September Whole 30

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Whole 30, something we’ve all heard of by now, something most of us have probably done (I’ve done it twice), and something I’ll be starting up next week! Whole 30 is a month long program devoted to resetting your body by nourishing it with whole foods. While it falls into a “diet” category it really is structured to be so much more. There are multiple success stories out there on how it has changed people’s lives, helped heal autoimmune diseases, and reintroduced people to a love of healthy eating etc.

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Chicken sausage, sweet potato, bell pepper and spinach stir fry that will be seen during my Whole 30! Peep the ugly orange athletic socks.

For me, I love the way it makes me feel and truly love the fun challenge it puts around cooking (food nerd alert). I’ve been on a bit of a bender since moving to Dallas. Rightfully so I think. I’ve wanted to eat, drink and see all the things I can while exploring my new city. Zero regrets, buuuuut it’s time to reign it in. I was talking to a friend a couple weekends ago who is currently following a vegan diet. She lives in D.C. and like me, has eaten and drank all the things while enjoying the summer months. She mentioned how she’s an all or nothing girl. I’m the same. I struggle to just say “I’m going to eat healthy this month,” and actually follow through with it. While I stay pretty regimented during the week, weekends, parties and events come up and all bets are off. Give me every piece of cheese, tortilla chip and dessert in sight.

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Crock-pot chicken loaded in a sweet potato with compliant salsa, guac, and red onions. Based off this recipe.

My experience with Whole 30 in the past has helped control this type of chaotic eating in the best way. The guidelines (aka rules) of Whole 30 give me the structure I need to actually say no in situations like this. I find that acquaintances are more understanding when you say no to a cheesy app or cocktail when you say you are following a program like Whole 30 or vegan or whatever it may be, opposed to just saying, “oh i’m just trying to be healthy.”

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Kale & turkey taco salad with compliant salsa, tomatoes, green onion, avocado and crushed plantain chips.

Ramble on, let’s get to the quick bases of Whole30. For 30 straight days you say yes to whole foods, quality animal protein, and all the veggies. You say no to dairy, legumes, sugar and grains. With the way our cooking and healthy eating mindset has shifted in the past few years, this isn’t as daunting as it used to be. I completed my version of Whole 30 August 2016 and January 2017. I wrote a post going more into the program and links to some favorite recipes here.

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Sliced banana drizzled with creamy almond butter, tahini and a sprinkle of cinnamon - my favorite non-egg Whole 30 breakfast.

Is anyone else doing September Whole 30? It kicks off Monday, September 2nd and runs until Tuesday, October 1st. I mentioned above that I have done Whole 30 twice, that being said it has been “my” version of Whole 30. I give myself grace and may slip a drink in here and there on the weekends, but I do try to keep in under control. Because the more alcohol I drink, the more grains, sugar and non-whole 30 items I crave. Whole 30 also tells you to restart to day 1 if you slip up. Let’s get real, a mistake here and there is okay. If I have a non-Whole 30 food, I move on and do better the next day.

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I have a couple friends here in Dallas who are doing Whole 30 with me. I’m excited to branch out on my cooking and do a few special dinners with them. However, my biggest advice for Whole 30 is don’t overthink it. People often complain about the amount of money they spend on groceries and the meat heavy dishes. I try to keep things easy and not out of my wheelhouse, by including smoothies or eggs for breakfast, loaded salads or snack boards for lunch and some kind of easy chicken and veggie dish or soup/chili for dinner. No need to buy an instant pot or air fryer just to successfully complete Whole 30 ;) Below I’ve included some Take A Bite Whole 30 approved recipes and a round up of recipes I hope to try in this upcoming month.

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Whole 30 recipes I love already or hope to make:
Hibachi Style Chicken with Magic Mustard Sauce (my fave Defined Dish meal, pictured above)
Buffalo Chopped Chicken Salad
Ultimate Chicken Taco Salad
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Kale + Chicken Waldorf Salad
Everything Bagel Chicken Salad
Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Tom Kha Gai Soup
Spicy Potato Kale Bowls with Mustard Tahini Sauce

Give my Whole 30 Pinterest board a follow and I’ll be sure to update it through the month.

Go to Whole 30 Meals/Snacks:
Cobb Salad
Taco Salad
Banana or Apple with almond butter
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Loaded Salads
Chicken Sausage Stir Frys (just make sure your sausage is sugar free)
Smoothies
Breakfast for Dinner with scrambled eggs, bacon and roasted sweet potatoes
Spaghetti Squash
Plantain Chips with Guacamole or Salsa
RX Bars
Dates with Almond Butter

Helpful links:
Approved RX Bars
Approved Larabars
Trader Joe’s Whole 30 Staples
Aldi Whole 30 Staples
Whole 30 Approved Almond Milk

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The best Whole 30 snack or dessert - medjool date and almond butter!

Now that you’ve read all of this and may be gearing up for a #SeptemberWhole30 yourself, I want to leave you with this article. While this article brings up a fantastic point and many many things I agree with,I still plan to complete Whole 30 next month. Having completed whole 30 twice and successfully not gone on a rapid binge day 31 I’m feeling confident about the 30 day and beyond challenge. But, read this article, be mindful of it and take it as you want.

Annie

Are you doing #SeptemberWhole30? Comment below if you are or if you have questions!

2 Ingredient Shakshuka: MY Go-To Clean Out The Fridge Meal

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I pride myself on clean out the fridge meals. It’s honestly shocking what I can do with a near empty fridge. My mom can attest to this. Anytime I’m over she’ll say “oh we have nothing to eat!,” but a few minutes later and I have some kind of loaded salad situation or a plate of nachos. My past roommates could say the same.

Today’s meal is exhibit A of me having nothing but a few eggs in the fridge and no effort to go to the store. I first started making this meal a couple years ago when I lived with my roommate at the time, Kenzie. She had a half empty bottle of marinara, I had two eggs, and we had an abundance of basil growing in the backyard. Enter: shakshuka.

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Shakshuka originates from North Africa, made often with tomato sauce seasoned with cumin, paprika, chilis, garlic, and nutmeg. My version lends itself more Italian thanks to a jar of pre-made marinara and some basil. I call it 2-ingredient because all you need are eggs and sauce, but if you have some basil and red pepper flakes your dish will have a little more pizzazz. Oh, and salt and pepper don’t count in the number of ingredients, don’t @ me.

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2 Ingredient Shakshuka
yields 1 serving (can easily be doubled to serve 2, see not below)*

Ingredients:
1 cup marinara sauce
2 eggs
salt and pepper
optional: fresh basil and red pepper flakes

Directions:
In an 8-inch or omelet size pan, heat your marinara over medium heat for 1 minute. Using a small spatula, create 2 wells in the sauce that you can crack the eggs into. Crack and carefully lower egg into each well. Continue to cook over medium for 5 minutes. Then cover with a lid and cook for one minute to finish cooking the whites. Immediately remove from heat to avoid over cooking the yolks.

Sprinkle the top with a little salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and fresh basil if you have it. Grab a fork and a placemat or towel to set your hot pan on, and enjoy straight from the dish!

*If you are making for 2, I find a cast iron skillet to be the perfect size pan for twice the sauce and 4 eggs. Once cooked, scoop into shallow bowls and serve with crusty bread and a green salad for a complete meal.

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**Disclosure, you do not need to reserve this meal for simply cleaning out the fridge. It’s perfectly acceptable to buy a new jar of marinara and a new carton of eggs just for this recipe!

Annie

Verde Chicken + Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Bowl

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Healthy 👏easy 👏weeknight 👏meal! This dish has burrito bowl vibes, but cuts the cals with cauliflower rice. I add cumin, lime juice and fresh cilantro to the “rice” to amp it up a bit and the whole thing comes together great.

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I keep it green with salsa verde, lots of cilantro, lime and avocado. I’m on a black bean kick, so those were a must and add an extra protein boost next to the chicken. Considering I bought the salsa instead of making my own and used a rotisserie chicken, this dish is e a s y.

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Verde Chicken + Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Bowl
yields 4 servings

Ingredients:
3 cups frozen riced cauliflower
2 cups shredded chicken (rotisserie works great)
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado
salsa verde
salt and pepper

Directions:
In a non-stick pan over medium low heat, sauté your cauliflower rice for about 3-4 minutes. You do not need any oil in the pan. Stir in the cumin, freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Divide the “rice” evenly amongst 4 bowls. Top each bowl with chicken, black beans and salsa verde. Add avocado slices, the rest of the chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper.

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Annie

Lite Bite: Asian Sheet Pan Salmon and Veggies

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Asian Sheet Pan Salmon and Veggies
serves 2 (with leftover veggies)

Ingredients:
2, 4 oz Wild Caught Salmon Filets, boneless, skinless
1 lb. asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1 lb. baby carrots or veggie of your choice (broccoli, sweet potatoes or bok choy would be great
1 Tbsp. coconut aminos
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1/2 tsp. agave or honey
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
sesame seeds

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a parchment lined baking sheet arrange veggies and salmon so everything is on an even layer. Season the salmon and veggies with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl whisk coconut aminos, almond butter, agave, ground ginger and garlic powder. Brush 1/2 of the sauce over the salmon and veggies. Bake for 10 minutes, then brush with remainder of the sauce. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Divide among plates, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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Annie

Lite Bite: Thai Chicken Lettuce Boats

thai chicken lettuce boats

Here's the 411 on "lite bite" posts. These are recipes I came up with on the fly. Measurements are geared toward cooking for one, but can easily be upped to feed more. Any questions about conversions or recipes, never hesitate to email me annie@takeabiteblog.com.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Boats
instructions yield 1 serving

green leaf lettuce
rotisserie chicken, shredded
roasted unsalted cashews
coconut oil
fresh ginger, finely chopped
garlic, minced
Sambal Oelek chili sauce
salt and pepper
cilantro
green onion
sesame seeds
cashews

Cut the core off the end of your lettuce. Wash and pat dry each lettuce leaf. These will become your "boats." A tip I learned from my roommate Lindsay is after washing your lettuce, lay it out on long strip of paper towels. Pat dry, then roll up your lettuce in the damp paper towels and store in a plastic grocery sack in the fridge. The lettuce will stay crisp and fresh!

Heat 1 tsp. of coconut oil over medium heat. Sauté 1/2 tsp. of minced garlic (or half of a clove) and 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger for about 30 seconds. Add 3/4 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken and 1/4 cup crushed cashews to the pan. Add 2 tsp. of Sambal Oelek chili sauce to pan. Sauté and warm all the ingredients, only takes about 1 to 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, pepper and tear in a few leaves of cilantro.

Once everything is combined and warmed through, divided the chicken mixture amongst 3 leaves of lettuce. Top with sesame seeds, more cilantro and thinly sliced green onions. 

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I love this meal for dinner or lunch leftovers the next day. Tip: the inner baby leaves of your green leaf lettuce bunch are perfect for dipping in hummus!

Annie