Whole30-Approved Thai Coconut Green Curry

Who else has completed Whole 30? I had been toying with the idea for several months before I finally decided to take the plunge. I can’t decide if I picked the best time or the worst time of the year to do the challenge, and a challenge it has been. There are tons of holiday parties filled with treats and alcohol, and I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad that I’m missing out on the festivities. Our society as a whole, myself included, has such an extreme addiction to sugar. I definitely try to make healthier desserts and will try to lighten up a classic dessert, if I can. But it seems like for the past few months, I would eat at least one or two desserts every day. We had leftover Halloween candy at the house, and although I baked a lot of it in the brownies and took them to work, it still felt like there were piles and piles of it left. Every time I would walk by the bag in the kitchen, I would eat a fun sized candy. It just seemed to add up every day, a cookie at work, a piece of cake here, a sugary Starbucks drink here, etc. On stressful days, I would even come home and make a big bowl of edible cookie dough and eat the entire thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love desserts and think that sweets are great in moderation, but I was definitely not eating them in moderation. I definitely needed a lifestyle change. I have tried out paleo here and there, making alternative desserts – but I always find myself making the same thing except with oats or oat flower, honey, or maple syrup, substituting ingredients but not the habits themselves. That’s why I settled on the Whole30 Challenge. You can do almost any diet for a limited time, right? It’s only 30 days, how hard can it be?

So here I am, on day 13 out of 30. I started the day after Thanksgiving and will finish the day before Christmas Eve. Withdrawing from sugar the weekend after Thanksgiving was definitely not fun, but my body seems to have adapted to going without by now. The one thing I will say is that people told me the sugar cravings would stop around the end of week two. Well here I am and let me tell you, I would kill for a doughnut. I’m trying to break that evening dessert habit but it’s been really hard.

So what does Whole30 entail? You can eat healthy meat, vegetables, seafood, fruit, and eggs. What should you avoid? The big things to avoid are alcohol, carbohydrates (corn, wheat, oats, flour, etc), any form of sugar (natural or processed), and dairy products. I have to say I don’t really miss the dairy itself. I usually like Greek yogurt or a glass of milk with something chocolatey, but I can do without. I like strong coffee anyways so I now actually prefer a splash of almond milk to a thicker creamer. There are a few foods which I think are fairly arbitrary – one of them being potatoes. I definitely do not think of white potatoes as a vegetable and everything I’ve learned about them has told me that they have about as much nutrition as any other starch. I say this, but eating only meat and vegetables leaves me full for an hour and then starving afterwards, so I’ve definitely embraced the potato, but prefer a sweet potato to your run of the mill white potato. The other thing that seems pretty arbitrary to me is that you cannot eat beans. They are natural, grown from the earth, filled with fiber, and if you get them raw, they shouldn’t be processed. Why are they excluded??? Confession: we ordered a Hellofresh Pork Chili. (On a related note, I can actually usually eat 2-3 of the Hellofresh options each week, with a modification or two.) The chili had beans in it and I still ate it. I guess it is cheating on the diet, but it was more out of convenience. My main addiction is sugar and desserts, and I would definitely feel like I had cheated if I had eaten something resembling dessert. The beans issue seems arbitrary, and in my opinion, they should be part of a healthy diet. I also have meat at restaurants, so I have no idea if there was sugar in a spice rub or soy sauce in a marinade, etc. I have to say that I am too busy to prepare every single meal from scratch. I just do the best I can while still being a normal busy human being with a full time job.

I would still say that my diet is 99% Whole30 compliant. If you are on the fence or thinking about Whole30-ing, I would definitely say go for it! YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO!! I think I ate eggs with every meal my first week on the diet, and kind of burnt myself out. This breakfast porridge basically saved my life/sanity. Also this coconut curry is super delicious and filling. It was my first venture with cauliflower rice and I was really happy with it!

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Whole30-Approved Thai Coconut Green Curry

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 pounds raw chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper – chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper – chopped
  • 2 cups coconut milk (can use canned, I used Sodelicious)
  • 2 zucchinis – chopped
  • 3 cups cut broccoli
  • 4 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2-3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cauliflower rice (I used a frozen bag from Kroger)
  • cilantro

Instructions

  • In a large pot, melt coconut oil. Add garlic and onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring every few minutes for 3-4 minutes until starting to brown.
  • Add bell peppers, broccoli, and zucchini. Cook, stirring every few minutes for 3-4 minutes. Add green curry paste and stir around for 1-2 minutes until distributed.
  • Add coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Add red pepper flakes to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Serve over cauliflower rice, topped with cilantro, if desired!

Boo-ternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup (Vegan)

Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite fall comfort meals. I make it several times once the weather starts getting cold outside every year. The only problem is that my husband is not a big fan of butternut squash. He doesn’t like the hint of sweet of butternut squash or sweet potatoes. I have tried multiple different recipes, including adding a little more heat to the recipe to cut the sweetness, but he still isn’t a fan. I finally realized that I just had to create a recipe I thought he might like. He happens to love Thai food, including coconut curry. This vegan butternut squash soup has a hint of curry flavoring without being too overpowering, and it goes perfectly with the butternut squash. I also happen to love a good grilled cheese sandwich and roasted red pepper soup in the fall, so I threw in some roasted red pepper to also cut the butternut squash sweetness. The result is phenomenal.

Vegan butternut squash and roasted red pepper soup

Vegan Boo-ternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, halved longways
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 shallot (or 1/2 yellow onion), chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk* (or half and half, see below)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with foil and grease.
  • Scoop out the seeds of the butternut squash. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place face down on the greased cookie sheet and bake for ~45 minutes total until tender (take out after 30 minutes and add red pepper as described below).
  • Cut a red bell pepper into 1-2 inch pieces. Drizzle with small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add to butternut squash pan once the butternut squash has cooked for ~30 minutes, so that you roast the red bell pepper for around 15 minutes.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add shallot and garlic and cook until translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add roasted bell pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and curry powder. Stir for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Scoop butternut squash out of the butternut squash skin and add to the pot, bringing to a boil again. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until liquid has somewhat reduced.
  • Add salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend until there are no lumps. Transfer back to the pan and add the coconut milk.
  • Bring to a boil and cook on medium-low until soup is reduced to preferred consistency, 5-10 minutes.
  • *Edit: I suggested adding a cup of coconut milk, but I love coconut and prefer a creamier soup, so I added the whole can. You may just have to cook it for 5-10 minutes longer after adding the extra coconut milk to reduce the soup so it is thicker. If you don’t like coconut and aren’t vegan, you could substitute half and half instead.vegan boo-ternut squash soup butternut squash bisque.jpg