Since the Whole Life Challenge rules specify no sugar (including honey and artificial sweeteners) and no grains, you’d think that brownie sundaes would be out of bounds. But where there is a will there is a way.
I started out by making brownies based on this recipe.
It has honey in it so I substituted unsweetened applesauce. I also didn’t add the apricots since I didn’t have any. The brownies turned out kind of bitter since there wasn’t enough sugar to balance the cocoa powder. I wasn’t willing to give up on them though since they have coconut cream in them which is about the same price as gold.
I’ve made banana soft serve before but never really loved that either. Then I had an epiphany. Dates!
I took 2 frozen bananas and 2 dates and mixed them in the food processor with some peanut butter. That made something with almost a dough-like consistency so I thinned it with just a touch of almond milk and vanilla until it was soft serve consistency. The dates gave it just enough sweetness to balance the bitterness of the brownies when you ate them together. Win!
But actually it is pretty good. I’ve found out through my research for trying to do a paleo-vegetarian diet for the Whole Life Challenge that cauliflower is the key. It can be made into rice. Now it can be made into pizza.
Take 1 head of cauliflower and dice it in a food processor into rice-sized pieces.
Steam it briefly so it is softened but not mushy.
Take one cup of the cauliflower and mix it with an egg. Some people use cheese now too but that isn’t allowed for me right now
Then season the heck out of it so it doesn’t taste like cauliflower. I used garlic, onion powder, and basil.
Spread in a pizza shape on parchment paper on a cookie sheet
Bake – here’s where it gets tricky. I used 350 degrees for 40 minutes. The center was still a bit wet. I’ve seen other recipes that use 425 degrees and I may try that next to get the whole thing sort of crunchy like a thin crust pizza.
I was worried about what I was going to eat during this nutrition challenge. Basically, for me, everything but fruits and vegetables are out. I did a lot of research ahead of time and that helped. I’ve cooked and frozen food to make it easy to eat when I’m pressed for time.
I was fighting a cold for the first few days and I think that helped me. I wasn’t as hungry as usual. (I was also living on ginger tea. I heard about this during my Chinese medicine classes. They said that at the first sign of a cold you should grate ginger in to a cup, add hot water, let it seep for 20 minutes. Then strain it and add honey and lemon. Everyone in my office was coming down with a horrible plague. When I felt it starting in me I used some ginger tea bags I had and drank it often. I never got the full sickness that everyone else had. Amazing!) I had headaches but I’m not sure if that was sickness or detox.
Meals I’ve had so far:
Baked spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash can be made ahead of time and frozen. One big squash makes enough for several meals. I cooked one in the oven for an hour on 350 and then divided it up into several serving sized freezer bags. When I wanted to eat it I baked it straight from the freezer with tomato sauce and veggies.
Sweet potato gnocchi
I made this with one baked sweet potato per person being served. Scoop out the flesh and then mix with flour (I’m using chickpea flour to be WLC compliant) until it forms a dough that you can form into gnocchi. This may not stay together if you boil it so I’ve had it sauteed in rosemary butter and baked. I think the sautee was better. Also served with tomato sauce
I’m using No Meat Athlete’s veggie burger formula. I’m not loving the combination I made. They don’t have much taste or a very good texture but smothered in salsa with some veggies on the side, they are fine. Super healthy with all the beans and veggies in them but not something I’m going to be craving.
I also have portions of cooked wild rice in my freezer and frozen bananas to make banana soft serve. I’ve been alternating being egg muffins and smoothies for breakfast. I snack on carrots, cucumbers, and fruit as needed throughout the day. I have a gallon ziploc bag of produce that I carry to work. I haven’t eaten it all yet but it is there as a security blanket in case I get hungry.
The weekly challenge this week is to talk to three restaurants and see what is challenge compliant. I scoffed at this because as a family with a vegetarian and a person with severe food allergies we question everything we get. I did find out some new stuff though. I asked Applebee’s about their tomato basil soup. Turns out it is made with beef broth so there is nothing for me to eat there. Subway’s oil is possibly olive oil mixed with an unknown other oil. That may or may not be ok to use as a dressing on salads since all the rest of the salad dressings are out. Likewise Panera’s salad dressings are out for soy and/or sugar. The vegetarian black bean soup is ok. I got the fuji apple salad with no meat or dressing. Turns out that has cheese so I just picked through it. (I brought some salsa with me to use as a dressing.) I ate the dried apples on top. Bad – someone else found out that they are coated in high fructose corn syrup. Minus 1 diet point for me yesterday. That made me mad. If I’m going to lose points I want to lose it on something super yummy!
Right now I’m making my own tomato basil soup for lunch and roasting eggplant to make a dip for my veggies.
This recipe uses almonds, dates, macadamia nuts, and dried apples pulsed in a food processor and then mixed with melted coconut oil and spices. Form into bars and refrigerate.
My grocery store didn’t have macadamias so I used extra almonds. The dates are good but it uses 2 cups and that can get expensive. I’m thinking that you may be able to do this with raisins. They would give the same sweetness and stickiness.
You could really use any dried unsweetened fruit. I’m going to try pineapple and coconut.
I’m not big fan of eggs. I don’t like the texture no matter how they are made. I have to disguise the taste with some form of tomato – ketchup or salsa. The only egg product I really tolerate is the egg on McDonald’s bacon, egg and cheese bagel (without the meat) but with their creamy yummy sauce. Yeah, bad, I know. It reminds me of when I was almost vegetarian but still ate Big Macs and Taco Bell meat.
The diet for the Whole Life Challenge is based on paleo diets. Those are whole food diets that rely fairly heavily on meat. As a vegetarian this is totally not going to work for me. I am also lazy when it comes to eating. I want to eat immediately when I am hungry. I don’t want to cook then. But, I like to cook and I like variety so I decided to try to cook meals and freeze them ahead of time.
I went on a big food shopping trip today. I started making up a bunch of stuff. There would be more if I hadn’t smashed the food processor into bits. That stopped progress on several meals. Oh well, I had been thinking about the fact that I really should just go buy a new one because that one was damaged in several ways that made it very difficult to use. I guess the universe agreed with me!
I’ll be posting things I make as I try them so I can report back on whether they are any good or not.
This recipe as it stands isn’t Whole Life approved because it uses yogurt so I modified it.
Take one whole ripe banana and mash it with a fork.
Stir in an equal amount of nut butter
Mix in a bit of cocoa powder (If anyone comes on here and tells me that it is processed so it is cheating, I’ll be very pouty. I wasn’t sure if it was legal but it said just “pure natural cocoa”. Shut up.)
Add a small amount of almond milk until it is the consistency of pudding.
Make bite sized sandwiches with the filling between two slices of banana.
Put on a cookie sheet and dust with cinnamon.
Freeze. When solid transfer to a container.
These are good. I like them bite sized because when you pull them out of the freezer and pop them in your mouth they take a minute to thaw. That way they last longer!
I also peeled and froze a few extra bananas in order to make banana “ice cream.”
Take a peeled frozen banana and mix it in a food processor until it is the consistency of ice cream. Be patient. It will get there. Promise.
Mix in any other flavoring (fruit, vanilla, cocoa, peanut butter, etc) you like.