Monday, August 4, 2014

Moroccan Meatballs and Whole30

Yup.  I'm one of "those"people.  I'm partaking in one of those internet phenomenons....Whole30.  No dairy, grains, sugar or ALCOHOL for 30 days.  No cheese.  No cereal.  No pasta.  No peach cobbler.  No WINE!  You heard me.  I'm on day 9.

Click here to get all the deets, but yeah.  Paleo, but in a restrictive (in the most annoying, restrictive) sense.  The first five days were relatively cool.....I grilled a bunch of bison steaks, chicken thighs, shrimp, salmon, hamburgers....real caveman shit, but I'm a meat lover.  So fine.  Then I roasted some veggies....I'm not a huge veggie lover so this is where it gets a tad tricky.  I like my cheese with a side of veggies, if you get my drift.  Anything to cover up the taste.  Fruit?  Easy, peasy.  It's summer in Alabama, dude, so fruit is everywhere......peaches, cherries, melon, peaches, figs, strawberries, peaches.  Those peaches would be great in a cake.  Or Ina's crisp.  Shit.

Not having to make a "recipe" for dinner was liberating for the first five days, really.....grill some protein, roast some veg, slice some fruit.  But by about day six, I was getting bored and wanted something a little more complex.  A recipe.  So I downloaded the Whole30 authors' cookbook, Well Fed.  There are several recipes that caught my eye, but the Moroccan Meatballs screamed at me.  I mean, c'mon......Meatballs!!

These are damn good....earthy and spicy in a flavorful, rich tomato sauce.  Make these even if you're not into the paleo thing and serve them over a big bed of rice.

Which is what I did for hubs (well not rice, because I didn't have any, but some orzo....close enough) because while he agreed to do this experiment with me for 30 days, his resolve came tumbling down quickly.

Here's how that went down....

Me, "Hey, I'm going to do this thing called Whole30, where for 30 days I can't have dairy, grains, sugar or alcohol.  You want to do it with me?"

Hubs (while engrossed in Ebay on his iPad), "Sure.  Wait, YOU'RE giving up wine for a month?  hahahaha."

Me, "Suck it.  Yes.  And CHEESE."

Hubs, "Right.  Yeah.  OK.  Whatever, I'll do it with you."  (He's silently laughing his ass off at this point, knowing by Tuesday this will all be a distant memory.  BTW, this was on a Sunday.)

So after fully compliant dinner that same evening, a mere 10 hours later, he proceeds back into the kitchen to fix himself a rather massive bowl of mint-chocolate chip ice cream then immediately following that......a BAILEY'S ON THE ROCKS.

Thank's for your support, honey.

Meanwhile, here I am on day NINE!!

Before I get the the Moroccan Meatball recipe, here are my observations/experiences thus far on Whole30.

*  It's not hard.  As the website says, "Kicking heroin is hard.  Beating cancer is hard.  This?  Not hard."  As I said, it's restrictive and takes a little preparation and planning.  Bit it's not hard.

*  The planning thing is important and I don't work or have kids.  I'm sure it's even more important if you do.  Especially for breakfast.  While you can eat whatever you want within the guidelines for any of your three meals, I'm not one to eat a steak for breakfast.  I love eggs, so that's how I roll, but variety is challenging.  I've found that pre-chopping some vegetables (mushrooms, bell peppers, etc.) to mix in with your scrambled eggs, saves some time in the morning when you're STARVING!  The website (and cookbook) suggests spending a few hours on Sunday to brown your meats, roast your veg, etc., to make your weeknight dinner prep easier, but that's not an issue for me.

*  I'm not hungry EVER between meals and usually have to force myself to eat lunch.  My breakfast consists of melting about 1/2 tsp of coconut oil into a non-stick skillet, throwing in a handful of spinach and about 1/4 -1/2 cup of whatever other vegetables I have handy (peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, previous nights leftovers) and sautéing until soft, adding two whisked eggs, seasoning and cooking until done.  I top that with with 1/2 an avocado and a side of diced fruit.  This keeps me satisfied through my workout and up to, if not through, lunch.  I assume because it has a good amount of protein and fat combo.  So far I don't hate eggs, but I'm afraid that may happen.  Then what?

*  I'm probably eating too much fruit but as my trainer says, "I've never seen someone become obese from eating too much fruit."  That being said, I need to watch it.

*  I don't think I've lost any weight yet (you're not supposed to weigh yourself until completing the 30 days) but I'm no longer bloated so I feel lighter!  Score.

*  I've been a horrible sleeper for about the past five years (Menopause?) so I've resorted to taking an OTC sleeping med pretty much every night.  Not good.  I usually don't have much trouble falling asleep (Wine.) but staying asleep....not so much (Wine.)  During this 30 days, I also vowed to give up the Unisom.  I'm staying awake longer in the evening (no wine.), falling asleep around 9:30pm fine, but still waking up several times during the night and finally getting out of bed around 5am.  Not optimal, but I'm hoping that will improve.  This girl likes her sleep.  That being said, I'm not tired during the day, so......

*  I didn't feel much like doing cardio the first week (?) but that's gotten better the last couple of days.   

*  The more water I drink, the more I want.  Maybe that's some of my sleep problems, because I am getting up a couple times during the night for THAT.  OK, lightbulb just turned on.  Slow down on the water after dinner.  

That's all I can think of at the moment.  Feel free to fire any questions my way.  I'm happy to relate my experience.  Oh and please wish me luck on finishing the 30 days.  I'm easily bored.

Here's the meatball recipe:

Moroccan Meatballs
Well Fed, Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat
by Melissa Joulwan


1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon paprika (I used a hot smoked paprika because I love the flavor and heat)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds ground lamb

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced (about 2 tsps)
2 teaspoons paprika (again, I used hot smoked paprika)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 2 tablespoons

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

In a large bowl, combine the parsley, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper with a fork.  With your hands, crumble the lamb into the bowl and knead just until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Moisten your hands with water and shake to remove excess.  Measure a level tablespoon of lamb and roll into a ball between your palms.  Line up the meatballs on a baking sheet until it's time to put them in the sauce. (I simply used a small ice cream scoop and rounded them in my palms)

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or pot.  Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and stir about 1 minute.  Add the water, tomato paste, and parsley, mixing to dissolve the tomato paste.

Bring the sauce to a boil, then gently place the meatballs in the skillet, cover and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 40 minutes covered, then remove th slid and cook an additional 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.  Sprinkle each serving with a few teaspoons of shopped pistachios.


  1. Prep is key for me and the reason why I have failed to re-do my 12 week or Whole30 plan since my first one. I keep failing to prep and getting in a tizzy and going "oh fudge it. I'll try again tomorrow." I have major problems with breakfast because I don't like eggs, but I force myself to eat them. Another route I like is a poached egg over an artichoke heart. And if you like coffee, try making a little latte with coconut milk, a bit of coconut oil, vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon. Use an immersion blender to "latte it up!" it's delish! YOU CAN DO IT!! And meanwhile, I'm going to save your recipes for when I really actually do it ;)

  2. I had completely forgotten about artichokes until I googled "high fiber vegetables", because um yeah....too much protein leads to "problems". I'm so trying the poached egg/artichoke combo. Love both. I'm lucky in the respect that I have plenty of time each day to fix meals, but when I'm hungry in the morning GTFO of my way, so prepped veggies has become important.