Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The end of an era

After 8 years in the same office, my work group is moving. Has moved in fact, today is my last day at the old office tying up some loose ends. You may be asking yourself, what on earth does this have to do with a recipe blog? Well, I've been working in the middle of some of the best eats in LA. Within walking distance of my old office:

Groundwork Coffee
The Hungry Cat
Life Food Organics
Umami Burger
Cat & The Fiddle
The Mercantile
GO Burger
Caffe Etc.

My new office? Well there's a Zankou Chicken across the street. And umm... there's a 7-11, a Subway and some genuinely bad tacos & thai food. On Wednesdays, we can walk 4 blocks to a farmer's market, but not much else. For me, personally, this is probably good. All the more reason to pack my own healthy, delicious lunches.

But the foodie in me is a little sad. No more of my occasional treat lunches of fois gras brioche or raw oysters or duck fat french fries. No more of the amazing cherry chocolate scones tempting me when I refill my coffee (in fact, nowhere decent to refill my coffee). So today, I celebrated... no, I didn't go crazy. Those scones don't have the same hypnotic spell over me that they used to. But in all that foodie bliss, one thing stands out: Caffe Etc's brie-chicken panini on sourdough bread. Good god it's perfect. Just the right amount of gooey brie melting over thinly sliced chicken and accented with sharp green apples & a pinch of cranberry sauce. To. Die. For.

Brie & chicken panini

I had myself a pretty nice lunch today... And yes, I may well have a vertigo attack tomorrow. But for one last time, it was so worth it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Why Low Sodium Paleo

This is the first of a series of blog posts about why and how to eat low sodium paleo(ish). At this point I've become pretty comfortable with this approach to eating and I want to share some structured ideas on the topic. And I'm going to start with the big question...

Why eat a low sodium paleo diet?

You can go all over the internet and find arguments for eating paleo, or other variations on ancestral diets. Some good places to start are Whole9 or Mark's Daily Apple. But if you read deeper into some of these websites, you'll find some debate about whether the "conventional wisdom" on low salt diets is actually wisdom or just poppycock. (I love that word, poppycock!) Looking from the low sodium side of the fence, I'm going to lay out why (and why not) you might want to take a lower sodium approach to paleo(ish) eating.

1. You have a medical condition that can truly be helped by eating a lower sodium diet.
There's a bunch of these. Meniere's disease. Various kidney (renal) conditions. An aortic aneurysm. Yes, these are big high stakes diseases. If you have one of these issues, you want to limit your sodium. The details are different for each condition, but generally speaking these are conditions where the fluid balance in the body is out of whack and limiting sodium can either restore appropriate fluid levels, or reduce the strain on the kidneys as they try to balance fluids. Personally, I have Meniere's disease which is an inner ear disorder causing severe intermittent vertigo and restricting my sodium intake to 1000-1200mg a day keeps me mostly off medication (for now).

A note on renal diets: There are a lot of other dietary issues at play for people who have renal failure. I know some people need to restrict potassium, phosphorous or other minerals, or sometimes manage their protein intake. I still believe that a diet based around whole foods is ideal, but if you have renal disease and want to make changes in your diet, it's best to consult with a dietician who's familiar with your labs.

2. You have a medical condition that can cause renal or blood pressure issues downstream.
Diabetes is the big one here, uncontrolled diabetes can result in kidney failure. A reduced carbohydrate paleo(ish) diet may help a diabetic control blood sugar, but they're probably dealing with some level of diminished kidney function. It just makes sense to me, in this case, to moderately reduce sodium intake to reduce the load on the kidneys. A much rarer situation, that unfortunately runs in my family, is a structural heart issue that can raise the risk of aortic aneurysm. In this case, keeping sodium moderate can help keep blood pressure low, which consequently reduces the long term strain on the aorta. There are also autoimmune diseases (like lupus) that can result in renal damage, and I'm sure there are a number of other conditions that I don't even know about. If you're dealing with one of these issues but don't have frank kidney or heart problems, you should think about a moderate sodium intake, maybe around 2000mg... unless your doctor is already telling you to go very low sodium.

3. You are overweight, obese or have a binge eating disorder and you're working to reduce food reward.
Now we step away from people with clear medical indication for going low sodium and start talking about the general public. First of all, I don't believe that going paleo(ish) is only about getting lean, but for a lot of people that's where they're coming from. There are a lot of competing ideas (within and without the paleo-verse) about how and why people become overweight. One of those theories is the "food reward" hypothesis or the "hyperpalatability" hypothesis. Basically that many processed foods are engineered to be more stimulating to the brain than real whole foods found in nature. Proponents of this argument would include neurobiologist Stephan Guyenet and public health policy expert Dr. David Kessler. One of the specific factors in Kessler's hyperpalatability argument is salt (the other two are fat and sugar). Based on my experience with a low sodium diet (which I will go into later), I truly think that they're onto something here. I don't know that this is driving the obesity epidemic, but certainly hyperpalatable foods are sitting shotgun and handing the driver can after can of Red Bull.

If you're concerned about this, if you think this theory explains some issues you're having with food or your body, I really think you should consider a trial of low sodium paleo eating. Despite what many people think, it doesn't have to be bland or boring (as I'll demonstrate), but dropping the sodium in your diet may well decrease the stimulating effect food has on your brain. And when you modify your sugar or fat intake you need to make other adjustments to be sure you're getting sufficient calories and nutrition... when you drop salt to a low (but adequate) level, you don't need to make a lot of other adjustments. Here I think you'd want to aim somewhere in the 1500-2000mg range... but possibly as low as 1000mg.

Why NOT eat a low sodium paleo diet?

1. You don't have to.
As someone who really does need to watch my sodium, this makes it's own case. If you don't have any good need to watch your sodium, DON'T! It's easier and you can enjoy bacon, cold cuts, bleu cheese and thai food without worry. If you just go paleo(ish) and base your diet around real whole foods, you're probably going to drop your sodium intake to a reasonably healthy level. A recent CDC report indicates that the top 10 types of food that contribute the most sodium to the American diet include bread and rolls, pizza, sandwiches, pasta mixed dishes, meat mixed dishes, and savory snacks. All things you won't eat if you go paleo(ish). Yes, there are some higher sodium paleo foods like cold cuts, cured meats, and cheeses. But avoiding bread alone is going to drop your sodium intake substantially! Take out processed fast food and snack foods and it drops even further. As long as you're not eating an everyday diet of bacon for breakfast, cold cuts for lunch and thai curries for dinner, you're probably OK.

2. You get a lot of exercise in the hot sun.
If you're sweating out a lot of salt, you need to take in salt. I live in California and I love exploring our local desert wilderness. But desert hiking means I need to up my sodium a little bit, or I get dizzy and weak. If you work outside in the summer or are very active in the outdoors, your body has an increased need for sodium. Period. Even if you have a good reason to limit salt overall, you may want to bump up your intake when you're sweating out a lot of it. (Again, renal folks talk to a dietician on this one.)

3. You have really low blood pressure.
If you have postural hypotension (you get faint when standing up from a seated or lying position), or if you find yourself dizzy or lightheaded eating a diet of all whole foods, you might want to look at your sodium intake and intentionally add some salt. I've found that a really strict paleo(ish) eating plan can sometimes drop sodium too low for good health. Even for me, I sometimes need to salt my food, lest I drop below 800mg.

OK... next to come in the series... understanding salt & sodium: how much sodium is really in the foods you eat.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Artichoke with lemon marrow sauce

Artichokes are a major comfort food for me. I'm a native Californian and when I was little we used to drive up the 101 to visit my great aunt and uncle up in the Monterey area, driving through the artichoke growing region of the central coast. And every spring when artichokes came into season, and relatively cheap (since they were local) my mom and I would go nuts and have artichokes with dinner a couple times a week. The smell, the texture, the flavor, the rich creamy heart lurking under the thistle; artichokes are just amazing to me in every way. Then I went away to college and realized that not everyone grew up with this beautiful culinary thistle! If this is you, I'm here to hold your hand and introduce you to an amazing new vegetable!

For this recipe I branched out a little bit and made a bone marrow sauce based on the traditional flavors of gremolata. If you have some marrow bone handy, it's an interesting treat. But for an easier option you can never go wrong with good ol' mayo or clarified butter.

How to steam an artichoke

Beware! There are thorns at the ends of the individual leaves. If you're feeding children, you may want to use a sharp knife or scissors to trim off the leaf tips. Grown adults should be able to navigate the thorns, but if you're new to artichokes, stay sharp so they don't get you!

First, use a sharp knife to cut the stem off flush with the bottom-most leaves. Try to make the cut flat and perpendicular to the stem, so the artichoke sits on a flat base. Fill a large saucepan with 1-2" of water, and bring to a simmer. Put the artichokes in the pan, stem end down. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Remove with tongs and allow to cool.

Eat the artichoke by pulling off each leaf individually, dipping it in your sauce of choice, and then scraping the meat off the fleshy bottom 1/3 of the leaf with your teeth. As you get to the inner leaves you can bite the fleshy part clean off. When you get to the thinnest inner leaves, you'll need to scrape or cut out the thistle choke to get to the "heart" of the artichoke. Be sure to remove all of the thistle, it is sharp. Slice the heart into small chunks, dip and eat. The heart is the very best part! The California Artichoke Advisory Board has a nice graphic on the basics.

Lemon Marrow Sauce

serves 2

2 marrow bones, about 3" long
1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Roast the marrow bones in a small oven-safe dish for 20-30 minutes, until they just start to brown. While the bones are roasting, use a citrus zester to remove the very top outside layer of the lemon (don't get into the white pith). When the bones are done, scoop out the soft inner marrow, and chop into fine chunks. This will get fat all over your cutting board, don't worry about that. Scoop up the marrow into a serving dish, and sprinkle the lemon zest, parsley and salt over the fat covered part of your cutting board. Mince it all together so that the vegetables soak up some of that luscious marrow fat. Add the lemon-parsley mixture to the marrow. Juice your lemon, and whisk the lemon juice in with the rest of the ingredients. Serve and enjoy.

(As for the remaining bone, you can either use it as a garnish as I did in the photo, or just throw it in the freezer for the next time you make stock.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Curry paste!

Wow, here's a total holy grail for me. You know those curry "simmer sauces" that go for ridiculous prices in the supermarket? The ones with weird junky preservatives, added sugar and upwards of 400mg of sodium per serving?

Jamie Oliver has got your back. Yup. Homemade curry pastes, FIVE different variations, no weird additives. I'll be replacing the groundnut (peanut) oil with coconut oil, and cutting the salt in half. 1/4 teaspoon of salt has about 600mg of sodium, so if I divide a recipe into 3-4 servings that's less than 200mg per serving.

I assume that, like thai curry paste, these can be mixed into coconut milk to make a simmer sauce. I'll report back when I try it.


I found it! A piece of the artificial sweetener puzzle, that starts to explain where I think I went really wrong with my Diet Coke habit. It's from an article on slate.com about the power of habits.

You should read the whole thing, but the critical part for me is in the discussion of a lab monkey named Julio who got some yummy blackberry juice whenever he played a computer game correctly. The interesting part is right here:

"Previously, Julio had received juice as soon as he touched the lever. Now, sometimes, the juice didn’t arrive at all, even if Julio performed correctly. Or it would arrive after a slight delay. Or it would be watered down until it was only half as sweet.

When that happened, Julio would get angry or become mopey. And within Julio’s brain, Schultz watched a new pattern emerge: craving. When Julio anticipated juice but didn’t receive it, a neurological pattern associated with desire and frustration erupted. When Julio saw the cue, he started anticipating a juice-fueled joy. But if the juice didn’t arrive, that joy became a craving that, if unsatisfied, drove Julio to anger or depression."

Ok, now imagine that your body is Julio. Your body is trained that when it tastes sweet, there is a quick rush of calories coming. "Trained" may not even be the right word, this is the law of your genes, the law of your biochemistry, the law that governs the biochemistry of our primate kin. Sweet = calorie rush. When you're growing up as a kid this law makes sense, you have a piece of fruit, or some milk, or a slice of birthday cake and the sweetness tells your body to expect some calories.

In my case, at 14, I became the lab experimenter. I started varying the input. Sometimes when I fed myself something sweet, it meant calories: fruit, juice, cake, ice cream. But sometimes, when I fed myself something sweet, it was diet soda and no calories. And sometimes, there was a mix. My taste buds would get LOT of sweet (blueberry pancakes with splenda sweetened coffee), but the actual calorie load was more moderate than the sweetness would indicate (just like the watered down blackberry juice). As I got older and started having binge eating issues the messages would get REALLY mixed up... a "meal" would be artificially sweetened yogurt and a diet red bull, but a few hours later my body would get fed 3 doughnuts. And just like Julio, my body got confused and angry by all this mixed up stimulus.

I honestly think it's going to take a lot longer than the 60ish days I've been off artificial sweeteners to truly heal my biochemistry on this. But deep down, I know it's right. Even eating some real sugar now and then is better than habitually and repeatedly teasing (bullying?) my poor body with fake sweets.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Food blogging vs. other blogging

I keep meaning to post a Whole30 wrap up with some more "deep thoughts" about what I gained. And a Meniere's Disease update. But I just do not have the time to sit down and pull it together. You other working moms know what it's like.

And that's pretty much how this turned into a full time recipe blog. Because whatever else I do, I always cook. Having the cleanest laundry on the block may not ever be a priority for me, but putting good food on the table ALWAYS is. And it takes far less time and energy for me to jot down a few notes about what I just threw in the crockpot, than it does to organize all those amazing insights I had on my drive to work 14 hours ago. :-P So hey... I'm glad y'all are here for the food, because that's the only thing I can blog about consistently.

I'm starting my round 2 of the Whole30 today. I learned a lot last time, but I had a couple of speedbumps... namely eggs and that awful food poisoning I got right at the end. I didn't eat ALL that different in the meantime, the biggest inclusion was full fat dairy. But I did have a few excursions into wine and chocolate. None of those seemed to really bother me, but a few corn chips wrecked my stomach for a few days. Apparently corn doesn't agree with me, who knew? This time I'm going to try the whole thing without eggs and be much more methodical about reintroducing things. I'll let you guys know how it goes. Or maybe I'll just post more food!

Perfect Pot Roast

Perfect Pot Roast
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
Disclaimer time: I don't like pot roast. In fact, I don't like roasted or stewed beef much at all. I like my beef with a fire charred crust and an itty-bitty-bit rare in the middle. We're a BBQ family and that suits me just fine. Winter comes and I'd rather throw a chicken in the oven than fix up some beef.

But, I got to experimenting and I came up with a pretty darn good crockpot pot roast. "Pretty darn good pot roast" is a weak name for a recipe though, so I did a little more tweaking until I made it perfect. Here it is:

Perfect Pot Roast

2-4 pound grass-fed beef roast, suitable for slow cooking
1 leek (or substitute 1 small onion)
6 carrots
2 medium turnips
3 medium parsnips
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup very low sodium chicken or beef stock (or water)
1 6oz can tomato paste (no salt or sugar added, check label)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
Dried mushrooms, 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped (optional)

Split the leek, rinse out any sand and thinly slice. Place in the bottom of your slow cooker. Peel the turnips. If you're using large parsnips (like bigger than your average carrot), then quarter them and cut out the cores. Cut all vegetables into roughly 1/2" chunks. At this point I had about 6 cups of root vegetables.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan. Brown the roast on all sides, if your roast has a fat layer on one side, start with the fat layer, so that some of it renders out into the pan. Take your roast out and place it in the slow cooker on top of the leeks. If you don't have much oil left in the pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, then dump all the the root vegetables into the sauce pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the root vegetables are cooking, add to the slow cooker the balsamic vinegar, chicken or beef stock, tomato paste, pepper, oregano, salt and mushrooms. When the root vegetables are done on the stovetop, dump them into the slow cooker.

Cook for 30 minutes on high, and then 5.5-6 hours on low. Take out the pot roast and slice it to serve, alongside the vegetables. If you have leftovers this makes an awesome lunch for the rest of the week, cut the remaining meat into chunks and add it back into the veggies to make a thick stew.

Note about sodium and mushrooms: If you use the smaller amount of salt (1/4 tsp), you should really get your hands on some dried mushrooms. The umami flavor from the dried mushrooms really rounds out the flavor of the dish. Serving size will vary widely by the size of your roast, but with the 2 pound roast I usually get, I estimate it at about 260mg of sodium per serving.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mushroom & goat cheese tart

We gave up on going out to dinner for Valentine's Day years ago. It's really the worst night for eating out... rivaled only by trying to find a table for brunch on Mother's Day. Not only are all the tables booked, but the wait staff and kitchen staff would really rather be spending the evening with their loved ones. And now that we have a 3 year old, we'd have to find a sitter on top of all that? Forget it. I'd much rather fix a fancy dinner at home.

Anyway, who said you have to go for chocolates and fancy desserts to be romantic? Our menu this year is going to include cedar planked wild salmon, artichokes with homemade mayo, and this amazing mushroom & goat cheese tart. I did a trial run tonight, and my husband was raving about how amazing it was.

(My son on the other hand, was super excited about having "pie for dinner", then when it appeared on his plate, he refused to eat it and instead ate his weight in roasted cauliflower. Kids are weird. )

Mushroom & goat cheese tart

1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts
1 cup almond meal
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4-1/2 tsp table salt
2 tablespoons melted ghee
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water

In a food processor, fitted with the S blade, process the hazelnuts until they are finely ground. Add the almond meal, sage and salt, pulse to combine. Mix the ghee, olive oil and water in a small bowl, turn the food processor on, and pour into the dry ingredients. Run until it is well mixed (should be no more than 30 seconds). Press the crust into a tart or quiche pan, thinning it out in the middle and pressing it gently up a the edges of the pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Let cool.

8oz crimini or oyster mushrooms
1 small leek
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 eggs
1oz soft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
Split and rinse the leek, then thinly slice the white portion crossways. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil; when they soften, add the leeks and saute a little longer until the leeks and mushrooms start to brown. Take the leeks and mushrooms and spread them evenly across the crust. Blend the eggs and cheese together with an immersion blender or mixer. Pour eggs over the vegetables. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

Sodium: 1/4 of the tart has 230mg sodium, when made with the smaller amount of salt in the crust.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What I learned on the Whole30

My Whole30 results in a nutshell are that I lost 7 pounds with no real cravings or struggle. Which is revolutionary for me because since I was 11, losing weight has almost always been a struggle. I've been on the chunky side since I was 10 or so... just always a little overweight, only once or twice crossing over into the realm of "obese", but I've had a hard time getting down into the "normal" weight for my height. And believe me when I say I've tried everything. In high school I started running and capped my daily calories at 900, I lost some weight for a few months, but put it all right back as soon as I hit the college cafeteria (even though I was doing plenty of trail running in the gorgeous mountains of New Mexico). And since college I've run through everything. Weight Watchers. Low fat vegan. The Zone. Atkins. Body for Life. SlimFast. Stupid "fat burner" pills that just made me hungry. They had varying levels of success (and when I lose weight I can often keep it off, barring pregnancy or major injury), but one thing they all had in common were that they all took a lot of mental struggle and cravings.

The other thing they had in common? Diet coke. Splenda. Nutrasweet. Diet red bull. More diet coke. You get the picture here?

And that was my #1 biggest change with the Whole30, I gave up all sweeteners (real and artificial) for a month. Wow. That's big. I'd been drinking diet soda since I was 14! Now the coffee thing I had worked out, I'd switched to drinking black about a year ago and never looked back. But the diet soda thing was a big change. Even when I was pregnant with my son I still had splenda in my decaf coffee and the occasional diet coke. Now for the first time in 24 years, I went a full 30 days with no artificial sweetener in ANYTHING.

And what did I find? My cravings for junk food, sweet food, breads, pastries and fried food DISAPPEARED. A co-worker would pass my desk with a box of doughnuts and I would think to myself "that looks good, but I'll pass." That wasn't just what I said out loud, that was what I said in my head, to myself. Instead of struggling and debating and passing on the doughnuts in front of her, but then grabbing two out of the break room an hour later (OK, let's be honest, 10 minutes later). All the mental gymnastics just disappeared. I did have a little bit of wrestling with myself over wanting a diet coke. But that was fairly easy to resist, since I wasn't spending all my mental energy wrestling with myself over other stuff.

The most surprising thing? I did not expect this AT ALL! I expected to have a month of arguing with myself over what not to eat. Because that has been my experience for most of my life. No more. I had always glossed over arguments against diet soda thinking to myself "it's just flavored water... what can it harm?" I had no idea that it was completely messing up my relationship with real honest food.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bacon Nut-o-la

Bacon Nut-o-la
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
Sometimes I get inspired to be very, very naughty in the kitchen. Today was one of those days, I was randomly pondering what I could do with some leftover dried coconut, and then it occurred to me, granola... well, not grain-ola per se, but maybe a nut-o-la. And then that little devil on my shoulder whispered "bacon"... Bacon? Yes bacon!

Bacon Nut-o-la

5 slices natural, nitrate free bacon
1/3 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
1/2 cup sliced almonds (the kind that look like thin flakes)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat
Dash of ground cardamom (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a large pan, cook your bacon slowly over low heat, you want to render out a lot of the fat and pour it out a couple times while cooking, so that the bacon gets nice and crispy. When it's crisp, take the bacon out and drain on paper towels, then chop coarsely with a knife. Mix the bacon crumbles, coconut and almonds together in a small mixing bowl. Separately, mix the vanilla, maple syrup, reserved bacon fat and cardamom. Pour over the bacon/nut mixture and toss to distribute evenly. Spread the nut-o-la out evenly on a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for 15 minutes, stir it a bit, and continue to bake checking every 5 minutes until the mixture is lightly browned. Watch it carefully for burning. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then break up (it should crumble easily). Store in the refrigerator.

The sodium content of this seems like it would be stupid high. But you're not going to eat much of it, I'm showing just about a tablespoon over yogurt in the picture. Using low sodium bacon (70mg per slice) I'm guessing it's about 50mg per tablespoon.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Out with a whimper


Well, sort of. I ended on a rough note. Let me backtrack to Saturday night... a friend had a big blow-out birthday dinner. I went! I got dressed up fancy(ish)! I drank tea instead of cocktails! I interrogated the waitress and decided on scallops over a lobster & mushroom hash (hold the sauce and hold the potatoes on the hash). It was fabulous. Except that Monday morning I woke up at 4am with an obvious case of food poisoning. I'm pretty sure it was the damn scallops because my husband had the same entree and also had some tummy problems, AND I've had this happen with undercooked scallops before. Damnit! Scallops are so yummy, but I think I'm going to need to pass on them in the future.

Anyway, yesterday morning, I called in sick from work and spent most of the morning in the bathroom. I ate a banana and had some applesauce, but by noon I was really feeling rough. I was feeling shaky and having heart palpitations, and I just wanted to eat something starchy. I couldn't stand the idea of eating any protein and fruit was just making me more shaky. So I cooked up a little bit of tapioca and had it with some coconut milk (no sweeteners). I wasn't going to spend 12 more hours suffering just so say that I was totally 100% clean for 30 days instead of 29.5. Especially since about an hour after I ate the tapioca the shakes and palpitations were gone and I actually felt like eating a little chicken. I've been steadily feeling better ever since.

I'm going to call it as completed though. I lost 7 pounds without any real difficulty and no serious cravings for anything except diet coke. That continues to be the most amazing thing to me, that there are just no internal struggles if I eat this way. I'm going to make a big long post about just that issue... but really given my history with food this is just a revelation!!! I've felt strong and healthy the whole time, no trouble recovering from workouts or keeping up with an unexpectedly stressful month at my job. I hate to say this... but it was pretty easy. Way, way easier than I had thought.

So what now? Well, I want to try dairy products, but I'm going to hold off on them until at least next weekend. Right now I want to let my GI tract heal before I go eating anything different. I need to be able to tell if any symptoms are due to cheese or just residual suffering from the damn scallops.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Poblano breakfast hash

Poblano breakfast hash
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
I've been doing a few variations on the same theme for breakfast these days. It's a ground beef & cabbage based breakfast hash, that's super easy to partially cook ahead and then throw it together in the morning. This particular flavor combo, with the poblanos & cumin is pretty yummy... but the basic model can be adapted ad infinitum.

Meat mix

1 onion
2 poblano chiles
1 pound grassfed ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt (lower amount if you're sodium sensitive)

Thinly slice the onion and the poblanos. Using a large saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until it starts to soften, then add the poblanos and continue to cook until they soften as well. Add the ground beef (break it up into smaller chunks before adding it to the pan), sprinkle the spices over the top, and cook it all together until the beef is cooked through. Store in the fridge.

Breakfast hash

3-4oz of pre-shredded cabbage (yes, the kind in the bag, I use about 1/3 of a 12oz bag, or 2-3 handfulls)
Olive oil
1/4 recipe of the meat mix above
1/4 sliced avocado

Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to swirl over the bottom of the pan. Throw in the cabbage and saute until the cabbage starts to brown. Add the meat mix to the pan, and continue to saute until it's thoroughly heated and the cabbage is well browned. Serve with thinly sliced avocado over the top.

Obviously, you can change the flavor of the meat mix considerably according to your tastes... I'm a huge fan of southwestern food, so this is a nice combo for me. If you're not sodium sensitive it would work really well with some bulk sausage and mushrooms (yum). Or you could use a thai curry paste and go the southeast asian route. Endless possibilities. But the best part is that it assembles lickety split in the morning and you have a nice filling breakfast with almost no work.

Sodium: 1/4 of the meat mix with 4oz cabbage will run about 175mg of sodium when made with the smaller amount of salt

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 28 and Day 31

Today is day 28 of my Whole30 and I've been doing a little bit of thinking about what I'm going to do day 31. Ohmigod you guys... I'm busting out here... with dinner I'm going to have my favorite low sodium spaghetti sauce* that has a wee tiny bit of added sugar!!! And I'm going to have it over baked eggplant with a nice Shelton's italian sausage on top.

So basically, the only thing that's changing right away is that there are a few natural convenience foods with a bit of added sugar that are going back in my diet. Pasta sauce, a little bacon... ummm... OK, so those two things are pretty much it. But man, on a busy weekday night (and Tuesday I'm seeing the eye doctor after work) it sure is convenient to pop open a jar of sauce rather than simmering a sauce from scratch, even if it means a wee bit of sugar.

And planning for this transition back to everyday eating is why I really liked having gone to hear Dallas & Melissa speak. They're big on context. Considering your food choices in light of your whole life. Are you insulin sensitive or not? How active are you? If you're active, how well are you recovering? What foods may have caused problems during the Whole30? What is your sleep & stress situation like? The Whole30 gives you an opportunity to see how food choices are affecting all those things.

If I step back and look at my life, here's what I see. I'm insulin sensitive and our whole family is active, so a few grams of sugar in otherwise good clean foods probably isn't going to be that bad. The artificial sweeteners on the other hand? Those have been messing me up badly, they're gone for good now, I'm not going back. I'm probably going to test out dairy and white potatoes carefully and see how I react. Duck eggs will come back, but only as a binder or occasional homemade mayo; chicken eggs are out, I'm just not going to play around with known intollerances anymore. Red wine, cider and beans will go back to being occasional party food.

Grains are another story. I don't think I'm even going to test out how I'm reacting to grains for several more months, or until I'm at the weight I want to be at for optimal performance. They just don't seem super necessary to eat, I'm fine without them. I don't even have really strong cravings for them. If I can get starches from sweet potatoes, root veggies and possibly white potatoes, then there's really no reason to add them back. On the culinary side, I've found plenty of veggies that can suck up yummy sauces... eggplant with Italian food, roasted cauliflower with Indian, extra cabbage in Thai curries. I may go back to sometimes having grains as special occasion foods (sushi!), but I'm not even going to try that out for some time. The same thing with eliminating seed oils, I don't have any good reason to make any changes there, so I'm just going to continue on the same path.

* Note on the Enrico's sauce: The jars I get locally has a slightly different ingredient list than healthyheartmarket.com, mine does have some sugar, but then has less overall sugars/carbs in a 1/2 cup serving. I don't know if they need to update their info, or I have a slightly different product (Enrico's has a few no salt added options).

Monday, January 23, 2012


People, I have found nirvana! Breakfast nirvana at least. I stopped by our local indie health food store today and they'd rearranged their freezer section. So I had a peek and right there they had some new frozen products from Sheltons a local company known for good quality (though not pastured) poultry. Without much hope, I turned picked up the turkey breakfast sausage and read the stats... HOLY COW 170mg of sodium??? And no sugars, fillers or other junk in the ingredients? This is too good to be true... normal sausages run 300-350 for a single sausage patty and often have added sugars on top of it. But nope, this is the good stuff, turkey, turkey fat, water, sea salt & spices.

You see, once you start looking around at anything that's processed in any way, you're going to find salt & sugar. Usually together. Some smaller companies are catching on, they realize that people want processed foods with less junk in them. But invariably if they take out the sugar they add in more salt. Or if they take out some of the salt, they add sugar that never needed to be there in the first place. It's like they feel compelled to "amp up" the food for fear no one will eat it unless it fits with hyperprocessed tastes. When in reality, I think there is a genuine demand for honest food. Not oversweet, not oversalted, just plain honest food.

Anyway, cheers to Shelton's... they get it.

And now I have another breakfast option! :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Whole9 Foundations of Nutrition

Yesterday I was fortunate to attend the Whole9 Foundations of Nutrition workshop. I was lucky enough that they were scheduled to speak at a local crossfit studio in the middle of my Whole30. And by local, for once, I don't mean on the OTHER side of Los Angeles, I mean up in Monrovia which is a foothill community right down the road (OK freeway) from me. So here's my highlights & thoughts.

1. Melissa leads with the psychological impact of good food choices and this has been SO important to me. I'm going to write a long, intimate post on this when my Whole30 is over. But so far the last 21 days have been a revelation to me about the interaction of my neurochemistry, my mind and the food that I eat. Basically, her discussion made it very, very, VERY clear to me that my reliance on calorie free pseudo-foods (especially for me Diet Coke) has been a massive problem in my life. When she asked people in the audience to picture the thing they'd want most to eat, something really amazing, they all jointly came up with a chocolate cake with snickers on top... my brain just totally shorted out and all I could think of was Diet Coke. Melissa would say "Snickers Cake" and my brain just kept snapping to a picture of a 20oz bottle of Diet Coke next to an ice filled glass half full of Diet Coke with a straw in it. Yeah, things are that bad. I think I'm giving up Diet Coke for good... nothing that's such a big obsession can be good for me.

2. The technical discussions on hormonal interactions & gut permeability were interesting. Most of the insulin stuff I knew, but some of the details about other hormones like glucagon & leptin were interesting. I think it's the kind of thing that if I was an endocrinologist, I could understand in depth, but when I try to dig into it on my own I get really confused. Stats I can do, biochemistry ain't my strong point. Dallas did a really good job of explaining a lot of complex interactions without being obtuse. Well... maybe his diagram was a little messy, but we all got the point. The gut permeability issues were something I understood roughly with regards to a couple of my friends who have celiac or severe food allergies, but I didn't understand the ways in which it affects someone with relatively normal gut function... Which leads me to my next point.

3. I think I gotta give up the duck eggs. I've known for a long time that I have a moderate gut intolerance to chicken eggs... it waxes and wanes, but I've never been able to down an entire chicken egg without some problems. Then late last year I discovered duck eggs and HEY, I can eat these! Except that on the Whole30 I've been eating one every day, and at day 21 I'm still having GI symptoms. GI symptoms that I did not have before the Whole30 (with the exception of eggs I've always had an iron gut, in the face of everything I throw at it). I discussed it briefly with Melissa and she was really thinking the eggs could be a problem, maybe they're cross reacting, maybe I'm just not very good at breaking down egg protein. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to reintroduce them later. So from now on, I'm egg free... I need some help with meat/veggie breakfast ideas if anyone has them. I've never been the kind of person who's able to face a leftover roast first thing in the morning. :-/

4. The rest of the day was devoted to going over food types and what works and what doesn't. Most of it is stuff that's covered in some way on the Whole9 website, but we got a little insight into how Melissa and Dallas implement things, as well as which guidelines go out the window when they're vacationing in Mexico. But most valuable, we took some time to swap local resources for grassfed and pastured meats. I need to check into a new option for a pastured chicken supplier that looks cheaper than our old supplier AND may have livers (our old supplier would bundle the chickens with feet for stock but no organs). The one kind of dangerous thing is that Melissa was really pushing the superiority of macademias over other nuts, with regards to fatty acids. The only problem: macademias are like crack to me. I can eat a small handful of almonds and be fine, but macademias I just keep coming back until the bag is empty. Maybe I need to try some hazelnuts... monounsaturated fats, tasty, but not tropical nutty nut-crack.

5. There was an extensive discussion of pre & post workout nutrition for crossfitters that was interesting, but I'm not entirely sure how it applies to me. Circus arts are challenging, but it's more like a 1.5 hour gymnastics class than an all out punishing workout. There are portions that are all out, then there are portions that are conditioning and recovery, and portions where you're not doing anything except getting instruction, or watching someone else work through instruction. However, I'm starting partnered aerial work, and that's definitely verging on "punishing", since for portions of the class I'm lifting someone else my own size. There's two ways of pairing people up, either a strong base and a light flyer, or two equally sized strong people who trade off base & flyer. My partner and I fall into the latter category, so it means we're going to be lifting each other a lot. Anyway... this means I may have to get more serious about post workout nutrition. I feel like I kind of have some tools, but I'm still a little shaky on how to apply the ideas to my situation.

6. After the workshop there was a fish oil tasting with Stronger, Faster, Healthier. Yeah... I know... a FISH OIL TASTING! Just those three words had my husband cracking up over the dinner table. But honestly, their stuff is GOOD! And I've taken some fish oil in my day, but this stuff was nearly tasteless except for the flavors. I was not entirely impressed with the chocolate, but the lemon & tangerine were good and OMG... THE VANILLA SMELLS LIKE CUPCAKE BATTER! It doesn't taste quite as sweet as cupcake batter (no sweeteners), but it's still very mild and vanilla-y. The thing is, personally, I like to get my fish oil from eating actual fish rather than a disembodied oil. My son even likes fish quite a bit, so we do eat it often in our house... I'm not sure if "often" is optimal or not, especially considering that >50% of our beef is grassfed. But this stuff might be helpful for my husband who has to travel a lot, and eat sub-quality meat (SFH even makes a TSA compliant sample pack!!!), if I can get him over the idea of actually tasting it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pork & mango cole slaw bento

This is my bento lunch for the week. I didn't post last week's because it was yummy, but not very colorful. Today's lunch though is tasty AND good looking. It's a bunch of leftover cuban pork roast with the Kids Love Cabbage cole slaw from Everyday Paleo. Forget the kids, I love this cole slaw enough to hoard it for myself. :-)

A note on the bentos: Bento lunches can look small, but the idea is to STUFF the food into your little bento box so there's no extra room left over. That right there is probably 1/2 of the full cole slaw recipe and about 4-6oz of pork. I also typically pack an apple or another piece of fruit along side my bento box. It doesn't look like a lot of food, but it's plenty filling.

Monday in the garden

Broccoli fail
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
I think I'm going to try to make a semi-regular Monday morning gardening post. It's funny, I'll be all garden, all the time during the summer months and then slack off during the winter... even though we still have things growing!

This Monday however, I want to share with you my fail. My broccoli fail. Both my hubs and my son LOVE broccoli, so it was a natural to try and grow it. For the last two years I've started broccoli from seed and I get bupkus. The leaves come up, but no stalks, no flowers. I've tried a couple varieties of seeds, but still no dice. So this year I decided to just go out and buy a plant and see how well it does. You know, $1.50 for a start isn't too bad if you grow $5.00 worth of broccoli! And this is what I get... TWO MEASLY FLORETS!!! Really broccoli? Why do you do this to me? Do you hate me?

I think this is one thing that I'll stick to the farmer's market & supermarket. Especially when the frozen stuff goes on sale, because frankly, with broccoli, it all tastes the same.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Assemble & eat

I have two ultra quick "recipes" I want to share. No pictures because this stuff is super fast, throw-together, OMG-IT'S-MEALTIME??? type food. But both are pretty awesome.

Tuna Salad

Serves 1, double or triple as needed

1 can tuna (I use a no salt added variety)
1/2 a red bell pepper
2 small or 1 large cucumber
1 tbsp finely chopped onions of some sort (green onions or red onions are the best)
Any bits of random veggies you have sitting around in your fridge that are good raw (celery, cauliflower, etc), finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

Cut red pepper and cucumber into chunks. Drain the tuna and dump over the veggies. Throw in the onion and any other veggies. Pour on the balsamic vinegar, and season with salt & pepper (I just use pepper). Toss. Do this before the olive oil so the vinegar gets evenly distributed. Pour on the olive oil & toss again. Chow down.

Coconut Ambrosia

Serves 1

1 ripe banana
2 tbsp coconut milk
1/3 cup fresh berries
1-2 tsp unsweetened dried coconut (optional)

Break banana into chunks in a bowl. Mash with fork. Add coconut milk & mash some more. Throw in the berries and coconut, mix up and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Update and some recipe reviews...

I'm on day 11 of the Whole30 and things are pretty much going smoothly. I don't feel super amazing, but I also haven't been struggling in the least. Aside from resisting the siren call of Diet Coke, it's actually been easy. My gut has been readjusting itself quite a bit and that's still a little uncomfortable, but the headaches and sluggishness are gone even with far less caffeine.

The biggest change though, is one I really wasn't expecting. For as long as I can remember I've had that thing where a few hours after a meal, I know I'm not actually hungry, but I still want to eat something. I can resist it, but it usually takes effort. Well, after a week on the Whole30, that feeling is gone. Sometimes I feel like "Hey, I could go for a snack right now", I ask myself if I'm hungry and I'm really not and the urge to eat goes away. That has never happened in my life, usually it's something I wrestle over. That alone is really super cool because it saves me a lot of mental stress!

OK, onto some recipe reviews...

1. Better Butter Chicken from Everyday Paleo. Since I started avoiding salt, Indian take-out has been off the menu, not because it's high sodium by definition, but because the restaurant doesn't have a way to adjust the sodium in each individual dish, so as a whole I know I'd be getting way too much. But man, I've missed Indian food BAD! This recipe really satisfied that craving. My husband typically hates coconut curries, but he didn't even notice the coconut milk in this one... he loved it. I replaced the butter in the recipe with ghee (which frankly gives a more authentic Indian flavor anyway). Big thumbs up. I think next time I'm going to try serving it over cauliflower roasted with curry powder.

2. Chocolate Chili from the preview of Well Fed. This was another big thumbs up from the husband, great dinner while watching his team win a NFL playoff game! I substituted in some ground feral swine (yes really, they have it frozen at my natural foods store) for the beef, and used real beef broth (with no added sodium) instead of the canned stuff. Even using no-salt-added canned tomatoes, this was still super yummy. I served it with a bunch of little small bowls of toppings (a la Chili My Soul, now defunct) including minced green onions, chopped avocados, pumpkin seeds and a bit of shredded cheese for the menfolk. My son whined that it was "too spicy" for 10 minutes before trying his first bite and then decided it was "good" and ate a bunch. Gotta love 3 year olds.

3. Grain free dolmas. This one takes a little bit of a rewind... back in June, I put up some grape leaves in the freezer and they've been sitting there ever since. I finally got up the nerve to put them to good use to pack in my lunch bentos this week. This dolma filling is actually awesome, I used GF beef instead of lamb because the 3 markets where I'd usually get ground lamb were all out, but it was just as good with the beef. I had about 1/4 of the filling left over and I cooked it up with some shredded cabbage for a breakfast hash this morning and that was also yummy. The biggest revelation though was the actual grape leaves. You ever have dolmas in a restaurant and they taste good, but the leaves itself are chewy and stringy? Well I can tell you that homegrown leaves preserved by freezing (instead of brining) are soft and tender. Yum, yum, YUM!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ginger bombs

Ginger bomb
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
What's that? It looks awfully lot like a candy, doesn't it? Candy ain't anything near Whole30 compliant, now is it?

Basically, I need a ginger delivery system before some of my aerial classes. Not all classes, just the ones where we spin. You see... spinning sometimes makes me puke, and I've found the best thing to prevent that is gingersnap Larabars. Larabars are kind of a grey area on the Whole30, and to be frank... gingersnap is the least tasty Larabar flavor, it doesn't have enough bite for me. But they do a really good job of keeping me from puking. So I decided to try my hand at making something similar, but a little more tasty. Keep in mind that these are not for snacking on, I'm just going to grab a couple immediately pre-workout. So technically these are not candy. They're a very serious pre-workout supplement.

But really, they're pretty much candy and unless you have a damn good anti-puke reason for eating them, I'm pretty sure they're not Whole30 compliant.

A note about measuring:
I measured the ginger and dates on my kitchen scale in grams. Dates vary in size depending on variety and while I cook with raw ginger a lot and I've never been able to wrap my head around the quantities described in most recipes. So I weighed them. If you don't have a kitchen scale, the chunk of ginger I used was a little larger than my thumb.

Ginger Bombs

makes 18

3 small carrots
10gm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
10 dates pitted and cut into chunks (about 95-100gm pitted)
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1.5 tbsp almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Grate the carrots on the fine side of a box grater (they should be very fine shreds like this). Empty them out onto a clean kitchen towel, roll the towel up over the grated carrots and twist to wring out ALL the juice. They should be fairly dry when you're done.

Put the ginger and dates into a food processor fitted with the S blade and pulse until the dates are broken up into fairly fine chunks. Add the grated carrots and the pumpkin pie spice and pulse a few more times to combine. Make sure there aren't any large clumps of carrot. Then add the almond butter and pulse until it's thoroughly integrated and begins to come together into a lump. You can add a little more almond butter if it seems really stiff.

Put the coconut on a plate, use a melon baller to scoop out little balls of the ginger goo and smooth them into a tight ball between the palms of your (clean) hands. Roll the balls in the coconut and set aside.

Store these in the FREEZER if you're not serving them at a party immediately. They're damp enough that I don't think they're entirely safe being stored at room temperature or for very long in the fridge. Plus, if they're frozen it's a lot harder to pop down the whole batch.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ironman vs. grassfed tri-tip.

I'm on Day 7 of my Whole30, and I can't say that I'm doing much more than hanging in right now. Yesterday was kind of rough, I didn't get enough coffee in the morning, which resulted in a headache that chased me around until this morning. Then in the evening, I had the beginnings of a vertigo attack. A low sodium diet controls about 95% of my Meniere's symptoms... but I still occasionally get attacks. Stress particularly can be a trigger, and the stress of listening to my 3 year old have a 1.5 hour INTENSE screaming tantrum over going to bed was just too much. A couple hours after he settled down the world around me started doing the shift-spin-stop thing, a sure sign that a full fledged attack was on it's way. I took my meclizine and went to sleep.

Fact of the matter is, I just never feel good the day after a vertigo attack. If I have a full fledged attack I'm just exhausted by it. If I have to take the meclizine and the zofran I'm a total zombie, I have to take the day off work. I really try to avoid the zofran if I possibly can. If I catch the attack early and only have to take the meclizine, things are better, but I still feel really blah and depressed the next day. This is why I'm so aggressive about the low sodium thing, I would rather sidestep the attacks completely. There's probably no eating plan or exercise regimen that's going to combat the fact that the meds make me feel crappy.

But I was really hoping that my energy level would start to kick back up today... I've got silks class in an hour and I know I'm going to be dragging through even having an extra iced (black) coffee with lunch.

In good news... Our favorite grassfed beef producer is back at the farmer's market! See the picture above of my little superhero pretending to chow down on a frozen tri-tip. We had to buy that package because he licked it while she was reaching in the freezer for more. :-/ I chatted with her a little bit, and she's really hopeful that they'll make it to the market more regularly in 2012... they had a lot of transportation & logistics problems last year. Comes with the territory of running a ranch. I also got my lovely duck eggs, some avocados, a big bag of AWESOME local tangerines, and some dates that I'm hoping will turn into a new recipe. Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Whole 30 update

No fabulous new recipes today, I've been mostly trying to keep my head above water. Partly, the elimination of Diet Coke is really getting to me in the afternoons. I don't work tomorrow and you'd better bet I'm going to spend the afternoon taking a fat nap in the sun like a kitty. But also, I've been really overwhelmed at work, my boss/mentor is on a medical leave and I'm swamped with new responsibilities in her absence, plus pretty concerned about her well-being. So far, I've been rising to the challenge, but sometimes it's meant that I'm running late to pick my son up from preschool while texting my husband "Do we still have leftover tri-tip in the fridge for dinner????" I've stuck with it though... the only rule I've broken is the one about weighing myself, and frankly, it was reassuring. :-D

However, in lieu of an actual recipe, you want to know something that's majorly awesome while you're on the run... Balsamic tuna salad. Basically chop up 1 bell pepper & 1 cucumber, dump your best canned tuna over the top and toss with 1 tbsp each balsamic vinegar & olive oil. Quick, easy, low sodium (depending on the tuna) food is in tummy, it's time to go play circus! I should probably just keep cucumbers and bell peppers in my fridge at all times, since you can pretty much combine them with any leftover meat and any Whole30 friendly sauce and have a pretty fine meal or snack, with no additional fuss.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Paleo lunch bento

Paleo lunch bento
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj

So just because I'm doing a strict Whole30 does not mean I don't intend to enjoy my food this month. Oh no. Today's lunch bento is a perfect example:

Thinly sliced applewood smoked tri-tip (with an olive oil, garlic & pepper rub)

Eggplant relish, to cut the overwheming smokiness of the beef

Lebanese lemony spinach & beet greens

Belly dance beet salad

Tangerine (not pictured)

Generally speaking, things have been going pretty smoothly. I haven't had any "carb flu" kind of thing going on because there's no fixed schedule of what to eat when or complicated food combinations, so if I feel a little queasy and it's a long way to a meal, I just eat an apple or a banana. It's nice to not be in service of any kind of dietary perfection, just focusing on eating real food when I'm hungry and letting all the other eating stress fall by the wayside. I've only had a couple potential pitfalls.

1. Cheese and diet coke. Midafternoon I'm used to having a chunk of cheese & a piece of fruit for a snack and then a diet coke at some point. It's totally mindless I've found myself wandering to the fridge, opening up the cheese drawer and reminding myself "Oh yeah, not eating cheese right now!" and redirecting myself to some fruit with either nuts or meat. The diet coke is a little harder because I get a bit of a headache if I skip it, but as long as I remember to make myself some green tea it doesn't bother me too much.

2. I want to weigh myself SO BADLY! I usually weigh myself every day, or at least a couple times a week. The last time I went a whole week without weighing myself I was camping in the desert. I weighed in at 137 pounds on 1/1/2012, and for the next 30 days the only measure I'm going to have of my weight every morning is my chin-ups. Right now my chin-up-o-meter says I haven't drastically dropped 10 pounds in two days or anything crazy. The chin-up-o-meter isn't more specific than that.

In other news, Saturday was such a rough workout (after 10 days off from playing circus) that I'm just barely NOW not sore anymore. But at least my hands didn't rip this time, so I'll be good to go on Thursday.

P.S. I got a new black bento box for myself for Christmas and man, the food looks WAY more appetizing in a black box than the previous sage green box I had. In pictures and in person!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sweet Potato Puffs

Sweet potato puffs
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
Good morning, a happy new year to you and a happy Whole30 to me. I'm starting off the morning with a cup of coffee (black, natch) and these awesome sweet potato puffs. Looks are deceiving, these are not really pancakes, if you bite into them expecting something pancake-y you'll be sad. They're really more of a savory fritter.

Don't use a nut flour here, use minced or crushed nuts, they add a nice crunchy texture. Or leave them out completely if you want a silky smooth puff.

Sweet Potato Puffs

Serves 1, double as needed

1 egg
1/2 of a previously baked sweet potato
1 tablespoon minced or crushed pecans
Coconut oil

Scoop all the innards out of your sweet potato and mash them up in a small bowl. Crack an egg in and whip it up to combine evenly with the mashed sweet potato. Stir in the nuts. Add the coconut oil to a heavy pan over medium heat, and fry small scoops of the batter till crispy. Turn over halfway though. They're pretty squishy, so you may need to use a fork on one side and the spatula on the other to flip them.

Sodium: 100mg