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

Meal Kit Review: Green Chef

A friend offered me a free kit, and Green Chef offers a Paleo option. So, I tried it.

Oh, also, side note? Today is day 59 on our Whole60!!! Whaaat? Yes.

OK, Green Chef, paleo version. The three meals, in the order we ate them (with links to the recipes on the Green Chef site) were:

Zesty Shrimp with Collards with Root Veggies and Squash, Cashew “Parmesan”

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This was good! Being Paleo and not Whole30, there were a couple of things throughout that I subbed…in this one, I subbed the bacon. It didn’t say specifically that there was sugar in the cure but it also didn’t say specifically that there wasn’t sugar. So? Bacon was subbed. I really liked the cashew parmesan element on the roasted veggies…also I don’t often include red onion in my roasted veggies and they were a spectacular addition. Also rutabaga isn’t something I generally think of, so it was nice to eat some things I wouldn’t normally buy. However, it was a pretty standard meal, I thought.

Caraway Meatballs with Braised Parsnips, Fennel & Cabbage, Pear and Rosemary

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This one holds a special place in my heart, since, wait for it…I didn’t make it!! If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you know that I tried Blue Apron and was annoyed that the recipes were complicated and there was a near disaster with the meal I farmed out. But Green Chef held up for that test, with my honey preparing this whole thing with zero assistance and kicking its ass. Also, something I wouldn’t really think to cook, and pretty tasty. The pear makes it, for sure. Well, you know, the pear and the meatballs.

Herbed Chicken with Spiced Sweet Potato Mash, Cranberry and Pecan Salad

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This was probably my favorite of the three. I mean, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with mashed sweet potatoes and chicken. Also, I love a simple salad with just a nut and a dried fruit. However! I did have to sub out both the chicken broth (isn’t there no sugar in paleo, too?) and the dressing, which came again, with no listed ingredients, which is a bummer. It may have been fine but this diet has taught me to just assume there’s sugar in everything. Most of the time that’s true. Anyway, Green Chef, I’ll never know, cause you didn’t tell me the ingredients. It was also the most complicated of the three to cook…though still it wasn’t very complicated. The whole thing was really yummy, too, very nice flavors.

Things I liked about Green Chef:

  • It came with simple, easy to follow recipes that anyone could follow, even if they aren’t used to being in the kitchen. (Isn’t that the whole point of these things, really?)
  • The ingredients were all organic; they looked good, they tasted good, and they were obviously fresh.
  • Certain things were pre-chopped!! If there was a service that sous chef-ed for you, I might actually order it once it a while.
  • They offer paleo options! That’s nice. They also offer vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Which is smart, cause you can appeal to more types of people.

I would probably say that between the two, Blue Apron has better tasting meals. But! MUCH more laborious and complicated, and the Green Chef meals were good, too.

Would I order again? Meh. Maybe. If I was feeling swamped one week and had a little extra money to throw around and didn’t want to go grocery shopping. But, normally, I’m super geeky about my food, and I like to pick out what looks best and use that as a guide for my weekly eating. It serves as inspiration. But! If you’re new to cooking? Sure, why not.

Sous Vide Scallops with a Grapefruit/Red Onion Salsa served with Collards and Bacon; Prosciutto and sage wrapped Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potato Waffle Fries and Salad; Hake and Sweet Potato Curry

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I know, I know, this took forever. So? I took a little break for the holiday. Sue me. Side note: Whole30 Thanksgiving was super successful. Blog post to come. Maybe in a few weeks. 😀 hahahahaha!

Anyhoo. Here’s these recipes.

Sous Vide Scallops with a Grapefruit/Red Onion Salsa served with Collards and Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. scallops
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 ripe grapefruit, segmented
  • olive oil
  • ghee
  • 1 head collard greens, chopped
  • 4 slices of bacon, sliced into 1/2″ strips
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Set the sous vide to 123 F. (Alternately the scallops can be cooked in a skillet, 2 – 3 minutes per side. Set aside and skip ahead to step 3).
  2. Salt and pepper scallops and place in a bag. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over them and seal the bag. Place into the sous vide and cook for 30 minutes. Drain and dry the scallops.
  3. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons of ghee to a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add grapefruit and stir to incorporate. If you want the segments to remain intact be gentle…I messed them up and ended up with a relish-like substance…which was also yummers, (hey, it all tastes the same going down) but still. Reduce heat and continue cooking for another few minutes.
  4. Add the bacon to another skillet and cook through. Once it’s cooked, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then add the collards. (Do not remove the bacon fat!!) Cook collards through for about 2 – 3 minutes.
  5. Add the scallops to the pot with the grapefruit/red onion mixture and sear on each side, about 1 minute per side.
  6. Plate, and eat.

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Prosciutto and sage wrapped Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potato Waffle Fries and Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 14 oz. (or so) prosciutto slices
  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes
  • ghee
  • avocado or coconut oil
  • fresh sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad ingredients (I’ll let you create your own. I use Ume Vinegar generally to dress unless I feel like getting fancy)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. With a mandolin on the curvy setting, slice sweet potatoes to 1/2 inch slices. If you don’t have a mandolin, they just won’t be waffled.
  3. Spread sweet potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and three or four tablespoons of avocado or coconut oil. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes or until browned to your liking, flipping once midway.
  4. Meanwhile, lay prosciutto slices on a cutting board and lay sage leaves on each. Place chicken, one fillet per slice, atop each. Salt and pepper each, then wrap the chicken in the prosciutto slices.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the prosciutto-wrapped chicken and cook 4 – 5 minutes on each side. Garnish with some chopped sage and serve with salad and sweet potatoes.

Hake and Sweet Potato Curry

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. hake, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 pound tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • ghee
  • coarse sea salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee to a skillet over medium high heat. Once melted, add onion and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes to skillet. Salt and pepper the mixture, stir, and cook through until the tomatoes are fragrant and dark, about another 10 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer the whole shebang to a blender. Blend at high speed until the mixture is smooth.
  4. In a deep, heavy pot like a dutch oven over high heat, add a tablespoon of ghee. Once melted, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin seeds and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomato and onion mixture and the can of coconut milk and stir. Bring to a boil and add the cumin, paprika and tumeric. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until potatoes a fork goes through one easily, about 10 or 15 minutes.
  5. Salt and pepper the fish, and then add it to the pot. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to sit for another 6 minutes. Top with cilantro and eat immediately.

Whole 60: Days 40 – 50

I have to admit, I’ve been really feeling this diet lately. I just, feel so good! I mean, at the same time, I can’t wait to have a drink; but really I think we’ll be eating primarily like this in the future. I’ve really learned a whole new way to cook, a whole new understanding of what I’m putting in my body, and honestly (and most importantly) what it feels like to live without all that crap in your body. And, it feels really good.

It also feels good to be approaching the holiday season feeling so healthy. We will be doing a Whole30 compliant Thanksgiving…mostly. I am making some desserts that don’t include sugar, even though you aren’t really supposed to do that. I’m using monkfruit extract in place of sugar, but only a bit…and I’m making a parfait with coconut yogurt that I think I can go sugar free entirely with…I’m gonna cook some berries down without sugar, they will still be sweet and delicious. So, it’s sort of cheating, but really not, considering we’ll have been on this thing for 53 days at that point, and considering we won’t be eating pie. Or stuffing. Or bread. So, ya know, you gotta live your life, too. We’ll just be so close to our 60 day goal at that point, seems a shame to screw it up just for a holiday.

Anyway, here’s some stuff I’ve been eating during the last 10 days. Recipes to follow.

Egg Fried in Delicata Rings with Potatoes and Bacon

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Sous Vide Scallops with a Tomato/Red Onion Salsa served with Collards and Bacon

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Prosciutto and sage wrapped Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potato Waffle Fries and Salad

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Mackerel Poached Egg Salad

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Hake and Sweet Potato Curry

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Poached Eggs on Roasted Brussels with Bacon

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Again, I’ll post the curry recipe, the prosciutto wrapped chicken, the scallops, etc., in the next few days. In the meantime you can use the images for inspiration using whatever you have in your home! Enjoy.

Broiled Bluefish with Eggplant Chips and Bacon-y Collards

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This was an outstanding meal. For all you haters of bluefish, which I think are many (!), I say to you, you’ve either been eating bad bluefish or you just don’t know how to cook it. It’s true, bluefish doesn’t last as long as some other fishes, but it is delicious. Find it fresh, and eat it that night. I’ve had success with many-a bluefish preparation, but this one was extra yummy and also super easy.  Don’t take my word for it; get out there and find you some bluefish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bluefish fillets
  • 1/2 bottle of red wine vinegar
  • 1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 1 head of collard greens, chopped
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • avocado oil; can also use coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Marinate the bluefish in the red wine vinegar for at least 1/2 hour, but can be for several hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 35o F
  3. Spread eggplant slices on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Generously drizzle oil over the slices and salt and pepper them.
  4. Cook at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and fold the tin foil over itself so that it creates a little packet. Set the eggplant packet aside and allow it to steam in its own juices for 15 minutes or so.
  5. Once the eggplant is out of the oven, raise the heat to broil. Remove the bluefish from it’s marinade and place on a baking sheet; then place in the broiler and cook for about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 300 and place the fish in the oven for an additional 10 minutes until the fish is almost caramelized.
  6. Meanwhile, add the ghee to a skillet. Once melted, add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the collards and cook through for about 2 minutes and then add the crumbled bacon. Continue cooking for a minute or 2 more.
  7. Plate it all up, and eat.

Simple. Effective. Tasty.

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: Days 25 & 26

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I feel like this blog post should be titled “More of the Same”. I mean, even that breakfast looks uninspiring. (Although the leftover nik was delicious. I overdid the egg in the microwave trying to re-heat the nik…the egg was perfect when I left home). But still, the last few days I have been down on the diet. I’ve never been one not to break rules. I’m still feeling amazing, I’m just bored and want to change it up.

Also, I think the fact that this is called “Whole 30” and I’m not stopping after 30 days has been bumming me out. It’s some sort of mental thing, even though I’ve always known I was going 60 days with this I feel like, I should be super excited to be done with this right about now, and instead I’m like, hmmm, only half way through. I mean, I’ll get over it, and last night’s dinner was incrediballs, but I’m not there yet. So, meh.

I had some yummy things, but mostly boring things, like a canned Alaskan salmon salad and other salads. Breakfast yesterday was good:

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And last night’s dinner was great. Now that I have sugar free fish sauce life is way simpler.

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Thai Basil Chicken with Red Shishitos:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint shishito peppers
  • 1 – 2 cups thai basil
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. guar gum
  • sesame oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation

  1. Heat a tbls. sesame oil over high heat in a wok. When it shimmers, add the garlic and peppers and stir fry until the peppers are charred.
  2. Add the chicken and cook through.
  3. Add fish sauce and mix well, turn heat to medium and cook down a few minutes.
  4. In the meantime, add guar gum to 1/4 cup of water and dissolve fully.
  5. Add that mixture to the stir fry and stir to combine.
  6. Once the sauce thickens slightly, transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.

So? I just have to get it up to keep things creative. Also, the time has been going fairly quickly…so I’ll just keep hoping it flies on by.

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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