So you may know that I embarked on a sort of healthy eating plan back in November of 2014. I did the Whole30 twice in the following couple of years and the odd Whole14 here and there in between. For those not familiar with Whole30, it is essentially a 30-day elimination diet in which you remove any inflammatory foods from your diet (which is basically EVERYTHING aside from veg, some fruit, nuts, good quality proteins and ‘good’ fats) for 30 days and then slowly re-introduce them into your diet. Now, diet is such an entirely personal thing. I would compare it a bit to religion for some – it is easy to get evangelical about when something is working for you but other people won’t appreciate what you have to say if they feel like they are being smothered by your new ideals.
Needless to say, after literally DECADES of trying various diets (with varying degrees of success), I felt like I’d finally found something I loved. I no longer had to count calories or points or ‘syns’, I didn’t have to track my foods. I ate well – really well – and found myself shedding the weight quite easily. Aside from weight loss, I found myself feeling better. The complete lack of processed foods and processed sugars in my diet meant I slept amazingly well, my energy levels were consistent, my skin looked good and clear. I used to feel quite ill after meals and realised with relief, I no longer did.
After the Whole30, I adopted a more Paleo style of diet which is probably the closest comparison you can make with Whole30 (although they don’t really prescribe to the notion that our cave man ancestors had any answers, it was based on their own scientific research and various studies). I carried on eating a mostly Paleo diet for the following two years and continued losing weight until I was at the lightest I had been since I was in my early 20s.
Now, over the last year, I’ve become a bit complacent in my diet. Some processed foods and sugar have crept back in. I had realised during the elimination process that it was normally wheat-based products that made me feel a bit sick afterwards but missing my carbs, I swapped to gluten-free products (which still contain grains so not Whole30/Paleo). I haven’t gained back all the weight I’ve lost and I’ve retained some really good habits but I have gained some weight and I know I need to get back on track! I miss feeling good about myself and I miss feeling like I was treating my body well.
So in November, I’m doing the Whole30 again to give myself the kick up the arse I need. In the meantime, I wanted to share a recipe that I sort of threw together on Monday evening that came out surprisingly well. It is entirely gluten-free but can very easily be adapted to Whole30 or Paleo simply by swapping out the gluten-free spaghetti with spiralized courgette (zucchini for my American readers). In fact, when I made this, I realised I really should have done that but we had some gluten-free spaghetti that I wanted to use up!
Now smoked mackerel can seem like a risky choice when it comes to recipes. It can easily overpower a meal with its very strong flavours but I find when using a tomato-based sauce, everything is balanced quite nicely. The taste permeates through the sauce but it doesn’t overwhelm it. The chorizo gives some additional layers of flavour and I love how well it combines with fish. Both the chorizo and the chillies add a little bit of heat but it’s certainly not what I would consider a spicy meal although you can leave out the chillies completely if you would prefer something very mild.
While I served this for 2 people, I realised that I felt quite full after just one fillet (and ended up saving some for lunch the following day!) so really I think this could easily serve anywhere between 2 hungry people or 4 with sides or starters.
Smoked Mackerel and Chorizo Pasta
Ingredients (serves 2-4)
- 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 80g Chorizo (the one from Sainsbury’s is Whole30 compliant)
- 2 medium onions
- 1 tsp crushed fresh garlic
- 1 tsp chopped red chillies (optional, I like my tomato sauce with just a touch of heat)
- 8 halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 tin (400g) of chopped tomatoes
- 50g tomato puree
- 4 smoked mackerel fillets
- 1 tbsp mixed herbs
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Gluten-free spaghetti (or, for Whole30/Paleo, courgette noodles)
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add chopped onions, chorizo, garlic and chillies and fry until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, tomato puree, tin of chopped tomatoes, mixed herbs, oregano and bay leaves and mix well until bubbling.
- Now add your mackerel fillets to the pan and cover with sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook through for around 30 minutes.
- While the mackerel is simmering, prepare your gluten free pasta or courgette noodles.
- Once done, dish out onto large bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.
And that’s it! The whole thing can be done within around 45 minutes so makes a good quick and very hearty meal after a long day that’s really not too difficult to just throw together!
Have you fallen off the ‘healthy eating’ wagon like me? Anyone doing Whole30? Any quick mid-week pasta recipes you enjoy? Let me know in the comments!