Category Archives: Food

Halfway Through February

Two weeks ago I ended a journey that truly transformed my life. I started a path toward being a healthier human being and now, two weeks later, the results are still showing. I haven’t lost any more weight, but I haven’t gained it all back as I thought I might. I’ve changed myself, how I act about a lot of things and how I live my life. I’m not Whole 30 every day, but I am most of the week. I’ve found I actually prefer having meals the way I had become accustomed to making them in Janaury. And while every now and then I have a craving for something sweet and I just let myself have it, I’m done once I’ve sated my desire.

I should have done this years ago.

The next journey begins now. Becoming more active. I spent a good amount of time walking around today, just walking. It has been a while since I’ve just been out and walked about. I still don’t know how I’m going to work it in to my daily routine but something is going to have to give so I can focus a little time during my day toward increasing my activity level.

Here’s to my new program. Here’s to a Fit 30 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.

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
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

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

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.