Today’s STM is a little bit different, born from a burst of inspiration while looking for a quick lunch last week. We were trolling the streets of the seacoast area of NH, and all we could find open during that time of day were sandwich shops – not exactly the first thing that comes to mind for a healthy Paleo lunch. Hungry beyond belief (and far from our own kitchen), we stepped into one such sandwich shop to scope the menu. At first, we were encouraged by the made-fresh-daily offerings and the wide variety of ingredients used in their meals. But upon further inspection, while the sandwiches looked amazing (turkey, bacon and homemade basil-walnut pesto on rosemary focaccia!), the salads left us totally underwhelmed. Garden salad, Caesar salad, and a Chinese chicken salad with way too many off-road ingredients to even be considered. Super yawn… and grrrrr. How come all the dirty sandwich eaters get all the cool ingredients, while us Dino-Chow folks are stuck with nothing but iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and carrot shavings?
Just then, inspiration, hunger and audacity struck, all at the same time. Stepping confidently up to the counter, I gave my server a thousand-watt smile and said, “I’d like the turkey, bacon and pesto sandwich…dumped on top of a bed of fresh greens. Please.“ And then I waited for the staff to consult each other on my crazytown order, the likes of which they’d clearly never heard before. After several repetitions of my order (“So, just take everything that normally comes on the sandwich – yes, the tomatoes too, please – and then instead of putting it on bread, just put it on top of a pile of lettuce.”) and even more confused preparations (“Hey Shelly, how do I even charge for this?”) the disoriented counter girl disappeared into the kitchen… only to come back a few minutes later with a most gorgeous looking plate. Mounds of shaved turkey, crispy, crumbled bacon, freshly diced tomatoes and cucumber and a heap of (dairy-free) basil-walnut pesto, on a bed of mixed leafy greens. No dressing needed – the homemade pesto provided enough flavor and good fat (in the form of EVOO) to pull double-duty.
The soup special that day was a chilled tomato gazpacho, made in-house from nothing but fresh vegetables and herbs. So after adding a cup of fresh veggies to my tray, I returned to my table by the window, silently celebrating my delicious AND nutritious lunchtime creation… 100% Whole30-approved, no less.
Note, we’ve also done this with pasta dishes too – while dining at a restaurant somewhere near Portland, OR, I took a chicken, artichoke heart, roasted red pepper and kalamata olive dish (sauteed in EVOO, garlic and lemon) and told them to skip the angel hair and give me a big bed of wilted spinach instead. Delicious. So for today’s STM, we encourage you to be both creative and audacious in your meal requests, especially when dining out. With practice and a little bit of imagination, you can turn most any “SAD” dish into a Whole30-approved gorgeous dining experience.
Got a delicious, simple, Whole30-approved list of ingredients for our next Friday recipe feature? Send your Steal This Meal entry (along with photos and YOUR Whole30-inspired story!) to firstname.lastname@example.org.