Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Warm and Bright Breakfast Hash

In early January, I began a Whole30 diet. It wasn't my first Whole30, but it was decidedly different from those that preceded it.

You see, for many people, Whole30 is a way to reset cravings and improve energy levels and digestion. The first few days feel like death as your body withdraws from quick-burning carbs. But, if you stick with it, 2 weeks in you'll start feeling like you can single-handedly write, produce, direct, and star in a feature film over the course of one day and still get dinner on the table by 7pm.

This Whole30 was different for me because I felt like death before I even started. I spent much of fall and winter on a downward spiral of fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, anxiety, depression, aches, chills, and various stomach pains. When I spent most of Christmas day sick as a dog and realized that I had taken a sick day at least once a week for the entirety of December, it was time for something to change right away. Hence, the Whole30: a hail-Mary attempt to become functional again.

Shortly after, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. The diagnosis came following countless blood tests, two surgical procedures, three ultrasounds, and genetic testing. Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disorder wherein your body attacks the thyroid gland and anything else that it might mistake for markers on the thyroid such as gluten and casein. After receiving the diagnosis, I spent a solid three days wondering if life without macaroni and cheese is worth living.

When I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself, I realized that Hashimoto's is (right now) far less bad for me than for others. For one thing, I'm pretty adept in the kitchen, so needing to make foods from scratch isn't a problem. For another, I have an understanding employer who lets me work at the pace I need. Finally, I'm blessed to have excellent health insurance that covers all the crazy tests I need regularly now such as nutritional deficiency testing, antibody levels, etc.

All that is to say that over 50 days later, I'm still on that Whole30. I've yet to hit that feeling of invincibility. Hell, I've yet to hit a feeling of "okay this isn't bad." But I'm going to work 5 days a week again, my insomnia is mostly gone, the aches and fatigue are milder, and I even took a short walk with my dogs for the first time in 2018!

The following recipe is one I made to enjoy for a nice Sunday brunch, because Hashimoto's cannot and will not beat the bougie out of me. The warm spices and bright citrus are a fabulous complement to fennel and sweet potatoes. This meal is best enjoyed with comfortable company, and it would be great with a mimosa (or two or three) for those who are not following a Whole30.

Warm and Bright Breakfast Hash
Servings: 2
Time: 45 minutes

1 bulb of fennel, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 lemon, zested and cut into quarters
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1.5 tsp. ground mace
1.5  tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cardamom
salt and black pepper to taste
olive oil
pint grape or cherry tomatoes
4 breakfast sausage links
4 eggs
parsley, chopped

1) Prepare your hash.
    a) Preheat oven to 450°F.
    b) Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
    c) Melt your coconut oil (if necessary).
    d) Combine chopped fennel, sweet potato, and lemon zest in a large bowl with coconut oil, mace, ginger, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Toss well until spices are evenly distributed over the veggies.

    e) Spread your vegetable and spice mixture on the cookie sheet.
    f) Add your sausage links to the cookie sheet and roast veggies and sausages for 20 minutes.

    g) Flip your vegetables and sausages after 12 minutes. Continue to roast for another 8 minutes.

2) Prepare your tomatoes.
    a) Toss grape or cherry tomatoes with a touch of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
    b) After 20 minutes of roasting the vegetables, throw the tomatoes onto the pan with the chopped veggies and sausage.

    c) Roast for 12 more minutes or until the tomatoes burst.

3) Prepare your eggs.
    a) Heat a skillet on the stove at medium-low heat. 
    b) Add some olive oil to the skillet once it's warm.
    c) Crack in your eggs.
    d) Once the eggs start to turn white, cover the skillet and let your eggs steam until the whites are just set but the yolks are still runny. 

4) Assemble.
    a) Divide the tomatoes and vegetable hash between two plates.
    b) Add two sausage links to each plate.
    c) Squeeze 1/4 lemon over each plate of hash.
    d) Top each plate of hash with two sunny-side up eggs.
    e) Squeeze another 1/4 lemon over the eggs. (I know this sounds weird, but the acidity cuts the yolk really nicely).
   f) Season the eggs with salt and pepper if desired, and garnish with chopped parsley.


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