If you follow my blog you must know, by now, that I love salmon!
I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to sample the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. wild caught salmon, from Alaska. It really does pay off to spend a bit more for great quality protein that is sustainable caught and that has, indubitably, more flavor and a texture that will leave you wanting for seconds after each meal you prepare with it!
I mean, just take a look at this perfect and beautiful salmon portions:
How could anyone be tired of eating food like this?!
Oh, well, I can't have this fish every week but I'm making sure to take some time and do proper research about the quality and sourcing of our family meals' protein sources. We really should pay more attention to what we feed our bodies and, specially after the whole30, that has been a concern of mine.
Not only for my health but for all of my family's.
By the time I did this recipe I was also able to try out some veggie kits I got from Urban Roots - even though I had to eliminate some of the seasonings that weren't whole30 compliant I had a great time trying these kits out and sampling the different condiments that come with each package. I loved the experience and I'm really glad to know that there's a company that makes eating veggies easier and simpler - if you have a busy life and not a lot of time to spend cooking you should really look into these!
Check out their website and all their veggie kits!
Here's a picture of what I got, alongside some amazing olive oil which continues to be a staple at our house.
I used the butternut squash and the cauliflower kit as a side for another meal and they were delicious! I usually buy all my veggies at the farmers market and prepare them yourself but, like I sad, if you're running low on time and want to make sure that there is always a veggie option in your fridge, make sure to grab some of these packages and try them out as soon as you can.
You won't be disappointed!
The recipe is pretty simple and that's one of the things that I like about cooking. You don't need to over do it, just choose good ingredients, simple flavors and you're off to a good meal, for sure!
2 wild caught salmon fillets (I used the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. - Copper River Sockeye Salmon)
1 big sweet potato sliced
1 brocolli crown
1 lbs small yellow potatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp capers
1/3 lemon juice
1 Tbsp (total) garlic powder
salt and pepper
a bunch of cilantro
2 Tbsp pitted kalamata olives
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Prepare all the veggies that are going into the oven - wash the potatoes and cut them in half. Wash the broccoli and separate it in florets. Place each vegetable in a different bowl and add the seasonings.
3 - On the potatoes and cherry tomatoes mix I used olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. The broccoli had olive oil, turmeric, salt and pepper. The sweet potatoes just had olive oil, red pepper chili flakes and garlic powder.
4 - Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and line up all your veggies making sure that they are not overcrowded in order to cook evenly. I ended up mixing the salmon with the veggies but next time I'll cook them separately!
5 - On a different baking sheet lined with parchment paper place the salmon fillets and season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the fish and vegetables for about 20 minutes or until you see they're cooked through. The time may be a bit off if you choose thicker fillets or bigger chunks of veggies - if that is the case roast them for another 5-10 minutes.
6 - When everything is cooked, transfer to a serving plate and make the sauce to cover the salmon: in a bowl add the lemon juice, about a tsbp of olive oil, the chopped and pitted kalamata olives, the capers and some freshly chopped cilantro.
I love cilantro so I really got a good amount in there!
This was a meal for 4 and the whole family loved it!
I must say that sheet-pan meals are my favorite for weekdays because they make everything so easy and simple - one pan (or two, in this case!) and everything gets cooked at the same time. It's also perfect to cook chicken breast/thighs (might need a bit more time to cook) or shrimp!
Take a look at what you got on your last shopping trip and figure out what protein and veggies you can combine to make yourself a full and satisfying meal like this one!
I would love to know if you also have the habit of doing this kind of sheet-pan meals! Let me know in the comments!
Summer break is here and I've been struggling with adjusting to our new routine!
Well. the issue is that there is not an actual routine, which I must have to get some order in my daily life - the kids are having summer camp in alternate weeks so I'm with one of them all the time and the pressure of feeling like I have to get them out of the house for outdoor activities or other interesting things to do, instead of giving into TV and Ipad time is high!
I also have to teach them how to figure things by themselves and try to occupy their own time without needing me all the time. Adding to this a lot of home chores, recipes on hold, reviews to write down and organizing our trip back to Portugal by the beginning of August...well, I'm just a mess all around.
I know things will get better and summer really is a hard season for me. The constant reminder that I have to be perfect and that the house has to always look good, the cloths ironed and the kids well fed takes a toll on me and I'm trying to find a way to keep it all together.
We all have bad days or weeks, it's just a matter of pushing through and trying to do the best we can.
After all, we're just humans.
Another thing that I've been struggling with, due to everything I've mentioned before, is creativity in the kitchen. I'm always trying to think of new dishes to cook and make them a bit more elaborate than everyday cooking looks like. To tell you the truth, I'm realizing that food doesn't have to be over complicated, it just has to be good, delicious and nutritious.
Most of the times I think about putting some ingredients together in the most simple way, with basic condiments and spices and, if it works out it really is a great idea to publish it on the blog because, sometimes, people just need to get an idea of foods that go well together - specially in the summer, no one want to spend hours cooking a meal, right?
We simply want to enjoy good food and spend time with family and friends, so choosing easy and quick meals is the right way to go!
I've been sticking to a mainly whole foods diet and I'm looking into plant based diet too. I don't think I'll ever give up fish, meat and eggs completely but I'm seriously considering lowering down my animal protein consumption. I already try to have 2 plant-based days a week and it has been a great experience - I feel amazing and healthier than ever! I'm also educating myself and learning more and more about nutrition because there's nothing like getting information from clinical studies and educated people that have been studying the subject for decades. I'm currently devouring "The China Study", by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and his son Thomas M. Campbell II, MD. I'm trully enjoying this learning experience.
So, yesterday I decided to cook up a delicious lunch bowl. I just opened the fridge, took a look at what I had in there and put this super yummy and nutritious lunch bowl together in just about half an hour. It rendered my about 4 meals which was pretty good for the amount of time I spent cooking.
I decided to keep every cooked ingredient in a separate container because, I could combine it with different sides I had already cooked. That way I'll change up a bit my bowl every time I pick something from the containers!
As you know I hat food boredom!
I opted for spiralizing the butternut squash at home but you can buy it already spiralized it at the supermarket. It's more expensive to buy it already prepped but if you need convenience it's, obviously, the way to go.
1/2 a whole butternut squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder
2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil leaves
3 Tbsp "The new primal" spicy marinade/cooking sauce
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pepitas
1 Pederson's Farms no-sugar added smoked Kielbasa
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 - Start by trimming the kale, chopping it roughly and washing it thoroughly. Reserve.
2 - Spiralize the butternut squash, which can be a bit of a hard task if you got a big one, like I did! You've got to cut the end of and peel the long part of the squash, which is the one that you'll be spiralizing, with a vegetable peeler. Reserve the remaining squash and dice it, store in a freezing bag and freeze to use in a different recipe.
3 - In a non-stick pan cook the sliced Kielbasa, in a Tbsp of olive oil, until it starts to get a brownish color. It's delicious when it starts to kind of caramelize, which is not the case because it doesn't have any sugar in it, but it's delicious!
4 - Reserve the cooked sausage and add the kale to the same pan to just toss it in the remaining fat. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and keep moving the kale around so it doesn't get overcooked. When the kale turns a dark green color add the pine nuts and pepitas and give it a final toss. Reserve the kale mix in a glass container.
5 - Add the second Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and cook the squash noodles. These will take about 7-8 minutes to get cooked in medium to high heat. Keep stiring them once in a while and when they start getting cooked add the cooking sauce/marinade. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, add the chopped basil and reserve.
6 - All the ingredients are cooked and you just need to assemble your lunch bowl.
7 - In a large bowl add some of the butternut squash noodles to form a base. Add some of the kale and pine nut mix and some sausage slices. Add some extra pine nuts on top and some fresh blueberries for a burst of antioxidant goodness.
This is a great option to include on your weekly meal prep. Also, cook additional protein sources and veggies so you can build lots of different bowls throughout the week - having it all prepped and cooked on a Sunday night will, surely, make up for a stress free cooking week!
Just assemble your plate and bowl every time you need a meal and enjoy the different flavor combos - also, add some more fresh herbs to spruce up those flavors! Nothing like the scent of fresh herbs on a hot and delicious plate of food!
I love salads and they really are my first choice for warm weather meals. This was my first attempt at a chicken salad with mayo since I usually don't use it and prefer simpler seasonings. I had gotten a Primal Kitchen avocado mayo to try out so I decided to use it and it really came out perfectly balanced and not overpowering, as I thought it would be with regular mayo.
I chose Boston living lettuce leaves because they are big and sturdy enough to hold the salad, in case you really want to ditch the fork and eat it like a taco! It's a pretty portable meal either way - carry it in a glass container and enjoy a fresh burst of flavors and textures either eating with a fork or getting adventurous and grabbing your lettuce taco by hand!
This was done as a Whole30 meal, hence the brand of marinade I used, but you can always choose another brand or make your own marinade if you're not following this specific food elimination program. Either way this step of marinating the meat you'll make for a super tasty chicken that will, in itself, elevate this simple chicken salad to the next level. There is nothing worse than plain, boring chicken breast meat, right?!
I hope you get to try this because it is delicious, simple and easy to make. It's a perfect meal for summer days and if you choose to carry it out don't forget to pack some ice packs around your container to make sure that everything stays safe on warm weather days.
The textures and falvors go perfectly together and the crunchiness from the celery is the perfect complement for the creamy mayo and the sweet grapes.
What a perfect flavor/texture combo!
Write down your grocery shopping list and get this recipe on this week's menu for the whole family!
Boston living lettuce leaves (trimmed and thoroughly washed)
1 lb chicken breast
1/3 bottle of "The Primal Kitchen" classic marinade or cooking sauce
3 small celery sticks
1 tsp garlic powder
1 + 1/2 cup seedless grapes
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup Primal Kitchen avocado mayo (you can substitute for your favorite brand)
salt, pepper at taste
1 Tbsp olive oil (to cook the chicken)
1 - Start by marinating the chicken in "The New Primal Kitchen" classic marinade and cooking sauce. If you're using whole chicken breasts, like I did, cut them in smaller bite-sized portions and place them in a glass container, covering with the marinade so that the whole chicken gets covered. Close the lid and keep in the fridge for about 2 hours. Alternatively you can buy the chicken strips instead of the whole breast in order to save some time with the prepping.
2 - Grill the chicken in some olive oil, adding the rest of the marinade as you go. Reserve the cooked chicken in a bowl, letting it cool down completely in order to start making the salad. You can also do this two first steps a day ahead so you can have everything ready to go when you want to make your salad.
3 - Peel and shred the carrot, wash and roughly chop the celery, adding them to a big bowl where you're going to build your salad and mix all the ingredients. Add the cooled chicken pieces.
4 - Wash the seedless grapes, pat them dry and cut them in half. Add these to the salad bowl with the walnuts. Add the mayo to the bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and freshly chopped dill. Mix everything together and taste it so you can see if you need to make any adjustments at this time.
5 - Platting - I love serving salads like this over lettuce leaves and I used Boston living lettuce because of its broad and large leaves which are perfect for this! Serve the salad on a plate, over the lettuce leaves.
I also prepared the rest of the salad in glass meal prep containers so I could have extra meals prepared and ready to grab and go. There's nothing like meal prep to make you feel prepared for a healthy and pretty good tasting week of meals!
In this particular case I ended up sharing my chicken salad with some friends.
I mean, it's one of the things that makes me feel better - to share what I cook with others and see their reaction. My love for food is closely tied too my love for sharing my passion for cooking and healthy habits so the best thing to do is to share!
This is an example of a very simple meal and, of course, you can always add some other ingredients that you fancy or use other seasonings. From the basic recipe build up your chicken salad and make a super refreshing meal to your whole family over this next week!
I've been wanting to try the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. salmon burger since the moment I got it! With the gum surgeries recovery time it got hard to try new recipes with the products I had but now that I can eat everything again I'm getting to try some new and delicious recipes and sharing them with all of you once more!
I had two 1 lb packages of salmon meat to use and I decided to make salmon cakes.
A very simple and easy recipe that you can whip up with wholesome ingredients that only bring out the natural flavor of the salmon, which is the star of the dish. It was done as a Whole30 meal because I've become accustomed to using only natural foods and condiments - it really makes cooking such an easy and fun activity!
Just choose some tasty seasonings, add some fresh herbs and I assure you you'll have a pretty tasty and nutritious meal for yourself and for your family!
I cooked the cakes in some avocado oil on a ceramic pan and I got them with a nice golden crunchy crust! I first cooked the plain salmon cakes which I did for the kids, since they don't fancy peppers, and then I cooked the pepper salmon cakes which got so yummy with that brown and tasty outside coating!
This is the perfect recipe for a relaxed weekday dinner - you can prep everything ahead of time and then freeze the cakes/patties to have them on hand and cook them whenever you need to!
I used my Tupperware accessory that I bought when I was still living in Portugal. It's funny because I bought it to make homemade hamburgers but just used them once for that specific purpose!
Now that I remembered to pick it up for this salmon recipe I'll use it again for sure.
It is super practical and it allows me to freeze up to 5 individual portions; I can then take and cook portions as I go and leave the others in the freezer.
Convenience at its best!
As I've mentioned before, I did two variations of the salmon cakes: one plain (just with the salmon meat, almond flour and seasonings such as salt, pepper and garlic powder) and the other with peppers which turned out really flavorful and aromatic.
It's a very costumizable recipe too because you can really add any ingredient, seasoning or fresh herb you prefer!
In cooking these kind of dishes there are no rights or wrongs!
Just pick your flavors and start making your own salmon cakes recipe!
Also, I used a package of frozen rainbow peppers because I had it in the freezer but it's perfectly fine to use fresh peppers, just use whatever you've got available.
I always try to make sure that I have, at least, four different varieties of frozen vegetables in the freezer to make sure that I don't run out of veggie options. Some Whole30 habits remain forever and I consider them a plus!
2 lbs salmon meat (I used the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. which you can find here)
juice of 1 lime
fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley)
6 Tbsp almond flour
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 small package of rainbow peppers
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Avocado oil to cook the salmon cakes (about 1 Tbsp should be enough)
1 - Start by defrosting the salmon meat and the pepper mix overnight in the fridge.
2 - Prepare the pepper mix for the pepper salmon cakes. Cook the sliced onion in a pan with olive oil and when it gets softened add the strained rainbow peppers trying to remove as much of the water as possible to prevent the mix to become soggy in the pan. I did this by pressing the peppers though a mesh sieve and pressing a bit to remove all the excess liquid. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and let the vegetables cook for about 10-15 minutes or until they start to get a brownish color which means that their flavor is really coming out and they're ready.
3 - Reserve the pepper mix on a plate and let it cool to start making the salmon cakes.
4 - Place the salmon meat on a bowl and season with salt, garlic powder and the freshly chopped herbs. Separate into two smaller bowls, one for the plain cakes and one for the pepper ones.
5 - Add 3 Tbsp of almond flour to the salmon meat and form balls using your hands. If you see that the mix is too wet add a bit more of almond flour until you can form the balls and they retain the shape. Place them on a plate and flatten them a bit. Reserve.
6 - Place the pepper mix on a chopping board and using a sharp knife cut them pretty finely or at your desired size. Don't over chop to prevent excess liquid. Add the peppers and the lime juice to the salmon meat and add 3 Tbsp of almond flour adjusting this amount, if needed. I also added some extra red pepper flakes to this ones because I just love a bit of heat on my salmon!
7 - First I filled my Tupperware containers with these salmon mix and pressed down on each compartment to make sure that I would have well defined patties. I used a small spoon to make sure that I was able to press down every single bit of salmon mix. With the rest of the salmon mix I formed small balls and did exactly like I had done with the plain salmon patties.
After having these perfectly shaped and pressed down I pilled them up on top of each other and finished with the plastic lid to seal them up. Ready for the freezer!
8 - To cook the salmon cakes heat up some olive oil in a non-stick pan and place them on medium heat until they're cooked on one side which takes about 3 minutes and flip them over to finish cooking on the other side. The cooking time will also depend on the thickness of the patties, the thinner they are the faster they'll cook up. Don't overfill the pan to make sure that the temperature stays pretty constant.
9 - Remove the cooked salmon cakes from the pan, add some more olive oil, if needed, and continue cooking all your salmon cakes.
10 - Serve the salmon cakes with grilled veggies or a fresh and colorful salad and enjoy! A bit of lime juice on top is also perfect for a final touch of freshness.
This delicious meal pictured below was amazingly refreshing on a warm spring day! Coleslaw with roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, roasted garlic sauerkraut and an amazing and quite spicy pepper salmon cake!
And you know what the best part of all this is?
I have four more delicious salmon cakes in the freezer for a lazy day when I don't feel like cooking but still want to have a healthy and satisfying meal.
What about you? Do you like salmon?
What are your favorite ways to cook it up and serve it at your house?
At our house we love fish and seafood and try to have it, at least, 2 times a week. When we were living back in Portugal we had a much more fish based diet - fish is very abundant and cheaper also, which allows people to have a higher access to fish. We used to have mainly cold water fish, from the Atlantic because that's what we get over there. A lot of grilled salmon, steamed whitening, grilled sword fish and sardines, in the summer time!
When we moved to the US I really got hit with the reality that we had to cut down, maybe by half, the weekly fish based meals due to the higher buying price. There are cheaper varieties and I used to buy them once in a while but now that my perception of food has changed I really try to make good food choices, like buying wild-caught fish instead of farmed varieties. The quality of the food we eat really impacts our health and well being and, if making better choices gets us having a couple of great quality fish meals a week that's perfectly fine by me.
I'm still looking for a local fish market to buy sustainable and wild-caught fish so if anyone from around Scotch Plains has a regular place where they use to go and recommend, please send me a message or write down a comment on this blog post so I can check the place out and maybe even feature it on the blog, on the "local businesses" section.
For this recipe I used the Virgin Bay Sea Food Co. wild-caught rock fish and it worked out perfectly!
A firm white fish, sturdy enough to incorporate in a stew without loosing shape or flavor. This kind of dish really is a hearty and healthy meal - incorporating potatoes and peppers allows for you to have the vegetables along with the meal and cooking everything in just one pot makes it a winner for any home cook, right?
Keeping things simple during the week is my most precious motto for weekday meals.
Don't complicate and use simple but great quality ingredients and you'll do just fine and won't have to stress about cooking that much. I cooked the stew in a big pot and used 4 big portions of rock-fish which was enough for 8 individual servings.
1 big sweet onion, diced
3 grated garlic cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, trimmed and diced
2 carrots, peeled finely chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 small orange bell pepper, washed and diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste *
2 Tbsp parsley
2 bay leaves
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder *
1/2 fennel bulb, washed and thinly sliced
juice of half a lemon
4 large rock fish fillets
1 lb frozen wild-caught mussels *
2 large white potatoes, washed and diced in big chunks
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, washed and diced in big chunks
bone broth * to cover the vegetables (I used about 4 cups)
Dill to season at your discretion
* To make this dish Whole30 complain just make sure that this ingredients are compliant by reading the ingredient list on the package/can.
1 - In a big pot add the olive oil and when it gets to a good temperature add the onion and the garlic to cook them lightly. Add the bell pepper, the carrots and the celery and give it a good mix to combine all the vegetables. Let this cook in medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables get soft.
2 - Add the washed and diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, the bone broth and the thinly sliced fennel. Give this a stir and add the seasonings and the herbs - salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes (I used 1 tsp), the bay leaves and the freshly chopped parsley. Let this cook in slow heat and with a lid on, for about 25 minutes.
3 - Add the chopped potatoes and cook for an additional 8 minutes and after that add the fish cut up in big chunks and the mussels. Season the fish with some salt and lemon juice.
4 - Cook with a tightly closed lid to get the fish cooked, around 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the chopped dill on top of the stew.
5 - Let the stew cool down a bit for a couple of minutes without the lid (so it doesn't overcook!) and serve it in individual soup plates with some of the broth.
If you you're not doing a Whole30 round feel free to have a sliced baguette to go with the soup, it'll go amazingly with the broth!
This is the absolute warm weather comfort food for me! I love salads and cold food too but a fish stew will always get to me! The combination of flavors is just mouth watering and, honestly, I can not wait to cook a batch of this scrumptious stew again!
As a plus, my kids loved it which makes it even better since cooking two different meals, one for us and one for the kids, was never an option around here!
Give this amazing meal a try and let me know how it went and if the whole family enjoyed it as much as I did!
Since wrapping up my first Whole30 I found out several things about the effect that different foods have on me. I found out, among other things, that gluten IS the trigger to my migraines: I used to have 2-3 each week and I'm down to one a month which is amazing! This discovery allowed me to change the way I eat in order to control something that was really disturbing and disruptive to my daily life.
Coincidentally, I was contacted by Cappello's brand to whip up some recipes with their gluten-free products! They offer a great range of product, from pizza to pasta and cookie dough. Guess I won't be missing anything on my gluten-free diet! I decided to start with the gluten-free gnocchi because I've always wanted to try them but ended up never doing it. I can only say one thing: PERFECT!
This little golden clouds of puffiness were an absolute delightful meal, paired with roasted veggies that have now a precious place in my daily food routine. Getting them cooked and then crispy by sauteing them in garlic ghee was the perfect choice and resulted in a crunchy outside and a soft and creamy inside - I'm serious, you must try these gnocchi!
Ingredients (3 servings):
1 package of Capello’s gluten-free gnocchi
1 acorn squash
½ butternut squash
4 leaves of Lacinato kale
15 fresh wild-caught shrimp
Salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp new bae seasoning (I used the Primal Palate one)
1 tbsp garlic ghee (I used the 4th and Heart one)
1 – The first thing to do is to start on roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2 - Wash the acorn squash and cut it in half, remove the seeds and cut thin slices. Peel the butternut squash and dice it finely.
3 – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray some olive oil on it and place the veggies on top. Season with a bit more olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and the fresh thyme leaves. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the veggies are cooked (time may vary according to the oven). Midway through the cooking time toss the veggies around so they get evenly cooked on both sides.
4 – Now, start working on those beautiful gnocchi. Get a big pan, fill it with filtered water and take it to a boil. When the water is boiling add the gnocchi and keep moving them around every 30 seconds or so, just like recommended in the package. When the gnocchi float that’s when you know they’re cooked through!
5 – Melt the garlic ghee on a pan and add the strained gnocchi. Let them brown and get the taste from the garlic ghee which is amazing! This process takes about 6-8 minutes but make sure to keep shaking the gnocchi around the pan, so they get brown all over – this step will give a wonderful crispiness that goes amazingly well with the creaminess of the inside of the gnocchi!
6 – When the gnocchi are golden remove them from the pan and cook the shredded kale for about 4 minutes, just enough time to get it flavored but not soggy. Add the gnocchi back to the pan. Turn the heat off.
7 – The last thing to do is to cook the shrimp. Season them with new bae seasoning and just grilled them on a bit of olive oil for just a couple of minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and reserve to drain any liquid that may come off.
8 – Assemble your dish: add the butternut squash to the pan where you have the gnocchi with the kale and plate each serving on a single serve dish. Add the acorn squash and the shrimp and that’s it! A feast for the yes and for the taste buds!
I can't wait to try the other products by this brand! As I'm writing this blog post I'm having another 6 weeks of soft food diet due to a second gum surgery that I had done. It's always boring to be limited to soups, smoothies, scrambled eggs, mashed banana, apple sauce and steamed fish but...it's necessary! Can't wait too get back to solid food and start creating delicious meals again!
In the meantime I have some tasty suggestions that I've cooked these past few weeks and that I want to share with all of you. Stay tuned for another great recipe on Thursday!
Wow! A lot has been happening around here and, unfortunately, I haven't had the time to update the blog as I had liked to but...that's life. Sometimes we get everything under control and sometimes we just have to roll with what we've got! I've been cooking up some delicious recipes which have made up for the endless weeks of soft food diet that I had to go through, after my gum surgery!
How I've missed REAL food!
To be able to chew and to savor, really savor, every bite of a perfectly balanced dish is amazing! I've finished my Whole30 experience and I've got a lot of conclusions to draw from it. I'll be writing down all my findings on a future blog post which, I hope, will be helpful to anyone interested in getting to know a little bit more about their body and its reaction to the different kids of foods. I will say this: I expect to keep my way of eating very similar to what I did for these past couple of months because it just showed me that it is exactly what I need to do to feel good about myself and about my body. Everything tastes grate, I feel amazing and, honestly, I don't miss much. The only thing I do miss, and I'll have it occasional, is a cup of oatmeal with fresh fruit, nuts and honey or a dairy-free yogurt (yes, I figured out that dairy is a major source of inflammation!) . As for the rest, when I feel like having it I will but, right now I'm feeling great and ready to enjoy food freedom!
1 large sweet onion
3 garlic cloves
5 slices of no-sugar bacon (I used the Applegate brand)
2 celery stems
1 bunch of spinach (about 100g)
1 lbs ground meat (I used "Verde Farms" 100% grass-fed beef)
3 plum tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup homemade chicken broth (it's perfectly fine to use store bought, as long as you pay attention to the ingredients, stray away from artificial ingredients, if possible)
1 Tbsp red pepper chilli flakes
Basil and parsley (I always love fresh herbs and I can keep track of the amounts! I took a picture in the "preparation"section so you can have an idea of how much I used)
3 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp full fat coconut cream
1 tsp ghee
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 - Prep your veggies so that when you start cooking everything is ready and set to go into the pot. Peel the onion, garlic cloves, celery stems and carrots. Dice the onion and the carrots and mince the garlic.
2 - Wash the spinach thoroughly, to make sure that they get a proper rinse.
3 - Peel the tomatoes and dice them, reserving any and all juice that may come out. That's all needed to flavor up the meat sauce!
4 - Get the sweet potato mash going: peel and cut the sweet potatoes and steam them on the Instant Pot for about 10 minutes. While that is going start making the meat sauce.
5 - I love to cook on my Dutch oven because, in dishes like this, it deepens the flavors and keeps the temperature of the food up for a longer period of time which always adds up on the flavor scale! Dice the bacon slices and cook them in the pan with no other grease except its own! This is a great way to get a more flavorful dish - bacon!!!
6 - After the bacon is cooked, add the ground meat and let it cook until it changes color, maybe about 6-8 minutes. After that time, remove the meat and bacon mixture from the pan and reserve them. Saute the onion and the minced garlic in some olive oil. Let that cook up for a couple of minutes and add the carrots, the celery and the chopped up tomatoes. Give the sauce a big stir and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.
7 - Add the tomato paste, the chicken broth and the freshly chopped herbs - parsley and basil. Let the meat sauce simmer for about 40 minutes on low. On the last 5 minutes add the spinach and let them cook on those last minutes.
8 - By then, the sweet potatoes have steamed and it's time to move on to the mash. Remove the sweet potatoes from the Instant Pot and transfer them to a pan. Add the ghee, the coconut milk and mash, very carefully, with a potato masher. Take enough time to make it smooth because the texture will be crucial for the final texture of the dish. When everything is well incorporated and smooth, turn off the heat and reserve.
9 - Assembly time! When you have your meat sauce and sweet potato mash ready it's time to get this dish ready! I used big souffle dishes which worked out perfectly for this kind of pie! The size is perfect and the shape is also great for this kind of dish with sauce. First, place the meat sauce in the bottom of the souffle dishes.
10 - Cover the meat with a thick layer of sweet potato mash and, if you feel like it, decorate it! I just did a simple pattern with a fork, to make a texture like effect.
11- Add some coconut flakes on top of the mashed potatoes and heat each serving in the oven, at 450 F for about 15 minutes, just enough time to get some crunchiness on the coconut flakes and some browning on the mash.
This is a great tasting dish and, if you want to make the most of your time, you can make a double batch and freeze individual size portions to save for those hectic days when dinner time suddenly shows up unannounced!
I hope you f=give this recipe a try because it really is a delicious meal with wholesome ingredients that will please the whole family. If you do try it let me know how it turned out!
If you follow my Instagram account you know that a lot has happened between my last blog post and now!
I had laser gum surgery done on my left side gums (upper and lower) which has limited my meal options a lot in these last 4 weeks. I was on a restricted soft food diet until last week, when I got the OK from my periodontist to get on with "regular" food, but only chewing on the right side of my mouth. Well, I'll take an upgrade from a bad situation any chance I get and this was the perfect opportunity to start trying out new recipes at home and share them on the blog, again!
At the same time, I'm still on my Whole30 journey and I'm now on the reintroduction phase. I've tried dairy, legumes and non-gluten grains and, as soon as I finish that phase, I'll write everything down on a detailed blog post with all my conclusions including if I got to find out about the foods that trigger my migraines which was, after all, the reason to start the whole process!
The recipe I'm sharing today was the last one I got to cook before I got my surgery. As some of you know I got some amazing wild caught Alaskan fish from Virgin Bay Seafood Co. and I've been thinking about it all through this period when I couldn't eat proper food, as I call it! I chose some amazing halibut portions and I cooked them in the oven with some rainbow carrots and broccoli...what can I say? When you have prime ingredients the best thing to do is keep it simple and let the fish shine on its own...and did it shine!
The texture of the halibut was firm and the taste was surprisingly fresh and delicate. I didn't want to overpower it with other flavors and it turned out perfect. If you get a chance, take a look at the company's website and check out the offers in terms of package so you can get your hands on some marvelous wild caught fish from Alaska. I can't wait to try their salmon!
One thing is certain: there really is a huge difference in taste and texture between farmed fish and wild caught fish. Of course the price you pay to get it is higher, as it should, because the superior quality has costs and they are really well known by all of us. The real question is: would you rather pay more for healthier and tastier fish or for healthcare and medicines when the quality of what you eat shows up in some sick and unpleasant way? I choose healthy for me and for my family and I've been trying to improve our food choices in order to improve our health and general well being as well as paying attention to sustainable options that lower the impact that we have on our planet. It is ours to keep safe and protected.
1 - Preheat the oven on 400 F. Peel the onion and slice it in thick slices. Saute them in olive oil and add the garlic and the bay leaf. Season with the jerk seasoning and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes until it starts to get brownish. Arrange the onion on the bottom of the baking sheet, in the center so it can be shielded from the heat of the oven, by the fish.
2 - Place the halibut portions in the center of the baking sheet and arrange the carrots around it. Wash the broccoli crown and cut off the florets to distribute them alongside the carrots. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon juice. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil on the vegetables and arrange the lemon slices by the fish. Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley and bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes, keeping an eye on it.
3 - When the fish is ready turn off the oven and take the baking sheet out, not to overcook the fish. Boil the eggs and peel them to serve alongside with the fish and the vegetables.
This was a perfectly healthy and delicious dinner for the whole family!
The kids love fish and if you add eggs to it it's like "the best meal ever"! Isn't it rewarding to hear something like that from them when they're 7 and 9 years old? Teaching them how and what to eat has become another task as a mom and I'm taking it very personally; getting children on the path of healthy food it's an investment in their future health and teaching them things like reading ingredient labels and identifying unhealthy options really is looking out for them.
I'm proud to be an interested mind and I hope to influence my kids' decisions in terms of foods, for as long as they let me! I hope that by the time they start making their own decisions, eating outside, they'll have the tools and information to make the right choices and to practice a balanced diet with real food!
As I've previously mentioned on another blog post I got some amazing meat from Verde Farms and I got to try this delicious recipe with the Ribye steak, which was perfect for two people. It's my personal opinion that meat doesn't need too much side dishes, it just needs the perfect ones! I added spinach for the green effect and vitamins boost and paired some parboiled potatoes that I, subsequently, crisped up in a pan with olive oil and, garlic powder and fresh herbs.
I'm loving the flavor of the meat and I understand why some people find it different the first time they try it. Well...it is different! This meat comes from grass-fed animals that are 100% free range. These animals diet's are truly natural and there are no added hormones or antibiotics, EVER. That will, obviously, give the meat a totally different flavor and a whole lot more nutritional value and wholesomeness!
The Ribeye steak is perfect to grill, saute or broil. It is a flavorful and tender steak that comes from the cattle's lightly worked upper rib area. This meat is lower in fat than the grain-fed Ribeye and has the right amount of marbling to preserve juiciness.
As some of you may already know, I'm on a restricted soft food diet after having laser gum surgery on my left side of the mouth...that will be the case for the next 6 weeks or so and I can't tell you enough how I'm missing some really good beef! I have some marvelous steaks waiting for me int he freezer as soon as I get of the diet! Really can't wait!
I hope you try this recipe with a good quality steak because it really is the start of the dish!
1 - The first thing to do is get your roasted red pepper sauce cooking! Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Wash the peppers and cut them in large chunks. Put them on a sheet-pan and add the roughly sliced onion, seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drizzle about 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the vegetables and toss them around to make sure that everything is evenly coated.
3 - Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the onions start to turn brown. Turn off the oven and remove the baking tray from the heat. Let it rest until the peppers and onions have cooled down a bit.
4 - On a deep container dump the onions and peppers and add the bone broth. With an immersion blender work your way down to the bottom of the vegetables until everything is well blended and you have a creamy consistent sauce. If needed add a bit of water to help this process.
5 - Reserve the sauce in an air tight container and use with your protein of choice to get a flavorful meal - chicken, beef or fish, anyone of these will work perfectly! Broiled fish fillets with red pepper sauce are amazing! If you decide to freeze some of the sauce reserve in smaller containers that you can use along the way.
This is a very versatile and robust sauce that I like to keep around. If I have something for dinner or lunch that's just needing some little push I'll add a dollop of roasted red pepper sauce and, instantly, it chances the whole meal!
When I cooked my roasted red pepper sauce I decided to keep it all in the fridge because I wanted to use it in different meals. I used it with spaghetti squash and chicken, as you can see in the meal pictured bellow. It really made that squash flavor pop out!
After finishing my Whole30 journey I'll definitely use this sauce on some hearty pasta dish or just a simple one with the roasted red pepper sauce and cheese - a good quality cheese! But now...back to the Whole30!
As, I've mentioned, I had gotten some amazing steaks and I decided to have the rest of the pepper sauce with one of them! Delicious and crispy potatoes and some sauteed spinach did the rest of the work! So, for the rest of the recipe:
6 - Wash the potatoes, cut them in half and boil them in water with salt just until they're firm enough to feel like cooked through but not completely. Take them out of the water and saute them in a pan with some olive oil. Add some fresh thyme leaves and season with some more salt, pepper and garlic powder. Always taste before adding some more seasoning. Cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes, turning them once in a while, to make sure that they get a pretty brown color on both sides. Crispy and golden is the goal!
7 - In another pan heat up some olive oil and saute the spinach for about 5 minutes, very quickly, seasoning them with salt. I didn't add anything more because I do love to taste the real flavor of the spinach!
8 - After having all of the other ingredients ready is time to cook the steak! Heat up the grill on the stove top and brush the steak with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Put the steak on the hot grill and let it cook, approximately, 6 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other. This will depend on how you like your steak, I like mine rare and this was perfect! My husband likes it medium so I had to cook his share of the steak a bit longer!
9 - Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for about 8 minutes or so. Slice it thin and now it's time to assemble your platter: Arrange the potatoes on one side of a big platter and on the other side smear some roasted red pepper sauce (heated just before assembling the platter). Add the spinach and the sliced steak, as seen in the picture.
Some beautiful and delicious meat with the perfect pairings for an amazing meal! This really gives a whole different meaning to the "meat and potatoes"everyday meal, doesn't it? This is an amazing Whole30 meal that will be a part of our menu a couple of more times until the end of the program and even after that - it's super flavorful, healthy and a hearty option that comes without all the guilty of a heavy plate of food!
I ended up having my share of the steak in a salad, with romaine lettuce, Green goddess dressing and some kalamata olives for the healthy plated fat. Finished it up with some sweet seedless green grapes.
I hope some of you will give this recipe a try because it really is a must! Also, don't forget to check out the Verde Farms website and look up all the other products that the brand has available.
Today is day 37 of my first Whole30 round and it just isn't as amazing as usual because I'm on the soft food diet. I'll be posting about that subject until the end of the week and I'll put up a list of some simple options that can be helpful to anyone in the same situation. It's not really exciting but it is doable! I'm really missing my hearty and wholesome solid breakfasts!
I really can not believe week 4 of my first Whole30 is over! Only two more days to get to the finish line and it's becoming even more natural to eat this way. I've come to the point where I don't even think about bread! Of course I like it but I've been feeling so good without it that I'm almost afraid of what it may do to me during the reintroduction phase. But...one thing at a time!
As some of you may know I'm going to have laser gum surgery performed on Wednesday. That might be a challenge but I've prepped this next week in a somewhat different way. I've cooked and frozen some soups to have during the days when I'll only be able to have liquids and then I'll add some really soft food when that time comes: guacamole, mashed potatoes, applesauce, mashed banana. At least, having prepped for a bit gives me a sense of calm and I don't feel stressed about not having compliant food available. I also have some Zupanoma soups to try, that I've gotten through an Instagram giveaway - can't wait to try those!
I've chosen some pretty basic soups that would end up with a very creamy texture because I'll be having them as the only item of my meal. I used bone broth in all of them, to get even more goodness out of these great soups:
With this being said I do feel nervous about this surgery and that has affected my mood by the end of the week. I usually keep it all together pretty well but with something like this I always fear that something might not go so well and...well. I rather just move on to the food journal!
I hope these pictures help other people to get ideas for meals that come a bit out of their usual menu - getting varied foods is key to keep food boredom away. I know you must be tired of hearing me say that but it really is true! So, inspire yourself and take a look at my week 4 food journal!
riced cauliflower rice with kale and salmon (leftovers from another breakfast) +
1/2 avocado +
1 fried egg, in ghee +
roasted potato wedges +
1 slice of diced pineapple
Romaine lettuce with green goddess dressing, from TJ's +
1 roasted potato +
5 kalamata olives +
grilled Verde Farms steak strips +
sauteed spinach +
roasted red pepper sauce +
seedless green grapes
roasted chicken breast +
roasted asparagus +
roasted red cabbage and cauliflower +
1 Tbsp spicy salsa +
5 kalamata olives +
1 cup roasted tomato soup
2 fried eggs, in ghee +
1 spiralized zucchini sauteed in a bit of olive oil +
roasted potato wedges +
1 sliced apple with 1 tbsp almond butter
steamed spaghetti squash (1/3 of a whole squash) +
ground turkey with marinara sauce +
6 kalamata olives +
roasted asparagus +
ground turkey with cabbage and carrots +
1 bacon strip +
1 cup of roasted tomato soup
1 grilled chicken thigh +
roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon +
roasted green beans +
butternut squash roasted ribbons +
1 banana with 1 Tbsp almond butter
Leftover chicken with mushrooms and tomato (Instant Pot recipe) +
roasted asparagus +
roasted potato wedges +
5 kalamata olives +
roasted butternut squash ribbons +
1 grilled peach (just on the grill, on the stove top, no fat needed)
ground turkey with marinara sauce +
sauteed spinach +
cauliflower rice with salmon and kale (leftover) +
1 roasted potato +
roasted green beans with almonds +
2 scrambled eggs, in ghee +
1 sliced pear with cinnamon and a few more almonds
This time I left some food on the plate, first time ever! I feel I'm starting to get full with less food. I left 1/2 of the potato and 1/3 of the green beans with almonds.
steamed spaghetti squash (1/3 of a whole squash) +
1 small grilled chicken thigh +
roasted red pepper sauce +
roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon bits +
freshly chopped parsley +
1 sliced apple with 1 Tbsp almond butter
Chicken stew with mushrooms and tomato +
roasted rainbow carrots +
roasted broccoli +
Romaine lettuce with TJ's green goddess dressing +
grilled mushrooms and zucchini +
1 grilled spicy sausage, from TJ's +
1 sliced apple with 1 Tbsp almond butter
Steamed spaghetti squash (1/3 of a whole spaghetti squash) +
roasted pepper tomato sauce +
roasted Brussels sprouts +
5 kalamata olives +
5 pieces of grilled plantain (just on the grill, no fat needed) +
1 grilled chili lime burger from TJ's (delicious!) +
1 TJ's chili-lime burger +
steamed bok choy +
leftover rainbow carrots and onions +
1 dollop of guacamole
roasted Brussels sprouts and green beans +
2 fried eggs, in ghee +
1 sliced pear +
1 bowl of Whole30 chili, from this recipe +
1 dollop of guacamole +
This was the perfect example that having Whole30 frozen meals is a must when you commit to the program. I had to go with my daughter to a birthday party and got home past 2 PM. I was really hungry but all I had to do was put the chili in the microwave and get it really hot, just like I like it!
1 TJ's chili-lime burger +
leftover roasted rainbow carrots +
leftover roasted Brussels sprouts and green beans +
6 kalamata olives
sauteed kale +
1 apple spicy sausage +
butternut squash +
1 pear +
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 bowl of carrot and turmeric soup with pepitas +
1 TJ's chili-lime burger +
1 Tbsp TJ's vegan pesto +
romaine lettuce +
1 radish +
1 Tbsp Tessamae's balsamic vinaigrette +
1 cup of roasted butternut squash soup +
2 slices of grilled bacon +
1 small slice of grilled pork tenderloin +
roasted asparagus +
1 pack of Seasnax roasted seaweed
As always, I had two coffees during the day - one at breakfast and the other one after lunch. I also kept taking my collagen peptides daily and used bone broth in my cooking to help our gut health and include some more natural goodness into our daily routine.
My three meals are done in three different sized plates: breakfast is the largest meal of the day, on a regular plate, lunch is served either on a soup plate or a cereal bowl and dinner is served on a dessert plate, sometimes paired by a cup of soup.
Mood and emotions:
Although I didn't have any negative feelings due to the Whole30 food choices I felt a bit crankier and stressed, thinking about next week's surgery. It was always on the back of my mind and ended up affecting how I felt all through the week. I didn't have any sugar cravings and I think for me that was a non existent issue from the start - I've never been a sweet tooth.
my energy level was a bit lower than usual which was also related to the stress I felt. Other than that I feel that I'm becoming more confident about myself and with my body which is a major issue for me. That dependency on the scale is also something that I still fight and, ultimately, I need to end it! I know that the number on the scale doesn't represent ME but I keep longing to see it - that must end! If I feel good, energetic and more confident about myself I mustn't need a scale in my life! So I guess the topic "less reliance on the scale" really isn't a check for me. Working on it...life long habits are hard to quit!
Physical changes (visible):
My skin is looking great and I haven't had any blemishes, not even during my period week! My hair is shinier, healthier and I don't end up with a brush full of hair every time I comb it! It really is a huge NSV and I wouldn't think that changing what I eat would affect my hair like that.
My clothes foot better and I feel confident wearing clothes that I wouldn't before starting the Whole30 program. I've tried on a couple of jeans that were thigh and now they're loose - I need to get a belt...or new jeans!
Physical changes (inside)
As in the last three weeks I haven't felt any joint or back pain and I'm always ready to do something. I feel more active and I haven't had any migraine after the couple I had last week, during my period. That's the most important NSV for me, right now! Only 2 migraines in 28 days is epic! I can't wait to find out which foods trigger my migraines...I have a suspect, let's find out during the reintroduction phase!
Food and behaviors:
I really have a new relationship with food, there's no question about it. I don't even consider snacking because I'm always focusing on building my meals according to the template. This way I can keep satisfied until my next meal without needing to eat something. Good fats keep you full longer. Everything is well!
I don't feel the need to eat that "little something" after dinner, as my husband calls it! He still has it but even that, which used to bother me at first, doesn't affect me at all. If he eats something I'll just ignore it, I don't need it, I'm not hungry. If I were hungry I'd eat a mini meal which would take care of my nutritional needs not my sugar dragon! I'listening to my body and I'm in charge of what I feed my body - choosing the right foods has been such an eye opener to me! I no longer need a reward in the form of food for anything...
Sleep and energy:
I feel that I have a much more deeper sleep that I used to have and I continue to wake up every morning with lots of energy and positive thinking. I fall asleep more easily except for this past night which was stress related, as I've already described in the beginning. Maybe I'll try some yoga tonight, to try and calm down before going to bed. That wouldn't hurt and would only calm me down, so it seemed like the perfect choice! Yoga it is!
Lifestyle and social:
My kids keep watching make this transition in our diet and they have been following along on some things. They still have bread, milk and sometimes cereal but they are attentive to the ingredients list of each item which I find curious! Funny enough, my son started making some remarks about my husband's snack choices, that was a fun thing to see! As of this moment they don't have any allergies or food sensitivities that I know of so I don't feel like restricting their daily diet any further. They are conscious about what food choices are good and what are not so good and we try to balance it all during our daily routine as a family.
As I've said on my previous weekly food journal I'm thinking about having some blood work done after finishing the Whole30 but before starting reintroduction. Because I'm having this surgery on Wednesday that could influence the results, I'll wait for, at least, another 20 days or so to do the tests and then start with the reintroduction. I'll keep posting a weekly food journal and I'm really curious to know about trigger foods!
I'm also taking a test to assess my sensitivity to 300 foods and nutrients which will be interesting to compare with my reintroduction results. I'll tell you all abut it as soon as I get those results back.
Until next week, keep cooking and trying new things as long as they're compliant, if you're on a Whole30 journey!