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:

IMG_3302IMG_3299IMG_3297

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!

IMG_3304IMG_3307IMG_3309IMG_3318IMG_3328IMG_3329IMG_3331

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.

IMG_3330IMG_3317

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!

Doctors, Vegans and a Pretty Good Wednesday 

I had a pretty adventurous Wednesday, all things considered! Doctors, vegan food and a surprise visit with a friend! Work, too. Always gets in the way of a good day of doctor hopping. Ha!  First up – met with my gastroenterologist at the “Center for Digestive and Liver Disease.” So dramatic. 

No, mom…I’m not there for liver issues. My liver handles business just fine 🙂 

I walked Dr. Mithani through my life of constant nausea, and between the blog and the stream of doctors I’m just bored with my story.  And this isn’t even my major problem! Ack! Describing the symptoms really is a struggle, because feeling crappy is just my normal.  I sent a text to my mom wishing she was there, because she has a laundry list – “Don’t forget about XYZ!” And thank goodness, because I would have left something out.

I started life as a projectile vomiter (sorry mom) but have learned to manage pain through diet and just go on about my day. But imagine this, it’s totally not normal to bounce up during dinner to go throw up! Nor is it normal to do it while brushing your teeth. Sheesh. Or when drinking cold water.  Or while taking a shower.  Some weeks are better than others, but it still kind of sucks, especially when my face gets torn up. Those pics are not blog-worthy. Ouch. 

I get to hold off on a scope for now, but I did get to schedule an ultrasound on my gallbladder as well as a gastric emptying study. Doesn’t that sound sexy? I essentially get to eat a radioactive breakfast at 7 am while people study what it does. No shock here if my stomach is defective. 

The best part of my day was realizing my friend Rachel works one floor below my gastro! So I sure did get to say hello, have big hugs and some chit chat. And a hot date for tomorrow night to boot 🙂 Can’t wait for the Arts District Wine Stroll!  Yay! 

So where does the vegan part come in? I was in the neighborhood so thought I would do a drive by on a house or two I’ve seen for sale in Oak Cliff and remembered a rave review on some nachos at a vegan place.  Yelp to the rescue – Spiral Diner & Bakery. 

See, I may or may not have split some real nachos with girlfriends on Saturday night, and I might have also regretted that choice. Nachos are my favorite, though, so I thought I would give it a shot.



The quinoa is definitely not the same as some shredded chicken or ground beef, but the cheese was good! Guac was outstanding. Honestly, it hit the spot. My throat was a tiny bit unhappy after being poked and prodded this morning, but meh. Nachos. Belly won. 

The cheese base is made from cashews, which is great. I’ve sworn off the daiya cheese because it’s all oil and weirdness and just gives me a belly ache. I have one right now, thanks to the portobello quesadillas I ordered to go for dinner tonight: 





The kitchen realized right after I took this pic that they gave me the wrong quesadillas, since mine were from the soy free menu, but you get the idea. These tortillas were wheat based with soy in them, and the ones I eventually got were corn, so good catch on their part. No need to gluten myself. 

Lovely restaurant with a great staff, and they even sold me a pint of the nacho cheese to go. What I’m going to do with it is beyond me, but I anticipate tacos.  Mmm, tacos. 



Speaking of soy free menus – check it out! A really nice touch since soy is pretty popular on a vegan diet. Not that I am, but nachos. I’m just here for the faux cheese. 





Cheers! 

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?

IMG_1530 IMG_1529 IMG_1528

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.

IMG_1714IMG_1717

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!

 

 

Food Hiding, Doctor Visits and Labwork

So it occurs to me as I sit in my truck and sip on my contraband iced Americano, I’ve mentally come a long way. I mean, instead of parking in a fast food lot of shoveling down a milkshake or crunch wrap supreme before someone can catch me, I’m sneaking a ten calorie coffee.

Btw, I had to google my usual thing for Taco Bell. And by usual, what I used to get pre-Seattle for the boozy fourth meal.  I couldn’t remember what it was called!  I’ve been there twice in the last four years, once on a drive to Boise Memorial Day weekend and another in Seattle when it just sounded good. I still love tacos, but I’ll likely never go to Taco Bell again because they have ZERO things I can eat. Even their plain tacos and “al fresca” items all have either gluten or soy. Insane.  Soy does NOT need to be in every little thing, America.

I digress, though. I’ve always been a food sneaker, a food hider. Calories don’t count if no one sees you, right? If you’ve ever seen me pig out, know that you’re probably one of my favorite people on the planet, because it’s taken me years to be comfortable eating around other people. YEARS.  And to be frank, I can’t remember the last time I binge-ate, other than a chip basket at a Mexican restaurant.  I do remember the last time I binge drank, though.  Don’t tell my mom.  Or my doctor.  Damn you, patio days.  Just kidding, I totally told my doctor and her nurse a real answer.  “Christina, how many alcohol beverages do you have a week?”  Me:  “Well, what’s the weather?  Was I sitting on a patio most of the day?”

So when I say I’ve come a long way, I mean it.  The only candy in my presence sits right on top of my desk at work – and I barely touch it.  It’s full of Jelly Bellys, and my co-workers grab them by the handful.  I don’t miss it, really.  The only thing I really seem to miss is cheese, and cheese isn’t something I ever stashed away.  Well, and the coffee, but I don’t think a cup of coffee, usually decaf, will get me if I do it 3-4 times a month.  Can I justify the occasional dairy splurge by saying I need the probiotics?  Guess not.

I mentioned last blog that I was excited to get labs done to test my progress, and I was able to get that completed this morning.  I established care with the fabulous Dr. Barreto, gave her the rundown of my intolerances, inflammation, low platelets, vomiting, etc.  I swear, when I’m giving my life story I feel like the biggest hypochondriac, but I guess labs don’t lie.  I AM anemic, I DO have cardiac risk thanks to my inflammation, I DO have a low platelet count and I DO throw up more than any human I know.

What does that net me?  Nine vials of blood.  Even the sweet lady taking it was like, whoa.  The labels just kept uncurling.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture!  Glad I wore a super cute sunny yellow jacket to keep me cheerful.  I got several compliments on both that jacket and my navy and silver polka dot overcoat this morning – yay!  That always puts a little spring in your step, right?

Anyway, here’s what I had done:

  • Comprehensive Metalobic Panel – I had this done in October with Seattle’s fabulous Dr. Brown, but I think she wants to see it all again.
  • Hemogram
  • H Pylori
  • C Reative Protein (Inflammation Marker)
  • ESR (For SLE Monitoring)
  • ANA (Antinuclear) abs
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate (Folic Acid) Serum – looks like the prenatals I take aren’t enough.  God bless any poor guy I date that looks in my medicine cabinet and thinks I’m trying to trick him into having a baby.  It’s for my  hair and the iron, buddy!  I swear!
  • Lipase Serum

Last but not least, a referral to a gastroenterologist.  Awesome.  Hey Mom?  Maybe we’ll finally get me a doctor who can figure it out and/or does more than shrug their shoulders and tells us to deal with it.  That’s an awesome thing to hear when you’re a child, btw.  It’s only taken 37 years 🙂  Looks like there’s a throat scope in my future.  That should be fun.

I’m also weening off the Wellbutrin and switching over to Paxil.  Dr. Baretta thinks it’s a better match for me since it also deals with anxiety and is gaining popularity for patients with IBS.  I don’t have that as far as I know (maybe these labs will show otherwise) but since my gut, intestines, etc. is so damn sensitive it really can’t hurt.  And my anxiety has been pretty bad lately.  Not panic attack bad, thankfully, but I could certainly be more chill.

She also tells me that losing around a pound a week on a 1600-1800 calorie a day diet is fine, and if I cut calories more I would have to do it under a doctor’s supervision and that I would want no part of it.  So I guess if I want to drop pounds faster, I’m just going to have to do that much more at the gym and also make sure the content of my calories is as healthy as can be.  No booze, less processed crap and more fruits and veggies.  Sigh.  Good thing I just gave up alcohol for Lent.

Thanks for reading through my overshare, friends.  Hopefully I’ll be posting positive lab results in the next few days!

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.

IMG_1276

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.

IMG_1277

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?

IMG_1278

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

Airplanes, Long Weekends and the Little Joys of Life

Oh man, first things first.  Sometimes you can’t see in the mirror that your ass really is smaller, but American Airlines is happy to let you know.  Seat belts are just as good as showing progress as a notch on an actual belt, not that I’ve worn one in years.  When you’re super short waisted and very large busted, there is nothing less flattering than a tucked in shirt with a belt.  You can validate this statement by looking at any picture of me between 1994-1999.  Shudder.  Not okay.

I know the vast majority of people reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, but there is nothing worse than the day that stupid airline seat belt won’t fasten.  Not even with Spanx, not even when you skipped breakfast.  It sucks, and it’s a pretty humiliating experience.  Not the worst one I’ve ever had, but right on up there.  I have had countless experiences in my life that you’d think would humiliate me right into motivation at the gym, but you’d be wrong.  Hell, I’ve been offered a new car if I would get down to a normal weight for my height.  No dice.  The human brain is a stubborn beast.

I can’t remember the first time I needed an extender.  I’m sure I was embarrassed and I was probably flying alone, but like most bad experiences, I just try to block it out and move on.  (Yes, I know I probably need therapy.  Bill my bio-dad.)  I’ve been within 20 pounds of my highest weight just a handful of times, thank goodness, and each time I swear I’ll never be there again.  Right around my high school graduation, my last year at TCU, right around graduation from SMU and of course right around one year ago.  Crazy how fast I packed on those pounds.  Clearly school (and work) stresses me right into the fridge.  When you’re making your way closer to the largest pant size at LB, it’s time for a little talk with yourself.  I’m not sure of the day or time, but an AA flight attendant took pity on me during one of those time frames and told me to just hang onto my extender.  No more asking!  I kept it right with my shoe bags.  For someone that earned status on AA before she started traveling for work, that was GOLD.  Not having to ask every time just brightens your day.

I think it was official the last time I flew, but not only did I not need an extender today, I actually had three extra inches on the seat belt.  I think it was the particular plane I was on, but I don’t care.  Extra inches?  I didn’t have to suck in and pray?  YESSSSSS!  Happiness abounds.

Not as happy was the lack of leg room since I was too cheap to pay the extra scratch for my typical seat in 9E (14B would suffice.)  Life will go on, though, and I can start booking the exit row again.  Did you know you can’t have an extender in the exit row?  I didn’t until one insanely crowded flight had an empty exit row, and I was sympathetically told no when I asked to move into one.  The girl that ended up in that seat looked substantially larger than me, but hey, the seat belt doesn’t lie.  I’ve avoided the exit row for a while because you lose a couple inches of precious ass room, but bah.  The exit row is mine again, bitches.  These long legs can stretch out ALL. DAY. LONG.

I need it, too.  Hard to juggle my healthy, soy/dairy/gluten free oatmeal (thanks Starbucks!) coat, scarf, water and a neighbor with only four millimeters between my knee and the chair back.  I guess that extra leg room up front does make a difference.  I’ll try not to pout that I was number two on the upgrade list and still didn’t get it.  Sigh.  At least the person in front of me didn’t decide to lay back on my legs for his inflight nap.

IMG_1093

So great to see the Nestlerodes and meet their darling baby.  Hard to believe it’s been 2.5 years since I’ve been to Chicago!  Just like my visit a few Februarys back, I was blessed with sunny skies and moderate temperature.  I didn’t even mind the snow – Katie and I walked up to the local TJ and quilt shop and I was happy as a clam.  Don’t mind the puffer coat, I am totally skinny underneath it.  Promise.

FullSizeRender(3)

Back to the grind of the week – meal planning before I leave work today and stopping by the grocery store on my way home.  I was a little less strict than I’ve been in the past this weekend, and my foot definitely paid the price.  I had an amazing hostess that let me pick out my own groceries, but I didn’t ask about vegetable oil (soy) at any restaurant, enjoyed the hell out of some french press coffee both weekend days and best of all, had a couple bites of the most delicious butter cake in the world at Mastro’s Saturday night.  That steak!  Insane.  I hobbled around all Sunday morning, but I suppose I can split that blame between wearing heels on Chicago streets and having some of the things I know aggravate my inflammation the most.  Oops.  Worth it, though.

Cheers and stay warm, east coast friends!