I had an idea a few weeks ago: Let’s use our cookbooks more by picking one to cook a meal from each week. Here is my original Facebook post:
Ground rules for the challenge:
It has to be a recipe you haven’t cooked before.
It has to be something out of the norm for you. It can’t be just another roasted squash recipe if you make roasted squash all the time.
Aim for full meals: If it isn’t a one-pot meal, pick an entree and a side from the same book.
I’m calling it Cooking the Books
The first book I grabbed was Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield. We’re in the middle of the Whole30 right now, so it made sense to use that book now. We’ve definitely cooked from it before. I use their Paleo Mayonnaise as my regular go-to homemade mayo recipe. In fact, I think this might be the first cookbook I bought for myself back in 2010.
According to Ground Rule #1, I have to pick a recipe I haven’t tried. I chose Country Captain Chicken. It looked great, we had most of the ingredients on-hand, and it was a one-pot meal. Perfect for a busy week and easy to reheat for lunches.
In this series I’m not going to publish the recipe unless the authors have posted it elsewhere online. That isn’t fair to the authors. I will, however, post the ingredients without measurements or instructions, because I think this strikes a good balance of seeing what is in it and getting a sense of the tastes while still being fair to the authors and their work. Hopefully these posts will drive a small number of sales their way, too.
The recipe turned out great! The black currants gave it a bit of a sweet tanginess that I enjoyed. Though it would have been better had I remembered to put the curry powder in with the vegetables 🤦♂️. The breading was surprisingly good for being almond meal. Almost made me forget it wasn’t real breading. We made it with 6 chicken breasts, so we had plenty of leftovers.
I’d definitely make this again.
If you want to join me in the Cooking the Books challenge, send your posts to firstname.lastname@example.org! I’ll guest post them here on Cook Like Chuck. Here are some guidelines:
Send me a decent photo of the book to use as the featured image
Send me photos of the meal you cooked
Write a little bit about the book, why you chose it, and how the meal turned out
Send me a photo of the recipe
Let’s dust off those cookbooks and put them to use this year.
We are now three weeks in to our 2019 Whole30. Amanda and I have been traveling a lot for work this month. It is definitely tough, so for our weeks 2 and 3 update we wanted to share some of our tips for staying Whole30 compliant while traveling.
Pack Snacks. This is a big one. Pack more than you think you need. Airport food sucks even when you aren’t restricting what you eat. Trying to find something without sugar, fried, or wrapped in bread is even worse. When you are on a roadtrip, gas station and rest area fare is about the same. We both stocked up on Larabars, That’s It bars, Thunderbird bars, plantain chips, sweet potato chips, and carrots.
Mexican places are your friend. I ate Mexican food three times last week. It is so easy to get beef, chicken, or pork with whatever vegetables that have on-hand, some lettuce, guacamole, and salsa that you eat with your pre-packed plantain chips.
Most restaurants have a meat + veggie option. Sometimes you have to ask very nicely for substitutions, but your server can usually make it work. Make sure to tip because it was probably a hassle.
Book a hotel with continental breakfast. I stay at Hyatt Places a lot (there always seems to be one where I need to go), and they have a hot continental breakfast included with the stay. I ate roughly four eggs and a bunch of potatoes for breakfast every morning before I left, which held me over until about noon. I avoided the bacon because it probably had sugar in it, but I ate the sausage when they had it, which I’m pretty sure didn’t have sugar in it.
If you aren’t 100% compliant, that is okay. Look, aim for compliance. Try your best. Don’t cheat just because you craved mac and cheese. But if the Mexican restaurant happens to throw cheese overtop what you ordered, scrape off what you can and eat your meal. That little bit of cheese won’t tank your progress, but skipping a meal and eating pizza three hours later because your willpower is gone will. What if you find out after your meal arrives that there is milk in the mashed potatoes? Whatever. Eat them without guilt. It will be okay.
Make conscious choices. There are times when staying compliant isn’t worth it. But you have to set those boundaries for yourself and know what they are. I have one main conscious boundary: I’ll break compliance for high quality, unique, local cuisine. I only broke once for a small thing. My coworker Dave and I went to a seafood restaurant in Charleston. One of their specialties is roasted local oysters with breadcrumbs and pimento cheese on top. I had a few. They were delicious. One other situation that sadly didn’t occur but I would have chosen to break for if it did is if someone got us reservations at Husk. Amanda is at a conference in the mountains this week and they have a dinner planned at an incredible Alpine-style restaurant. That is totally worth breaking for. This goal of this Whole30 is to break our over reliance on sugar and carbs, not to turn us into British monks.
Good bartenders will make you alcohol-and-sugar-free drinks. Being the only one in a social situation not drinking sucks, and you are very likely to be in a situation like that if you are traveling. If it is at a good bar, ask the bartender if they can make you something without alcohol or sugar. At the oyster place I mentioned above, the bartender made me a drink with cucumber water, muddled basil, lemon juice, ginger, and lemon peel. It was delicious. Some places even have something like Seedlip available for people who don’t want alcohol.
Drink plenty of water. First, you are more likely to get dehydrated when traveling because of the break in your normal routines and schedule, plus all of the dry air on airplanes. Second, drinking water can help stave off hunger for a bit.
When all else fails: Salads with extra protein. I ate so many salads last week because they were the only compliant option some days. When possible, I opted for field greens, spinach, or kale as the base and always doubled up on the protein, usually grilled chicken. I got whatever veggies I could thrown on top. Olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper as the dressing. Burger places are usually pretty cool with putting two burger patties on a salad for you. I did that twice last week.
What are some of your favorite Whole30 travel tips? Throw them in the comments!
Amanda and I decided to do another Whole30 this January. We like to “reset” after eating and drinking too much over the holidays to cut some weight, feel better, have more energy, and prevent the usual winter sickness from a weakened immune system.
The TL;DR of Whole30 is to only consume meat, vegetables, seeds, and fruit for 30 days. No dairy, added sugar of any kind, legumes, grains, or alcohol.
This isn’t our first rodeo. We knew that we both have a jam-packed work schedule, so the only way we’d make it through is by prepping. We decided to start on January 2 this year so that we could get back from the New Year’s party, go grocery shopping, and prep as much as we could before we start.
We uncharacteristically planned out our breakfast and dinner menus for the entire week in advance. I made frittatas in advance for breakfast and Amanda chopped up vegetables so they’d be easy for me to roast.
Snacks are always our downfall. We can’t seem to eat enough at main meals to hold us until the next one and need to fall back to snacks. That is probably because we aren’t big breakfast people and we tend to eat dinner pretty late, usually around 8pm. Snacks hold us over.
If we don’t have Whole30 compliant snacks on-hand, it is not good. We planned ahead this year.
Here are the Whole30 compliant snacks that saved us this week:
(The hot sauce you see is Crystal, which is compliant.)
We are doing completely fine on sugar/carb cravings right now and our workouts are going fine. Our main challenge right now is that our work schedules are crazy. Planning is the only thing that kept us from eating Chipotle fajita salad bowls five days in a row.
We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we are limiting our use of these veggies a little bit. I added some non-Whole 30 options so that you don’t have to suffer with us.
Green Leaf Lettuce – Once again, this is getting turned into salad for lunches and a dinner side. 2 heads should last us all week.
Cucumbers – These will get chopped up for salads and turned into spears for snacks. If you are having dairy, I suggest slicing these and making a salad with sour cream, dill, and onions.
Carrots – We’ll shred a few for salads and then probably roast the rest. I might grab one for an afternoon snack. If we weren’t on the Whole 30, I’d use the tops to make some pesto and eat it with burrata cheese.
Basil – We cut half of this into a chiffonade and put it in the zucchini noodles with the cherry tomato sauce. We’ll use the rest for pesto or adding to a fresh vegetable salad. We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we’re foregoing putting this on homemade pizza or caprese salad.
Scallions – We’ll include the scallions in salads, in breakfast bowls, or in carnitas bowls.
One thing you need to learn to do when you embark on a Whole 30 is make all kinds of new sides so that you get enough vegetables in your diet. We’ve found that cauliflower is super versatile and takes on the flavor of things you add to it. This makes it a great candidate to turn into a mash.
This doesn’t mean you are trying to mimic mashed potatoes. These don’t taste like mashed potatoes, but this a great side dish that stands on its own.
Whole 30 Cauliflower Mash with Garlic and Rosemary
1 head of cauliflower
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of rosemary (both dried and fresh work)
Salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon of each for a large head of cauliflower)
1 tablespoon of ghee
Get your vegetable steamer going in a large stock pot with water that comes just up to the bottom of the steamer. Turn the burner on high.
While the water is heating up, quickly wash the cauliflower and cut it into florets. Chop up the stem, too.
Peel the cloves of garlic.
Put the cauliflower and garlic in the pot with the vegetable steamer. Steam for 10-15 minutes. They are done when tender enough to put a fork through with minimal effort.
When fully steamed, move the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves into the food processor. Take 1/4 cup of the steaming liquid and put it in the food processor, too. Add in the rosemary, salt, pepper, and ghee.
Process until it reaches the consistency you like. I leave it in until it is pureed (usually 2-3 minutes).
Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, steps 5 and 6 can be done with a potato masher and a bowl or a hand blender.
If you aren’t on the Whole 30, you can add butter and sour cream to make these even creamier. For folks on the Whole 30, stick to the recipe above. Amanda and I eat it even when we aren’t on the Whole 30 because it is delicious.
Chuck’s note: This is a guest post by my wife, Amanda. She normally blogs at AmandaGrimmett.com, but today she is posting here! When I get sick, this is what she makes for me. It’ll have you back on your feet in no time.
I’m really lucky that Chuck likes to cook —and that he’s good at it—because I absolutely hate cooking. I much prefer the exactness of baking because I know what I’m going to get every single time. Sure, I could use a recipe to cook, but why bother? I’m married to #CookLikeChuck.
That said, Chuck isn’t infallible. On occasion, he does get sick and, because I love my husband more than I hate cooking, I whip out the one recipe I know by heart, the one recipe I know will turn out every single time: Sickie Soup.
Chop a medium-sized onion and 3 stalks of celery.
Place them in a pot with a little olive oil and 2 cloves of pressed garlic on medium-low heat.
Chop 3-4 carrots, 2-3 leeks, and 1 decently-sized potato.
Add them to the pot with 2 boxes of chicken stock, salt, and pepper.
Turn the heat up to medium.
I like to add these veggies first because they take the longest to cook.
Chop and add a small head of cabbage.
Add a large diced tomato, a handful of fresh green beans, and about a cup of corn.
Let everything simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the veggies are no longer crunchy. Stir occasionally.
If you’re like Chuck, add a squirt of hot sauce to clear out your sinuses.