We haven’t decked out this burger quite like Juli has in this recipe (though why exactly, I’m not sure – it looks delish!). Mostly, we use her spice combo to wow our taste buds and our guests, whether or not we add cheese and bacon to the burgers. You’ll never want to add egg or bread crumbs to your homemade burger patties again!
This is the recipe we started with, but now I just sort of throw whatever into a ramekin with grapeseed or avocado oil. I always include salt and fresh pepper, and usually garlic powder and some dried chili flakes for a bit of kick. Or Italian seasoning. Then I brush the mixture generously onto both sides of the sliced zucchini and lay the slices onto a hot grill. I’m pretty sure I won over my non-zucchini-lover with this one!
You couldn’t imagine a simpler, richer, healthier, more moist, more chocolatey cake! We’ve served this to a few different non-Paleo groups and people have always gobbled up seconds! My favourite way to serve it is alongside some whipped cream (either with coconut milk or good-quality heavy cream) and fresh berries.
Five. Perfectly Seasoned Chicken – Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan
All of these recipes are simple, but this is the simplest and easiest to remember by far. And you will use it over and over and over and over! It’s great for both BBQ and oven cooking.
Grab your room-temp chicken (breasts or thighs, whatever) and generously (and I do mean generously!) sprinkle the following on all sides:
freshly ground pepper
Oven: Place seasoned chicken pieces either on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a glass or ceramic baking dish. Roast uncovered at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.
BBQ: Place seasoned chicken pieces on preheated grill at approximately 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Flip after 7-10 minutes to get grill marks on the other side and for even cooking.
There you have them: five easy, Paleo, and fool-proof recipes that your guests will be raving about and begging you for! You’re welcome.
Many of you have read all about my recent adventures with food, or, more accurately, lack of many “normal” foods. Towards the end of February, I started what ended up being 54 days of the Whole30 diet, as proscribed by the Whole9 Life founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Yes, that “30” in there refers to 30 days, but I decided to go hard-core and do 60 54.
You will probably also be able to tell from the plethora of posts about the Whole30 that I enjoyed it. It was difficult at times, but it forced me to learn about good food. Real food. I had to start making my own salad dressings and using better oils. I began to use all those dried spices that had been taking up space in my cupboard. I started reading labels and growing increasingly disgusted with the food and beverage industry.
For 54 days (not including a “cheat weekend” after the first 30 days), I avoided all dairy, all grains and grain products (including corn and all of its derivatives), all sugars and sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup), all legumes (peanuts, soy, etc.), and most preservatives and additives.
After the first few days, I started to feel consistently great. I had a predictable and steady amount of energy from morning til night, and got great sleep. I was motivated to start running and do ab workouts.
I ate a lot, learned a lot, went through vegetables and eggs like nobody’s business, spent a lot of money on groceries (and I didn’t even get the ideal grass-fed organic meats I was supposed to), and ultimately lost at least 15 pounds (I haven’t done a final weigh-in since losing more weight after the diet was completed). I was getting “wholly healthy,” as I called it.
At the end of my 54 days, I needed a change of pace. Even the Hartwigs admit that the Whole30 is a bit too extreme for anyone to keep up for any extended length of time. The Whole30 is actually a stricter version of the Paleo (Paleolithic, Stone Age, Caveman, etc…) diet, and only meant to be undergone for 30 days here and there.
Having done such an intense diet for two months and then needing to break free, then finding myself in exams, then packing, then moving (to a city and in with my boyfriend=major transition), then looking for a job, and on and on, I fell off the good-food wagon. I guess I’m “lucky” to be one of those people who wasn’t wracked by cramps after every bite of “normal” food after so long an abstinence, but it was altogether too easy to fall back onto more convenient foods.
Convenience and frugality warred against my new good-food habits, and cooking for a non-vegetable-or-healthy-food lover further compounded my dilemma.
I still haven’t fully made peace between the warring factions. Farmer’s Markets have made it easier to justify the purchase of good-quality vegetables and meats, and I am attempting to home-make bread, dressings, sauces, burgers, chicken fingers, and other favourites and staples.
My plan of action is to real-food-ify my kitchen as much as possible. By “real food” I mean non-processed, non-preserved, organic ingredients wherever possible. I will use honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of vegetable oils, organic flour and vinegar, make my own spice mixes (like seasoning salt), and generally go back to buying items without preservatives and additives.
The trick will be bringing Johnathan along with me, but I accept it as a personal challenge!
Two amazing bloggers help our real food revolution on an almost daily basis: Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, and Heather of A Real Food Lover. These ladies have made the spices and the sauces, the breads and the pastas, and have real food solutions for almost any “normal” junk-filled dish.
The bread recipe I have been making lately is from 100 Days of Real Food. It has turned out differently every time I’ve made it (I think I’ve been making it with 4 1/2 cups of flour instead of 4 1/4. Oops), but it’s infallibly delicious!
What are your go-to real food solutions? How have you managed to wean your household off of additives and preservatives? I’d love to hear your stories!
The final issue of this year’s mitZine (alternative student publication I contribute to) hit stands today, and you can find my article about the ethics of real food on page 23: April issue of the mitZine.
Oh, and PS, I got an honourable mention for contributor of the year, two years in a row. I’ll take it!
Rachel is not local to me, but she is serious about what is local to her in Delaware, USA. Rachel posts regularly about discovering local food at markets and restaurants, and recently blogged about the difference between supermarket eggs and organic farm-fresh eggs. I re-blogged that here.
There are really few wittier or more transparent bloggers out there than Heather Armstrong. If any. She is also a photographer, author, and style maven. All of which you will experience on her blog site.
You may be familiar with Ree Drummond from her Food Network show, or have heard about her cookbooks, etc. She does post about some fabulous-looking food, and definitely has some great photography, but what I enjoy most is her rambling wit. In the spirit of transparency, I don’t love all of her posts. I have seen more of her children and pets than I really care to, but in between all of those family photos is the frank good humour of “P-Dub”.
Scott Schuman is an international fashion photographer who shares some of his favourite outfits on his blog site. Models, street style, unexpected combinations of textures and patterns… it’s all there. Prepare to be inspired and perhaps confused.
A fellow (though less snobby) coffee lover, Jenny regularly posts a “Coffee of the Day” photo and description, and often blogs twice or even three times a day about food, people, TV shows, style… whatever is exciting to her that day.
Lisa is a wife and mother who decided to take her family in the direction of real food. Now, she challenges her many readers to do without sugar or flour or processed foods, in the name of getting healthier. You’ll find recipes and creative real food ideas.
Before I embarked on the Whole30 nutrition journey, I hardly ever read labels. I thought label-readers were obsessive calorie-counting control freaks too concerned with numbers to enjoy food (no offense, calorie-counters that I know!).
Before I started reading labels, I had no clue how prevalent sugar is in food items that we would consider staples. It comes in so many forms! Dextrose, sucrose, glucose, the list goes on.
Sweetness isn’t inherently bad for us, but we love it so much that we compulsively over-indulge, and that’s when things start going pear-shaped. Literally.
There are many forms of naturally-occurring sugars. Primarily, they are found in fruit, but there is also honey *and maple syrup.
Should you choose to accept this no-sugar-for-a-week challenge, those naturally-occurring sugars are acceptable, but none others. That includes “naturally-occurring” brown sugar and white sugar: cut them out for a week. Especially avoid any artificial sweeteners: become a label-scanner for a week!
But you have a sweet tooth and you can’t help yourself? You can do it. All you need is some determination, some “healthy” sugars, and some creative ideas.
Idea #1: Make or buy a cocoa, vanilla**, nut (walnuts or almonds), and date blend that looks and tastes pretty close to brownies. The recipe I use is called Fudge Babies. No, they’re not as sweet as the brownies you’re used to, but they’re good! You’ll see.
Idea #2: Cut bananas into bite-sized chunks. Line a freezer-prooftray with waxed paper, and lay the banana pieces on it to flash-freeze until hard. Then store in an air-tight container in the freezer. You can use these just to munch on, or blend them into smoothies, or even a sort of “ice cream” with coconut milk, a bit of vanilla, cocoa if you want, perhaps some pineapple or orange… Yum, right?
I have also mixed some coconut milk and vanilla and drizzled it over banana chunks and then frozen them for some added deliciousness.
Other ideas: Try honey or maple syrup in your coffee or tea, spread honey on your (whole grain) toast, put maple syrup on your oatmeal, and try using fruit juice as a sweetener in a dressing or a sauce.
There really are so many ideas for recipes that avoid sugars–look for some!
Since I started the Whole30 diet four weeks ago ago tomorrow (has it already been that long?!), the way I think and feel about food, as well as the way I interact with it, has changed.
My carb cravings have all but disappeared. I confess I really wanted to snatch one of Johnathan’s McDonald’s fries last week, but I restrained myself.
I am getting used to waiting a while for my food to be done. That and stocking up on pre-cooked veggies and raw veggies and stuff like that. Good food takes time!
Every time I go to the store, I buy avocados. And coconut milk. And tomatoes.
For the first time in my grown-up, shopping-for-myself life, I go through fruit and vegetables before they go bad! Though that pineapple that’s been around for a couple weeks might be done for. Oops. In my defense, I bought it in the first couple of weeks of my Whole30, when the sweets cravings were pretty strong, and I was eating about a case of clementines every day. Well, at least a handful of them, anyway.
That was before I found out I was supposed to take it easy on the fruit, lest my body not be allowed to learn that what it needs most is vegetables!
My “Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy” post talks about how I stopped weighing myself, even on the Wii Fit. This diet, this process is not about losing weight, as much as I would love it if my little paunch would just disappear forever (Keep reading to see what I am doing about that).
I make my own salad dressings, either using extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and balsamic vinegar or another vinegar, or using my homemade dairy-free mayo as a base and adding garlic and/or spices, etc.
Instead of ketchup or barbecue sauce on meats, I use salsa or guacamole.
Real food tastes good, people! You just have to get out of the habit of relying on processed, sugar- and preservative-laden ingredients, and you’ll discover that the grass really is greener on the other side.
A few people have asked me whether I have cheated on the diet. Since I am a goody-goody that tries not to break clearly-defined rules, the simple answer is no. Technically, before I realized that not all bacon was made alike, I ate a lot of bacon the first week on the diet. I also ate a lot of fruit that first week or two, not remembering that thing about going easy on the fruit.
Also, even though Dallas and Melissa of Whole9Life are adamant about not trying to “Paleo-ify” dessert items while on the Whole30 by making cakes with almond flour or coconut flour, or breads, etc., I have to confess to a lingering sweet tooth which led me to the Fudge Babies recipe. I have made two batches of these over the past couple of weeks. Each batch makes about 10 balls of chocolatey goodness, and most days I only eat one, if any. Since they’re made with mostly raw, Whole30-approved ingredients, I don’t consider this a cheat. Though, if I were more hard-core, I would ix-nay those, too, I suppose. My sweet tooth has also influenced me to keep a container of banana pieces in the freezer for those moments in the evening when I’m studying or reading and could really use something that tastes yummy.
There have been a few times, while making a Whole30-approved recipe, that I have used something like curry paste which was already in my cupboard, that may have contained traces of things I’m not supposed to eat, like soy and peanuts, or a common preservative. Again, I don’t consider this a cheat because it was in such small amounts and because I’m a poor and starving student: I can’t afford to buy everything brand new!
Yes, I have begun a regimen of regular exercise as part of this whole personal get-healthy endeavour. Many Paleo eaters are also Crossfit-ers. That is WAYYY too intense for me right now. I am getting my body in shape more slowly and easily.
A couple of weeks ago, I started the Couch to 5K running program. I will officially do the third run of the second week. Couch to 5K is an interval training program designed to get beginners out and running at a pace they can handle, then build their endurance until they can run 5K non-stop, 9 weeks later.
In week two, I warm up with a brisk five-minute walk, then run for ninety seconds, then walk for two minutes. I repeat the run and walk six times, then do a five-minute walk to cool down. On Friday, I will run ninety seconds, walk ninety seconds, then run three minutes and walk three minutes. The first week was one minute running, ninety seconds walking. You can see how easy it is for the couch potato to get their rear in gear. (More about the Couch to 5K in an upcoming post)
Then there’s the wee paunch I mentioned earlier. You probably never noticed it – I apparently have a gift for hiding excess weight. I have no idea how this is possible, because it’s clear to me any time I put on a pair of jeans and flesh squidges up over the belt. Gross, right?
It’s not huge. I’m not fat. I just don’t want to “let myself go”, if that makes sense. Imagine what that little paunch-ette would turn into if I were to start having babies before getting my stomach muscles into good shape! I would probably be a lost cause at that point.
Hence the being proactive in giving my belly flab a run for its money. Every other day, usually on days I run, I do a series of tummy workouts based on this post on the Women’s Health website (thanks for that, Britt and Pinterest). I add as many crunches as I can take, both straight and to the side, some side weight-lifting (holding some weight in one hand, bend sideways so the weighted arm moves down towards the floor, then flex the ab muscles (think: love handles) on the opposite side of your body to pull yourself back to a standing position. Repeat several times, then switch sides.), and then I sit on a chair holding a broomstick across my shoulders (holding weights in my hands, too), and twist as far as I can to one side, feeling the pull in the side muscle on the other side. Then I twist to the other side, and repeat several times. These last two exercises are thanks to Johnathan.
Is it magic? The Whole30? The exercising? No, none of it is magic. It is all part of a process. A time-consuming, effort-involving process that requires dedication and discipline.
But is it worth it? Absolutely. You will feel great by the end of your first week on the Whole30, ’cause you’re not putting ANY junk in your body anymore! Everything worth having requires some effort to keep, including your health.
If you’ve been following my posts, you may have read about how our new apartment must have a dishwasher. John hates to do dishes, and I’m not a huge fan, either. Doing the Whole30 has made the dirty dish situation infinitely worse: practically every time I walk in the kitchen translates into an extra ten minutes of dish-washing!
But even so, it is still worth it. I am willing to pay more, do more work, establish new habits, and learn new skills, all in the name of being “wholly healthy”. Aren’t you?
That’s why I’m going to do another Whole30, back-to-back with this one, a Whole60, if you will.
At the end of this week, I’m going to have a glass of wine, a slice of cheese, a piece of whole-grain bread, and a small piece of dark chocolate, and then the next day it’s back to grain-free, sweetener-free, legume-free, dairy-free, additive-free living, until it’s practically second nature!
Status report: I feel energetic, I feel nourished, I think my taste buds are changing, and I am doing things with food that otherwise I never would have. Today is day 7 of the super-strict diet I have embarked on for 30 days. After posting my introduction to the diet last week, and using the […]
Most evenings these days, I find myself burping up little nasty bursts of hot acidic stuff. I can’t fit into my jeans anymore, except the stretchiest of my jeggings, which don’t really count. Dressing each day requires some strategy to cover the “muffin top”, love handles, and the lines from where my too-small underwear dig […]