Those poor girls, always part of a joke having to explain why they cross the road. Why can’t we just let the chickens be? We can. I have been eating a lot of eggs for protein lately but have been questioning whether it is appropriate for me or not. The industrialized farming process in this country is inhumane and it is not always easy to access eggs raised on small ethical farms. I want to limit my egg consumption to those eggs I get from farmers we trust at the farmers market and friends that raise chickens. When I was asked to be vegan for a month for the animals, I jumped on it – it would challenge me to create new recipes and devote my focus on reducing my egg consumption. On Whole30, I was making egg salads with my avocado mayo. I was craving a replacement – something simple, filling, versatile and tasty. When I was young, I was obsessed with chicken salad. Such a simple food that gave you protein, fat and some veggies with a crunch. Using almonds as the base, with some celery, carrot, cabbage and an avocado based mayo enhanced with kelp this is my plant based chicken salad. No soy, no dairy. Tasty goodness.
I have been a bit homesick in the last few weeks. Maybe it was thinking about all the fun my cousins and brothers had over the holiday and missing the time spent together in 2015. Maybe it was missing my NYC friends and that community I had. Maybe it was missing the streets of NYC and my old apartment after seeing the building I lived in for 11 years in a scene in Mozart in the Jungle. On top of that, it was cold and I wanted to stay under the covers. Whatever it was, I wanted something comforting. But this whole food challenge does force me to think about how I can achieve comfort without relapsing into my old food habits. So I had to think about how I could make something that was tasty and veggieful with protein that could satisfy my craving and my body at the same time. And so a tasty snack and appetizer was born: Dairy and gluten-free butternut squash, zucchini, sweet potato patties with an avocado, zucchini and cashew aioli.
I’ve been wanting to incorporate more veggies into my breakfast without making yet another hash,omelette or sauteed veg side. I’ve been playing with more squash for breakfast – baking an egg on top and treating it like a baked potato but I really scored a hit with a bowl of spaghetti squash. I make it during the week and for brunch – egg whites with sauteed veg, spices and mixed with avocado and spaghetti squash. I especially like it topped with hot sauce…sriracha to be precise.
I started this blog earlier this year as embarked on a “smart start” whole30-like program. I was needing a change in my life – needing to challenge myself to think differently. And it worked. I quit my job, found a job that is more compatible with my current life, changed my eating habits, rediscovered my passion in the kitchen and have been inventing recipes left and right. I have been backlogged on writing posts on my most recent creations – and I will post those soon – but I knew it was time to challenge myself again, foodwise and to get out of this rut I am stuck in. So when a friend proposed the Whole30, I was all over it. Day one is tomorrow and I had meals planned based on a vegetarian Whole30 for the rest of the week. But of course, all that planning forgot to take into account my schedule…first preschool field trip for my little one, and I am chaperoning. Tomorrow. Early morning. On day one of the food challenge. Soup was the worst possible thing I could make for a lunch on a school bus. So it was time to create. Sandwich was the first thing that came to my mind…without bread made only with whole foods. So I made a mayo-less egg salad using avocado, spices and veg wrapped in lettuce topped with avocado, fennel and sunflower seeds.
We went to a bittersweet going away party – saying goodbye to our friend who held his party and introduced us to an amazing record shop run by welcoming, smart and fun people. We had a great time. Our two year old daughter was a little annoyed that there could be a “party” that did not involve singing happy birthday, cake and a bouncy castle. When I asked her if she had fun, she said “yeah, but no cake. no cake. no cake?!” I don’t think I realized how many parties she must have celebrated in daycare/preschool – and the preschool’s idea of healthy cake involves a pound of sugar. So I decided to show her that she could have cake that was healthy and tasty…with frosting. Flourless, no refined sugars and made with whole food ingredients.
Living in southern California, all anyone ever wants to eat is a fish taco…and when it is beer battered and fried, there is no doubt that it is the item to order. I recently had a great fried avocado taco in East Nashville (I did not expect to find excellent tex-mex in Nashville) at The Local Taco and decided I had to recreate it at home and to take it to the next level with a beer batter. But of course, I have to do it my way – vegan, gluten-free, dairy free with no refined sugars, adding in as much protein as possible and filling it with whole food goodness.
Ok. So this week is not turning out as I hoped. I am thankful I for what I have but right now, I feel overworked, scattered, sleep deprived, and frustrated. So why do I continue to write this blog? Because in the past when I have felt like this, I have sunk into depressions. But this time seems to be different. I feel a little better. Clear headed. Determined. Properly pissed off. And I think all of that has had to do with my diet.