a week of whole30 dinners

When I look back on my history with meal planning, I don’t have a great track record. But I’m trying. Progress not perfection. That’s what this is all about, right?
And “this” incudes healthy eating/cooking/noshing/foodblogging . . .

You’ve probably noticed I post a lot of whole30 friendly recipes here at EatWriteRepeat and that’s because I’m trying to practice what I preach. So as you head into your week and your grocery list grows on the sticky note taped to your fridge, here’s five meals (Healthy! Tasty! Whole30-friendly!) to help you in your own progress-not-perfection meal-planning endeavors.
Enjoy!

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Crispy brussles sprouts with a soft egg
Poached salmon in curry sauce
Bone broth and veggie soup with bean thread noodles
steak and veggie tossed skillet
Pan grilled chicken breast, cauliflower rice, and balsamic-glazed baby carrots

baked lemon-garlic salmon with lemon balsamic kale and spinach salad

I was at a book event a while back in this gorgeous little town, and upon discovering I was starving, (happens ALL THE TIME), I wandered into this fantastic little restaurant/pub/bistro that served up one of the better meals I’ve had in my life. And this people, this is saying something.
Perhaps it was because I was so hungry.
Or that I was alone for the weekend ( my four littles stayed at home with kind and generous husband!) —Introverts unite.
Or perhaps it was because for the first time in a long time no one drooled in my food, asked me for things mid-bite, or wiped ketchup across the small of my back while I was eating. (See earlier note about being alone).
Regardless, the meal was marvelous. Balsamic-lemon arugula salad topped with a maple spice-rubbed salmon done just right, and all the black coffee I could drink, (served hot, I might add, without the necessity of microwaving several times over). And did I mention I was alone? Ah yes. Sorry.

Since that wonderful, albeit staggeringly simple meal, I’ve been trying to re-create the experience. Taste-wise at least. And last night I think I got it.
There was dancing in my kitchen.

I am pleased to share my own version with you, slightly easier and more expedient to prepare, because I know how difficult it is to focus or do things with precision when small people are wiping ketchup on your back/legs/butt.
Enjoy!

LEMON-GARLIC SALMON W/LEMON-BALSAMIC KALE & SPINACH SALAD

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1 large fillet of salmon
Enough fresh kale and spinach to feed four people

Salad Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette
½ teaspoon fresh pressed garlic
a dash of salt

Butter sauce for salmon:
2 tablespoons clarified butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh-pressed garlic
1 teaspoon Italian spice blend
a dash of oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with tin-foil and lay the salmon, skin-side down, on the foil. Mix up butter sauce in a small dish, and with a sauce brush, drizzled and coat the fish with the sauce until it is completely used up. Pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the fillet). The goal is to have a flaky fillet that isn’t overly-cooked and dry. You should be able to cut into it and have the flesh flake apart, but still be slightly pink in the very thickest part of the fillet.

Meanwhile, mix up the salad dressing and blend the two greens in a large bowl. Arugula can also be used, or any combination of young greens. Personally, I like how the kale and spinach hold their own with the fish. Pour dressing over greens, one tablespoon at a time, tossing until the greens are coated but not dripping. There will be dressing left over.

Plate greens and top each serving with a slice of salmon, roughly 2 inches wide.

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Loaded paleo baked sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are one of those forgettable foods. On their own at least. I mean, sweet potatoes. I remember them at Thanksgiving when they are topped with marshmallows, and also when they’re cut into fries and served alongside a medium-rare burger. But other than that I often forget they’re even a thing.

But they are so stinking good for you, and this brightly-colored tuber (not a root, not a vegetable, what?!) is definitely worth remembering. Sweet, earthy, savory. And because they are whole30 compliant, they act as a nice base to a lot of different meals. This one included. Hopefully this dish will bring them to the forefront of your mind next time you’re looking for a satisfying, almost-comfort-food-category meal.
Enjoy!

LOADED PALEO BAKED SWEET POTATO

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1lb grass-fed hamburger
2 cups homemade salsa
4 sweet potatoes/yams
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 whole avocados
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon diced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Scrub sweet potatoes briskly and pierce each of them several times with a fork or sharp knife. This will allow them to breathe while baking. Place all four potatoes directly on the rack in a 400-degree preheated oven. Allow to bake for an hour or so, or until a fork easily pierces the skin and they are browning. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a large sauté pan, melt clarified butter and sauté garlic and onions until caramelized. Add hamburger and cook through. Drain off excess liquid and then add one cup of salsa. Cover and allow to simmer for a few minutes until well incorporated. Drain excess liquid off a second time. Set aside.

Slice each of the potatoes lengthwise and lay each one open-face on a plate. Top generously with hamburger, remaining salsa, and sliced avocados—one half avocado per potato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.

—Makes four potatoes

Paleo Pumpkin Bars (whole30 friendly!)

No matter which way you spin it, fall isn’t fall unless you throw in a WHOLE LOT of pumpkin spice. It’s basically an American movement that finds a home in the hearts of blanket-scarf-clad, tall-boot-wearing, coffee-sipping women everywhere.
No judgement, I’m at the front of that pack, proudly waving my slouchy, jewel-toned beanie. So, you can add these pumpkin bars to that mix, and it’s a pretty complete fall package for your average women anytime in October. Or guy, really.
I love them. These folks. They are my people.
Bonus: these particular bars are FREE of all the things. (Gluten, sugar, dairy). But they do contain eggs and nuts. Cashews actually. Salted.
Mmmm. Salted cashews.
*ahem* You’ve been warned.
Enjoy!

PALEO PUMPKIN BARS

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Crust:
1.5 cups salted and roasted organic cashews
1/2 teaspoon aditional salt
1 egg
3/4 c. almond flour
1/2 c clarified butter

Filling:
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup dates
29-oz can Pumpkin
1 cup vegan coconut creamer (1 cup prunes, 2 cans whole-fat coconut milk)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Whipped Topping:
2 cans whole-fat coconut milk, cream only.

This recipe takes a little bit of initial prep work and the inclusion of a creamer which you’ll have to make in advance, but I promise, it’s worth it. I mean, really. actually pumpkin bars with ALL THE FREES?! (Gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, chemical free).

So begin by mixing up a batch of coconut milk creamer.
(1 cup prunes and 1 cup boiling water in a blender, whirled until smooth. Add two cans of whole-fat coconut milk. Whirl again and there ya go!) Set aside.

For the crust, begin by whirling cashews and salt in a food processor until smooth but not so long that it begins to liquify into an actual nut butter. Catch it before that stage. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground cashews, egg, clarified butter, and almond flour until a soft dough forms. It won’t exactly form a ball the way a typical dough would, but it will by nice and sticky. Spread with a spatula and press with your fingers into the bottom of a butter 9×14 pan. Bake at 400 degrees until it sets. About 8 minutes or a bit less. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While the crust is cooling, go ahead and mix up the filling, starting with processing the dates, which will serve as the sweetening element—in liue of sugar or maple syrup. Once the paste/syrup forms, scrape into the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add the spices, eggs, pumpkin and the creamer you mixed up earlier. Using a mixer blend the filling until the ingredients are well-combined. Pour over the crust and using a spatula, smooth until level in the pan.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until a knife inserted comes out clean. About 30-35 minutes. Adjust time accordingly.

Once the bars have cooled you can top with ‘whipped cream’ before serving. Simply skim the coconut cream from the top of the cans of coconut milk (this is easier if you’ve refrigerated the cans for several hours beforehand). Using a mixer, beat until peaks form, just as you would with standard dairy whipping cream.

Date and prune syrup

Chemical-free, gluten-free, sugar-free sweeteners are hard to come by outside of honey and maple syrup. I mean, what’s sweeter than sugar, Sugar? And as much as I’m a sugar fiend myself, I’m trying to lay off because that stuff doesn’t do me any favors in the long run—mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Now, honey and maple syrup (all natural) are great substitutes for sugar. Honey is especially beneficially due to all of it’s ‘magic.’ However, if you’re trying to avoid those kinds of sweeteners as well, a totally fruit-based sweetener is a great alternative. Enter dates and prunes—the sugar sources of the fruit world. You can make a thick, sticky, sweet syrup from a combination of these two. It works as a fantastic sugar substitute in paleo baking (flourless pumpkin bars, anyone?) or, like me, in your coffee!
Enjoy.

DATE AND PRUNE SYRUP

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You’ll need dried, organic, dates and prunes for this recipe. Water, a blender, and a storage container—a Ball canning jar works great. The ratio of dried fruit to water is 1 to 2—I’ve used cup measurements, but you can make as large a batch as you want based on that ratio. Also, I’ve found the mixture thickens to a near jelly consistency as it cools, so you can add water until you’re happy with the consistency. Just keep in mind that more water dilutes the sweetness.

Toss 1/2 cup of dried organic dates and 1/2 cup of dried organic prunes in a blender. Cover with 2 cups of boiling water and let sit until the water cools a bit and the fruit softens. Whirl on high until the mixture liquifies completely. There should be no bits of fruit in the mixture. Add more water as if necessary, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go.

When you’re finished, store syrup in a airtight container in the fridge.

Paleo Sushi Rolls

I love how the food we make is never created in a vacuum. Even the recipes I create on my own are influenced by others—the way people I love cook or the way food I love (made by others) tastes. It’s this gorgeous give-and-take of flavor and color and technique. In this particular case, technique takes the stage. The art of rolling sushi was passed along to me by a dear friend, who learned from her sister-in law . . . and so the story goes.

These rolls are a paleo take on the traditional Kappa Maki Roll. I use fresh Ahi Tuna, cucumber, avocado, and cauliflower rice in place of traditional Basmati rice. The blend of flavors and textures compliment one another so well, you’ll be surprised it’s not the real thing.
So, grab a friend and make this one together—create a food tradition that’s worth sharing, because aren’t they all?
Cheers!

PALEO SUSHI ROLLS

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1 head of cauliflower
1 package of seaweed wraps
1 fresh Ahi Tuna steak
1 cucumber
1 firm avocado
3 tablespoons (or more as needed) Olive or Avocado oil
1 tablespoon Sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (+ additional to taste)
Coconut Aminios

Begin by making your cauliflower rice.
Chop a head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, and then in a food processor, pulse into rice-sized bits. I have a 7-cup processor and it takes several batches to get the whole head of cauliflower processed. This is the messy part of the recipe. But take your time—the more even-sized the bits of cauliflower are, the better they will roll!

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In a large wok or deep skillet, heat olive (or avocado) oil on med heat. You’re not going to fry the cauliflower, you’re going to cook it, so make sure your pan isn’t too hot or it will splatter and burn. (Believe me, I learned this the hard way!) Add the cauliflower to the oil, sprinkle in salt, and mix thoroughly with a spatula. Feel free to taste and adjust salt as desired. Continue stirring occasionally until the rice begins to soften a bit and stick together. It will not be as sticky as actual rice, but it will clump a bit when moved around the pan. You don’t want it too soft or mushy (like a paste) so be careful not to overcook.
Once cooked through, remove the pan from heat and set aside.

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Now it’s time to slice and dice!
Using as sharp a knife as you can find (and being very careful of your digits!) thinly slice your Ahi Tuna, avocado, and cucumber* into strips. Aim for no thicker than a #2 pencil and as long, or longer than, your finger.
*When slicing the cucumber, cut length-wise into quarters and slice out the seeds until only the meat remains. You can leave the skin on, or cut if off, whatever you prefer.

Once the main ingredients are all sliced, set them within easy reach. It’s time to start rolling. This is the part that I always found super intimidating, but it’s way easier than it seemed initially, and you don’t HAVE to have all the traditional rolling tools. I use a soft spatula and a cotton dish towel. Easy peasy.

Spread a dishtowel on a clean work surface and lay a single sheet of seaweed wrap on top of it. Using your spatula, scoop a heaping spoonful of cauliflower rice onto the sheet and spread it gently over the whole surface of the wrap (except for about a 1/2 inch at the very top). It will not stick as well as rice so you won’t have to work it quite as much. Think of it like spreading frosting.
Mmmmmm. Frosting.
Again, leave about half an inch of space at the top of the wrap. —When you finish the roll, this will act like an envelop flap, sealing all the ingredients inside.

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At the very bottom of the wrap, lay out the tuna, avocado, and cucumber lengthwise and on top of one another, edge to edge. These will form the center of the roll, so the tighter everything is, the smoother and more compact the roll will be. Snug them up tight. Remember rolling up your younger siblings in a blanket across the living-room floor? Same principal. (Someone please tell me I wasn’t the only one who did this. . .)

Taking the bottom edge of the seaweed wrap, lift it gently and begin rolling, tucking it up and around the ingredients. Roll as tightly as you can without splitting the wrap. This is where the dishtowel comes in handy. Once the roll is started, you can use the dishtowel as a sort of covering to press and smooth the roll, keeping it tight and even without splitting the wrap. This part takes a little practice. The first several rolls I made were pretty ugly, but once you’ve got the technique down, it goes quickly.

When you reach the top of the roll, scrape any excess rice that may have spilled over, off the top of the wrap’s “envelope lip,” and dabbing your finger in water, swipe it along the top of the wrap the same way you would lick the seal on an envelope. Finish the roll over top the lip to seal, and then stand back and look at your work. Even it out, keeping the seal on the bottom-side of the roll, and then whip out your sharpest knife, again being careful of your fingers, and slice away! The two end pieces will be the messiest, and if you choose, go ahead and nosh on them while you work. You need nourishment after all!
Slice the rolls about 1 inch thick and set aside.
Continue the process until you have used up all the rice. You should be able to make seven or eight rolls with one head of cauliflower rice.

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Serve with a small dipping bowl of sesame oil and coconut amino.
Enjoy!