We’re on the tail end of Whole 30. It’s hard to believe it’s been 21 days already! I’ve been spending some time reflecting on what I’ve liked from this round of Whole 30. I can honestly say that I feel a noticeable change in my body since we started. I feel less bloated, I have more energy, clearer skin, and less cravings.
I’ve also found myself looking at health in a more holistic way; I’ve noticed that I’m more prone to read labels, I’ve been drinking a lot more water, and I went and got a massage for the sake of helping heal my muscles. It’s been really good to have a concentrated time to focus on what I put in and on my body, and to begin to evaluate other areas where I can make adjustments and improvements to better take care of myself.
One of my goals for this round of Whole 30 was to make food that tasted good. The first time we did Whole 30, both Ben and I were working 9-5 jobs, so we ate a lot of repetitive meals (I’m not kidding! we ate the exact same breakfast and lunch every. day!). This go around, we both have a little more flexibility in our schedules to put a little more work and creativity in our food. One of the things I’ve been experimenting with this round, has been sauces and seasonings that give little flavor explosions to food when I don’t have the time to slow cook.
Enter today’s blogpost. One of the best ways to make food flavorful is to have different sauces, seasonings and marinades to add to your food. I keep most of these on hand so that I have a few different options to add to a bowl or to leave my meat marinating in the morning before cooking it. These sauces make sure that we’re not eating bland food, because—say it with me—healthy food doesn’t have to taste bland.
Marinating your meat is something we don’t do enough, honestly. A crucial step in sealing in flavor and moisture, marinating just requires a little extra time, for a lot of extra sabor. Especially with meats like chicken, which tend to dry up on the grill, a marinade is essential to protecting your meat from getting chewy or too dry. Just adding a marinade to your meat for 1-2 hours before cooking it (or even up to 8-12 hours before) will completely transform your meal and give you a tastier result.
Most of these sauces and seasonings are things that I can also add to salads, sautees, or as toppings/dipping sauces (in place of cheese or sour cream). Here are some examples of how I’ve used the sauces and seasonings I’m sharing with you today:
chirmol as a salad dressing, and aioli as potato seasoning
chimichurri lamb chops, chimichurri as a dressing, and aioli used as potato seasoning.
nutritional yeast seasoning used with lemon juice to season salad.
chimichurri seasoned lamb burger with garlic aioli
citrus marinated drumsticks.
So how much extra time does it take to make these seasonings in advance? Not long! With about an hour on a weekend day, you can prep all (or some) of these to have in your fridge, ready to go for whenever you need to use them throughout the week. None of these seasonings require slow cooking, and for most of the recipes, it’s just a matter of sticking things in a blender. That one extra hour will come back and repay you when you come home from work and have easy access to flavorful foods!
And now, without further delay, meet the seasoning rockstars that will help you breakup with bland food forever:
Chirmol is a Guatemalan salsa that is perfect for anyone who doesn’t like cilantro, because the herb at the base of this sauce is mint. I put chirmol on everything from carne asada, to salads. Especially during grilling season, this salsa is a must in our house. It has a cool refreshing taste that is neither spicy, or overpowering.
- 5-6 roma tomatoes
- 1/2 onion (diced)
- 10-15 mint leaves sliced
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 1/2 TBSP salt
- Place 5-6 roma tomatoes on a grill or in a pan at med-high heat for 8-10 minutes. This dry roasts the tomatoes and softens them up on the inside. There should be a good char on the sides by the time they’re done, and the tomatoes should be soft.
- Remove the tomatoes from the heat and peel off the skins, and add tomatoes to a medium sized bowl. Add onion, mint, lime juice, salt, and mash together.
Garlic Aioli with Fresh Chives
You guys, I think Ben could eat gallons of this by himself. I’ve used this as a dipping sauce, and I’ve also used it to season mashed potatoes. The base from this is just homemade mayonnaise. It’s been really nice to make my own mayonnaise during Whole 30, because most store-bought brands use oils with high amounts of saturated or trans fats. When I make it at home I use avocado oil, which overall is better for your cholesterol and heart.
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 avocado Oil
- 1/2 TSP ground mustard powder
- 1.2 TSP salt
- juice from 1 lemon
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- Fresh chopped chive, or other fresh herb (rosemary is pretty good!)
- Add 1/4 cup of oil, egg, mustard powder, and salt to a blender (or also use a bowl and use an immersion blender or hand mixer) and blend until combined. Slowly (this part should take about 2 minutes) drizzle in the remaining oil and blend at about a medium speed. The key here is to do this slowly so that the mayonnaise emulsifies. If it is done too quickly, it will separate and become a yellowish color.
- Once all the oil is added, add the juice of the lime, garlic, fresh herbs, and mix with a spoon until combined.
This marinade is so, so, SOOO delicious on chicken. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for veggies. This is a great replacement for sweet marinades for the times when you’re missing a teriyaki or honey-based flavor in your food. When using as a marinade, allow to marinate chicken for at least 2 hours.
- 1 Organic Orange (You’ll want it to be organic because you’ll be using the skin & want it to be as chemical free as possible)
- Juice of two lemons
- 1 TBSP salt
- 1/2 TBSP of ground coriander
- 1/2 TBSP of ground cumin
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Add whole orange (skin and all) to a blender with all ingredients except lemon juice, and blend until it has a smooth, creamy texture. Squeeze in lemon juice and mix with a spoon until combined.
Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
I cook almost everything with this seasoning. When we’re off Whole 30, I add this to all my sofritos, rice, and beans. It’s also really good on popcorn as an dairy-free alternative. During Whole 30 I use this sprinkled on salad, or in sofritos. This is a really great source if complete protein, which is great for vegans and vegetarians on Whole 30. Nutritional yeast is high in vitamins, most predominantly B-complex, which helps boost red blood cells, and contains high amounts of folate. B-complex also helps increase energy, boosts hair and skin health, and stimulates your immune system. The other herbs and spices in this seasoning only add to it’s healthy-factor. Turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory, and helps stimulate good gut health and reduces bloating. But enough of the health-talk, this stuff TASTES amazing. My mom has been using a variation of this seasoning my whole life–it’s one of her (not so) secret ingredients. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the magic stuff I use to season the beans in my burrito recipe (an all time HOC fave).
- 1 1/2 cups of nutritional yeast
- 2 TBSP salt
- 1 TBSP ground coriander
- 1 TBSP garlic powder
- 1 TBSP onion powder
- 1/2 TSP cumin
- 1 TSP turmeric
- Place all ingredients together in a blender and blend to a thin powder.
This sauce is the holy grail of sauces for me right now. My dad makes a variation of this sauce to marinate meats, and it is the most generous seasoning I’ve ever encountered. You can easily use it as a salsa, as a dressing, or a marinade. True to a good salsa, it only gets better with time, as the flavors marry together to create a more balanced taste. During Whole 30, I’ve also used this as a burger seasoning for a lamb burger, and as a marinade for chicken, lamb chops, and steak. I have yet to find something it doesn’t taste good on.
- 2 cups of warm water
- 1 TBSP salt
- 4 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1 1/2 cups fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 TSP ground coriander
- 1 TBSP of coriander
- 1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 tsp of lemon zest
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
- in a large bowl, add warm water and salt and stir until salt is dissolved. Add all other ingredients and stir until combined. Store in a mason jar and pour on everrrrrything.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! These are some staples we won’t be leaving behind once Whole 30 is done for us (IN 9 DAYS).
Love & No Room For Bland Food,