What I Learned on Whole30

Yesterday was the last day of the January Whole30…which, in my case, really added up to about Whole22 all told, and Whole10 in a row.

Okay, so I’m weak. But hey – it’s better than Whole3, which is what I accomplished the first time I tried.  But I did accomplish enough to learn a few things about my eating patterns and my health, which is one of the more important points of doing a Whole30 in the first place.

First, I learned that I can turn into a Grade A Bitch if I get sick while attempting a Whole30, for which I apologize.

I learned that at least attempting a Whole30, and sticking with it for the majority of the month, is a good way to lose the 3 pounds you gained over the holidays, when you ate far too many “paleo” treats like dairy-free egg nog, almond flour banana bread and chevre cheesecake topped with a butter-free (and delicious) lemon curd.

I learned that we eat pretty “cleanly” most days (Beloved pointed this out).  We didn’t have to change or give up much in order to do this, but cooking with alcohol and my tendency to make “conventional” dishes “paleo” (i.e. cottage pie and butternut squash pancakes) is what did us in, even if we don’t consume those all that often.

I learned that while it’s not hard to drink my coffee without stevia, it’s not something I’ll ever enjoy.

Having said that, I also learned to appreciate sweet things, since I (mostly) cut them out for a month.  Now all I need is a drop or two of stevia in my coffee – just enough to cut the bitterness of the beverage, but not enough to actually sweeten it.  And while I still prefer my pastured, cold-smoked ham steaks glazed with a little maple syrup, it is now really a “little” syrup.

I’ve learned that I’m really better off without any kind of dairy in my diet, and that it’s okay for me to miss the little bit of cheese and butter I did eat (and mourn the fact I will probably never be able to enjoy even a gluten-free lasagna ever again).

And while I’ve learned that I, personally, am better off without dairy, I also learned that it is entirely possible to make a 3-course fondue meal, if not Whole30, then at least primal.  And that teenage boys will eat it.

I learned that I’m sensitive to sulfites – they are very likely responsible for my mild and occasional asthma-like symptoms.  So, when it’s red wine, it’s now red wine with no added sulfites.

I learned that I have bad reactions to FD&C Yellow No. 5 (you don’t even want to know how I discovered that).

Finally, I learned, after looking at the gorgeous Whole30 menu photos over at Nom Nom Paleo every day, that I absolutely lust for a SousVide Supreme.

And now, back to our regularly schedule blog posts.  I may give this another whirl in June.

Sweet and Spicy Cottage Pie

It’s Monday, all you Real Food Foodies, so link up your recipes that can be made ahead!

We had a wild and wooly weekend; Friday afternoon we left work early to go watch our side of beef be cut up.  It was really fascinating and fun, too – we got to pick out exactly how we wanted each part cut as it was being done; as a result, we got some cuts you don’t normally see (more about that on Friday).  Saturday, The Young One hosted 6 of his friends for his 17th birthday; I made fondue (more about that later this week) and they stayed over for the night.  Sunday morning, I made breakfast burritos for all of them and by dinner time, The Young One had developed a bad cold (two of his guests were sniffling, sneezing and coughing…sigh).  I was going to make beef version of osso bucco for dinner, but ended up making this instead.

The last time I posted a shepherd’s pie recipe, one of my readers informed me that because it was made with beef, it was technically a cottage pie – shepherd’s pie should be made with lamb or mutton (sheep, of course).  But whatever you choose to call it, shepherd’s or cottage pies are wonderfully warm, comforting and delicious.  And because they can be assembled and refrigerated or frozen, then reheated, they are a perfect choice for a make ahead meal (they also tend to be one of those dishes that tastes better, reheated, the next day).

The filling in this particular pie can be as spicy as you like; I made ours pretty spicy to offset the sweetness of the Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  It was really, really good and I’m looking forward to the leftovers for lunch today.  This recipe also makes quite a bit, so you could make and serve half of it one night, then freeze the other half for a dinner later on.

Sweet and Spicy Cottage Pie
Sweet and Spicy Cottage Pie
Serves: 10
  • 2 pounds ground beef, preferably grass-fed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 4 cups kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash steak seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/?p=12637″ target=”_blank”]Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes[/url]
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Begin browning the ground beef in a large, heavy, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. As the meat cooks, add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and steak seasoning to the pan. Once the ground beef is cooked through and the onion is soft, add the tomato sauce, carrots and celery to the skillet; taste and season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in the kale and cook until the greens are wilted. Carefully spread the Vanilla Mashed Potatoes evenly over the top over the meat mixture. At this point, the dish can be covered and refrigerated or frozen.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned (if baking later, bring the dish to room temperature before baking). Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 440 calories, 25g total fat, 80.2mg cholesterol, 706.6mg sodium, 1159.5mg potassium, 33.9g carbohydrates, 6.1g fiber, 10.3g sugar, 20.5g protein.

If you make the Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes without any butter (coconut oil is a good option), this recipe is Whole30 compliant.

PLEASE – post recipes with whole, real food ingredients only. Dairy, sprouted grains and legumes and natural sweeteners are allowed, but recipes containing processed or refined ingredients or vegetable oils will be removed.  Don’t forget to link back to this post! Thanks for your cooperation.

Tired Musings

I have had trouble sleeping every day this week.  It’s not so much that I can’t sleep at all – I have no trouble falling asleep, but if I wake up in the middle of the night for whatever reason (last night it was a killer hot flash), I find it very difficult to go back to sleep.  So I’ve been up since 3 a.m., which has pretty much been the norm since Sunday night.

Menopause is a wonderful thing.


We’re getting all ready to go watch our side of beef be cut this afternoon (hopefully I won’t be too terribly brain-dead from lack of sleep), and tomorrow I’m making a 3-course fondue dinner for The Young One and five of his friends for his 17th birthday.  Sunday morning, I’m making them all breakfast.

I’ve never claimed to be in my right mind, you know.

At any rate, I hope you’ll forgive my lack of substance today.  I had a long post planned after all the Paula Deen brouhaha, but I’m just not up to it today.


When I was growing up in the 1970s, I knew exactly two people with diabetes:  a young friend who was type 1, and my great-grandmother, who developed type 2 in her 60s.  Which was pretty much the norm – so much so that type 2 was often referred to as “geriatric diabetes.”

These days?

Three of the seven employees in our office is diabetic (another is prediabetic); the spouse of one of our co-workers is diabetic;  The Young One’s grandmother is diabetic; my ex-husband is diabetic; the young daughter of the hygienist at my dentist’s office is diabetic; my father-in-law is diabetic.  These are just the people I can think of off the top of my head – the people in my immediate circle of family, friends and acquaintances.  I’m sure each of these people could cite a like  number of their friends, family and acquaintances with the disease.

There is something at work here, and few of the “experts” can agree what that is.

How about you?  How many people do you know who are diabetic?  Do you have any opinions on what is driving the “epidemic?”

Lamb Chops with Shallot Sauce

This week’s Spin Cycle is “dream jobs.”

For me, it totally depends on the time of day and the circumstances.  This morning, I wished I could have been an anchor on Good Morning, America so I could tell the world I don’t really CARE why Demi Moore is in the hospital and talk about something that actually matters.  Yesterday, I wanted to be a member of the Texas highway patrol so I could at least hand a citation to the moron who continued to drive while filming his wife give birth in the passenger seat of their car.  (Am I the only one who thinks that would have been a good time to PULL OVER TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD??) Other dream jobs have included:  head of the local school board, supreme court justice and whoever the hell is in charge of of airing trash shows like The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Most of the time, though, I want to be exactly what I am – a wife, mother, grandmother, food blogger and aspiring cookbook author.  Especially when I’m cooking and photographing something like this.

Because it is deliciousness on a plate.  Quite…dreamy, so to speak.

And I’ve never really ever liked lamb all that much.

Lamb Chops with Shallot Sauce
Lamb Chops with Shallot Sauce
Serves: 4
  • 1 tablespoon each finely chopped red, yellow and orange bell peppers
  • 1 small Jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lard or butter
  • 8 lamb loin chops
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons goat butter, chilled
  1. Melt the lard In a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat; lightly sauté the peppers and jalapeno until they are tender-crisp, about 2 or 3 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. Dry the chops well with a paper towel; season on each side with salt and pepper. Increase the heat under the skillet to medium high and cook the chops until just pink, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set aside, cover and keep warm.
  3. Add the wine, vinegar, shallots, basil and orange rind to the pan; increase the heat slightly, bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Whisk in the goat butter, a bit at a time, until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Place two chops on each plate; spoon the shallot sauce over the chops and sprinkle with the peppers. Serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 355 calories, 24.3g total fat, 92.1mg cholesterol, 73mg sodium, 498.7mg potassium, 6.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21.7g protein.


Blackened Tuna with Mango Salsa

We’ve been on a “chops” kick lately:  lamb chops, pork chops, goat chops, and all with basically the same cooking method and ingredients (yes, they are THAT good).  At this point I don’t know which recipe to post – I’m more than willing to take suggestions for what you’d like to see – so I decided that it was time to begin rifling my older, SAD recipes and see which could best be tweaked to fit our present diet.

This one?  Perfect.

Based on two beautiful restaurant recipes and originally posted 2 1/2 years ago, the only thing that kept this recipe from being “real food” was the granulated sugar in the salsa – so I’ve replaced it with a generous drizzle of honey, which is really all it needs, especially if the mango is nice and ripe.  (It also doesn’t hurt that the cookbook could use another seafood/fish recipe.)  It’s also absurdly quick and easy, especially if you make the salsa ahead of time.

Oh, and it’s delicious too boot.  So how can you lose?

Blackened Tuna with Mango Salsa
Blackened Tuna with Mango Salsa
Serves: 2
  • 2 four-ounce sashimi-grade Ahi or yellowfin tuna filets
  • Blackening Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure red chili powder
  • 1/4 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Mango Salsa
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  1. In a medium, non-reactive bowl, drizzle the honey over the mango; stir well and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Stir in the onion, jalapenos and lime juice; cover and refrigerate for at least one additional hour, to allow the flavors to blend. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.
  2. Mix all of the blackening spices together on a plate, and dredge the tuna on all sides. Heat a lightly greased cast iron skillet until nearly smoking and sear the fish over high heat until desired doneness – about 15 – 30 seconds per side for rare; about 1 minute each side for medium-rare.
  3. Thinly slice and arrange the tuna on two plates; garnish each serving with about 1/4 cup of the salsa. Serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 251 calories, 2.3g total fat, 44.2mg cholesterol, 94.5mg sodium, 943mg potassium, 30.3g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 21.4g sugar, 30.4g protein.