It is not usually a good sign when there is a pretty big blogging break in the middle of a Whole30 challenge. As you may have guessed, or assumed, we had a false start. ( That is what I am calling it for now.) We all decided that it would be best for us to start after New Years and after my birthday which was on the third, and my roomies birthday, which is today. I REALLY wanted birthday sushi, and although my other roomie Anna isn’t doing whole30 we didn’t want to have to worry about eating whole30 at wherever she decided to go for her birthday.

So this means we restart our whole30 challenge tomorrow. Call me crazy but I am excited. I normally wouldn’t recommend being so anal about the food you eat. The whole30 challenge is TOUGH. Eating in a restaurant and knowing your food is 100% whole30 is nearly impossible. Planning ahead is the key to a successful whole30. It takes a lot of work and thought to just simply eat. I wouldn’t live my whole life this way…but if you are someone who normally doesn’t really think about what you are eating, or know what is in your food, this is a great way to be more aware of what you put in your body. The best part is… it is ONLY 30 days.

I am going to confess now, that although I will be 100% whole30 compliant at home, I am not going to sacrifice the way my food tastes at school. This is my last quarter of culinary school so I am going to have to draw the line here. Since this is my second time participating in the whole30 challenge I already know what foods my body is not so fond of. I know that the Hartwigs ( the creators of the whole30/whole9 program) say that you never have to eat anything you don’t want to and that there are no excuses… well I beg to differ. Sorry Hartwigs, I need to graduate…and find a job. So I need to taste my food before I serve it to a chef. My reputation is on the line here!

If you want to know more about what you can and cannot eat on the whole30 or would like to follow along, PLEASE read this first: http://whole9life.com/2012/08/the-whole30-program/

 

Everyone in the household passed whole30 day two with flying colors. There were no accidental non-whole30 ingested items and I have almost stopped throwing a tantrum about not getting my birthday sushi. Okay, I lied. Tantrum is still in full force. I am not ready to grieve the loss of my birthday sushi yet. To add to my tantrum I just received a sushi making kit for Christmas and I want so badly to use it, but just opening up the little booklet that it came with makes me drool. If I watch the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi…. it’s over.

Enough sushi talk…onto the real food.

My roomy Dez was craving something creamy, so we decided we would give a cauliflower puree a go. Served it with Roasted chicken, chimichurri sauce, and some roasted zucchini. ( not pictured )

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For the cauliflower puree, I steamed the cauliflower until very tender. (almost mushy ) and then put it in my food processor with garlic and coconut milk. I roasted the chicken with mexican spices..thought i’d change it up a bit. I made a “compound butter” with coconut oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. I placed the coconut oil under the skin just like I would normally do with butter.

For the Chimichurri I placed a few cloves of garlic in the food processor with salt, pepper and parsley and pulsed until turned into a paste. I then added in the oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. You want it to be a little bit tangy to balance out the creamy/salty flavors of the cauliflower and chicken.

Now onto day three of Whole30, round two.

 

 

It’s day number two of the Whole30 challenge. Day one was pretty easy for me, but this ain’t my first rodeo. It was a little harder for my roommies who had a few accidental incidents of non-whole30 ingested items…but since it was an accident, we are going to keep on trekking. They know, and I know, that these incidents were not intentional. One of the biggest goals/challenges of Whole30 is to change your emotional approach with food which they both did beautifully.

I have been eating Paleo for quite some time now, and this is my second time participating in the Whole30 challenge. The first time around, the hardest part was kicking my energy drink habit…which I successfully did. I am still energy drink free thanks to Whole30. The hard part this time around is that my birthday is landing within this 30 day challenge. Yep. Realizing that I was doing another whole30 challenge during my birthday made me want to tell Robb Wolf to suck it, Punch Mark Scisson in the wiener, and slap the pretty little smiles off of the Hartwigs faces. I was supposed to get sushi on my brithday, which happens to be my favorite paleo cheat food. I am obsessed with Sushi, and it is a treat. A treat I won’t be getting on my birthday. I will admit, I am pretty sad about this, and I am not yet done throwing my tantrum. It’s my party, I will cry if I want to.

Onto the Food:

For dinner we had a spaghetti. Paleo spaghetti of course. We used Spaghetti squash for the noodles and the usual spaghetti sauce with grass-fed beef, canned tomatoes, onion, carrots, celery, garlic and some sauteed spinach. In the summer I would normally use fresh tomatoes, but believe it or not canned is better in the winter. Tomatoes are canned when they are ripe and actually have flavor. Those tomatoes you see in the produce aisle right now- are fake…well, they might as well be considering they have no flavor.

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Sorry for the bad food photo. It looks a little more Everyday Paleo and less Nom Nom Paleo.

Off to plan today’s menu!

Why Hello. It has been quite a while since I have posted on here. Well, to make a long story short I was busy finishing up a crazy quarter at school, moving out, and also having to quit crossfit due to funds. ( Donations anyone? :p )

I have finally settled in and taken some time to relax over my winter break. I don’t start back at school until Jan. 9th so that leaves me a little free time to get back in the swing of things. Also, next quarter is not only a new quarter and a fresh start, but it is also my last quarter. Yep. I graduate from culinary school next quarter. It seems surreal. It is something I have been dreaming about for so long… I can’t believe it is finally here. I guess it is proof that dreams really do come true.

The thought of graduating next quarter brings both excitement and fear. I have finally accomplished a huge goal of mine…but where do I go from here? What is in store for me next? I have plenty of ideas of what I would like to do, but nothing concrete. As long as I am working after graduation, that is a step forward. Baby steps.

In other news, somehow I convinced two out of three of my roommates to do a whole30 paleo diet challenge with me starting today. I am really excited to have others doing the challenge with me this time around and also looking forward to posting some more recipes throughout the month.  Anyone else doing a Paleo challenge for the new year?

 

 

Fall is definitely here, I try not to think about it because that means winter is coming. The chilly morning runs, and cold evenings are a constant reminder. I am not a fan of the cold…but I was also reminded about the good things that come with fall…

Yep. How about them apples?

It doesn’t get much better then apples picked fresh off of the tree in your backyard. I love that I was able to have picked them myself, and know exactly where they came from. Doesn’t get much more local than that!

So many options came to mind when I carried in my basket of apples…pie, cobbler, poached apples, apple compote for a more savory dish, apple muffins, apple turnovers,  apple butter….ah yes. Apple butter. It would be perfect to bring along with the biscuits I was taking to my crossfit gyms little Friday get together.

Before going paleo one of my favorite things to eat was biscuits and jam. ( you would think I was a fat kid ). There is just something about biscuits…they taste so comforting. It is one of those foods that is wrapped in memories. With the colder weather I was in the mood for a little comfort food and decided to work on a more paleo friendly biscuit. Sure, it is still a treat, but at least it isn’t a gluten bomb that will haunt you for weeks.

Yep. Pure heaven.

I will start with the biscuits:

What you will need:

Ingredients:

1 cup of almond flour
1 cup of coconut flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 Tbs. cold butter ( unsalted )
3 Tbs. Honey ( you can omit this but it rounds out the flavor…. your call! but I like it 🙂   )
3/4 cup coconut milk ( the full fat canned kind )

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Mix together the dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder, salt )
Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry mixture.

Yes, I used real butter. It will work with chilled coconut oil too but seriously…what is a biscuit without butter? If you are going to have a treat. Have a treat.

Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until it reaches a corn mealy type texture like this…

Then add in the Honey and the coconut milk. Don’t be a pussy and mix it with your hands.
The dough will be a bit wet but the coconut flour is super absorbent so don’t worry. The good thing about gluten free biscuits is that you don’t have to worry about over working the dough.
After mixing, your dough should look like this…

Place the dough onto a flat surface and flatten to about 1-2 inches tall.


Cut out the biscuits to your desired shape. I have a round biscuit cutter so… that is what I used.
You can also just drop semi-formed rounds of dough onto a sheet pan to make it easier.

Bake for 15 minutes. They will be a little brown on the bottom/top but
don’t worry its not burning.
Pull out of the oven and let cool….if you can wait.

Yum. Now for the apple butter.

What you will need:

  • Ingredients:
  • About 5 Granny smith apples..or whatever you have, sliced
  • 12 oz dates, chopped ( I put mine in the food processor until it was paste-like ) It is probably about 3/4 cups worth of dates after processing.
  • 2 cups of apple cider
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbs. Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. Vanilla extract
  • Generous amount of coconut oil for sauteing

Saute sliced apples until they are coated with the coconut oil. Then add in your dates.

Keep stirring constantly the apple/date mixture over medium-high heat. Your dates will start to break down.
Saute until it looks like this.

Then add in your 2 cups of apple cider, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and cloves.

Turn your heat down to low and let simmer. Stirring occasionally. Reduce until it looks like this…

Remove from heat and let cool. Process in a food processor until smooth… enjoy.

Now if you want to be 12 years old like me, watch this video and try and read this post without laughing….

 

Happy Cooking!

I know, you probably thought I am procrastinating on the bacon post. Well, lucky for me bacon has a built in procrastination phase called curing. Bacon is like the baking of cooking… it requires patience. The bacon takes a week to cure so I thought i’d make a little treat in-between called Gravlax. Gravlax is  cured salmon but the plus side is that it only needs to cure for 48 hours. Ready to make some Gravlax?

First you will need:

 

Ingredients:

1 salmon fillet

1/4 cup salt ( Corase sea salt works best )

1/4 cup sugar ( optional but it helps round out the salty flavors )

1 Tbs. Smoked Paprika

2 Tbs. Cumin seeds

1 Tbs. fresh cracked pepper

1 Bunch of fresh Dill

Directions:

Combine together all the spices and the fresh dill.

 

Spread and even layer on a large baking dish…

Place your salmon fillet on top of the curing mixture.

Rub the rest of the curing mixture onto your fillet.

Cover it in plastic wrap..or just use a big ziploc if it is easier but make sure to press all of the air out. Plastic wrap is my nemesis, yet I used it anyways…bad choice.

At this point you can put something on top of the salmon to press it down…but I find if you do this sometimes the salmon can come out too dry. I would just wrap it tight in plastic ( or a ziploc ) and flip the fish half way through ( 24 hours if you do the math ).

After you unwrap your fillet, wash off all of the curing mixture.
You will notice it is now a darker color. Time to slice!

You want to slice starting at the bottom and moving towards the tail…making sure not to slice into the skin.

Once you are done slicing that you are good to consume. Gravlax can be served as an appetizer, eaten as a snack or as a salad. I chose to go the salad route.

For the salad I sliced up some avocado and tossed some spring mix with some dijon mustard vinaigrette ( dijon, coconut vinegar, and olive oil ).

I know it may seems strange to eat “raw” salmon but don’t knock it till you try it! Makes for a great Omega 3 rich snack.

Happy curing!

Garden loot

Thanks to the garden, cooking dinner can be a bit of a mystery box challenge. Certain ingredients (peppers, tomatoes, squash, basil ) are in abundance so it is fun to see what you can make in order to use them up. Sometimes I wonder if I could ever make it a whole summer without stepping into a grocery store, or maybe even just a month. I am on day 24 of my Whole30 paleo challenge and have found myself entertaining the idea of creating my own challenge of shopping at only farmers markets for 30 days and not stepping foot in a grocery store. It is only 30 days right? I think nearly anything can be done for just 30 days. Just a thought.

Now onto to dinner. I had just bought some grass fed ground beef so what could be better than stuffed peppers?

Stuffed Peppers topped with an egg yolk and roasted red pepper sauce

I know, your first thought; Is that a RAW egg???!! No, calm down. Its not raw, ( although I am not afraid of raw eggs ) It is just an egg yolk that was baked along with the peppers JUST until it was set but still runny when you cut into it.  Yum. Your probably also wondering why I chose to top it with an egg yolk. Well two things came to mind when I decided to top it with a yolk. #1 Have you ever had a hamburger topped with a fried egg? #2 there is no dairy allowed during the Whole30 program so I couldn’t top it with cheese…then I remembered this: ( fast forward to about 33 seconds if you are short for time )

“it tastes like cheese sauce” well…close enough. So I topped it with an egg yolk to get that semi-cheesy tasting, fatty mouth feel. It worked.

Now for the recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and basil sauce:

Ingredients:

About 5 red peppers

3 Tomatoes

2 cloves Garlic

a good bunch of basil

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

1 Tbs. Apple Cider vinegar

Directions:

First, Roast the red peppers and tomatoes. I did this on the grill but you can use your oven ( under the broiler ) or on your stove if you have a gas stove.

You want to roast your peppers until the skin is nearly burnt. This makes it easier to remove. After your peppers are nice and browned/blackened place them in a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit for 5 minutes. You don’t have to blacken the tomatoes. Just roast them until they have a nice color to them. They will be a little extra sweet.

After 5 minutes remove the skins/seeds/stems from the peppers and throw them in the food processor with the garlic and tomatoes and pulse until smooth.

Add the basil, pulse again, and Season with salt and pepper and add about a Tbs. of apple cider vinegar.

Pulse the sauce again and add the olive oil while the processor is running, add enough to get a sauce like consistency. Enough to be able to spoon onto a plate or onto your peppers with ease.

Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. It should be a bit sweet and tangy.

 

Peppers:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 green bell peppers

10oz. to 1lb. of ground beef.

1 Squash, diced ( I used the squash from the garden pictured above )

6 oz. Tomato paste or about 12 oz. can of tomato sauce that does not contain added sugar.

Note***I suggest a can of tomato sauce but I had to use about tomato paste because I saw that my tomato sauce had added sugar and forcing me to go to plan B.  You can also use plenty of fresh tomatoes if you have them on hand. Just dice them up and throw them in the pan when you add the squash and let them cook down a bit so that the flavors are concentrated.

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

Chili powder – about a Tablespoon Plus or minus…taste your food to your liking!

Cumin about a tablespoon

8 egg yolks

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut your peppers in half, season with salt and pepper, and par-bake the peppers until they are soft, but firm enough to hold their shape.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, add your ground beef and onions.
Cook until the ground beef starts releasing its juices. Add the tomato paste and stir.

Add the squash, garlic, and spices,

Let simmer and then remove from heat.

Stuff your peppers with the ground beef mixture and create a little nest for your yolk. ( otherwise it will just fall off ).

After placing the yolks on the tops of your peppers, place it in the oven until the yolks are JUST set. This only takes a couple of minutes max. Keep an eye on those peppers!

After your yolks are set to your liking, plate up your peppers and top it with your roasted red pepper sauce.

Enjoy.

So, I know I said the next post would be on how to render lard…but I got a bit distracted. I ended up buying some beautiful pork belly. Do you know what this means??? Homemade bacon. The curing process takes about a week so sit tight, but in the meantime I will be making some Gravlax. (Google that ).

Happy Tuesday!