Whole 30 Week 3 – It’s all downhill from here

So we made it through a weekend in Syracuse, complete with three large meals with extended family – and desserts at each!  If you’ve ever been to the Cheesecake Factory and seen their chocolate tower cake – my dad bought an entire cake of that for dessert the first night, and then when the 12 or so people only ate 1/3 of it, he brings it to the other family gathering the next night…and then there was still about half of the cake left and told us we could take some home and freeze it (we declined).  But we did get to eat some good steak and crab legs, and see a lot of family members and friends and meet some babies that were born in June!  It was a busy but great trip, as most of our visits home are 🙂

So we’re back in DC and into the second half of our whole30.   Here’s a look at what we had this week, as well as links to recipes:

Breakfasts: mostly eggs, and some more of that homemade turkey sausage I shared from last week.  When we’re running late we have lara bars to grab n go and I’ve been hard-boiling some eggs in advance to have those ready to go too.

Lunches – mostly leftovers.

Snacks – bananas, almonds, pistacchios, Trader Joe’s ‘Just Mango’, lara bars (they have a list of approved ones here), apples with almond butter, and remnants of the beef jerky Matt made a couple weeks ago and  we had a few of these delicious energy bars left from the batch Matt made last week so that continued to be a treat 🙂

Dinners – Last Sunday we were at a BBQ with Matt’s family and brough out own homemade spiedie sauce (bc all the bottled ones have sugar and/or MSG…which is no bueno on the whole30).  I’ve actually had the marinade recipe for a long time and have meaned to try it out but never had any marjoram, but thanks to our Penzey’s trip a couple weeks ago we have some and will probably go homemade from now on. It was delicious! For those of you not from upstate NY – spiedies are bite sized chunks of chicken, marinated a specific way, and then grilled, usually on skewers.  They’re also meant to be eaten kind of as a sandwhich on thin sliced italian bread, but obivously we can’t do that on the whole30.  Either way, it’s amazing.

On Monday we were travelling all day so when we got home we just made a quick hash for dinner (red peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, home made turkey sausage, and topped with a fried egg).

Tuesday we had a taco bar for our small group (we did provide the group with cheese and tortillas…and then made them take the leftover cheese with them, because we don’t trust ourselves).  In order to be compliant we made our own taco seasoning (if you use that recipe and don’t like spicy, cut down on the cayenne.  Even Matt admitted it was quite spicy).

Wednesday we had salmon and asparagus, because we stopped by Whole Foods on Monday (I know, twice in a month…who are we?) and the wild sockeye salmon was still on sale for $8.99/lb!

Thursday we had zoodles with Moroccan meat sauce.  We did not make the meatball ingredients into balls, it was a weeknight and who has time for that?!  But feel free to do that.  Or short cut it like us and it’s still just as delicious!

This weekend modified (olive oil instead of veggie oil) this tandoori chicken recipe, and made it with breasts instead of thighs.

We also just made sausages (we went to whole foods, a third time (!) for these compliant ones) and peppers and onions for a quick and delicious dinner this weekend.

Today we modified this chicken with lemon sauce recipe to be compliant.  We picked it up when we were at Penzey’s a couple weeks ago as it goes with one of their spice blends (which is an optional ingredient if you don’t have it, we used it to season the chicken).  This was seriously delicious, will definitely make it again.

Day 21 is in the books and now it’s on to our last full week of this!  We’re mostly having a “favorites week” of our fave recipes from the whole30, looking forward to it!

IMG_6434Sausages with peppers and onions

IMG_6413Baked salmon and asparagus

IMG_6409Turkey sausage and sweet potato hash

IMG_6415Zoodles with Morroccan meat sauce

IMG_6425Saturday breakfast

IMG_6426Tandoori chicken with pineapple relish

IMG_6348Homemade spiedie sauce

IMG_6451Chicken w/ lemon sauce and green beans

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Whole30 – Still Going Strong

Day 12 is complete!  Here’s what we were up to (food-wise) this week:

Breakfasts – mostly eggs, but we did add some potatoes to one over the weekend, and I also made homemade turkey sausage this weekend – super cheap and definitely something I’ll continue to do beyond these 30 days!

IMG_6352Breakfast for lunch with some homemade turkey sausage

Lunches – mostly leftovers.

Snacks – bananas, almonds, pistacchios, Trader Joe’s ‘Just Mango’, lara bars (they have a list of approved ones here), apples with almond butter, and Matt made some beef jerky this past weekend and these delicious energy bars so that was a treat!

IMG_6402The energy bars! yummmm

Dinners:

Tortilla-less, cheese-less, ‘Rita-less Fajitas – Not as torturous as I thought it was going to be.  We still grilled up our steak and chicken and veggies like we normally would, topped it with some fresh pico de gallo I made with leftover veggies, and it was delicious!  We shared this meal with some good friends on the night before the 4th, I think this made it even better 🙂

Steak and Roasted Potatoes with grilled asparagus – no recipe needed here, we just grilled some steak, tossed some potatoes with olive oil and rosemary andpopped those in the over, and then grilled seasoned asparagus.  We needed to have an extra good dinner this night (the 4th) because we ate before going to a friend’s place where everyone else would be eating pizza and cookie cake, which also went a lot better than I expected.

Paleo Sweet Potato Chili with a salad – we made this for small group on Tuesday and it was a hit with everyone.  Used some of the chili powder from our Penzy’s trip last weekend, and it came out great.  The recipe makes A LOT.  It filled out dutch oven to the top (as you can see in the photo.

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Spicy Shrimp Paleo Spaghetti Noodles – these were delicious, found the recipe from last week’s poster on the whole30 recipes instagram.

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(Modified) Spaghetti Squash Boats with Spinach and (homemade, compliant) pesto – we’ve made the non-whole30 version of these before (and check out that link for other varieties!).  The whole30 version turned out to be just as delicious.

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Grilled Chicken with misc stuff we had laying around.  I went to a movie in the park with a friend on Friday so there was limited dinner time and snacks were needed so I’d avoid the popcorn that was there! (also, not bringing my wallet helped)

We’re headed to Syracuse this weekend and have some family BBQs – our second real test in all this (the first being the previously mentioned pizza and cookie cake on the 4th of July).  We’re headed there with homemade speidie sauce (recipe to come later), so hopefully that on our chicken and the fruit and veggies will be enough to help us resist the rest of the deliciousness we come into contact with!

 

 

Whole30

So I realize that I kind of abandoned this after the holidays (6 months ago…).  Life just got busy and while Matt and I were still cooking delicious things, I just didn’t have time to type up the recipes and remember to take pictures of my food.  But we’re back, because we’re doing a whole30 and if the two of us, who love eating good food, can do this I really do believe anyone can.  We’re on day 6 of our adventure, so stay tuned for how it all pans out.  So far, so good!

I decided the one way to make this work for me is that we have to be cooking delicious meals.  And since I’m spending SO much time searching for recipes, I might as well share the goodness with everyone!  I also have a whole30 pinterest board where I’ve been trying to save ideas.  I think there’s a way for you to find and follow that, I just don’t know how….

Well, here’s what we’ve been doing so far:

Breakfasts have been pretty basic – eggs.  I’ve had to figure out how to drink my coffee black (no dairy or added sweeteners allowed), and I did find the ones way to make bulletproof coffee so it’s more foamy.  You just mix your coffee with 1-2 tsp coconut oil and some cinnamon (if desired) in a magic bullet for a few minutes and it’s magical.

Lunches are just leftovers from dinner.

Dinners (and therefore lunches) have been great, some pics are below:

  • Zoodles with meat sauce.  We had made this recipe before, with ground beef added to it, so we made it again and we just don’t put parm on it anymore
  • Chicken with pineapple salsa (too bad the salad in the post isn’t compliant!)
  • A salad bar (we have dinner with our small group every Tuesday so this was an easy way to feed several people)
  • A modified version of a Turkey Chorizo Soup (recipe below)
  • A modified version of pork chops with peach salsa
  • Grilled salmon

Snacks – bananas, cherries, almonds, pistacchios, lara bars (they have a list of approved ones here), apples with almond butter, and Matt made some beef jerky this weekend so that’ll be nice for next week!

So on day 6 we’re still doing great.  I hear the second week is the hardest, because it’s no longer this new thing and you realize you have weeks to go, and your body starts craving the things you now haven’t had in over a week.  Stay tuned for that.  I will say that this is defintely not cheap.  But we’re basically not going to eat out this month – it’s too much of a hassle with wondering how things were prepared, what kind of oil it was cooked in, what’s in a marinade, etc – so our overall food spending should still be pretty even with what it was before.  They opened a new Whole Foods near us on Wednesday and had a ton of grand opening deals and coupons so we went there today and saved a lot of money, and it was the first time that I have genuinely enjoyed my time at a Whole Foods.

Here are some pics of this week’s meals, keep scrolling for the soup recipe 🙂

IMG_6123Zoodles with Meat Sauce

IMG_5751Turkey Chorizo Soup (the non-modified version we made earlier this year)

IMG_6324Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

IMG_6316Our Salad Bar

IMG_6345.JPGGrilled Salmon and Asparagus

Turkey Chorizo Soup Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Ground turkey, lean (sub other ground meat) – 1 lb
  • Chili powder – 2 Tbsp
  • Paprika – 1 Tbsp
  • Cumin – 2 tsp
  • Garlic powder – 2 tsp
  • Coriander – 2 tsp
  • Oregano, dried – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Adobo sauce or seasoning – 1 Tbsp
  • Garlic – 4 cloves
  • Onions – 1, chopped
  • Kale (1 bunch = ~6 leaves) – 1 bunch, leaves torn, stems chopped
  • Potatoes, any type – 1 lb, chopped
  • Oil, cooking – 2 tsp (we used olive oil because of the whole30)
  • Tomato paste – 4 Tbsp
  • Chicken stock – 4 cups (check your labels if making the whole30 version)
  • Limes – 1/2, sliced into wedges
  • Corn kernels, frozen or canned – 1 cup (leave out for whole30 version)
  • Sour cream – 6 Tbsp (leave out for whole30 version)

Directions:

  1. Prep: Prep garlic, onions, and kale as directed. Mix together chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, coriander, oregano, salt, and adobo. Prep potatoes as directed.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil and then onions, garlic, chopped kale stems, and tomato paste to heated oil. Saute until tender, ~3 minutes.
  3. Fold in ground turkey and seasonings and break up with a wooden spoon. Brown meat for 4 to 6 minutes. (If you couldn’t find lean ground turkey and a lot of fat has cooked out, drain out as much fat as possible before starting next step)
  4. Add potatoes and chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  5. While soup cooks, slice lime into wedges.
  6. Once potatoes are tender, fold in kale leaves and corn (optional). Turn off heat and season to taste with salt, pepper, other spices, or even hot sauce.
  7. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream (optional) and lime wedges.

 

Mango Shrimp Tacos

TGIF!  We just wrapped up our last full week of work until 2016!  Yippee!!  Just three days of work next week and then we’re off to Syracuse!  The week after Christmas we both have off from work (thank you, Boeing and PwC!) so we’ll spend some time back here in Arlington that week, relaxing and catching up.  It’s been a great Christmas season so far and we’re excited to head up North and continue it.  We’ve had some great parties and good time with friends, and lots of caramel corn!  I’ve made 4 batches and I think there’s one more to go.  We’ve been blessed with new friends and such a great small group that has grown over the year, so there are lots of people to give caramel corn to for Christmas!  My mom always did this for friends and family at Christmas and I love continuing it with our circles.  Some people have asked if I’m going to post the recipe and I’m not.  Like the molasses cookies last year, some family recipes will stay off the internet 🙂

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Tonight we took some time to ourselves and made dinner together.  These are a winner!  The crema and salsa can be made in advance and if you do that (we didn’t), this would be super fast to whip up.  These sure were delicious and I know Matt is already looking forward to when we make them again!

Mango Shrimp Tacos (recipe from here)

 Serves: 2-4, depends on how hungry you are 🙂

Ingredients

5 Ingredient Mango Salsa

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
  • juice of one lime

Sweet Chili Lime Crema

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of salt

Mango Shrimp Tacos

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ – 1 packet Taco Seasoning (adjust for your preference)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package (Small) Tortillas (corn or flour, pick what you like!)
  • 1 batch 5-Ingredient Mango Salsa
  • 1 batch Sweet Chili Lime Crema
  • optional toppings: crumbled queso fresco, sliced avocado, extra chopped cilantro

 

Directions:

  1. Make the Salsa – Toss all ingredients together until combined. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Can be prepared up to 3 days in advanced and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
  2. Make the Crema – Whisk all ingredients together until combined. Taste, and add extra salt or honey if needed.
  3. Toss the shrimp in a large bowl with the taco seasoning until the shrimp are evenly coated.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and saute for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are completely cooked through and opaque inside.  Remove from heat, transfer the shrimp to a separate plate, and set aside.
  5. While the shrimp are cooking, heat the tortillas
  6. To assemble your tacos, portion the shrimp evenly between 6-8 flour tortillas, topped with a few spoonfuls of mango salsa. Then drizzle with the sweet chili lime crema to taste.  Add optional toppings if desired.  Serve warm.

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Creamy Spinach Tomato Tortellini

A week in town means time for cooking!  I printed this recipe forever ago and never got around to trying it, which really is a shame.  It was pretty quick to make, a good weeknight pick. Enjoy!

Creamy Spinach Tomato Tortellini (recipe from here)

Ingredients

  • 1 bag regular sized Barilla three cheese tortellini (8 oz) or 16 oz fresh tortellini in the refrigerated section of your grocery store
  • 2-3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup fresh diced onion
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half (we used fat free)
  • 1/2+ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Begin by boiling your tortellini noodles until they are al dente (aka ready). Follow the directions on the bag for boiling time.
  2. While the tortellini is boiling, chop the spinach roughly.
  3. Heat a large skillet using medium heat and put the about 1 Tbsp olive oil and the minced garlic and diced onion into it. Sautee it briefly until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add into the skillet the petite diced tomatoes (undrained), spinach, salt, pepper, dried basil, and onion flakes.
  5. Cook and stir over medium high heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  6. In another bowl, combine the flour and half-and-half. Whisk until fairly smooth.
  7. Add the creamy mixture into the the skillet along with the parmesan cheese.
  8. Heat through and reduce the heat to medium low and continue to stir and cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the drained tortellini and mix together gently.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

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5 Ingredient Squash & Sausage Pasta

I swear our lives will slow down eventually…in just under two months.  This past weekend we were in St. Louis, MO and Springfield, IL for my friend Allison’s wedding.  It was a blast!  We flew into St. Louis early on Friday morning and spent the day exploring there.  Caught lunch with one of my coworkers who is in the St. Louis office, and hung out with our friend Brian for the rest of the day.  After dinner we had just a little 1.5 hr drive up to Springfield.  That went super fast compared to the 8-12 hours road trips we started the month with.  I’ve only been to Springfield once before and boy did I forget how much that town loves Lincoln…

Saturday was an absolute blast, such a nice ceremony and fun reception.  My friends Rachel and Kara made the trip down from Milwaukee, completing the fun.

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Due to the crazy business of our lives, actually caring about our budgets (thanks, Dave Ramsey…) and a free Everyday with Rachel Ray Subscription that I scored with my most recent Fabletics order, we’re moving to easier (yet still delicious) recipes.  One of the recent issues had a whole slew of really delicious looking 5 ingredient recipes, so we’ll be testing those bad boys out over the next weeks/months.  Quick, easy, and cheap, that’s my kind of meal!  Here’s the first of many –

Squash & Sausage Pasta (recipe from here)

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed*
  • 1/2 pound summer squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced
  • 5 ounces goat cheese
  • 12 ounces farfalle pasta
  • 3 tablespoons torn mint leaves
  • Optional: herbs and red pepper flakes for seasoning

Directions:

  1. Cook Pasta, being sure to save ¾ cup of the pasta water
  2. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, until browned and crumbled (about 7 minutes)
  3. Transfer Sausage to a plate
  4. Add squash to the same skillet and cook on medium-high, stirring often (about 4 minutes). Season with salt, pepper, and other desired herbs.
  5. In the pot used to cook the pasta, stir in the pasta with the cheese and the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Top pasta with sausage, squash, and mint leaves. Enjoy!

*We used Trader Joe’s sweet italian chicken sausages for our version.  It was still pretty delicious but we decided that we’d go with regular sausage next time – more flavor.

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Vacation Recap and Vietnamese Chicken Summer Rolls

Phew!  Good news, everyone – I got a preliminary passing score on the CFP exam!  Preliminary meaning it’s not official official, but it’s a pretty good indicator.  I have been given my life back..until busy season takes it back, like next week.  Ugh.

After exam week, Matt and I headed up to Michigan for my friend’s wedding.  It was a blast!  A little reunion with some of my main college ladies, so fun!  And seeing super pregnant Anna, one o  my best friends is 8 months pregnant and it’s blowing my mind!

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After the wedding we headed over to Vermont to spend the week on vacation with Matt’s family.  We stopped quick in Niagara Falls on the way, because how can you drive by and not?  In Vermont we all rented a house in the mountains and it was a good week of relaxing, reading, hiking, and hanging out.IMG_5180
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The view from our kitchen

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Yup, this happened.
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At the top of Haystack Mountain.

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And who doesn’t love building a fire and roasting a good marshmallow?!

The recipe I’m sharing with you is from one of my favorite new discoveries.  And by discoveries I mean a coworker told me about it when I was telling him how great blue apron is (which he did end up trying and loving, btw).  This service is called cook smarts.  It’s a bit different (and cheaper) than blue apron and you can sign up and get 3 free sample plans (which is where this recipe came from).  The idea is that you subscribe for $6-8/month (depending on how many months you buy at time) and then they give you a meal plan for the week.  It consists of 4 meals for 4 and comes with a grocery list and suggested advance prep.  They give you recipes with overlapping ingredients to minimize food waste and save on your groceries.  We have done 2 of the weeks and it definitely cut back from when I was just picking a few new recipes to try every week with no rhyme or reason.  After busy season we’ll definitely be trying out a paid month and seeing where that takes us.

Vietnamese Chicken Summer Rolls

Makes: 16 rolls

Ingredients

  • 4 oz Rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 2/3 lb Cucumbers, sliced into matchsticks
  • 4 leaves green lettuce, torn
  • 16 sheets rice papers (more if you break some)
  • 1 cup grated carrots (~1 carrot)
  • 1 batch nuoc nam (see below) – 1 cup water, ¼ cup sugar, 4 minced garlic cloves, ¼ cup fish sauce, ¼ cup lime juice

Directions:

Advance Prep (3o min to 1 day ahead)-

  1. Make Nuac Nam – Combine sweetener and water and boil. Mix with remainder of sauce ingredients and season to taste with hot sauce if desired. Adjust taste as needed – use fish sauce for more savory, more lime juice for tartness, more sweetener for sweetness.Set Aside 1 cup for serving.
  2. Marinate chicken in remaining nuac nam – at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 day.
  3. Optional – cook rice noodles according to package instructions

Day of –

  1. Grill chicken and slice.
  2. Cook rice noodles if you didn’t already.
  3. Cucumbers, carrots, Green lettuce – Prep as directed.
  4. Fill a frying pan with about 1 ½” (3.75 cm) of water. Heat water over medium-low heat – it shouldn’t be so hot that you can’t touch it.
  5. Dip rice paper into water and rotate through water. Watch this video for a good overview on how to do these.  Place onto a plate. Do 2-4 at a time (separate plates) and then assemble 2-4 rolls.
  6. To assemble rolls, layer lettuce, noodles, carrots, cucumbers, and chicken at the end of the rice paper that is close to you. Don’t over-fill or the paper will break. Fold rice paper over the filling from the bottom up. Then fold sides over. Roll as tightly as possible.
  7. Repeat until done. Assemble until you have no more filling.
  8. Enjoy rolls dipped with nuoc nam sauce*.

*We forgot to save some of the nuoc nam so we just mixed some soy sauce and sirracha for a little dipping sauce, it was delicious!

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