What a Foodie Does On Whole 30

For some reason, I eat better when I have rules.  I am just that type of person.  When there are no rules, I have been known to eat, say, 4 cinnamon rolls in a row.  This is purely hypothetical, of course. (and also something that happened last week)  This followed a day of baking and eating those chocolate Hamantaschen I blogged last….

So, the rules don’t really matter.  It could be low-carb, calorie tracking, or no sugar, but I need some guidelines.  In my next life, I plan on coming back as someone who can eat everything in sight and remain a size 2.  For those of you that don’t know me in real life, I have actually lost 22 pounds over the past 8 months.  I have been working with a trainer, going to the gym religiously in between training sessions, and generally rotating between eating whole foods and low carb bursts here and there.

Then the holidays hit, followed by never ending snow days.  I don’t know about you, but there is nothing I want to do on a snow day other than bake and eat the pastries of my labor.  Anyhow, I was suddenly up 3 pounds, which might not sound like a lot, but it is a slippery slope…and I know this slope like the back of my chubby hand.

So, after some research, I decided to try a Whole 30 challenge.  I dove right in the next day.  If you are not familiar with this way of eating, your diet consists of whole foods, unprocessed as much as possible, and foods that do NOT contain dairy, gluten or grains of any kind, soy products, legumes (including peanuts), preservatives, nitrates, or sugar (even natural sugars like honey, agave, maple syrup, etc…).  You may eat meats, fish, vegetables, healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil/milk, ghee), fruits, and nuts/seeds.  *You are not supposed to get creative and make baked goods out of all of these ingredients mashed together (like those paleo banana pancakes circulating on Pinterest).  You are also supposed to stick to meals and not be super snacky, which I am having trouble with a bit.  One thing that initially had me concerned was the nut/coconut allergy in my house really limiting my options.  What to put in the morning coffee that is non-negotiable?

I decided to include coconut milk, but keep it very carefully stored in a jar with a cap in the basement fridge and treat it like a Hazmat.  I blended in some dates for sweetness, just for my coffee…Though it has found it’s way on some tropical fruit salad over the past day or two.  A slippery slope….

The ingredients for my Whole  30 meail

This is a photo of the prep work I did the night before I started- Coconut milk with dates-blended well.  Homemade sunbutter with sunflower seeds, dates, and olive oil in the food processor until a paste forms (It is delicious!), and a blend of sunflowers and dates that I set aside to use as a “breading” on some chicken (amazing, by the way), a fresh pineapple, and some sliced banana to stash in the freezer.

*Disclaimer- I did make homemade nut-free larabars with dried date, raisins, sunflower seeds, a few sesame seeds, and a scant dab of applesauce.  I placed them in muffin liners and am storing them in the fridge for pre/post workout fuel when needed.  I don’t consider this cheating, because they do say that larabars are okay…

Here is what I have eaten so far, in case you are curious:

Whole 30 Day 1:

B- 2 olive oil fried eggs, coffee with coconut cream and dates,
S- pineapple, L- salad with tuna, olives, artichokes, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, olive oil. S- blended frozen banana with cloves and nutmeg, bare apple chips, raw veggies with guacamole, D: sautéed bok choy and shiitake mushrooms with seared salmon, spinach salad with mandarin oranges and orange vinaigrette, pineapple. Dessert: Apple cooked with a tiny bit of ghee and cinnamon, tea with coconut milk.

p.s. Even if you are not on a whole 30, olive oil fried eggs are the BEST.  Just get a healthy amount of olive oil very hot in a pan.  Drop in your eggs, and stand back- They will spit and splatter a bit.  Fry them on that side until very brown and crisp at the edges (just the opposite of what we were always taught about frying eggs).  The edges are so lacey and crispy, it is amazing!

Whole 30 olive oil eggs

Whole 30 Day 2:

Breakfast: hash with sweet potatoes and butternut squash, 2 eggs, small amount of mandarin oranges leftover from yesterday, Workout- Lunch: banana and apple pie larabar, 4 breakfast sausages (oops!), 4 dried apricots D: salad with chicken fingers breaded in sunflower/date mixture, blood orange vinaigrette, 1/2 avocado, pineapple. Sashimi with jalapeno and cilantro.

Whole 30 Day 3:

2 olive oil fried eggs, banana sliced with sunbutter, homemade larabar, workout, Applegate turkey wrapped with 1/2 avocado, tomato, arugula, homemade mayo, black olives. Fruit salad with coconut milk. Mama chia blackberry bliss. Moroccan beef stew with dates, raisins, and carrots, sweet potatoes. Tea with coconut milk. 4 dates with sunbutter inside. Unsweetened applesauce cup with cinnamon.

Moroccan Beef Stew (vague recipe without measurements follows, because I just threw stuff in the pot without measuring!)

Whole 30 Mongolian Beef Stew

Whole 30 Day 4:

B: 2 eggs in olive oil, fruit salad with coconut milk, coffee with coconut milk, snack- banana-date-coconut smoothie and homemade larabar, Lunch- tuna salad with homemade mayo, artichokes, and olives, arugula. More fruit salad with coconut milk, Dinner: loaded plantain nachos with seasoned beef, olives, jalapeno, avocado, tomato, cilantro, scallions.

My loaded plantain nachos:

Whole 30 Plantain Nachos

I have also had to prep homemade mayo, ghee, and an all purpose salad dressing just to have on hand.

I am clearly overeating -still- with too much snacking, but I feel pretty good.  The under eye dark circles I always have are almost gone.  I have loads of energy, and my workouts feel nicely fueled.  My stomach is rebelling a bit, but I am imagining that is due to all of the artificial sweetener withdrawal I am likely experiencing.  Hopefully, this is temporary.  I have been finding it quite easy to stick to the plan, though I do think that is due to good prep work and my love of making things from scratch.  Let me know if you have recently started Whole 30 or if you have any great food finds that are compliant with the plan!

Moroccan-Style Beef Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • approximately 2 lbs beef stew meat or short ribs or chuck roast (would also work with chicken thighs)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 8 dates, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Chicken stock (organic and whole 30 compliant)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Basically, sear meat on both sides in oil.  Add onions, cook for a minute or two.  Add other veggies, tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper (sparingly- taste later and adjust).  Pour in stock until meat is 3/4 covered but sticks out a bit on top. Cover pot and stash in a 300 degree oven for a LONG time 3-4 hours is great!  I did this a day ahead, removed bones from my meat, stashed in fridge overnight, then reheated the next day with the lid off (on stove), and it actually reduced further and thickened to a perfect consistency.

I served this over some sweet potato slices for me, and noodles for my kids and hubby (who are not doing whole 30).  Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Hamantaschen…and Bonus Hot Cocoa Variation

I am pretty much a purist when it comes to Hamantaschen, which are definitely near the top of my list of favorite Jewish holiday treats.  The flavor I crave is very specific- Poppyseed filling (mohn) with a buttery-lemony flavored dough that is both crisp and tender.  However, I am seeing a whole bunch of fancy, non-traditional flavors popping up all over lately.  I started dreaming up ideas, only to discover that they had been done already.  Apple pie…done.  Cheese Danish….done.  The following Chocolate-covered Cherry Hamantaschen was my brain child, and after a pretty thorough search, I don’t think they exist yet: )  Here’s to trying something new!

For those of you new to the world of Hamantaschen, they are triangular shaped cookies traditionally eaten on Purim.  Purim is a fun holiday where Jews dress up in costume and retell the story of Mordechai, Haman, Queen Esther, and King Ahashueros (Ahashveros).  There are good guys, bad guys, a bit of drinking, near death for all, and a happy ending.  It is a great time.  Please look up the holiday for better details, as I didn’t mean to get into that here…  However, the cookies are meant to represent Haman’s (the bad guy’s) hat or more literally and disturbingly…his ears.  Hmmm, yum?  But they are good, really!

First cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and baking powder together in your mixer.  A hand mixer will work fine, as well.  Add in your egg, and beat until well combined.

Hamantaschen dough

Then add your flour and cocoa powder.  Mix until a thick dough forms.  Do not over mix.

Hamantaschen dough with Cocoa

Form dough into a disk and cover in plastic.  Stash in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Hamantaschen dough in a disk

In the meantime, line your pans with parchment.  I love these new “cookie sheets” by Reynold’s.  So easy!

Raynold's cookie sheets

Get your fillings en place.  Although I am making chocolate covered cherry flavor, I can’t just leave it at one, so I have other accoutrements at the ready.

Hamantaschen filling material

I dust the counters lightly with powdered sugar when making any type of roll out sugar cookie.  I find that it makes re-rolls work out better, and doesn’t add a heavy over-floured feel.

Hamantaschen dough rolled out

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch.

Hamantaschen dough 1/8 inch thick

Cut out circles or fluted circles, approximately 2 1/2″, but can be made smaller or larger as desired.

cutting the Hamantaschen dough

Line up circles on parchment.

Hamantaschen circles on parchment

Fill each circle with 3 cherries, no more, no less.  A couple of years ago, I learned that there is an actual proper way to fold Hamantaschen, which involves folding each edge over the edge next to it, instead of pinching together.  Check it out at the bottom of Tori Avey’s genius post here.

a perfectly folded Hamantaschen

Here is a triple chocolate version I am making for my daughter who is not a fan of cherries…or cooked fruit in general.  But that is a story for another day.

triple chocolate hamantaschen

After filling and folding all the cuties, bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.  You can see how well most of my cookies stayed together, but I did have one renegade.  There is always one….

baked hamantaschen

This is what you are going for!

the finished hamantaschen

Let cool completely.  Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between.  Drizzle, dunk, or dollop cookies with chocolate.  I tried all three methods, and I settled on dollops.

chocolate sauce for the hamantaschen

Here is a finished cookie.  I feel that it would be lovely with chopped walnuts sprinkled on top, but we are nut-free, so that is a no-go.

hamantaschen with Chocolate sauce

My hot chocolate version was adorable, if I do say so, though!  They are filled with mini-mallow bits (the kind in a canister that don’t puff when heated), then topped with more chocolate and marshmallows.  You could totally fill these with anything you want- Peanut Butter, caramel, jams, white chocolate, etc….

hot chocolate hamantaschen

Have fun!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Hamantaschen

For the dough:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (or margarine, if pareve is desired)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

For filling and topping:

  • 1 can cherry pie filling (or make your own, like I did)
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and baking powder until fluffy.  Add in egg, mixing well to combine.  Mix flour and cocoa powder, and add to mixer.  Starting on lowest speed, mix just until stiff dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 1 day.  Let dough come back to room temperature before rolling.

Sprinkle work surface with powdered sugar.  Roll out dough to 1/8 inch.  Using round cookie cutters, cut out as many rounds as possible.  Can re-roll scraps once, if necessary.  Place rounds onto parchment.

Place three cherries in the center of each round.  Fold dough into a triangle around the filling, pinching points together gently.  If dough is a tad crumbly (from being cold or too much powdered sugar), just pinch together and it will still work when baked.  Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine took 14).  Cookies will still be slightly soft when hot, but will firm up as they cool.  Cool completely.

Melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl by 30 second intervals, stirring in between.  Dollop approximately 1 teaspoon melted chocolate over top of filling triangle in center. Sprinkle with nuts, if desired.  Let chocolate set up at room temperature or in fridge, and serve.

* for hot cocoa variation, stuff each cookie circle with chocolate chips and mallow bits.  Do not use mini-marshmallows, as they will puff when baked!  Bake and top with melted chocolate and more mallow bits.  Enjoy!