Whole 30 – Final Thoughts

Last post, I promise.  Well, last post until I decide I’m way to sugar-ed and carb-ed up and need another go at Whole 30. But I did it! I’m done! Here are some final thoughts.

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(OMG this recipe book from Kate Spade. I haven’t brought it home….yet.)

Was I successful?

According to me? Yes. According to other Whole 30-ers? I did not follow the rules. I ate beans and chickpeas a bunch of times, and I had smoothies with breakfast almost every day. And my coffee had sugar in it. The thing is, I stayed completely off milk and cheese and BUTTER, and pasta, and bread, and a whole bunch of other stuff you’re supposed to. So for me, who is always thoughtful about what she eats, but who doesn’t always show the most restraint, I was hugely successful. I didn’t eat Nutella for a month. That alone is a giant victory. Now excuse me, I’m off to the grocery store.

What were the best recipes?

Without a doubt, I much preferred taking regular recipes that happened to be Whole 30-compliant, or were almost Whole 30-compliant, and adapting them to suit the plan, over recipes designed for Whole 30. Do not come at me with your zoodles. That said, I did check out some cookbooks I thought would help me add variety when it came to dinner, and Against All Grain was the clear winner.

After your 30 days are up, you’re supposed to reintroduce the foods that you miss slowly, and forget the ones you didn’t. So what didn’t I miss?

Pasta! I don’t even know how that’s possible, because pasta has always been my very most favorite food. I know I’ll eat it again soon, but it’s not going to be the first food I bring back. That surprises me immensely. Pasta is also my go-to easy dinner, and its serious carbiness is making me think I need another go-to easy dinner up my sleeve. I will plan pasta nights, but they don’t need to happen every time I can’t (or don’t have the time to) think oF something else to eat.

Cheese! This one surprised me almost as much as not missing pasta. I always add cheese when I make frittatas, so I’d find myself planning flavor combinations and thinking how good they’d be with cheddar, or mozzarella, or, best of all, Parmesan. But the truth is, they were fine and tasty as I made them. Certainly cutting out all noodles reduced my cheese intake by a lot.

Rice – Which is much less of a surprise. Rice is my husband’s grain of choice, but we eat it a lot. Almost any time we’re eating chicken, pork, or beef. If we’ve got enough variety when it comes to veggies, I’ll double those, and I’m happy without it.

Ice cream – I don’t even know how to explain it except to say when you can’t have any dessert at all, your true favorite will emerge, and it might surprise you. (I did miss milkshakes though, which is totally different.) I decided that I won’t keep ice cream in the freezer this summer, but that whenever the mood strikes, I will absolutely get up and walk to one of the multiple local ice cream shops nearby.

Wine in cooking – There were some sunny spring days where a cocktail would have been a nice addition to the 5:00 hour, but it was never that hard to resist. What was much more challenging was finding recipes for entrees that didn’t have wine in them, and that I was excited about. (If the recipes called for 1/4-1/2 cup red or white wine, I’d still make them, but just swap the wine for chicken or beef stock.)

What was I longing for?

Milk – Duh. Specifically, an ice-cold, tall glass. The highlight of this whole experience was probably that I noticed no difference either giving up or adding back dairy. I’ve had doctors tell me for years that it may help my horrendously terrible skin, and I should give it up for 3 weeks to see what happens. Nothing happened! While this may seem bad on the skin front, it’s an overall win. I am not interested in a life without dairy.

Chocolate – There was not a single day that passed that I didn’t want to sneak away for a 5-minute Mommy break, complete with a handful of M&Ms or a York Peppermint Patty. Is it a food trap? Maybe. Do I care? Nope.

Baking – More than I wanted to eat dessert, I missed baking. I got together with friends, and had a couple events where I’m usually the baked-good bringer, and I missed being that person. When I bake, I’m usually content to eat a piece or two of whatever is in question and give the rest away. So this is habit that I know will come back, and I think that’s okay.

Good bread – I didn’t miss sandwich bread, but I was longing for a nice crusty slice of something upon which to make a sandwich or tartine. Which is funny because I’m not a huge fancy bread eater. Perhaps indulging in the good stuff will make bread worth it.

Easy meals – Save for chocolate, what I missed the most was being able to walk in the door from an incredibly busy or stressful day, and pour a bowl of cereal with milk and call it dinner. Though an apple with peanut butter (peanut butter!) would undoubtedly be healthier, cereal for dinner is exactly the right choice sometimes.

How was reentry?

It was lovely. I am trying hard to keep up my fruit and veggie consumption, and to go much, much easier in the carb and sugar department. This means at least one, if not two meals without grains, and one sweet treat a day. And no Nutella in the house.

What’s the bottom line?

I feel good. I don’t need coffee to wake up in the morning, but I still happily sip at my iced (almond milk!) latte because I love the ritual of it. My stomach is so much less flabby than usual, so I’m going to assume there’s some carb-weight that’s gone from the area. I don’t know whether I’ve lost any weight because I don’t own a scale. I am curious though, and I’ve got an annual check up in my future that may be telling. And most importantly, I’m happier with the food choices I’m making. Whole 30 proved that I have a lot more self control than I realized.

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Whole 30 – Days 21-30

I’m done! Whole 30 is over! Here’s the breakdown when it comes to the last 10 days…

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What I Ate (for the most part):

I made a couple of dishes for dinner that I’m not linking here because they were total duds. So if this list looks sparse, know that I ate plenty, it just wasn’t all great. So much better that this happened at the end of Whole 30. Had it gone down in the beginning, there’s no way I would have kept up with the month.

Machacado con huevos, from Well Fed (except I used ground beef instead of dried beef)

Brussels sprouts salad with bacon and pomegranate from Against All Grain (except with chicken in place of bacon, and without the chicken broth, and with balsamic vinaigrette)

Slow cooker sesame orange chicken from Against All Grain (hello, honey = a Whole 30 no-no. But I was so sick of cutting meals because there was one ingredient I couldn’t have that I just went with it.)

Chicken cobb salad from Against All Grain

Barbecue burgers from Against All Grain

Some assorted thoughts, as I thought them:

I’m bored. It’s not that I don’t have a zillion more recipes flagged to try, but I’m tired of looking through cookbooks, and scrolling through Pinterest, only to find that a dish I want to cook won’t work because it has a tablespoon of honey, or other equally offensive ingredient. I’m eager to get back to cooking from a wider list of ingredients.

I’m also busy. In those middle ten days, I had some thoughts along the lines of, wow, Whole 30 requires a lot more time spent on cooking. And then I cooked and moved on with my life. But days 21-28 were nothing short of crazy for me, and my thoughts were, I will eat whatever is closest so that I can be done with dinner so that I can go to bed. If I hadn’t had multiple Whole 30-friendly options in the refrigerator, I would have had a giant bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner, and not felt guilty in the slightest. So again, meal prep is key to making Whole 30 a success.

I. Don’t. Need. Coffee. A friend told me this would happen after two weeks. It took a little longer for me, but I’ll attribute that to the small person who is often looped around my ankles. He doesn’t always sleep much, and he can be quite draining when he’s awake. But I woke up on Day 23 and was like, hey morning, let’s do this! (I drank coffee anyway because I love it so darn much.)

Um, that’s it. I was totally over it by Day 30, and had already reintroduced a couple of forbidden foods ahead of schedule. I’m still planning to eat more along the lines of Whole 30 than I had been before this whole endeavor (I’m looking at you carbohydrates), but I definitely don’t need to be so stringent from here on out.

 

Whole 30 – Days 11-20

(Well, technically Day 20 was two days ago)

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What I Ate (for the most part):

My favorite thing we’ve eaten for dinner so far is this Country Captain Chicken from Well-Fed. I was so surprised that it didn’t have apples like the one my dad makes, and of course, after I made the whole thing, I saw a footnote at the bottom that told me to add apples and toasted coconut. That’s happening next time. This is so good. And to share a sentence I never thought I’d type, it doesn’t need the bacon on top (!!!!).

I made a riff on Jenny’s frittata from Dinner, the Playbook. I was astounded at the number of recipes I found in that cookbook that I could Whole-30-ify with just one omission and/or substitution. It became a big inspiration for days 11-20 of this process. See a similar recipe at the bottom of this post. I used leftover veggies from my traybake, and added spinach because I always do.

Also from Dinner, the Playbook, sloppy joes (I swapped out the zucchini for chopped mushrooms). Loved these.

Red lentil stew from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook – This was great, but my husband wondered where the meat was.

Moroccan meatballs from Well-Fed – Ugh. I don’t love lamb. My husband enjoyed these, but they weren’t my fave. I would absolutely make them again with beef, and I bet I’d love them. Because meatballs.

Turkey burgers – once with BLT, and once with caramelized onions and mushrooms. Both times with frozen turkey patties (read the ingredients before you buy in case there’s added sugar).

Salads for lunch – from SweetGreen, Chipotle, Cava, and my beloved Fish Taco. Eating out is tricky, but not impossible on Whole 30. I hate all the necessary chopping for the kinds of salads I like, so I’m happy to pay someone $10 to do it for me.

This salad has been heaven-sent when I’m not on the go. I’ve tweaked the recipe enough that I should post about it in its own right, so maybe you’ll see it if you hang around here long enough. (No mayo. Apple cider vinaigrette, please and thank you.)

Some assorted thoughts, as I thought them:

-Whoa, I just OD-ed on snacks. Every afternoon, I have a bowl of unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon. But today, we had lunch on the go, Gooplet didn’t let me finish mine completely by the time he was done with his, and I felt it as the afternoon went on. I was hungry. Bordering on hangry. So I went to snack town. Not thrilled about it, but being kind to myself. I needed calories, so I ate them.

-I did my usual meal planning last Sunday but I did 0 meal prepping over the weekend. It ended up working out okay. Had it been my first ten days on Whole 30, I’m not sure that would have been the case. But now I have a pretty good handle on how to get a meal out of all the ingredients I have.

-So, I found out my coffee doesn’t have 4 grams of sugar per serving. It has 14. Oof. I was obviously delusional when I purchased it; successfully fooling myself into missing that 1 in front of the 4. I just saw what I wanted to see. How nice for me. Here’s the thing. I don’t necessarily care. But today (Day 12) for the very first time ever, I took my first sip and thought, this is super sweet. So maybe. Just maybe. I’m ready for cold brew coffee with almond milk. And cinnamon? Maybe. Next grocery store trip will be telling. I miss the ritual of Starbucks more than I miss my beverages. It’s the place where everybody knows my name.

-I inadvertently ate flour with lunch one day (probably no more than a couple tablespoons) and my stomach was reeling for the remainder of the afternoon. That has to be my imagination. It cannot make that much of a difference…..can it?

-I just ordered bathing suits online. I don’t own a scale, and so have followed the Whole 30 approach – not weighing myself before or during this month. I’ve been trying to get to barre at least twice a week. I pray I don’t sob when I put the suits on.

-WORST NEWS EVER. I made a mini-cake for my sister-in-law’s birthday. I wasn’t planning to eat it, but hello, of course I was going to lick the spatula after I made the from-scratch, raspberry cream cheese icing. So I did. And it wasn’t that great. I mean, the frosting was great. But it didn’t quite hit the spot like I wanted it to. Ughhhhhhhhh.

Whole 30 – The First 10 Days

I loved when Shutterbean shared her Whole 30 progress, so I’m hoping you all will humor me and listen to mine.

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What I Ate (for the most part):

Moroccan chicken stew, from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook* – Everyone should eat this chicken. Everyone. I’ve had many-a-similar recipe, and this is my favorite of all. I think it’s the cinnamon stick that simmers with the stew the whole time. I forgot my husband doesn’t love cinnamon until after we finished, oops. He agreed this is amazing anyway. (pictured above, on my messy counter)

Chanterelle tacos, from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day – I used 12 oz. of mushrooms, chopped super small, to match the 8 oz. ground beef I added. These were amazing. My husband ate them as regular tacos, with tortillas and cheese, and I ate them with lettuce “shells.”

Yankee Pot Roast, from the Nom Nom Paleo Cookbook – I can’t find the recipe anywhere, but this was the best pot roast I’ve ever had. I’ll make it again and tell you all about it.

Sheet Pan Lemon and Basil Chicken – believe it or not, I’ve never made a traybake (it’s what Nigella calls them) before. What on Earth took me so long? I was putting this together, thinking, this is just going to be plain chicken, but it was quite good. We did a separate tray with potatoes and sweet potatoes, and took the blogger’s advice: cut the potatoes small, and roast them 10 or 15 minutes longer.

Baked Parmesan hash browns – except without the Parmesan. I did add chives, and some eggs (4, maybe?) to hold them together. I don’t know if I want to live in a world where there isn’t cheese with my hash browns, but I had half a bag to use up, and this got the job done.

A whole lotta this kinda stuff, sans cheese and cream, obviously. I think an abundance of eggs is kind of a given on Whole 30. Currently have a “batter” for one with spinach, and the leftover veggies from the aforementioned traybake ready to go in the fridge.

Pre-grilled chicken with roasted veggies – This is my go-to lunch. Most nights after dinner, I chop up a bunch of veggies, roast them at 425 for a while, and put them in the fridge for the next day or two. I buy Bell and Evans grilled chicken breasts in the freezer section at Whole Foods (if they add something that’s not Whole 30-approved, I’m not interested in hearing about it). Then I mix those up and nuke ’em for lunch.

Unsweetened applesauce – at the recommendation of a good friend who has done a couple Whole 30s. You’re not supposed to snack on Whole 30, but my lunch is often half a meal eaten at noon, while Gooplet eats, and another half later while he takes his afternoon nap. Sorry, Whole 30 people, but that’s how it’s going to have to be.

Lemon water – Sparkling water is not my favorite, but goodness, you’ve gotta do something to make all that regular water taste a little more exciting. I love throwing limes and/or strawberry slices in too.

Some assorted thoughts, as I thought them:

-Holy moly, all I do all day is eat things you’re not supposed to eat on Whole 30. That first and second day were filled with me opening the refrigerator, and heaving a longing sigh because I had no idea what I could even eat in there. And I stocked my refrigerator full of Whole 30-approved foods.

-Holy, moly, this is going to cost money! All the bloggers say that. They’re right. I’m walking to the grocery store for more fruits and veggies ever other day. Not an exaggeration. Let’s hope what I’m saving on Starbucks is helping to make up the difference.

-The headaches are real (for the first 3 days). About midday for the first 3 days I’d get a headache that would hang around till dinner. When that hit, I started running for lemon water and praying the clock would move fast and I could eat another meal before it got any worse. I’m assuming that’s from the lack of sugar, not the lack of grains or dairy, but who knows?

-We know I’m all about ritual, and there is one ritual in which I partake daily, that has been hard to give up. Every afternoon, when Gooplet goes down for his second nap, I drink an ice-cold glass of milk and eat some sort of treat that I deem acceptable on that particular day. A piece of chocolate, a leftover cookie, you name it. This is sacred territory and helps me gear up for my last shift of mom life before dad comes home. Morning nap is like, do all the things! Emails! Laundry! Dishes! Get dinner in the slow cooker! Afternoon nap is like, ahhhhhhh.  I really miss that afternoon ritual. 10 days gone and that hasn’t changed at all.

-I am not now and (likely) never will be a vegetarian, but goodness gracious, I do not know if I love meat enough to keep this plan going. I didn’t realize that I didn’t eat that much meat. I did eat that many carbs. So now I have this void, where I don’t want pounds of meat, but I can’t have carbs, and I swear to you, if I have to look at another vegetable…(Dear readers, great news – I’m reading this now like, oh, pshhhh, I totally don’t have that problem anymore. I think it’s about finding the right ratios of meat to veggies to fruit, for you, and about figuring out what foods you’re going to enjoy eating on this plan.)

-Plan! Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan. And then plan some back ups. I always plan my meals out for the week on Saturday or Sunday, but I often change up the plan as life continues. Last minute stuff comes up, and the dinner you thought you had time to prepare, isn’t going to happen. And sometimes on Friday, you don’t feel like eating what you told yourself you’d make last Sunday. When you can eat whatever you want, that’s no problem, because you’ve likely got a fully-stocked pantry, but when you have serious limits on that, you’ve gotta get creative.

*Amen to this cookbook. I checked it out from the library because I wasn’t sure if I would want to buy it. I find a lot of the slow cooker recipes out there redundant, but I knew if anyone would get it right, America’s Test Kitchen would. They blew me out of the water. And they understand that

Whole 30 – I’m Making My Own Rules

I promise, this blog isn’t going to turn all crazy-healthy on you anytime soon, but I do have plenty to say on Whole 30 right now. We’ve got some great books to talk about, some lists to share, oh, and a birthday cake (!), promise.

But for now, I’m on Whole 30. Happy Day 1 to me. I’ve never done it before, but it’s popped up enough in my social media feeds that I’ve checked it out, and the spirit has moved me, and here we all are. There are a couple of reasons I’m excited about this approach to eating. The first is that according to the official Whole 30 website, you’re not supposed to weigh yourself before or after the month. I’m not doing this to lose weight, I’m doing this because gracious, I eat so much crap that I need a reset. Not a “diet,” in the traditional sense. I also like Whole 30 because it’s 30 days. The point of the program isn’t to convert its followers to a carb- sugar- and dairy-free lifestyle. It’s to get your body used to whole foods, and then to slowly reintroduce the crap you want when it’s all over. (Of course, one possible benefit is that you may not want to reintroduce the crap in such vast quantities, and wouldn’t that be lovely?)

But I am absolutely making a couple little changes to the rules that are going to make this much more doable for me. And I decided that’s completely okay. Without trying to sound like a martyr here, I will say that my life is not completely about me anymore. Since having Gooplet, he comes first, and that leaves a lot less time for poring through Pinterest, searching for meal ideas. I want to be healthier, but I can’t dedicate the same kind of time to that pursuit that I once could. No more barre 5 times a week.  No one is more sad about that than my missing abs, but that’s too bad for them. I’ll find them some other time.

So, my bending of the rules:

Coffee:  Coffee is okay on Whole 30, as long as it’s not sugared or dairy-ed up. Oooooh, except that is my favorite kind of coffee in the world. I found an iced almond milk latte at the grocery store that has 4 g of sugar per serving. I’m going for it. I’ll reevaluate that choice in two weeks when people swear I may not even need coffee to get moving in the morning. You people sound crazy to me right now, but I’m willing to hear you out in a little while. 4 g. of sugar per day is approximately 1000 times less sugar than I’ve been eating, so I am certain I’ll still be okay.

Beans: You’re not supposed to eat legumes on Whole 30. I could look up why, but I don’t want to. I’m giving up pasta, bread, and rice. I’m ditching sugar and my beloved milk (RIP macaroni and cheese, and ice cream).  Beans are a thing that grows in nature. In order to eat them, you do nothing but soak and boil them in water. That seems harmless. This diet is restrictive enough, and I’ve got plenty of meals that would follow the rules, save for the beans. So I’ll just make them, and eat I’ll beans. We will all be okay.

The Bigger Picture: When it comes to beans, and any other spur of the moment decisions I make in the month ahead, I’m choosing to be kind to myself. I hope I don’t attack the pasta that’s still in my pantry in a fit of depravity, but I’m not ruling it out as a possibility. There’s one serving of yogurt left in my fridge, and it’s very likely I’ll throw it in a smoothie tomorrow morning rather than let it go bad. If I’m on the go with my beloved small child, and all can do is reach in the fridge and grab something before we get in the car, then that is what it is and I’ll eat it. I can’t be a good mom if I haven’t eaten lunch. So I will eat lunch.  (I am keeping some of his applesauce pouches in my bag for me, though.)

Whole 30 – What the Heck am I Even Doing?

The other day, I texted SCL and told her I really wanted to do a Whole 30 and she said, “What’s that?” Um, I don’t really even know if I know, you know?

This is my working knowledge of Whole 30 – It’s this thing people with blogs do when they feel like they’ve been eating unhealthily and want to hit the reset button. And if they do it more than 30 days, they call themselves Paleo. I heard a lot about eating Paleo on some of my favorite blogs about a year or two ago, but haven’t heard as much lately. Whole 30, however, still seems to be very much a thing.

The gist of it is that you eat real (whole) foods for 30 days. There are a myriad of restrictions, most notably grains and dairy. Oh yeah, and alcohol. So I’ve gotta get this done now before the weather warms up, which is the only time of year I actively want to drink booze all the time, and then please give me tons of it, preferably on a screened-in porch. Okay, but Whole 30.

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(This is a random, old picture, because there is literally nothing I eat right now that is beautifully photographed and Whole 30 compliant, but I like posts with pictures so much better.)

It is going to be incredibly difficult, mostly because it’s not at all how we eat now. One of my single greatest victories in life was getting back into the kitchen and figuring out a new rhythm to dinner-making with a child underfoot.  Or more literally, on-ankles. Dinner involves lots of things that can be made ahead and lots of things that can be made ahead are starchy casseroles with cheese. Those have to go. So I’m doing some research between now and Goop’s birthday, and flagging everything I can possibly think of that will keep me full-up for the next month.

To be continued.