We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Whole30 Challenge: Michelle's Paleo Journal, Days 22-28

by Michelle

   "The one grain type that is virtually toxin free is white rice, which has far fewer toxins than brown rice. The vast majority of toxins in white rice are destroyed by cooking, which is why white rice is the only grain Dr. Jaminet recommends. One of the grain toxins with which you may be familiar is gluten."  ~Grains Rob Your Brain Power - Avoid It for Clearer Thinking by Dr. Mercola

Week 4

Day 22
Breakfast: Eggs over easy with sausage and home fries @ Cracker Barrel
Lunch:  Mixed Green Salad with Chicken and Vinaigrette
Dinner: Sausage and Vegetable Soup in Homemade Chicken Broth with a Poached Egg

   The sausage and vegetable soup reminds me of my maternal grandmother, Maxine. Back in my middle school days I recall my Nana and Papa visiting us two to three times a year. They made the four hour drive in their baby blue Mercedes sedan with the dark blue leather interior. In the trunk my Nana stashed a homemade dinner that we'd reheat during their stay, which helped to alleviate some of the cooking burden from my mother. I remember two entrees in particular that Nana made on a regular basis for their visits. The first was a baked spaghetti and the second a sausage and zucchini soup that was packed with vegetables in a light tomato chicken broth. I liked their visits, even though for a great while, my grandparents would sleep in my twin beds and I'd sleep on the couch, until a particularly rocky Christmas when thereafter and forevermore they slept in a hotel. Papa instilled in me a love for card games and we usually played several rounds of Cribbage or Gin Rummy every day during their stay. I've passed this admiration of cards on to my daughter. Our favorite card game is Spades, but it requires a foursome. We always play when we are together with Linda, and Jay or Mark join in the fun.

Use pitted sweet cherries directly from the freezer. No need to defrost before chopping. Easy!
Day 23
Breakfast: Coffee and Sausage and Vegetable Soup in Homemade Chicken Broth
Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad, No Croutons @ Chili's
Dinner: Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks with Cherry BBQ Sauce, Baked Potatoes and Asparagus

   Here's a best practice from my household associated with wine-butt chicken. Typically once a week, and usually on a Sunday afternoon, we grill two whole chickens. Once the chickens are pulled off the grill, they rest for about 20 minutes until cool enough to handle. I'll serve the breasts for dinner and reserve the thigh/leg quarters for a meal later in the week.
   When I am ready to "reheat" dinner on a week night, I pull the thigh/leg quarters from the refrigerator and thoroughly coat each portion liberally in barbecue sauce. Then I transfer the coated chicken to a cookie sheet that has been covered with aluminum foil and sprayed with coconut oil. If I have forgotten to preheat the oven to 350°F, I simply place the chicken in the cold oven and turn on the heat and add five minutes to the baking time. In about 20 to 25 minutes the chicken is hot and ready to eat. While the chicken is reheating, I quickly assemble a salad or steam vegetables, or both. As a bonus, I can clean the kitchen in about ten minutes leaving the rest of the evening to process photos, read, or go to bed early, especially if I need to rise early the next day and be on the road before dawn.
   P.S. Nom Nom Paleo's Cherry BBQ Sauce is a winner! I doubled the tomato paste and garlic and added one deseeded finely minced jalapeño.
Roasted Peppers complement roasted meats and keep well 
for about a week in the fridge when stored in olive oil.
Day 24
Breakfast: 2 Hard Fried Eggs in Unsalted Grass-Fed Butter
Lunch: Chef's Salad with Vinaigrette @ Montgomery's
Dinner: Turkey Sausage Chili

   So I faltered a bit tonight. I tried to be creative and put a Mexican inspired spin on stuffed Portobello mushrooms. I wanted to use the last of the salsa fresca, since I made a ton of it. One thing led to another and the mix was too "liquidy" to stuff gigantic mushrooms. Needing to save dinner, I went a step further and added pinto beans (oops I did it again, I broke the "rules") and put chili on the table. My husband was overjoyed. When you can identify a bean from afar and get excited, you know your life has been altered by Whole30. We all consumed beans last night and enjoyed every last bite of legume tastiness. My consolation was that at least we didn't eat sugar.

My husband added much needed shelves to my pantry. Now I can find ingredients easily.
Coconut Aminos is a suitable Paleo substitute to soy sauce and Tamari.
I decided to make Melanie's Best Stir-Fry Sauce EVER of The Clothes Make The Girl. I made a couple of additions, including adding the zest of one orange and substituting homemade
10-Spice Powder in exchange for commercially prepared 5-Spice.
Day 25
Breakfast: Kombucha and Kale Smoothie with Blueberries
Lunch: Turkey Sausage Chili the gift that keeps giving...
Dinner: Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry over Jasmine Rice

   I soooooooooo don't want to make dinner tonight. I'm over chicken. I'd love to dive into a big plate of gluten-free pasta, but that's not going to happen, even though technically at this point, if I follow the Whole30 program to the letter, I'd have to shout "do over" and begin all over again from day one. I'll soldier on from here, continuing to learn as I fumble along. Meal planning needs to be a bigger priority. Marching towards this goal, I purchased a couple of Paleo focused food magazines at retail. In Paleo Magazine's Readers' Favorites Special Edition, I saw what looks to be a great recipe for stove top Tandoori chicken. Unfortunately, after further review, the recipe involves too much prep for tonight's dinner. It wouldn't be if I didn't have to go searching for the spices and prepare the mise en place. That's what Saturday or Sunday is for I suppose. Back to the drawing board.
   I take a mental inventory of the items in my refrigerator... boneless chicken breasts and too many vegetables to count. The perfunctory ingredients of my Whole30 lifestyle. My daughter, analyzing the food inventory alongside me, recommends a stir-fry. Asian is the most difficult food to eat out for anyone that is gluten-free or Paleo. Simply because soy sauce is an ingredient in nearly every sauce and marinade. A simple fix if you are GF is to use Tamari, which is a high grade soy sauce made without wheat. If you are living a Paleo lifestyle, anything that is made of soybeans is off the menu. For Paleo-folk, the substitution for soy sauce is Coconut Aminos. I recall that the magazine that I have been perusing, Well Fed Paleo has an easy stir-fry sauce that author, Melissa Joulan, of Paleo-foodie blog, The Clothes Make The Girl, states whole-heartily that it's the best stir-fry sauce EVER! I will take her at her written word. She's Paleo though and through  no cheating at her house  and understands the need for a good sauce over just about everything.
   I whip up a triple-batch of the stir-fry sauce and make one addition and a substitution. I add freshly grated orange peel and swap homemade 10-Spice Powder in lieu of commercially prepared 5-Spice. I try to make the vegetable mix as colorful as possible, uniformly chopping red bell peppers, carrots, and onions. I also added broccoli, quartered mushrooms and chunks of pineapple. We all agree that dinner is great. It's great to mix things up. I know a meal is really successful when Maddie asks to have it for lunch the next day reheated and transported to school in a thermos.

Oh dear. I certainly won't be serving this up for a company dinner. This is a strictly a
 "keep it in the family" meal. I do chuckle every time I look at the photo.
Day 26
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Leftover Stir Fry Veggies
Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry over Jasmine Rice... somebody please save me from more leftover stir fry
Dinner: "Bangers and Mash" made with Chicken Sausages and Cauliflower Faux-Totates and served with Roasted Peppers and Grape Tomato Halves Tossed with Balsamic Syrup Vinaigrette

   Red and yellow bell peppers seem to multiply in my refrigerator. My family are quite the fans of roasted peppers and in particular this amazing make-ahead appetizer. I eye the big head of cauliflower that has been lounging in the refrigerator and taking up valuable space. Playing a game similar to Charades for the home cook, bell peppers and cauliflower somehow combine in my imagination to create Bangers and Mash. And voilà, just like that I have a plan for dinner. I roast peppers, steam cauliflower and fry sausages. I call Maddie downstairs to help with the tomatoes. Although dinner isn't visually appealing, the three of us snicker a bit as we dish up our plates, the flavors meld together and are quite delicious. I'll prepare this tasty foursome again... just not for company.

I was not able to totally kick my cheese habit over the course of the 30 days. I cut my consumption way back though. Life is a little more livable with dairy. Which, thankfully, I tolerate well.
Day 27
Breakfast: Coffee
Brunch: Sausage, Bacon and Flank Steak Hash with Poached Eggs
Dinner:  Pan Fried Chicken Breasts served with Mano Y Metate Adobo Mole and Spanish Rice

   I love breakfast hash. Maddie will even get up early-ish to enjoy brunch with Jay and me. My trick for preparing six poached eggs is to have all the eggs separated ahead of poaching. I crack two eggs per bowl in to three small bowls. Once the hash is ready, I quickly add the eggs in each bowl to the simmering hot water. All the eggs conveniently finish cooking at the same time, which only takes about 4-1/2 to 5 minutes. The hearty brunch tides us all over until dinner.
   Mano Y Metate is a woman-owned local Tucson company that produces a variety of dried moles. The flavorful powdered moles are a combination of whole spices, nuts, seeds, and chiles. Depending upon the flavor of the mole, there could also be chocolate added and dried fruit. The wonderful thing about the mole powders is that the cook controls the wet ingredients, so you can add whatever oil you like and choose the flavor of the broth. Dinner doesn't get much easier than pan frying chicken breasts and then quickly preparing a Mano Y Metate mole in the same skillet. The flavors are absolutely delicious. The Adobo mole uses Santa Cruz Chili from Tumacacori.

Mano Y Metate powdered moles make for a quick and delicious Mexican dinner.
Day 28
Breakfast: Coffee
Lunch: Bites of Leftover Cold Hash and a Pear
Dinner: Wine-Butt Chicken with Smoked Paprika Rub and Frank's Hot Sauce, Half a Baked Potato with "Fixins", Buttered Corn and Roasted Asparagus

   Tonight is the Superbowl and we're spending a quiet night at home. Inspired by the flavors of hot wings, the "wine-butt" chickens are coated in a smokey rub and doused with Frank's Hot Sauce. I carefully separate the fat from the breasts and pour Frank's crave-worthy sauce in the two "pockets". Along with the russet potatoes I pop yams into the oven. Jay's hoping the sweetness of the yams will act as a replacement for the missing baked beans that he infinitely adores.
   In the afternoon, while the pregame activities are revving up the massive crowd, like a scene from The Hunger Games, I simmer two chickens with vegetables in an enormous soup pot. The yield is nearly 8 quarts of rich chicken stock. Now I need to figure out what to do with the moist chicken and the stock. I'm so over soup, but that will probably be the end game because soup makes a quick non-sugary breakfast for Jay, and occasionally for me. And, if not breakfast, then a really easy lunch.

Jarred mayo is a no-no due to Omega-6 oils. Goodbye Best Foods, hello homemade mayonnaise. 
Preparing mayo is as easy as whirling together the following ingredients 
in a cocktail shaker, or other tall narrowish vessel, with the aid of a stick blender:
1 whole egg, 1 cup olive oil, 1 cup avocado oil, 1-1/2 Tbsps white wine or Champagne vinegar,
1 Tbsp Dijon and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Slowly pull blender up from bottom until the mixture is emulsified (about 10 to 15 seconds). Keeps for a couple of weeks stored in the refrigerator.

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