I thought a lot about sugar today. It all started because I was in a meeting with an icebreaker question “What is your favorite candy?”. My initial reaction was “Dates are candy, right?”. I definitely used to have a major sweet tooth, but now most of my sugar cravings are fruit-related. I enjoy eating a serving of fruit for lunch, I find a bowl of frozen banana-based ice cream just as satisfying as rich coconut milk ice cream, and I can’t think of anything much better than a dates with almond butter. Last time I wanted chocolate, I made raw sugar-free walnut and date brownies, and I enjoyed them more than traditional cake brownies. I do eat baked goods, but I almost think that I often eat them because they’re there, and if I would be just as satisfied by fruit.
Since part of the spirit of Whole30 is changing eating habits, and I just had a major realization that I definitely consider dates to be candy, I’m now going to be conscious of that for the rest of these 30 days, and make sure I don’t turn to dried fruit and nut butter when I have sugar cravings. I’m going to avoid eating dried fruit by itself, and only use it as an ingredient in other dishes. In the same vein, I’m going to make an effort to only include nut butter in main meals, rather than snacking on it.
In other news, day 4 of the vegan Whole30 was so much easier than yesterday. I finally got a good night’s sleep, so I was back to having tons of plant-powered energy to get through my workday and a sweaty power yoga class. Fingers crossed this energy stays consistent!
My main course for dinner on day 4 was vegan Whole30 sikil p’ak over baked sweet potatoes and oven roasted Brussels sprouts. Sikil p’ak is a Mayan dip made with pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), fire roasted tomatoes, herbs and habanero. Pre-whole30, I loved to pair it with Brussels sprout tacos, so substituting sweet potatoes for tortillas was an easy and delicious move. I paired this with a light arugula salad whose recipe can be found here.
Recipes for all of the components can be found below. To make 6 gigantic portions, I baked 6 large sweet potatoes, made a double batch of the Brussels sprouts, and topped everything with one recipe’s worth of sikil p’ak. If you don’t want to make that many meals or eat that much food for a meal, you can definitely scale back on the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, and use the extra sikil p’ak as an amazing veggie dip. I’ve been known to make a meal off of just raw veggies and sikil p’ak. For an easy and healthy-fat-filled appetizer, I also recommend pairing sikil p’ak with guacamole and raw veggies and chips.
If you eat the enormous portion I ate of the vegan whole30 sikil p’ak with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, you’ll be getting 10g protein from the sprouts, 4.5g protein from the sweet potato, and 9g protein from the pepitas in the sikil p’ak. Not too bad for a vegan Whole30 meal 😉
- Several large sweet potatoes
- olive oil (optional)
- sea salt (optional)
- black pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Scrub the sweet potatoes, prick each one a few times with a fork and place on top of a sheet of foil on an oven rack. Bake until soft, about 45-60 minutes.
- If you're topping the sweet potatoes with something else, cut them open and load them up. If you want to eat them plain, cut open and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper for a very satisfying side dish.
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1½-2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, halved
- ¾ tsp. sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
- Toss the sprouts with the oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Heat a 12" cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on both sides and crispy in spots, about 10-12 minutes.
- 1 habanero pepper
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 c. roasted pepitas
- 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- ½ small white onion, roughly chopped
- small handful cilantro leaves
- ¼ c. chives, chopped
- 6 T. fresh lime juice
- 1½ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- water, if needed
- Heat a small skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add the habanero and garlic and roast until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. When cool, optionally seed the habanero for less heat (wear gloves if you do this!).
- Combine all ingredients in food processor until mostly smooth, added water as needed to reach desired consistency (about ½ c.).