October 15, 2018

My First Whoopie Pie!

It's that time of year...I've popped open my first can of pumpkin and welcomed the fall season with some pumpkin-spiced baked goodies.
I love a good whoopie pie with its creamy, frosting-like filling sandwiched between two soft cookies. After all these years, I've never made one myself so took this pumpkin can-opening opportunity to make some seasonal whoopie pies.
And since I was sharing them at work, I thought the normal sized 4 inch whoopie pie would be too big (I've noticed people enjoy eating bite-sized goodies), so I used my cookie scoop to create about 2 1/2 dozen whoopie pies.
The cream cheese filling with the pumpkin cookie created the perfect autumnal treat. A colleague even said to me that the whoopie pies would elicit a marriage proposal...can't say that happened but I'm glad they were the perfect pick-me-up for an exhausting week at work.

The Recipe: King Arthur Flour's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


September 30, 2018

Korean on the Whole30

When I entered the Whole30 journey, I wanted to try to find one Korean recipe that could be Whole30 compliant. Googling led me to this Whole30 Bulgogi recipe that I will actually keep in my regular rotation since it was a delicious substitute that didn't make me miss normal bulgogi. 

Since rice wasn't Whole30 approved, eating the bulgogi in lettuce wraps made the most sense, but still required some creative substitutions for the accompaniments (ssamjang sauce and pickled radish/kimchi are definitely not Whole30 friendly). A tweaked recipe for scallion salad (Pa Muchim), pickled onions and Sambal Oelek (hot sauce) provided the perfect toppers for the bulgogi inside the lettuce wrap. 

And as an bonus, I used ground beef rather than flank steak to speed up the cooking/prep time! 
Whole30 Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps with Pa Muchim and Pickled Onions adapted from the defined dishKorean Bapsang and Serious EatsServes 2
Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs coconut aminos
1 tbs sesame oil
1/2 pear, grated
1/2 tsp Red Boat fish sauce (found at Trader Joe's/Whole Foods/Sprouts/Asian Markets)
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp gochugaru or crushed red pepper flakes
1 green onion, chopped
Directions:
1. Combine beef with the remaining ingredients together and mix to evenly distribute marinade (but don't overmix!).
2. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
3. On a skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef until cooked through and no longer pink (5-7 minutes).

For Pa Muchim:
Ingredients:
3-4 scallions
2 tsp gochugaru
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp coconut aminos
Directions:
1. Cut scallions into 4-inch pieces. Then thinly slice lengthwise.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients with the scallions.

For Pickled Onions:
Ingredients:
1 large red onion
Red wine, apple cider or white vinegar
Directions:
1. Slice red onion thinly.
2. Place onions in a bowl and cover them with vinegar and stir.
3. Let sit for 15 mins-1 hour. Refrigerate leftovers.

For Lettuce Wraps:
Ingredients:
Bulgogi
Pa Muchim
Pickled Onions
Sambal Oelek
Butter, bibb or Romaine lettuce leaves
Directions:
1. Fill each lettuce cup with a small serving of bulgogi, pa muchim, pickled onions and a dollop of Sambal Oelek.
2. Enjoy!

September 26, 2018

Post Whole30 Cupcake

It only took three days to get a cupcake once I officially completed the Whole30 and reintroduction phase. Mainly, I went to Bloom Baking Co. to grab macarons for a friend's birthday but I thought it would be nice to treat myself to a celebratory I-finished-the-Whole30-and-survived cupcake.
There were about six flavors available at $4. I opted for the fall flavor Apple Spice topped with a cinnamon frosting. 
This was the perfect treat after a month off from eating baked goods. While I wasn't actually craving cupcakes, this little cake would make me crave them if I ever did the Whole30 again. It was light, not too sweet and flavorful (and I liked the apple chunks throughout the cake). Maybe there was a tad too much frosting on top of the cake but since it was so light, it didn't overpower the cake. Definitely the best cupcake I've had in a while. 

Bloom Baking Co. 
River Market
15 East Third Street
Kansas City, Missouri


September 22, 2018

Whole30: Reintroduction

Over a month ago, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and completely optimistic about the Whole30 finally helping me figure out why my sinuses feel like poop most days and why I can't get a proper night's sleep most nights.

Well, after the last ten days of reintroduction, I can't say I have any answers. My body didn't feel too different when I reintroduced the four food groups I had omitted during my month on the Whole30: legumes, dairy, non-gluten grains and gluten grains. I had a little bit of tightness in my stomach about an hour after eating them for the first time on their reintroduction days but then everything else seemed back to normal. (Well minus the two days that followed dairy but it wasn't anything too serious but for fear of TMI, I will refrain from sharing).
cooking recipes now by omitting the sugar in the original recipe like with this Eggplant Coconut Curry

Reintroduction still required some discipline and self-control. I couldn't just grab for all the foods I had missed while on the Whole30 (even though I wanted to). On one day, one food group would be introduced and then the following two days would be back on the Whole30 in order to observe any reactions the body might have. But now I've made it to the end and can finally pat myself on the back for completing this journey.

Conclusion: Whole30 didn't work for me in finding out if food was the culprit for my sinus pressure and insomnia issues. Maybe this was a blessing in some ways because I can eat without having to eliminate certain foods now. But I did feel proud to have cooked so much, eaten healthier and to have challenged myself for the past month+. And my waistline saw a difference too but that might also be because I also tried to work out for 30 days straight while on the Whole30 (I'm usually a once a week worker outer).

Would I recommend the Whole30? Sure, what's there to lose? If you have the time to prep and cook for yourself for thirty straight days, go ahead! I thought the new meals were delicious and happy to see new recipes in my rotation now.

And now I'm excited to eat all the tacos when I go to Houston next week to meet my new baby niece. EEEE...I can't wait!

September 11, 2018

Whole30: Complete!

I did it! I survived the last 30 days without grains, legumes, added sugar, alcohol and dairy. Minus the slip up on rice bran oil and a little sugar in some chicken sausage, I was able to stick with the Whole30 plan. It was challenging at times but a good test of will power and self-control.
Technically, it's still another 10 days on the Whole30 meal plan while I slowly reintroduce the food groups I avoided. The plan is to have one day of reintroduction of one food group and then two days back to the Whole30 while I observe my body's reaction to the food. So far, there hasn't been any issues with the legume group. Tomorrow is dairy day but I'm most excited for gluten-free grains because I've missed rice and corn.
Observations:

  • Sinus congestion and insomnia issues were sporadic. They were good days and bad days so I don't think being on the Whole30 resolved these issues. 
  • Realized I don't eat nearly enough vegetables as I should, even on this meal plan. I could have made vegetables more the focus of my meals and will try to make it a goal to eat more. 
  • I only once got disgustingly full but that was when I ate out at a Mexican restaurant for Taco Tuesday. (I felt disgustingly full for probably all of July so this was a nice change not to feel like I was overeating and therefore never getting hungry but still eating too much all the time (oh, vacation). 
  • I read that people generally feel more upbeat and happy while on the Whole30. I didn't notice a real difference but I would say I'm generally an upbeat person anyway. 
  • I really missed the social aspect of drinking with friends but didn't miss the hangovers. Did find non-alcohol related activities with friends to partake in: roller skating, bingo and a trip to a carnival. 
  • It's been fun cooking all these meals but I'm looking forward to not stressing out about what I can and can't eat. It's getting pretty cumbersome now.
  • Having a vegetable spiralizer is pretty necessary on this journey. I have fun noodling zucchini, onions and sweet potato. 
  • I've enjoyed this food experiment and might do the 30 days again but will most likely stick with it for a week when I feel the need to eat cleanly like after a holiday or vacation. 
  • Check out my Whole30 Pinterest Board for recipe ideas and articles that helped me
Whole30 by the Numbers:
  • 4 dozen eggs
  • 1 quart of extra virgin olive oil
  • 12+ avocados
  • 30 cans of sparkling water (my favorite is the ginger lemon trader joe's brand)
  • 21 different recipes
  • 4 meals eaten out at restaurants
  • 4 packs of frozen cauliflower rice
  • 2 packs of paleo bacon
Favorite Recipes on Week 4:

August 31, 2018

Whole30 Week 3

Three weeks down, one to go! Cravings were down this week but I spent 4 days eating cashews from Trader Joe's that were cooked in rice bran oil. I didn't even think to  read the ingredients when I bought them, thinking cashews were probably safe from non-compliant ingredients; clearly, I was wrong.
The biggest takeaway has been that my sleeping and sinus allergies haven't improved. I'm pretty bummed about this but hoping that in the last week, I'll see some improvement.
Observations:
  • have been wanting alcohol on several occasions and am looking forward to that first drink on DAY 13 of the reintroduction phase.  
  • still feeling groggy for an afternoon nap but realize this is a result of my sinus allergies. 
  • decided to try the rx bar chocolate chip flavor since the ingredients are Whole30 compliant but then after eating it, I googled and found this discussion. Maybe not a great idea but I've been toeing the line of foods that are compliant but may still be considered junk food. 
  • generally still feeling full longer these days.
Favorite Recipes
  • Crispy Swoodles with Egg-sweet potato is a little harder to crank through a spiralizer but just put some muscle into it! 
  • Curry Chicken Salad from the Whole30 Fast and Easy book. I made my own mayo which tasted heavily like the olive oil I used but when combined with curry powder, that flavor was masked up quickly. 
  • Dairy-Free Queso-I never thought I'd be the type of person that would make cheese-less cheese but here I am. I was testing it out for a potluck and quickly made it non-vegan by adding chorizo. It was actually pretty delicious! 
  • Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl-I make this pretty regularly but changed the dressing to make it Whole30 compliant by omitting miso and honey and replacing them with coconut aminos and orange juice. It still tasted pretty great!  

August 24, 2018

Whole30 Week 2

I was a little cocky when I thought I was impervious to cravings but they hit me hard on Days 11 & 12. I dreamt about the dark chocolate covered almonds in my pantry and all I wanted was a warm chocolate chip cookie on Day 12. My substitute: watermelon and apples...womp womp.
I realized that I actually consumed some sugar, unknowingly during Week 1 in a chicken sausage and most likely in some Italian Sausage. I'm getting better about reading labels now and hopefully the next two weeks will fly by, free of mishaps (but really, it isn't the end of the world if they do happen).
Observations:
  • Sleep has improved but now I'm wanting that short, mid-afternoon nap that I usually take daily (FYI: I'm an uncaffeinated person in life, hence the naps). 
  • Only really craving chocolate and chocolate baked goodies. 
  • Bloating has still subsided.
  • Really thirsty all the time but am trying to increase my water intake (I'm normally weird about drinking enough liquids). 
  • Am really enjoying everything I'm cooking from the Whole30 Fast and Easy Cookbook. Will definitely keep some of these recipes in my cooking repertoire. 
  • Felt more hungry when I was snacking on plantain chips, which I was eating just because they were around. Trying to eat more nuts when I feel a little hungry. 
  • Dining out still is pretty sad. Trying to just cook for myself and eating before going out with friends. (One boring salad is enough for me). 
  • Carb substitutes like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles are really growing on me. (Trader Joe's has convenient frozen cauliflower rice packages. Making your own can be a bit of a mess). 
  • Rotisserie Chicken was also a convenient and Whole30 compliant way to cook this past week. 
My Favorite Recipes this week (all from The Whole30 Fast and Easy Cookbook):
  • Butter Chicken 
  • Shrimp Stir-Fry over Cauliflower Grits
  • Almond-Crusted Pork Piccata with Zucchini Noodles
  • Banh Mi Chicken Salad