Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How to Feed an Eater

Starting ever so delightfully soon, we are hosting two beloved visitors for ten days. One of them eats a lot more and a lot differently than we do on Cake and Edith Avenue. So I have a plan, and I'm posting it here in case you need a plan too because maybe you also have a dad or several teenage sons to feed. I'll let you know how it goes.

Day 1
Skillet Chicken Pot Pie* (similar in method to Skillet Lasagna)
Green Salad
Green beans

Day 2
Vegetarian tacos with Smitten Kitchen's black beans, queso fresco, and magic green sauce or roasted tomatillo dressing
Fried plantains
Sweet and spicy coleslaw
Saveur's pickled red onions

Day 3
Damn good chili plus all the fixins (e.g. "3 boxes of Saltines" for Eater alone)
Root veggie coleslaw
Peter Reinhart's cornbread (i.e. the only cornbread we will ever eat in our home)
Honey butter

Day 4 might be leftovers and/or take-out plus Halloween candy. Day 5 involves a dinner party elsewhere (Alleluia!). And then we're halfway there.

*You need a membership for access to that recipe. It's worth it. ATK is the best.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Marinara and Italian Sausage

You know what I love? Teaching. As of last month, I've been doing it for four years and right when I think I couldn't love it any more, I make a new batch of eager, engaging friends and am overwhelmed by my good fortune. I mean seriously. Look at these cuties! I get PAID to hang out with them!

Mambo Italiano

Last week, I promised these all-star chefs a recipe for skillet lasagna. Skillet lasagna is basically a combination of all the components of the best-ever lasagna we've historically made in my Mambo Italiano class, only faster, thanks to America's Test Kitchen and their clever ways. (Also we skip the mozzarella, but you won't miss it.) This could be a weeknight meal (a) if you have an hour to make dinner, or (b) if you (i) make the sauce beforehand or (ii) use a prepared pasta sauce you like instead of making your own, and have 40 minutes to make dinner. It's definitely good enough for company and is best enjoyed alongside a simple mixed greens or Caesar salad. It's perfect this time of year, when it's brisk and gusty out but not yet so cold that we'd rather have a lasagna baking in the oven for an hour, warming up our freezing house.

Mambo Italiano

Pretty, eh? Almost as pretty as my Mambo Italiano students last week! Enjoy! xxoxoxoxoxo

Skillet Lasagna
Yields 6-8 servings

1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil or Golden Fig Dynamite Herbs
½ teaspoon each: dried marjoram, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes (could also use 1 teaspoon Italian blend)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 lb Italian sausage (optional - see note)
2 large (26.5-28 oz) cans tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole)
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
10-12 lasagna noodles, broken into 1 to 2” chunks
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces good quality ricotta cheese (or 4 more ounces cream cheese or mascarpone)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Equipment: One large (at least 12”) skillet with lid
Tip: Salt as you go!

Measure out 1 teaspoon of salt and have it ready next to your stove. In 12” or larger skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and a pinch of the salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until slightly soft. Add garlic and a pinch of salt, then a minute later add dried herbs, red pepper flakes, and about half the remaining salt and sauté for one more minute. Add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it apart, until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes. Add one jar of tomatoes, lemon zest, the rest of the salt, and honey. Bring to boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in butter (better) or olive oil. Scatter broken lasagna noodles on top of sausage and sauce and pour remaining jar of tomatoes on top. Cover and bring to simmer; reduce heat and keep simmering, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine three cheeses and a few big grinds of pepper. Once pasta is al dente, dot lasagna with cheese mixture. Cover, turn off heat, and allow to steam for about 5-10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Top with fresh basil.

Notes: If you want this to be vegetarian, you can simply omit the sausage. If you want to throw in more veggies, do so before adding the lasagna noodles and can of tomatoes. If your sauce is still too thin but your noodles are cooked, continue cooking with the lid off until the liquid has reduced, stirring constantly.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hi! Remember Me?... Plus:
Coconut Curry with Apples and Winter Squash

Contrary to what this poorly updated blog might indicate, I have been cooking! I just haven't been writing.

Remember March and April? When I did the Whole30 and felt amazing and lean and energized?

And then remember July? When I read a book about the hog farming industry that pretty much rendered me vegetarian overnight?

And then came August, when I read The Good Gut, all about how to restore a compromised microbiota. (In case you are wondering how: beans + kale.)

Then September brought us two hospitalizations and a staggering stack of medical bills and a lot of mac and cheese and what do you know? It's October. And my food baggage is heavy.

But! I've been feeding my family, teaching at Local D'Lish weekly and in my home occasionally. I am focusing on technique rather than creativity at the moment and, to that end, am currently enrolled (from the comfort of my own kitchen) in The Kitchn's baking school. I also made and have been updating a Facebook page (like me, yo! - Cake and Edith Cooking Classes). But I have not been documenting much here. I hope I haven't lost you entirely. Because I'm ready to get back in business. The kind of business that is a total labor of love with no pecuniary gain whatsoever.

It's also the kind of business that stores a list of recipes I want to tackle in the near future because my bookmarks bar and Pinterest fail me every time. In the spirit of technique, and just reminding myself how to follow a recipe every so often instead of relying solely on my resourcefulness and the random contents of my refrigerator to dictate what I end up cooking... hold me accountable, friends.

Slow-Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon (I said mostly vegetarian)

And now... curry! I used half a butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces. You could use any winter squash though, cook it however you'd like and add about 3 cups of 1/2"-ish chunks of it to the curry on your stovetop and cook until hot.


Really anything goes here. I browned my butternut squash in a pan with some coconut oil, salt and pepper. Then I set it aside and sautéed a makeshift mirepoix. Just start with whatever vegetables you have in your refrigerator to make an aromatic base. Here I've got carrot, celery, a few cherry tomatoes, and some scallions.


Add some apple. My thinking: the inclusion of apples might prompt one's picky children to eat curry. We've had a 50% success rate with this effort. (Girl yes, boy no.)


Once the apple has softened, add some other aromatics, e.g. ginger, lime zest (pictured). Add your curry powder (I used a mild curry + some fenugreek and amchur powder because I like sweet-sour flavors and I also like to use my spices up before they are no good). Have some liquid ready to go - water or broth.


Once the stock has turned everything into a nice saucy base, add in coconut milk, squash, and some chickpeas and cook until everything is heated through and the sauce is as thick as you'd like. It took mine about 10 minutes at this point. Off the heat, drizzle juice from half a lime over the curry and stir to incorporate. Serve over rice or perfectly fluffed quinoa.


Garnish with avocado and some mint or cilantro.


This was a weeknight meal for us, but I am a stay-at-home mother, so I had the 40 minutes it took from start to finish (including peeling and dicing squash). I chopped the aromatics while my butternut squash was browning and then I grated ginger and lime zest while the apple was softening. It keeps well in the refrigerator and only gets better over a couple days. And like I said before, anything goes.


Coconut Curry with Winter Squash, Apples, and Chickpeas
This curry is infinitely adaptable. Substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand for the ones listed below. Brown tofu or chicken with or in place of squash (tofu will take about the same amount of time as squash, but chicken cut into 1” pieces will brown more quickly – just about 3 minutes per side is fine before setting aside).
Yields 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil, divided
3 cups peeled, ½”-diced butternut squash or other winter squash (about 1 delicata squash, half an “average”-sized butternut squash)
½ an onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 large apple(s) (you decide what kind!), peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons curry powder (plus other spices you might want to add)
1/2 cup water or broth
1 can full-fat coconut milk, well shaken 
1 1/2 cups cooked (or one 15-oz can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
1+ teaspoon salt*
Freshly ground pepper to taste

* Measure out your teaspoon of salt before you begin cooking and then sprinkle a little bit of it into the pan every time you add a new layer of flavors. This allows each ingredient to interact with the salt so that you are drawing out more flavors and allowing for more complexity in your finished product. After adding the lime juice at the end, taste and add a little more salt if desired, 1/4 teaspoon at a time.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add squash to pan, spreading evenly in one layer. Don’t touch the squash for 4 minutes. Check on your squash and once it has started to brown on one side, stir, add some salt (~1/8 teaspoon), and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Remove squash from pan and set aside.

Add remaining oil to pan over medium high heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot with a big pinch of salt and cook for 4 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add apple and another big pinch of salt; cook for two minutes. Stir in ginger, lime zest, curry powder, and the rest of your salt, and cook for one more minute. Add half a cup of water or stock and stir so that it loosens up any browned bits of vegetables or spices from the pan and forms something in between a sauce and a paste. Bring to boil. Add coconut milk, chickpeas and squash to pan. Bring to a low boil. Stir until curry has reduced and thickened a bit, vegetables and apples are cooked through, and chickpeas and squash are piping hot. Off heat, stir in juice from half a lime. Taste and add more salt, lime juice, or black pepper to taste. Garnish with avocado and cilantro or mint. Serve with pita bread or over rice or quinoa.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

For the Omnivores, an excerpt from Pig Tales

I'm sorry I haven't posted a recipe in forever. We've been eating the old-fashioned way, heavy on resourcefulness and fresh veggies, light on recipes and oven-use. Our home is a little warm by modern standards and we don't yet own a grill, so we end up eating a lot of salads and sandwiches and rustic hodgepodge cheese-plate-ish meals in the summer. We also take more than our fair share's advantage of restaurant patios.

What brings me to post today was something I couldn't not share, ASAP: powerful prose I encountered this morning from food journalist Barry Estabrook's latest book, Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat. There are loads of positive and hopeful bits in the book and Estabrook's tone, weight of his topic notwithstanding, is light, inviting, and often humorous. He loves pigs! I have opted to share a darker, gruesome excerpt, however, because sometimes it's important to face the facts, especially when we choose to eat meat in an era when we have alternatives.

More than 100 million hogs are raised in the United States each year, 97 percent of them on factory farms. Four huge conglomerates, Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, JBS USA, and Excel Fresh Meats, process two-thirds of all hogs in this country. Those pigs are crowded in pens on hard slatted floors that allow their excrement to fall into pits directly below their feet, where it stays for up to a year reeking and emanating poisonous gasses that would kill the animals should the barns' ventilation fans fail. Even though a single pig operation generates as much waste as a small city, farmers are not required to treat it. Instead, they can and do spray it directly onto fields where it can be washed by rain into waterways.

Pregnant female pigs live their entire lives on top of their own feces and urine in individual crates that are too small for them to turn around in. Rubbing against the crates' steel bars causes gaping, raw wounds. Piglets have their teeth pulled, their tails amputated, and their testicles removed without anesthesia. To survive in such an unhealthy environment, pigs are fed a steady diet of low-dose antibiotics, a practice that leads to the evolution of drug-resistant 'superbugs' that sicken and kill thousands of humans each year. Even when medicated, factory hogs are notoriously vulnerable to epidemic diseases that sweep the industry once or twice a decade. One such illness, a porcine diarrhea virus, was first detected in the United States in May 2013. Within a year, it had killed more than 7 million American piglets.

Industrial pigs are not even guaranteed a humane death. Some modern mechanized slaughterhouses can kill and pack more than 30,000 pigs in a single day on vast 'disassembly' lines. According to on-site investigations conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture's Office of the Inspector General, many of those animals are still alive and sentient when their throats are cut and they are dipped, struggling and kicking, into tanks of scalding water. USDA inspectors who report such abuses can find themselves disciplined or transferred to less desirable jobs. The pigs are killed and butchered by workers whose earnings have dropped by 40 percent since the 1980s. Once no more dangerous than the average manufacturing job, meat-packing has become more hazardous than working in construction, manufacturing, and even mining.

So what's an omnivore to do? I haven't figured that out for myself yet, although this week I'm 200% vegetarian. You should read the book. And in the meantime, think before you eat the bacon! Especially if the bacon is from a restaurant or conventional grocery store (though Whole Foods and other health food retailers are by no means immune from selling products at odds with their perceived message of sustainability, humaneness, et cetera). Beeler's, at least insomuch as the Wedge co-op assures me, sources all its pork from independent farms in Iowa and states that "no antibiotics, growth promotants of any kind, nor injections of vaccines or vermifuges, chemicals used for treatment of parasites, are ever used" in its products. I cannot find any information that speaks to the humaneness of their practices. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Learning as You Go + Dine Out for Life!

This article from The Kitchn describes a bunch of things that an author learned about cooking while writing cookbooks. I found it wildly relatable. I have learned the exact same things while teaching and developing recipes for this blog. Short, interesting, and worth a read. 

Don't forget to Dine Out for Life today! Beckett and I joined some neighbors for lunch at The Lowbrow. Super good. Super family friendly. Children are each given an etch-a-sketch along with their kid's menu.

Happy Thursday, friends. I hope you're enjoying some sunshine. 


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lost and Gained on the Whole30

Well, my friends, it is time for me to share with you what I lost and gained on the Whole30. I'm going the list route because I'm still processing a ton. I think, given where I'm at, prose would end up loaded with v. unhelpful emotion, confusion, and judgment. Maybe someday.

Vastly improved meal planning skills
An improved (but by no means less complicated) relationship with food
About an hour more sleep per night
Knowledge: dairy and alcohol are not my best friends; legumes and grains aren't my worst enemies; almonds (the only tree nuts "safe" for me) cause or exacerbate eczema
Love of ghee
Demonstrated aversion to chicken livers
Healthy suspicion of all foods that go down a bit too easily (e.g. smoothies, nut butters, cookies)

Acceptance of food-as-reward
Cream in my coffee
My sugar dragon
Cheese addiction
Nightly glass(es) of wine
Skin ailments
A gazillion dollars, mostly spent on "healthy fats" and meat counter splurges
5 pounds
3 inches of waist
1 inch per thigh
1.2% body fat

There were other losses and gains that I feel are too personal to share on my public website which is, at its heart, a food blog and thus meant to be above all else appetizing. If you are interested in the nitty-gritty and/or are contemplating taking on a Whole30 challenge yourself at some point, email me and I'm happy to privately share my more detailed experience.

I have never felt lighter, leaner, evener, or more pain-free than I felt between days 8 and 32 of the Whole30. I was v. afraid of food coming out of the challenge and, according to the creators of the program, that meant I needed to ride my own bike and figure out what was next for me. I was also aching to eat something with a texture - while smells stopped enticing me somewhere around week 2 of my W30, when I made a sandwich for my children with MC's fresh bread, or when I saw someone eating a cracker, I really craved the chew, crumb, and crunch of foods that aren't meat, eggs, and vegetables.

I gradually eased forbidden foods back into my diet in the following order: alcohol (priorities!), legumes, dairy, gluten-free grains, grains. Sugar was kind of randomly in there, but no sweets until about Day 40. Every one of these foods made me feel immediately different (less great). The real kickers, however, have been alcohol and dairy. I feel fine when and immediately after eating them but the next morning I am a puffy, congested mess. They really are inflammatory foods. No joke.

Are they worth it nonetheless? Sometimes. Date night with MC was super fun. Rincon 38's fried manchego and red wine were delightful indulgences. Is one day of bags under my eyes, too-tight rings, and a fleeting but intimate relationship with my neti pot too harrowing a consequence for such hedonism? I don't think so. There is such pleasure to be derived from food and wine. What I've taken away from my W30 experience, however, is that food is not only meant for pleasure. It is meant, most importantly, for health and sustenance. And the foods that offer the most pleasure, at least for me, are the least healthy and sustaining. I hope that, as my food journey continues, I'll land somewhere that prioritizes healthy eating most of the time (like, really most of the time, i.e. 95% or more), and reserves indulgences to special occasions. Sounds so balanced and normal, right? But I'm not there yet. For one thing, my definitions of both "indulgence" and "special occasion" will have to be much broader than they used to be, back when I had cream in my coffee every morning and a glass of wine every evening. I thought those were okay since I ate healthy meals. I'd see other children's lunches at school, feel smugly chuffed about how comparatively nourishing my own children's lunches were, and then decide we all deserved a puppy dog tail from Isles Buns because - well of course! - it's Friday!

So I've changed. I think differently about food. I want food in different ways and a don't want food nearly as much as I used to. I could write a book about it but (1) it already exists, and (2) I am trying to mince my words here and unpack just the information I would have found useful when I was blog-researching two months ago.

This is kind of important: I've been vacationing for the last five days. I've had paleo-ish breakfasts most days, I've avoided cheese and milk 4 out of 5 days (but holy crap I almost died of cheese on that fifth day!), but otherwise I've basically spent the last 72 hours eating and walking my way through Portland. Like, I've eaten six pastries in half as many days. (Or, at least portions of them. The new E-NC can eat a bite of a doughnut and be satisfied. Whaaaaattt?!?) So, even eating out, snacking, drinking - less freely than I've done historically, but still opting for pleasure over sustenance - I find my W30-defined baseline is a great place to veer from. I bounce back quicker after eating crap than I did before the Whole30. I can see why people use the program as a "re-set" option every few months or years or whatever. I will probably do the same.

In the meantime, though, I'm still not sure what meals will look like in the long run. I'm for sure reducing the amount of dairy I consume and will probably treat cheese as a rare treat. Alcohol as well. I am hoping to reintroduce legumes into our family's meals as a protein main as opposed to the amount of meat to which we've grown accustomed for the last several weeks. (SO. FLIPPING. EXPENSIVE.) And grains are a bit of a conundrum to me right now. I tolerate them well but don't know where they will fit in. As a substitute for nutrient-dense vegetables? As a filler? Obviously, I am still figuring all this out! I am about to get on an airplane though and one of my goals on this vacation was getting a proper W30 update on the blog. So here you go. I hope it was illuminating in some ways. Please let me know if you have any questions.

xoxox (p.s. I haven't proofread this!)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Date-Sweetened Butternut Squash-Apple Compote (and "How to Whole30-ify a Recipe")

Hiya friends. I meant to share this recipe in the thick of things but, well, it. was. thick. For me, at least during my first go at a Whole30, it was hard to keep up with food prep, document my journey on the blog, and share recipe-centered posts showcasing some of the gems I got to enjoy during the challenge. Here's my attempt at catch-up. I hope you'll make both the pork tenderloins and the compote - whether you're doing a Whole30 or just trying to avoid dumping a bunch of brown sugar into your dinner! THIS WAS MY BEST MEAL DURING THE ENTIRE 30 DAYS. (I can't help yelling! It's such a big deal!)

And now...

How to Whole30-ify a Recipe!

Step 1. Stick with recipes that are close to paleo. In a conventional cookbook, this step will v. likely limit you to the soups, salads, vegetable sides, and entree sections. Convenient, since those are the things you are eating on the Whole30.

Let's go through an example, shall we? A couple weeks ago I checked out from the library Ina Garten's delightful newish cookbook, Make It Ahead. It's great. I want it for keeps. Ina's an unexpectedly good resource for paleo recipes because, not only does she embrace meat and fish of all sorts, but also her overall approach emphasizes simplicity and quality. Simplicity + quality usually means you don't need a lot of ingredients. The fewer ingredients in a recipe, the easier it is to modify, and the more likely the recipe's integrity won't be compromised when you omit or swap around.

Skimming through Make It Ahead, drooling discreetly all the while, I concluded the following: with little or minimal alteration, no fewer than four starters, three lunch items, seven entrees, and seven vegetable sides could be made W30 compliant. The recipe that I kept going back to was the Herbed Pork Tenderloins with Apple Chutney. Pork tenderloins are wrapped in prosciutto (double protein! but more importantly, yum!) and 100% W30 compliant, no modifications required. The chutney, however, was another story: ten ingredients, including an off-limits cup of brown sugar, a cup of orange juice, and a bunch of dried fruit. I knew it was going to be hard to adjust, and perhaps not worth it. The pork would no doubt be delicious on its own (this was later confirmed), but some sort of compote or chutney sounded so good...

Step 2. Think outside the box. If a recipe doesn't really fit into the paleo framework, think about what it is you specifically like about that recipe and then consider what else might do the trick. 

What would be good instead of an apple chutney? An herbed salsa of some sort? Magic green sauce? I really want something sweet and spicy. Wait a minute! A memory is triggered! In another much more decidedly non-paleo cookbook I have and love - Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain - there is a butternut squash compote recipe. I made it once and I don't recall it being overly sweet so maybe there's no sugar in it. Was it pears in it or apple? Let's check! (We're checking now. Dance break.) Got it: butter, squash, salt, apples, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar. Six ingredients (including salt). Only a quarter of the amount of refined sugar in Ina's recipe is called for, plus there's less fruit sugar, since the compote is equal parts squash and apple. This is totally workable. So let's get to work.

Step 3. Omit and substitute. To do this, you need to consider what the function of each ingredient is and decide whether to entirely omit or come up with an alternative if necessary.

W30 protocol forbids sugar and dairy other than ghee. First switch is to substitute ghee for butter, tablespoon for tablespoon. We also have to omit the brown sugar. In the compote recipe, what's the function of the brown sugar? Obviously, it's to make the compote sweet. Solution: substitute chopped dates. They are delicious, super sweet, and will pair nicely with butternut squash and apples. (Another decent but less delectable option would be unsweetened applesauce, permitted during W30.)


Note: you might realize once you get going that there are additional, less obvious functions served by an ingredient. In the case of the compote, it became clear that the brown sugar was going to help caramelize everything and provide a lot of moisture to the compote - it was going to become liquid itself as it melted, and then it would draw out more juices from the fruit (a la strawberries + sugar when you make strawberry shortcake topping). Solution: water. Easy peasy lemon squeezy (as my kindergartener would say).

Step 4. Give it a go!

I did. And it was crazy good. The only change I'll make next time will be to double the recipe.

Date-Sweetened Butternut Squash and Apple Compote

2 tablespoons ghee
~2 cups peeled, 1/2"-diced butternut (or other winter) squash (10 oz)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-to 3/4-inch pieces
20 pitted deglet dates or 12-15 pitted medjool dates, diced
~1 cup water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Melt the ghee in a 12-inch skillet over a medium-high flame.

Add one piece of butternut squash to the pan and see if it sizzles. If it doesn't, give the pot another minute to heat up. Once hot, add the rest of the squash and salt to the pan and toss to coat with the ghee. Cook the squash for 3 minutes without stirring or moving the pan.

Toss the squash and cook for 3 minutes more, again without stirring or moving the pan. The squash should be browning on the edges.

Add the apples and dates to the pan and toss to coat in ghee for a minute. Reduce heat to low-medium (this is important especially because we are ditching the brown sugar - cooking apples over a low flame will draw out their natural sugars more effectively (think caramelized onions)). Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the apples and squash begin turning translucent. Add water, 1/4 cup at a time, if pan gets dry or the compote starts to brown quickly or stick to the pan. Increase the flame to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, tossing every 2 minutes, continuing to add water in 1/4-cup portions, until the apples and squash are dark and caramelized and the mixture is thick. Off the heat, stir in the apple cider vinegar (or a squeeze of lemon juice). Compote is best warm, straight from the pan or reheated in the microwave for a bit. It keeps well for a week but it probably won't last more than a day in your refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Hooray! My W30 email today told me to do something celebratory tonight not only for my dad's birthday but also as a reward for a job well done. I taught tonight though, so, as far as relishing my W30 success was concerned, I was prepared for an anticlimactic evening.

But! I underestimated my guests! Which I should never do because they (you! YOU! GUYS!) are so rad. Lovely Naomi showed up a little early and mentioned that she'd been reading my blog and had also completed a Whole30 Challenge over a year ago. The floodgates were opened. Our class was smaller than expected - only 9 showed of 14 registered - and they were an exceptional group. Several of them had heard of W30, some had done it or experimented with other paleo diets - they all had experiences and opinions to share, all with a lot of openness and no judgment. It was a wonderful night for me. So not anticlimactic. Andrea, Josh, Naomi, Marless (sp?), Ron, Maria, Scott, Katie, and Dano: Thank you! You were all so animated, engaged, competent, and great at making and talking about food! (Ron - those carrots were unbelievable!) It was so nice to be able to share my current food baggage with you without making it all about me. (Which is what the last 30 days have been. And I'm a little tired of myself.) You made the end of my Whole30 a delight. So thank you thank you thank you. Come again! I especially love groups of men in their fifties! (Insert [wink emoticon] if I knew how to use emoticons. But as it is I don't even know how to use Instagram.)

As for the rest of you: thank you so much for reading my blog, which has taken self-indulgence to an entirely unprecedented level (the level without sugar) during the last 4+ weeks. You really are my good friends! As such, you probably wanted to know what I ate today.

Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Kale, 2 eggs, knob of ghee, salsa, sauerkraut, 3 strawberries.


Not pictured: black half-caff coffee at about 11:30 a.m.

Lunch at 1:40 p.m. Spinach salad with sprouts, beets, carrots, kalua pork, herbed vinaigrette, and a cup of kombucha.


Dinner at 8:30 p.m. Sweet potato quesadilla of sorts (no cheese, used 2 plantain tortillas); 1 chicken apple sausage. A v. unphotogenic meal. The sausage looks like weird breadsticks. Drinking a cup of turkey stock as I type. I drink about 2 of those a day, maybe just one if it's warm out. Today I took a picture of it because it's Day 30.


Tomorrow will be mostly Whole30 but with DAIRY! I can't wait. I am going to have cream in my coffee, fry my eggs in butter, and devour cheese for dinner. Wish me luck and the opposite of indigestion. I'll do a little recap of what's been lost and what's been gained in this process. Thereafter, however, I will revert to original and curated recipes rather than just blabbering on about which ailments come out of remission as sugar, dairy, legumes, alcohol, et cetera reenter my diet and poison me forever. If you are interested in doing a Whole30 or just looking for more information on one fairly normal, typically healthy-eating, kitchen-savvy, mother-of-two, mostly vegetarian individual's experience completing the Whole30 challenge, I am happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to email me. Thanks for listening! Being accountable to readers has helped loads. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Days 26-29: One Day More!

Perhaps you need some musical accompaniment to get you as excited about where we're at as I am? Always at your service, my friends: kindly click here.

Hi! Happy Easter or Passover or Spring!

Hi yourself! And Happy Near-End of Whole30!

Thanks so much! I'm pretty stoked, like we all were in the late eighties. Except NEWSFLASH: because I want to make the most of my clean slate, I'm going to be essentially Whole30 for a couple more weeks as I gradually, with a great deal of deliberation and journaling, reintroduce foods. Full disclosure: as soon as I realized my transition might take a while, I started adding some things in before my 30 days were up. I know. Not v. W30 of me. You say cheating. I say methodically compromising.

Dude. What are you on about?

I consumed alcohol on Saturday and ate legumes on Sunday. He is Risen, after all. So instead of Easter candy, I enjoyed a tiny mimosa Saturday morning; and instead of Easter ham on Sunday, I had lentils for lunch, stew with beans in it for dinner, and a peanut butter Lara Bar after working out. The alcohol was a trip. Three sips in, I felt it v. pointedly and suddenly in the v. front of my head. This, according to the healthcare folks whose company I was enjoying even more than the mimosa, is to be expected, as the brain's frontal lobe is what the alcohol gets to first. It wasn't painful, just v. there. I also got buzzed-feeling and boneless about three minutes after those sips. It only lasted a little while and I recovered completely in under an hour.

The legumes were less noteworthy, except that I got a weird pain in my face near my left sinus. I don't know if it's related to food. It lasted all yesterday afternoon and evening and then went away overnight. I guess we'll see next time I try legumes. I have felt so great for the last couple of weeks that any ache or pain is v. acute and obvious. This is a big change from pre-W30, when I always had weird aches, pains, ailments. I am still stewing over what this all means, and what kind of food changes are sustainable for me. 

My reintroduction plan is tentatively as follows:

Day 28 Legumes
Days 29-30 W30
Day 31 Dairy
Days 32-33 W30
Days 34-35 Gluten-free grains
Days 36-37 W30
Day 38 Wheat
Days 39-40 W30

And, finally, what I've eaten while we've been taking a break from each other...

Day 26, Friday


Eggs and veggies for breakfast with a glass of mango kombucha. I had some strawberries and a tuna burger in the late afternoon.

Day 27, Saturday


Chicken livers for breakfast (heck yes! and probably never again!), with a side of kale, mushrooms, guacamole, sauerkraut, and a clementine. I needed the fruit to take away the chicken liver flavor in my mouth. Too much psychology and texture that early in the morning. But I did it. Which isn't nothing. Clearly, I'm a changed woman as I approach the close of my W30.


My favorite lunch: chicken pozole, baked sweet potato (a purple yam!), spinach, avocado, some salsa.


Green salad with Nom Nom Paleo's Kalua Pork, boiled yellow beets, sprouts, and herbed vinaigrette. A slice of potato rösti. (So, so good - it's like a giant french fry! I used ghee and pork fat.) I'm pretty sure I ate a hot dog earlier in the evening too because the pork took forever.

Day 28, Easter Sunday


Blueberry Eggs for breakfast with a glass of mango kombucha. Egg flipping didn't go so smoothly.

I had lentils for lunch and a big salad. Also had a few deviled eggs that had Miracle Whip in them (and accordingly a whole slew of non-compliant foods - my first official cheat!).


Dinner was a big plate of fresh vegetables, some fruit, and a bowl of vegetable stew with kalua pork and some beans in it, plus the rest of my kombucha. Super hit the spot.

Day 29, Monday


Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Kale and leftover rösti hash, 3 eggs and some ghee, sauerkraut.


Lunch at 1:30 p.m. A handful of olives and a big spinach salad with sprouts, purple cabbage, 2 tuna burgers, avocado, and salsa. A slice of paleo banana bread with chocolate chips (see end of post).


Fan-tas-tic dinner at 5:30 p.m. Kalua pork tacos with plantain tortillas, avocado, and a delicious little slaw I threw together: 2-3 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage, 6 chopped dates, 1 grated carrot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, about a teaspoon of ground coriander, juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon olive oil, handful of minced cilantro. (Amber: make this!)

I've also dabbled v. cautiously in sugar. The deviled eggs on Sunday had sugar in them (Miracle Whip - high fructose corn syrup to be specific). Then today I had that paleo bread which has all W30 compliant ingredients except for some chocolate chips (those chocolate chips made it v. tasty). So, by normal quick bread standards, barely any sugar. By W30 standards, a lot. I got a crazy headache tonight that put me out of commission for about three hours. Was it the sugar? I don't know. But I don't typically get migraines. It also could have been caffeine withdrawals (I drank a lot of coffee this weekend and did not today), but I've had caffeine headaches many times before and this was distinct from and much more debilitating than those. I will continue to dabble. I'm taking weird notes. I'm excited about cheese. I'm not going to inhale a scone any time soon.

One day more. One good night's sleep is in order.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 25: No Snack Success!

Food goal of the day achieved. That feels good. I veered away from my ambitious meal plan and settled on a simpler dinner than my Indian-inspired feast would have been. I overcooked some bison sausages by using this typically fool-proof recipe. (I guess I'll stick to chicken sausages next time. Note: using really excellent balsamic vinegar makes a big difference here.)

Breakfast at 7:30. I went CRAZY and skipped the eggs today. You heard me. Leftover pork tenderloin hash with kale, sweet potatoes, potatoes and zucchini, all fried in a little ghee.


Lunch at 1:45. This is my dream lunch. I reheated chicken pozole, frozen spinach, and sweet potato in the microwave and topped it all with a big spoonful of Wedge guacamole. Mango kombucha  on the side there (which did not make me sick the way juice evidently does - no juice or sugar in ingredient list (just mango puree), and only 12 g carbs versus 36 in the juice).


Dinner at 6. Overcooked bison sausage, slow-cooked onions, green beans, salad with baby kale, tomatoes, purple cabbage, pan sauce from sausage and onions as dressing, and a spoonful of coconut oil.


It was a busy day with busy children. We got sunshine and play time and friend time and family time. I washed my children's feet and told them about Jesus. I ate well and anticipate sleeping well tonight. I won't be posting tomorrow and maybe not Saturday either, but I'll document everything so that I can report back asap. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 24: Portion Uncontrol

I still am never hungry. That is the most striking aspect of my W30 experience, because I used to think I was hungry all the time. Throughout the first week of the Whole30 Challenge, I ate a ton three times a day. I just couldn't believe I could last for 4-16 hours without eating, so I'd load up on both protein and vegetables during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Without much thought, my portions gradually got smaller by week 2. It became subconsciously clear how much I needed to eat in order to stay satiated until my next meal, and because I wasn't eating the kind of foods that are easy to overeat (e.g. bread, cheese, peanut butter, smoothies), I didn't have the inclination to overeat. It was all v. natural and that was cool. I felt proud of my body for knowing what it needed. 

I have been so proud of my body that I've gotten a little loosey-goosey lately, taking it all a bit for granted. Example: this morning I had some iced coffee to finish up. I thought I'd stir in some leftover coconut milk but it was too thick to stir in, so I threw it in the blender. That wasn't v. good. Way too watery and bitter. So I added half a banana and a spoonful of almond butter. Some of you might call this a smoothie. Guess why smoothies aren't allowed on the Whole30? Because your clean-eating body can only handle so much non-protein food in one go! And liquids are so quickly digested. It was horrible, a la the Naked Juice experience. Totally felt sick after like three sips. Portion control is tricky with liquid food, especially when you're body has grown unaccustomed to it.

I ate my real breakfast and then kept the rest of the smoothie as my PWO food. I tolerated (even enjoyed) it much better that way.

Even though I am sensitive to changes to what or when I eat right now, my recovery time after the deviations and their discontents is super short. I feel this is significant. A sign of enhanced health perhaps. Which reminds me: I've never felt better in my life. Yep. I said it. I am struggling with what that means in the long run. Or even the short run. Only one week left!


Breakfast at 8 a.m. Sautéed kale, mushrooms, and zucchini with sauerkraut and scrambled eggs with magic green sauce. PWO offending "coffee" at 10:30 a.m. See above.


Lunch: salad with chicken, sprouts, cabbage, kale, pepitas, carrot, tomato, olive oil, vinegar.


3 p.m. Almonds and plantain chips for snack. And the sweetest tangerine of my life (no picture).


Dinner at 6 pm. Pork tenderloin, squash-apple compote, and cabbage leftovers; olives; roasted sweet potatoes and potatoes.

During my final week, I am going to work on being v. strict about not snacking. I know how to eat properly at meals so that I don't need to snack. Nibbling is primarily to alleviate boredom, antsy-ness, or frustration, I've found. No snacks and minimal nuts/seeds; sticking to those primarily as PWO food or part of my lunch protein. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 23: A Beautiful Day of Cooking and Continuing Legal Education

My day in pictures.


Breakfast at 7:30. Eggs poached in salsa and spinach + coffee.


I took MC to my HIIT/Chisel class today! It was so fun showing him off to my teacher and vice versa. Also, he totally killed it. He even did more jumping lunges than I did. Afterwards, had PWO chia bites at 11.

UntitledPicMonkey Collage

Marvelous day of cooking and learning.


Lunch at 1:30. Sweet potato topped with chicken pozole and avocado.


SWYPO! Which I totally rationalized. I still feel okay about it and will describe rationalization at a later date. Pictured above is a grain-, nut-, dairy-, sugar-free banana bread. My children enjoyed it with dinner and I taste-tested it. Not bad. Not not weird.

Dinner at 5:30. Pork tenderloins with squash-apple compote and pan-fried cabbage. Best dinner in a while. And gorgeous too, even though my picture isn't the best.

Sweet dreams. xx

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 22: Two Chicken Salads Too Many

Today was tricky. It was my husband's birthday so we tried to do celebratory things but I still haven't made it to the grocery store so I ate poorly, though technically within W30 limits. We spent the day at the Science Museum, which was great, and I brought snacks but not enough so we ended up buying lunch there. Eating at home is so much easier and cheaper. (Sigh.)

I was so hungry for breakfast at 8 a.m. I almost forgot to take a picture for us. My usual scramble with less fixings. Frozen spinach, tomatoes, salsa, sauerkraut, Sunny Paris seasoning, 2 eggs, all cooked in ghee.


Mid-morning I had a banana and some plantain chips. Lunch was at 12:40 p.m. It was a tiny, sorry excuse for a salad with chicken and a hard-boiled egg. No dressing and no vegetables other than lettuce and a few mealy diced tomatoes. Oh well. It was food from a museum that caters to children. I should have been more prepared.


I had a little leftover chicken pozole when I got home at 4:00 p.m. and then we had proper dinner at 5:45: Agra Culture salad with chicken, avocado, radishes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and sweet potato wedges. Local D'Lish started selling deli items from Agra Culture a couple months ago. The family and I have been eating the expired sandwiches and soups that the other staff don't take home and I think they're pretty good.


Tomorrow I need to kick off another "Back on Track" streak. It will not involve making more chicken. I really don't like chicken that much (except for this revelation). This week's going to be a porky one. Here is my tentative plan:

Breakfasts as usual.

Day 23, Tuesday: PWO chia bites or an apple with sun butter. Lunch will be salad greens, baked sweet potato topped with chicken pozole. For dinner, cabbage fried in ghee with poppyseeds (this is a recipe from Amy Thielen's cookbook, which I've currently got checked out from the library) and some Ina Garten prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloins with Kim Boyce's butternut squash-apple compote. Sort of. I'm getting inspiration from cookbooks that I haven't spent time with in a while. That's been an unexpected benefit of Whole30ing.

Day 24, Wednesday: PWO chia bites or apple with sun butter. Loaded salad for lunch with chicken and avocado. Dinner will include leftover pork tenderloin, cabbage, and potato rosti.

Day 25, Thursday: Salad with leftover meat or tuna burgers for lunch. Ambitious goal at the moment is a variation on these curried scallops, spiced potatoes with mint, and something I call "butternut saag" that I've made three times and have been meaning to put on this blog for ages but just haven't yet. It's Chef Edith at her best though, so I'll try to make it happen for reals this week!

Day 26 is Good Friday. The Whole30 folks frown on fasting. I have my priorities nonetheless and Jesus trumps Paleo. Catholic fasting allows for at most one small meal plus two small snacks which combined do not constitute a whole meal. I am thinking eggs for breakfast, some almonds and a fruit in the afternoon, and a tuna cake in the evening.

Day 27, Saturday: For lunch, carrot-ginger soup and a big salad. That morning I will finally be making Nom Nom Paleo's Kalua Pig in my slow cooker, so that will feed my family on Saturday night (with plantain tortillas, magic green sauce, and date cole slaw), and hopefully get me through the rest of my Whole30!

Day 28, Easter Sunday. I am not sure what I will be eating on this day. It might be a big salad or veggie soup and other makeshift food alongside the sides that happen to be W30 compliant at our Easter gathering.

I still have to think a little more about Days 29 and 30 (and beyond). Other than having carrot-ginger soup and Kalua pork on hand - and making chicken livers! - I'm not sure how I'll be wrapping things up. I might just ride it out being resourceful or I might go out with a culinary bang. Either way, you'll be the first to know. And now I really must go grocery shopping.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 21: What I ate, what I didn't

This morning we hosted a birthday brunch honoring my son, husband, and father-in-law. Lest you remain unconvinced of how v. truly in-this-to-win-this I am, behold all that I resisted:

Birthday Brunch Food

And YES that sure is Aunt Judy's Egg Casserole, top left. As well as apple danish, banana cream pie, and sea salt caramel chocolate cake, the latter two from Lucia's. I wanted to bake birthday cake myself but not licking cake batter from my fingers is kind of the worst, so I just saved myself the annoyance and splurged on these ladies. Come over if you want any. There's a ton left.

What I did eat wasn't half bad though.

Day 21 Food

Late breakfast at about 11 a.m. was eggs, salmon, salsa, sauerkraut, fruit, coffee. Lunch at 3 was a homemade Lara bar and some jicama and tomatoes (not the best lunch but I am pretty much out of food and I knew I should eat something). Dinner at 6 was roasted shrimp and broccoli + a baked sweet potato with coconut oil and curry powder (all lovingly made by MC). I'm drinking a cup of tea now and can't wait to go to bed early tonight. Long fabulous weekend requires long fabulous recovery sleep. We take our staycations v. seriously here! Kicked it off with a Jenn Grinels house concert on Friday and survived 1 restaurant + 4 bars as part of my father-in-law's birthday pub crawl last night. FYI: soda water can range from zero to three dollars in NE Minneapolis, depending on where you land (and probably the lavishness of your cleavage (damn it)). 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Days 18, 19, 20: I Missed You Too!

I am still cheat-free and this week has been great. Things are finally coming together in my head with respect to what I am learning and hoping to take away from this food experiment. People have been asking a lot of questions and as I continue to articulate what's happening in my body and in my head, it forces me to think more critically about it all and I am nearly ready to write a mega post on what I think, how I feel, whether I'm going to be paleo afterwards (short answer: no), where I'll head next, and why I think the Whole30 is probably worthwhile for anyone seeking one or more of the following: a more efficient metabolism, kicking the sugar / cheese habits, increased awareness of how your body processes food, mental and/or physical healing of something that may be food-related, some rockin' biceps. What I've experienced firsthand as a Whole30er has largely corroborated what I've heard or read before, notably from my acupuncturist (sugar is fuel for bacteria and fungus) and my former personal trainer (it's 90% how you eat and 10% how you work out). Everything seems like less of an uphill battle right now. Taking care of my skin, working out, flossing, getting organized, problem-solving with foresight, thoughtfulness, and detachment. Not my usual reactively/emotionally/shortsightedly dealing with life's demands. All that said - it's not magic, I have some low-level anxiety about reintroducing certain foods and concerns re: how I will tolerate things I've historically enjoyed v. much, and I still ethically oppose the daily consumption of meat. This is all a preview of what's to come. I'm drafting in my mind. I've got a lot to edit out and structure better. This is stream of consciousness right now (in case you couldn't tell). I also have ten more days to go and chicken livers to fry and who knows what else.

So here's what I've eaten for the past three days. I accidentally deleted one breakfast picture and I didn't manage to photograph some things, as it's been a busy (but super fun!) few days.

Day 18, Thursday. Egg hash for breakfast (same as Wednesday, basically); PWO chia bites and banana; leftover chicken and brussels sprouts for lunch; dinner part 1 roast beef, guacamole, jicama, celery; dinner part 2 lackluster chicken stew. This is one of my deleted-photo days, so we're left with  just a picture of lunch, luckily the most photogenic and tastiest meal of the day.

Day 18 Lunch

Day 19, Friday, more on it with camera. Breakfast was kale, mushrooms, tomatoes, scrambled eggs, salsa, magic green sauce, sauerkraut, some strawberries. Lunch leftover salmon coconut soup and some apple with sunbutter. Dinner was big green salad with three tuna-sweet potato burgers, sprouts, jicama, and guacamole. Late last night, we hosted a concert with snacks and alcohol. MC made me a mocktail with coconut milk, passionfruit juice and lime juice and it was delicious and did not at all make me feel the way I did after Naked Juice last week. There was much less juice involved, the juice was less sugary, and the coconut milk (fat) cut against metabolizing the sugar super fast. All those things worked so well in my favor that I had two. (Probably like 5-6 oz each, plus some soda water to top off each glass.) Also nibbled on veggies, almonds, and chia bites while everybody else enjoyed M&M's, cayenne shortbread, chips + roasted red pepper hummus, and, according to my friends, some crazy good crackers that I randomly got from Kowalski's.

Day 19 Food

Day 20, Saturday. Breakfast with my girlfriends at Yum: chilaquiles, minus tortilla chips and challah (?), plus breakfast potatoes. Their eggs and potatoes are dairy free, btw. Makeshift lunch at home: chicken-apple sausage, carrots, celery, jicama, olives, sweet potatoes, magic green sauce. More satisfying than you'd think.

Day 20 Breakfast and Lunch

Took a break from working out today. Tonight is going to be challenging. More on that later. I am out of food!

Happy weekend! Happy spring break! xoxoxoxoxo