Whole 30, Day 5

Day 5. Still going strong. Today would bring a new challenge as I was making meals for myself and my mother for Whole 30 and we were both mostly at home over the holidays. Now, both back in the office, preparing meals to take ahead of time, or making enough to use throughout the week will likely be the normal plan of action.

I hadn’t really thought that I was going to make 90 different meals in 30 days, and so far I’ve closely matched a breakfast and eaten one leftover dinner, but I think that the next culinary challenge for myself will be to stretch my skills and make new dishes with new techniques and ingredients I haven’t used before for some set period of time, like 21 new dishes in a week.

Sometime after the Whole 30.

But I will still make new dishes as they come to me during this month. I’ve never made scotch eggs before but it seemed easy enough (and, in fact, it was). I used a good, store-bought chorizo and I made my own turkey sausage to mix with it. Next time I’ll buy ground turkey with a little more fat content, this sausage cooks up a little dry. If you haven’t done it, you really should try it. What’s not to love about spiced meat wrapped around a hard-boiled egg? To keep mine Whole 30 I skipped breading the balls and just baked them as protein in protein.

For dinner, I tried my hand at making a balsamic glaze to pour over pork and serve with vegetables. I don’t think I reduced the balsamic down nearly enough but the heavenly aroma of the vinegar hung in the air for hours. If balsamic vinegar was excluded from the Whole 30, I might have failed the challenge already.

Menu Du Jour

Breakfast – Scotch Egg with Wilted Spinach and Tomatoes

Scotch Egg with Wilted Spinach and Tomatoes

Lunch – Beef Knockwurst with Rosemary Potatoes and Rosemary Mustard

Beef Knockwurst with Rosemary Potatoes and Rosemary Mustard

Dinner – Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Carrots and Green Beans

Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Carrots and Green Beans

Whole 30, Day 4

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Today was no different. No, I haven’t broken my Whole 30, or even been tempted to. Surprisingly, after spending yet another morning in the grocery store, I found that I wasn’t hungry in the slightest. At nearly 11am. And I had yet to make breakfast. I couldn’t believe it myself. I was actually worried if I’d be able to eat three meals today because I couldn’t envision my body even craving any sustenance at that moment. If this kind of satisfaction with what I’m eating continues I’ll be a very happy Moose.

My issue today was trying to find some form of traditional breakfast protein that did not have sugar in it. With the aisles and racks and stacks and piles and endcaps and coolers full of sausage and bacon there had to be at least one product that didn’t have some form of sugar in it, right?

Nope. Not one. Even the uncured bacon listed turbinado sugar as an ingredient. Not one single brand of bacon or sausage was without some form of sugar in it, even those listed as all-natural. Sugar is natural, right? It just doesn’t naturally occur in pork belly until it’s added in. So I had to leave without any traditional breakfast meats.

Correction. I did take one. Chorizo. Pork. Vinegar. Salt. Spices. Simple. I used to jokingly blame chorizo for my weight so I laughed a little inwardly as I added it to my basket. But I needed a new scheme for breakfast, my planned eggless skillet was now without protein having struck out with bacon and breakfast sausage. I found a good replacement in a mushroom chicken sausage from Bilinski’s (read your labels if on a dietary plan, not all Bilinski’s products are created equal).

I also picked up fresh, wild-caught salmon to sit along side the spaghetti squash that I thought I had, but found out when I returned home that I only had acorn and chayote squash. I was determined to eat my salmon, though, so I powered on and just adjusted my meal plan for the day.


Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Breakfast – Mushroom Chicken Sausage Skillet with Mushrooms and Spinach

Mushroom Chicken Sausage Skillet with Spinach and Mushrooms

Lunch – Pan-seared Salmon and Chayote Squash with Herbs

Pan Seared Salmon and Chayote with Herbs

Dinner – Herbed Pork Chop with Pan-Fried Apples

Herbed Pork Chop with Pan-Fried Apples

Chicken and Carrot Stir Fry with Mustard Sauce

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love Asian food. To be fair I love food in general, but I’ve always had a fondness for Asian cuisine and flavors. So a decision to do Whole 30 and give up soy products and rice was not something I would have envisioned myself doing a year ago. But Asian food is more than fried rice with soy sauce, so I was determined to make some easy, Asian-inspired meals while participating in Whole 30.

Mustard is probably my favorite condiment and a wonderful compliment to meats that I feel is underutilized. I made a quick stir fry with carrots and green onion with just enough mustard to lightly flavor the dish.

Chicken and Carrot Stir Fry
Chicken and Carrot Stir Fry

1 tbsp light tasting olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 carrots, sliced (I try for 1/8″ thickness)
1 tbsp garlic
3/4 lb chicken breast, cubed or sliced in thin strips
4 green onions, (I slice the white onion part thinly and cut the scallions into 1-inch pieces)
1 tbsp mustard (I used yellow, any Whole 30-compliant mustard will work)
Chicken Broth (Check your labels, lots of packaged broth have sugar, even Pacific Organic)

Heat the olive oil in a wok or large, non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and let it sautee for one minute, stirring gently with the carrots.

Turn the heat down to medium. Make a space in the center of the wok/pan and add the sesame oil, followed by the chicken (Sesame oil has a very strong flavor/odor and I prefer not to use it with my vegetables but love it with meat). Stir the meat every minute or two until the chicken has browned. Add the green onions and combine everything together.

In a small bowl mix the mustard with increasing amounts of broth to dilute the mustard a bit. Experiment with the flavor until you are happy with the strength and consistency of the sauce. It is only going to lightly coat the meal. Add the mustard sauce to the wok and toss to coat.

For another vegetable in the meal try serving this with cauliflower rice or as a lettuce wrap.

Simple Potato Hash

The first day on Whole 30 called for the most basic recipe, one whose Whole 30 compliance had been met in the past without my realizing it. This was my first attempt at cooking with coconut oil, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Hash and Fried Eggs
Hash and Fried Eggs

1 tbsp coconut oil (or your choice of oil/fat for cooking)
1 small to medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small onion, diced
Salt
Pepper

In a heavy, non-stick skillet heat the coconut oil and add the potato with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Fry the potatoes over medium heat until just starting to crisp (15-20 minutes depending on how small your potatoes are). Stir constantly while frying.

Remove the potatoes and drain. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. If the potatoes absorbed too much of the oil, add enough just to ensure your onions don’t stick and burn. Don’t add too much, you’ll end up with oily hash.

Stir the potatoes back into the onion and combine. Heat until the potatoes are warm again.

Serve the hash with eggs prepared in your favorite style. I suggest trying them with a warm, runny yolk to mix into the hash. Few things in life are as delicious.

You can add in lots of ingredients into your hash including another protein (bacon, ham, sausage, turkey), and other veggies like bell peppers and tomatoes. The above recipe is a blank canvas for a simple dish or a to be added to for a unique breakfast.

Whole 30, Day 3

Third day on Whole 30. Third trip to the grocery store in 4 days. We are using what meager store of vegetables we stockpiled before Whole 30 at a crazy rate and it’s really showing me how little I ate vegetables before, at least at home. More bell peppers. More onions. Sweet potatoes! I want to buy the whole produce department, but my pantry and fridge aren’t large enough.

I haven’t cooked this much in a long time because I felt I didn’t have the time to cook every meal from scratch, and to be fair, it’s been a challenge to fit it into my days. With my schedule it will always be difficult to prepare meals the way I’d like to, but this is for my health as much as it is something I just want to do, so I have to make the effort to make it work.

I’ve never made poached eggs before. I’ve been in a kitchen while they were made several times. I believe there is a number that was created, larger than a googolplex, to describe the number of poached eggs I’ve consumed in my lifetime. There are few things in life better than the warm, runny yolk of a poached egg mixed into a delicious, potato hash. And so today’s menu opens on my version of a Whole 30 approved breakfast.


Today’s Tasty Treats

Breakfast – Apple Sage Sweet Potato Hash and Poached Eggs

Apple Sage Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs

Lunch – Sirloin Steaks with Steamed Green Beans

Sirloin Steaks with Green Beans

Dinner – Leftover Turkey Chili

Apple Sage Turkey Chili

Whole 30, Day 2

I woke up this morning, fully prepared to face what was sure to be a terrible headache and massive food cravings after denying myself the staples that make up much of my regular diet. The program warned that the second and third days were likely to bring some withdrawal issues as the body learns to deal without the normal nutrition it receives.

Nothing. Clear mind. As clear as it could be with my allergies or cold or whatever it is that hit me before the year ended. But I had none of the serious problems that I thought I would have. Not even the cravings. Sure, I see off-limit items still in the house (the entire house is not Whole 30) but I don’t mindlessly reach for them as I pass by.

Mindlessly is actually a dangerous word here. I consciously would say to myself, “Hey, self, I’m sure that tastes good. Put it in your mouth and confirm my hypothesis.” And by my mind’s crude attempt at the scientific method I would verify, bit by bit, that the gingerbread house on the counter is, in fact, tasty. And it continued to be tasty every hour. I still pass by the remnants of that rubble pile that was once a sugary edifice, but I don’t have the same desire to just reach out and shove a piece of it in my face. This isn’t a result of the program.

I learned to say no. At least I hope I’ve learned to say no.

Sure, the program is about making smarter choices on food, and in doing so, denying yourself those things you used to eat, you preferred to eat, you really looked forward to eating. But I’ve barely been on Whole 30 long enough for this to be a learned habit. I just had to stop giving in to my terrible impulses.

It’s not difficult. I won’t kid myself and say that at some point I won’t struggle with wanting to eat something, but food can’t have that kind of control over me to make me feel I need to have some treat immediately simply because I think I need it, or just because it’s accessible.

I can do this. Anyone who wants to do this can do this. Just say yes to saying no.

Day 2 Menu

Breakfast – Salsa Scrambled Eggs with Bell Pepper and Mushrooms

Salsa Scrambled Eggs

Lunch – Lemon Pepper Chicken

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Dinner – Apple Sage Turkey Chili

Apple Sage Turkey Chili

Happy Fooding!

Whole 30, Day 1

Today begins a new chapter in my life. After 31 years of poor decisions regarding food I’ve had enough. I eat when I am sad. I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m bored. I eat because I walked by the refrigerator. I enjoy food, but I enjoy it far too much and too often.

My love affair with food started at a young age. I was eager to help out in the kitchen and took every opportunity to help cook or to make meals for myself. This is all well and good as long as I possessed the self control to keep my eating and snacking in check. Sadly, over the years I grew in the habit of making more and more food and increasing my portion sizes far larger than they needed to be. Three-hundred-and-seven pounds later, I’m a mess. I know how to cook good food, and food that is good for me, but it does me no good when I eat a second or third serving of it just because it’s sitting there. I needed to make a conscious effort to understand what I could eat, how much I should eat, and how I should go about balancing my diet.

So, today, I began Whole30. For the next thirty days I am committing to return to whole and natural foods and to leave behind processed foods and items that are known to potentially cause health and weight issues. This isn’t a condemnation of certain foods necessarily, but a dietary regimen designed to hopefully push the reset button on some of the bad habits I’ve developed and the state of health I’ve put my body in.

No dairy. No legumes. No alcohol. No grains. No MSG. It’s not entirely paleo, or other diet system, but it seems close to other low/no-carbohydrate, high protein plans. It isn’t designed to be a replacement for one’s diet forever, they understand that denial leads to cravings which make people break their plans. But hopefully, after 30 days, I’ll have at least started to gain the habits necessary to lead a healthier lifestyle.

I hope to start tracking my meals and discussing them through this blog and to post recipes where I can. For now, I’ll just have to do with a simple listing of my menu for Day 1.

Breakfast – Hash with Fried Eggs

Hash and Fried Eggs
Hash and Fried Eggs

Lunch – Chicken and Carrot Stir Fry in Mustard Sauce

Chicken and Carrot Stir Fry
Chicken and Carrot Stir Fry

Dinner – Cajun Seasoned Pangasius with Zucchini

Cajun-Seasoned Pangasius with Zucchini
Cajun-Seasoned Pangasius with Zucchini

After all of this I did find myself craving more food in the evening. I ate a banana as a snack and it seems to have sated my hunger. I’ve quickly come to see that even in preparing for the new diet I still do not have nearly enough vegetables to keep up. Time to get reacquainted with the produce department.

Brave New Moose

It is a new year and with it come new hopes and dreams, new aspirations, new adventures and new possibilities.

Or something like that.

I’m bad at resolutions. I’ve made some interesting ones in the past but I lack the *shock* resolve to keep up with them. Like so many other people, exercise schedules are cast aside, plans are put off, promises are broken or forgotten… and who can blame anyone for not fulfilling a half-baked intention that was likely dreamt up after finishing a bottle of prosecco and a few beers? Lesser men would give up and resolve to never make a new year’s resolution again.

I might be a lesser man.

The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are driven by some necessity to follow along with tradition to fit in with the spirit of the season. But why try to commit to a major decision without any real thought, planning, or the proper desire to follow-through with a goal? At best, you never intended to do anything and have wasted a few words. At worst, you let yourself down because you failed to really prepare for your good idea.

I’m no longer making New Year’s Resolutions. I will not start off a year with the insane prospect of getting into amazing shape in a ridiculously short period of time. I will not kid myself into thinking that I will work up to running 6 miles a day every day by the summer. I couldn’t possibly lead myself to believe that I’ll become more organized, neat, clean and clutter-free.

I certainly couldn’t expect myself to meet any of these goals simply because I just traveled another 384 millimon miles around the Sun. I am in roughly the same physical place I was last year (in relation to the Sun, at least) after this grand journey around a glowing nuclear fission reaction that is the sole reason we have enough warmth to survive and keeps our tiny blue marble from careening endlessly out into space. What significance could this possibly have on my personal goals?

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have personal goals. I have tons. And I expect to meet them when I set them. I have but one resolution to make. That I am making it on the first of January is merely coincidence.

I resolve to be a better person. To make each day better than the last and to be proud of the life I am living. After this, everything else will follow suit.

Welcome to my blog. It’s going to be an interesting life.