Welcome back from a lovely weekend! I spent a lot of time cooking this weekend but enjoyed every minute of it! I did decide to take a break from the challenge for dinner last night (we had friends over who brought a delicious salad with goat cheese, along with a bottle of wine and we had some challah that needed to be eaten) but I am starting right where I left off, so this morning I began Day 8 of my personal Whole30 Challenge with a slice of frittata (which you will see below) and my usual Monkey Salad with a banana, cashews and coconut. (Yes, I know that goes against everything you might read about the Challenge online but I am doing this challenge for my own personal reasons and felt no qualms about taking a one-meal break from the challenge to enjoy a lovely dinner with friends).
Friday night my friend Leah came over. The last time I saw her was when I was about 30 weeks pregnant, so it has definitely been a while… a lot has changed! I’m so happy she was able to meet Julia and I’m particularly glad that Ken was able to enjoy dinner with us even though he was on call! For dinner, I made a frittata with some sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli. Leah had asked earlier what I wanted her to bring, so I said “How about some fruit for dessert?” She brought bananas, blueberries and raspberries so I came up with a Whole30-compliant dessert that we all enjoyed!
For the frittata, I used:
- 5 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 zucchinis, chopped
- 2 yellow squash, chopped
- 3 cups of spinach, broken apart into pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 cup of grape tomatoes, quartered
First, I sauteed the onion and garlic together in the olive oil and then added the spinach and cooked until it was wilted. I then set that aside in a large bowl. I then sauteed the zucchini along with the squash until they were soft, and then I added those to the bowl with the spinach.
I then added the eggs and mixed everything together, being sure to beat the eggs well while mixing. Finally, I added the tomatoes and some salt and pepper to taste, and I poured the entire mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, and baked at 350 for 35 minutes.
For the Sweet Potato Fries, I used 3 large sweet potatoes, which I peeled and cut into pieces that were the size and shape of fries. I then tossed them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and paprika, then baked at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, tossing half way through. I baked them on parchment paper because I had seen several comments on blogs saying that made them crispier than baking them on aluminum foil.
I was not perfectly satisfied with the Sweet Potato Fries, to be honest. The flavor was fantastic but the fries were not crispy–it was more like eating roasted sweet potatoes, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for but I was hoping for something crispier. Next time I think I will try cutting them into smaller pieces and I think it would help to have the oven hotter–maybe at 450 and I might try using aluminum foil instead of parchment paper but I will certainly keep you updated about how they turn out next time.
Saturday night Ken ended up stuck at the hospital for much of the evening despite plans to watch the Patriots game. I had all the ingredients ready to go for a chicken fried “rice” dish using Cauliflower instead of rice, so I decided to go ahead and make that after Julia went to sleep. I’m glad I did since it was delicious! I used this recipe but had to make a few changes to it, so here’s what I did:
First, I sauteed 3 cubed chicken breasts in olive oil in a large wok over medium heat. Once the chicken was cooked through, I set the chicken aside and then basically followed the recipe you can access with the link above.
At the end, I added coconut aminos and sesame oil along with salt and pepper. Unfortunately, I was not able to find fish sauce that does not contain sugar but I have read about several brands available online that are “Paleo-compliant” if that is something that matters to you.
This dish was fantastic, and much healthier than the “real” thing. I will definitely consider using cauliflower as “rice” in the future since it makes for a much healthier side dish. Later in the week I may even experiment by making Cajun Dirty “Rice” using cauliflower. It also includes ground beef and spicy sausages and hopefully will remind us of New Orleans at least a little bit!
Sunday morning we were both feeling like we needed to get out of the house a bit so we decided to take a family outing for Breakfast. It is hard to eat out while trying to remain on a strict Paleo diet but luckily I’m not taking this to the extreme. My reasons for doing this Challenge are personal and going out to eat, as long as I stick to the “basic” plan, is something I still want to do. So I was able to order some basic breakfast items while still sticking mostly to the Challenge. I counted that as a success!
For dinner, I made a new Whole30 Salmon recipe and some steamed broccoli, which I topped with garlic and lemon juice. The friends who we had over brought with them a salad that contained goat cheese, along with a bottle of wine. We also had some challah from Julia’s daycare that we needed to eat so I decided to take a break from the Challenge to enjoy some cheese, bread and wine but it was delicious so that’s okay 🙂
The salmon was a Coconut-crusted salmon. I had 6 salmon fillets that were approximately 4-5 oz. each. I seasoned each of them with salt and pepper and squeezed lime juice onto them as well. I then dipped each in egg that had been well beaten, and then coated with unsweetened shredded coconut and baked for 15 minutes at 325. The salmon itself was perfectly cooked and had a nice flavor from the coconut, but it was a little more subtle than we normally like. It was good but nothing amazing so probably not a recipe I will be repeating.
So far I am enjoying this Challenge because of the new recipes I am learning and because it is teaching me new ways to incorporate vegetables into our diet. I feel like we, as a family, don’t eat enough vegetables so this is opening my eyes to different vegetables we can cook with and more ways to incorporate them. Another reason I personally wanted to do this challenge was to kind of re-focus my mind and body on eating healthy meals and making healthy choices with the foods I eat. I don’t think carbs or dairy products are the enemy (like many Paleo enthusiasts seem to), but I do think I eat way too many bagels, too much bread, and too much pasta (and toward the end of the year I had gotten myself into the unhealthy habit of having too many snacks), and I wanted to kind of re-set my mind to remind myself that those things should be the exception rather than the rule. The rule should be healthy meals that focus on protein and vegetables while carbs, dairy and sugary snacks should be the exception. I have lost a few pounds already in the week I’ve been doing the Challenge so I do plan to stick with it but, like I mentioned above, I am doing this for personal reasons, not because I want to go Paleo. One thing this challenge has definitely opened my eyes to are the number of chemicals and the amount of sugar that are in some of the packaged/processed foods that we eat. Ken & I don’t really eat a lot of processed foods, but for example, the other day when I was doing the grocery shopping, I picked up a couple of the processed foods we do often use–bagels, cream cheese, tomato sauce, soy sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, etc. and looked at the ingredients. Who knew that sugar is used in tomato sauce? That just seems so unnecessary when you can make a delicious tomato sauce using nothing but real, delicious and healthy ingredients. I do think this challenge will cause me to look at food labels more in the future to decide which brands to buy.
So the bottom line is… even if I’m not doing this Challenge as a way to start eating a Paleo diet all of the time, I am learning a lot and am enjoying it so far! Now onto the rest of Day 8! For lunch today I brought some leftover curried beef with cabbage from the other day along with some baby carrots and an apple. Dinner tonight will be leftover Fried “Rice.”