My mother’s never been one to take shortcuts or place convenience over quality, especially when it comes to food. And even when fast food became the norm - even when she was exhausted from working third shift at the hospital - she still managed to prepare delicious, wholesome meals made with local meats from the butcher, freshly baked breads from the baker and herbs and vegetables from her garden out back. Because for her, food was medicine, a way of life and she never bothered to dream of it any other way.
This is one of the many lessons I now appreciate, but didn't always understand growing up. Better late than never as they say! Now, I’m a total believer in the art, science and sheer magic of it all and truly believe that food will cure just about anything if you let it.
This belief was solidified after I participated in the Whole30 program last year. My husband and I are always up for a challenge and we decided to take the plunge and remove sugar, dairy, grains, legumes and alcohol from our diet. For us, it wasn’t about losing weight, but about feeling less tired, less achy, less bloated and having more energy to do the things we wanted to do.
The first few days were enormously difficult. We quickly learned that we had to make every meal at home, including snacks (especially snacks), and this meant being hyper prepared. Because hanger is real and so is the sugar dragon and I really wanted to keep my marriage alive.
But we quickly adjusted and it didn’t take long for us to forget our old ways and welcome this new way of eating. I learned to drink coffee black somehow and even more miraculously I gave up red wine (I’d like to thank Netflix, library books and Scrabble for distracting me). Meals became less fussy and we enjoyed exploring new vegetables. I learned to grill. The list goes on.
But the real magic happened about three weeks in when my skin started to clear up. I felt energized and light as a feather. I learned that a puffy, bloated abdomen is actually not normal and that dairy and grains aren’t really my best friends. I had less headaches, was happier and convinced about everyone I knew to join me on this new and enlightened journey.
You’ll still find recipes on my blog that include a bit of dairy or gluten from time to time, but that’s what I love about Whole30. The idea is not that those food groups are bad for you, or that you should omit them from your diet forever and always, but more so that those food groups are often to blame for health issues. Whole30 simply invites you to omit those common irritants for 30 days, then add them back in one by one to find how they truly make you feel. It’s giving you the knowledge and power to make decisions about your health and to simply have more control.
So yes, I eat cake sometimes. And I’ll never be able to give up my precious wine, but I am so much more in tune with my body, why it feels the way it feels and how I can prepare food with certain outcomes in mind. It’s pretty powerful stuff!
So now without further ado, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite Whole30 approved recipes for Fish en Papillote (or fish in parchment paper). While I love the bright citrus, fresh ginger and savory shiitakes in this recipe, you can really and truly use just about any type of fish with just about any type of vegetables. I’ve prepared Fish en Papillote using salmon, asparagus and red potatoes and I’ve also used a combination of halibut, lemon and broccoli. It’s quick to assemble, incredibly delicious and I find the fish steams to perfection.
I recommend serving this with a side of coconut cauliflower rice (place cauliflower florets in blender, pulse until size of rice, sauté with a bit of coconut oil and coconut flakes) and broccoli would make a nice addition as well.
Fish en Papillote
*Makes 2 servings
*Inspired by Nom Nom Paleo
- 3 Tbsp. coconut aminos
- 4 tsp. freshly squeezed orange juice, plus oranges slices for baking
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. minced ginger
- 4-5 shittake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2, 6 ounce skinless fish fillets (I prefer cod or salmon)
- green onion, trimmed and cut into 2 inch sections
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Garnish: orange slices, lime slices and chopped cilantro
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a small bowl, combine the coconut aminos, orange juice, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
- Add in the minced ginger and sliced mushrooms and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Season both sides of the fish fillets with salt and pepper.
- Take out a sheet of parchment paper for each serving. Lay 2 to 3 orange slices down in the middle of the paper and place the fish fillet atop the orange slices.
- Spoon the mushroom mixture and sauce on top of the fish and top with a few green onion pieces.
- Fold one end of the parchment paper over the fish and begin tightly crimping the edges together. You want it to feel good and sealed to keep the steam in.
- Place the packet on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
- To serve, carefully cut open the parchment pouch with a pair of kitchen shears. Top with chopped cilantro and more slivered green onions if desired!
- Serve with coconut rice and broccoli if you’re especially hungry or feeding a crowd.