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

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.

 

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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Week 17 – Tortellini Soup, Pumpkin Oat Bars, Stuffed Squash

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Man, weeks like this can just keep coming.  Work has been great – enough things to do that the (strictly 8 hour) day goes by quickly, but nothing to make me stressed out or feel like I have to be at the office past 5:30.  I bought a 2 week pure barre pass that I started at the beginning of November, so I finished that out this week.  That work out is seriously effective, I wish it didn’t have such a crazy price tag!  Matt’s bday present to me was a bunch of their equipment and their podcasts so I can try out these workouts at home, stay tuned for how that goes…

The weather was beautiful fall weather until Thursday rolled in.  It’s still in the 40s and way better than Syracuse or Chicago, but it’s cold enough to make me extra excited for California (work trip) next week and NM and AZ (vacation) the week after!

Having time to cook again is the best.  I love it so much!  Lately I’m trying to focus on a mix of quick and easy things that can be made after work on a weeknight, and then we might get fancy for a weekend recipe.  When looking at new recipes I’m also looking for ones that require fewer ingredients, or very common ones that we have most of at home already.  When I get too fancy with the stuff our grocery bill goes wayyyyy up, not cool. Another thing I’ve decided that I’m super excited about is the extremely simple concept of freezing soups!  Instead of making a batch on Sunday and then eating the same soup allllll week, I now have a mini stash of frozen pint sized jars full of a couple different soups!  So when I make a fresh batch, we enjoy that for a day or two, and then freeze the rest and pull a couple jars out of the freezer for the rest of the week.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this sooner!

The recipes this week were oh so great.  The soup was delicious and soooo easy to make.  It was another recipe from the cookbook made up of recipes from ladies at one of my bridal showers.  (Thanks Debbie!)  The pumpkin oat bars were something that I saved a year or two ago.  Weight watchers posted it to their facebook page I think?  I don’t have a link to it, but it’s definitely a weight watchers recipe (for those who care it’s 4 pp per serving, according to the print out).  I made them Friday night so we’d have them for breakfast on Saturday, and when I walked into the kitchen Saturday morning one of the first things Matt said was “Honey, the pumpkin bars are SO good!”   They ended up being pretty moist, so I was a little skeptical of these, but Matt was right.  They’re delicious!  And finally the stuffed squash.  This Recipe just looked so pretty, it was from the Blue Apron Autumn cookbook, and can be found on their website too.  I was a little skeptical of this one too, because it has no meat.  But dang, there is so much food in this recipe!  I think you could probably stuff 3 squashes with the amount of camponata it makes, but maybe we just had small squashes?  Strike two was that I had to go to whole foods to find millet.  But that ended up not being a bad thing because it reminded me of their great bulk food section.  I generally find that place one giant headache and super over priced.  But when it comes to buying random stuff like millet, you can just get as much as you need.  It was like 50 cents and now I don’t have a giant bag of leftover millet forcing me to google “recipes that use millet.”  We also used carnivale squashes instead of sweet dumpling squashes because it’s what Trader Joe’s had, and I don’t know the difference between those and “sweet dumpling squash.”  Anyway, the dish was delicious and Matt decided that because it had no meat he could make cookies for dessert and it all evens out.  Maybe…

Baked Squash with Millet & Caponata

Makes: 2  servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Carnivale or Sweet Dumpling Squashes
  • ½ Cup Millet
  • 1 Small Zucchini
  • 1 Small Eggplant
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bunch Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Raw Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Goat Cheese, Crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Cut off the tops of the dumpling squash, then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place the squash and their tops on a baking sheet, cut-side up. Drizzle the insides with a little olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Turn the squash cut-side down and roast in the oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until browned on the outside.
  2. While the squash roast, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and mince the garlic. Roughly chop the parsley leaves. Small dice the red pepper, eggplant, and zucchini.
  3. Add the millet to the boiling water and cook 18 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain thoroughly (this is key) and rinse with cold water. Transfer the drained millet back to the empty pot it cooked in.
  4. While the millet cooks – In a large pan, heat some olive oil on high until hot. Add the eggplant, red pepper, zucchini, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the sugar, vinegar, and half the parsley. (Reserve some for garnish.) Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the capontata to the pot with the drained millet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Carefully fill each squash with as much of the caponata mixture as possible. (Reserve any extra filling for serving.) Sprinkle a little goat cheese over the top of each. (Reserve some cheese for garnish.) Roast 7 to 9 minutes, or until the squash is completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
  6. Divide any remaining filling between 2 plates. Place a stuffed squash on each plate. Garnish with the remaining parsley and goat cheese. Bon Apetite!

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Pumpkin Oat Bread

Makes: 24  servings

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups (1 can) pumpkin puree
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp+ pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 24 Whole walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 10×15 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl cream ½ cup softened butter and 1 ½ cups brown sugar until light and fluffy,
  3. Add 3 large beaten eggs and 2 cups canned pumpkin; beat well.
  4. Add ¼ tsp salt, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more if desired, I did between 1 ½ and 2), 1 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ cups quick oats, and 2 ½ tsp baking soda; mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and place walnuts on top so each piece will have one,
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.

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Hearty Tortellini Soup

Makes: 10+  servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef*
  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed French onion soup
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pkg frozen green beans
  • 2 small zucchini, cut up
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 pkg cheese tortellini, thawed if frozen
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef in a large pot.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except tortellini. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the tortellini and cook until tortellini rises to the top.

*Optional: add minced garlic to the ground beef while cooking if desired

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