• shelby

My Whole30 Challenge Diary: Day 24


Friday, March 24th

DISCLAIMER:

If you haven't already read my disclaimer, please click the link HERE from Day 1 of our challenge. As with any lifestyle or dietary change, if you have any questions or concerns, be sure to discuss them with your physician. Also check out the Whole30 website for specifics and additional info.

PRE-BREAKFAST:

I'd like to start the day with Confession. I broke down and bought another jar of almond butter... Surprise, surprise. But, before anyone can get all judgmental on the fact that I didn't even give my "potential" goal a 24 hour chance to come to fruition, please take a minute to hear me out...

I feel I have a valid reason for capsizing my own almond butter ship and deciding to change course on my initial "potential" goal. The wind in my sails (aka Exhibit A) was just leading me a different direction, so I had to think fast, and make a knee-jerk reaction, which meant, another jar of almond butter.

Exhibit A:


Wait, keep reading. I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.


GIF compliments of giphy.com

I digress. Quick backstory. So I started a Whole30 Recipe board a few months ago when I was trying to motivate myself to start the program. I figured once I actually boarded the Whole30 Train, I'd be utilizing this resource quite often. Turns out, I was a little more creative than I thought and had a few more tricks up my sleeve. Sure, my recipes aren't crazy flamboyant or extravagant as I realized many of the meals I had previously made in my mid-20's could be easily modified to become Whole30 compliant. I never claimed to be an aspiring chef after all.

Not to say I never looked online for anything...I did check the Whole30 program website numerous times to make sure my recipes would be compliant. And yes, I checked my sources online to make sure I was giving the correct meat/seafood internal temps in recipes to keep everyone safe from food-borne illness. (you're welcome.) And I probably googled a few things here and there just to make sure my measurements were somewhat on point since I normally just throw things together, taste it as I go, and improvise where needed. In the spirit of full disclosure, I think there were 2 recipes that inspired me when googling which I modified to be Whole30 compliant (but gave credit where credit was due). But I will say I impressed myself that we went 3 weeks without consulting Pinterest for Whole30 ideas until our final week. But since it is our LAST week, I think I have 3 more tricks in the bag and then will have exhausted our options. For the sake of repetition, I spent an hour last night going through recipe ideas to re-spark my creativity and get those creative juices flowing again.

So 3 paragraphs later...I have FINALLY landed the plane after quite the long detour to reach my point. Breaking News: I found some new inspiration that involved the infamous almond butter, one of which, I just HAD to try this morning for breakfast. It's basically a party in a bowl and tastes so good you'll feel slightly guilty for eating it. You'll thank me later. And that folks, is my rationale on deciding to renege on my "potential" goal and taking a ride on the wild side. #almondbutterenthusiast

If you actually read all of that, thank you. I can only assume this was more likely the case though...


GIF compliments of giphy.com

I'll pretend it wasn't the latter...

BREAKFAST:

Now to the good stuff... If you enjoy sweet potatoes and if you are an almond butter fanatic like me, then you will LOVE this recipe. Even hubs was a HUGE fan of it. I found the original idea for the recipe from Healthy Liv (click here to see the original recipe), but modified it to my own liking along with adding my own unexpected twists and turns.

Meet Whole30 Sweet Potato Pie Delight. #myhappyplace


Whole30 Sweet Potato Pie Delight

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sweet potato

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk

  • sea salt

"LET'S TALK ABOUT TOPPINGS":

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

  • cinnamon spiced pecans (recipe below)

  • raisins

  • coconut

  • slivered almonds

  • whatever else you think would be tasty

STEPS:

  1. Bake sweet potatoes (or nuke them in the microwave to save time).

  2. Scoop out potatoes from skins and mash with cinnamon, coconut milk, and sea salt.

  3. Drizzle almond butter on potatoes and add your choice of toppings.

NOTE:

  • See "Whole30 Cinnamon-Spiced Roasted Pecans" recipe below.


Now that you have that recipe on your MUST-TRY list, I'll let you be privy to my pecan inquisition... Part of the fun of cooking is experimenting, so I found my best science goggles and went to work on my roasting pecan experiment. Warning...#nerdalert

PURPOSE:

Discover which seasonings / combinations produce the best tasting pecans.

HYPOTHESIS:

Salty Versions: Pecans with avocado oil and sea salt will taste the best for the Salty versions.

Sweet Versions: Pecans with coconut oil, cinnamon, and sea salt will taste better than the variation with coconut milk.

CONTROL:

Plain raw pecans that won't be roasted

VARIABLES:

Salty Versions:

  • raw naked pecans, roasted in oven

  • pecans with avocado oil spray, roasted in oven

  • pecans with avocado oil spray & sea salt, roasted in oven

Sweet Versions:

  • pecans with coconut oil, cinnamon, & sea salt, roasted in oven

  • pecans with coconut milk, cinnamon, & sea salt, roasted in oven

EXPERIMENT:

I seasoned the pecans and identified the pecans by shaping them into an identifying initial (see Exhibit B). I baked them for 5 minutes at 350°F. I taste-tested them and also gave hubs a blind taste-test to discover which versions he liked the best.

Exhibit B:


CONCLUSION:

Here's my $.02. Roasting pecans really does bring out their flavor. We both even preferred the raw, oven-roasted pecans to the raw, non-roasted "control" pecans.

Salty Versions: Pecans with avocado oil and sea salt taste the best for the Salty variations.

Sweet Versions: Surprisingly, pecans with coconut milk, cinnamon, and sea salt taste better than the variation with coconut oil. Looks like I'll use this version for my Whole30 Sweet Potato Indulgence recipe. In the spirit of details, I included both pecan recipes below.


Whole30 Cinnamon-Spiced Roasted Pecans

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup pecans

  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk

  • cinnamon

  • sea salt

NOTE:

  • If you don't have coconut milk, coconut oil can work too.

STEPS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil (to minimize cleanup).

  3. Combine coconut milk and almonds in small bowl. Stir to coat almonds. Place almonds on foil.

  4. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and sea salt.

  5. Bake for 5 minutes.

Whole30 Sea Salt Roasted Pecans

INGREDIENTS:

  • pecans

  • avocado oil spray (or olive oil spray)

  • sea salt

STEPS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil (to minimize cleanup).

  3. Place almonds on baking sheet.

  4. Spray almonds with avocado oil spray (or olive oil spray) and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

  5. Bake for 5 minutes.

LUNCH:

Since we felt we somewhat indulged at breakfast (and I was a little preoccupied with playing Scientist), we decided to play it safe for lunch and kept it simple, quick, and light. We had golden baked potatoes topped with my homemade Whole30 Salsa/Pico de Gallo and the remaining bison with sautéed onions. Since we had everything previously made, we just threw it all together in like 5 shakes. #foodprepdoeswonders #quickandeasywhole30

To see the full recipe, click the link, Whole30 Easy Lunch Idea: Pico de Gallo Potatoes.



TASTE TEST: The salsa on the potatoes was quite tasty. Quick and easy lunch. I do miss my cheese, but it's finally getting easier to go without it.

DINNER:

I gave hubs the option of either elk burgers or mango salsa salmon for dinner. He chose the wild game. Classic hubs. Apparently there was a large deer in our backyard tonight, so this may have swayed his decision. Looks like salmon with mango salsa will be dinner tomorrow.

We like to mix up our protein to keep things interesting and add a variety of health benefits. Elk is a great option as it is very lean, high in protein, low in fat, high in vitamin B-12, and usually free of growth hormones, antibiotics, and steroids.

We served our sliders on a romaine lettuce leaf, topped with Whole30 Salsa/Pico de Gallo (click to see recipe), red bell peppers, Whole30 Good-for-You Guac (click to see recipe), grilled onions, and a touch of mayo. Since we didn't have enough green on our plate, we opted for the Whole30 Oven-Roasted Kale Chips, which were crunchy and tasty as always. If you haven't tried these yet, you need to!

So I'd give myself a D- on food presentation. They can't all be winners... Elk sliders apparently aren't that photogenic. Maybe it's the plates... #foodstylistfail



TASTE TEST: The mini sliders definitely hit the spot and tasted much better than they looked. Elk tends to be a little "gamey-tasting" on its own, so the Whole30 Salsa/Pico de Gallo and Whole30 Good-for-You Guac were a nice addition as they masked any gamey-ness taste.

Whole30 Elk Sliders

SERVINGS: 8-12 mini burgers/sliders, depending on size

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground elk (or ground beef or bison)

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon Everyday Spice Blend (or favorite Whole30 seasoning)

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

OPTIONAL ACCOMPANIMENTS:

  • romaine lettuce leaves (bib lettuce leaves work well too)

  • fresh Whole30 Salsa/Pico de Gallo

  • avocado or guac

  • grilled onion

  • Whole30 approved mayo

  • Clausen pickle

  • tomato slices (not pictured)

STEPS:

1. Combine all main ingredients in bowl. Mix well with hands.

2. Form into patties that are 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick.

3. Cook grilled onions if using.

4. You can either grill, pan grill, or bake the burgers in the oven. Make sure meat is well-cooked and has an internal temperature that measures 140°F.

  • To grill/pan grill: Spray grill or grill pan with Avocado Oil spray or use Avocado Oil or Olive Oil. Grill burgers 4-5 minutes per side, depending on desired level of doneness.

  • To bake burgers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then flip burgers and bake for 8-12 minutes more, depending on desired level of doneness.

5. Place sliders on romaine lettuce leaf and top with desired accompaniments: Pico de Gallo, avocado, tomato slices, grilled onions, Whole30-approved mayo, Clausen pickle.

NOTE:

  • We topped our mini sliders with Whole30 Salsa/Pico de Gallo (click to see recipe), red bell peppers, Whole30 Good-for-You Guac (click to see recipe), grilled onions, and a touch of mayo.

  • Since Elk has minimal fat, don't overcook the sliders or they will be too dry.

WEEKEND RECYCLE:

Since we made extra meals during the week, we are going to take a little break from the kitchen and have a fridge feast this weekend. As always, if we get the itch to cook up a new concoction, I'll document it in our Weekend Recap on Monday with updates... Happy Weekend!!!

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Previous: Day 23 Next: Day 25

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