Homemade, Restaurant Quality- Whole 30 Style

My husband and I have recently started The Whole 30. For 30 days, the goal is to cut out ALL artificial foods, added sugars, GMOs, MSG, grains, dairy, and yes, alcohol…in hopes to have a better quality of life. They preach that they are not a diet, but a lifestyle. The creator of this plan does not want participants to count calories or even weigh themselves while on this plan. Many people have claimed that by the end of 30 days their usual headaches subside, skin clears, energy levels are more consistent throughout the day, sleep improves, knowledge of day to day foods increases… and that’s only the half of it. 

The first couple of days have been hard, but I must say, this Whole 30 thing ain’t bad if I can make meals like this 🤗😋 We have organic top sirloin steak that was cooked stove top with some olive oil and rubbed with generous salt and pepper. I got the pan nice and hot before cooking the steak 3 minutes on each side to result in a perfect medium rare (more on the rare side 😊) After you take the meat out of the pan, lightly cover it with some foil and let it rest. This part is more important than it seems! If the meat does not have the proper time to rest, it can result in inconsistently cooked meat. Give it some time and let its juices distribute throughout the steak. It’s worth the wait! Moving to the right, we have mushrooms and onions that were cooked down in a pot with some garlic, coconut aminos. Next we have roasted colorful carrots that were simply dressed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and cooked in the oven for 30 min at 400 degrees. For these golden potatoes, I cooked them stove top at high heat until they got nice and crispy! They cooked with some olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and I added garlic for the last two minutes of cooking time. I made sure to toss these often so they could get crispy on all sides. AND lastly, I cooked a Anaheim pepper over the open flame until it blistered and became soft (I’m in love with the smokey, spicy flavor). A bite of steak with that spicy pepper and some mushrooms… just wow. Bon Appetit! 

Hopefully there will be some noticeable change at the end of these 30 days (onto day 3! We got this). If anything, the Whole 30 will be a great learning experience for us. We will most likely introduce foods back in slowly, but hopefully we will become more educated about what’s in our food. This will help us know what is best to eat and what to avoid, allowing us to adapt this information into a realistic lifestyle for us. 

Hostess With The Mostess

I love hosting parties. There’s something about inviting people into your home to share good food, drinks and conversation. However, cooking can be quite time consuming when you’d rather be with your guests. Here’s an easy appetizer that can help with time efficiency in the kitchen and help to hold your guests over until the main course. These are my olive tamponade crustinis over goat cheese and mascarpone. To create the base of these small bites, I cut up a baguette into 1 inch thick crustinis. I laid them onto a sheet tray, drizzled them with some olive oil and popped them into the oven until golden brown. While these toasted, I started on my olive tamponade. In a food processor, I combined pitted green olives, kalamata olives, Rosemary, capers and garlic. I added some olive oil as I pulsed this combination. I wanted to keep a thicker texture to the olives so I didn’t pulse them for too long. After everything had combined together I started on my cheese mixture. I mixed together goat cheese and mascarpone. I can’t say I measured this to perfection, but I tasted as I mixed. You can find a balance that works best with your taste buds! I added some orange zest to this combination. No salt and pepper needed! There is enough salt from the olives and capers in the tamponade. Once the bread is all toasted and golden in the oven, it’s time to put these together! Spread some of the cheese mixture on the crustini and add some of the olives on top. I am an olive fanatic and goat cheese lover…so this appetizer really hit home for me! Try this out and let me know how you like it! The beauty of this recipe is that you can be creative with the cheeses you choose or toppings you add. Don’t be afraid to get creative! 

Upside Down Pizza

This appetizer, I made at a family cookout after finding inspiration from Giada De Laurentiis. I am a huge fan of the food network and happened to watch her create a similar dish on “Giada in Italy”. I perceived this recipe as a creation of pizza backwards!

To create this dish, I cut up two large onions and cooked them down in a sauté pan with some salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Once they were soft and caramalized, I turned off the heat and drizzled some balsamic vinegar over the top. I flattened the onions on the pan and added dollops of whipped ricotta with lemon zest overtop the onions. I then put a sheet of puff pastry on top of the pan and pressed down (do you get how we are creating this pizza backwards now??). I cut off the edges and put the pan in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. When I took the pan out of the oven, the puff pastry had risen and browned. At this point you need a plate or pan that’s bigger than the sauté pan. Put the pan over the sautéed creation and flip it quickly. You now have your “pizza” or savory crostata. I let it cool and added some halved grape tomatoes, fresh oregano and arugula. This was a fan favorite and super  easy to create! Try it at home and let me know how it goes! 

Yogurt Power Bowl 

The easiest of midday snacks! Healthy, tasty and pretty 😍 I used a base of nonfat Fage yogurt for my bowl, but you can pretty much use any yogurt you please! The toppings can be flexible as well. I chose to add apple slices, frozen berries, honey and a broken up brown rice cake for crunch. The honey and fruit added a much needed sweetness to the yogurt. I’d rather add my own natural sugars than buy a yogurt that’s already packed with sugars. There is a nice balance of textures, temperatures and flavors 👌🏻

From Fast Food to Fresh Food

When people think of fast food the word “healthy” doesn’t usually come to mind. Well, Fresh Healthy Cafe is trying to change this perception! They have lots of healthy meals and snacks made right “in house”. They do super smoothies, pure smoothies, juices, power bowls, protein bowls, salads, wraps, and paninis! They have many different flavor profiles as well… they have Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican and of course American dishes on their menu. The dish I chose was the Kale Vegetarian Salad. I love a juicy steak as much as the next person… but sometimes a light, cleansing salad is just what I need! This salad consisted of kale, red peppers, red onion, feta cheese, black olives, sliced almonds, tomatoes and cranberries. It came with a lemon and olive oil dressing on the side. Fresh + tasty = sold. I’ll be back @freshhealthycafe

Orzo and Roasted Vegetables

This tasty recipe I got from my mother! In honor of Mother’s Day, here is how to create this dish! :

Start by preheating the oven to 425 and chopping up your veggies. You need to dice red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper and red onion to one inch thickness. Toss this with 2 cloves minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper onto a baking sheet. Roast these in the oven for 30 minutes or until browned (flipping once). Meanwhile, start the orzo. Cook it in salted boiling water for 7-9 minutes. Drain the orzo and put into a serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl along with any juices that they released when cooking. Add the dressing. This consists of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. (Super simple and fresh). Top it off with fresh basil, scallions, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese. This is a great recipe for parties because it can be made in large batches! It’s a tasty, fresh and healthy summer recipe! 

Fruit And Veggie “Sushi” Rolls

I love Asian cuisine. I love to cook it and to eat it! Today I was in the mood to make a playful, and super flavorful Asian dish! I decided on making fruit and vegetable sushi rolls. These beautiful rolls are delicious and healthy. Here’s how I created this Asian inspired dish…I first thinly sliced my produce. I used red and orange peppers, poblano peppers, mango, green apple, and red onion. You may think this is a random combination, but I promise the flavors play off of each other perfectly! You have the sweet peppers and mango, tart green apple, spicy poblano, and the contrast of the red onion… it’s the perfect crunchy bite in a “sushi” roll! You can of course substitute these with your favorite fruits and veggies. I then made my guacamole spread! This adds a beautiful creamy texture to the rolls, and helps act as the “glue” that holds the veggies together. I simply mashed avocado, added some of the poblano seeds for an added kick, and then seasoned with some salt and pepper. Next up, time to make the cucumber ribbons! I did this with a mandolin slicer. Don’t slice too thin or it makes it hard to roll and the cucumber may rip on you. The cucumber is what holds the rolls together and needs to be sturdy enough! Now it’s time to roll these babies! Take a cucumber ribbon, spread some of the guacamole on it, add a couple slivers of each veggie and tear up a piece of basil and place on the veggies. Roll it all up and place seam down on your serving dish. Top them with sesame seeds and some grated ginger. Lastly, comes the dipping sauce! This brings everything together and really makes this an Asian dish. Combine a 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil and 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Whisk together and there you have it…A blast of colorful flavors all rolled up into one!