Whole30 Day Nineteen: A Discovery in the Freezer

As an inner city apartment dweller I am incredibly space challenged. My kitchen in particular has very poor storage amenities. As a foodie who loves to cook, insufficient kitchen size and storage is the downfall of apartment living. I am also a renter so I am unable to alter poor design plans. Consequently I have cooking gadgets hidden behind the dining table and my hallway is lined with surplus kitchenware. I agree, this is not very glamorous!

On the front line of this war for extra space is my fridge/freezer. The kitchen carpentry has pre-defined my fridge/freezer space and size, and thus there is a daily battle for space for every item I bring home requiring cold storage. The situation has become precarious as this Whole30 experiment has meant I’m adding a lot more to my freezer than I’m taking out. However, during a routine reorganization today I found some lovely lamb chops languishing in the bottom of the freezer. Not only would I spoil myself with lamb chops tonight, but I’d also make much needed room in my freezer. Win win!

Brunch: Spinach, Onion and Garlic Omelette with Olives and Tomato

I think it was the memories of the lovely garlicky roast lamb last night because I was craving garlic. Garlic and chilies are like a drug for me, the more I have the more I want. I softened some garlic and onion in a fry pan, before wilting some spinach and scrambling some eggs into it. I served it with a couple of olives and a tomato.

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Dinner: Lamb Chops, Garlic Aioli, Asparagus and Chermoula Pumpkin

Oh chermoula how I love thee! If I had to choose between harissa and chermoula in a Solomonian test it would break my heart but I’d probably have to give up both. I’m not as fanatical as I was during the great chermoula Love Affair of 2013, but I still believe chermoula makes almost everything better.

I was tempted to make a harissa mayonnaise to go with this dish, just so there was no competition for my two favourite condiment’s affections. In the end I sensibly opted to go with a simple roasted garlic lemony aioli to compliment the lamb and let the chermoula coated pumpkin shine. The aioli was also perfect to dip my asparagus spears into. Yes it’s true, no one was here so I ate most of this meal with my fingers, and we all know food eaten with bare hands always tastes so much better!

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Whole30 Day Eighteen: Being Entertained

Today was a little nerve wracking as I had agreed to go to a friend’s house for dinner. This would be my first time on the Whole30 where I was not in control of what I would be eating. I explained before accepting that it may be too difficult to cook for me while I am eating this way, however my friend seemed keen to play host with the most and was very supportive.

Trust is paramount before accepting an invitation to eat at someone else’s’ home. People can have good intentions, but if they do not support what you are doing, they are liable to skip some of the rules, and at worse even get offended because you are being “silly” about what they consider to be unnecessary arbitrary rules. I knew I’d be safe with this friend as he is an engineer, and therefore has an affinity for being creative within a provided framework and abiding by rules. He is also very health conscious so is supportive of this experiment and even wanted to learn more about it.

Once what I could eat and couldn’t eat was explained, and the menu verified, the next hurdle to overcome was what beverage to take. What non-alcoholic, non-sweetened beverage was worthy enough? Why a bottle of the finest Kombucha you can find at your local whole foods store of course!!!

Breakfast: Salmon & Roasted Tomato Scrambled Eggs

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Using leftovers form last night, I flaked my salmon and quartered my baby roast tomatoes, and added them with some spinach into a fry pan to heat through. I then added a couple of eggs to make a luscious scrambled egg dish.

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Lunch: Seed Crackers with Tuna & Celery Mayonnaise and an Apple

I had my lunch mid-afternoon to ensure it got me through to dinner tonight. As I was eating at a friend’s house I thought it would be best to make sure I did not arrive starving because I would not be in control of when or what we ate. Arriving without desperate hunger ensured I would not be tempted to try a little piece of cheese or make any other poor decisions.  If I was unable to eat the entire meal due to non-compliant ingredients then I would not be famished.

Dinner: Roast Lamb & Vegetables

I had a wonderful dinner at Mr Engineer’s house. The lamb was cooked to perfection with wonderful roasted potatoes, Dutch carrots, pumpkin and onions. It was wonderful to leave my Whole30 self-imposed house detention and catch up with friends and enjoy wholesome food in great company. As an added bonus there were no carb babies or hangovers afterwards to be endured!

I took along a ginger and lemon Kombucha which Mr Engineer pronounced “not very sweet”, which is a little bit of a reality check for me, as it tastes very sweet to me! My palate has become incredibly sensitive to anything with trace sugar or even natural sweetness. According to the bottle any residual sugar was eaten during the fermentation process.

Farmers Markets – 101 Vegetables

I adore markets, especially the food kind, be it a farmers market, an artisan market, or an organic market. I had a lot of fun at Paddy’s Markets selecting vegetables to experiment with for the remainder of my Whole30.

I’m particularly excited about the garlic shoots, okra, and daikon. You can look forward to some new recipe posts over the next few days.

What vegetables should I be experimenting with that I didn’t include in this little bundle of goodies, and how do you like to cook them?

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Coffee Tasting Time

I’m so excited, my order of coffee from Byron Bay arrived today! Hurrah! For the last couple of weeks I’ve been stuck with store bought coffee which is always doubly disappointing – in taste and in price! As I’m hoping to move away from a morning bullet proof coffee, having finally kicked the milk habit, I thought I’d do a road test of a couple of different coffees to see which works best as an espresso.

I usually drink the Byron Bay blend (the big bag),however the Zentveld’s website advised me that the two small boxes (Ernesto and Reserve 02) are apparently better suited to espresso. When has the internet ever been wrong? Let the tests begin!

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Whole30 Day Seventeen: Simple Salmon

Breakfast: Fruit Salad & Coconut Cream & Flakes

I pre-bought a tub of fresh fruit salad yesterday, as I had a hankering for some pineapple, which this morning I paired with some coconut cream and coconut flakes. This provided a good light start to the morning. I couldn’t think of any protein that I could bear to face this morning, so it certainly wasn’t the perfect well rounded breakfast.

Lunch: Cos Salad Whole30 Style

Cos leaves, poached chicken, macadamia nuts and mayonnaise blended with an anchovy fillet made a nutritious lunch. Once again I surprised myself by making this ahead and taking out with me for the day. Go me and my preparation! However, for the record, I wish I could find some Whole30 compliant bacon

Dinner: Cajun Salmon, Spicy Coleslaw, and Roasted Baby Roma Tomatoes

Dinner took less than 5 minutes to prepare tonight. Bonus! I prepared my salmon by coating it with Cajun spice mix, topping it with lemon slices, and wrapping it tin foil. I then put it into the oven with some baby roma tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.  Finally I added some hot smoked paprika to my basic mayonnaise and opened a packet of coleslaw mix for my salad. So easy, it shouldn’t have tasted so good.

Another bonus about dinner tonight, I made enough salmon to have some for breakfast tomorrow, well that is that taken care of!

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Whole30 Day Sixteen: The Sober Game

If I was going to break the Whole30 no alcohol rule at any point in this journey then today would have been the day. My team had made it through to the finals of the Super Rugby and as I do not own a subscription to Foxtel I am unable to watch rugby from the comfort of my own home. Going to watch the game would mean leaving my healthy sanctuary and venturing out to find a venue that would inevitably sell deep fried food with sides of starchy carbohydrate and have wines by the glass or for that matter bottle. The trick here was that I was going to have to avoid all of these things.

Avoiding food could easily be averted by eating beforehand or checking the menu ahead and selecting a pub that had a compliant option. In the end I decided to eat at the venue as it would give me something to do if the game started to get a bit traumatic.

Avoiding alcohol on the other hand was fraught with much more danger. If we were winning I’d want to be celebrating, and if we eventually lost I’d want to drown myself in a vat of cider. Was it even possible to watch rugby sober? Was it actually possible to survive the aftermath of a game (good or bad) sober?

I found it difficult to find any buddies to watch it with me, as no one seemed interested in going to the pub with me if I wasn’t drinking (although they mostly muttered other excuses)!  In the end I watched it with a friend who has no interest in the game at all, but who was himself participating in Dry July, and therefore he had found his rather hectic social life had dried up a little bit. With some gentle cajoling (pure manipulation) I lured him to the Dolphin with promises of free Soda Waters. To highlight how much better his life was than mine, I explained that at least he had the option of sodas, juices, or even a Virgin Mary. The list was endless! I knew the highlight of any thirst quencher I was going to sip (soda water or soda water) would be the twist of lemon.

In case you were wondering… we lost.

Also, in case you were wondering… I stayed sober.

Breakfast: Leftover Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew

Like all stews this was even better the next day.

Lunch: Boiled Egg, Mandarin, Cashew Nuts

After a pretty hearty breakfast, I felt a bit peckish early afternoon so prepared myself a snack for lunch to get me through to dinner.

Dinner: Dolphin Hotel – Grass Fed Rump, Mojo Verde, Duck Fat Potatoes, Salad and Mayonnaise

This was pretty much the only option on the menu that could be made to fit Whole30. I prefer a fillet steak, but unfortunately that was grain fed. I appreciated that the menu indicated which steaks were grass fed, and which were grain fed. I opted for a 300g Grass Fed Rump from Cape Grim, Tasmania with a Marble Score 2 +. I am finding it difficult to comment objectively on the steak, it was relatively tender, but it was stone cold by the time it got to the table. We had seen it walked past our table 10 minutes earlier when I’d actually asked the lost looking waitress if it was for us as the meals certainly looked like ours. She assured me that they were not for us. We then saw it walked upstairs, downstairs, and back upstairs before becoming distracted by a try (not ours unfortunately). I would have sent the steak back when it arrived, but we have all heard what happens to steaks when you send them back.

I had inquired with the cashier at the counter when ordering whether the mojo verde or dressing on the salad had sugar added. I was informed the mojo verde was fine, but the dressing had honey. Luckily they had house-made mayonnaise which contained no sugar. The mojo verde helped offset the stone cold steak, and was a great option for a Whole30’er when the normal gravies and brandy sauces etc are not allowed.

The duck fat potatoes were a bit of a disappointment. I was imagining amazing crispy potatoes (of which I would only have one), but what came out was a soft stack of what tasted like baked potatoes. It was pretty easy to give those a miss!

It would have been a fine meal for Whole30 if only they had brought it to the table in time.

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Whole30 Day Fifteen: Blessed Lamb

Breakfast: Boiled Eggs, Mayonnaise, Berries

Breakfast was on the run today, so I ate some pre-prepared boiled eggs with salt, pepper and a spoonful of mayonnaise. A handful of berries helped my lunch box look a little more exciting.

Lunch: Asparagus with a Poached Egg and Dijonnaise

I have been jonesing for the Dijonnaise I made last week as part of Veal Scaloppini Dijonnaise. As I didn’t get home to have lunch until 2pm I wanted something pretty quick and easy, especially considering I would be starting dinner preparation in an hour! Within 10 minutes I was eating a nutritious satisfying lunch, made perfect by the sprinkle of tarragon which I added to the Dijonnaise.

Dinner: Lamb & Eggplant Stew

Lamb & Eggplant Stew
Lamb & Eggplant Stew

Tonight I made an Israeli dish that I used to like to make back in the days when I thought low fat was good! I ‘would use lamb leg instead of shoulder because it was less fatty (and let’s be honest less tasty!). What I adore about this casserole is once it is on, you simply walk away. I can only imagine that it is a perfect Sabbath meal.

I used potatoes tonight, as they are allowed in moderation on Whole30. However, pumpkin can be substituted on a LCHF or Paleo diet although there is a slight change to the cooking method.

The end result is not the most pretty dish, but instead a bowl of meaty juicy umami goodness. The ultimate for a cold winter’s night.

Recipe: Lamb & Eggplant Stew

Israeli Lamb & Eggplant Stew
Israeli Lamb & Eggplant Stew

Recipe: Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew

Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew
Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew

This is a traditional Israeli recipe which I have cooked many times, even substituting the lamb for pork, which I am sure is not very traditional!  What I adore about this casserole is once it is on, you can simply walk away and do whatever your heart desires for three hours. I can only imagine that this would be the perfect meal for the Sabbath.

I used potatoes in this instance, however pumpkin can be easily substituted to align with a LCHF or Paleo diet. However if you are using pumpkin there is a slight change to the cooking method.

This recipe amazes me because it has no liquids or oil added to it, yet at the end you have this amazing mess of falling apart lamb and collapsed vegetables bathing in their own juices.

Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew
Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew

The first time I made this dish I was convinced that everything was going to burn on the bottom of the pot, and weakly tried to console myself with the fact that eggplant is great when it’s charred! Because of the specific layering in the dish you will find that juices are quickly released to circumvent any danger to your meal or your cookware.

Ingredients

(6 servings)

  • 1 Kg boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed fatty bits, diced
  • 500 grams eggplant, sliced ​​thickness of 3 cm
  • 500 grams tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 500 grams red potatoes, peeled and diced medium (or pumpkin – see variation to method under Tips)
  • 6 large cloves of fresh garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch of parsley, roots and tough stems removed, remaining stems and leaves cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roots and tough stems removed, remaining stems and leaves cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 1 tbs mixed herbs
  • 2 tsp salt plus more to season to taste
  • Black pepper to season to taste

Method

  1. Arrange in layers – 1/3 of the amount of eggplant 1/3 of the tomatoes 1/3 of the potatoes in 1/3 of the herbs and the salt and 1/3 of the meat. Repeat two more times so that all the components are arranged in a pot.
  2. Cover and cook on the lowest heat for 3 hours. Do not open the lid or stir the pot.

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Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew
Jerusalem Lamb & Eggplant Stew
Lamb & Eggplant Stew
Lamb & Eggplant Stew

Tips

This is good to store in the fridge and can be reheated for 3 days. This freezes exceptionally well.

LCHF option – Use pumpkin instead of potato, but do not put in at the start. Instead add the pumpkin in the last half hour of cooking.

Nutritional information using potatoes can be found here

Nutritional information using pumpkin can be found here

Whole30 Day Fourteen: One Woman’s Treasure

I woke up feeling amazing today! Perhaps it was the sunny winter’s morning, and waking up with the sun streaming into my apartment. I was ready to conquer almost anything today. This included both housework and exercise! A very rare occurrence indeed. Usually I only find any pleasure in one of these activities when I’m supposed to be doing the other.

Breakfast: Veal, Pork, and Spinach Omelette

Veal, Pork, and Spinach Omelette
Veal, Pork, and Spinach Omelette

Yesterday I made some sensational stuffed peppers and had some left over veal & pork mince mix that didn’t make it into the dish. This morning I pan fried the mince (which was already mixed with onions, garlic and herbs) before sautéing some spinach until wilted, and finally added some eggs to make a rather rustic omelette.

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Some of the Mint, Parsley, Lemon & Pistachio Pesto would have really made this dish, but alas with an unfortunate lack of foresight (or pure greed), I’d polished off more of it last night than I intended. In all fairness, I was taste testing it with zucchini flats to ensure that the flavour combinations were just right and that it would complement the stuffed peppers perfectly. I just had to be very, very sure, and of course have a few extra dips for luck!

Lunch: Banana & Coconut Cream

Due to the size of Breakfast I was not particularly hungry, however I was planning on a bike ride, so a banana dipped in some coconut cream seemed about right and certainly hit the spot. As an added bonus it also provided motivation to get going and burn off these carbohydrates! It is quite a joy to have a banana, something I’d never touch normally when Low Carb/High Fat. I guess we treasure what we can with this way of eating. One woman’s treasure.. well you know the saying!?!

Dinner: Leftover Veal & Pork Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Sauce, topped with Pesto (mint, parsley, lemon and pistachio), and a side of Green Beans

Serious yumminess, how was it possible it had improved even more overnight? I tried to restrain myself from going back for seconds, somewhat unsuccessfully. The rest of the evening is going to be spent horizontal, rubbing my belly. Over eating is not really part of the game plan is it? Tut tut! *hiccup*

Recipe: Veal & Pork Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Sauce

Veal & Pork stuffed peppers with tomato sauce, topped with pesto (Mint, Parsley, lemon and pistachio)
Veal & Pork stuffed peppers with tomato sauce, topped with pesto (Mint, Parsley, lemon and pistachio)

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tin of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 500 grams veal and pork mince
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tsp dried chives
  • 4 small capsicum peppers, cut in half long ways (I used yellow, but any colour or a mixture of colours would work well)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat oven to 220 degrees. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is softened, approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Remove half of the onion mixture and reserve for the stuffing.
  3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add stock and season with salt and pepper, continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes or until slightly reduced (about half a cup reduction).
  5. Remove pot from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then use a stick blender to blitz the sauce until smooth. (The sauce should be quite runny, if it is too thick add a little water).
  6. Place the mince, herbs, egg, and reserved half or the onion mixture into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Using your hands roughly massage the egg through the mince. (The more you work the egg, the more the protein molecules will help bind the mince together).
  7. Drizzle some olive oil over the outside of the peppers, and use your hands to coat. Place the peppers into a casserole dish large enough to fit the peppers snuggly.
  8. Stuff the peppers with the mince mixture up to the top of the peppers. Cook at 220 for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Spoon some sauce over each of the peppers, and pour the remainder into the casserole dish around the peppers (the sauce should still be hot, if not reheat so that it doesn’t cool down the peppers).
  10. Cover the dish with tin foil and return to the oven. Reduce the temperature to 180 degrees and cook for approximately 25 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and shape of the pepper used.
  11. Dish up the peppers with sauce drizzled over the top and a spoonful of pesto (see recipe here).
Veal & Pork stuffed peppers with tomato sauce
Veal & Pork stuffed peppers with tomato sauce
Veal & Pork stuffed peppers with tomato sauce, topped with pesto (Mint, Parsley, lemon and pistachio)
Veal & Pork stuffed peppers with tomato sauce, topped with pesto (Mint, Parsley, lemon and pistachio)

Tips

Serve with Pesto (mint, parsley, lemon and pistachio)

This dish reheats and freezes well.

Nutritional information can be found here