Grilled Stuffed Peppers {Whole30 Compliant}

Happy Monday, my friends! I am just finishing up my first Whole30, and I know some people who are getting ready to start one for July, so it seems like the perfect time to share more Whole30 compliant recipes!

Paleo stuffed peppersSo last week I shared a really simple and delicious red sauce– seriously, I make that at least one a week and use it for all kinds of things! Today I’m sharing how I use it in Grilled Stuffed Peppers. For anyone who is not trying to be Whole30 compliant, please feel free to use sausage from the grocery- it’s delicious and you can skip the seasoning process. For anyone that is really sticking to the letter of Whole30 and wants to avoid super-processed meat, you can follow the directions below.

PAleo stuffed peppers 2015These Grilled Stuffed Peppers are perfect for an easy dinner, particularly if you’ve already made the sauce. They’re also good when you have helpers in the kitchen for stuffing, and since the sausage is cooked when you put it in the peppers, you don’t have to worry about anyone handling raw meat. Plus, they’re made with tiny peppers, and everything in miniature is delicious! Seriously, though, the tiny peppers help to balance the meat and veggies, so this dish is an all-around healthy one. I hope you enjoy!

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 pound ground pork (or sausage, but skip the seasonings if so!)
  • ¼ sweet yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp fennel
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste!)
  • Salt
  • A bag of mini bell peppers
  • 1 batch of red sauce
  • ½ cup parmasean cheese (optional, not Whole30)

Prep: Chop the onion and garlic pretty finely.  Rinse the peppers, remove the tops and scrape out any seeds. We’ll also blanch the peppers at this step, so they soften. To do that, just bring a pot of water to boil and drop the peppers in a few at a time for 2 minutes each. Remove the peppers, drain, and let cool.

Sausage: In a good sized mixing bowl, knead together the pork, onion, garlic and all seasonings. Wash your hands, then heat a skillet to medium high and cook until just barely browned- don’t overcook the meat here. Salt to taste (I like about two healthy pinches of kosher salt), then add ½-1 cup of sauce to the meat; this will help it stick together.

Assemble peppers: once things are cool enough to handle, stuff the peppers with the meat and sauce mixture- you want them stuffed firmly, so everything stays in, but not so much that they split. It may take a few peppers to find the balance, but don’t worry about it- once everything is covered in sauce they’ll be awesome!

Finish: when all the peppers are stuffed to can start grilling. I make these on a grill pan when I’m cooking inside, or on the veggie section of my grill outside (it has smaller holes). Heat either cooking vessel to medium high and sear the peppers on all sides, until they gain some color. Everything is cooked at this point, so you’re really just heating things through and finishing the peppers. Serve with extra sauce and some more cheese, if that’s something you’re eating. Enjoy!

Bacon, Sweet Potato and Kale Hash (Whole 30 compliant)

I know I started with my red sauce recipe yesterday and promised to show you ways I use it, and I will! But as we go into the weekend, I wanted to first share this breakfast dish. I was a little apprehensive my first Whole 30 weekend- during the week I’m too busy to really care if I can’t be creative in the kitchen. The weekends, though, are a completely different story. Weekends for me are food time- I like to find new recipes, make elaborate meals, and share delicious desserts with friends and family (you all know how much I love Sunday baking for the fire station!). I was really worried that a Whole 30 lifestyle would strip my weekends of food pleasure, leaving behind only eggs and some fruit cups for brunch.

Sweet potato hashOh, but I was wrong…so very wrong. One of my friends pinned this Whole30 compliant sweet potato hash from the Food Network, and my brain immediately starting thinking of ways to improve it. My first thought was that it needed something to balance the sweet from the apples and yams- I love sauted greens, so I thought that kale would be a good option here. From there, I nixed a few ingredients, adjusted the cooking method, and topped it with some fried eggs. What I ended up with was a really amazing breakfast that I’ve made several times, with a few variations.

A few notes: first, I don’t actually like sweet potatoes. I didn’t before, I mean, and I don’t know if I love them now. In this hash, though, with the bacon and kale, they seemed less sweet and more like roasted potatoes- so good! Second, one of my best tips for Whole 30 is to find some compliant bacon! You need to get fat in every meal, and bacon was a great start for many of by breakfasts. Compliant bacon is sugar free, which is hard to find, but I’ve had luck at Whole Foods and specialty groceries. Alternately, you could skip the bacon and use olive oil for a veggie version…then you just miss the delicious bacon essence 🙂Apple sweet potato hash 2In terms of ease, this breakfast came together in about 30 minutes- the cast iron really helped the potatoes along! It was also a great brunch item that guests loved, without thinking that it was weird diet food. An overall delicious win, in my book!

Sweet Potato and Kale Hash

  • 3 slices bacon
  • ½ sweet onion
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 3 cups kale
  • Salt and pepper, maybe red pepper flakes, maybe some garlic
  • Eggs, if you’d like

Prep: dice the onion into a medium-ish dice, then cut the (un-peeled for potassium) sweet potato and granny smith apple into about ½ inch cubes. Rinse and chop the kale into bit sized pieces. Finally, slice the bacon into narrow strips (I saved this for last so you don’t get bacon juice all over your knife and cutting board).

Hash: heat a cast iron pan to about medium. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, stirring as needed. Remove the bacon from the pan, but leave as much grease as you can- this will help roast everything else. Add the onion to the pan and cook for about two minutes, or until it starts taking on some color. Add the sweet potato, sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt, toss to coat, then cover and cook for about ten minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the apple and the kale. At this point, add about ¼ cup of water and cover the pan for three to four minutes- this will help finish cooking the potatoes and will steam the kale. Remove the lid and check the potatoes- they should be fork tender. If they’re not, cover again with a lid and keep cooking. If they are tender, season to taste (I add garlic to everything, so now is when I would add a clove or two, chopped) and serve hot. If this is your entire meal, think about topping with a fried egg for protein. Enjoy!

Delicious Simple Red Sauce (Whole30 Compliant)

Friends! I mentioned starting Whole 30 in my last Wellness Wednesday post, then immediately fell off the face of the Earth. The thing is, I didn’t really want to talk a lot about it up front, in case I did a terrible job and stopped committing, like, a week in. Here I am, though- almost through Week 4 and going so strong! Just five more days, and my Whole 30 is complete.

{its like hearing angels singing}

So I’ve successfully committed and I’ve seen some great results- I’ll talk more about those next week. What I want to do today is start to share some recipes that have played a big role in my diet lately. (In case you’re wondering, my Whole 30 strategy was very basic- I counted on about a half a dozen basic recipes, with slight variations, to get me through my first time).

Easiest Red SauceToday’s recipe is my Simple Red Sauce (which I’ve been making for years, well before I was even aware of Whole 30). Italian food is one of my comfort foods, and I really wanted to find a way to integrate parts of what I already love into my program menu. I also knew that if I changed too radically, it would just feel like a temporary diet, and not something sustainable. So this red sauce was really key to keeping my food familiar, interesting, and still really healthy.

This recipe has 4-5 ingredients, so it’s pretty simple (perfect for non-chefs!). When you cook with that few ingredients, you really need to make sure to use the best quality you can find and afford. For that reason, I strongly urge you to find some San Marzano whole tomatoes. They’re about $4 for the can, compared something like $1.60 for store brand, but they seriously make a world of difference in the flavor (I know, because I spent so long saying that it was silly to pay extra when the store brand was probably comparable- it’s not). You can usually find these either by the pasta sauce, or in the international foods aisle.

Easiest red sauce2

A few more common questions- why buy whole tomatoes? Because a cooking instructor once shared that they’re better quality than diced or pureed, because you can see exactly what you’re working with, so now that’s what I do. And it doesn’t really take that long to blend them. And why make your own sauce? Because why not? Seriously, though, most tomato sauces have added sugar and other preservatives and weird things. Whole 30 is all about eating as close to nature as you can, so I like my food to be as unprocessed as possible. Short of using actual, ripe tomatoes, this is as good as it gets for sauce…and its pretty good. Just saying 🙂

Basic Red Sauce

  • ½ sweet yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (optional, I guess)
  • Olive oil
  • 28 oz can san marzano tomatoes
  • Kosher salt

Prep: Dice your onion to your specifications- I go between a fine dice and a rough chop, depending on how I’m using my sauce. Mince your garlic finely (or use squeeze garlic- seriously, that’s one place I don’t blame you for cutting corners). Empty the tomatoes into the blender and pulse a few times until you have a consistency that you like.

Sauce: heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide sauce pan. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and cook on medium or medium low for about 7 minutes, stirring occassionally. You want to onions to get translucent, and start to take on color very slowly- that’s how they start to caramelize and add amazing flavor to the sauce. After 7 or 8 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes on relatively low heat. Garlic burns easily and then gets bitter, so really pay attention once you add it to the pan. When the garlic starts to soften and get really fragrant, add the tomatoes to the pan and cook on a medium heat for about ten minutes. You can put a lid on the pan to keep excess water from evaporating, or leave the lid off to cook out some of the water for a thicker sauce. As always, add some water to thin if you’d like to change the texture. Salt to taste (I usually add two or three generous pinches of salt) and serve however you’d like.

You’ll see next week that I use this with meatballs over zoodles, in zucchini boats stuffed with ground meat, with grilled stuffed peppers- there are so many options, and this is a delicious base for many Whole 30 meals.

This entry was posted in Food.

One item on my blog that I’ve really missed is the ‘What I Read’ series. I’m an introvert and a reader, so when things get overwhelming, I turn to literature. Most of what I read is fiction, and the ‘fluffy-ness’ of what I’m reading is inversely related to how crazy things are in my life. Even so, I’ve managed to read what I think are some really great books lately! I hope you enjoy my first installment of ‘What I Read: 2015’.

LEavingLeaving Time, by Jodi Picoult

Leaving You is the story of Jenna Metcalf, a young girl whose mother abandoned her as a baby. Together with a psychic and a private investigator, Jenna is determined to find her mother and learn what happened the night her mother left. One the way, we learn a whole lot about elephants, which was actually a surprisingly intriguing aspect of the plot. Overall, I found this story very engaging, and was pleasantly surprised by the conclusion. I would happily recommend it to anyone who wants to dive into a pleasant piece of literature- perfect for vacation.

Undress MeUndress Me in the Temple of Heaven, by Susan Jane Gilman

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is the true story of Susan Jane Gilman and a classmate, chronicling their post-graduate round the world adventure. Armed with very little knowledge of the world, and entirely unprepared for what they would encounter, the girls begin their journey in China—and very nearly don’t make it out. I think I was drawn to this book because of my own foolhardly travels when I was in my undergrad, and I was somewhat horrified at each twist a turn. I don’t know what to make of this book- the events within are real, so it’s not like there’s a conflict, climax, and conclusion…well, there is, sort of. But, as in reality, life continued without a very satisfying conclusion. Overall, I was very interested in this book, and I don’t regret spending the time to read it. On the other hand, I’ll recommend it to my sister who is moving overseas in the autumn, but probably not too many other people. So, choose your own adventure with this one!

AllAll the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See tells the story of Warner, a young German orphan, and Marie-Laure, a blond girl who has to flee Paris following the Nazi occupation. I generally don’t prefer to read anything set in the time of the Holocaust, actually, but Anthony Doerr does a really amazing job highlighting the very common ways that people are inherently good, even in the worst possible circumstances. The stories of the two protagonists are kept separate, for the most part, but the narrative is woven in such a way that it’s not confusing or frustrating at all- it’s just beautiful. All the Light We Cannot See is one of two amazing books that I’ve read this year (even if some of my book club thought it started a little slow) and I would recommend to every single person, regardless of age or gender. It’s just a really good book.

YouYou, by Caroline Kepnes

You is the story of Joe Goldberg, a bookstore clerk who encounters a very desirable customer, and commences with the most creep tastic stalking ever. I must say, this book was very well written, even if I don’t love the story—I had to put it down several times, but I always wandered back to find out what was going to happen next. The thing is, the protagonist is so effective in his stalking and so absolutely nonchalant, that the entire thing is very believable; as in, this could be taking place regularly in my city relatively easily without people realizing. Overall, it’s not one that I texted my sister recommending, because I was really disturbed, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it- it was oddly addicting.

Okay, that’s part one! So tell me- what have you read lately that was really remarkable, either positively or negatively?

Wellness Wednesday Check-In

Friends- hello!

How are you?

I miss you!

Pretty much, I’ve been absent from this blog and kind of checked out of my normal life for a while. This spring was challenging- I was taking a full class schedule and struggling with one particular class; my department was understaffed for bit while demands escalated; Evan and I mourned the passing of two of our family members. It was…it was a really rough time, for a while.

IMG_20150601_202752

You can see that Howie was also having a rough time

But things finally seem to have righted themselves! We’ve been able to find some peace with our losses, work had sorted itself out, and I’ve moved into a new semester. Yay! Now that we’re looking ahead to blue skies, it seems like a perfect time to do a quick check-in on my Year of Wellness.

Overall, I feel safe saying that things are going well. As it relates to financial wellness, I still have a boatload of student loans, but I paid off a substantial loan with our tax refund, so I feel great about that. Professionally and intellectually, I feel like my classes are absolutely contributing to development, and really engaging my mind. Spiritually, the She Reads Truth app (I think I mentioned it just before Easter) has been so helpful in developing a daily spiritual/religious practice. Mentally, I’m pretty sure that my yoga and meditation practices were critical in getting me through this spring- I turned to one or the other of them anytime I felt too out of control.

I guess where I’m really focusing my attention now is physical and nutritional wellness. With all of the insanity of funerals and classes, I quit the hot yoga class that was showing me serious fitness results, and I start to eat things that were convenient…which are not the same as things that are healthy. As a result, I’ve been feeling pretty blah lately- tired and sluggish and just gross.

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My Whole30 compliant Zoodles and Meatballs

So I’m making some changes! I started a 30 day power yoga program, and am doing a Whole 30 month. It’s only Day 3 of both things, but I feel pretty good. Moreover, I know that in order to make real lifestyle changes, I have to stick with it—so my dedication is pretty serious, at this point at least. I’ll keep you all posted, especially in Insta, if you follow me. I’m really looking forward to seeing some healthy results as I tackle these two projects and I can’t wait to share my progress and strategies with you!

Tell me- what aspect of wellness have you been working on lately? Are you seeing any good results?

May Subscription Box Review: Birchbox and Sample Society

Friends! I’ve been away, and I’ve missed the blog so much! June is my month, though, so get ready for a flood of blogger sharing– starting today, with my May sub box reviews!
Birchbox 2015

Monthly delivery for $10/month

Includes 4-5 beauty and lifestyle samples

This month my box included Biore the POREfessional primer, Real Chemistry 3 Minute Peel, Marcelle Hydra-C Hydrating Gel, Mally Beauty Eyeliner in Navy, and Living Proof Instant Repair, along with foil samples for the shampoo and conditioner. The foil samples sent to compliment the Instant Repair were a nice touch, even though the actual sample didn’t do alot for my hair. I’m always happy to see a full sized product, and I’m looking forward to trying some navy eyeliner. The vitamin C product was an okay size, but not remarkable in treatment, and I’m always happy to have more POREfessional samples 🙂 The one product that I was really excited to try, though, was the 3 Minute Peel. Unfortunately, my skin hated it! You’re supposed to rub it in and then it sort of sucks up your dead skin, and as you’re rubbing it the dead skin rubs into tiny balls and you rinse them off. Instead of rinsing off, though, my dead skin kind of clung to my face in clumps, and I had to use a physical exfoliator to get them off…and even then, my skin was kind of rough for a few days. Overall, though, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to try it out– now I know that it’s a product that’s not for me! Although I wasn’t over the moon about my Birchbox this month, it was still a win for me, and a nice experiment!
Sample Society May 2015
Monthly delivery for $15/month
Includes 4-5 full and deluxe sized beauty and makeup samples
This month I received Julep Lip Gloss in Graceful, John Frieda Luxurious Volume In- Shower Treatment, LEnaige Water Sleeping Mask, Versace Eros Perfume, Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray, and Alterna Caviar Repair Multi Vitamin Heat Protection Spray. So last month was the tiny-sample debacle, and I was completely prepared to cancel this month when I read the spoiler– another lip gloss, drugstore volume samples, and a perfume. Then I received the box, though, and I really am pleasantly surprised! First, the lipgloss is small and pink, but it really is a perfect shade, so I might even get the full size. The perfume sample is a delux size and a fun bottle, and I even like the scent. The John Frieda and the thermal spray are kind of misses for me, but the Caviar Repair is a brand that my hair loves, so I’m really thrilled to have a travel sized sample. What made the entire box for me, though, was the Laneige Sleeping Mask. I’ve just started to get into some Asian Beauty products, so was thrilled to see an AB product in the box. And it’s amazing for my skin- I added it over moisturizer before bed the night I got my box, and I woke up to the smoothest skin ever. Love. Sample Society was on the brink of a breakup, but they totally reeled me back in with this box…and I’m thrilled!