Giving up elevators and Meatloaf

Lent is a time when I like to challenge myself a little bit. I put a fair amount of thought into what I ‘give up’ and this year I settled on… Elevators. I currently work on both the 6th and 12th floors every day so I figured it would be an appropriate inconvenience and also a way to sneak some exercise into my increasingly tight schedule. In my mid-twenties ignorance I had visions of racing my carpool buddy in the elevator to emerge victorious and breathing easy after 12 stories. Ha! Those hope were quickly dashed last week when I needed my inhaler by the 7th floor and finally sat down to my desk, sweaty and dehydrated, 15 minutes later. To add insult to injury, the some wonderful soul painted beautiful murals with inspirational quotes on each platform, probably to encourage the more sedentary of us to take the stairs.


6th floor inspirational mural

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on my current level of cynicism, these quotes end after the 6th floor, just when my legs are starting to burn and the more sane folks switch to the elevator. Even without the silent encouragement of the murals, I’ve made it up the final 6 flights and to work each and every day since. Despite a few days of sore glutes I think my time is improving, although I have no more hopes of beating the elevator!


made it!

What does one eat to fuel an 18-flights-a-day-habit? Meatloaf! When I was younger meatloaf had a reputation. Without ever eating it, I KNEW I didn’t like it. It was more a caricature than real food, appearing on the edge of the lunch lady’s spoon when you least wanted it. Like so many meals I previously considered repulsive, meatloaf has grown on me over the years. In fact, it’s delicious.

Meatloaf is so named because it has a bread-like shape but also a smooth consistency putting it closer to a good meatball than anything else. For this reason, it’s deceptively difficult to replicate under Whole30 guidelines. I’ve seen many recipes which simply leave out the bread… and while this certainly produces a meal that falls within the rules, it’s more like eating an overcooked hamburger than the comfort-food staple. To get around this I added almond flour and more veggies (especially the zucchini) to break up the meat monotony. I won’t promise this is as good as the meatloaf your mom made, but I will say that it comes ridiculously close. To be true to traditional meatloaf I even made a tomato/balsamic glaze, which is the figurative cherry on top of this sundae.


2lbs ground meat… ground beef is the typical staple but if you have pork, lamb, or bison give it a try
1 egg
1 zucchini
3 carrots
1 small onion
1 bell pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 tbs clarified butter

Preheat oven to 350*F. In pan over medium heat, melt clarified butter. While it heats up, pulse carrots, onions in food processor and mince zucchini, pepper, and garlic. Add carrots, onions, zucchini, and pepper to pan and cook until peppers are soft (until they don’t crisp when you bite them) about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Remove veggies from heat and let cool for a minute.

Combine veggies with the rest of the ingredients (eggs, meat, almond flour, herbs and spices) in large bowl, mixing gently with hands. Do not squeeze or over pack the meat. Place in a large loaf pan, two small loaf pans, or another pan of your choice. Insert thermometer into center of loaf and place loaf in oven. After 10 minutes, cover with glaze. Cook until center temperature reads 160*F, remove and LET REST at least 15 minutes. Enjoy.


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs water
(2 tsp honey if you aren’t on a Whole30!)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. It might take a little while to dissolve the tomato paste. If glaze is too thick add more water, you’re looking for the consistency of barbeque sauce. After loaf has been cooking for about 10 minutes, use spatula to spread glaze evenly over the top of meatloaf.


delicious meatloaf with sauteed zucchini hiding in the background

My second favorite thing about meatloaf is that once you have the basics down, you can throw almost anything in it. One of the perfect leftover foods. Some of my favorite variations include adding extra bell pepper, a chipotle chili, extra cumin and some adobo sauce for a southwestern kick

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Relaxing the Whole30 and Chipotle Short Ribs

So it’s been over a month… how has my post Whole30 been going? Pretty good actually. Even with the occasional weekend indulgence (alcohol, delivery Thai food…) I’ve been sticking to making my own food and most of that falls easily into the Whole30 plan. Sometimes it can be a hassle and sometimes I don’t want to wait for 2 sweet potatoes to finish roasting before going to sleep but overall I feel better when I stick to these foods and it’s worth the extra 30 minutes in the kitchen. I went to Vermont to ski last weekend and even though it took some extra planning/shopping/packing/coolers to bring all my own food I easily made it through the weekend. Here is a plate from our leftover breakfast on Sunday for a sampling of some possible ski weekend snacks.

Bacon, coconut and bacon grease sauteed collard greens with onion and garlic, sweet potato "pasta" with clarified sage butter and fried sage leaves, avocado scrambled eggs with avocado, onion, and salsa. This will easily get you through a full day of post-blizzard skiing.

Bacon, coconut and bacon grease sauteed collard greens with onion and garlic, sweet potato “pasta” with clarified sage butter and fried sage leaves, avocado scrambled eggs with avocado, onion, and salsa. This will easily get you through a full day of post-blizzard skiing.

 A few things I have enthusiastically added back-

Honey. I’m fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your outlook) not to have much of a sweet tooth. Cutting sugar was never a huge challenge to me EXCEPT for glazes/marinades. One of my favorite salmon recipes is a honey, lime, red pepper flakes and grated ginger glaze on salmon under the broiler. Needless to say, I made this as soon as I finished my 30 days. I also use honey as a binding agent with granola/granola bars. Even though I fully support adding honey back into my diet, I generally stick to raw, unprocessed honey. I could write a whole post about why raw honey is healthier than the stuff in the plastic bear but the best argument is it just tastes better. Try it.

Dairy. So I’m a lactose intolerant person who loves dairy. Life is always funny that way. Trying to see the bright side of every challenge, I’ve come to realize that the small amount of dairy tolerated by my stomach is probably the right amount for me to eat in general. Since I’m not yet a huge fan of fermented foods and I want to keep my gut bacteria happy, I eat plain greek yogurt (compare the amount of sugar between ‘plain’ and ‘strawberry’ and you’ll see why I always go plain) with cut up strawberries and sliced almonds for breakfast once in a while. I eat some high quality cheese on occasion because it’s just so damn good, and I use non clarified butter once in a while when it makes a difference (eggz). That being said, I still make and use clarified butter or rendered fat for most of my cooking and stick with coconut milk for most things.

Chocolate. I LOVE DARK CHOCOLATE. I just mentioned my lack of sweet tooth and this may be where it is most notable. When I say dark I mean daaaaark. Like 85+% cacao dark. For those of you not used to it, high % dark chocolate might taste a little bitter. Starting around 70% and slowly working your way up will help you appreciate the taste of the cacao beans when they aren’t masked by a majority of milk and sugar, and boy are they delicious! Are there health benefits to eating chocolate? Oh yeah… antioxidants, healthy fats, etc. Are most of these negated with all the sugar and emulsifiers they throw into a hershy’s bar? You bet. 

Dinner parties. Ok so not technically an ingredient, but this was something that slowed during my Whole30. When faced with a restricted diet it can be tough to think of a fancy meal that will please guests and fit into all the rules. We definitely cut down a bit on big dinners during our Whole30 month and I’ve noticed I’ve fallen back into old non-Whole30 habits when faced with cooking for other people. This does not have to be the case! To help you (and myself) here is dinner I made for a few friends the other day.

Chipotle Short Ribs with Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Butter.

Beef Short Ribs in Chipotle and Green Chili Sauce courtesy of and found here

Mashed White Sweet Potatoes 

2-3 large white sweet potatoes

6 tbs clarified butter*

3 tbs coconut milk*

1/2 cup water, or more to  fully cover bottom of pan to keep potatoes from burning.

salt and pepper to taste. 

Peel and cut up sweet potatoes into 1/4″ cubes. Add all ingredients to pot and cook over medium, stirring occasionally until potatoes are very soft and mash  easily with a fork. Mash or beat to your desired ‘lumpiness’ and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

**amount of butter and coconut is variable. For rich, creamy potatoes you can always add more once cooked and beat until a puree. These potatoes are also delicious without the add ins and can be mashed without the butter or coconut.

As has become my habit, this was so good I forgot to take a picture before I chowed down for dinner. This is actually my leftover lunch the next day so please excuse the paper plate. And yes, everyone at the table was jealous.

As has become my habit, this was so good I forgot to take a picture before I chowed down for dinner. This is actually my leftover lunch the next day so please excuse the paper plate. And yes, everyone at the table was jealous.

Totally Whole30. Totally delicious. Totally worthy of a special occasion or dinner party.


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Failure… :(

Stress is a troublesome thing.

I was holding strong to the Whole30 plan last week until the “blizzard of ’13’ struck. Then the challenges of snow shoveling, the final trove of Girl Scout cookies and some very long work days was too much to overcome. I’ve been drinking too much coffee, diet soda and grabbing meals on the run. While the meals aren’t terrible (i.e. a tuna fish & tomato wrap for supper), they are not Whole30 compliant. And rather than beat myself up about this ‘failure’, I think I will just do the best I can for a couple of weeks before starting the challenge fresh.

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Here I go again! And crock pot pork chops and apples

Let’s review…. My last post was in December at the end of our family’s 1st Whole30 challenge. We all felt far better and had shed pounds. Now, 5 weeks later, I have decided to follow the plan again. While we have continued to follow most of the guidelines, some items have crept back in….. Namely, alcohol, Diet Coke and Girl Scout cookies!!

Another reason is that I have arthritis in my hands and I noticed that I didn’t have very much pain during those 30 days. I had contributed that to a mild winter, but my daughter told me that Whole30 is anti inflammatory so I’ll be watching my thumbs during these 30 days. And finally, I am trying to stick to an exercise routine to drop a few pounds before participating in a 5k in March. It only makes sense to pair exercising with a healthy diet.

I do want to mention a dish that we have had several times in the past month…. Crockpot pork chops and apples. The recipe title is also the list of ingredients!

Crockpot Pork Chops and Apples: Simply layer 4-6 boneless, trimmed pork chops in the bottom of a crockpot. Now slice the top and bottom off 3 green apples. (Any variety will do…..we just always have green apples in the fridge.) Now core the apples and then slice them so you have a lot of apple ‘donuts’ and lay them on top of the pork chops. You can prepare this the night before so that in the morning you only need to turn the crockpot on before heading out the door! (Our guinea pig loves this recipe too because he gets the chopped off apple tops and bottoms!)

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Pancakes and EGGcakes


Nothing says good morning like pancakes. As a ‘grown up’ I don’t actually eat pancakes all that much but as soon as we started Whole30 that was all I wanted to eat on the weekend! It’s funny how that works. Anyway, I tried to make my Whole30 as simple and restrictive as possible- I avoided ‘flour’ of any form (almond, coconut) to really break my dependence on grains in meal by removing all grain substitutes- which meant… no pancakes. Or so I thought.

My aunt found an awesome solution… egg-cakes! I ate many of these the last few days when I was working at the fish market and they are a pretty great alternative to traditional pancakes.

Banana EGGcakes
1 banana
2 eggs
splash of coconut milk
sprinkle of cinnamon

Mash up banana, add egg, cinnamon and combine. Heat coconut oil or clarified butter in large skillet or cured cast iron over medium Add dollop of batter and flip after a few minutes. Batter will not bubble as much as traditional pancakes and may take a few tries to garner the right time.

Now that I’m eating in a more moderate version of the Whole30 I’ve allowed myself nut and other types of flours, at least for right now. I’ve tried many alternate flour pancakes and I enjoy the taste of almond flour the best (a little nutty and dense). Adding blueberries breaks of some of the almond monotony if you’re worried. Best part about using almond flour- the batter tastes good! You can season to taste(if you aren’t worried about raw eggs) before the batter even touches the griddle!

Banana pancakes
1 ripe banana
2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1 cup almond flour
½ cup coconut milk
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of nutmeg (half the amount of cinnamon to start out)


Mash up banana into good ‘mush’. Combine with egg YOLK, almond flour, and half of coconut milk. Check consistency and add more coconut milk until just sliding off spoon enough. Add spices to taste, I usually end up around a 1 tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp nutmeg. Beat egg whites until soft peaks and fold into batter. Spoon out small pancakes onto griddle (without gluten that batter may not ‘stick’ as much at first so start with smaller pancakes which are easier to flip). Sprinkle with blueberries and flip when ready, after a minute or two.



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