Month: September 2014

Whole 30: Day 24 + Meal Ideas

You guys! I can’t even believe I’m writing in on day 24 and I’ve made it this far. I feel good. My skin has cleared up times a million, and I am definitely feeling less lethargic and more energetic than before. That said, I definitely don’t feel any miracles, but I still do have a week left, and I am very glad I’m doing this as a reset. I really needed something that would help me take pause and evaluate everything I was putting into my body, because I was slipping into some bad habits that I needed to kick to the curb (especially diet soda and processed foods in general). When I posted after one week on the Whole30 and admitted to stepping on the scale, a few people suggested that I really not weigh myself because it would make me focus on the wrong things, so I did actually put my scale away and haven’t weighed myself since. Just wanted to share that side note.

The Whole30 has truly helped reinspire me in the kitchen, too. Prior to Whole30, I was eating out A LOT (bad for the waistline and the wallet), not cooking very much, and eating a lot of convenient, packaged foods. Since Whole30, I’ve been diligently grocery shopping every week and doing a ton more cooking in my kitchen. I’ve gotten excited about my weekly grocery trip, gotten back into meal planning, and have ventured to the farmer’s market, Wegman’s and Aldi (first time ever). It’s been pretty awesome! Also, Whole30 helped me to make homemade mayo for the first time ever (using this recipe and because most store bought mayo contains soybean oil) and also purchased a spiralizer (this one) that I am obsessed with and use all the time.

A lot of my meals have been simple and straightforward, and looked something like this:

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2 eggs fried in coconut oil, sugar free bacon, 1/2 avocado, 1 sliced bell pepper, 1 sliced kiwi, seltzer water, and coffee with coconut milk

But I have come up with a couple more exciting meal ideas, and while I haven’t done up detailed recipes and taken step by step photos, I wanted to share anyway.

Slowcooker Mexican Shredded Beef

This is probably my favorite creation from all of Whole30. I purchased grass fed beef chuck from Whole Foods (it was on sale!), and then I did a simple prep and cooked it in the slower cooker. I chopped up an onion to throw at the bottom, and then seasoned both sides of the meat with cumin, corriander, chili powder, and a little salt, and put the seasoned beef on top of the onion. I added a little pico de gallo on top of the meat, and turned it on low and left for work. When I got back 9 hours later, my apartment smelled amazing and I had the most flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth shredded beef that I’ve ever had. I had Shredded Beef Lettuce Wraps, and stuffed butter lettuce with the beef, bell pepper, pico de gallo, guac, and mango salsa. If I could eat like that every day, Whole30 would be a breeze.

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Shredded beef, homemade pico de gallo, guac, mango salsa, red peppers, and butter lettuce leaves

Sweet Potato Egg Bake

This is a dish I’ve made a couple different times, and is perfect for bringing to work for breakfast. I shredded a sweet potato in the food processor, then added in scallions, eggs, and sausage from the farmer’s market that I cooked in a pan first. You could throw in any veggies you like to this, but the sweet potato was AWESOME and made it unlike any egg dish I’ve ever had. It almost tasted cheese-like, and added a very stick-to-your-ribs element that helped me stay full for hours. This will be in the regular breakfast rotation for sure.

Shredded Brussels with Bacon

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The picture here does the dish no justice, but this was probably my favorite veggie side dish. I mean it’s probably not a big surprise since there’s bacon, but only a few slices! I cooked 3 slices of (sugar-free) bacon in a pan, and then put the cooked pieces on a paper towel. In the same pan with the bacon fat still in there, I added a bag of shredded brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s, and cooked those for a few minutes until they softened a bit. I crumbled up the bacon and tossed it back in, and voila! I had this with a few eggs on top, and also as a side with meat a few times. Delish.

Chicken Salad

Boring, I know. But eggs can get kind of tiring if you have them for breakfast every day, and I still have trouble wanting to eat something more lunch/dinner-y first thing in the morning. Chicken salad turned out to be a good middle ground, because it was light enough for breakfast, but substantial enough to keep me full for hours. I poached chicken breast (first time ever!), and then sliced it up and tossed it with some grapes, celery, and bell pepper. I mixed some curry spice into the homemade mayo, and then tossed the chicken salad with the mayo. I served it over a bed of greens to get a little more veggies in there, or else just ate it as is.

Egg Salad

This is not the most exciting thing on the list either, but I feel like it deserves a shout out because it’s a meal i’ve eaten several times a week all along the Whole30. Just like chicken salad, it’s something that I can eat for breakfast if I don’t want regular eggs, and it’s really easy to throw together. My favorite combination to date is 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 red bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, 1 dollop homemade mayo, and 1/2 avocado. So delicious and something I haven’t gotten bored of yet!

Ten Takeaways from Week One

So week one of Whole30 is in the books! And I have to say, I am loving it. While there have definitely been some challenges, overall I am feeling really good, am already waking up easier in the mornings, am feeling less bloated, and my skin is improving a lot. I’m also learning a lot about the food that I eat and am feeling like I’m getting that reset that I was looking for with Whole30.

Even just one week in, it’s really been eye-opening with the things that I classify as healthy and good for my body. I’ve struggled a little bit with realizing that I can in fact survive without a carb-based breakfast, and that I don’t have to skimp throughout the day so that I have more calories/points left for the evening. I know those things come naturally for a lot of people, but i’m not one of them and it’s been an interesting mental shift.

Here are 10 great things from this week that I would like to keep up, even after the Whole30:

  1. fruit infused water – it makes me feel fancy, and is less boring than plain water. I’ve done orange, kiwi, cucumber, lime, and some combinations of those so far, and it’s made me drink way more water and actually enjoy it. not sure why i didn’t start this sooner!
  2. reading the ingredient list – I have always been waaay more focused on the nutritional label than what is actually IN the food, so it’s been pretty different for me to flip a package over and go straight for the ingredient list rather than browsing how many calories and fat are in the item, and I kinda love it.
  3. less snacking – the goal is three meals a day, and no snacks unless you need them, which is way different than my normal practice. While i’m not sure I’ll ever be completely snack-free, I do like the emphasis on more satisfying meals and less grazing.
  4. meals at the table – I’m normally really, really bad about this and will eat my breakfast and lunch in front of my computer at work. Whole30 calls for you to sit at the table for each of your meals, and while I haven’t been perfect in this department, I have at least considered sitting at the table for every single meal, and have done so about 80% of the time, which is a huge jump from 0% pre-Whole30.
  5. no fake sugars – this was another bad habit I had slipped back into – diet soda. My office has a fully stocked fridge of soda, which includes diet coke, coke zero, and fresca – and I had gotten into the habit of having 1 or more a day when in the office (3 days/week). I’ve replaced this with fruit-y water (see #1) when I feel the need for something with flavor, and I don’t want to go back.
  6. prioritizing meat on my grocery bill – this was something I didn’t expect to have as much of an impact. I am normally such a bargain shopper, so I was always looking for the cheapest option of healthy proteins, and would very rarely hand over the money for meat at the farmer’s market. Whole30 very clearly instructs that your meat, seafood, and eggs should be your first priority with your grocery bill – ie. grass-fed / free range meat over organic produce. Reframing my thinking in my grocery budget and going straight to pick out the protein first has revamped the way I’m appreciating the meat, and I can definitely tell a difference in the taste, too. It’s really easy to turn a blind eye to where your food is coming from (and something I am particularly skilled at, especially when I’ve classified it as healthy), and I like that I’ve taken steps to change this for myself.
  7. focusing on veggies at each meal – i love eating so many veggies again. it just makes me feel good and healthy, and I get excited to discover different ways to prepare them in delicious (Whole30 compliant) ways. i missed being excited about veggies!
  8. not weighing myself as much – confession – i didn’t make it 30 days without stepping on the scale. But! I was more curious than anything to see if the scale was going to show the same thing i was feeling because I am eating in a different way than I’m used to. i really did go into it neutral – i wasn’t going to be upset if it was up. (Told you I’m good with excuses.) I really love that Whole30 is about how you FEEL for the main source of feedback, and not what the scale says. It’s very refreshing.
  9. sunday meal prepping – An old habit I’m glad has resurfaced. This weekend I hard-boiled a bunch of eggs, poached chicken, prepared several different veggies for grab-and-go options, and got ingredients for easy meals during the week (shout out to my slow cooker that is currently tackling an <organic> pork shoulder).
  10. cooking nice meals for myself – anytime people are coming over for dinner or I’m going to a potluck, my mind swirls with delicious ideas of what to make and I get excited about putting something together. but when i’m cooking for myself, it feels… unnatural? self-absorbed? to put that much effort into making a meal. But this past week, I’ve cooked a lot more than I had been, and while I did share some of the meals with others, a lot of them were for me and only me. I feel like I put the same amount on emphasis on prepping all the meals, and I would sit down at the table (hello #4) and be pretty happy to be eating something nice. again, not sure why this one took so long to figure out.

You’ll notice “not have a glass of wine with my girlfriends” did not make the list of habits I want to keep up after these 30 days. 😉 More to come!

Needing a Reset

Lately, I’ve been feeling in need of a reset.

I’ve been so swamped with work and life that I haven’t really been focusing on myself or my health (or this blog… elephant in the room) in quite some time. This is not to say I’ve gone completely off in the deep end or anything, but I’ve just been feeling more tired and less focused than I want to be lately. I’ve put on a few pounds, and also my skin has been awful with breakouts lately. (And I’m 30! wtf) Besides the short-lived “I’m going to try not eating carbs!” and “I’m completely recommitted to Weight Watchers!”, nothing has really stuck. I’ve been eating crappy food more than not, not exercising as much as I should be, and just not taking the best care of myself. I’ve been toying with lots of ideas on different approaches I might take since the usual suspects have not been sticking around long enough to help snap me out of this rut. And yesterday, I finally took the plunge and started something new.

Whole30.

I first stumbled across the program several months ago, but immediately dismissed it because it seemed so extreme and wasn’t something I was even willing to consider. But Whole30 kept coming up again and again in my searches, and I started reading a little more about it each time. The tagline of the program is, “let us change your life” and while I’m still feeling really skeptical, I’m willing to give it a try. You can click on over to the site to read all about the specifics of the program (its free), but it’s basically a strict 30 day program where you eat very clean and detox your body from all potential allergens. That means no gluten (bagels), dairy (cheese), legumes (chickpeas), sugar (all), and the clincher – no booze (wine). (In case you were wondering, I put my favorite option from each category in parentheses.) By eliminating all of these items from your diet, you give your body a chance to reset and start to feel better, more alert, and just generally healthier. Also, you lose weight because of the kinds of food you’re eating. At the end of the 30 days, you reintroduce the groups back into your diet one by one to see how you react to them and figure out what foods affect you negatively. Please don’t tell me my results are cheese and wine. And bread.

So what can I eat? Nothing. Ha, just kidding!

But really, what I can eat is meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats, and some fruit. That is it. Each meal has to be built around a protein source and then have a few types of veggies and a fat source (like avocado, coconut, olives, or nuts). Fruit is optional and can be part of your meals if you wish.

For me, the equally compelling part of the program besides the lose weight, clear up your skin, and feel less tired part, is that it claims to break psychological holds food has over you, too. I’m not allowed to weigh myself for the duration of the program, and I am supposed to eat three meals a day (no snacking unless really hungry). While this leaves me partly terrified, it’s also partly exciting because it takes the guess work out of it all. I am not allowed to cheat or have slip ups for the 30 days, and I kind of love the strictness of that because I think it’s a good test and I really feel like I can give 30 days if it makes so much of a difference.

Anyway, while it does seem drastic in a way, I’ve never been one for moderation, so this is no exception. With that said, it really isn’t THAT drastic – it’s just a focus on eating real food for 30 days straight and paying very close attention to everything I’m putting in my body. It’s already been pretty eye opening to be reading the labels on foods (I’m not talking nutrition labels) and see how many random things are added to everything that has a label. Also, I don’t know if I should be afraid of putting this out there on the record, but the thing I’m most worried about giving up is the booze! Maybe that should say something.

I’m planning to document my Whole30 experience and will definitely share menu plans, results, struggles, reflections, etc along the way, but if you have any specific questions feel free to ask.

Day two!