Carrie's Kitchen: Tasty recipes that conform to 'Whole 30' regimen

For a little kick, try Kung Pao chicken.
For a little kick, try Kung Pao chicken. (Courtesy photo)

For January and the new year, I’ve been writing about hitting a reset button on our eating and cooking.

I know a lot of people who use the Whole 30 system to help them refresh in the new year, or at other times of the year if they feel like their eating habits are getting a little out of control.


Whole 30 is touted as not being a diet because you are not limited by the quantity of food you can eat, but it comes with an extensive list of food groups that you are not allowed to eat while doing it. I’ve never done it myself, because I once tried giving up carbs on the South Beach Diet for just two weeks and I did not like who I became. Let’s just say there was a lot crying and an awful lot of hangry emotions. But my brother and sister-in-law have done it many times, and they say you can get used to it. And to those who can, I salute you.

I’m not going to discuss the whole program because I haven’t read the book, but here are the basics. For 30 days, you abstain from all sugars and artificial sweeteners, all grains, all beans and legumes (including peanuts), all dairy, all soy, all alcohol, and all processed additives. I think I could give up each of those categories for a month one at a time, but not all of them at the same time.


The program stresses not to mourn the loss of what you can’t eat, but to concentrate on what you can eat: meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and some fruits (some are too sugary). A big push is to get back to eating “whole foods,” which I’m pretty proud of myself for doing because I cook from scratch most of the time. But the majority of my cooking includes grains and dairy, and I’m kind of a sweet-tooth too. “To thine own self you must be true,” I always say.

But that’s not to say we can’t all enjoy a meal or two that would fit into the Whole 30 diet, so here are three ideas for giving it a try. First up, tuna stuffed avocados. This is basically tuna salad plopped on avocado halves, but it’s filling and a little decadent with eating all that avocado, so you shouldn’t miss having the bread.

Next, a spiced pork loin with carrots, parsnips and leeks. Simple, delicious, and whole-food friendly, you might be tempted to serve it with couscous, but try a double helping of vegetables instead.

And finally, for a little kick, Kung Pao chicken. No rice here, and a couple of ingredients you probably don’t keep on hand like coconut aminos and arrowroot, but I’ve included easy substitutions.



Tuna stuffed avocados

4 avocados

2 (5-ounce) cans tuna

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 stalk of celery, diced

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, chives and/or other herbs

½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper, to taste

Add the tuna, mayonnaise, diced celery, diced red onion, herbs, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to a mixing bowl. Stir together until well combined.

Slice the avocados in half and remove the seed. Dollop a few spoonfuls of tuna salad onto each avocado half.

Turmeric spiced pork loin with parsnips, carrots and leeks

For the pork loin:

1½ pounds boneless pork loin

1 tablespoon rosemary

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

For the veggies:

4 parsnips chopped into 1 inch pieces

2 carrots chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces

1 leek diced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tablespoon thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley to garnish

Mix together the thyme, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil and pour into a plastic bag with the cut parsnips, carrots and leek. Set aside to marinade while you prepare the pork loin.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In another bowl, mix together the rosemary, turmeric, salt and pepper. Slice the pork loin into 1- to 1½-inch thickness.

Place the pork loin slices on a cutting board and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Rub it slightly with your hands into the pork loin.

Place the sliced pork loin into a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Pour the vegetable and marinade into the dish surrounding the pork loin.

Roast at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 165 degrees.

Remove from the oven add parsley garnish and serve.

Kung Pao chicken

2 pounds chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

1 red bell pepper

1 cup cashews, raw and unsalted

2 green onions

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Salt and pepper

2 small zucchini

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons coconut aminos

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or substitute apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon arrowroot powder

For the sauce:

2 medjool dates

¼ cup coconut aminos (substitute soy sauce if you’re not doing Whole 30)

½ to 2½ teaspoons hot sauce, depending on how spicy you’d like it

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar (or substitute apple cider vinegar)

½ teaspoon arrowroot powder (or substitute tapioca)

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoon ginger, minced

2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground into powder

1 teaspoon tomato paste

Marinate the chicken: Add all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk together.

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and place in a bowl.

Pour the marinade over the chicken, gently mix, then cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Make the sauce: Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until incorporated. Start with less hot sauce, taste the sauce to test how spicy it is, and add more if desired.

Prep the veggies: Cut the red pepper into bite-sized slices. Slice the green onions, separating the white parts from the green.

Spiralize the zucchini and set it aside.

Cook the dish: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the hot skillet, stirring occasionally, and cook about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the red pepper and whites of the green onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, another 2-3 minutes.

Pour the sauce into the chicken, turning to coat. Bring it just to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the cashews (and zucchini, if you prefer it cooked a bit), and season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and the green parts of the sliced onion. Serve over zucchini noodles or with cauliflower rice.

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