In the tradition of the new year I am trying to start the year off right and I'm detoxing! I overdid it during the holidays, and lets be honest for a few months before that. I gained weight, I was feeling sluggish and bloated and over it. I started the Whole30 program on the 4th because I had some traveling conflicts that made a real start impossible until that date and I really wanted to succeed. I didn't want to undertake a 0 day program and quit on day 2 because I was not amply prepared. So this year I planned. I chose to do the Whole30 program at the suggestion of a friend. I had never really looked into it deeply because I'm like no dairy and no carbs? Forget it... but I changed my mind and decided to give it a shot when I learned about all the benefits of trying it out.
So I have been on the program for 25 days now and I have been feeling pretty great. I am not feeling hungry. I am craving cheese and occasionally a carb or two but not as much as I thought I would. Day 1 and 2 were really the worst of it. I have been continuing to prepare myself for success. I am bringing Whole30 compliant snacks with me when I leave the house, I am making sure I eat meals at appropriate times and I am grocery shopping with purpose, bringing full lists of ingredients for meals I have selected in advance. I have 2 different Pinterest boards going, one of Whole30 recipes and one of Whole30 slow cooker recipes. I am finding that by making some large meals that are easy to reheat for lunches I am making this program less difficult for myself. I think the downside, but likely what also makes it so life changing for people is the lack of easy meals. There is nothing that comes in a box on this diet, everything takes effort and thought. It makes you far more conscious of what you are putting in your mouth, but it also means you really do need to plan ahead. I also wouldn't really dare to try and eat at a restaurant while on the plan...
I thought I would share 1 recipe with you that is delicious whether you are on Whole30 or if you just like good food! Slow Cooker Gumbo with Sausage, Chicken and Shrimp. Delicious, hearty and surprisingly easy. I made it on day 7 and I am making it again today! Sp far this is my only Whole30 recipe repeat.
I used this recipe which I found on Pinterest as a guide and then tweaked it for my own tastes:
1lb sausage (preferably andouille)*
2 cups chicken stock*
1 box diced tomatoes (28oz)*
1 bell pepper
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper (jalapeno, serrano etc, totally optional if you are not into spicy food)
3 tbs cajun spice*
2 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs thyme
1 tbs oregano
1 bay leaf
* if you are doing Whole30 or Paleo make sure you read your labels. All of these items can have hidden ingredients including sugar, nitrates etc. but they all exist without so find the brands that work at your local marke
** You can use raw or cooked, white meat or dark or a mix... up to you, I got the best results when I used chicken that I had cooked in advance (I also used the stock I made with the same chicken in my recipe), I shredded it and the texture really added to the dish
Alot of crock pot recipes say you can just dump everything in and hits start and come home later to a perfect meal... I am of the opinion that if you do that everything ends up kind of tasting like raw onion... So I have added the step of sauteeing my onions whenever there is a recipe that suggests you just dump it all in. In this case I sauteed several ingredients to seal in some salt and add some flavor.
Another step I took which you can choose to take if it makes sense for you (if not store bought stock will work it just wont have as deep a flavor as homemade) is to make my own stock from a whole chicken (and use a portion of this chicken in the gumbo as well). I basically just take a stock pot put a whole raw chicken in, cover with water (about 2 inches above chicken), add salt (tbs or so), bring to a boil then simmer for about 1 hour. Then remove the chicken from the pot (using tongs, leaving liquid in the pot, be careful the bones will have weakened in cooking and may break apart as you lift the bird out), let the chicken cool until you can stand to touch it and take it off the bones. Add the bones back to the liquid still in the pot, add 1 carrot, 1/2 onion, 1 stalk celery 3 garlic cloves all roughly chopped and a bayleaf. I then bring it back to a boil and cook that liquid for about 2 hours on a high simmer until it has reduced significantly. Next strain it, let it cool a bit and put it into a storage container and use it for recipes all throughout the week or freeze part for later. It gets gelatinous when it's cold because of all the goodies leeched from the bones during cooking so this is totally normal and desired!
Here we go for GUMBO!
Dice all the veggies into similarly size chunks and mince the garlic up nice and small. In a large pan heat 1 tbs of olive oil, once hot add peppers and onions, sauté until onions are browned and pepper have softened, add garlic for the last minute or so of this step. You can tell by the sweet smell of the ingredients when they are done. Dump this directly into your crockpot. Next I sautéed the celery and okra together, which is likely unnecessary, but I had already dirtied the pan so I thought why not! I added the thyme and oregano for the last minute of this step. Then add this to the crockpot as well. Chop up your sausage and shred your chicken (if precooked, if raw cut it up) and shell an de-vein your shrimp. Set the shrimp aside, back in the fridge, you will not add it until later. Dump the sausage and chicken into the crock pot along with 1 28oz box (my preference is Pomi brand) or can of diced tomato, 2 cups of chicken stock, 2 tbs of cajun spices, 1 tbs salt, pepper to your taste preference. Set your crockpot on low attach the cover. Check in to stir it occasionally, but mainly just leave it alone for 6 hours. Open it up, add the raw shrimp, put the lid back on and set it on low for another hour. This time when the timer chimes it's dinner!