(Happily) Surviving Whole30

Friday, April 12, 2013

It's Day 5 of my and T.J.'s month-long commitment to clean eating, and so far the Whole30 challenge...hasn't been much of a challenge. I know I might regret that statement in a week or two, but the first 4.5 days have gone better than I ever imagined possible. So far, this is how we're feeling:

Me: no headaches, no blood sugar problems, no digestive issues, no acid reflux (other than a little at breakfast this morning after accidentally eating apple slices that had some preservatives in them), and sleeping all night every night for the first time in recent memory.

T.J.: no digestive issues, no acid reflux, only one nighttime headache (probably from dehydration as he'd just spent the past hour push mowing our lawn in the Alabama heat), but sleeping has gotten worse instead of better. :( (He's always been a terrible sleeper, but he's sleeping so poorly this week that he wakes up exhausted, comes home exhausted, and falls asleep on the couch by 8:00 p.m. I really hope his sleep improves in week 2.

I'm really surprised that we haven't had bad headaches this week, especially from sugar withdrawal, but it probably helps that neither of us have a caffeine addiction to combat. I used to drink hot tea occasionally and a glass or two of iced sweet tea every day, but neither of us are coffee drinkers and we rarely drink soda, so my body hasn't missed caffeine so far.

I'm even more surprised at how well I've survived without sugar, though. My sugar addiction is well-chronicled (just check out my "Recipes" board on Pinterest, which is 95% sugary desserts), but so far the only time I've really craved sugar is at breakfast, which is still a bit of a struggle for me. I'm trying to adopt the Whole30 mindset that breakfast is just "Meal 1," no different from the other two, and I know that the whole idea of having separate "breakfast" foods is a Western concept and that in most areas of the world it's perfectly normal to eat the same thing for breakfast as for dinner...but it's still hard for me to stomach veggies for breakfast every day. And twice this week I had to eat omelets, which, you aren't going to believe, but I had never tried before, and now I know why. Because I'm not a fan of veggies with my eggs. Or anything with eggs really. Except bacon. (Which, alas, I am not allowed on Whole30.)

Today was my most successful breakfast, though, so maybe I'm on to something. Last night I made sweet potato hash for us to eat today and tomorrow for breakfast, and it was by FAR the best breakfast food I've eaten this week:

It was really simple to make, as well, thanks to a little prep work earlier. I had half a chopped onion left over from dinner the night before, and T.J. cubed two large sweet potatoes for me on Tuesday night when we were making sweet potato fries. To make the hash (which I adapted from the recipe in It Starts with Food), I put a pound of ground beef in one skillet and put the cubed sweet potatoes in another with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil (a.k.a. My New Best Friend). I seasoned the beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. When the sweet potatoes started to soften, I added the chopped onion and cooked until the onions were translucent and the potatoes were completely soft. I seasoned them with about 1/4 teaspoons of cinnamon and paprika, added a dash of nutmeg, then added in the drained meat. I mixed all the ingredients together and then let them simmer for a few minutes, then let it cool a bit before separating into four containers. Voila! Easy breakfast for the next two days. 

It was actually really good too, much better than the "Breakfast Mix" (apple, ground turkey) I made earlier in the week. We had a couple of those pre-cut apple/caramel combos in the refrigerator (because I'm six and so lazy I usually don't even cut my own apples), so instead of just eating straight from the Tupperware this morning, I decided to plate my hash and add the apples on the side, lest I be tempted by the caramel. It might just be because I've been sugar deprived this week, but I would swear those green apple slices were the sweetest things I've ever eaten. However, not five minutes after finishing them, I started coughing, which usually means I have acid reflux, which I'd sort of forgotten existed since I've been free of it for five days. I dug the apple package out of the trash, and lo, there were three ingredients added to the apples. Preservatives, I'm sure of it. So there's your proof, kids. Preservatives hate your body. Or vice versa. Whatever. AVOID them when possible, in other words.

Other than breakfast struggles, though, the rest of our meals this week have been some of the best I've ever prepared at home--super tasty and flavorful and filling. Next week I'm going to be more ambitious, which means a higher risk of failure, but for now let's enjoy a few pics of the meals we've tried this week, all of them delicious and nutritious and definitely on my "to cook again" list:

Dinner Day 2 (and Lunch Day 3): deconstructed hamburger with caramelized onions, roasted broccoli w/ garlic, and baked sweet potato fries with smoked paprika and cinnamon. The ones that were a little burned were the best, and they actually reheated well in the microwave.
Day 3 Dinner (and Day 4 Lunch): Moroccan chicken, microwaved sweet potato w/ ghee and cinnamon, and roasted cauliflower and broccoli w/ garlic. I've never liked cauliflower, but I LOVED them roasted.
Day 4 Dinner (Day 5 Lunch): Spinach salad w/ Cajun-seasoned chicken, cucumber, red onions, grated carrot, and grape tomatoes.  T.J. also added black olives to his. Dressing is just EVOO and balsamic vinegar (so glad I got used to using oil and vinegar for dressing when in London). By Thursday night I was ready to make something simple (and that didn't leave a pile of dirty pots and pans), and this salad nailed it. It was a bit difficult to find a blackening seasoning that would be Whole30 approved (it's amazing how many things have artificial ingredients and/or SUGAR--even our chicken broth had sugar!), but T.J. found one and it was really yummy. And SPICY. I don't usually eat creamy salad dressings, but I was kind of missing ranch with this one. There are paleo ranch recipes out there (and T.J. even  made one on Monday), but they generally require a raw egg...and the thought sort of turned our stomachs. Making ranch is time-consuming, anyway, so oil and vinegar FTW! (Bonus: helps meet healthy fats quota)
It doesn't look like these meals would be time-consuming, but for someone who used to only make veggies from a bag, and who tried to avoid chicken altogether to keep her hands from getting slimy, prep time has taken quite a bit of time as I wash and cut all of the veggies and trim and cut the chicken. Hopefully that time will be reduced in the coming weeks as I become more adept at peeling, skinning, chopping, etc.

Up tonight: meatloaf with mashed roasted cauliflower and green beans. I can't wait!


Cody Austin Marschalk April 12, 2013 at 2:12 PM  

They all look delicious! Ship some my way :)

Lacy Marschalk April 12, 2013 at 2:31 PM  

Haha, don't think they would hold up THAT well. But you are always welcome to come visit and try them when they're fresh. ;-)

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