A Way Too Long Post about Our Crazy-Busy Week. With Food Pictures. Of Course.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's been a crazy busy (but great) last week, which is why I've neglected the blog here a bit. I've been meaning to post some updates, to tell you all how we've been doing in the world after Whole30, but the world has just kept us going too much! Today is the first real day I've had at home to just sit at the computer and work, and I have two articles with swiftly approaching deadlines that have prevented me from doing much online.

Last Wednesday was our first day-after-Whole30, and we introduced dairy back into our diet (with the delicious strawberry yogurt posted in the previous entry, now a regular breakfast item). That evening I made a vegetable tian and chipotle sweet potato skins for dinner. They aren't dishes that I would normally pair, but I was trying to make almost-paleo foods that contained cheese and to make sure we had enough protein and veggies for dinner.

Vegetable Tian. I made it without the white potatoes.

Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potato Skins. Yummy, but I think they would be best as an appetizer. I really didn't want to eat more than one at a time, and in order for it to be an entree, you'd either need to eat two or eat a lot of veggies on the side.
We didn't really have time to stop and savor our food, though, because we were going to a screening of the documentary deepsouth hosted by AIDS Action Coalition. We were strong and avoided all the free booze and delicious-looking sweets and stuck to water while we made small talk and watched the film. I'm still not sure what I think of the documentary itself, but the Q&A afterward was enlightening. The film's director and two of it's "stars" were there for the discussion, and I definitely learned a lot. I have to confess that I was one of those people who sort of thought that AIDS wasn't really an issue anymore; I didn't realize how much poverty affects the disease, how there are more than a hundred people in my area alone who are on a waiting list just to get the medication they need, how the funds have dried up, how the South is hit harder by this disease than other places in the country. (Alabama has the 13th highest HIV infection rate in the nation and the 8th highest AIDS-related death rate.)

If you have time, money, or the inclination, check out the great work Mary Elizabeth Marr and the AIDS Action Coalition does and see if you can help. T.J. and I will both be getting involved in the near future. He actually worked a lot with the organization way back when he was in high school.

Thursday was another busy day and late night. It was "grains" day, so we had toast for breakfast.

I topped the organic toast with raw honey and strawberries. I thought it was delicious, but T.J. thought it tasted like cardboard and felt sick afterward.

After work, T.J. and I met up and went to the Greene Street Farmer's Market to load up on organic local strawberries, sweet potatoes, green onions, and eggs. We had a nice time looking at all the booths, and the weather was gorgeous.

Afterward, we went out for our first dinner out in more than a month! I chose Outback because I thought it would be easier to make good choices there. I ordered a 6 oz. sirloin, sweet potato fries, and grilled asparagus. I thought this would be healthier than getting my usual salad (cheese, dressing, croutons) and baked sweet potato (brown sugar and honey butter), but the fries were coated in something sweet (honey maybe) and were...well fried. I've been eating baked sweet potatoes fries for so long now that I kind of forgot the point of fries was to fry them. lol I did splurge and get the horseradish crumb crust for my steak (I figured I deserved it after 32 days of healthy eating), but my stomach was NOT happy with me afterward, and neither was T.J.'s. I don't think we'll be going back there anytime soon.

After dinner we went to the gym for our first work-out in who knows how long! I'm really happy that we'll be adding fitness into our new healthy routines. While we were there, we set up appointments with the trainer for Saturday morning, which went really well.

Friday I was craving the sweet and spiciness of Moroccan Beef Skillet, so I made that before we went to see The Great Gatsby. I enjoyed it but I'm reserving full judgement until after I reread the book. I read it in high school and then again my first year of graduate school (both times for fun, never as part of a class), so it's been six or seven years since I last read it. I'm going to reread it this week, though, to see if it now produces the same emotions it did when I watched the film. (I actually felt sorry for Daisy in the film, which I've never felt reading the book.) The movie is flashy and over-the-top and more than a little silly at times, but that's Luhrmann's style and what I was expecting to some degree. I am curious to see what affect (if any) his visuals have on my rereading. Might have to see the movie again after I finish the book! (And in 3D this time. This might be the only movie I've sat through in recent memory where I thought, "Wow. I bet that looks cool in 3D.")

Saturday morning was spent at the gym. It was rainy, so I was so thankful I could run on our gym's indoor track while T.J. met with the trainer. (I met with him first and ran/walked afterward.) Then once the rain subsided we worked in the front flower beds trimming hedges and pulling up the God-awful weedy ground cover before showering and heading to BrewFest to meet up with friends. BrewFest is this really cool (albeit overpriced) event in downtown Huntsville that brings together live music, local food, and loads of craft beers from all over the South. Thankfully, for people like me, there are also plenty of ciders to try.

I was so sore and tired by the time we got to BrewFest, I was quite happy that the evening required nothing more than eating, drinking, and chatting. Here's where we really fell off the paleo wagon, though. I tried at least half a dozen cidars (Kopparberg Pear, Scrumpy's, and Wood Chuck Reserve Pink were my favorites), and T.J. exchanged $20 for what he thought was 20 food tokens. Turns out we got 25 tokens, so we ended up eating a bit more than planned. (As you do.) We split Moe's nachos (a Billy Barou basically) for seven tokens, then had so many left we had to each get a pretzel from Schnitzel Ranch and each get a double scoop of homemade ice cream. I know, I know. You wouldn't think beer and ice cream mix, but apparently people make beer floats? I just ate my scoops of strawberry and vanilla bean alone, and they were so uber-delicious. Pretty much the only craving I had during Whole30 was for a strawberry milkshake, so my little Crave Monster was sooooo happy with me that night. I never felt bad from consuming all that junk, but the scale sure hasn't been happy with me ever since. :-(

Sunday was spent painting the twin guest room. We finally found the perfect shade of gray (only took three tries!), and we needed to get the room painted before my family comes to visit next week. We spent most of the day painting and then had to quickly prepare veggies and dessert to take to T.J.'s mom's for dinner.

We made this amazing, gorgeous, delicious, decadent, sinfully good fruit pizza:

It has fruit and it's gluten-free (used coconut flour instead of wheat), but I wouldn't exactly call it healthy. Here's the recipe we followed exactly. We doubled everything to make it big enough for the whole family.

It might have been one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. (And I really want a piece right now looking at the pictures.) I was so stuffed afterward I felt miserable all night, but in this case it was worth it. I highly recommend the recipe if you're ever in the mood for something delicious and decadent to bring to a gathering or are planning a dessert night.

Sunday, Monday, and today I've had to eat lunch out (Subway Sunday, Zoe's yesterday, and Zaxby's today), and I've made good choices each time (6 in. chicken teriyaki on wheat without chips or drink, chicken salad and fresh fruit platter, and grilled chicken "Zalad" with lite vinaigrette), but nothing I've eaten is entirely paleo or Whole30 compliant and I'm kind of eager to eat "good food" again. Yesterday I finally had time to make our meal plan for the week and go grocery shopping, so I'm looking forward to eating at home and eating healthier options the rest of the week!


The Top Five Reasons I Love Whole30--And Unexpected Consequences of the Journey

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This morning, for the first time in 31 days, I had dairy for breakfast--plain Greek yogurt to be exact.

This is our more healthful version of breakfast yogurt: plain 2% FAGE, fresh strawberries, slivered almonds, and light agave nectar for some sweetness. It was really good. (So good T.J. said he felt like he was "dancing with the devil." Haha!)

Since I ate this less than half an hour ago, it remains to be seen how my stomach responds to dairy after avoiding it for a month (my stomach even turned a little when I first smelled the plain yogurt), but here's to hoping this can become a breakfast staple. There's tons of protein and calcium in the yogurt, and making this yogurt is so much easier than scrambling eggs every morning.

But now for the real reason for this post--the Whole30 recap results! Or, the Top 5 Reasons I Love Whole30.

5) I lost weight.

On January 1, I, like millions of people around the world, stepped on the scales, and I weighed the most I've ever weighed: 140 pounds. I know 140 isn't that high, but it's almost thirty pounds heavier than I was in college, less than a decade ago. (Granted, at that time, I was desperate to gain weight.) I made a resolution that day that by the end of the year, I would be down to 125. But like so many people who make New Year's Resolutions, I did absolutely nothing to accomplish that goal: I didn't diet or exercise.

On April 8, the first day of Whole30, I weighed 138.2 pounds. Last night, at the end of Whole30, weighing in at the exact same time and wearing the same clothes, I weighed 129.8. In thirty days, I lost 8.4 pounds, or 6% of my total weight. Nothing changed in the past month other than my diet. (I still haven't gone to the gym, although I did join one.) And I didn't starve myself, drink my meals, or count calories. I ate real food. Good food.

T.J. did even better than I. He lost 19.4 pounds.

4) It improved my health.

"You are what you eat."

"If you eat crap, you'll feel like crap."

There are a million different ways to express this adage--possibly because it's true--but I don't know if I ever really believed it until now.

In the past year and a half, I have been to the doctor more often than in the previous twenty-eight years combined. I have struggled with fatigue, with blood sugar issues, with back pain/spasms, with digestive issues, with a B12 deficiency, with headaches, with acne. Whole30 didn't help with the back pain or acne (unfortunately--my acne is not food related; it just really hates Alabama), but it helped with all those other things.

While I lived in Pennsylvania, my B12 consistently stayed in the 100s, despite receiving injections and daily supplements for nearly a year. (Normal is somewhere between 200-900, although they prefer it be at least in the 400s.)

According to my doctor, my B12 is now "perfect."

The reason I discovered the B12 deficiency in the first place was because I had such extreme fatigue, I was convinced that I had problems with my thyroid. After my doctor ran a bunch of tests, the only one that came back problematic was my B12. I started injections, and they would give me energy for about three hours afterward, but nothing sustainable. I suffered from terrible "brain fog," claimed to feel "brain dead" every afternoon, all afternoon, and got very little scholarly work accomplished unless I worked early in the morning.

For the past month, I have had energy and mental focus like I haven't had in years, if I ever had them.

Last year my blood sugar was routinely too high and rarely fell below 100, even when fasting: pre-diabetic numbers. I spent months feeling weak and sick, charting my numbers. Since I'm not actually diabetic, all my doctor could recommend is that I get more exercise and change my diet. At the time, I did neither of those things.

I have had no problems with my blood sugar for the past month.

I suffered from several digestive issues during the past year that I'd never really had before, and at one point or another I was convinced that I had one of any number of gastrointestinal diseases, including Celiac and Crohn's. (Seriously, people. WebMD is not your friend.) I even blamed a medication I was taking for the problems, and my doctor put it on my "allergy" list.

I haven't had any digestive issues for the past month. My new doctor started me on the same medication about three weeks ago, and I've had no issues.

I used to have headaches fairly often, usually in the late afternoon. Sometimes I would have them for several days in a row, and no amount of Advil would get rid of them.

In the past month, I've only had one headache. (It was three days ago. So close to a perfect record!)

I don't know if these results are typical. I don't know if they will continue even if we keep eating a Whole30 diet. But I've been so thankful to have four weeks of feeling great, it was worth whatever little food sacrifices I had to make.

3) It made my marriage stronger.

Before Whole30, T.J. and I never cooked together. To be honest, I felt so incompetent in the kitchen I hated anyone else in there with me. I could barely peel a potato or chop an onion, so I felt like I was being judged every time he suggested I hold the knife a certain way or use this peeler instead of that one. I know he was only trying to help (and trust me--I've reluctantly learned a lot from him), but I just had so little confidence in my cooking skills that I preferred to wing it on my own.

So we took turns cooking. We ate dinner together (in front of the television), but I was usually still in bed when he left for work in the morning, so dinner was our only meal together.

Now, we cook together almost every night. We share duties, although I will often start before he gets home from work, knowing that dinner will take awhile to make. We still eat dinner in front of the TV (it's usually after seven and our shows are on by the time we sit down to eat), but we have breakfast together every morning. I get up early and make breakfast while he's getting ready for work, and we eat breakfast at the breakfast table. Before Whole30, we had not eaten at the table in the whole 15+ months of our marriage.

Cooking together and eating together has definitely made our marriage stronger, I think. And now breakfast is one of my favorite times of day.

2) It made me more aware of what I put in my body.

Before Whole30, I rarely read ingredients lists and only occasionally glanced at the number of calories in a dish. And I never investigated what went into the food I prepared at home, much less what I ate at restaurants. My favorite restaurant food? (And the only one I've craved in the past month?) The Honey Chipotle Chicken Crispers at Chili's. (I know, I know; I have a five-year-old's taste in food.) Tomorrow night we are going out to eat for the first time in a month, and I was all ready to head to Chili's to indulge in that amazing, gooey honey-chipotle sauce. I decided I would try to  make the meal slightly more healthful by changing out the fries and ear of corn for something greener, so I went on the Chili's website to look at their other sides. I wasn't intending to look at the "nutrition" facts for the Crispers themselves, but that's what I found. And I discovered that my beloved Crispers alone have 1700 CALORIES. And that's not including the corn (220 calories) and fries (410 calories)! No wonder I gained seven pounds last year! I must have eaten those Crispers two dozen times!

So needless to say, we are not going to Chili's for dinner tomorrow night. But this is just an example of how terrible my eating habits were before Whole30. I used to eat take-out pizza and Chinese honey chicken and fried rice more often than I cooked in my own kitchen. Eating my vegetables meant ordering sweet potato fries instead of regular ones at Burger King, and keeping the lettuce and onions on my burger, instead of picking them off like I used to. (And I still asked for it without tomatoes.) It meant ordering the Garden Fresh pizza at Papa John's instead of pepperoni. It meant heating up a prepackaged container of broccoli and cheese in the microwave to go with whatever steak-and-potato combination I made at home. It meant adding canned tomatoes to my homemade chili instead of just tomato sauce.

In just one month, I've gone from someone who would eat anything put in front of her as long as it required no effort and was relatively cheap, to someone who will pay top dollar for organic, grass-fed meats, who is willing to pay a little extra for organic fruits and veggies in the "Dirty Dozen," who reads every label carefully, who rejects anything that contains ingredients I can't pronounce or immediately identify, or that contains what I believe are unnecessary ingredients (such as sugar in lemon juice, chicken broth, and just about any other staple item you can think of). I'm also more aware of the human and environmental cost of my food choices. I'm more likely to buy local and to seek out items that are fair-trade.

1) It taught me to cook and made my palate/diet more adventurous.

Ask anyone who knows me even slightly: prior to Whole30, my official stance on cooking was that I hated it. I was a lazy eater and an even lazier cook. I basically just ate because that's a requirement of being alive, and I wasn't very happy about it (eating, not the being alive apart--very happy about that), unless of course what I was eating was doughy or coated in sugar, preferably both. And as long as someone else made it. No matter how much I love sweet treats, I wasn't about to make them myself when Publix is just across the street from my subdivision.

I've since discovered that the main reasons I hated cooking were A) because I had no energy and resented time and energy spent in the kitchen, and B) because I had so little confidence in my cooking skills, and I hate doing things at which I feel incompetent. I never cooked with vegetables (unless they were canned) because I didn't know what to do with them. Cleaning and peeling and cutting them was so much work, and so time consuming! It still is, but now I enjoy the process. And I know what I'm doing, to some degree. I'm not ready for Top Chef yet, but I feel much more competent in the kitchen.

In the past 30 days, I cooked or prepared the following vegetables, most for the first time: zucchini, squash, regular carrots (not the baby kind I always used to use in dishes), whole head cauliflower and broccoli (used to only buy the pre-cut, bagged kind), celery, Roma tomatoes, sweet peppers, bell peppers, poblano peppers, eggplant, kale, spinach (used to only eat it raw in salads), green onions (used to claim I hated them), brussel sprouts (always claimed they were my least favorite thing in the world), shallots, garlic, fresh green beans (only used canned before), cucumber, yellow onions, sweet onions, red onions, and sweet potatoes (soooo many sweet potatoes, but they are my favorite).

Now I skin and chop onions and sweet potatoes almost daily (used to only microwave or bake them whole). I have grated ginger and chopped cilantro and parsley. I wash and slice mushrooms routinely. I eat black olives (used to hate them). I use so much spice that I've started running out of some that previously sat on the shelves for years untouched, and I've purchased several new ones, including arrowroot and chipotle pepper.  I actually eat the fruit we buy (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, pears, fuji apples, honeycrisp apples, green apples, plums, mango, papaya, pineapple, grapes, melon, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, and cherimoya, just in the last month), instead of letting it rot in the crisper, neglected. When I see something like this...

...in the supermarket, I don't automatically turn away. Now I wonder, what is it, and what can I do with it?
This. I can do this with it. Just thought I'd remind you all of how awesome the cherimoya is.
Thanks to It Starts with Food, I know all the basic ways to cook vegetables, how long to roast them (my preferred style), basic ways to cook chicken and beef, including how to spice them, what kinds of oils to use, and how long to cook chicken on each side to ensure it's done but not overcooked, without slicing it open or using a meat thermometer. I know that a good spice rub on a roast, steak, or Boston butt can be every bit as tasty as a sugary marinade, and I know how different spices work together and can experiment with them to some degree. My cabinets are now stocked with things I'd never heard of or at least never considered using before, such as coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut aminos, coconut vinegar, ghee, tahini, and almond butter. I've made homemade mayonnaise, ranch dressing, strawberry vinaigrette, and barbecue sauce.

I used the broiler for the first time (no lie), and I scrambled eggs dozens of times even though I'd never made them before. I'm not kidding; before Whole30, I'd never even scrambled eggs before. (Remember? If it were up to me, breakfast would just be a NutriGrain bar or bowl of Special K Vanilla Almond cereal. Scrambled eggs were reserved for special occasions, like Sunday brunch at Cracker Barrel.)

There were some unexpected consequences of Whole30, though. Whether these consequences are positive or negative is open to interpretation. (I lean toward positive.)

Unexpected Consequence I: Unnatural things affect you a lot more. 
I used to be able to pop a muscle relaxer for my neck or back and never get sleepy. Now I'm dead weight within an hour. Even Advil makes me sleepy. Everything just seems a lot more potent now than it used to (which means I can pop one pill and achieve roughly the same effect I used to receive with two). T.J. took Benadryl after he had an allergy test, and it knocked him out for almost twelve hours. He was still really groggy the next day.

Unexpected Consequence II: My night owl tendencies are long gone.
I've always been a night owl, wide awake at night and sleeping in whenever I get the chance. I loved sleep, I just didn't love it before midnight. Now, I'm on more of a "normal person" schedule. I'm ready to head up to bed at 10:00 (although it's usually closer to 11:00 before I finally go to bed), and I wake around 7:00. I also need more sleep and sleep deeper. My schedule is more regulated throughout the week, though; at the most I sleep until 8:00 on weekends.

Unexpected Consequence III: We produce far less garbage.
Okay, this is obviously a positive. Last week on garbage day T.J. noted that we only accumulated one and a half bags of trash in the past week. Obviously, it isn't that way every week, but it's amazing how much less you contribute to landfills when you aren't eating prepackaged food. Most of our garbage is kitchen scraps (sweet potato peels, apple cores, and the like), and when we start our garden next spring and start composting, we won't even have that to throw away!


So there you have it. I was skeptical at first, and I was resistant to the idea of giving up all the foods I thought I loved best when T.J. suggested this challenge to me, but I now sincerely believe it's one of the best things I've ever done.

I know I had it easier than most. I never had headaches from sugar or caffeine withdrawal, I never turned into a raging monster that first week like the book warned. I was fortunate to be sharing the experience with my partner, who is even more committed to this diet than I am, and I'm fortunate that I live in an area where I can find organic foods and meat pretty easily and that we can afford to pay for it. But I would recommend this diet to anyone concerned about their health, their weight, or just looking to be more conscious of what they are eating. It definitely changed our lives for the better, and we're never going back to the way it was before.


The (Whole30) End Is Here

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's day 30! That means T.J. and I have officially survived thirty days of clean eating: no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no legumes, no alcohol. And no corn, no canola oil, no vegetable oil, and minimal preservatives (no MSG, sulfites, or carrageenan). I'm actually kind of dreading tomorrow, when we add dairy back into our diets.

Coming off of Whole30, you're supposed to stagger your reintroduction of contraband food groups so you can see how they each affect you. We thought dairy would be the easiest to reintroduce alone, so tomorrow our breakfast and dinner will involve plain Greek yogurt and fresh parmesan cheese, respectively. Baby steps. You're supposed to reintroduce groups about three days apart, but because of our weekend plans (Brewfest! Yay!), we will probably have to rush the timeline a bit: grains on Thursday, sugar Friday, alcohol Saturday. Basically, this is just a test so we can narrow down which foods make us feel the worst and cut those from our diet (as much as possible) from now on.

I feel a hundred times better than I did a month ago, but part of me wonders if my feeling better doesn't have more to do with the fact I eat three well-balanced meals a day (protein and veggies at every meal), instead of the diet of meat, carbs, dairy, beans, and sugar I used to subsist on. I guess we will find out in the coming days! We will still be eating three well-balanced meals a day, so we will really be able to tell the effects of these other food groups. I have a feeling we will learn he has issues with dairy and gluten, while my issue is with legumes and sugar. Especially sugar. :-( Surprisingly, as much as my mouth salivates every time I skirt past the bakery section of Publix, I haven't had any serious sugar withdrawals. But who would, when you are eating food like this:

Dinner last Friday: Dijon Pork Tenderloin, mashed cauli, roasted broccoli
Dinner Saturday night (and Sunday night, and Monday for lunch) started with T.J.'s meatloaf. It doesn't look like much here, but trust. This is the greatest meatloaf I've ever put in my mouth. It is a wondrous thing. I will post the recipe when I can get it from him.
The meatloaf was paired with French-style green beans, cooked my favorite way: two cans of beans (try to find BPA-free cans), drained, and spread out in an 8x8 glass dish. Sprinkle the top with sea salt, pepper, and a generous amount of Italian seasoning. (Make sure your seasoning is just herbs and spices, and avoid the Good Seasons Italian Seasoning packs. They taste the best--and that's what I used to use--but they're mostly just preservatives and sugar. If you can't find a purely herbal Italian seasoning, make your own.) Cover the seasoned beans with melted ghee (about two tbsp.), and put in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes. This will make about four servings. Easy and delicious!
And meatloaf wouldn't be meatloaf without potatoes, and since we'd already had enough mashed cauli for the week, this meal demanded sweet potato casserole! I might have been more excited about this dish than I've been about anything in a long, long time. I might have bounced around the kitchen singing about how ready I was to eat it. I'm still tweaking the recipe, so I'm not ready to publish it yet (it's coming; I promise!), but you guys. Those pecans are coated in chocolate. (Unsweetened cocoa powder is my new best friend.)
Dinner last night (Day 29!): Creamy Roasted Chicken Breast, roasted broccoli, and sauteed cinnamon carrots. (Carrots were cooked on the stove top in melted ghee, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and they were delicious.) Simple and healthful.

And for the grand finale last night:


I know, I know. It's crazy-looking, right? Like a dinosaur egg. It doesn't look like it could be one of the greatest fruits you've ever put in your mouth. But it is. It so is.

We saw these when we were produce shopping at Kroger on Sunday, and I'd never seen or heard of a cherimoya before, so I wasn't about to waste $7.99 a lb. on one. (And a single cherimoya was a little over a pound.) But I was intrigued, so I went home and Googled cherimoya on Monday and read this blog post about them and promptly called T.J. and asked him to stop by Kroger on his way home from work to pick one up for dessert last night. I checked at Publix yesterday, too, and they didn't have them, so I feel pretty fortunate that we were able to discover this rare, succulent little treat right at the end of their season.

We decided to follow the bloggers suggestion and just eat the cherimoya plain. I sliced it in half.

And then we spooned out the delicious, soft white flesh, spitting out the large seeds.

Yeah, we kind of liked it a lot.

The flavor is difficult to describe, only I would say it is tropical. I could taste hints of coconut, pineapple, and pear, and the texture was kind of like an apple/pear if it were soft, not crunchy. In some parts of the world, it's referred to as the custard apple, and I think that's a really appropriate description.

T.J. thought it tasted like the juice in fruit cocktail, but in a good way. I could definitely taste that too, after he said it.

If you ever see these in your local grocery, do yourself a favor and get one! You will not be disappointed. (Unless you don't like fruit, and in that case...I really don't have much to say to you.)

The sugar dragon has mostly left me alone the past thirty days, and I can only imagine it's because of delectable treats like this one. When there is so much natural sweetness in fruit, sweet potatoes, and the like, it makes you wonder why we ever thought we needed refined sugars? (Don't answer that.)

Tomorrow, our first day post-Whole30, I will post a wrap-up, including health (and weight!) results. We're excited to weigh in tonight. Until then, happy eating!


Whole 30: Six More Days

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We have less than a week left of Whole30, so you might imagine that I'm jumping up and down, so ready to dig into a Snickers bar or pile of cupcakes. I love sugar and pastries--that will never change--but I'm less ready for this challenge to be over than you might think. I love how my body feels right now, how much better my powers of concentration are when I'm eating good foods and keeping the junk out. I can now actually work/write/research/read all day without losing focus, and I used to be really unproductive in the afternoons and claim I felt "brain dead." Who knew Whole30 was nature's version of Adderall?! I now have energy and brain power to last all day, and I don't want that to change just because Whole30 ends. I will definitely continue eating this way as much as is possible and only treat myself to sweets when the negative side effects are absolutely worth it.

We tried a couple new recipes the last couple of days, and I continue to be impressed with the dishes paleo food bloggers come up with. Whether you are doing Whole30 or just want to start eating a little healthier, click on the links in any of my Whole30 blog posts and you'll be amazed at the variety of interesting recipes out there. No matter what kind of food is your favorite, I'm sure there is a paleo equivalent.

Here's how we've been dining:

Monday, Day 22
Breakfast: leftover Coconut Milk and Curry Frittata, baby carrots
Lunch: leftover Smoky Pot Roast, carrots and onions, and roasted brussel sprouts (see previous post for pictures and links to this day's recipes)
Dinner: Moroccan Beef Skillet and a bowl of fresh pineapple for dessert

The Moroccan Beef was delicious but had a lot of spices, so if you aren't such a fan of heavily spiced dishes, you might want to cut the spice amount in half. Also, regardless of whether you like raisins or not, add them, and lots of them! I don't really like raisins, but I put two boxes of the golden ones in, and I wished I'd put double that! The sweet makes such a lovely contrast to the spice, and you won't notice the texture.
After nearly a month without sugar, my palate has really changed, and this fresh pineapple seemed like the sweetest, most delicious thing I'd ever tasted.  I'm absolutely in love and will be adding this to our fruit rotation, although next time maybe we will split a bowl instead of each eating a whole one. (This was just a bit too much, and I felt overfull for the first time since we began Whole30.)
Tuesday, Day 23
Breakfast: Banana and Cream "Oatmeal" (recipe and pic in last post--this is quickly becoming a breakfast favorite), scrambled eggs
Lunch: leftover Moroccan Beef
Dinner: strawberry spinach salad (spinach, grape tomatoes, slivered almonds, walnuts, chopped carrots, chopped cucumber, red onion, fresh strawberries, dried cranberries, grilled chicken, and homemade Strawberry  Balsamic Vinaigrette)

All of our salads this past month were a bit boring as we weren't fans of the homemade ranch and opted to use just oil and balsamic vinegar. I don't think I could have convinced T.J. to eat another salad if I hadn't made this strawberry vinaigrette to go with it. It was downright delightful, the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, and not hard to make. I'm glad we can finally eat salads again and not feel that we are sacrificing anything.
Wednesday, Day 24
Breakfast: sweet potato hash and an organic honeycrisp apple (one of my favorite things on this earth)
Lunch: leftover strawberry spinach salad

And tonight...grilled sirloin marinated in Dallas and Melissa's Mocha Steak Rub (so amazing--trust), baked sweet potato w/ ghee and cinnamon (why did I ever think I had to have brown sugar?), and roasted broccoli. A quick and easy dinner. We are getting better at this!


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