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!

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!

Meal Planning & Going Out

The story goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  That is so true when it comes to me and the kitchen, and it’s always been that way.  I will freely admit I’m not the best at planning my week, and I’ve thrown away my fair share of rotten veggies…big old sad face if they came from Whole Foods and/or were organic.  I don’t mind paying extra, but you gotta use what you buy.

When I lived in Seattle with Jason and Ben, I got a great lesson on meal planning.  Every week, Jason would sit down with his pad of paper and plan our lunches and dinners for the week, and then derive the grocery list from there.  When we were all in town and work wasn’t crazy (never often enough!), we had an excellent system down.  Monday was grocery night, and we almost always had tacos – super quick for a tight week day schedule.  Jason would cook while I would sit at the breakfast counter with wine (and whine.)  Ben and I had clean-up duty, which usually meant Ben was scrubbing and I was packing lunches.  We all got to do the things we liked best, or at least tolerated the most.

BTW, Ben – I’m sorry.  I leave dishes in my sink, sometimes overnight.  I didn’t do it while we lived together, but I’ve gone back to my bad ways  Bad single girl behaviour is real.  I’m ashamed and will look to find ways to improve this terrible, lazy habit of mine.

At any rate, I’ve adopted Jason’s method for meal planning for myself. Lunches on the left, dinners on the right.  Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, but if it’s something too messy or random to pack for work, I’ll just keep it for dinners.  I even tossed Chipotle on here – I knew I would be running errands all day yesterday. Their allergen menu is fantastic!

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The key to success for me is prep work. By the time I get home, I’m just fried and don’t feel like cooking.  If I’ve already done the work, great!  Prep for lunches this week was easy – chicken sausage with veggies.  The sausage is pre-cooked, so all I have to do is make the veggies, dump it into a container and call it a day.  I keep single serve hummus on hand, so I bundle that up with carrots and celery, bag up some hard-boiled eggs for snacks, divvy out fresh fruit for fruit salad, and all week it’s grab and go.

BTW, why do sausages look so dirty?  I had to laugh when I took this pic.  I know, I know.  I have the mentality of a fifteen year old boy and I’ll admit to it.

Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage paired with sweet potatoes and a kale/quinoa mix:

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No big deal to eat this for three days.  Tonight I’m making tacos (ground beef, Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, a can of rotel) and I’ll rotate between tacos and taco salad the rest of the week.  I’m already planning dinner out on Thursday night, and I know I’ll screw up one night and be off my schedule.  I stock soup for those nights, or I’ll have a Daiya frozen pizza.  I’ve mapped out my other activities as well, so I’ll have an idea of what’s going on when I’m grocery shopping.

The party planned for Saturday is a bit trickier, because I adore the couple hosting and a little one’s birthday party could likely turn into an all day event.  It’s a Saturday, we’ll have great company, cocktails may be poured.  Just saying.  I’ve shown up to Susie and Charlie’s with my own cooler of beer to watch football, but this time it’ll likely be a mix of booze and healthy snacks to help keep my face out of the birthday cake.

Eating outside of my house isn’t necessarily hard, but it requires the same amount of planning on my part.  House parties are the trickiest, though usually I can dig up some fruit and veggies and I almost always have almonds or beef jerky with me in a pinch.  And let’s be honest – I’m not going to starve.  I’ve got some reserves, kind of like a hibernating bear.

Local friends – I promise I can still go out!  I like going out!  I like going to dinner and I love going to brunch!  If you want to go out, let’s go out.  I can always find something, I promise.  PROMISE.  I’ll do the research ahead of time and I’ve gotten the hang of ordering.  Big ups to Anna and Colleen in particular for vetting restaurants and being patient with me in the beginning when I had a hard time figuring it out.  Tito’s Vodka is everywhere and if all else fails, there’s salad 🙂

I am super thankful to have friends and family that are way supportive of my admittedly somewhat restrictive diet, but I know some of y’all worry.  Thank you!  The best comparison I can make is that if you think of me as being on Paleo, or low carb, or whatever whole food diet is out there – it’ll cover 90% of the stuff I can’t eat.  No biggie.

XO

Adventures in Cooking

As my fellow singletons know, cooking is dubious business when you’re cooking for one.  Sure, there’s a hoard of recipes out there to cook for one person, but where do you get 1/4 of an onion?  Last time I checked, they are sold whole.  I know I can cook pre-diced frozen ones and use just a bit, but it’s much easier for me to justify my half-assed cooking attempts by saying it’s too hard to cook from scratch.  Fortunately, I’m not a super picky eater and don’t usually mind eating the same thing for a few days.  I also survive on Aidell’s chicken sausage sold in bulk at Costco and whatever random veggies I’ve picked up.  This is probably why I’m losing weight.

In an effort to find a substitute for that disgusting macaroni and cheese problem I’ve been having, I made spaghetti.  Spaghetti sauce is something I’ve always done well, and I make a kickass lasagna.  Since lasagna is now my nightmare food, full of delicious cheese, mushrooms, garlic and gluten, guess I’ll have to suffer through modified spaghetti. I browned up some organic, grass fed hamburger (thanks, Costco!) and added some roasted red and yellow peppers, two cans of artichokes and two glass jars of spaghetti sauce.  One is from Kroger, one is from Target, and they are both organic, relatively garlic free deliciousness.  One is actually pretty spicy, which was nice!  Plus I got to use my Le Creuset pot, which is gorgeous and always makes me smile.  Thanks, Mom!

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So, call me Sandra of the Semi-Homemade Cooking show fame, but whatever.  At least I didn’t jump warm it in the microwave and call it a day.  I got four lunches out of the leftovers, two servings for dinner because I have no salad stuff here and I’m feeling like a big fatty today, plus six cups for the freezer.  BOOM.  At least I’m still within my calorie threshold for the day and I got a lot of iron from the beef.  Take that, Anemia!  I will kick you in the pants.  Sure, it’s barely 6 pm and I can’t eat anything else today, but I’ll survive.  That’s why God blessed us with fizzy flavored water.

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I used the Ronzoni Gluten Free Penne Rigate.  It tastes pretty normal to me and I like the chunkier noodle with my chunky sauce.  Regular spaghetti noodles seem like they’ll make a mess.  OH!  That reminds me that I bought myself a spiralizer that should be here tomorrow, so along with my salad stuff I’m going to pick up a zucchini and see how that works.  I really like spaghetti squash with my pasta sauce, so hopefully I’ll like the zucchini just as much.  Less mess and chances for microwave explosions (coughMaryAnnecough.)  I’ll post pics of that this week, and I promise it’ll look like a Pinterest fail.

Speaking of Pinterest, my girlfriend Erin asked where I was finding recipes these days.  God bless her, she’s allergic to shellfish just like my Uncle Ray, who I hear willingly almost put himself in the hospital to bulldoze through a famous buffet in NYC back when I was a baby.  Crazy man.  Anyhoot – Paleo has been pretty popular for a few years now, and thank goodness, because anything Paleo normally has none of my allergens, aside from garlic, blueberries, spinach, and the other randomly good for everyone else that walks the planet foods that I can’t eat.  And some of the stuff I’ve been eating for years thanks to Weight Watchers is allergen free too, like my shredded chicken!

That, btw, is just a can of Rotel for every pound of chicken, taco seasoning and heat on low in your crock pot for about six hours, until the chicken shreds.  I normally eat it with black beans and avocado, but it makes great tacos too 🙂

All that said, I think I’m still allergic to tomatoes.  They apparently don’t screw up my blood and exacerbate my inflammatory issues, but I’m typing this blog with a tightened throat and my face feels like it is sunburnt.  Hmm.  Did this with Suzy’s awesome allergen free taco soup the other night too, so I think tomatoes will continue to be in my diet but VERY. SPARINGLY.  Tonight is good since I don’t have any big plans.  Hopefully I won’t wake up with hives tomorrow.  PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE.  Hives are the worst.  It could be the spices, though, especially since black pepper in on my naughty list.  Who the hell knows?  Again, just put me in a bubble.  I guess I need to live on protein shakes and oatmeal 🙂  Or just have permanently sunburnt cheeks and perpetually chapped lips.

Anyone got a great lip balm they love?  I’ve tried the Eos (no longer work for me and make my lips worse) and I’m concerned that my honey intolerance makes beeswax an issue, so that rules out Burt’s Bees.  Carmex doesn’t seem to make things worse, but it does burn when I first put it on.  Maybe I’ll save this question for my dermatologist post that I’ve been pondering for a few days now.

Cheers!