The Sugar Fix

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Featured above: Delmonico Steak with Baked Potato Chips and Baby Brussels Sprouts with Homemade Bacon

So, I’ve been eating relatively healthy since the end of my Whole 60. Mostly I’ve just been keeping the diet up, adding things like legumes and some grains, but more or less sticking with it.

But I’ve noticed, the one thing that kept sneaking in: desserts. It’s odd, because sugar has never really been my thing. My thing is bagels, and pizza. Like any good New York Jew. But here’s the thing about my life post Whole 60: I haven’t been craving bagels or pizza anymore. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had them and totally enjoyed them, but I haven’t been thinking about them the same way I used to. It’s sugar that’s been a constant desire.

Not even all day, just really after a nice meal at the end of the day. I’ve been massively wanting dessert. And actively disappointed if I don’t get it.

It got me thinking about what a job the sugar industry has done on us, really! Sugar is in everything, so my logic is, I must be craving the sugar that I normally would get in things like bacon, or ketchup, mayo, salad dressings, seasonings, etc., that I’ve now virtually cut out of my diet. So.

To combat this bad habit, and also cause we woke up on Sunday and had a big fully Whole30 style breakfast (pictured below), and then realized we had exactly 30 days until we went on vacation, we are back on Whole 30. Yay!! And, I’m actually already feeling so much better, and happier with the state of my life in general.

The PokPok Cookbook Project is still coming.  But it’s coming in April. March is strictly for feeling good. Recipes galore to come.

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Scrambled Eggs with Alaskan Smoked Salmon and Leeks, Cast Iron Potatoes and Steamed Kale

Whole3o Beef Stew

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Stews are so perfect this time of year. This stew is no exception. It can be done in a slow cooker, but really if you’re geeky like me and have the time, I recommend just stewing it old school slow and steady style. Also, you can easily double or triple this recipe if you want some leftovers to bring in to work (excellent idea).

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound beef stewing meat, trimmed and cut into inch cubes
  • 5 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 ½ cups beef broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • herbs to taste

Preparation:

  1. Combine the almond flour and pepper in a bowl, add the beef and toss to coat well. Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot. Add the beef a few pieces at a time. Cook, turning the pieces until beef is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch.
  2. Remove the beef from the pot and add the vinegar. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the beef, beef broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.
  3. Cover and cook until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the onions and carrots and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Ladle among 4 bowls and serve.

Whole 60: Days 30 – 40

Okay, time for a check in. This 10 days has gone by fairly easily! I feel like it’s become more second nature, and so it’s not as much of a struggle. Both my honey and I feel fantastic…like, I actually have thoughts first thing in the morning,(which have always been a sore point for me) while jogging or working out, or even just having a cup of coffee, like “It’s an incredible day to be alive!” Not sure yet which foods are the culprits but it’s obvious that it’s because of the diet.

The one thing that’s kind of a bummer is that it’s boring. I could totally see having this as the base of your diet, but the strict nature of this specific time period that I’m asking myself to not cheat at all, ever, is unrealistic and not maintainable. I can do it for the 60 days (I hope!) but I do find myself trying to avoid going out to dinner, or meeting friends for a drink, or doing anything with anyone that I’m not in charge of what I’ll be able to eat. And that’s a super bummer.

But, ya know, I feel good. 😀 I’ll be happy though when I get to the part where I can ease up a little.

Anyways, here are some of the things I’ve been eating:

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More coming with recipes. These are just for inspiration. I find I eat a lot of big breakfasts and a lot of salads with a protein on top…sometimes taco meat, sometimes canned mackerel, sometimes tuna fish salad, sometimes grilled chicken, and so on.The trick is always having fresh and seasonal stuff around. I’ll keep posting recipes for the more complicated.

Onward!

Whole 30: Days 27 & 28

It’s the countdown! To…halfway. Meh. Anyways, days 27 & 28 both actually had fantastic breakfasts and dinners, both. Simple salads and picking at lunchtime both days. But seriously, those breakfasts and dinners.

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Example A. Simple. Elegant. Delicious. Perfection. Roasted the baby brussels sprinkled with salt and olive oil at 425 for about 40 minutes; meanwhile fried up bacon and poached some eggs. Boom. I could eat this every day.

IMG_5364.JPGExample B. I will be so sad when my local farm closes for the season. Right now, I’m just throwing in whatever’s lying around from it; peppers, mostly, but the most beautiful peppers…and this breakfast got some of their collard greens thrown in with some eggs and ham and scallions. The peppers went in the potatoes with some red onion and some farm thyme, and it was all magical.

The thing about these breakfasts is, I can’t really get into a full sized lunch, I’m really just in the mood to pick till dinner time after such a big feast. Still, they’re awesome.

Dinners!

Day 27: Sous Vide Squid Stuffed with Tomato Salsa

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This was outrageously delicious. Firstly I know, why do you have to sous vide squid, but I’m telling you, it makes squid like, the best food out there. It’s like butter melting on your tongue. And the whole thing is easy, only takes about 1 1/2 hours total even with the sous vide.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. squid, tubes and tentacles 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoon ghee

Preparation:

  1. Heat sous vide to 136 F. Meanwhile, salt and pepper squid and place in a vacuum seal bag. Pour olive oil over and seal.
  2. Add squid to sous vide and cover. Sous vide for 1 hour.
  3. A few minutes before the squid is ready, mix tomatoes, cilantro, scallion, lime juice and fish sauce together in a bowl.
  4. Remove squid from sous vide. Pour off any cooking juices and pat dry.
  5. Stuff tubes with salsa
  6. Heat ghee in a large skillet over medium high heat. When melted and shimmering, add the stuffed tubes and tentacles. Cook until lightly browned; about 2 minutes on each side. Turn out onto a plate and top with more salsa.

Day 28: Prosciutto Wrapped Striped Bass with Mint and Steamed Chard

IMG_5372.JPGPretty simple meal. Really you just need to concern yourself with the quality of your ingredients, and you’re pretty much set.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. striped bass fillets
  • 3 oz. prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup mint, 2 tablespoons chopped, the rest whole leaves
  • 1 large bunch of chard, trimmed, and cut in 1/2 pieces, both ribs and leaves
  • Ume vinegar to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ghee

Preparation:

  1. Lay slices of prosciutto down on a plate. Lay mint leaves on top of them. Place a fish fillet diagonally on each, and wrap.
  2. Heat ghee in a large skillet. When melted and shimmering, add fish and cook through, flipping once halfway, about 3 – 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  3. Meanwhile, heat an inch or so of water in a large pot.
  4. Place chard in a steamer. Once water is boiling, place steamer in pot and cover. Steam for 2 – 3 minutes until the chard is bright green but the ribs are still crispy.
  5. Transfer everything to serving platters. Pour the ghee the fish has been cooking in over the plated fish, and sprinkle with chopped mint. Pour Ume vinegar and salt and pepper to taste on chard. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

Whole 30: Day 20

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Again, with the big and wonderful breakfasts. Also again, thank you The Piggery for your awesome, sugarless breakfast sausage.

For lunch today we shared the leftover taco meat in a big taco salad. It’s exactly the same as yesterday’s, but I’m going to show you a picture anyway since it’s so pretty.

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You’re welcome.

Today was meat club day (the best day) and we got a bunch of amazing meat, including a half chicken. They always include ideas of what to do with the meat which I never do, because I’m me. But their suggestion this week for the half chicken piqued my curiosity… so I tried it. It’s called oyakodon, and they say it’s a classic Japanese home style dinner.

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The photo doesn’t do it justice. I wish I had taken a photo before I transferred it to the platter…it looked so cool in the pan. I’ll have to make it again and post a photo because this even looks a little gross and this is so, good. I had to change a couple of things to make it Whole 30 friendly, but it was very little, really. Here’s what I did:

In a small pan that will just comfortably fit the chicken, sweat some sliced onion, garlic and ginger. Add a cup of chicken stock, splash of coconut aminos, two teaspoons of rice wine vinegar, salt and the chicken on top. Simmer until the chicken is 75% cooked. Flip and cook a few minutes longer. Lightly beat two eggs and pour around the chicken into the broth/sauce. Simmer for a few minutes, until the egg thickens and is almost set. Serve over cauliflower rice. Anyway, again, this is really good. It cooks through tenderly and perfectly and the flavor of the sauce is spectacular. I swear a better picture will be posted eventually.

Whole 30: Day 19

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I’m really enjoying the big breakfasts, which I’ve never gotten into the habit of over the years. I used to not eat at all until lunch, unless it was like a hang over day when breakfast was at noon or 1 (back in the day) or just once or twice a week for a real breakfast. But I’m having a love affair with breakfast lately. Who knew. Maybe it has something to do with homemade bacon!

Anyway breakfast WAS late today (hahaha) and so I went with a small quickie lunch of heirloom tomatoes and avocado, which I could eat constantly, really, I think. Of course, you can still find perfect heirlooms this time of year, so I’m looking at it as taking it while I can get it.

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I’ve really been craving tacos lately. So, I decided to have a taco salad for dinner. It fulfilled all of my desires, and then some. It actually tasted really close to a taco bowl from like Chipotle or something! Recipe below.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbls. cooking fat
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 heirloom tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups spicy salad greens
  • 1 portion taco mix (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat cooking fat (I used beef tallow) in a skillet over medium heat. Once it’s melted, add onions, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground chicken and cook until browned.
  3. Add taco mix and water and stir well; cook down until the liquid is almost all gone. Remove from heat.
  4. Throw salad greens, tomato and avocado into a bowl, and top with taco meat. Toss well and serve.

Taco Mix: (makes 1 serving)

  • 2 teaspoons Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon White Pepper

Mix well.

Oh! At the end of the day I roasted up a bunch of veggies that were getting older, now I’ll have roasted veggies ready to heat ‘n’ eat. So pretty, too!

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Whole 30: Day 16

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This morning I made time to pre-cook some scrambled eggs with scallions and fry up some bacon. Another perk of the make your own bacon project is that it also provides me with bacon fat in which to cook my eggs, and other goodies. Yay!

Lunch was leftover curry, which is maybe more amazing the next day.

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Anything to perk you up in the middle of a work day is awesome. Also I’ve been finding that on this diet I never have that post lunch sluggishness that I get after many lunches. Instead I feel energized and happy.

After work I had to babysit my niece for a couple hours, which proved challenging when I showed up and she informed me that she had ordered us pizza. Which is like, my favorite. The good news was, her mom is from California, so she had ordered us Dominoes…which if you live in NYC is pretty much not acceptable as pizza. I still wanted it, though. Instead I ate another apple, and then stole a tangerine from my brother’s fruit bowl. I was a little later than I thought I would be getting home, so dinner was made for me!!! Totally worth being late. My honey sautéed some hake in some ghee with garlic and thyme, steamed some chard and whipped up some potatoes. It was great. And I was so happy that I didn’t cheat, particularly in the form of Dominoes. Day 16 success.

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Whole 30: Day 12

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Potatoes save the day. Actually they really do.

So, it serves me right for being cocky. But of course it caught up with me. This was a tough day! It’s not really that I’m craving anything in particular, it’s just that I’m wanting a break from the constant prepping and cooking and planning. Also I’m a little broke this week and it’s expensive to prep everything yourself!

Anyway, that said, it turned out to be a better day than I thought it would be. But I’ve been a little under the weather and grumpy, so I started out a little pissy.

We made up a breakfast scramble of smoked salmon, tomatoes and egg.

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It was good but I’ve still been feeling a little over it all. For lunch we had those delicious potatoes (featured above) with some leftover chili. I was really feeling over the leftovers, though, so I chopped up an heirloom and an avocado and made this deliciousness below:

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…and actually that made my day turn around. It was so good. And so easy. I didn’t have to dress it with anything. Just a little sea salt.

I totally got inspired by that salad and by dinner was feeling much happier and back on track with the whole 30 in general, which I had been cursing up till that point in the day.

And then I busted this out for dinner, which pretty much ended the food day on a super high note:

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Kobocha Squash Stuffed with Curried Turkey and Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 kobocha squash
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 4 – 5 medium sized potatoes, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbls. curry powder
  • sea salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 425
  2. Cut squash in half and seed. Sprinkle with olive oil. Once oven is hot, roast at 425 for 40 – 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, brown the ground turkey in a skillet over medium high heat. Ince brown, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add the potatoes to the same skillet and add water to cover.
  5. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and cooked through. Drain, and mash.
  6. Add potatoes to bowl with ground meat, along with curry powder and salt.
  7. When the squash is ready, fill with potato turkey mixture and serve immediately.

This dish was life affirming. Also we shared one half and kept the second for leftovers.

 

Mostly Baked Salmon and Smashed Potatoes

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Well, this meal is fantastic. No, it’s not raw, but I’m on a mini break from that; I went camping this weekend (and everyone knows you need meat on a camping trip), and therefore had no time to prepare massive raw things to consume this week. It’s cool, I think a break was needed anyway, and when I get back to it next week I will be happier to be eating that way.

I think finding good salmon is important, since otherwise it’s supposed to actually be terrible for you. This here is wild Alaskan sockeye from Iliamna Fish Company, and is terrific. If you live in the NYC area you can also find it (seasonally) at Mermaid’s Garden.

Also, this recipe can be customized to whatever you feel like, whatever you have in the house, etc. Get crazy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets, skinned or not
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbls. smoked spanish paprika
  • 1 tbls. fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbls. orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking potatoes
  • 2 pounds small potatoes (about 20), like Yukon gold
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Coarse sea salt

Preparation:

  1. Season fillets on both sides with salt and pepper.Mix paprika, rosemary and orange zest, and press onto the top of each fillet.
  2. Place a steamer basket in a large pot filled with an inch of water and add the potatoes and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 15 minutes. Remove the basket and let the potatoes cool enough to be handled.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes — I used a comal, which works perfectly if you have one. Add the oil and once it glistens, add the fish, coated side down. Cook about 1 minute, or until the spice mixture forms a nicely browned crust.
  5. Flip your fish and cook about a minute more, then transfer to the oven. Cook about 4 minutes for rare salmon, 5 to 6 minutes for medium rare and 8 minutes for well done.
  6. While salmon is cooking, gently flatten the potatoes, one at a time, between your palms so that they remain in one piece if possible (broken potatoes are also fine). Pour 1/4 inch of oil into a medium frying pan set over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and fry on both sides until crisp and browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with sea salt.

You’re done. Totally delicious, and mostly healthy.