Whole 30+5

This past weekend, I have officially completed my 35th lap around the sun! About a month ago, I made the decision to explore Whole30 before my 35th birthday.

At this point Whole30 is not a new subject. There are about a bajillion blogs, articles and opinions covering what I had previously considered to be the “NO this, NO that” program. I’ve done my fair share of eye-rolling when my sister did it last year, when my friends have done it in the past, and I’ve even cheered along, cynically, when said friends bailed half-way through.

I’ve never been one for dieting. One of my life mantras has been “everything in moderation”…especially when it comes to food. Growing up in a culture of body-shaming, fashionable eating disorders and the like, I’ve tried to maintain a healthy mindset when it comes to my body and the food I consume. Food is meant to be life-giving, to provide sustenance and to help maintain our health. My love affair with cooking truly began when I started to really understand food, it’s purpose and how to prepare it. I found SO much joy in cooking, in plating and definitely in eating food when it’s beautiful and delicious. So, when it comes to diets, or anything marketed as the ONLY or the BEST or the ANSWER to all your problems, I quickly run the other way.

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Now, over the past few years, I have read more and more about integrative health, and specifically had my interest piqued by the study of how different foods can effect your body and your health. These studies are individualized and tailored to YOUR body and YOUR health. Long story short, my mom got a somewhat worrisome health report, and her doctor prescribed an elimination diet to isolate and pinpoint the issue. She suggested Whole30. Mom calls me, her resident recipe-finder, and I jumped right in to helping her. I knew the best way for me to help her would be for me to be an accountability partner and do the program alongside her. Sure, I rolled my eyes at first too, but the more I read, the more I understood. My mom needed to do this and I, too, could benefit from this 30-day nutrition reset. The goal being to restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract and balance the immune system.

Being a (borderline psychotic) planner, I read and researched everything about Whole30 in a matter of days. The resources provided for FREE on the Whole30 website are pretty incredible. There’s no gimmick, there’s no “pay a fee to access the content,” there’s no secret riddle to figuring it all out. They spell it out, clear as day:

For 30 days, eat WHOLE foods. Meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, natural fats, herbs, etc. Do NOT eat/consume dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, alcohol, additives/MSG, etc.

I’ve given up one thing or another for a time (for Lent, etc.), but I’ve never had to give up multiple things at the same time. I knew this would be difficult. Not impossible, but definitely difficult, and mostly annoying.

So I made a plan, searched for ALL. THE. THINGS. Whole30…breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack recipes, and then planned for the month. I cleared out my cabinets of the guilty pleasures such as my midnight cereal, chips & salsa, etc…and had to preload a few Whole30-compliant staples such as avocado oil, avocado mayo, salad dressing, etc. I think all-in-all, I spent around $25 on Whole30-specific items to last me through the month.

I found it to be almost impossible to dine out without being the annoying customer asking too many questions and a laundry list of substitutions, but now that I’m done with it, I can say it was all worth it.

It felt great to recalibrate my body, and now I can slowly start to add things back in and really see how different foods make me feel. In celebration of my completion of Whole30 and my birthday week, my husband and I ate our weight in sushi at Rusan’s lunch buffet. Ha! Probably not the BEST idea food-wise, but DANG was it delicious, I enjoyed every bite and THAT’s what it’s all about.

So I’m technically officially “done” with Whole30, but here are four thoughts and habits that will remain:

  • Little to No Sugar: Kisses, yes, always:) Straight up sugar, no. One of the most eye-opening parts of this process was the realization of how much sugar is in EVERYTHING. It’s crazy. Even things that don’t really need sugar, it’s there. Talk about a hidden epidemic…we are all addicted to sugar and have no idea. So, from here on out, I’m LOOKING for that sneaky sweetness and deciding for myself when and how I will consume it.
  • Little “Fails”, Don’t Bail: Just because I might choose to have a beer here or a cupcake there, does NOT mean I have to bail on my newly discovered food goals. I want to still enjoy everything, in moderation, so that means I don’t have to feel bad over little “fails” (read: too many nachos) because they aren’t really fails. It just means that I can choose to make different food choices afterwards and continue on the journey.
  • Intentionality for All: I’ve decided to be more intentional about the things I consume. This habit of intentionality has been seeping it’s way into various parts of my life and here, now, with food and drinks. I want to avoid mindlessly eating (or drinking) just because…I appreciate and enjoy beautiful things, so why not choose quality over quantity? If I want bread, I’m not going to buy the mass-produced kind…I’m hitting up my neighbor for that incredibly delicious, homemade Verdant Bread loaf and I will feel MUCH better, inside and out, for it.
  • Plans are Worthless, but Planning is Everything (Thanks, Eisenhower): Making plans is all about establishing a goal, which is great! But better than the ability to plan is the ability to adapt and be flexible. Sure, I planned the ENTIRE month of Whole30 with recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But did I stick to that plan 100%? No way. Do I feel bad about it or bail completely when something didn’t go according to my “plan”? Absolutely not. For me now, this is SUPER important. Now that I’ve detoxed and reset my body over the past 30 days, where do I go from here? I make plans, but also know that those plans coupled with my ability to adapt and be flexible are going to be the keys to an actual lifestyle change vs. just a fad.

If you’re looking to do something similar or you’ve contemplated Whole30, feel free to leave a comment or message me. I’d love to help you through your journey. In fact, if you need a little more helping on the planning front, I’m available to come help you meal plan, grocery shop and get started on your journey. Seriously, let me know, I’d LOVE to help, <3


Side Note: Tickets are still available for my next Sobremesa dinner — this will sellout and there are only a few limited seats, so don’t wait to buy yours! Click here for details & tickets.


Now for a recipe! I just have to share one of my favorites from the past 30 days. This Barramundi dish was SO light, SO savory and SO refreshing. Enjoy <3

Whole30 Roasted Barramundi w/Lemon Olive Relish

Adapted from an older Bon Appetit recipe, the quick-picked red onions paired with the savory green olives and acid from the lemons all pairs beautifully with my choice of a sustainable white fish, Barramundi. You might even find yourself licking the plate...I sure did:)
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: barramundi, fish, Whole30
Servings: 4
Author: jess masanotti

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Lemon (or 2 medium)
  • 1 Cup Manzanilla Olives Sliced
  • 1 Shallot Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Capers Drained
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Barramundi Filets
  • 1 Tsp Tarragon
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  • Quick Pickle Shallots: Add a pinch of salt and the thinly sliced shallot rings to a bowl, massage and let sit for at least 10minutes.
  • Zest lemon. Cut the ends off the lemon and peel the remaining white parts, using a sharp pairing knife. Cut lemon slices (away from the membranes) into nice, clean pith-free supremes. (Keep the lemon skins and pieces to squeeze on the fish before roasting.)
  • Combine shallots, lemon supremes, sliced Manzanilla olives, capers, lemon zest and 3/4 cup of EVOO into the bowl. Cover and chill in refrigerator.
  • Using a paper towel, dry the Barramundi filets. 
    In a shallow glass baking dish, coat the filets with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, add a dash of salt & pepper and tarragon to each side. 
    Squeeze the remaining lemon pieces on the fish and place in the oven to roast for 30 minutes. 
    *Note: At the 20min mark, remove the relish from the refrigerator to bring up to room temp.
  • Once fish is cooked through, remove and add to serving platter and top with the relish. 

Sobremesa: Fall Dinner

Friends, it’s that time again!

Sobremesa (n) — the time after a meal when the food is gone, but the conversation around the table continues

We had such a lovely dinner gathering earlier this summer, and we are excited to announce our next global dinner for the fall:

Join Us for a Night Under the Stars

Thursday, October 25, 2018

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Joined by my lovely friend and co-host, Sarah, we invite you to a wonderful fall dinner to celebrate the season, cook together & enjoy incredible food and relish in wonderful conversation around the table with friends, new and old.

Sobremesa is a global dinner series launched earlier this year by the amazingly creative minds behind Sunday Suppers in New York. Hosts from around the world are chosen to entertain guests with seasonal dinners in an effort to gather around the table and share the simplicity and love of food.

About the Meal 

from Sunday Suppers

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This meal is inspired by the earth and the processes of fermentation and natural aging.

Fall is one of our favorite seasons and connects us back to the earth. As the season shifts, the color palette mutes and darkens to deep, warm hues. We turn inward, move at a slower pace and look for comfort. Spending more times indoors, we gather around the table with the ones we love. We prepare foods you want to share.

Pungent Cheese, Meat + Fruit
Bread & Black Garlic Butter
Pear, Endive, Fennel, Coriander, Smoked Ricotta
Mercato
Short Rib w/Chili Oil, Garlic Chips
Braised Olives, Pickled Carrots
Saffron Risotto
Plum Torte + Espresso

I am THRILLED about this menu, and I’m even more excited about the venue. This time, we are hosting the dinner at one of the few remaining historic mid-century modern homes in Charlotte. Formally the Blumenthal home built by New York architect Saul Edelbaum in the 1950’s, Sarah and her husband, Charlotte architect Ken Pursley, have lovingly restored and revitalized this home, while keeping the historic beauty in tact.

We cannot wait to gather together, to cook together and to share an incredible meal & amazing conversation. Tickets will go VERY fast, so grab yours today.

Tickets* can be purchased here.

*A portion of the proceeds goes to The Global Hunger Project, a global program based on an innovative, holistic approach, which empowers women and men living in rural villages to become the agents of their own development and make sustainable progress in overcoming hunger and poverty. 

 


Picture me rollin’… {a recipe}

If you know me well, you know I am a lover of 80’s & 90’s hip hop.

Talib Kweli, Nas, Wu Tang, Tupac, Biggie, Missy, Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, JayZ and more. Any given day, the “Gold School” Spotify playlist is a weekly favorite.

My love for hip hop originated with my very own dad…no kidding. My parents had me at the ripe age of 19yrs. old, so my formative years were spent growing up “with” my parents in their 20s. My dad has always been a lover of a good beat & the man has GOT some rhythm. Actually, if you know any of the Boulware’s from Ridgeway/Winnsboro, SC, you know we’ve got some smooth moves on the dance floor. My dad personally requested that our “father/daughter” wedding dance be to Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” in lieu of some of your more traditional song choices. Yep, that happened.

We officially celebrated my dad’s 55th birthday this past Friday with a family dinner. Lasagna is one of his favorite meals so it HAD to be on the menu for the evening. I’ve made traditional lasagna before, but this time, I really wanted to try something different. Also, one of my biggest frustrations with traditional lasagna is that no matter how long I allow it “set,” it always becomes a gooey mess {albeit delicious, but messy} on the plate. I decided to test these rolls to see if this method would help contain the “goodness” a little better than flat sheets. And it did!

I’ve always heard that music is to cooking like coffee is to the morning. It fills the kitchen with a necessary energy and a creative spirit unlike any other. I believe these lasagna rolls turned out as good as they did due in large part to the assistance of my trusted hip hop playlist. When you try this recipe below, be sure to turn up some tunes (preferably ones that get you moving…it helps with the rolling<3)

Scroll down for recipe

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Picture Me Rollin’ {Lasagna}

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 pkg.         Lasagna Noodles (w/curly edges)
24 oz.         Marinara Sauce (Your choice – I used Trader Joe’s Italian Marinara
Sauce with Barolo Wine)
20 oz.          Part Skim Ricotta Cheese (I used the Trader Joe’s version, so I had to buy 2-16oz)
1 pkg.         Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 C.             Baby Kale (or spinach ), messy chopped
1                  Egg
1 lb.            Lean Ground Turkey
1 medium  Yellow Onion, diced
Fresh Basil, chopped
EVOO
Pinches of  Salt, pepper, garlic powder & Italian herbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles, according to package but pull them on the early side when they are just barely al dente. Once drained, lay them out flat on a baking sheet/cutting board/flat surface, allowing them to cool & dry off.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, 1 heaping cup (large handful) of parmesan cheese, chopped baby kale and egg. Mix together and add a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder and any Italian herbs. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to spread on the noodles.
  4. In a large skillet, coat pan with EVOO, cook diced onion 2-3minutes then add in ground turkey, sautéing 4-5minutes until browned, add in 1 cup of marinara sauce. Pinch of salt, pepper & Italian herbs. Remove from heat, allow to cool.
  5. In an 8×8 glass or metal pan, pour 1 & 1/2-2 cups of marinara in an even layer.
  6. To assemble the rolls, spoon out & spread cheese mixture on noodles (enough to cover) and then top with meat sauce, evenly. Starting at one end, slowly but tightly roll the noodle like a pinwheel, pulling in any toppings that try to fall out the sides. Place the roll curly side up with the seam against the pan. Continue with the remaining noodles, placing the rolls close {snuggly} together so the seams are pressing against the other rolls.
  7. Once all the lasagna rolls are in the pan, lightly brush the remaining marinara on the sides. Top with shredded parmesan and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, allow dish to cool slightly. Top with chopped fresh basil and serve.

I served these with a SUPER simple Caesar salad {romaine, parmesan, croutons, thinly sliced shallots} and it was great, but you can serve with any salad of your choice.

Enjoy! <3