Hurray! Whole30 is over! Well, not exactly…
Our Whole30 finished at midnight on Dec. 23rd, just in time for Christmas Eve feasting. Before I could make it to the meat pie however, I had to get through the last day of a 4 day stint helping out our local fish market. Where we live is heavily Italian, heavily traditional, and heavily in search of the 7 Fishes for Christmas dinner. If you’re ever up here during Christmas avoid the fish markets, they are mayhem on both sides of the counter. My brother was my ‘in’ to the brief holiday job when I was in high school and this marks my 7th Christmas of 18 hour days, smelling like fish, and a worthwhile holiday bonus. Over the years I’ve done almost every job imaginable: shucked clams, de-wormed fish(all cod you buy should be de-wormed… if it isn’t, find a new fish market), cleaned and sliced squid (and my finger in the process) and prepared ready-to-bake stuffed seafood favorites. Thankfully, after so many years I’m able to avoid the less appealing jobs (skinning eels) in favor of the front of the store and putting together specific orders.
For the days leading up to and including Christmas Eve, we usually work 15-20 hour days, have one meal break for pizza/mcdonalds, and subsist for the rest of the time on quick snacks and treats brought in by customers and friends. In spite of this particular challenge, I wanted to finish my Whole30 strong. My mom was great during this time and made sure I had a hot breakfast (green eggs and “yams”, or banana egg-cakes), coffee, a packed lunch, and a courier to drop off another full tupperware for late night. Brown-bagging to work usually elicits some mocking, but after playing a hilarious game of ‘guess what’s in my smoothie’** (the looks when they all realized they had unknowingly sipped on spinach were priceless), talking about and trying my food became a game to lift spirits. By Christmas Eve the guys were asking for bites of salmon instead of pizza and I ended up giving away most of my last meals. News Flash; everyone loves brussels sprouts!
After Whole30 ended, I tried not to go too crazy but still didn’t feel well like the rest of the family. I’m working to find the best balance for my body between good foods and the occasional treats and am still cooking majority Whole30 recipes like this one. I made this in December for some hungry swimmers during a weekend meet and it went over pretty well. Sometimes it is nice to have outside validation that my recipes are tasty!
Quick spaghetti squash and bolognese
1 spaghetti squash
Poke holes around squash with a knife. Place on aluminum foil or baking sheet in 375*F oven for 1 ½ hours until soft (may need more or less time depending on the size of the squash). Let cool or, if you’re impatient, hold with a thick hand towel, split in half longways and scoop out seeds. Scoop out remaining squash which should look like spaghetti noodles.
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
2lbs ground meat of choice(I use1lb ground beef and 1lb ground pork. I think the pork adds extra flavor but it’s up to you)
1 cup stock (I had chicken lying around, but beef might be better)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon tomato paste
1- 14oz. can crushed tomatoes
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like spice)
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
season with salt and pepper
*optional- instead of olive oil in the beginning, saute a few ounces of chopped bacon, render the fat and add the bacon bits back in later after the meat is browned
Use a food processor to chop carrots, celery and onion until forms a paste-like consistency. Heat splash of olive oil over medium high heat and add in vegetable mix. Heat, stirring until all water is evaporated and begins to cook, about 15-20 minutes (the vegetables will start to smell stronger and there will be less steam rising. they might even stick to the pan). Scoot vegetables to the side of pan, add half of meat and brown, breaking up with spoon (5-10 minutes). Add second half of meat and repeat. Add garlic, stock, balsamic, tomato paste, pepper flakes, thyme, oregano and bay leaf. Let cook on medium high heat few minutes until half the liquid is reduce then add crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil and let simmer until spaghetti squash is finished. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over spaghetti squash in almost a 1:1 ratio. Enjoy.
**I know smoothies aren’t the best of Whole30 snacks, but when you’re spending 80% of your day running around a building that literally doesn’t have a single chair and without much time to eat, drinking my food was the only way I was going to get enough of it into my body. Plus, I spent the majority of my time in a refrigerated room or outdoors in the New England winter which meant my smoothie was always cold and at hand!