Whole 30 – Wholly AWESOME

Seriously you guys, I’m so pleased.  I’m starting Day 9, and I feel amazing.

Quick recap:  I have been slipping more and more into my old ways, and wanted to reset, detox, all of those good things.  I also want to stay away from supplements, gimmicks, and just get back to basics.  I read “It Starts with Food” and thought I would give Whole 30, a plan designed around the principles in the book, a shot.

In short, food should have a healthy psychological response, a healthy hormonal response, support a healthy gut and support immune function and minimize inflammation.  Two of these really grabbed me – the healthy psychological response and minimizing inflammation.  Truthfully, supporting a healthy gut is important too, because who wants an angry gut?  No one, especially not this girl.

You basically spend 30 days eating just real food.  Meat, veggies, fruit, healthy fats.  No booze, added sugar (fruit is fine), legumes, grains, artificial sweeteners, soy, vegetable oil, etc.  Again – back to basics.  If you’re familiar with Paleo, it’s not far off.

I have been very fortunate to not experience a lot of the withdrawals a lot of other people get when they hop on this plan.  This has to be because I’m already a pretty healthy eater and don’t have any killer habits to break like drinking a pot of coffee or a case of Diet Coke every day.  Coffee is fine on Whole 30, btw, but I only like it with sugar so I haven’t seen the point.  Caffeine makes me really jittery, so if I can’t have a cup of yummy, sugarfied joe in the morning, I’m not bothering.  Bye, wig!

It also helps that I really like veggies already, and I like meat.  Steak is my favorite, followed by a tie of crabs and scallops, then pork, and chicken way down on the list.  At least it’s versatile, though, and with the right seasoning it can kick some serious ass.

As usual, I digress.  I sought out some resources online to see what people did for their first week.  I got into a good habit of meal planning using Jason’s method, but I didn’t want to use my brain.  I found an excellent resource in Melissa Joulwan.  She’s authored cookbooks, including “Well Fed,” but also has a great blog called The Clothes Make the Girl.  She’s rebranding this week, because as she puts it, “it’s time to say goodbye to The Clothes Make The Girl, a.k.a., the silliest name ever for a healthy lifestyle blog.”

Joulwan completely mapped out the first few weeks of Whole 30, including handy ways to cook and stash things in your fridge.  I have to tell you – this was key.  Last Thursday was an absolute whip of me trying to learn my kitchen, but it was well worth it.  She said the prep would take approximately two hours, and maybe it would for a person who cook things besides eggs on a regular basis, but it took me longer.  Much longer.  It could be because I kept bailing to catch up on Making the Team:  Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.  God I love that show.  Thanks for the marathon, CMT!

Here’s a link to her week 1:  Week 1 Whole 30 Meal Plan.  This would have been worth it JUST FOR THE PAD THAI.  OMG.  So the first day, I had a pork roast going in the crock pot, an oven full of chicken thighs, sweet potato and spaghetti squash, chili simmering, a blender full of zucchini soup, veggies chopped, this crazy Sunshine Sauce made and I was like dear God what am I going to do with all of this food?  Ummm…eat it.  And eat I did, like a queen, this entire past week.  I even whipped up an extra batch of Chicken Pad Thai on the fly for a girlfriend that came over, and she swears it was good and that I didn’t poison her.

Check out this meal prep madness:

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Here are some pics of the delicious eats from the past week.  I will say I modified a couple of her receipes.  I’ve heard the chili as-is is super popular, but she also mentioned mole sauce and I knew I was out.  SWEET MEAT IS NOT OKAY.  Not okay.  Ugh.  I just can’t even with the sweet meat.  I’ve tried mole sauce in the most authentic mexican restaurants, totally inauthentic restaurants, and in Mexico, and I can’t make myself like it.  I tried.  The chili recipe without the cocoa and allspice is delicious though, so thanks Melissa!

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God, those green beans.  They were so good.  I sauteed them in lemon infused olive oil from Trader Joe’s, tossed in some almonds and then squeezed in more lemon.  They’re going to be a staple in my fridge for always and forever.  So good.

One of the tricky things about Whole 30 for an awesome, social single gal like me is NOT DRINKING.  No, I’m not an alcoholic, but when you’re meeting up with people in a city like Dallas, where it’s 100 degrees, there’s very little outdoor activity and shopping is a sport, drinking and eating are very popular.  I like a little Tito’s and soda and the occasional sangria.  I’m also starting to date again and since online is the easiest way to go about this, meeting for DRINKS is a simple way to go.

Anyhoot – here’s how I’m dealing so far.  1- I’m staying home more often.  Just for a little bit while I sort this out.  2 – I survived a fantasty football draft at The Flying Saucer with Pellegrino and a smile.  3 – My friend Kaddie sent me a summertime, refreshing boozy treat list made with La Croix a few weeks back, and one of the drinks was light rum, coconut La Croix and fresh pineapple juice.  I can’t do the rum right now, but the coconut La Croix with fresh pineapple juice is pretty damn tasty.

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So that’s my past few days in a nutshell!  Super delicious yummy food, feeling amazing, sleeping like I’m in a coma (8+++ hours a night no problem) and rocking this plan.  I can’t weigh myself for the whole 30 days, but I think that’s going to look good too.  I’ll have to satisfy my curiosity with non-scale wins in the meantime, like that gorgeous sleep.

Cheers!

Whole 30 – Wholly Terrifying?

Okay friends…what I really want to do is write a quilt update full of all of the beautiful projects I’ve been working on.  But the whole reason I started this blog was to journal my lifestyle changes and effort to get the insane inflammation out of my body.  It’s been an interesting several months, to be sure, and I have definitely made some very positive changes.  I’ve cut back on drinking (for the most part) and I’ve cut out gluten and soy (for the most part.)  Cheese, though.  Cheese.  Damn you, dairy!

About that “most part” – it’s caught up with me.  Funny how patterns repeat themselves – this is just like grad school.  One “cheat” doesn’t hurt you.  It’s the one that didn’t hurt you that leads to doubling up that leads to total backslide and magically you’ve gained 90 pounds. No, I have no idea how that happened either.  Well, I do, but it’s not very festive to think about it.

Two good things – I recognize that pattern and I can stop it in its tracks.  Two – I have friends who do have healthy relationships with food and I’m paying attention.  Colleen – I listen!  I do!  Some things it’s taken me years to catch, but I finally only use glass containers and I only buy good quality proteins.  Seriously!   Vacation is vacation and normal life is normal life.

Most people can splurge on vacation and go right back to their regular, healthy lifestyle.  I’m not that person.  I don’t have the mindset that a treat now doesn’t mean all treats all the time.  I’m working on that (among other things) with a therapist, but honestly, a restricted “diet” is good for me.  Here’s why:

I’m reading “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  They created Whole 30, and since many of the bloggers and instagrammers I started following this past year have mentioned it, I was curious too.

Four main concepts about the food we eat:

  1. Promote a healthy psychological response.
  2. Promote a healthy hormonal response.
  3. Support a healthy gut.
  4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

Wait, what?  Inflammation.  DING DING DING.  I’m listening.

I know it’s not rocket science, but sometimes reading it in black and white is really helpful.  I’ve learned more about my blood and gut health this past year than I ever thought I would know, and the research in this book just hammers it in.  HAMMERS it.  So thank you, UT Southwestern and your team of Hematologists and Gastroenterologists.  Not only do I know my blood and insides are totally jacked, I know how to fix it.

So back to this whole “restricted diet” thing?  Whole 30 is strict.  It’s meat, fruit and veg for 30 days.  No cheats.  No added sugar for my coffee, no booze, no whining.  Just eat regular food.  And not quasi veggies that are technically grains like corn, no ma’am.  I’m going to have to cook and prep.  I see a lot of boiled eggs in my future.

So back to the restricted diet?  I’ve been doing that since November.  I’ve slipped here and there, and I beat the crap out of myself mentally every time, unless I’m out of town.  That’s not exactly a healthy psychological response.  I just can’t do it to myself anymore.  It’s exhausting.  So I’m just taking it off the table.  Focusing on Whole 30 (and telling the world I’m doing it) is a great way to hold myself accountable.  I might not want to meet up for dinner in the next month, but I’ll happily meet up for happy hour, movies or a quilt class.  I’ll just be ordering a club soda with lime.  And that’s totally okay.

The book talks about habit forming – not having to think about just one piece of bread or just one drink (and then having four) helps create a healthy habit.  I’m lucky because I actually like healthy food.  I love veggies.  Maybe this month I’ll try salmon for the 100th time and actually like it.  Who knows?

I’m excited, though!  Looking forward to 30 days and seeing how unpuffy I am on day 31.  And making a ton of quilts in the meantime!

Cheers.  (With club soda.)

Time for a Detox!

Was it just two months ago that I swore I would get back to blogging on a regular basis?  How quickly time flies!  It’s been an action packed summer, full of friends, family, pool time, quilting and traveling.  While I have been cautious (for the most part) about avoiding the things that will exasperate my inflammation issues, I will freely admit that I have fallen off the wagon.  I feel it every morning when I limp out of bed.

You see, I’ve got plantar fasciitis in my right heel.  Know the root cause?  Inflammation.  What are the drivers of my inflammation?  Food.  Hmm.  Funny how that works out – if I avoid soy, gluten, dairy and the other triggers, my foot feels great!  Otherwise, I’m limping around until it warms up, and thankfully that doesn’t take too long.

I was able to spend this past week in Chicago, reconnecting with one of my dearest Dallas friends.  I also got a great overnight with one of my closest friends from grad school, Katie!  Such a blessing to get to see her a second time this year, and see how much her baby girl has grown in six short months.  So fun.

Robyn and I met more than a decade ago in the buying offices at Neiman Marcus, and I treasure her friendship more every day!  Robyn earned her Master’s in Education after leaving NM, and headed up to a conference to learn more about using technology in the classroom.  It’s amazing how much the world has changed since I was in elementary school – remember what a big deal it was to get a share of a computer to play Oregon Trail?  Kids now have access to iPads and specialized learning programs.  I’m such a visual learner and I envy them!

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While I didn’t attend the conference, I was able to utilize technology to find great local restaurants for Robyn’s quick lunch breaks and our evening meals in the city.  Thanks, Yelp!  Surely that counts, right?  I don’t know how my Chicago friends stay so slim – healthy food was scarce in Aslip, and portions were enormous.  ENORMOUS!  I indulged in Chicago Dogs, gyros, French friends and even some frozen custard.  Thank goodness we spent our evenings running from L station to L station and exploring Chicago itself.  I was able to hit several 10,000+++ step days and even lost a couple of pounds.

Check out this allergen and full fat food porn:

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The veggie omelet (with bacon I swiped from Katie) was probably the most reasonable thing I had all week, along with the bloody mary.  Look at that garnish!  That leads me to the detox.  What are you guys eating this summer?  It’s so hot in Texas that many of the things I like to eat most just aren’t reasonable.  I’m a big fan of soup, shredded chicken tacos, regular beef tacos, random salads and such, but I’m stuck in a rut.

I follow Whole 30 on Instagram and I see a lot of interesting meals there.  While I don’t technically follow a paleo diet, eating paleo allows me to avoid most of my allergen and trigger foods.  And it’s a lot easier for people to understand since it’s so popular.  Bob from The Biggest Loser said if it didn’t have a momma or didn’t grow from the ground, to keep it out of your mouth.  Good rule of thumb.

Tips?  Tricks?  Favorite recipes?  I’m headed out to do my weekly shopping shortly, and while I plan to pick up the usual chicken sausage, fruits and veggies, I’m happy for those suggestions.

Cheers!

Sunny Skies and Cooking New Things

I have definitely fallen off the blogging wagon! Ack! It’s unfortunate, because I’ve realized over the past month that this (super public) journal really has been helpful in keeping my mind clear and focused, and the support you’ve all given me makes a world of difference.

I’ve been open in past blogs about my struggle with depression, and nothing seems to exasperate that issue for me more than a constantly cloudy sky.  While in the grand scheme of life the rainfall in Texas has caused many more important problems (death, property damage, flooding, etc.) than what lurks my head, it still stinks. I left a beautiful (cloudy) city and dear friends to come home to the love and sunny skies of Texas, so I’m glad to have them back!

I’ll always be thankful that the genetic lottery dealt me a kindness with depression when the paternal side of my biological family struggles with much more, but sheesh. When it rains, it pours, and it’s been flooding in my brain 😉  I’m at my best with a very busy, structured schedule, and I feel like this past year has been anything but.

What helps (besides sun!) is getting back on track with taking care of myself. I finally made an appointment with a therapist and I cooked! Well, not just cooked, but tried something new.

Even though tomatoes are the acidic devil and hell on my tummy (tho okay on my blood,) I almost always have a couple containers of homemade spaghetti sauce in my freezer. I struggled with meal planning this past week, so I figured I would just make some gluten free spaghetti and pass out in a carb coma.

I’ve done that a lot, actually – I think I averaged 2000 steps a day this entire week. Not good. Sitting is the new smoking, you know. I bought the Up by Jawbone and it’s amazing how much time I spend on my ass.  You’d think someone who thrives with a schedule would find success in scheduling a workout, but you’d be wrong.

Any hoot, I made a pit stop at Trader Joe’s after quilt class last week and picked up some zucchini. I ordered a spiralizer a few months from our friends at Amazon, and after a few false starts and more than a couple rounds of moldy and forgotten zucchini, finally put the thing to good use.

It’s awesome! And so good! Look how pretty these suckers are, just cooked lightly in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper.


The finished product was delicious, and it’s amazing how much “pasta” a small zucchini yields. I had enough for three servings, and I’m tickled pink with the final result. And yes…that’s a tiny bit of Parmesan sprinkled on the top. I’ve made no secret that I miss dairy the most of all the foods I’ve had to give up. Mmmm, cheese. Delicious cheese.


I have tons of veggies in my sauce, including artichokes, but also lots of grass fed beef. Yummy. BOOOOOOOOOOOOF!  A serving is 306 calories, 28 carbs, 16 g of fat and 18 g of protein.  I would like to bump the protein up a bit, but not sure how to do that without overwhelming the sauce.  I could definitely add something, though, since the calorie count is so low.

I’d like to say I’m going to get back on track with my blog. The intent is there for sure.  Quilting classes are going well, therapy starts today at 4 pm this afternoon, I’ve got a birthday coming up and a best friend visiting, so plenty of things to share and celebrate. Hopefully the gray skies in my head and over the state of Texas can just move along for a while.

Just a Casual Monday Night Dinner

I think I’ve mentioned I’m the weirdo who works out while staring at the Food Network.  It’s a double whammy, right? Not only can I probably not eat 90% of the recipes shown, but I’m the only overweight person at my pretty person gym. Whatevs. I’ve got my playlist bumping and the Pioneer Woman is cooking up some beef and a cake.  There’s only so much news and Sportscenter a girl can watch. 

This past week, I ended up watching Guy’s Big Bites, and he whipped up this delicious scallop and andouille sausage dinner. I’ve been craving scallops ever since. So yummy! 

I didn’t end up making that recipe, but I did wander into Whole Foods on Saturday, high noon, a wee bit hungover and starving after 18 hours without food. First of all, oops. Secondly, I’m normally prepared with at least some raw almonds, but I got caught off guard. What do you get when you wander into Whole Foods in these conditions? 

Two bags of random food and a much lighter wallet :



Let me be honest here. I’m a big Whole Foods fan, and I’ve shopped there very economically. This is done by checking out their sales flyer and building my meal plans accordingly. Steak on sale? Great. Do it. Buy the fruits and veggies featured, since they’re normally in season and at a great price. I got amazing organic apples for $1.30 a pound this week and omg they are insanely good. 

I also bought pre-made Cajun crab cakes and a third pound of giant scallops, along with some vegan chocolate treats, the Enjoy Life Chocolare Chunks for when I finally make those damn chocolate chip cookies, and a bunch of other stuff. Can I just blame the bagger for packing so efficiently? He was a gem. 

The weekend ended up being too busy for cooking, so I have had the best Monday night dinner ever. 

I left work a bit early to avoid a repeat of Friday’s near two hour commute home, but mostly so I could hit the gym. I parked my pink clad behind in front of HGTV and The Pioneer Woman (treat. yo. self.) and planned out my dinner.  And can I also mention how much I love the scenic hikes available on treadmills these days? I select my speed and average incline and they do the rest. I’m obsessed and wish my time on the elliptical was so fun. 

Back at home, I wasn’t sure how long to cook the crab cakes, but it turns out a sear on each side in my cast iron skillet then oven finishing at 350 did the trick! 



For the scallops, I followed Guy’s guidance, so even though I couldn’t cook them in adouille sausage fat, I patted them dry as can be, seasoned and plunked them into my buttery spread-filled pan. 



Look at that sear! So crisp and delicious. Two minutes each side and they are perfect. 

I also tossed up a super sprout salad (thanks Whole Foods) and I have a very happy belly. Lunch for tomorrow, too, because there’s no way to physically eat two crab cakes. They’re six ounces each and woo. I’m stuffed. 



The white sauce is a jalapeño and horseradish tartar. The crab cake was so tasty I barely touched it, but it was definitely delicious.  I’m pretty sure it’s the gluten, and next time I should probably make my own gluten free version. My cheeks are already flush. 

Now where is that magical elf to wash my dishes?  Please?  Sigh. 



More Adventures in Cooking

Okay everyone, I’ve been slacking in the cooking department.  Bad, bad, Christina.  One of the terrible and awesome things about Trader Joe’s is all of the semi-homemade cooking it allows me to do, because who doesn’t like an extra serving of salt bloat?.  I’m still journaling every meal with MyNetDiary, and every day I get a little chiding for going over the recommended sodium levels.  Oops.  Hypertension is one of the 12 million health issues I DON’T have, but no one likes to feel like a water retaining sea cow, am I right?

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I’m determined to do better, though, and I’m excited to actually maybe bake a little this weekend.  I’ve been jonesing for the amazing chocolate chip cookies Mom created over Christmas, so while it’s not going to help me reduce the size of my ass, it’s probably the only thing to get me excited about being in the kitchen.

I did manage a couple things this week aside from my standard lazy meal of shredded chicken and black beans.  If you haven’t had the joy of shredded chicken, you absolutely should make it.  Dump chicken (frozen or fresh) into a crockpot, add a can of rotel for every pound of chicken and top it off with taco seasoning.  This time around I also dumped in some verde sauce, because tomatillos are delicious and I was short on rotel.  Set it to go on low overnight if you started with frozen chicken, and it will have practically shredded itself by the time you wake up.  A fork will finish it out, give it a stir, and you’ve got something easy and yummy 🙂

It’s good stuffed into a tortilla with cheese, lettuce and normal taco fixings, but it’s also good by itself.  I’ve been all over Trader Joe’s Organic Refried Black Beans with Jalapenos lately, so that’s how I’ve eaten it every day this week for lunch.  I miss tortillas and cheese sometimes, but avocado almost makes up for it.  Next time I make it, I’ll document with pics.  Promise.

So that’s the first thing I made.  Second up is a version of the Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai that Gluten Free Jess posted on her site.  Trader Joe’s didn’t have spaghetti squash, so I subbed in rice noodles, essentially just making Gluten Free Pad Thai.  All the delicious fattiness, none of the extra health benefits.  Look at her blog and pretend those are my pics instead of these half-ass, last minute snaps.  I couldn’t find fish sauce, either, so I subbed in a bit of Coconut Secret Soy Free Seasoning sauce, which is essentially just soy sauce for those of us that can’t actually eat anything.  

I busted out a knife and actually chopped green onions, cilantro and chicken!  I had to show proof of knife skills, limited though they are.  Once I got everything blended with the sauce, and added a ton of lime juice and cilantro, I had a big bowl of comfort food.  Rice noodles get insanely sticky, at least mine did, so I’m looking forward to trying it with either zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.  Yum.

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Yesterday was yet another snow day for Dallas, and I was thankful to have everything I needed to make chicken noodle soup.  Browned mirepoix with hot pepper olive oil, added broth, diced chicken, spices and rotel (live and die by it, seriously) and added the Trader Joe’s Brown Rice and Quinoa pasta.  It holds up so well and is the perfect gluten free noodle to use in sauces and soups.

Check, check, check!  This weekend I’ll knock out some zucchini noodle recipes and bake my cookies, and this time I’ll actually take some pics 🙂  How will I ever get a show on the Food Network like the Pioneer woman if I don’t document?  Surely the cookies have a better nutritional value than these Skittles I’ve been chomping on all week, too.  Damn you, Easter candy.

Cheers!

 

 

Pizza, Pizza! Without Gluten or Cheese. Sigh.

I woke up sick as a dog today, so what the hell, let’s make some pizza.  Vegan cheese can be made of mostly oil, depending on the brand, and that much oil makes me feel seriously sick to my stomach.  No better time to try a new fake cheese than when my stomach is already a disaster.  Honestly, all I want is some apple juice, but I’m not willing to leave the house to get it.  Yay, Monday?

I’ve done well with the frozen Daiya pizzas, but they’re $10 even at Sprouts.  That has to mean $15 at Whole Foods, right?  Plus, I can add pepperoni to my vegan pizza, which feels subversive.  This is how I break the rules these days.  It’s the 50 Shades of Grey of pizza eating – not really the kink that’s advertised, but just a little shot.  Just the tip, if you will.  Anyhow, I love the pizza sauce at Trader Joe’s and thought I would give this a try.

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Here’s my ingredient list:

  • Trader Joe’s pizza sauce
  • Trader Joe’s roasted red & yellow peppers
  • Trader Joe’s artichoke hearts
  • Trader Joe’s sliced black olives
  • Udi thin gluten free crust
  • Go Veggie Lactose Free Mozzarella “flavor” shred
    • Shit, mozz “flavor”?  I missed that.  Totally getting the Lisanetti almond cheese next time, even though I have to manually shred it with a kitchen tool that I currently do not own.  Ack.  Oh God, it’s going to kill me.  Never let it be said that vegan is all that healthy, especially if you eat anything besides fruits and veggies.  These substitutes are insane.
  • Fiorucci Uncured Pepperoni
    • Because nitrates are the devil, and my skin agrees with me.  Leading cause of acne, at least that one time I consulted Dr. Google.  When you consult Dr. Google and you find any one thing that lines up with what you already want to believe, you stick with it.  And not to be a hater, but according to everything in the news in the last two weeks, my anti-vaxxer friends will understand this philosophy.

Yes, that’s a lot of toppings.  I like my veggies and I like pepperoni.  I miss mushrooms like whoa on pizza, though, almost as much as I miss dipping it in ranch.  Not enough to actually get off my lazy ass and make a ranch substitute, but I digress.

Hmm, this cheese isn’t melting.  Lemme try two more minutes.

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Okay, so it’s not going to melt and my crust will burn.  No courtesy melt, Go Veggie cheese?  Daiya has melts for days, but that’s probably because of the high oil content.

Result?

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The TJ pizza sauce can really make anything taste like gold, and this was pretty decent.  My veggies were delish as always and the crust was only moderately weird.  The edges were crisp and pretty tasty, even.  I might keep this crust in my freezer for when I’m in a pinch, but otherwise I’ll probably stick with the pre-made Daiya pizzas.  Or what I really should do is try some of the homemade stuff again now that I have my Kitchenaid mixer.  That hot pink appliance of love can surely make an excellent crust, especially if I read the directions.  Right, Mom?

Cheers,

Christina