Whole30: Week 1

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I’ve now officially started my second week of Whole30, and I’m happy to report that it’s going pretty well. There were some definite challenges this week, but I think mostly because I was already eating pretty well before I started the Whole30, I haven’t experienced some of the worse parts of the infamous Whole30 timeline, but just for fun, I’m gonna go through a mental recap using it as a guideline.

“Day 1: So what’s the big deal?” Yup. Felt that exactly. In fact, for breakfast day 1, I made the same thing I’d been eating for the whole week prior: bacon, mushroom, onion, and red pepper scrambled eggs. Breakfast scrambles are the best for using up any bits and pieces of random vegetables you have in the fridge, so that’s what I’ve been doing until I get tired of it. I also had leftover pulled pork and stir-fried veggies from the week before for lunch, and for dinner I ended up throwing some lamb shoulder chops on my grill pan and making a side of theclothesmakesthegirl’s silky zucchini soup. And, it did feel good to be consciously aware that I was making good choices.

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“Days 2-3: The Hangover” Not so much (at least not compared to the one I had the day before I started whole30). My breakfast continued to be my scrambled eggs, my lunch was leftovers of lamb and soup, and for dinner I threw together paprika roasted chicken thighs with pastured chicken we’d picked up at the farmer’s market a few weeks before and a wilted bacon spinach salad.

Not the greatest pic, sorry

Not the greatest pic, sorry

The only real challenge of these two days was  a pre-scheduled Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance happy hour at Sushi Zushi. I contemplated over and over again whether I should just skip it but when I saw that they had riceless rolls, I decided to go.  It was definitely difficult, and more than little disappointing to not be able to eat about 90% of the food they offered, but the shishito peppers and the riceless roll that they special ordered for me were both really really good.

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“Days 4-5: Kill ALL the things!” Again, not really. Or, at least, not sure, because these two days also coincided with a big deadline at work so I was already stressing out about that. My breakfast these days consisted of leftover bacon spinach salad with a fried egg and fruit and more scrambled eggs, this time with Mexican chorizo that made my week. I did, however, get tired of both my zucchini soup and lamb leftovers at this point though, so I used up some leftover sweet potato, cabbage, and bacon and made a sort-of stir fry that was very satisfying. And Friday Mr. Little Fish and I had a small, last-minute dinner party of grilled steak with caramelized mushrooms and onions, crispy salt and vinegar potatoes, and oil and vinegar coleslaw (that I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of). Our friends also brought sausage, cauliflower rice, and spaghetti squash. The whole meal was decadent and fantastic, and no one ever would have guessed that I had a particular “diet.” It did sort of suck not to be able to drink, but waking up without any of the aftereffects was kind of great.

“Days 6-7: I just want a nap….” This is an interesting one, because last night, having forgotten about this timeline, I was trying to theorize with Little Fish about why I was having such a hard time waking up this weekend. I thought it might’ve been because I’d started taking my allergy medication at night and it was knocking me out. But now I’m wondering whether it is indeed because of the Whole30. In any case, the food we made this weekend included a DELICIOUS Mexican chorizo, red potato, and spinach scramble for breakfast with a side of banana drizzled with some homemade cinnamon macadamia nut butter (heavenly).

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It also included some grilled salmon that I marinated in coconut aminos, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, but unfortunately for me, resulted in my only fail of the week when I accidentally burned it. It was still delicious; we just lost some to the pan. We ate it with leftover oil and vinegar coleslaw and cauliflower rice that I drizzled with some homemade ghee (see my instagram for some process photos)! I also made the happy discovery that Applegate grass-fed beef hotdogs are Whole30 compliant, so we rounded out the weekend with hotdogs and grilled onions and, you guessed it, coleslaw. And, of course, at some point I snacked on some apples and macadamia nut butter.

 

Overall thoughts: I know I’m not supposed to weigh myself and count calories and whatnot, but for me this is as much a fitness tool as it is a nutritional reset. So I’m pleased to say I lost at least 2 pounds this week and, even despite all the food I’ve been eating, I’ve continuously clocked in at below my calorie goals. I still get sugar cravings every once in a while, but I’m actually pretty impressed with my willpower, especially at the sushi happy hour. I am sort of preemptively sad that  I won’t be able to enjoy a nice, fun meal out for my birthday next week, but Little Fish and I will be scheduling a birthday dinner for when I get back from Mexico so patience I must have.

Tomato basil bisque

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Ever since I came back from a girls’ trip to New Orleans a couple weeks ago, I have been on a major veggie kick.  The first week I got back, I ate a salad every day.  I don’t even like salads. But the decadence we indulged in during our trip made me crave raw and fresh fruits and vegetables so much, that all I wanted was huge bowls of uncooked veggies. I went through one whole pack of spinach and one whole pack of romaine lettuce all by myself that week. Eventually, though, I did graduate to other veggie-based meals. My coconut carrot soup has been in the queue again, I made these fantastic zucchini boat enchiladas, and I’ve been putting ridiculous amounts of greens in my morning smoothies.

Then, one day, my mother-in-law gave us a whole sackful of on-the-vine tomatoes she’d bought for 50 cents at Sprout’s (that woman should be a professional deal-finder), and I was inspired: We had taken her to Le Madeleine for Mother’s Day that day, and having been reminded of my own mother’s love for Le Madeleine’s tomato basil soup, I decided to make it myself.

I never would have imagined that something as humble as a tomato basil soup would be the thing that would make Mr. Little Fish close his eyes in delight  and mumble little happy food noises to himself, but it was. He liked it so much he bragged about it to our guy friends and requested it again within a week!  And I have to admit, it’s pretty damn good. The best part is, it’s also pretty damn easy, particularly if you have an immersion blender. Although most bisque recipes I found called for quite large amounts of the heavy cream and butter, I lightened it up some without sacrificing the flavor (but don’t be afraid of the fat!). It’s neither paleo nor dairy free, but you could easily omit the cream completely for a gazpacho-like soup or you could substitute coconut milk, although that would change the flavor a bit.   And with tomato season either already here or about to start wherever you’re from, it’s perfectly timed!

Tomato Basil Bisque
Serves 5-6, depending on appetite

IMG_7171Ingredients:

5 tomatoes, diced large
4 cups tomato juice (look for ones with just tomatoes and water)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced small
4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup), 1/2 tbsp divided separately
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup basil, to taste
Kosher salt and ground pepper

Directions:

1. In a large pot, saute the garlic and shallot in a 1/2 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Saute for about 4-5 minutes, until the onions start to soften.
2. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato juice to the pot.  Simmer on medium heat for 35-45 minutes, until the mixture is reduced. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop, but I was more than happy with the taste and texture at 35 minutes.

3. Lower the heat to low, remove the pot from the heat, and add in the basil leaves. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture well for about 5 minutes. If you do not have an immersion blender, allow the soup to cool for 10-15 minutes, then add it in small batches to your blender. It is better to err on the side of cooler before transferring it your blender, because if it is too hot, it will explode, so be careful!
IMG_71824. Return the pot to the heat (which should be on low now). Add in the remaining butter and the heavy whipping cream. Stir well until the butter dissolves and the soup is heated through.
IMG_7183The color of your soup will change to a lovely bright orange color:
IMG_71875. Season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper, to taste, and serve garnished with more basil leaves, or with a balsamic reduction sprinkled over!
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5.0 from 1 reviews
Tomato basil bisque
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 5-6
Ingredients
  • 5 tomatoes, diced large
  • 4 cups tomato juice (look for ones with just tomatoes and water)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced small
  • 4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup), ½ tbsp divided separately
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup basil, to taste
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper
Directions
  1. In a large pot, saute the garlic and shallot in a ½ tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Saute for about 4-5 minutes, until the onions start to soften.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato juice to the pot. Simmer on medium heat for 35-45 minutes, until the mixture is reduced. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop, but I was more than happy with the taste and texture at 35 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat to low, remove the pot from the heat, and add in the basil leaves. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture well for about 5 minutes. If you do not have an immersion blender, allow the soup to cool for 10-15 minutes, then add it in small batches to your blender. It is better to err on the side of cooler before transferring it your blender, because if it is too hot, it will explode, so be careful!
  4. Return the pot to the heat (which should be on low now). Add in the remaining butter and the heavy whipping cream. Stir well until the butter dissolves and the soup is heated through.
  5. Season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper, to taste. Mix through, and then serve garnished with more basil leaves, or with a balsamic reduction sprinkled over!

Mom’s Quick Chili

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I’ve been very lucky that the weather here has been cooperating with my recipe posts.  Because chili isn’t really a summer food, is it? But I’ve had this recipe in the queue for a while now, and now that it’s gloomy, rainy, AND cold outside, it really is just perfect timing.  Plus, it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, so what better way to honor my own mother than by posting one my favorite recipes from her.

Brownsville, where my parents still live and where my brother and I grew up, at only 6 hours South of Austin, doesn’t ever really get a “winter” to speak of.  Once, in high school, it snowed. Just once. Luckily for a lot of people in Brownsville who had never seen snow before, it happened to fall on Christmas Eve and lasted throughout Christmas day.  It was actually quite magical to hear the entire neighborhood running around the streets at midnight. And it’s easy to understand why: it was the first time it snowed in over 100 years. 100!

But aside from the 100-year snow, it really doesn’t get that cold down there. You could get by without ever owning a heavy coat (although I heard this year there were a few more cold fronts), and even when I visited them in December, I was wearing jeans and a short sleeve shirt out on the water (Brownsville has the very lovely side benefit of being a 20 minute drive from South Padre, which used to be my point of reference when telling people where I was from). I wore boots that day, and I was hot.

But no matter the temperature, the one thing that always made me feel like it was wintertime was when mom would break out this chili. This is a no-fuss chili.  It has beans. It cooks in 30 minutes. It’s warm, comforting, and straightfoward–all qualities that remind me of my mom. She is all those things and more, and although I’ve changed the recipe to lighten it up a little bit, there’s no changing the memories of coming home to a house filled with the smells of a simmering pot of chili on the stove. And even though it’s totally May and not at all winter (global cooling, amirite?), there’s no day like today to fill your belly with the cozy warmth of chili.

Mom’s Quick Chili
Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey or other meat
2 cans Rotel original
2 cans pinto beans, undrained
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic powder or more, to taste
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp each chili powder, cumin, and paprika
Optional toppings: cheddar cheese, saltines, sour cream, green onions

Directions:

1. In a large pot, cook the ground meat and diced onions over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes (if you are using turkey, you may want to add about a tsp of oil so that the turkey doesn’t stick. You don’t need to do this for beef). Make sure to mix it around frequently so that the meat doesn’t get stuck to the pan.

2. Once the meat is cooked, add all other ingredients and mix well. If you like a more watery chili, add about half a cup of water. Simmer on medium/medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes. Stir frequently so that nothing gets stuck to the pan.

3. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream on top!
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Mom's Quick Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground turkey or other meat
  • 2 cans Rotel original
  • 2 cans pinto beans, undrained
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder or more, to taste
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp each chili powder, cumin, and paprika
  • Optional toppings: cheddar cheese, saltines, sour cream, green onions
Directions
  1. In a large pot, cook the ground meat and diced onions over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes (if you are using turkey, you may want to add about a tsp of oil so that the turkey doesn't stick. You don't need to do this for beef). Make sure to mix it around frequently so that the meat doesn't get stuck to the pan.
  2. Once the meat is cooked, add all other ingredients and mix well. If you like a more watery chili, add about half a cup of water. Simmer on medium/medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes. Stir frequently so that nothing gets stuck to the pan.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream on top!

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I am pretty darn proud of myself for actually following this Cooking Cure thing!  It is now Day 10, whose assignment is to shop for and cook your chosen recipe from your list, and I have officially completed every challenge of this Cure so far!  I’m gonna go ahead and unofficially add this to the list of things to celebrate at my super duper fancy birthday dinner tonight (P.S. doesn’t that place look amazing??  I’m probably gonna be That Girl and take pictures of all of my meals tonight, you know, for posterity. And for you guys!)!

Anywho, it’s very convenient for me that the cooking assignments are always on Fridays because I’m always off on Fridays, so that means that I get to choose something from my list that I can leisurely enjoy making.  For the lunch challenge, I choose to make the Carrot Coconut Soup.

And, you guys, this soup has to be one of the best smells that has ever graced my kitchen. And I’ve cooked a lot of delicious smelling things (this, for example).  I’ve never been to Thailand, but I imagine this is what it must smell like everywhere, which totally makes sense.

All you need for this recipe is butter, carrots, coconut milk, chicken broth (or vegetable if you want to make this vegan, in which case you should sub the butter for coconut oil), an onion, and Sriracha sauce (the original recipe called for sambal oelek, which I discovered is made by the same rooster company as Sriracha and supposed to be more simplified, buuuut I’m cheap so I used what I had).  That’s it!  In fact, I didn’t even bother peeling my carrots, since I’ve read a few times that most of the nutrition is in the peel, and I figured it was all gonna be blended anyway.  I did, however, scrub the hell out of them with my vegetable scrubber.

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The steps are even easier!  First, you chop up your carrots and dice your onion.  They don’t have to look pretty because they’re all gonna get blended, but you’ll want to chop everything fairly small so it cooks quickly.  Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, and throw the veggies in there with some salt and pepper.

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Then, once the carrots are soft enough to be pierced fairly easily with a fork, add in the coconut milk, the chicken broth, and 1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce.  Yummy. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat a little bit, and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are reeeeally soft.

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Remove the soup from the heat (and don’t forget to turn it off!).  If you are using a regular blender, then you’ll want to let the soup cool for a good bit before pouring it in to blend it.  I’m terrible at pouring things, so I used my fancy schmancy immersion blender to blend it right in the pan until there were no more chunks!

Then I topped it with MOAR Sriracha, and I ate it with a leftover cabbage roll.  It was all so delicious and I will definitely be making this soup again!

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Valentine’s Day Chicken Soup

So it’s probably a little bit of a stretch to call this spicy chicken soup Valentine’s Day chicken.  But, in my defense, the soup is red, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Valentine’s Day is a weird day to me.  At first, I started to not like it because I hated the restaurant experience on the Day–the hiked up prices, the crowds, the usually-lower-quality food because it’s a prix fixed menu.  So I transitioned to doing things at home, which was more enjoyable but still came with a lot of stress.  But then I realized that I just don’t care much about it.  I particularly don’t care for the high expectations and pressure that come along with the holiday.  So when Mr. Little Fish and I first started dating, I told him that I didn’t want to celebrate, he said OK, somewhat skeptically, I repeated myself more emphatically, and then that was that.

Well, that was supposed to be that.  But then he bought me these flowers yesterday:

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If flowers didn’t just die a few days after you bought them, I would actually really enjoy getting flowers.  I’ve thought about getting potted flowers, but I have become aware of my lack of a green thumb.  We have one indoor rubber tree that has managed to survive, but other than that, I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever gotten.  So, when were in HEB last week, I wistfully remarked that I kinda wished flowers didn’t die so quickly because I would like to always have some in our house.  I usually think Mr. LF isn’t listening to my ramblings, but he always is, so he got me these flowers.  It was a lovely surprise to finish my work week with, despite the ubiquitous little heart in the middle of the bouquet.

Which unfortunately does not at all provide me with a segue to this soup, but, I’m gonna talk about it anyway.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a few recipes that were easy and fast to make to help ease the pain of making your own food during the week (see: here, here, and here), but that’s not the only way I make things easier for myself:  I also make soups.  HUGE batches of soup.  On Sunday afternoons when I have time to let the flavors simmer and meld together. Then, I have lunches for every day that week for me and dinners for every day for Little Fish.  Sometimes, because I need a little more variety than Little Fish does, I’ll end up making some quick dinners for myself during the week, but other times, I’ll have the soup for dinner too.

This particular soup is one of our favorites.  The recipe is originally from Allrecipes.com, which is a great site for crowd-sourcing your meals.  They have a star rating system and a TON of users, so it’s pretty much the Amazon of recipes.  I tweaked the recipe to make it a bit fresher:  using a whole chicken so we can get the tender dark meat and make our own stock, buying fresh pico de gallo at HEB instead of a jar of salsa, adding red pepper in for a less starchy veggie, and letting each person put as much sour cream as they want rather than mixing it into the entire soup.  Truly a great soup for these winter days (but probably not the ideal candidate for Valentine’s Day)!

Valentine’s Day Chicken Soup
Serves 12
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Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
2 stalks celery
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp onion powder
2.5 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 16-oz jar of chunky salsa (of fresh salsa from your local store)
2 (14.5 oz) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
3 tbsp chili powder
2 (16 oz) cans chili or black beans, undrained
1 bean-can full of frozen corn kernels
Sour cream, to taste

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the chicken, celery, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley, and onion powder to a boil.  Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low/medium-low, and let it simmer, covered, for about an hour, until the meat is tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork.
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2.  About 50 minutes in, prep the veggies if you haven’t already, and open the cans.  Remove the chicken from the water and onto a plate, and turn the heat off on the leftover stock (you will use this stock in the recipe, and have enough leftover to freeze for chicken broth).
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Get another clean plate and then start to pull the meat off the chicken, making sure to shred it into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.
3.  In another large pot, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
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Stir in the salsa, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, frozen corn, beans, shredded chicken, and about 5 cups of broth, or however much liquid you desire/your pot can hold (ours was only able to have 4).  Simmer for 30 minutes.
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4.  While the soup is simmering, you can throw away the celery in the leftover stock, and pour it though a strainer to get the spices out.  Freeze the strained liquid and use whenever chicken broth/stock is called for in future recipes!

IMG_68965.  For those who are/can not eat dairy, you can eat the soup straight.  Otherwise, I highly recommend stirring in some sour cream into your bowl, as it makes it creamy and delicious!  Allow each person to get as big or small a dollop as they want, and top with avocado, cheese, and/or tortilla chips!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Valentine's Day Chicken Soup
 
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Cook time
Total time
 
NOTE: To make this recipe a better weeknight meal, I typically just buy a cooked rotisserie chicken from the store, and shred the chicken for the meat. If you go those route, omit the celery below, and ignore steps 1 and 2 in the directions. I like to start with step 3 (getting the veggies started), and then pull the chicken while it cooks, but it also works fine to pull the chicken entirely before starting the actual cooking.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
  • 2 stalks celery
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 16-oz jar of chunky salsa (of fresh salsa from your local store)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 (16 oz) cans chili or black beans, undrained
  • 1 bean-can full of frozen corn kernels
  • Sour cream, to taste
Directions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the chicken, celery, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley, and onion powder to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low/medium-low, and let it simmer, covered, for about an hour, until the meat is tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork.
  2. About 50 minutes in, prep the veggies if you haven't already, and open the cans. Remove the chicken from the water and onto a plate, and turn the heat off on the leftover stock (you will use this stock in the recipe, and have enough leftover to freeze for chicken broth). Get another clean plate and then start to pull the meat off the chicken, making sure to shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. In another large pot, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Stir in the salsa, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, frozen corn, beans, shredded chicken, and about 5 cups of broth, or however much liquid you desire/your pot can hold (ours was only able to have 4). Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. While the soup is simmering, you can throw away the celery in the leftover stock, and pour it though a strainer to get the spices out. Freeze the strained liquid and use whenever chicken broth/stock is called for in future recipes!
  5. For those who are/can not eat dairy, you can eat the soup straight. Otherwise, I highly recommend stirring in some sour cream into your bowl, as it makes it creamy and delicious! Allow each person to get as big or small a dollop as they want, and top with avocado, cheese, and/or tortilla chips!