Taco Salad with Pico de Gallo (Whole30/Paleo)

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Taco Salad with Pico de Gallo (Whole30/Paleo)
Well guys, we did it! We finished the Whole30! It was one heck of a ride. It was challenging to say the least, and this is coming from someone who is somewhat familiar with cooking with whole ingredients. Finding compliant meats, dressings, and condiments was definitely a headache at times. But I do not regret it, as I learned more about reading labels and what hidden ingredients are in certain foods. The most challenging part for me was the meal prep and cooking. I couldn’t just quickly grab some take out or munch on a bag of chips if I was in a bind for time. I HAD to make good choices, or else I would slip, and that meant starting all over. This was definitely a commitment that took time, energy, and money (if you wanted to get creative with your meals). We invested some money in this first Whole30, so slipping up was not an option. We bought the 4 books (totally not necessary to complete the program), bought the Whole30 kit from Primal Kitchen, purchased some condiments from Tessemae’s (I am so in love with their ketchup!), and tried out Nutpods dairy-free creamer. Specialty items are never cheap. Either way, it was all worth it. We found what we liked and didn’t like, so we know what will work for the next Whole30 and will be able to save some money compared to this round. In my last blog post I mentioned how great I felt about two weeks in. These last two weeks were a lot different than I expected though. I did not feel great anymore, I did not have more energy, and my gut was not happy. I was totally taken aback by my symptoms, as the Whole30 Timeline says that most people feel great towards the end. My sugar cravings kicked into full gear (especially the last week), and my body was definitely working hard at fixing something in my gut. Towards the end of our Whole30, I was literally dreaming of Oreos and Starbucks drinks. I remember eating them in my dream and feeling SO guilty that I would have to start all over! Lucky for me, it was just a dream. But in all seriousness, that last week was extremely tough. My husband, who was a champ through this whole thing, ended up caving in to his cravings and eating cookies he brought home from a party we had that Saturday (the weekends were the hardest for him). He would smell them and stare at them until he finally ATE them! (GASP!) I don’t blame him though, I am sure they were delicious. After indulging in the cookies, he complained of his gut aching and feeling “heavy.” I was not such an angel either and ended up having a Starbucks Mocha on the 30th (like I couldn’t wait one more day). It was so surprising to me how sweet it was! I got the same drink I always get- a mocha frap made with almond milk, no whip cream, and raspberry syrup (don’t ask me how much it costs), but this time- I almost didn’t enjoy it. It was SO sugary! It was like every sip was a sugar bomb exploding in my mouth. It took me over an hour to finish (which is seriously crazy considering I was obsessed with this drink before). I also ate some candy from our cabinet that I had been staring at for over two weeks and ended up spitting it out because it tasted so nasty to me. I was just so surprised that these sweet treats that I used to like, no longer seemed appetizing to me. Both my husband and I felt crummy for a couple of days after eating those foods and going off of Whole30 meal protocol. We both had digestive issues and I had some major stomach cramps and bloating. We are hoping to continue using the Whole30 meal templates and keep working on eating balanced meals and not binge eating after omitting a meal or two because we are too busy. There is a lot to learn about the way we eat food and our relationship with it and we just skimmed the surface with this first Whole30. Who’s ready for another round in a couple of months?! Next blog post we’ll delve into what a life style change is and how you need to give yourself grace and time to change. But in the meantime, enjoy this yummy salad below!

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T A C O  S A L A D  W I T H  P I C O  D E  G A L L O  (W H O L E 3 0 / P A L E O)

Author: Melissa Krupp
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
-For the taco meat-
  • 1 lb ground beef (thawed)
  • 1 small yellow onion (or 1/2 medium)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Homemade taco seasoning (click here for recipe)
    • 1  tbsp. Chili Powder
    • ½ tsp. Garlic Powder
    • ½ tsp. Onion Powder
    • 1½ tsp. Ground Cumin
    • 1 tsp. Salt
    • 1 tsp. Pepper
    • ¼ tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
    • ¼ tsp. Dried Oregano
    • ½ tsp.Paprika

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-For the Pico de Gallo-

  • 1 avocado
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dried Oregano

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-For the Salad-

  • 1 head of romaine
  • Dump Ranch (I prefer this recipe)
  • Roasted Plantain Chips (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

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Instructions:
  1. Pre-make homemade taco seasoning and set aside.
  2. Pre-make dump ranch (best if served chilled).
  3. Heat olive oil (or oil of your choice) in large stainless steel skillet on medium heat.
  4. Add diced onion into pan and cook until translucent and slightly caramelized. Add minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so, stirring around.
  5. Add thawed beef and cook until no longer pink (d0 not drain grease).
  6. Add homemade taco seasoning to meat and stir until well combined. Add 1/4th cup of water and cook on low-medium heat until water is cooked down and taco meat is done. Turn heat off and set aside.
  7. Dice roma tomatoes (I like to remove some of the seeds and juice before dicing up), avocado, and red onion and place into bowl.
  8.  Add olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and oregano ( I use a about 1/8th-1/4th tsp of each and season to taste). Stir and set aside. *You can add fresh cilantro or parsley for some added flavor*
  9. Chop head of romaine and place 1/2 in each dish.
  10. Crush up plantain chips on top of the romaine.
  11. Add taco meat on top of the plantain chips and top with Pico de Gallo.
  12. Drizzle with Dump Ranch and serve!

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