Cravings and DIY Chipotle on Whole30

The last week of Whole30 was the hardest period for me. I started craving everything carbalicious and I began counting down the days until freedom.

The point of Whole30 is to reset your body and mind so that you no longer crave these sugary, carb-heavy, processed foods, but 30 days is nearly not long enough to permanently transform your diet and lifestyle and to kick your cravings for good. I suspect I would need a full year to do that. And while I continue to enjoy the foods that I am cooking and sharing with you, my cravings went from 0 to 60 in the last 10 days.

Since writing down your feelings is supposed to be cathartic, here are all of the foods I started craving and will attempt to shovel into my piehole on Day 31 (today!)

  1. Doughnuts from Dough
  2. Doughnuts from Doughnut Plant (yes, there’s a difference between this and #1)
  3. An entire New York style pizza pie to myself
  4. Tacos from Tacombi
  5. This grown-up grilled cheese with pesto and fancy cheeses
  6. Chocolate almond croissant from Maison Kayser
  7. Chocolate croissant from Bien Cuit (yes, there’s a difference between this and #5)
  8. A loaf of Miche bread from Bien Cuit slathered in butter, honey, and sea salt
  9. Boomwich’s incredible meatball sandwich on pretzel bread with parmesan cheese, sauteed broccoli rabe, and tomato sauce
  10. A massive ice cream sundae from the best ice creamery, Ample Hills Creamery (8 scoops of my ice cream flavors of choice, hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, cookie dough, salty-sweet snack topping and sprinkles).
  11. A New York-style Everything Bagel slathered with cream cheese
  12. A slice of Salty Honey Pie and Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie from the most decadent pie shop, Four and Twenty Blackbirds
  13. A burrito from Chipotle (sometimes I’m simple)
  14. This awesome breakfast sandwich from the Saltie
  15. Vosges dark chocolate black salt caramel bar 
  16. A cheese quesadilla with guacamole and sour cream
  17. Challah French Toast with real maple syrup
  18. Sweet potato fries with garlic aioli
  19. Pizza knots with marinara sauce from Parm
  20. The combination brownie-cookie Brookster from Baked
  21. Indian chaat (savory snack/carb salad)
  22. A sea salt caramel macaron from Ladurée (and a raspberry one too)
  23. Hand-pulled noodles with some sort of spicy meat.
  24. A jar of Nutella (sometimes I’m lazy)
  25. A falafel sandwich drowned in tahini from Taim
  26. Pumpkin ravioli in sage brown butter sauce (an oddly specific fall-season craving)
  27. A chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery

Are you drooling yet? My keyboard and screen are covered in my saliva.

To satisfy one of my 27 cravings, Chipotle, I decided to make my own Chipotle burrito bowls for the last few days of Whole30.

Chipotle is actually a superstar when it comes to nutritious fast food. It serves responsibly raised meats, organic and local produce where possible, pasture-raised cheese and sour cream, and no longer uses any genetically modified foods. Unfortunately, most of the meats at Chipotle are not Whole30 approved because they are cooked in prohibited oils, like rice bran oil. Other items on the menu, such as sofritas (tofu), beans, and corn salsa are foods not permitted on Whole30.

But there is one Whole30-approved option at Chipotle, and I have definitely treated myself to it at least once a week. Carnitas! Chipotle’s carnitas is cooked in sunflower oil, which is not an ideal cooking oil but it is permitted in limited quantities with the understanding that you would never be able to dine out if you were 100% limited to olive oil, coconut oil, and ghee. So if you’re observing Whole30 and craving Chipotle, fill up a bowl with salad, top it with the delicious carnitas (double the meat if you’re double hungry), add any or all of the three salsas (I get all three plus extra tomato salsa) and add guacamole. This meal is surprisingly filling and delicious, and I only miss the rice, cheese, and sour cream a little bit.

Since Chipotle + guac can get pricy, I decided to make my own burrito bowls at home.

Whole30 Chipotle Bowl 

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Base: Cauliflower Rice

First, I made a copycat version of Chipotle’s cilantro-lime rice using cauliflower rice. You can find my basic cauliflower rice recipe here. To give it some Mexican flavor, I add a healthy sprinkling of cumin, along with a generous addition of salt and pepper, to the cauliflower rice while it’s cooking on the stove. When the rice is off the stove, I mix in minced cilantro (1/4 cup), lime zest (half of a large lime), and lime juice (half of a large lime).

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Meats: Slow Cooker Chicken

Next up, the meats. I considered trying this copycat Chipotle carnitas recipe, but I couldn’t find a high-quality cut of pork at my butcher. So, I went with good ol’ chicken. I used my slow cooker chicken recipe here which is full of citrus and herbs/spices, but this time I used only chicken thighs, and I added a teaspoon of paprika to the spice mix to complement the dish’s Mexican-ish flavors.

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I love adding citrus to my chicken marinades.

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This slow cooker chicken comes out so tender that it almost falls apart.
This slow cooker chicken comes out so tender that it almost falls apart.

What Goes Inside: Onions and Peppers

I also threw together some spicy sauteed onions and peppers to mimic Chipotle’s peppers and onions.  I heated some olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet, then added sliced red onions and sliced red and green bell peppers. I added salt, pepper, and dried oregano, and cooked until the vegetables were starting to char.  Then, I added in some minced garlic and a diced Serrano chili pepper, lowered the heat to medium-low, and cooked until the vegetables were tender and browned.

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Toppings: Guacamole and Salsas

Finally, I made my favorite part: guacamole.  Mash together in a bowl 3 ripe avocados along with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 minced garlic clove, the juice of 1 lime, 3-4 TBSP of minced cilantro, 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1 small jalapeño diced, and Aleppo pepper to taste. Blend evenly, taste, and adjust seasonings accordingly.

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At this point, I did not have the energy to make my own salsas, so I used some roasted tomato salsa that I already had in the fridge and bought this green Hatch chile salsa from Trader Joe’s.

Once you have all of your fixings prepared, make yourself a bowl and enjoy!

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-Nisha

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Make-Ahead Whole30 Breakfasts

I am what some people call a “morning person.” I am that annoying friend who meets you for Sunday brunch and informs you that I’ve already gone to the gym, done my laundry, bought groceries, and saved the world before noon. I am that irritating person you overhear on your morning commute who says, “I don’t even need coffee in the morning” or “I have so much energy at dawn.”

Accordingly, on weekdays, I’m typically up by 6:15 a.m., which gives me plenty of time to prepare and enjoy a nice, hearty breakfast before heading to work around 8:45 a.m.. But, occasionally, I am running late for some other reason, and it’s nice to be able to rely on a pre-made breakfast or leftovers.

Here are some of my favorite Whole30-approved breakfast items to prepare in advance so that my weekday breakfast prep takes all but 5 minutes in the morning.

Hard-boild/Soft-boiled eggs

Have you ever gotten hard boiled eggs from a salad bar? Were you grossed out when you sliced into the egg and the yolk was greenish-gray and wildly overcooked?

Stick to the guide below and you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly cooked eggs that retain a softish, yellow yolk that’s 0% gray and 100% delicious.

For best results, use pasture-raised eggs. Pasture-raised eggs come from hens that spend their time outside on fresh pastures, not in tiny cages or in enormous, crowded barns. Buying eggs at the grocery store can be confusing with all of the different labels like “all natural” and “cage free,” so check out this guide to find out what these labels actually mean and how to best balance your dietary goals with your budget.

Ingredients/Equipment

  • Eggs (use as many that will comfortably fit in your steamer basket)
  • Water
  • Ice water bath
  • Large sauce pan
  • Steamer basket
  • Colander

Directions

  1. Boil a few inches of water in a large sauce pan.
  2. Place eggs in steamer basket.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the steamer basket full of eggs. The basket should not be submerged in water. Cover the sauce pan with a lid and steam the eggs for 8 1/2 minutes.
  4. While the eggs are cooking, fill up a large bowl with ice water.
  5. After 8 1/2 minutes, remove the steamer basket and place the eggs in the ice water for 15 minutes. This stops the eggs from continuing to cook.
  6. Finally, start peeling the eggs under cold running water. 

Breakfast Hash

Breakfast hash is easily customizable and a great way to use leftovers. All you need is a starchy vegetable (potatoes and sweet potatoes are most common, but get creative and try carrots, beets, or butternut squash), plus whatever leftovers you have – meat, vegetables, greens. Cook everything in a large skillet and serve as a side dish, or fry a couple off eggs directly on top of the hash for a complete meal.

My go-to ingredients for Whole30 breakfast hash are sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, jalapeños or any other chili pepper, and garlic. Sometimes I get fancy and add some chicken sausage in there. You can find my recipe for Sweet Potato Hash on my breakfast recipe page.

Ratatouille

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When I was in college, I over-enthusiastically bit down on a chocolate chip cookie and lost part of a tooth. Most people pair cookies with milk or coffee, but I prefer to pair mine with bloody teeth. As Thanksgiving was just around the corner, I scheduled myself for an emergency root canal to take care of my horrific snaggle tooth. Upon arriving at the dentist office, my dentist mistook me for an eight-year old child and offered to play Disney’s Ratatouille on a tiny TV screen in order to keep me distracted from the immense discomfort that is a root canal. This was a cruel and unusual movie choice because even cartoon food looks incredibly tasty when you’re on a liquid diet for the next 24 hours.

For quite a while, ratatouille was off limits for me because I invariably associated it with teeth cleaning and reconstruction. But when we were in the south of France last year, I had an incredible, authentic ratatouille served over a crunchy, buttery baguette, and it was so delicious that I thought about my dentist only once at dinner that night.

Ratatouille is a vegetable stew from the Provence region of France, and typically it contains eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and seasonings. It’s very easy to make and is a tasty way to get in your vegetables for the day. It goes particularly well with eggs, which is why it’s one of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts.

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Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplants, diced
  • 1 small-medium zucchini, chopped thinly
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 chili pepper such as a Serrano chili, diced
  • 1 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp each of dried thyme and oregano
  • 1/4 tsp each of cumin and coriander
  • 1/2-1 tsp of salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup each of basil leaves, chiffonaded, and parsley, finely chopped

Directions 

  1. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and lower the heat to medium-low. Add garlic. Stir occasionally until onion is softened and slightly caramelized.
  2. Add additional olive oil to pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add eggplant and stir occasionally until eggplant is somewhat cooked, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  3. Then, add bell pepper, zucchini, and chili pepper and and cook for approximately 10 minutes until all vegetables are tender. DSC_0020DSC_0023
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper. Cook for a final 5-7 minutes.DSC_0026DSC_0027
  5. Remove from heat and add basil and parsley. Stir well to blend.

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Saucy Sausage

You can always rely on sausage for breakfast (but be sure to check your labels if you’re on Whole30 and to avoid sausages made with artificial ingredients and sugar). But to make breakfast sausage a little more interesting, I like to turn it into a meaty marinara sauce.

You can use pre-cooked sausage, as I did in this recipe, or you can cook sausages and then add those to the cooked onions/peppers and marinara sauce and mix to heat through.

Ingredients

  • 12-16 oz pre-cooked breakfast sausage (Applegate organic sausage is made with real ingredients and is free of gluten, dairy, sugar and casein)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small jalapeño, diced
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1 heaping cup of marinara sauce (many products from Rao’s are Whole30-approved and made only with tomatoes, onions, olive oil, salt and herbs).
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano, and basil

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and saute until beginning to soften. Add peppers and cook for a few more minutes. Lower heat to medium-low and add in garlic and jalapeño, and cook until vegetables are softened.
  2. While veggies are cooking, dice the breakfast sausage into bite-sized pieces. Once veggies are done cooking, add in pre-cooked breakfast sausage and heat through for a few minutes.
  3. Add marinara sauce and herbs, and stir to heat through for a few minutes.
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    Saucy sausage, hard-boiled eggs, sweet potato hash, and avocado, a.k.a. HungryGirl Breakfast

Breakfast Casserole

My next make-ahead breakfast suggestion is the customizable breakfast casserole that I posted from Week 1 of Whole 30. You can find the recipe here or in the Recipes/Breakfast page. As with the breakfast hash, use whatever starchy vegetables, meats, and greens that you have on hand.

Best served with avocado and hot sauce

Pumpkin Nut Porridge

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This recipe is very similar to the nut porridge I posted here, but it’s jazzed up for the fall pumpkin season. You can make the porridge ahead, store in the fridge, and then reheat it on the stove or even the microwave when you’re ready to eat.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups of mixed nuts of your choice (I used hazelnuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts)
  • bottled or filtered water for soaking nuts
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 13.5 can of full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • Toppings: shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, berries, sliced bananas or apples, diced mango, goji berries, chopped nuts, raw cacao nibs, dried unsweetened cherries, or whatever else you have on hand.

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Directions

  1. Place nuts in a bowl and cover with water so that nuts are submerged. Add 1/4-1/2 TBSP sea salt. Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature overnight. Soaking the nuts makes them softer and yields a smoother consistency for the porridge.DSC_0090
  2. In the morning, rinse and drain the nuts in a colander several times to remove the salt.
  3. Place nuts in a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or a food processor. Blend until nuts start to break up.
  4. Add remaining ingredients–-pumpkin pie spice, banana, pumpkin, and coconut milk. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency that is similar to a thick smoothie. DSC_0100
  5. Add the porridge to a sauce pan, along with a cinnamon stick if using. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until it thickens and is warmed through. DSC_0111
  6. Top with desired toppings.
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Pumpkin nut porridge topped with coconut flakes, blackberries, goji berries, and raw cacao nibs
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Pumpkin nut porridge topped with mango, shredded coconut flakes, raw cacao nibs, and goji berries

Do you have any go-to make-ahead breakfast ideas? I’d love to hear from you!

-Nisha

Indian Food on Whole30

Did you read the title of this post and think, “Ooh, I bet Nisha posted some authentic Indian recipes handed down by her grandmother in India?”

Welp, sorry if I got your hopes up.

Ever since I developed an interest in cooking, I have noticed one thing in particular about Indian food, particularly the food that my mother cooked. Traditional, home-cooked Indian food is very time- and labor-intensive.

I would sit in the kitchen and prepare my 30-minute grilled chicken and pasta while my mother worked on a six-course, ten-hour vegetarian delight made from scratch. And when I say from scratch, I mean everything is from scratch. From flour and water, she kneads the dough for roti (traditional unleavened Indian flat bread made from stoneground wholemeal flour, similar to a tortilla) and then rolls it out into perfect circles using just a rolling pin and years of experience. She sorts through jars of dried lentils and beans by hand, picking out individual pieces that are deformed; then she soaks the legumes overnight to prepare dals and curries. She dices up pounds and pounds of fresh garlic, ginger, and chilies, and makes her own pastes.

She even makes her own ghee and yogurt from scratch. For homemade ghee, she heats unsalted butter on the stove on low heat, watches the fat separates from the milk solids, and heats until the milk solids are deep brown in color; then, she strains it until she’s left only with the clear liquid, which is pure ghee. For homemade yogurt, she boils milk, and when it’s cooled to a lukewarm temperature, she adds bacterial cultures and mixes well and lets it rest for 5-6 hours or overnight. 

I love to cook but I certainly do not have the same patience that my mother has. My mother is, by the way, the most patient person you will ever meet. I, on the other hand, develop homicidal thoughts when I have to wait in a line more than two people deep. So I assumed that I would never cook Indian food because I simply didn’t have the patience to make everything from scratch.

I may never make my own roti or yogurt like my mother, but I’m happy to say that I’ve finally embraced the tantalizing world of Indian cuisine. The aromas of the spices, the vibrancy of colors, the warmth of flavors. There’s something magical about Indian cooking.

A lot of traditional Indian food can be very heavy and carbalicious, but I found some ways to make a Whole30 approved meal: Kofta in Curry Sauce.

Kofta is a type of meatball that can be found not only in Indian cuisine, but also in Afghani, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Lebanese, Turkish, and other similar cuisines. Indian kofta comes in the vegetarian variety as well, as at least 30% of people in India are vegetarians, but you can make it with beef, lamb, or chicken.

My local butcher shop had grass-fed beef on sale, so I went with beef. I bought 2 pounds of ground beef but used only 1 1/2 pounds, freezing the extra half pound for delicious burgers post-Whole30. I served the kofta with Tandoori-spiced roasted cauliflower.

The key to Indian food is adding layers of flavors – chilies, aromatics, spices. You’ll notice that in both of the recipes below.  These recipes use a lot of fresh garlic and ginger, so if you want to save on prep time, buy pre-peeled garlic cloves or bottles of fresh pre-minced garlic and ginger.

Kofta in Curry Sauce

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Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Kofta (meatballs)

  • 1 1/2 pounds of grass-fed ground beef (or lamb or chicken)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 large serrano chile, minced
  • 1 TBSP minced ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 TBSP of fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 1/2 TBSP of fresh mint, mint
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 sweet potato, grated (use a cheese grater)
  • heaping 1/2 tsp garam masala (make your own, or buy in the spice aisle of your grocery store)

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Curry Sauce

  • Coconut oil for cooking
  • 1 1/2 cups of onions, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small Serrano chile, minced
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • 1/2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1/2 heaping tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 heaping tsp chili powder
  • 1 14 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid (or use crushed tomatoes)
  • 3 bay leaves, torn
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (or use 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 8 ounces of water
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 3 TBSP of fresh lime juice to finish
  • 3 TBSP cilantro, minced, to finish

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Directions

  1. Make the meatballs: in a large bowl, add ground beef, beaten eggs, chilies, garlic, ginger, cilantro, mint, onion, sweet potato, and garam masala. Mix well until combined (with your hands or wooden spoon) but don’t overmix  or the meat will get tough.DSC_0002DSC_0005DSC_0009
  2. Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture and roll into meatballs. Place on a parchment-paper or aluminum-foil lined baking sheet or tray while you prepare the curry.DSC_0020
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until it’s nearly smoking. Add the onions, and after a few minutes, add the bell pepper. Once onion is almost translucent, add the garlic, Serrano chile, and ginger. Cook until golden brown.DSC_0029
  4. Then, add the coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili powder. Stir and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. It will be very fragrant!
  5. Add the canned tomatoes and liquid, cook for approximately 5 minutes until the mixture begins to evaporate.
  6. Add the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, coconut milk, water, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil.DSC_0042
  7. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and add the meatballs. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, approximately 15-20 minutes.DSC_0047
  8. To finish, add lime juice and cilantro.

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Tandoori-Spice Roasted Cauliflower

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Ingredients

Tandoori Spice Blend 

Notes: this makes a bit more spice blend than the recipe calls for; save the rest for another dish. You can also purchase a pre-made Tandoori spice blend at a grocery store or specialty market.

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  • 1 TBSP ground ginger
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cauliflower

  • 2 heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP of fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 TBSP of Tandoori spice blend
  • Juice of 2 small lemons
  • 1-2 TBSP coconut oil

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Directions

  1. For Tandoori spice blend, mix together all ingredients until well incorporated.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
  3. In a large bowl, add the garlic, ginger, Tandoori spice blend, lemon juice, and coconut oil. Mix together until a paste forms
  4. Add cauliflower to bowl and toss evenly to make sure all florets are coated in spice blend. Spread out on a baking sheet or two (use parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy cleanup). DSC_0060
  5. Roast cauliflower in oven at 425 for 20-25 minutes, tossing once, until golden brown and cooked through.

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Do you like spicy Indian food? Would you like your entire home to smell of rich aromas and spices? Are you looking for a perfectly hearty fall dinner? Then, you should try out these recipes and let me know what you think!

-Nisha

Week 3 Meal Roundup

I went into this challenge thinking that it would be the most difficult month of my life. I envisioned myself having to be dragged out of bakeries with my claws dipped in chocolate and sugar. I considered taking tranquilizers so that I could sleep through my cravings. I assumed that I would be so frustrated that I would yell obscenities at innocent strangers eating pizza on the street.

But, in reality, Whole30 has been kind of easy.

Okay, easy isn’t the right word. Whole30 has required A LOT of planning. And cooking. As much as I love to cook, it gets tiresome to spend six hours on the weekend meal prepping. Yes, I could get around that by eating very simple meals like plain meat with plain veggies for three meals a day, like this blogger. But I like food and flavor way too much to do that. I would rather starve than succumb to including raw baby carrots as a centerpiece in my lunch.

Also, I am not superhuman. I indeed have had cravings for pastries and bread. But typically, that has happened only when I walk into a bakery to buy a coffee.  Which is totally my fault. That’s like an alcoholic walking into a bar to order a soda water. Don’t test yourself too much, kids.

But it’s Day 20 now and I feel pretty in control of my cravings. The richness of my meals (i.e., hearty meats and fatty fish, eggs, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts) generally leaves me extremely satisfied. Yes, I still want something sweet after dinner, but an apple or frozen banana with almond butter and cinnamon has generally been sufficient to curb my sweet tooth/teeth.

Speaking of hearty meals, here’s a look at some of the meals I whipped up during Week 3 of Whole30.

First, I cooked a Thai Pumpkin Curry that made about 12 glorious servings (feel free to halve if you’re not feeding a herd). It was one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever made, and I highly recommend you try it. Whole30 or not, it’s dericious, creamy and rich. Chock full of aromatics, chilies, and spices, this curry is representative of my favorite way to cook meals that are bursting with flavor. If you’re curious about other ways in which I add flavor to my meals, check out my earlier posts on maximizing flavor here and here.

I ate this curry on its own, but it would be even better served over cauliflower mash or cauliflower rice (recipes for both can be found here).

Thai Pumpkin Curry

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of organic, free-range chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1.5 TBSP coconut oil or ghee
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 Thai bird’s eyes chilies, slit but kept intact
  • 4 TBSP red or yellow curry paste
  • 1.5 cups canned, full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 TBSP Red Boat fish sauce
  • Leftover roasted butternut squash
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 36 ounces of frozen vegetables (I used frozen broccoli)
  • 2 TBSP of unsweetened 100% apple juice
  • Lime juice to serve
  • Cilantro, minced, to serve

Directions

  1. Gather your ingredients. DSC_0095 DSC_0098
  2. Cut chicken thighs into medium chunks and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil or ghee in a Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is shiny, add the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides. Remove chicken from pan.
  4. Add onions to Dutch oven. Once the onions begin to soften, add the garlic, ginger, and chilies. Saute until the onion is translucent. DSC_0099DSC_0107
  5. Return the chicken to pan. Add the curry paste, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and cinnamon. Stir fry until aromatic. DSC_0111
  6. Add the frozen veggies, fish sauce and apple juice.

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    Once you’ve added all of the ingredients, you will have a beautiful, vibrant orange curry.
  7. Increase the heat to high. Bring contents of pan to a boil. Then, turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the veggies are warmed through and the flavors have combined.
  8. Serve with a few squeezes of lime juice and cilantro.

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Our next hearty meal for Week 3 was a pressure-cooker chili con carne that we found on SeriousEats.com. This dish takes just an hour in your pressure cooker and it couldn’t be easier. It’s rich, hearty, and dare I say…decadent?

Though most chili recipes you’ll find call for beans, an authentic Texas chile is simply meat, chiles, and more meat. With that in mind, be sure to use a grass-fed or organic cut of beef if you’re following Whole30.

We made a few alterations to the SeriousEats recipe, so I’ve included what I used below. For the future, I would definitely add a bit of raw cacao powder or cocoa powder. The sweetness of the cocoa balances out the spiciness of the chili and gives it an even richer, more luxurious taste.

Serious East Chili Con Carne

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Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 3 whole sweet fresh dried chilies like Costeño, New Mexico, or Choricero, stems and seeds removed (we used New Mexico)
  • 2 small hot dried chilies like Arbol or Cascabel, stems and seeds removed (we used Arbol)
  • 3 whole rich fruity dried chilies like Ancho, Mulatto, Negro, or Pasilla, stems and seeds removed (we used Ancho)
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or broth
  • 2 whole Chipotle dried chilies canned in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoons sauce, stems and seeds removed
  • 4 pounds whole beef chuck, trimmed of excess gristle and fat, cut into 1.5 inch cubes (we used a combination of grass-fed beef brisket and beef chuck, but you could also use stew meat)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 TBSP Red Boat fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened 100% apple juice
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Directions

  1. Get your medical gloves or kitchen gloves out. Put them on. If you fail to follow this step, you will get hot chilies in your eyes and die. Cut the chilies open and remove the stems and seeds.

    Beautiful New Mexico chilies
  2. Place the dried chilies on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power in 15-second increments until pliable and toasted-smelling, about 30 seconds total. Transfer to a 2-quart microwave-safe liquid measuring cup or bowl. Add chicken broth and chipotle chilies, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high power until gently simmering, about 5 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside.
  3. Season cubes of meat generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in the base of an electric or stovetop pressure cooker over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add half of beef in a single layer and cook without moving until deeply browned. Flip meat and brown second side.
  4. Add onion and pepper to pressure cooker and cook, stirring frequently until onion is translucent and vegetables are softened. Add garlic, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the soaked chilies and the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Transfer mixture to the jar of a blender. Blend, starting on the lowest possible setting and gradually increasing speed to high (make sure to hold the lid down with a clean kitchen towel or a potholder to prevent it from blowing out). Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Return purée to the pressure cooker.

  5. Add the chunks of beef to the pressure cooker. Bring to a simmer, season gently with salt and pepper, seal pressure cooker, and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
  6. Release pressure using quick release valve on an electric cooker or running under cold water for a stovetop cooker. Remove lid. Stir in fish sauce, apple juice, and vinegar. Add hot sauce to taste. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt. For best results, allow chili to cool and store in the refrigerator at least overnight and up to five days. Reheat the next day to serve and top with avocado and cilantro.

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After eating rich, hearty curries and stews this week, I was ready for something a bit lighter. Enter fish. Salmon and mango avocado salsa is one of the best combinations around and is an easy meal that you could even prepare on a weeknight.

I served mine with broccolini in a tahini sauce. A perfect and complete meal.

Salmon with Mango Avocado Salsa

Serves 2

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1/2 large avocado, diced
  • large handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeño, diced
  • juice of 1 large lime, separated
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 wild salmon fillets, 4-6 oz. each
  • ground cumin to taste
  • ghee or coconut oil

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Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease the bottom of a pie dish or baking pan with ghee or coconut oil.
  2. Add salmon fillets to dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Squeeze lime juice on salmon and drizzle with ghee or coconut oil.
  3. Bake salmon in oven for approximately 10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork. You may need to cook 3-5 minutes longer if your fillets are thick.
  4. Make salsa while salmon is cooking. Toss mango, avocado, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeño in a bowl. Add juice from 1/2 of the lime, salt and pepper to taste, and red pepper flakes. Toss until well combined.DSC_0019 DSC_0024CSC_0031
  5. Serve salmon fillets with generous serving of mango avocado salsa.DSC_0070

Broccolini with Ginger-Garlic Tahini Sauce

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Serves 2 as a large side dish, 4 as a small side dish

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces baby broccoli or broccolini
  • 2 TBSP tahini paste (the only ingredient should be tahini, or ground sesame seeds)
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger,
  • 1 very small garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you’re not on Whole30)
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened 100% apple juice
  • 1/2 TBSP apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP warm water, or more to achieve desired consistency
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. Blanch the broccolini: Bring a pot of unsalted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath (a large bowl of cold water with ice).
  2. If the broccolini stems are thick, slice the spear vertically in half.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the broccolini. Blanch for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Immediately transfer broccolini to the ice bath to stop cooking and retain the vibrant green color.
  4. To prepare tahini sauce, add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk with a fork until thoroughly combined. Add more warm water if tahini sauce is too thick.
  5. To serve, place broccolini on serving plate. Drizzle with tahini sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

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Are you hungry yet? Get to cooking!

-Nisha