Things I’ve Learned on Whole 30.

Things I’ve learned on Whole 30

  1. There are never enough tomatoes in the house.
  2. Cinnamon is used in normal cooking far too little.
  3. In spite of number two, or perhaps in acknowledgement of this fact, I had 3 nearly full bottles of ground cinnamon in my pantry.
  4. Just because a variety of a particular sauce does not include sugar that does not mean that the original version of that sauce is also free of sugar.
  5. Eating out is extremely difficult. It’s almost off-putting to even attempt to keep Whole 30 when going out without just having a salad.
  6. The most casual acquaintances can be extremely supportive when they see someone else working toward their fitness goals. Faith in humanity restored.
  7. Any dish that uses potatoes is made several times better with the substitution of sweet potatoes.
  8. I feel like I’ve eaten more eggs in the last month than I did last year.
  9. Leeks are fabulous.
  10. How to ignore flashy words on packaging like “All Natural,” “Cage Free,” and “100%” and just read the ingredient list.
  11. How to poach an egg properly.
  12. Actually poaching said egg properly.
  13. That food had a ton of control over me, and nothing good could come from anything having control over me.
  14. That I can change my life.

Whole 30, Grand Finale

To anyone who is thinking of doing Whole 30, who is on the fence on the program, who doubt if they’ll be able to complete it… let me say this: it isn’t difficult.

One of the comments I receive when discussing Whole 30 is “I would never be able to live without ____.” There’s a lot of truth about that to a lot of people, but when the time is right for someone who really wants and needs to make a change to their lifestyle I highly recommend attempting Whole 30.

Sure, it’s inconvenient to be on the diet. Any diet is. It will force you to make choices you wouldn’t normally put before yourself. Your shopping will take longer at first because you will be scrutinizing ingredients until you learn what you can and cannot buy. You will fill your refrigerator with vegetables on Monday only to see it empty by the weekend. You will crave bread and cheese and sweets at some point during the month.

You will be greatly rewarded if you tough through the month.

I want to thank everyone who supported me through the last month. I know that having someone who won’t eat or can’t eat a particular thing when everyone is out together can be a little odd, especially when it wouldn’t have been an issue before. Thanks for putting up with me, for suggesting things for me and for supporting me the whole way through this process.

I’m extremely proud of my mother who went through this journey with me and in whom I’ve seen a noticeable transformation. Even her doctor recognized that her health in general has been better after the following month. Ultimately, we are in control over a lot of that part of our lives, someone just had to show us how to take back as much control as we could get.

Today is Day 31. I may break my diet later tonight because I am going out. I may not. I know for sure that I’m going to eat some off-plan items tomorrow, so I’m trying to be as good as I can. Later, I will come up with a meal plan and diet for myself for the coming month to ensure I keep up with eating healthy, while finding a way to balance certain things back into my life.

I wonder what these things will taste like now. It will be interesting to find out.

The Final Countdown

Meals for the last three days

Day 28

Chicken and Mushrooms with Sauteed Onions and Peppers
Chicken and Mushrooms with Sauteed Onions and Peppers
Pork Stir Fry with Snow Peas
Pork Stir Fry with Snow Peas

Day 29

Sweet Potato Hash with Prosciutto and Poached Egg
Sweet Potato Hash with Prosciutto and Poached Egg
Beef Roast with Carrots and Red Potatoes
Beef Roast with Carrots and Red Potatoes

Day 30

Egg Muffins with Homemade Turkey Sausage and Spinach
Egg Muffins with Homemade Turkey Sausage and Spinach
Tomato-Lime Turkey with Zucchini
Tomato-Lime Turkey with Zucchini
Seed-Crusted Salmon with Carrot-Tomato Salad and Green Beans
Seed-Crusted Salmon with Carrot-Tomato Salad and Green Beans


Thanks again for coming along for the ride with me. On to the next adventure!

Whole 30, Day 27

Posting this one a little late so my thoughts may be scattered, but I’m happy to have another day done. Another hill climbed. It feels so weird to be close to the end because it doesn’t really feel like the end. There’s a whole world I had forgotten and it took me denying my staples for me to realize just what I’ve been missing. It’s interesting to me to see just how muted my palate had become relying on grains and cheese as main components of meals and just how much of a flavor profile I had become numb to over who knows what period of time.

Looking back at the entire month if I had one regret it would be to have not fully planned out more meals, especially breakfast options. I do feel myself really wishing I could incorporate sausage and bacon into a meal here and there (and with enough preparation I could have by making my own (which I did once with the turkey sausage, completely on a whim)). But old standby favorites work where planning fails. It’s just about making sure you have the clean food in stock to make good choices when nothing else presents itself.

Mushroom Omelette with Salsa
Mushroom Omelette with Salsa

Tuesdays are very long days for me (generally 20+ hours from rise to crash) and I try my best to space out my meals so I don’t find myself craving at the end of the night. Today I ended up snacking on fruit between lunch and dinner but still did well making filling meals, like this satisfying lunch.

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad in Avocado Cups
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad in Avocado Cups

Sometimes, though, you’re just a meat and potatoes kind of guy. We’d kept white potatoes out of the house since we started, only eating the ones on hand sparingly, but I decided I would buy some red potatoes for a stew for later in the week. A few of them ended up alongside a pork tenderloin that just melted in my mouth.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Potatoes
Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Potatoes

This month is redefining what I consider comfort food.

Whole 30, Day 26

Well, I certainly didn’t plan to skip two weeks worth of updates. January just got extraordinarily busy, some of the details of which I’ll post in another update. Suffice it to say that I’ve had little time to write, but that I’ve been good and stayed on plan, even on days when I’ve had to be out of the house. It hasn’t been easy and my choices to just not eat at certain meals probably made the whole ordeal a lot more difficult for me in the short term, overall making the right decisions is what is most important.

A few highlights from the last two weeks:

I tried to make a giant pot of turkey chili, hoping to freeze some of it, so that I could use it to help reduce future meal prep during the month. I had the meat browned and the other vegetables in the pot with Contadina crushed tomatoes. I had cans of Italian Herb Tomato Sauce from them but that wasn’t quite the flavor profile I was going for, so when I needed the chili to have a little more sauce I grabbed their original flavor tomato sauce. Surely the only thing different would be the lack of Italian herbs, right?

WRONG. Third ingredient in: sugar. WHY? Why must everything be ruined by sugar? It wouldn’t have been a big deal but I had opened the can and dumped it into my chili before I read the ingredients. Several pounds of chili were now ruined for Whole 30 because of one 8 oz can of tomato sauce.

I still managed to whip up a dinner in fifteen minutes after that fiasco, but there was a definite dark aura looming over me for several hours. It was my fault, though. I need to be more diligent in checking labels when I buy food. I can’t assume that similar products from the same company will have or omit the same ingredients.

Later in the month I made a 30-minute turkey chili because, dang it, I wanted turkey chili.

30-Minute Turkey Chili
30-Minute Turkey Chili

I had never eaten spaghetti squash before but I finally got the chance to make faux pasta with one and I loved it. I served mushrooms and shrimp in a homemade marinara (all with approved tomato products, this time) over a bed of the squash with just a bit of ghee tossed with it and it was amazing. Anyone who knows me can attest that I am a huge pasta fiend but this substitute could make me forget that I could be using noodles instead.

Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom and Shrimp Marinara
Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom and Shrimp Marinara

I also made an awesome pork tenderloin that only slightly got overcooked, but was still extremely moist and tender (just missing that gorgeous pink center). It is in a tie with the aforementioned spaghetti squash pasta for my favorite dish this month. And I made the leek puree again to rest the pork on top of and the combination was spectacular. Leeks are quickly becoming a staple in the household.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin on Leek Puree
Roasted Pork Tenderloin on Leek Puree

I also managed to eat out on several occasions. Twice at Jason’s Deli which were successful attempts at proving to myself that I can inhale more boiled eggs than should be humanly possible. Once at a Denny’s following a convention where I opted to just wait for dinner to even try to eat anything on plan. Our server was kind with my requests and put my salsa on the side so I could determine whether I thought I could eat it or not (he couldn’t tell me if it had sugar in it) and the cook staff graciously altered my veggie skillet (more eggs, less scrambling) so I could be sure of what I was eating in case something stuck out as being a potential problem.

Denny's Fit Fare Vegetable Skillet with Whole Fried Eggs
Denny’s Fit Fare Vegetable Skillet with Whole Fried Eggs

I also tried to eat at Chipotle because apparently the carnitas are Whole 30 compliant. This would have marked my first visit to Chipotle and I was looking forward to this magical experience that everyone always makes Chipotle out to be.

Except apparently Chipotle has a nationwide pork shortage right now. So no carnitas for me. I opted for a veggie salad (hold the veggies, they’re cooked in forbidden oils) with guacamole and salsa with some tabasco sauce to round out the “salad.” Perhaps some day I’ll eat at Chipotle. Some day.

Chipotle Veggie Salad sans Veggies
Chipotle Veggie Salad sans Veggies

Five more days until the Superbowl where I’ll officially be off my Whole 30 (31, really). When I looked at the plan at first, I never would have dreamed that I’d really reach the end, but I’m almost there and it’s really made a huge difference on how I look at food. What an amazing journey.

Whole 30, Day 12

A co-worker asked me today why I had stopped updating my blog after Day 8. No, I haven’t stopped doing the Whole 30. In fact, I’ve been working harder than ever to ensure that I don’t break the plan. I’ve been good and I’ve even eaten out and had a completely Whole 30-approved meal, something that I thought would be impossible to do. But nothing is impossible, only difficult, and anything worth doing isn’t easy.

I almost gave up completely on eating out on the weekend. I went up to see my friend and decided we might try to order something in, but after going through several menus and trying to determine what parts of what meals I could eat I just gave it up. I was frustrated initially but it reminded me that this process requires a lot of planning, especially when going out.

I will be going out next weekend. I am going to figure out a plan of action now.

The past several days I’ve run into cravings a little more often than I had in the first week. I think my brain is getting to the point where it wants a reward for being good. My brain, not my body. I don’t need chocolate or soda or Cheez-Its. I just want them. It’s about this point that my past attempts at changing my eating habits usually fade and I regress back into poor choices. Having a support system is crucial to completing the Whole 30. Luckily I have wonderful friends who are supportive of (and patient with!) my dietary restrictions including my mother who is doing the Whole 30 with me. I could have tried to do this alone, but why risk the chance at failure?

People are bugging me for food and menus and recipes and stuff. Yeah yeah yeah, here is more food. Recipes for everything should go up this week and the photos and links below will point to the appropriate posts.

Day 9

Potato Hash and Poached Eggs
Potato Hash and Poached Eggs
Mushroom Chicken Sausage with Leek Puree and Cauliflower Rice
Mushroom Chicken Sausage with Leek Puree and Cauliflower Rice
Shredded Crockpot Pepper Lime Chicken
Shredded Crockpot Pepper Lime Chicken

Day 10

Spinach and Mushroom Omelette with Homemade Salsa
Spinach and Mushroom Omelette with Homemade Salsa
Spicy Salmon
Spicy Salmon
Italian Chicken Sausage on Hoimemade Salsa and Leek Puree
Italian Chicken Sausage on Hoimemade Salsa and Leek Puree

Day 11

Scrambled Veggies and Eggs with Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage
Scrambled Veggies and Eggs with Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage
Lemon Garlic Salmon
Lemon Garlic Salmon
Chicken Salad Wraps with Homemade Mayonaise
Chicken Salad Wraps with Homemade Mayonaise

Day 12

Sweet Potato and Beef Sausage Hash with Poached Eggs
Sweet Potato and Beef Sausage Hash with Poached Eggs
Pepper Lime Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms
Pepper Lime Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms
Panera Power Steak Lettuce Wraps (no Basil Pesto)
Panera Power Steak Lettuce Wraps (no Basil Pesto)

Whole 30, Day 8

Week 2 is here officially. The first seven days of the challenge have come and gone and I have a confession to make.

Today, I actually feel kind of rough.

I woke up a little cloudy and it took me longer to get up and going than usual. My stomach felt a little upset and in general I just felt off. This is the first time since starting Whole 30 that I haven’t felt great (apart from being sick at the start of the year, a residual effect of 2014), but I’m not sure what’s to blame. I slept for 6 hours, which is actually above average for me, I just felt really tired. Maybe I just need more sleep in general.

After enough time the feelings passed and I returned to feeling pretty darn good. Maybe I just got up on the wrong side of the bed.

One of the lingering habits I picked up over the last 30 years is the rate of consumption of my food. I practically devour it as soon as it is in front of me. I’ve had people comment that it takes me much longer to make a sandwich than it does for me to inhale it. I attribute this to trying to find what I thought were better uses of my time at lunch during middle school and high school, either homework or socializing. As much as I enjoyed food, sitting and enjoying a meal didn’t make sense when I could be using the time to do so many other things. So I swallowed my food as quickly as I could. And I still do today. Even during the Whole 30 (which directs against it) I find myself lifting spoonfuls of food to my mouth before I’m done with the last one, striving for a peak in efficiency with which I clear my plate.

Today I ate breakfast slowly and calmly in an attempt to get myself used to eating appropriately. It felt odd, but I managed not to just pull my plate up to my mouth and shovel the contents into my gaping maw. Somehow.

Today’s Menu

Breakfast

Boiled Eggs with Mushrooms on Salsa
Boiled Eggs with Mushrooms on Salsa

Lunch

Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage with Bell Peppers and Tomatoes
Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage with Bell Peppers and Tomatoes

Dinner

Pangasius with Vegetable Saute
Pangasius with Vegetable Saute

Carrot Salad

I love this simple salad because I eat it with everything. Fish. Sausage. Chicken. Pork. It is quick to assemble and you can make a ton of it at once and it will keep in the fridge for a while. If you do not have a food processor you can use matchstick carrots purchased from the store for the following recipe.

Beef Knockwurst, Caulfilower Rice and Carrot Salad



4 Carrots
3-4 Shallots, sliced thin
1-2 tbsp of olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne (optional)

Shred the carrots in a food processor using a shredding disk. Remove from the food processor and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the shallots, oil and lemon juice and toss to combined. Add salt and pepper to taste (I like a little kick in mine so I use cayenne pepper as well)

Cauliflower Rice

I’ve always really enjoyed cauliflower but I rarely ever buy it for the house. I was fairly devastated upon learning that rice was out for Whole 30 but I am happy to see that this doesn’t count as a paleo treat, just as a way to prepare the cauliflower that resembles rice as a side dish. I only made a single head of cauliflower for my first attempt but I plan on doubling or tripling that in the future to make enough in advance for other meals, the whole thing is nearly gone already.

Don’t be fooled by this “rice” however. It doesn’t act like normal rice. Don’t expect it to soak up a sauce or to use it to make sushi. Leave that job to real rice, when you ever do get to have it.

Beef Knockwurst, Caulfilower Rice and Carrot Salad

Spicy Pangasius with Cauliflower Rice, Shallots and Mushrooms

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 head of cauliflower
Salt

I use a food processor for this, however, you may use a grater and perform the shredding by hand.

I do not recommend the latter method.

Wash the cauliflower and pat dry. Trim the leaves and quarter the cauliflower.

Cut off the florets leaving the dense stem. Discard the stem. Roughly chop any large clusters of the florets.

Heat the coconut oil in a skillet or saucepan large enough to fit all the cauliflower in once it is processed. Add the onion over low heat and saute.

Add a generous portion of the cauliflower to the food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is shredded. If you have more than will fit in the food processor at once whole, empty the cup and start again with the next batch of whole cauliflower. Do not keep adding cauliflower to the cup and pulsing. The cauliflower you have already chopped will start to get mushy, leaving you with a mess of pulverized cauliflower and not the light texture we are going for.

Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet and cook the cauliflower for 6-8 minutes, stirring gently but frequently enough to prevent the rice from browning or sticking.

Whole 30, Day 7

My food processor came in yesterday and I’ve been dying to open it up and start chopping and slicing stuff. I’m not entirely happy with the way the device is constructed but overall it seems like it will get the job done. I quickly chopped up a head of cauliflower to make cauliflower rice and I shredded a mountain of carrots for a salad. Soon, I will have diced, chopped, shredded and sliced the entire contents of my fridge. Not because I need to, but because I can.

Oh god, I’ve created a monster. Myself.

I almost went off plan today on accident. While purchasing plates and utensils to use in the office I picked up some macadamia nuts and cashews for snacking. With a handful of nuts and while working on this blog I almost began to eat them until I realized I had never actually checked the labels. They were just nuts, right?

The macadamia nuts were safe, but the cashews (my favorites) had vegetable oil. Cue sad face. If anyone wants a full bag of cashews they are in my drawer. Just take them. Please.

I’m tired today, but I attribute that to being awake until 4:30AM and waking up at 7:30AM. My Wakie call came at 8 but I just got the recording. Come on, Wakie. I want to tell random people about the awesome food I’m making at stupid hours of the morning. Clearly I need to be wielding sharp knives and rapidly spinning blades after only 3 hours of sleep. Someone, somewhere in the world needs to know this.

Today’s Courses

Breakfast – Fried Eggs with Guacamole, Salsa and Homemade Turkey Sausage

Fried Eggs with Guacamole, Salsa and Turkey Sausage

Lunch – Spicy Pangasius with Cauliflower Rice, Shallots and Mushrooms

Spicy Pangasius with Cauliflower Rice, Shallots and Mushrooms

Dinner – Beef Knockwurst with Cauliflower Rice and Carrot Salad

Beef Knockwurst, Caulfilower Rice and Carrot Salad

Whole 30, Day 6

The staff at my grocery store will know me by name by the end of this week, I swear. I don’t know where all this food is going but next week I’ll have to make a better plan of attack for the grocery shopping to make sure we’re stocked up appropriately. I think I’ve been to the grocery store more times this week than I did all last month.

I used to make a mushroom soup and I wanted to improve upon my methods and thought it would be a great way to prepare vegetables for several meals in advance. Now I’d have a pairing for protein and a light salad to make a quick dinner when pressed for time. With a large bowl of mushrooms, some broth and an immersion blender I made a huge pot of soup, perfect for the near-freezing days ahead of us.

I think this is the first day where I’ve felt a little pang of hunger outside of my meal times. Granted, I was up until 4:30AM and didn’t eat anything past my dinner at 8PM, I think the feeling wasn’t unique to being on Whole 30, just a product of the situation. And I still didn’t snack because it was too late and I didn’t really need to eat.

The need to eat. I still find myself clinging to old habits. Checking out the contents of the fridge when I go get water. Checking out the contents of the fridge when I walk by to get food for the cat. Checking out the contents of the fridge because it is a commercial break. If I’m not planning a meal, I don’t need to be in there. But I still find myself automatically opening it when I get near it and looking to see what’s inside. I’m not even hungry, but I still do it anyway. At least I have the will to leave everything where it is.

On the Menu

Breakfast – Salsa Eggs and Homemade Turkey Sausage

Salsa Eggs and Homemade Turkey Sausage

Lunch – Mushroom Soup with Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage

Mushroom Soup with Sweet Basil Chicken Sausage

Dinner – Leftover Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Carrots and Green Beans

Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Carrots and Green Beans