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Yes, I am less than a week away from completing my whole30. I haven’t blogged since Day 2 because, at times, I’ve actually forgotten about this challenge all together. I’ve been so consumed with bringing all the creations in my head to life! When making the decision to participate in this challenge, I was somewhat afraid that I would run out of ideas and run out of energy to make the journey seem new and exciting every single day.

It’s funny how eating cleaner has not only cleansed my body but has also rejuvenated my perspective on life. I have always loved cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. But comfort food to me used to equate to lots of rich, buttery, and likely cheesy fattyness I don’t even really regret eating because I can’t deny it was good. Within the past 22 days, I have redefined what comfort food means to me. And, dare I say, I have surprised myself along the way.

People have a lot to say about paleo/whole30. I agree that there are negative aspects, like cutting out milk– as it is a good source of calcium. However, for the most part.. the grain, the starches, and anything with added sugar.. I realize I can really do without. I’ve learned that fresh produce can be equally as satiating when cooked well. If I’m craving something sweet, I immediate think fruit.. dessert.. yes! I’ve grilled, sauteed, baked, boiled, steamed, and Magic Bulleted my way through every meal and I’m absolutely loving how something as simple as careful and conscious preparation can make food taste better!

Let me update you on some of my creations:

Day 3: open faced omelet with sauteed peppers and onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, fresh lime juice, s+p

 

 

 

 

 

chicken salad (roasted chicken breast, avocado, lime , cilantro, onion) on a bed of romaine with apple slices drizzled with cashew butter

 

 

paleo blueberry muffins- made with almond flour, almond butter, and coconut oil

 

 

 

 

zucchini ribbons with mushrooms, coated with a light garlic sauce and topped with chopped almonds

 

 

 

 

smashed strawberry, peach, mango, pineapple, lime filled with pellegrino and finished off with some blueberries

 

Day 4: mixed greens salad with apple, avocado, tomato, green onion, and almond flour and coconut encrusted chicken

Day 5: homemade real fruit popsicle

 

Day 6: paleo pancakes with warm blueberry syrup and bacon on the side

Baked salmon with lemon pepper, steamed veggies, and zucchini bacon scallion fritters

Day 7: grilled burger with lettuce, tomato, homemade guac, and crispy bacon

 

Day 8: salmon with basil and walnut pesto.. And maple glazed sweet potato fries.

Sliced banana, almond butter, blueberries, and toasted coconut

 

Day 9: Zucchini boats with sausage and vegetable marinara filling

Day 10: Egg scramble with bell pepper, salmon, and green onion. And banana and almond butter drizzled with honey

Personal paleo pizza.. leftover sausage marinara, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, olives, arugula, tomato, and basil

Apple sauteed with orange juice and topped with warmed slivered almonds, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey

Day 11: Fried “rice” made with cauliflower.

Day 12: Frozen fruit blended with banana.. nice and thick and refreshing. Better than ice cream!

Day 13: Paleo waffles with warm strawberry syrup

Day 14: BBQed chicken over slaw.

Day 15: Asparagus and sausage frittata

Day 16: Paleo banana pancakes topped with almond butter, warm strawberry syrup, and cinnamon

Day 17: Fish and chips– white fish battered with almond flour and coconut flour, baked sweet potato chips, and roasted red pepper and garlic dip

 

Day 19: Homemade trail mix– almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and toasted coconut. Great snack! I make a big batch so I always have some on hand!

Grilled zucchini, bell pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and chicken

Day 20: BBQed pork chop with grilled vegetable, avocado, cilantro, and lime slaw

Frozen mashed banana with toasted coconut mixed in.. topped with warm strawberry sauce, slivered almonds, and extra toasted coconut

Day 21: Fried egg with mixed greens salad drizzled with balsamic

Personal portobello pizza with homemade sauce, hot Italian sausage, caramelized onions, and olives. Also, simple arugula and seasoned sweet potato salad

Day 22: Turkey and spicy sausage meatballs baked and then simmered in homemade marinara sauce.. on top of a sweet potato and roasted red pepper mash.. and arugula salad with avocado, tomatoes, olives, and red onion

Clearly, I had to make up for all the posts I never wrote. As you can tell, most times I’ll use the same ingredients over and over.. but I do try to prepare them differently each time. For some things, like the paleo waffles, pancakes, muffins and almond flour pizza crust, I did search the web for a good recipes to follow. But that’s about it.. for the most part, I’ve been cooking based on my instincts and it’s worked out well so far.

Each day, I’m learning more and more about food and expanding my palate to tastes and food pairings I’ve never really tried before. Since I started my whole30, I have not used any processed foods. Everything, including all the sauces and dips, have been made fresh.

I’m finding that now when I go grocery shopping, I’m usually walking in without a real plan– which is so unlike me. Usually, I make a list and check it twice. But I truly believe that clean eating is really about how food inspires you. I spend the most time in the produce section, circling around a few times to scan all the fresh goodies. Not relying on a list is actually a very freeing experience. I also scope out multiple grocery stores to grab ingredients.. Whole Foods for the freshly ground almond butter, almond and coconut flours, and coconut oil.. Trader Joe’s for just about everything else.. And a few trips to Safeway just because it’s closer.

I hope some of my whole30 creations have made the 30-day challenge a little less intimidating for those of you who are interested. Paleo/whole30 is not difficult at all. But, like all good things, it does take time. I do have lazy days where I contemplate just eating the same meal for a few days in a row. The key to staying motivated and sticking to eating clean is avoiding those lazy moments. I literally open all my cabinets and stand in front of my refrigerator for a few minutes at least once a day– sometimes more when I feel like my creativity is fading– and asking myself “What will I make today?”

 

I’m shocked that I’ve completed Day 22 already. I’ve really never felt better! I’m definitely appreciating and enjoying food so much more and I have also established way more confidence in the kitchen. I know I have a lot more paleo/whole30 left in me! Stay tuned.. it’s not over yet!

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Sadly, my camera has been idly uncharged for quite a few months now. However, my new Blackberry is equipped with a WordPress application and a flash camera that will hopefully help me chronicle more of my food adventures.

One of my co-workers recently went on a low-carb diet, omitting heavy starches and sticking to whole grains. Eh.. That is way too extreme for me because I depend on starch to maintain daily sanity. I could never give up potatoes, a fresh baguette, pasta or white rice. You might be expecting a post depicting some food ideas for someone pursuing the same feat as my co-worker. Sorry, wrong. Instead, I would like to celebrate my love for starchy goodness.

I have grown up eating rice with pretty much everything. However, when it comes to dishes over rice, I’ve never really explored outside of my comfort zone. Lately, I have become a big.. HUGE fan of arborio rice. I had the sudden urge one day to make risotto because I hear it is one of those dishes that can easily go wrong. But, I bought a jar of arborio rice and went for it. On the back of the label, the brand (RiceSelect) even included a simple “cooking arborio rice” recipe. If you can believe it, you only need 5 ingredients that are most likely already stocked in your kitchen.

I feel like they should just tell you the key to arborio rice ahead of time: stirring. And you’ll see why. Here’s the recipe that RiceSelect offers:

Cooking Arborio Rice

INGREDIENTS

1 cup uncooked rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, salt and pepper optional

DIRECTIONS

1. Saute onion in oil and butter for 3 minutes
2. Add rice, stirring for about 2 minutes
3. Stir in 1 cup of broth. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed.
4. Gradually stir in remaining broth 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.

Yields approximately 3 cups cooked rice.

Just like any rice you will make the rice soaked up the liquid you cook it in. That’s why, a little bit of arborio rice will go a long way. It will soak up the 3 cups of broth you use and fluff up into 3 cups of flavorful, decadent starch.

For my first risotto meal, I made zucchini risotto with brown-buttered chicken tenders. I followed the instructions on how to cook the arborio rice, except I also tossed in a whole zucchini (thickly sliced and quartered) about a minute after adding the rice. By the time the rice was fully cooked and ready to serve, the zucchini was also very tender.

A day later, in my risotto frenzy, I put another dish together: mushroom risotto with lemon peppered salmon. Mushrooms can be a bit tricky.. Mushrooms retain water, so when you heat them up, they will not only shrink but expel a great deal of liquid as well. I questioned whether or not I should satuee the mushrooms first, drain, and add them at the very end. However, I decided that by doing so, my mushroom risotto might not be as mushroomy as I would like it to be. I added the mushrooms in the same time I added the zucchini previously– about a minute after adding the rice. From there, “cooking arborio rice” became more of a guessing game. I added lots of somewhat thickly sliced mushrooms (knowing that they would cook down a lot before serving). The “mushroom liquid” adds extra moisture; thus, I accounted for this while adding the portions of broth. I ended up using just enough broth that will cook down and also fully cook the rice. With the mushroom risotto, I prepared a lemon peppered salmon.

To reiterate once more, keep stirring. If your arm gets tired, try switching off between the two. At least by the time you eat, you know you’ve squeezed in a light workout. Always keep an eye on your rice, which shouldn’t be hard since you will be standing there stirring the whole time. But after you add the final cup of broth and the risotto is really coming together, pay extra attention to the doneness. You do not want mushy risotto! If you aren’t sure, find yourself a small spoon and take a taste. And finally, make sure you plan your meal accordingly. Risotto is to be served piping hot hot hot. So, if you don’t have a sous chef in the kitchen to help out, prepare your meat/fish/vegetables ahead of time before you begin cooking the rice. Keep in mind that you want everything to be finished at about the same time! Otherwise you will be waiting on something and that will be no bueno.

Wishing you the best on your risotto adventures. Long live starch!

nom nom nom,

B

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Since I will be in Fresno this weekend, I found myself another opportunity to bake. My grandparents love baked goods! This time, I wanted to do something new. I thought about baking a banana nut bread, but my bananas weren’t ripened enough. No bueno. I decided to bake a zucchini bread. I have been meaning to try out a zucchini bread recipe, but I never got around to it. After sifting through a number of recipes for zucchini bread, I came across one that I liked.

Recipe posted by Simply Recipes.

Zucchini Bread

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated fresh zucchini
2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)

METHOD

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, a third at a time. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.

2 Divide the batter equally between 2 buttered 5 by 9 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Makes 2 loaves.

zucchini bread.

two small loaves.

Instead of making two loaves, I decided to make one loaf in the 5 x 9 inch loaf pan. The other half of the batter, I divided again into two smaller loaf pans. I did this because I intend to be sharing the smaller loaves with my grandparents and relatives.

After grating the zucchini, I ringed out excess liquid retained by the zucchini. Although the recipe doesn’t specify to do so, I read this as a suggestion to baking zucchini bread once. So, I decided to go for it. Oh, and I strongly suggest adding raisins/dried cranberries and chopped pecans/walnuts. The dried cranberries and chopped walnuts combination was great!

I really enjoyed this zucchini bread recipe! I recommend trying it at least once.

nom nom nom.

B

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