Saturday, May 3, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian: Day 11. Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca. (Vegan, Paleo).



Today marks day 11 of the Whole30 Vegetarian experiment. I haven't posted in a few days, so here's the update:

I'm feeling great. Energy levels are good, sleep is excellent, although PMS-ing on this diet is a bitch. Lunch-time hunger grumps are likely to lead to rage and even crying. Eating well, and often, is a must. It can be time consuming and all of my schedule has to account for when we are going to eat.

Breakfast usually looks like this:


Lunch is typically a salad or leftovers. Food is getting boring, I'll admit, but the diet isn't hard. I still don't miss anything that we've cut out, but I have to tell you that I've been having dreams about eating carbs. For reals. Like dreams about stuffing an entire package of rice cakes into my face and eating them like a crazy person. Which is weird, because awake, I don't want rice cakes. Hm.

Okay, so the good news. I know we aren't supposed to weigh ourselves during the program, but I totally did. And I'm down 6 lbs. I've been about 140 lbs for the last five years, and NOTHING I've done has gotten me below 140. Today I'm at 139. Booya! That feels pretty fucking amazing.  (I curse when I'm excited. Or when I'm mad. Or just in general).

So today's recipe is spaghetti squash. It's not the first time this veg has appeared on my blog, and I'm forever a fan of nature's spaghetti. The recipe takes 40 minutes, but really that's just "sit back and let it cook time." The prep will take about 10 minutes or so.

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash, halved
1 jar of crushed organic tomatoes
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes
olive oil
1/2 tsp of basil
1/2 tsp of thyme
1/2 tsp each marjoram and oregano
1/2 cup of water
salt and pepper to taste
olives of your choice, chopped (I used salty green olives, but you can use black or kalamata olives).



Preheat your oven to 375. Place your squash halves on a cookie sheet, but don't put them in yet. Meanwhile, saute your onion, garlic and bell pepper in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add in your spices and sundried tomatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add in your tomatoes and water and set your heat to low, maintaining a gentle simmer.


Now place your squash in the oven and set the timer to 40 minutes. Your squash and sauce will each cook for the next 40 minutes, stir your sauce occasionally.

When finished, pull the squash out of the oven and cool slightly so you can handle it. Then with a fork, shred the insides into spaghetti, top with sauce and olives and enjoy! Makes great leftovers too!




Monday, April 28, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Day 6: Warm Beet Salad with Kale, Citrus and Pistachio (Vegan, Paleo).



 
 
Day 6! That's 1/5th of the way through the Whole30 program! That's math ya'll!
 
This morning brought another banana + coffee for breakfast. On days when my husband is at work I prefer a lighter breakfast. My husband, on the other hand, wakes up ravenously hungry, and we end up eating heavier fare on those days, so expect some more breakfast recipes as we go through the next few days.
 
Dinner tonight will be leftover soup from Day 1, and some steamed mixed vegetables. Nothing fancy there.
 
So today's recipe is lunch (although you could make it for dinner, or even breakfast if you wanted to).
 
The warm, earthiness of the beets is brightened by chunks of sweet orange, and salty, crunchy pistachios, then drizzled with fresh grapefruit juice and olive oil. It's a quick, tasty and satisfying meal, especially if you prepare your beets ahead of time, like I did. Make the beets the night before, then simply slice and heat in a skillet for a few minutes before topping your salad.  Or just eat the beets cold. It will be great either way.
 
Ingredients:
 
2 cups of chopped kale
1 orange, peeled and sliced
2 beets
1/4 cup of pistachios
juice of 1/2 fresh grapefruit
1 Tbsp. olive oil
pepper to taste
 
You can roast the beets if you like, but the quickest way is to steam or boil them. Wash beets and remove leaves and stem. Steam for about 30-45 minutes, or until soft but not mushy. Cool slightly and remove skins (they should slide right off). Slice your beets into thin disks.
 
Meanwhile, place your kale into a large salad bowl and top with orange slices, pistachios, beets, grapefruit, pepper  and olive oil. Due to the heartiness of kale, you can enjoy this right away or make ahead and it will keep for a day or so without becoming a soggy mess. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Day 5: Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts with Apple, Onion and Dates.


Yesterday had me a little down in the dumps after dinner. I developed symptoms of "detox" like a sore throat and headache. I could post a 99 page rant about how much I hate the word detox, but that might be for another day.

According to the Whole30 program, symptoms of detox are normal and expected. (I can't help but wonder though, why when I switched from meat-eater to vegetarian, or when I jumped, at one point, into Ayurveda, why I didn't develop any adverse reactions or detox symptoms, only felt amazing immediately?) Anyway, I slept almost 11 hours last night (!!!!) And woke up feeling amazing. No adverse symptoms today, and my energy levels are great.

For breakfast I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, so I had a cup of coffee and a banana. Meh.

For lunch I had a salad with avocado, strawberries, grapefruit, tomato, cucumber and broccoli, over romaine, in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Dinner was the main take-away today and is adapted from a recipe I found at Herbivoracious.com. Their recipe uses honey (not allowed in my program) so I used dates instead, and ghee instead of butter (ghee allowed, butter not). This recipe isn't vegan, but you could easily make it vegan by subbing coconut oil for ghee.

The dish came out AMAZING. Better than expected. The dates give it a sort of brown-sugar quality that is delicious.  I'm loving trying new recipes, and the challenge to make them fit with in the program. So far I've found quite a few that will stick around after this month is up.

Oh. And some notes about what I'm noticing: We aren't allowed to weigh ourselves during the program. But my pants feel looser and more comfortable, my waistline is visibly slimmer (probably from dumping some bloat and water weight) and my skin looks great. I am missing wine tonight. A glass of wine would be great.

Ingredients:
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped (I left the skins on)
2 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 lb of fresh brussel sprouts, stems chopped and outer leaves removed, then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil of your choice (ghee or coconut)
In a large skillet melt your oil, then saute the onion until soft, about 4 minutes. Add in the apple and dates, and cook another 2 minutes. Then add in vinegar, the rosemary and brussel sprouts. Cook until desired tenderness (about 5 minutes for crisp sprouts, longer for more tenderness). Enjoy the savory, sweetness of it all!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Day 4: Sweet Potato Tacos (Vegan, Paleo).




Today marks day 4 of the Whole30 Vegetarian experiment. 

I'm feeling pretty good, overall. I've been sleeping fantastically, and no sign of my usual insomnia. I am a bit more tired than usual, and a tad cranky here and there. But hungry? Not really.

For breakfast my husband whipped up a quick veggie scramble that I shoved half of down my throat on my way to teach yoga this morning. 


Lunch was a salad with strawberries, tomatoes and romaine in a tahini dressing. I forgot to photograph it as it was consumed while cheering on my eldest son at water polo this morning. That's him: #5. 



Waterpolo and yoga took up most of our day and dinner wasn't planned ahead. I was just going to steam up some veggies, roast a sweet potato and have some soup, but as I was cleaning out our veggie box from the local market, I realized that romaine leaves make perfect little boats. For tacos. I freaking love tacos. If you know me at all, you know this thing about me. 

So I chopped up some sweet potatoes, roasted them with some onion in taco spices, and served them in romaine boats with avocado, alongside asparagus drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a bowl of garden vegetable soup. Perfect, impromptu dinner that even got thumbs up from the 5 year old (the hardest critic in the house!) 

Ingredients:
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 tsp each chili and cumin
 dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 large romaine leaves per person

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

Meanwhile, toss your potatoes, onion, oil and spices in a large bowl. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake until soft and slightly crispy, about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Remove the potatoes from the oven, cool slightly, and serve in romaine leaves with your favorite sides. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Days 2-3: Coconut Curry with Zucchini Noodles (Vegan, Paleo).



Day two of the Whole30 diet (with me trying it as a vegetarian) and things are still looking good. So far I'm not feeling restricted at all, if anything, I am eating more food than usual (which, honestly, kind of freaks me out). For breakfast we had sweet potato hash, poached eggs and avocado. My usual fare: toast. I'm not usually hungry in the morning and eating within 30 minutes of waking has been challenging. Yummy, but challenging.



Lunches have consisted of totally delightful, and HUGE salads topped with whatever we can get our hands on, from tomatoes, to fruit and nuts. It's been really nice actually. I'm a fan. And so far I'm not having any food cravings. I don't eat much in the way of sugar, and can do without grain for a while, at least. I can see missing beans in the long run, and haven't ruled out allowing myself a portion here and there.

The first night we had a TOTALLY scrumptious variety of veggies and fruit, including a baked sweet potato, roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce, apple,walnut and kale salad in a grapefruit vinaigrette, and fresh pineapple. All Whole30 approved foods. Doesn't feel like deprivation to me!



A few insights about Whole30 so far. First: I am not going to be paleo forever. I am sure of that. But I can see eating this way a majority of the time. Second: so far it's not that hard. It's not that far off of how we usually eat, and I'm enjoying eating so much fresh fruit and veg. Plus, it's been great to see my husband consume so much of it himself. I can imagine that if your normal diet consisted of a lot of processed food, that this transition would be exponentially difficult. Like today I brought 40 cupcakes to my son's school for his 5th birthday, but wasn't tempted to eat one. But then again, I'm not normally tempted by sweets, particularly baked goods, so no real shocker there.





So far the transition has been pretty easy, if not a little exciting, because I have even more reason to try new things. Like the "Vegetti."

Last night I made coconut curry with this new-found gadget. It's a contraption that turns veg into noodles. Well, kind of. It just spiral slices them. I'm up for anything, especially if it will get us through the next 30 days without eating each other's faces off.


The sauce I made came out top-notch and really made the whole dish. We would eat this again, and definitely the sauce is going to make a comeback!


Ingredients:
1-2 cups mixed vegetables of your choice. I used broccolini and carrots
3 large zucchini, spiralized
1 small onion, chopped

For the sauce:
1/2 can coconut cream
1 cup water
1 tsp each curry and turmeric
salt to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
1 inch of ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanche your vegetables for a few minutes, until bright and to desired softness. Drain, set aside.

Then "spiralize" or shred your zucchini.

In a sauce pan, saute the onion until soft, about 5 minutes or so. Then add in the spices, ginger and garlic, and cook 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the salt and coconut cream. Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanche your zucchini for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Top with your blanched vegetables and curry sauce. Enjoy!





Thursday, April 24, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian: 20 Minute Garden Vegetable Soup (Vegan, Paleo)

My husband recently started following the Whole30 plan. Long story short, it's a a diet that emphasizes whole foods and cuts out sugar, dairy, processed and refined foods, and grains. In an effort to support him, I've been modifying my cooking to avoid these ingredients. Which, it turns out, is pretty simple (for me at least). A diet that focuses on eating tons of veggies? I can handle that!



A lot of the complaints about the program is boredom or lack of ideas with cooking. I can imagine if you're coming out of a diet coke/hamburger/cheetos kind of diet that this change would be hard. But instead I see it as a challenge, and have come down with some really great ideas and recipes. Already we have had a ton of baked sweet potato, roasted cauliflower (huge hit with the kids), super yummy salads topped with nuts and strawberries, and a kale salad with apples that I MUST POST SOON.

One of the things we decided would be nice is to add some soups to the menu, and I have some good ones lined up like cauliflower pesto that I'll be sure to post. 

Today I made a pot of soup to last the week, either to accompany meals or as a quick snack. This one took 20 minutes, fits into the Whole30 diet and smells amazing. My husband keeps creeping around the kitchen asking what I put in it, and I'll tell you: not a lot. It's brothy and light, perfect for spring, and all done in 20 minutes! 

Ingredients:
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large zucchini, sliced into half moons
1/2 cup of roasted red peppers, peeled and chopped (I used jarred from the grocery)
4 cups of broth or water
1 can organic diced tomatoes (or about 1 cup fresh chopped)
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp mixed Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add in the onion, celery, carrot and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, red pepper and spices, bay leaf, and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Stir in the broth and tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the zucchini and cook 5 minutes more. Store for the week and enjoy with your favorite salad or serve immediately.


                                                                  All packed up and ready to go in the fridge!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Roasted Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Mint and Goat Cheese


 
I spent the last week in Portland with my sister and her sweet new baby. I was so grateful to be able to help, and it doesn't hurt that I got my baby fix in!
 
But after traveling and being a houseguest, and all of the eating that goes with it, I came home craving veggies in a major way. So dinner tonight was packed full of veggie goodness, beginning with this salad.
 
I roasted the chickpeas with garlic and olive oil, then stirred in some mint, crumbled goat cheese and lemon. Seriously delicious hot or cold.
 
 
Alongside I served a green salad with tomatoes, oranges, cranberries and sunflower seeds in a balsamic vinegar and some simple steamed green beans. Delicious and just what I needed to get my body back on track.
 
 
 
Ingredients:
2 cups (or two drained cans) of chickpeas
2-3Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chopped mint
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup of crumbled feta or goat cheese
 
In a baking dish combine the beans, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
Bake for 15 minutes at 375. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, mint and cheese. Serve.
 
Finally, I leave you with a sweet picture of my new nephew Sabin, sleeping in my arms.