Not the Mount food.

As I’m typing this, there’s about 8 bazillion things running through my head: “What’s the weather like in LA?”, “I wonder if my best friend is having fun in Hawaii?”, “A 20-hour roadtrip doesn’t sound all that bad”, etc, etc. Obviously you can tell that my brain is running in road trip mode, because my husband and I decided today to drive to LA tomorrow. It’s a bit stressful, considering today involves laundry, dishes, and packing. But I’m SO excited.
Speaking of LA…I went to a small college there a (few) years ago. I did the math earlier and realized how old I am. Until I met my husband, I didn’t think most foods outside of Iowan comfort food tasted good, because the only other place I ate was at the college cafeteria (who mostly attempted to not give us food poisoning). My husband introduced me to ramen, curry, spices, Indian, Meditteranean food, etc. All these amazing flavors I never knew existed have all become my favorite way to cook and eat.
But something as simple as salisbury steak was obliterated by the college cooks. Until a few weeks ago, I had not eaten salisbury steak since then because it grossed me out so much, but my mother-in-law cooked it and I was in love. This salisbury steak is much more my mother-in-law’s approach to cooking, with my own Whole 30 twist.
Salisbury Steak
salisbury1This recipe is another of my budget-friendly Whole 30 meals. It’s mushrooms, hamburger, chicken stock, and a side dish (I made roasted brussel sprouts). I started my mushrooms with ghee, salt, and pepper. I prefer brown cremini mushrooms because they have an earthier flavor than white mushrooms and are packed with Vitamin D.
salisbury2I love cooking in our little kitchen. I’m going to miss it when we move back to LA.
salisbury7I love cooking earthy mushrooms. You want them to be dark brown and about half their size when they are fully cooked. Because this is going to be used as the gravy, you could continue to cook them further to give them a more creamy texture, but I like them to still have a bite when they are in a gravy.
salisbury11 copyOnce the mushrooms are cooked, pour a can of low sodium chicken broth over the mushrooms and allow it to reduce on medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
salisbury3I used frozen hamburger patties for the “steak” portion of my salisbury steak. Traditionally, salisbury steak is a free-formed hamburger patty, so I just used these as a shortcut. This brand from Costco has TONS of flavor.
salisbury4I sauteed the hamburger patties in ghee, which is clarified butter. It can be find on the Asian foods aisle in the Indian section. It’s perfect for sauteeing meat, but use olive oil or coconut oil in combination with the ghee if you are searing meat, because the smoke point will be higher and provide the amount of heat you need to brown meat.
salisbury5I browned the patties on high heat for 3 minutes per side. It’s not essential for the patties to be completely cooked through because they will continue cooking in the gravy.
salisbury6For the side, I quartered brussel sprouts and drizzed them with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
salisbury9After 15 minutes roasting in the oven, they become charred and crispy, but still retain their crunch. If you want them to be cooked longer, leave them in for as long as 25 minutes, to ensure they don’t overcook. salisbury10This is the essence of comfort food. It would be delicious with mashed potatoes or a baked potato as well. Win.

Ingredients
3 defrosted hamburger patties
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 can chicken broth
Ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 pound brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
Olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Chop mushrooms into thin slices and put in a pan with ghee, on medium heat
3. Saute mushrooms for 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper
4. Cook hamburger patties in ghee in a medium pan on high heat for 6 minutes, flip after 3 minutes
5.  Pour chicken stock over mushrooms and reduce for another 15 minutes, on medium heat
6. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, put quartered brussel sprouts onto sheet and drizzle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil, and red wine vinegar
7. Roast brussel sprouts for 15 minutes
8. Once the mushroom gravy has reduced by half, put hamburger patties in pan with the gravy and heat patties through, for another five minutes
9. Plate hamburger patties with mushroom gravy on top, and brussel sprouts on the side. Serve with a side of fruit if that sounds tasty as well. Enjoy!

Day 1

For the past few months, my husband and I have been completely immersed in Keto Culture. We have been staying away from sugar (most of the time), working out regularly, and seeing positive results. But then I decided the other day to read the Whole 30 book, and realized that even our attempts at eating keto weren’t really addressing the true problem: we were still eating processed foods. On paper, the foods are keto-friendly, but who would have thought that a rotisserie chicken from Costco contained polysaccharides like Carageenan? So yesterday was our first day of Whole 30, and I read the book cover-to-cover again so that I could completely understand what I was getting myself into.
whole30-1The Whole 30 is a month-long program touted as food freedom, or ridding your body of the excess artificial filth that is in everything we eat. We were eating keto-friendly ingredients, like fresh cheese, pickles, bacon, fresh deli sliced meats, and vegetables. When I actually read through the ingredients, I was shocked. WHY does bacon contain dextrose? Why? It’s smoked, it doesn’t need to be sweet. But it is laden with nitrates and sugar and sulfates. It’s disgusting. So as much as I have been trying to revolutionize my own food life, I have been continuing to destroy it. So on day 1, I made a cup of coffee with unsweetened coconut milk and read the book. Here’s what my first day looked like:
Breakfast 
whole30-2The main premise behind Whole 30 is removing dairy, carbohydrates, grains, sugar, soy, and anything artificial from your diet, and replacing it with WHOLE foods, like organic fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh eggs and meat, nuts, and whole fat from coconut milk, coconut oil, and ghee (clarified butter). It’s a simplified version of Keto, without the dairy that creates an allergy for most people anyways. We have replaced the unnatural carbohydrates found in grains and corn and replaced it with only natural sugar from fruit. I ate organic raspberries and a peach, instead of my usual bacon or sausage that we would eat for breakfast on keto. I’m not saying that the keto diet is a bad diet, but I am going to be more proactive about reading labels in the future for what I am putting in my body. Plus, on Whole 30, you can eat POTATOES. Win.
Snack: toasted coconut cashews12096209_918855651485179_2550101354571295478_nNuts can be a bit tricky on Whole 30, because most nuts you find in the store are roasted in peanut oil. Buy organic raw nuts and roast them yourself to avoid this issue.
whole30-4I combined raw cashews, unprocessed shredded coconut, and coconut oil in a large bowl. Coconut oil is a very healthy fat that aids in weight loss by increasing metabolism.
whole30-5Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until the coconut is toasted. It will also make your house smell amazing.
whole30-7It’s the perfect snack, especially since on day 1 I wasn’t very hungry for lunch anyways. It will give you the energy to get through the rest of the day without any refined sugar to weigh you down.
whole30-9I combined the cashews with this dried fruit blend that is made without added sugar. It has dried cranberries, cherries, and bluberries, with raw sunflower seeds mixed in.
whole30-10I just kept a bowl of it on the counter to snack on whenever I felt hungry. It helped get rid of that unnecessary need to snack on everything throughout the day.

Ingredients
2 cups raw cashews
2 cups raw unsweetened coconut (flake or shredded)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Directions
1. Melt coconut oil in microwave and preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine cashews, coconut, and oil in a large bowl
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until coconut is toasted – toss every five minutes to avoid cashews from burning

Dinner: Roasted chicken with caramelized onions and red potatoes
whole30-11
This dish couldn’t be easier to prepare and it was incredibly delicious. All the ingredients are extremely budget friendly as well.
whole30-14Caramelized onions provide the sweet, acidic note that cuts through the rich potatoes on this dish. I used ghee (clarified butter) to caramelize the onions, and waited until halfway through to add salt so that the onions did not lose their caramelization. It takes about 30 minutes for onions to caramelize, but it is worth the wait. Halfway through, the onions will be translucent and slightly browned on the edges. Add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the onions and continue to let them sit and caramelize.
whole30-12After about 30 minutes, the sugars in the onions will have completely caramelized and almost turned into jam. Let them sit and the onion mixture will thicken and create a velvety texture to go on top of the roasted chicken.
whole30-13I cooked extra chicken for my husband to take to work with him, because it seems nearly impossible to find a precooked chicken (even fresh deli sliced meat) that does not contain some sort of artficial crap in them. I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and roasted it for 15 minutes in the oven with the red potatoes.
whole30-8Thank goodness Whole 30 allows potatoes, because nothing compares to a delicious roasted potato. Dicing them into small pieces will allow them to cook faster in the oven and become crispy. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chipotle powder, but you could season them with any seasoning blend that does not contain sugar. All in all, one of the easiest dishes I have made and also one of the most delicious. Day 1 was a good start!

Ingredients
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 red potatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
Ghee (clarified butter) – to taste
Coconut oil
Apple cider vinegar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Dice potatoes into small pieces, and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chipotle powder
3. Put on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes
4. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
5. Brown chicken in a pan with ghee (to taste) and put into oven with potatoes
6. Dice onion into small pieces and brown with coconut oil for 30 minutes, on medium heat
7. After 15 minutes, add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to onions and season with salt
8. Allow potatoes and chicken to cool while onions continue cooking
9. Plate potatoes on bottom of plate, chicken on top of the potatoes, and caramelized onions on top of the chicken. Enjoy!