Soooo I’m doing this Whole30 thing. It’s 30 days of no grains, no sugar, no legumes, and no dairy, plus some helpful rules for how to eat what you’re permitted to eat. Call it what you will – a diet, a cleanse, a fad, a phase, a crazy idea, whatever – but I call it a reminder. It’s a good way to forcibly haul myself back onto the path of sensible eating, to re-experience the marvelous flavors unadulterated, whole foods, and to at least partially break some of my pesky, food-related bad habits. Also, it’s a challenge and something of a benchmark, at least for me. And I like a good, attainable challenge, especially one that seems deceptively simple but turns out to be a mind game. It’s good to conquer my will and remind myself that I am actually capable of self-control.
I’ve done a Whole30 before – well, sort of. Early last summer – in May and June of 2013, that is – I did a Whole27. Yup, that’s right. I stopped three days before the end. Ridiculous, right? It didn’t seem like it at the time. I hadn’t experienced any sort of “aha!” or “I FEEL GREAT” moment that apparently most people have at some point midway through their Whole30. I felt normal. Perhaps maybe I didn’t crave sugar as much as usual, but then again, I’m a very good rule-follower, so knowing I can’t have something is strong enough motivation for me to stay away. Maybe I felt the same because I tend to eat rather “cleanly,” as they say, to begin with – I genuinely love vegetables and whole grains and am picky about the source of my animal proteins. Either way, on top of the lack of any changes – whether physical or mental – the last week and a half of my first Whole30 fell during our house-hunting trip in Houston. We were staying in a small apartment with frustratingly limited kitchen supplies, so I was essentially subsisting on eggs, avocados, lettuce, bananas, almonds, and squash – foods that need minimal flavoring to taste tolerable. But I was bored. The final straw was going over to eat at the house of some friends of our friends in Wilmington. I neither wanted to appear rude by not eating the food that was served, nor did I wish to explain my food philosophy experimentations to these people we had just met, as nice as they were (and now I know they would’ve probably been interested by Whole30 anyway, as they’re quite food-conscious, in a good way). So I ate the white potatoes, the chicken of unknown origin flavored with unnamed sauces, and the chocolate cake. I sacrificed my Whole30 for my principles of social conduct. And I was okay with that. In fact, I still am.
It didn’t matter so much that I gave up on that first Whole30 just before the end, because I had been cheating all along. I’d indulged in chocolate banana freeze, a marvelous ice cream replacement, numerous times. I practically lived off of fruit, since my Whole30 fell right at the end of strawberry season and the beginning of blueberry season. I even made paleo pancakes (that’s 1 mashed banana + 1 beaten egg = 1 tasty banana pancake, just so you know), despite it violating the “no pancakes” rule. Those delicious things became my breakfast staple. And, oh boy, did I ever snack. All the time. On everything, but mostly fruit.
So, while that first Whole30 was at the most perfect time – when I still had easy access to eggs from our own chickens and meat from our own goats and blueberries from our own bushes, et cetera – this one that I’m dong right now is the real deal, as much as I can make it so.
Most importantly, I’ve adjusted my goals and expectations. I know I’m unlikely to suddenly feel just “better,” like some people. My skin and hair won’t look any different (though I never expected that even with my first Whole30). I won’t lose weight (though, again, that was never a goal for either time). In fact, nothing palpable will change. However, I will learn to eat a more nutritious, less carbalicous breakfast. I will rediscover that carrots taste wonderfully sweet. I will enjoy getting back into the groove of eating lots and lots of vegetables, especially after the holidays. I will respect my body, God’s creation, by feeding it well. I will not snack constantly; I will actually adhere to the rules of the game, even the seemingly silly ones; I will not subsist on exclusively on fruit and meat. And I will attempt to experiment in the kitchen, despite a narrower repertoire of ingredients at my disposal.
Today brings me to day 19 of my Whole30. So far, it has been as I predicted and described above. Normal. But, as I explain way up there in the first paragraph, it has been a wonderful reminder. I’m certainly going to finish it, even though I’ll be getting my wisdom teeth removed during the final week. I’ll have to blog about that. I’m sure it’ll be amusing.
Well, anyway, that was a long-winded introduction to some comparably short-order hummus.
Obviously, chickpea hummus is out of the question during a Whole30. But sometimes I like to have something to dip my carrots in, and we needed tahini paste, and I needed to get some creativity out. So I bought the tahini paste and made some hummus out of cauliflower. The story always goes that way. My scattered plans to experiment turn into an impulse buy at the grocery store, which leads me to developing a recipe I had hoped to concoct but expected that I wouldn’t.
Are you having yourself a paleo Super Bowl party? Or just a plain old Super Bowl party? This could be a good food to add to the snacking menu. Unlike salsa, it’s thick enough that it won’t spill all over the floor when the bowl gets tipped over by your explosions of exuberant motion. That is, of course, if you’re into football. Me? I’ll be watching Downton Abbey and Sherlock. And maybe a bit of the Super Bowl, if the commercials are any good.
Because I follow football as closely as I follow the sport of curling, I have a highly sophisticated method for choosing which team to root for: Peyton Manning is the Colorado team’s quarter back, I hear, and he used to play for the Indianapolis Colts, I believe, and I have relatives who love the Colts, and I have relatives who live in Colorado. So clearly, I must cheer for the Broncos. Or maybe I’ll just make hummus. And (the best) guacamole. Yeah, that’s a better use of my time.
So, this hummus. It’s much lighter than hummus made from chickpeas, and I appreciate that about it. The flavor is unique – a near perfect mix of bright basil and tangy tahini. It’s not nearly so unassuming as regular hummus. So, if you don’t like your dips to make a statement, maybe you should stay away. Of course, I think you could expand out from basil. In fact, you could leave out the basil, up the tahini, and have a more traditional hummus flavor. Or you could swap basil for cilantro. I suppose you could take out the tahini and have a basil dip. But, that wouldn’t be hummus, at least in my mind. To qualify for the name hummus in my book, the dip must have either chickpeas or sesame seed paste. Anyway, clearly there’s a lot of options here.
And, yes, I am aware that according to the Whole30 shopping guidelines, consumption of sesame seeds – and other seeds – should be limited. What I am doing making hummus with sesame seed paste? I figure that 2 tablespoons of tahini diluted by a couple cups of cauliflower, eaten once or twice in the entirety of my Whole30 certainly qualifies as “limited.” So please excuse my while I plow my way through some baby carrots with this marvelous spread.
Basil Cauliflower Hummus
- 1 + 1/2 cups cauliflower rice (recipe to follow)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 2 + 1/2 tablespoons tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 head cauliflower
Separate a head of cauliflower into florets. Toss the florets into a food processor (do not try this in a blender like a Vitamix; the pieces will be too small), and pulse until the cauliflower is pulverized into pieces just a bit smaller than grains of rice. Put as much cauliflower rice as you’re going to use into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes – stirring every minute – until the cauliflower has softened, cooked, and become less white and more translucent. Cooking time will vary, depending on your microwave. [Makes 4-6 cups, depending on the size of the cauliflower head.]
For the hummus:
Put the garlic and olive oil in a small bowl and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and starting to brown. Toss all of the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Add more salt if you think it needs it. Enjoy with carrots or celery or broccoli (or chips of some kind if you’re not Whole30ing it).