Spaghetti squash and bolognese

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

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Ok, ok this is not a true bolognese sauce… that would require dairy and wine, both Whole30 no, no’s. I worked around both of those ingredients to keep this tasty and as true to a bolognese as I could. My aunt once told me ‘a bolognese is all about the meat, tomatoes are a side note’ and I also took this to heart.

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.

Bolognese Sauce

olive oil
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 onion
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.

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I love how you can play with spaghetti squash just as if it were regular spaghetti



**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!

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Grated Sweet Potatoes

I came home from work tonight to find my son in the kitchen pulling supper together. While the protein part of the meal were going to be turkey burger patties, he was experimenting with sweet potatoes. He had watched an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats this afternoon and decided to rework one of his recipes to make it more in line with Whole30. And the results were great! He created my kind of dish… Quick, simple and tasty! The sweet potatoes were light and had a creamy texture.

Grated Sweet Potatoes

* Use a cheese grater to grate 2 peeled sweet potatoes.
* Chop 1 chili pepper very finely.
* Add a couple of splashes of coconut oil to a frying pan, over medium heat.
* Add the grated sweet potatoes and chopped chili pepper to the pan.
* Stir mixture until softened and slightly browned.
* Makes 2-3 servings.

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In conclusion…

We finished the Whole30 challenge a week ago. We then had Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and a 5 day family vacation to Memphis, Nashville and Cincinnati. So how did we do during the week??? Well, good and then not so good. We tried ordering and sharing small plates and half heartily followed the program, but we also wanted to enjoy the flavors of the areas we were visiting. Unfortunately, we have all felt the impact of eating foods that are not necessarily good for us. There have been upset stomachs, gassy stomachs and restless sleep. So we are all going back to the program Jan 2nd. We all are very much aware of how much better we felt while eating healthy and don’t like how we have been feeling the past few days. We may not follow the Whole30 program as strictly as the previous 30 days, but we will find a happy medium that will allow us to eat well, feel better and continue to lose weight.

Our journey has inspired a relative to also follow the program and we will sing its praises to all who ask. I will check in with updates from time to time, and am anxious to see how we progress in the coming months.

My husband and I am grateful to our daughter for bringing Whole30 to our attention and for being concerned about our health. Here’s to a better quality of life for all!

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30 day challenge success

Day 30 was 7 days ago. I have been very delinquent in postings updates. Blame it on the time challenges of the holiday season, shopping and attempts to get more sleep each night.

So how did our family do after following Whole30 ? We all agree that we really feel better. Even those meals where we may have eaten more than we should have didn’t leave us feeling bloated and uncomfortable. I am sleeping better and more deeply. And as a family we lost about 50 pounds.

Below are a few comments I meant to post along the journey.

Brussels sprouts:
My daughter called me out on this vegetable and why she never had these growing up. Really?? She was very fussy and it was difficult to get any veggie on her plate. Of course, my husband calling asparagus ‘dragon toes’ probably didn’t help. And to be honest, I had never had them either! But we did try them after her post and have had them several times since. I won’t call them my favorite food, but I do like them a lot.

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Crock pot pork chops:
One quick meal that we enjoyed for its flavor and ease were pork chops in a crock pot. I dipped 8 boneless chops in a quick bath of balsamic vinegar then layered them in the crock pot. Add a bag of broccoli slaw, a chopped onion and two chopped mangos. Finally, pour in a little more balsamic vinegar, cover and slow cook all day. When we got home that night, all we had to do was microwave a couple of pre-baked sweet potatoes and supper was ready.

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Spinach & scallops:
Another quick meal that we enjoyed was scallops and spinach. I have outlined the easy scallop recipe in an earlier post. The spinach is also simple: Sauté 2 chopped cloves of garlic per person in garlic oil. Add a large box of sliced mushrooms. Once both are softened, add one bag of baby spinach per person. Add more olive oil and cover pan. Let cook, checking and stirring frequently until spinach has wilted. Serve warm with the scallops.

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Lazy:
Ok, some nights I just wanted to eat without the fuss of shopping and cooking. I know that is lazy, but I also wanted to stick to the Whole30 rules. So, there were prepared foods that allowed us to follow rules but eat quick!! See the ingredients below before and after.

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Green eggs and yams!
Collette was home a few days leading up to Christmas. I made breakfast one morning for her before she headed out to work. Cooking at 6am leads to fast decisions. So, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss, I served her green eggs and yams!! The eggs were two eggs with an avacardo. The ‘yams’ are sweet potatoes. Fortunately, Collette has a sense of humor and ate it!

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day 25, self experimentation, potlucks and curry chicken salad

‘Tis the season to have potlucks! But seriously, this was a pretty tough moment for me; I wanted to show my coworkers that eating for pleasure and eating for health were not mutually exclusive. I work in metabolism research and by default, most of my coworkers are genuinely interested in nutrition and the latest science. My Whole30 has been a fun experiment for them too… with me playing the role as lab rat! At lunch we go over how I’m feeling, what I could change, and what else I could eat. This type of sounding board has kept me motivated, helped me solve my insatiable hunger issue, and came up with some of the tastier food I’ve been eating (reduced balsamic with rosemary drizzled over roasted, salted sweet potatoes!). Continue reading

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