Cauliflower rice is all the rage in the paleo world. When you cut rice out as a side dish, you are eliminating a dish that is useful in sopping up all of the juices from various meals. There is also something nice about just having a simple side that doesn't overpower other flavors in your meal. I always forget how much I love cauliflower, but making this dish brought back that serious love. For a while I thought that cruciferous vegetables were wreaking havoc on my stomach, but it turns out that I think it's lactose, so bring on the vegetables!

It started with basic food prep. I took a rice pilaf recipe from Well Fed and followed the recipe for confetti rice instead - sliced bell peppers, onion, garlic and shredded carrots. Then you put an entire head of cauliflower into the food processor and pulse for a few seconds until it looks like rice. After that, simply roast it in the oven for an even more intense flavor - and to enjoy the smell as it cooks!

It's hard to see, but the cauliflower browns on the edges and smells amazing. I seriously could have eaten the entire tray like this. Sauté all of the vegetables then mix in the "rice" and you have an amazing dish that fills you up and doesn't leave you feeling guilty.

I'm still going to try this on my family, but for now, I definitely enjoyed the fruits of my labor.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Paleo Pad Thai

When I was prepping for my Whole30 one of the recipes that immediately caught my eye was a beautiful Pad Thai made with spaghetti squash from Clothes Make the Girl. Melissa Joulwan, the brain behind that website as well as the Well Fed books, has this mouth-watering photo of pad thai that looks amazing, paleo or not.

The struggle with making pad thai approved for the whole30 is getting rid of the peanuts in the peanut sauce. She did it through the use of sunflower butter, which I bought specifically so I could make this recipe. Turns out I like it on celery as well, but I digress. I finally got to making this today and it was a definite success. I'm tempted to try it with homemade cashew nut butter, but I'm not certain my food processor can handle it.

The first step to this recipe is making the "Sunshine Sauce." It was totally simple to make and I got to use my cute little shot glass measuring cup that just makes me happy.

The sunshine sauce is really simple to make, especially since everything goes in the food processor. Gotta love that! I added half the amount of red pepper flakes and no cayenne pepper since I don't like going crazy with spice. I figured you can always add more later. I also tasted it and felt that the coconut milk flavor was a bit too pronounced for me so I added a bit more sunflower butter.

For today, I decided to leave out the chicken and utilize the 2 eggs as my protein for the meal. I did cut the rest of the ingredients in half though since I was making a single portion. I had roasted the spaghetti squash last night, so it was a breeze to just pull things out of the fridge.

I've made egg pancakes with soy sauce before when I've made fried rice, so the concept with the eggs wasn't foreign to me. Seriously, if you haven't tried eggs with coconut aminos or soy sauce, it's an amazing transformation. I have a recipe for fried rice with cauliflower rice as well that I am seriously going to have to try, but that's another post.

A quick cook in the skillet and mix it all together and you have a beautiful and delicious dish.

I added some raw cashews and a squeeze of lime juice on top and it complimented it perfectly. Cilantro would have been great, but I don't have any in the house right now.

The cashews are why I think cashew butter would totally work and I saw a comment on the Clothes Make the Girl blog that says cashew or almond butter would work in this sauce. I am going to have to try that.

So this was a fabulous lunch that doesn't leave you feeling gross after. I've gotten in nearly 2 cups of vegetables and good proteins and fats. Definitely a keeper!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Serve a Simple Salad

I love salad. I eat at least one every day. I realize that this makes me a little different from your average Jane. I love the different tastes and textures you can create that somehow meld together perfectly. I love that you can empty the fridge of leftovers to make a salad shine. Here are two salads that I threw together last week.

This salad utilized leftover ground beef that we had used on taco night. I didn't add any seasonings, other than a dash of salt, when I was cooking because we utilize the other taco ingredients to give it flair. So the salad was beef, arugula, purple cabbage, leftover roasted cauliflower and butternut squash, leftover sautéed bell peppers and onions, and celery. Celery just gives everything a magical crunch. I put on a little Italian dressing and some salsa and deliciousness ensued. 

This salad is pretty similar, but had no leftover cooked vegetables. Instead, it was leftover chipotle lime chicken strips from Trader Joe's, arugula, bell peppers, tomatoes, celery, cucumber and pomegranate seeds. Yum!!

So the chicken wasn't 100% Whole30 compliant because it used canola oil, even the rules for the program allow that once in a while. I bought the chicken when I was running errands one day and it was a life saver. I had vegetables with me, but nothing to give me solid staying power. It was so good! 

I grew up eating salads every day with dinner and now it is usually my lunch.  I have always been a fan of the salad bar restaurant. I can't imagine not eating a ton of vegetables every day. For the many that don't get the joy that I do from a salad, it isn't a lowly bowl of iceberg lettuce slathered with high fat dressing.  Try spicy arugula. Bring a pop of color from purple cabbage or onions. You might be surprised at what a beautiful plate you can create.

Friday, January 9, 2015


One of my friends came up with the brilliant idea to host a healthy snack exchange. It's the start of a new year and we are all refocusing on our own health and we want to make sure that we are also providing our kids with healthy snacks. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut, that this was a great way for friends to enjoy a morning together, but to also bring home a bounty of snacks for their kids to try. My kids tasted a few and while some were given a thumbs down, we have some definite thumbs up and some haven't even been tasted yet!

I've been playing around with healthy snacks for a while. I have cut out store bought granola bars and gummy "fruits" and really watch the ingredients of the foods I let my kids have for snack. The saying is true, if it isn't in the house, it can't be eaten.

For my older daughter's snack, I mainly send a trail mix that she loves of almonds, peanuts, honey nut cheerios, cranberries, cherries and a few mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. I know the sweet stuff is her favorite part and I know that cheerios are high in sugar, but I like getting the power of nuts in her snack. She loves muffins, but refuses to eat them in snack since she prefers that they be warmed up first.

My younger daughter often gets apple crisps or a piece of fruit and a cheese stick. I used to also send in organic yogurt pouches, but I only buy those when they are on sale. I can't send nuts of any kind to her school, which is frustrating, but I can send muffins when we have those on hand.

So for today's extravaganza I brought in chewy granola bars with mixed dried fruit, banana oak Greek yogurt muffins, and paleo sweet potato brownie muffins.

I've tried various granola bars in the past without much luck, but these are awesome. Both of my girls love these. I tried a batch with less brown sugar, but it is needed to help bind them together. Oh well, that batch will work perfectly over E's meals of vanilla greek yogurt.

The banana muffins are a tried and true favorite. Both of my girls love muffins. The house favorite are these pumpkin muffins, but sometimes I like to shake it up a bit, and sometimes I simply have too many over-ripe bananas. I love that these don't have any flour or oil. There is also only a 1/4 cup of brown sugar in them and good for you greek yogurt and oats. My girls can gobble them up!

The final recipe that I brought is one that I'm still trying to work the kinks out of. They are a dense, paleo sweet potato brownie muffin, but I feel like there was too much sweet potato in them and they had a hard time cooking. I'm going to continue to play around with them after I finish my Whole30. I love the way they taste and people seemed to really enjoy them today. One little 2 year old was at the exchange and she kept asking for more. 

I love the concept of a snack exchange and will plan to host another one to extend the circle to more people. This group plans to probably do another in a few months. There are also talks about other cooking related exchanges. It is great to have a group of friends that is on the same page with you about wanting to only feed our families whole foods!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Meal planning

One of the most important things that I have learned on my health journey is that planning your meals in advance is of utmost importance. Especially when I was doing the 21 Day Fix the first time around, I knew that I had to be organized in my food preparation. I've tried over the years to be good at meal planning, but somehow the Fix is what finally drove it home for me.

Why is meal planning important?

  1. Makes grocery shopping easier
  2. Takes the difficulty out of the 6pm scramble to get something on the table.
  3. You can make sure to get your full balance of food groups throughout the day - for example, if you know that you are going to make pizza for dinner, than don't fill up on carbs or cheese earlier in the day. Or if you are having a vegetarian dinner, then aim to get good protein in earlier.
  4. You can prep portions earlier in the day if you have the ability.
That said, I've been doing a pretty good job of meal planning and have been trying to share them on my facebook page ( But now that I have this blog up and running, I wanted to put them here and join up with some other bloggers who post their menus online. Also, this is a much easier way to link the recipes that I am using.

This week is a little different than other weeks. We have Rosh Hashanah Wednesday evening and then family is staying with us through the rest of the weekend. That gives me a little bit more room to make items that feed larger crowds and I have a little more flexibility to cook while others play with my kids.

Our Meals for the Week of September 21

Sunday - Burgers and hot dogs (we are having our last 85 degree day)
Wednesday - Chicken Marsala
Saturday - Harvest Vegetable Soup and salads of some sort

I picked a few new items this week and a few old favorites. I'm hoping that the burrito bowls go over well. My husband really enjoys my sweet potato and black bean burritos and this is in the same taste grouping but with a healthy dose of quinoa (which he doesn't like).

I'm linking this list with two awesome blogs - This Week for Dinner and OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday. If I don't have enough ideas to get you going, perhaps they will help spark you as well!

Happy Cooking and Healthful Eating!