Tag Archives: whole30

15 days

7 May

It was the free wine that did it.

I made it 15 days out of 30 before completely falling down on the job with the Whole30 challenge adventure because of free wine (and food).  Oh, that is sad!  I went to a College Senate mixer on Thursday after work, and lo and behold, I was handed 2 free drink tickets and on the tables sat a passel of serving trays offering onion rings, sliders, and chips and salsa (there were chicken and shrimp skewers as well, but let’s not beat around the bush here.)  The devil on my shoulder said “DRINK THOSE NOW, THEY ARE FREE YOU IDIOT.  EAT THAT TOO.  DON’T FORGET TO DIP THOSE CHIPS IN SOME QUESO.”  (My inner devil is kind of a yeller).  And so I did.  *sigh*  Part of it was that I didn’t eat beforehand and was heading to another social event after the mixer (life has been busy lately).  But let’s get real—I didn’t adequately inoculate myself against the smell of fresh fried food and the possibility of free booze.  Not good booze, per se.  Just free.  So I was ready for a big crash.

I could say I’m disappointed in myself, and of course I am a little, but frankly I’m impressed that I was able to stick with something so radical as long as I did, and I know I’ll try it again since I liked the (temporary) results.  Seriously, in the end, it’s just a damn diet.  It’s not Sophie’s Choice.

But it’s not just that the diet is restrictive—no grains, alcohol, dairy, sugar, or legumes—it’s the socializing part that’s the biggest challenge.  And that little devil.  

30 days doesn’t seem like much, but having the discipline to go out to dinner when there’s bread at the table, or when friends are having a beer or glass of wine, or everyone wants to grab dessert, or visiting a new friend’s house and the table is covered in brownies, pita chips and hummus (my favorite, and illegal in both instances) and free wine—that’s a head trip.  It’s amazing how your own brain can completely undermine you.  Shut UP, you.  

I can't help it--this picture makes me laugh heartily.

Of course it would be easier to stay home for a month, but that’s not really the point, is it?  There are ALWAYS going to be temptations, and even if I didn’t stick to this paleo thing 100%, people eat like crap regularly with the chips/fried cheese/french fries/etc. (and that was just me on the Derby Day bar crawl last weekend with a couple of martinis…when I fail, baby, I go BIG TIME!)  I’m always going to have to make a choice of easy (and sometimes tasty) versus healthy.  And really—I’m making the choices.  I’m a big girl.  Those pita chips didn’t jump into my belly—I put them there.  

But that devil—that devil is the WORST.  I can’t say that I was feeling 100% awesome during those two weeks, but I wasn’t feeling any worse, and I wanted to see if I could do it.  But the voice in the back of my brain whispered “It’s not that bad.  You know you want to.  You’ve been so good!  How bad can it be?”  And then it gets louder: “You are really hungry.  Look at all that delicious salty food.  Mmm…wine.  Smacky smackity smack—I’d bet that would be so tasty.  And you’re not paying for it!  Just drink it!  Ooh, french fries…”  I resisted that little bastard for two weeks, but then I lost focus.  Who knew something so silly (in the grand scheme of things) could be such a bizarre negative mental trip??

So, Mr. Temptation: I have been beaten by you, sir.  I have failed.  TODAY.  But that’s ok!  I will try again soon.  I will look you in the face and say to your lackeys, NOT TODAY, CHIPS AND QUESO!  NOT TODAY.  And maybe next time I will not schedule my next Whole30 challenge adventure when leaving town on a beach retreat SURROUNDED BY BAGELS AND SNACKS AND WINE, or working 12 hours at the election without being able to leave nor with access to refrigeration, or flying home to see my parents.  Maybe my next Whole30 can during a time of relative social quiet.  And hey, I’ve already tested some recipes and strategies, so that’s half the battle right there.  You gotta just keep trying, right?

Advertisements

Crankiness and commitment: Whole30 Day 10

27 Apr

Yesterday was not my best day, crank-wise.  I’m still barreling through this diet (week 2, baby!), but I’ll be honest, I was expecting to see some major benefits from the Bob end, and while I’m not any worse, I’m not much better.  I’ve been throwing a lot of money at Bob this month, and I feel like I’ve been hemorrhaging cash—supplements, Nordic Naturals fish oil (the good stuff—lemon-flavored that I drink straight from the bottle in liquid form—oh yes I do!), VSL3 probiotics, and the FOOD.  Buying all this really good food is not cheap, especially since i started this near the end of the month and bought all kind of OTHER stuff (milk, yogurt, beans, more beans, oatmeal, etc.) that I can’t eat.  So like an @ss who buys his date an expensive dinner expecting her to put out (do those guys still exist??), I expect MY colon to show me some damn respect and to behave himself.  Which he is reluctant to do.  DUDE, what do you WANT from me?  Why aren’t you happier?  Bob is like the flamboyant lead actor  who’s part of an entire cast of characters acting in a play based on my life, and he wears too much eye liner and lots of sequins and freaks out constantly when the other actors go off-script—and God forbid you serve him yellow peanut M&Ms when he only wants blue.  He’s a fussy, temperamental B, that Bob.

But anyway…I got off track.  Am I feeling terrible?  No, not at all—and I am grateful.  But by Day 9, I was expecting some fantastic, mythical, magical healing to reveal itself.  And maybe it is happening, way down at the cellular level, but I’m not seeing it.  Yet.  So yes, yesterday I was uber-cranky.  But even at my feistiest, I didn’t think of abandoning this challenge (adventure!) because—hey, I’m 10 days into it, and I don’t think it’s doing me any harm.  I’m still feeling generally good, I know what I’m putting into my body is good, and I’m 2 pounds down in a week, so—success.

This weekend I’m leaving town to go on a beach retreat to Oak Island with my church ladies.  I’m looking forward to it, because getting some sun and going to the beach is always healing for me, and I love my church ladies (this year I think the participants’ average age is 55…and then there’s me).  I cooked up a bunch of vegetables yesterday just in case I need emergency food, since I’m not sure what the situation will be of available or purchased food (but I’m guessing I can’t eat most of it): I’m bringing cucumber salad, chopped up ingredients for an omelette, curried vegetables (sauteed veggies made with a can of coconut milk, some green curry paste, a splash of fish sauce and lime juice—it’s surprisingly good), ants on a log, carrots, sauteed squash and zucchini, and some coconut fig nut balls (they need a better name than that)—the link is not exactly the recipe, but it’s close.  I ground up a bunch of nuts I had on hand, added them to a bowl, then ground up coconut and some figs I bought for something else, then added them to the nut mix with some coconut oil.  Added some cocoa and salt (I skipped the coffee, but that might be interesting), and mixed it all together.  However, it didn’t really “ball up”, so I made a different batch where i soaked the figs for a few hours and then mixed the whole mixture with the soaking water (just enough to cover the figs) and THAT made balls that I rolled in shredded coconut, but were also much sweeter.  Honestly, I think i like the drier nut meal (what a word!), and I’ve just been eating it with a spoon.  Yes, my eating has become weird(er).  Either way, lots of good fat and protein, and I’m bringing my nut balls AND nut meal to the beach!

So…lots of small packaged food items that I’ll have to squeeze in the car (and I just got this nestable lock & lock set from woot Wednesday with purple lids, and I LOVE THEM SO HARD) but you don’t want a hungry Erin on your hands.  Is this diet a pain in the rear?  Let’s be honest—yeah, especially when socializing (or traveling) with other people.  But do I think a modified version of it has a real place in my life?  The jury is deliberating, but I’m going with…yes.

And on Sunday’s return…more food planning for the week.  Whee!

Coconut dreams: Whole30 Day 4

23 Apr

Saturday turned out to be a pretty busy day—I woke up around 7-ish (for Deliciously tasty coconut butterwhatever reason I can no longer sleep in like a normal person, no matter what time I go to bed, which is super annoying), cleaned up the house, headed to the farmer’s markets to pick up my veggie haul, then headed home to get ready for a neighbor BBQ with the other 11 units in my condo complex.  We do this about twice a year and use some funds to get some beer and food for the gang.  Not all the unit residents show up, but those who do have a good time.  And lucky for us, it didn’t rain like it did last Fall![[MORE]]

Day 4: Saturday, 4/21

Breakfast: 3 ants on a log (w/ almond butter), 1 small sweet potato with ghee and salt, ¼ cantaloupe

Ants on a log (celery sticks with nut butter and raisins) brings me back to school lunches, and I love it.  Just writing about it makes me want one now.  It’s also a great snack that travels well because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  I was planning on having a big breakfast but simply ran out of time.  I’d nuked a sweet potato earlier in the week (I need to do more of that soon to have them on hand) and polished off a super sweet cantaloupe before heading to the first of 2 farmers markets.

One of these days I’m going to get to the biggest farmers market in Charlotte, the one on Yorkmont Drive near the airport, but I guess I’ve always had plenty of luck at the Mecklenburg County Market (#7 on the About.com list) open all year round and the Kings Drive market (#2) so I’ve been lazy.  Sometimes I get to Atherton Mill which is 3 blocks from my house, but they don’t have the same veggie amount or selection as the other two do.  However their meats are impressive and I like the mix of things they sell there.  And also—3 blocks.  But still…3 farmers markets within two miles of me?  Impressive.  

that's a whole lot of veggies right there.

Since I just started this paleo cooking thing, I’m not really sure how much to get of things.  But you know when you don’t have a list for Harris Teeter or Target and you just buy whatever you feel like buying, willy-nilly?  That’s kind of what happened on Saturday.  And $50 later, my kitchen looks like this photo.  Gracious.  I know some stuff will go to waste (and how in the hell did I end up with 3 bags of brussels sprouts??) but there are worse things than patronizing local farmers.

Lunch: salad with olive oil dressing and topped with cold chicken

I had one poached chicken breast to use up, so I just made up a quick salad with stuff laying around the fridge (I didn’t even get into my market veggie haul!) I love olive oil, but in dressing (where it’s the main ingredient) it tastes pretty strong.  But canola and vegetable oil aren’t allowed on Whole30, so it’ll have to do.   I added some mustard and herbs to the mix, but it might need more vinegar.  I can never get the ratio right…1 parts vinegar to 3 parts oil (the traditional French method) just seems too oily.  How do restaurants make dressings look so easy?!?

Dinner: Tremont Place BBQ – 1.5 hot dogs, 1/2 chicken sausage, tiny bit of red potato salad, small bit of rare flank steak, coconut butter for dessert

I knew this would be tricky what with the keg of beer and the chips and salsa floating around, but I did ok.  I gave away 3 Mexican beers in my fridge, and oddly enough, those are what I wanted to most (I love Mexican beer).  But I just drank water and we grilled out—and Lisa brought hot dogs!  Bless her.  I did miss that crispy toasted bun though, I won’t lie.  And I had a tiny bit of red potato salad—heathen!

But the coconut butter…the coconut butter I bought from Healthy Home Market is freaking fantastic (and freaking expensive…good Lord).  I was curious about it after finding this recipe, but frankly—it was a little overkill (I didn’t use all the coconut cream because it seemed wasteful, so that was part of my problem—too much of everything else).  But coconut cream by itself?  Decadent!  So I’ve been having a (very) small spoonful as dessert.  Coconut is really good for you, in a variety of forms, so I’ve been using the oil, milk, and flakes on all kinds of stuff.  I’m a lover of the coconut family!

Snack: cucumber salad (from the “Well Fed” cookbook) and homemade mayo

I did it—I actually made homemade mayo.  I’m like a damn farm girl.  I even borrowed my neighbor Ethan’s mini kitchenaid food processor to do it!  The recipe calls for basic boring olive oil so the flavor isn’t strong, and I’ll say that mine came out nice and thick after lots and lots of running the motor—but the flavor was definitely unusual.  It needs vinegar and spices and such, and putting it on the cucumber salad helped.  But I don’t think I would slather it on meat or veggies or anything.  But still…I made it!  Check that off the “challenging old-school food recipes you never thought you’d ever make ” list.

With all my vegetable purchasing, I forgot to include a sweet onion, so I made the mistake of using a basic white onion—way too strong for the raw salad.  And the parsley was a little overkill as well.  I’m making another one tonight with vidalias and dill and we’ll see how that goes.  But you know what would be good?  Pickled onions!  My friend Riddhi at Freaky Curry would be so proud!


Fake pasta never felt so good! Whole30 Day 2 & 3

23 Apr

I’ve tried doing special “diets” before, including the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), and a version of paleo in 2010 that my naturopath wanted me to try, but I’ve never really committed to any of them.  I think the farthest I’ve made it is Green Chile Turkey Burgerstwo weeks.  Not much discipline there!  But for some reason I have a different attitude about this one—maybe because it’s only for 30 days, and I can return to my freewheeling, hard-carbing lifestyle like I had before (although I don’t think I will like I used to, but I could if I wanted to!) 30 days is not short (ask anyone who’s ever given up some food they’ve loved for Lent, and that’s just 10 days longer), but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a drop in the bucket.  So here I am.  Day 6! But first…a recap!

[[MORE]]

Day 2: Thursday, 4/19

Breakfast: “linguini” aglio et olio and 1 scrambled egg
I know this seems like a really weird breakfast (and it is), but I wanted to try this out of Melissa Joulwan’s “Well Fed” cookbook (which I downloaded to my iPad) and I really liked it.  Didn’t really need the almond flour breadcrumbs (and almond flour is not something most people have on hand anyway), and I need to get a small hand julienne tool (I’m convinced that my Pampered Chef mandolin is going to take my fingers off).  But I liked the consistency and the salty garlicky goodness of the noodles.  

Lunch: Mexican chicken and rice leftovers

Dinner: Vivace Restaurant—scallops with roasted asparagus, sauteed mushrooms and peas.  
One thing I flirted with when deciding whether to do this or not was the timing—was this the best month to do this?  What happens when I go out to eat with friends?  What about this beach trip I’m taking with my church ladies at the end of April?  And the Dilworth Ladies Spring party?  And working the election?  But I just decided—life’s not stopping for me or my eating, so I might as well adapt.

I met my friend Marjorie at Vivace before seeing “Clybourne Park” at Actor’s Theatre, one of her (and my) favorite restaurants.  I scoped out the menu beforehand and they seemed amenable to making gluten free meals, so I thought maybe they could whip me up something.  Our cute server came over to get our orders, and I asked if he could make the scallop dish without the side of…couscous (maybe?)—basically could I just do something with protein and veggies, and he said “Are you doing some kind of cleanse?”  Actually, that’s a really easy way to explain this thing, so I was like, no—but yes!  I hate being a PITA about food, and I’m really not picky, but hey—they’re getting my money, right?  And he said it was no problem, he’d make sure it came out right.  Another waitress brought out the food and said “Ok, who has the Make Your Own Meal?”  Ha!  She said the other waitresses were standing around admiring how pretty this dish was, and it was so gorgeous!  I’m so mad I didn’t take a photo.  A bed of roasted asparagus, topped with peas and sauteed mushrooms (probably in some kind of wine sauce) and 4 beautiful scallops.  It was heavenly!  I polished off the entire thing.

Day 3: Friday, 4/20

Breakfast: 2-egg omelet with mushrooms/avocado/tomatoes

Lunchsome chicken and rice and thai chicken soup

Dinner: green chile turkey burgers with mustard and sliced avocado
These were pretty good, but I only used one can of green chiles, and that was plenty.  After having them for a few days, I think they are a once-in-a-while/I’m-bored-with-ground-turkey kind of thing.  But it gave me a good excuse to break out the George Foreman grill!  Also, avocados are my heaven.

Friday night I went out with friends for dinner (I didn’t realize we were eating, hence the turkey burgers beforehand) and to attend the 9th annual Cash Bash (an experience, for sure!)  We went to Alexander Michael’s in 4th Ward, a fun little tavern I first went to with my brother and sister-in-law years and years ago, and I was pleased to see there was a London Broil on the menu, which actually sounded kinda delicious.  Good to know for future reference!  

Snack: half a cherry pie lara bar, nuts

Desserts (in general): fruit, and not a ton of it—a mix of mango, strawberries, and cantaloupe that was just about to turn, so it was super sweet.

Immediate thoughts: I’m eating plenty, I’m not hungry, and I don’t feel absolutely famished when I AM ready to eat.  I’m drinking between 40-50 oz of water a day (with a slice of lemon).  I definitely feel…lighter.  Already I’ve lost a few pounds in a few days—I could say it’s water weight, but I’m drinking water like it’s my job (because that’s about all I can drink!) so it must just be the carb load.  My pants definitely fit better, and frankly, that’s as good a result as I could ask for!

Whole30 Day 1 roundup

18 Apr

Day 1 was a really good start to the Whole30.  At the end of the day, I’m feeling solid, better than I have in days (not that this thing works immediately, but who knows?)

Breakfast: 2 egg omelette with onions, tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, avocado and a side of cholula hot sauce.  Looked ugly, but tasted good!

Lunch: Thai chicken soup

[[MORE]]Made this last night.  The original recipe was vegetarian, but I figured I could ramp it up a bit with some poached chicken.  I love poached shredded chicken!  It’s so freaking moist.  Anyway, I made the broth half veg and half chicken—don’t know why, I just don’t love love love the flavor of veggie broth, but I should give it another go.  But the lime juice gives it a great tang, and I was really happy with all the flavors.

Dinner: Mexican chicken and “rice” topped with green salsa and avocados

Cauliflower is big with the carb-free community because you can grind it up to make “rice” or cook it to make “mashed potatoes”—and it’s not THAT different from it’s carb-y cousins.  This was waaaay better than I remembered it being.  The celery gave it a nice crunch and I loved the salsa, something cheap from the mexican aisle of the grocery store (Verdez salsa verde).  It was perfect.  All the flavors really came together, and once the cauliflower was chopped up in my food processor (and I poached the chicken breasts the night before) the assembly was super fast.  The head of cauliflower made a ton of “rice” so I saved half of it for something else.  

I’m a horribly messy cook, so I can see the benefits of prepping on the weekend.  If you know what you want to make that week, a lot of the parts can be pre-done, which would make cooking a snap: chopping onions and other veggies, cooking chicken, making homemade mayo, etc.  My kitchen is a HOT mess the two nights I’ve cooked.  It’s not for the faint of heart!

Next up: olive oil mayo, green chile turkey burgers, and zucchini linguini aglio et olio (not necessarily in that order)

A 30-day food ADVENTURE

18 Apr

Let’s not call this a food challenge—that sounds too…challenging, and rife with potential for disappointment.  I’m thinking of this Whole30 thing as an eating adventure, brimming with possibility.

[[MORE]]So what is?  The Whole30 is a slightly stricter version of the paleo diet (which, wouldn’t you know—has a post on its homepage of someone with colitis who’s no longer taking the same medication I take after 6 weeks of doing paleo).  A paleo eater is giving up all refined sugars, grains, legumes, and dairy.  Whole30 throws in alcohol as well (although paleo allows red wine on occasion).  Whoa, nelly!  If you think about what you grab for lunch, or what you eat at a restaurant, it’s basically all of the above.  And it’s so bad for you!  But I’ll confess, I’ve been feeling really good (and eating just about everything in sight) for the last year and a half, so I had no need to try this.  But once my ulcerative colitis symptoms kick in again (and they’re too unpleasant to name individually, just trust me—they’re no fun), they’re hard to calm down.  

So—radical changes in health = radical changes in approach.  Hence the Whole30.

It’s funny—I’ve heard about people doing this diet before, and in fact last month got an email from my naturopath (who I saw when I was so sick in 2010 and helped me get into remission) extolling the virtues of paleo.  But when I read it, I immediately thought “Oh, whatever—who has time for that?” and moved on.  But when circumstances change, so can your thinking, and I thought maybe it was time to reconsider.  I’ve attempted doing a grain-free, sugar-free diet years ago called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), but the thought of committing to it for a lifetime was just overwhelming to me.  I started doing a version of paleo a year ago on the recommendation of my naturopath but gave it up after a week.  But now the thought of doing this for 30 days seems manageable to me, and maybe it’s just timing.  I think.  I hope!

I spent a lot of yesterday researching recipes, and I think I’ve found a good selection of sites and recipes:

The biggest challenge with paleo is in the planning—you don’t want to get caught stuck without food.  A hungry Erin makes poor food decisions (to paraphrase my friend Ted).  Another challenge is not getting overwhelmed by too many choices (which I guess is a good problem to have).  I need to try a few things and stick to a plan, and then it’ll get easier.  It’s only 4 weeks.  
But undoubtedly the biggest challenge (adventure!) is in the timing.  I’m single, and relatively social.  There are barbecues, parties, trivia nights, trips home to see my parents, working an election for 14 hours with no access to a fridge or microwave, cooking classes, birthday dinners…you get the idea.  And that’s just in the next month.  So I could wait to do this…well, never.  I’ll always be busy.  I just need to jump in and get started.  I didn’t technically start Monday night, but I met some friends for trivia at a sports bar and successfully resisted the beer and french fries on everyone else’s plate (ok, I stole a potato from Lisa) while I ate my kobe beef burger.  By itself.  On a very large plate.  Sans bun and side.  I felt a little silly because for lunch i had hummus and whole wheat tortilla, but it was more of a “Could I do it?” thought than the food itself.  Could I not break down and order some girly martini, or a beer?  Could I resist a side order of waffle fries, my favorite burger BFF?  And then it became kind of a game—what else can I not eat?  Bring it on!  I went to a friend’s birthday dinner last Saturday, a friend who loves wine and where wine is a frequent topic of conversation, and was surrounded for the next 4 hours by wine/martini drinkers.  Honestly, it’s more habit than anything.  I’m so used to having a drink because someone offers one and it seems like a good idea.  I enjoy drinking, but I don’t revolve my life around it.  The habit, though—the mental part was almost worse than the physical desire for it.  It’s so easy to drink when everyone is drinking, and you have such happy associations of social outings when friends are drinking.  So hey, I already showed willpower twice this week—for me, that’s impressive!

I decided just to jump into this thing today, so I went shopping yesterday at Healthy Home Market and Bi-Lo to get some supplies.  By the time I got home it was 7pm, and frankly I was kind of out of the mood to cook!  But if I wanted to eat tomorrow, I had to start cooking, and so I did.  I bought enough things to make 3-4 different recipes, but I only had the energy for one—Elana’s Thai Vegetable Soup.  I poached 4 chicken breasts (I’m making a different Elana recipe tonight, her Mexican Chicken and “Rice”) and added some shredded chicken to the soup to make it heartier.  It was quite tasty, and should last me a few more days.  This morning I woke up to make a veggie omelette that ended up tasting pretty good, and kept me full until…well, right about now.  Where’s lunch?!?

So it’s April 18, Day One.  Let’s do this thing.