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I finished the Whole30!

15 Feb

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We finished the Whole30!

I won’t lie to you and tell you it was easy or that it completely changed me (for the better or for the worse). But I will admit it was not as hard as it is purported to be. It also was not as life-changing as it is marketed to be, either.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Christopher lost about 10 pounds during the program. I lost fewer than 5 over the 30 days.
  • We both reported better sleep — an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep — although we did not usually wake up feeling as well-rested and restored, probably in part to both of us being sick with a cold at some point in the last two weeks and to dealing with sick toddlers in the last two weeks.
  • We mostly avoided the withdrawal and “carb flu” early in the program — a testament to the quality of our diet and exercise regimen pre-Whole30? — but we never really experienced the “Tiger Blood” that supposedly comes midway through the program. We are most disappointed about that.
    • We both came down with a cold in the last two weeks, though, which probably had a lot to do with lackluster energy.
  • Neither of us really suffered from digestive issues before Whole30. So I don’t know if the emphasis on meat and fat did is to blame, but I suffered from diarrhea (sorry, TMI!) for almost the entire 30 days.
  • I successfully ditched MyFitness Pal. I had been religiously counting calories (and often lying to myself about the amount by conveniently not tracking some foods) for years. I didn’t count a single calories over the 30 days, and I don’t plan to start counting calories again, unless I notice my pants stop fitting properly. It is so liberating to cook and eat without having to log every bite.
  • We did not fully follow reintroduction protocol. At the start, we did; we reintroduced legumes, then waited a day, then reintroduced non-gluten-containing grains, then waited a day. But on Saturday evening, four days after the end of Whole30, we went out and finally indulged. And while we didn’t feel too badly after that, we continued to indulge and imbibe Sunday and by then, we felt crummy.
    • We learned that we simply need to watch it with things like sugar and alcohol. My personal rule going forward is no sweets and treats unless they are homemade or a once-a-year indulgence (i.e. Cadbury Mini Eggs at Easter). I don’t need to waste my time or calories on crappy candy or store-bought cookies. My other rule, which sort of goes along with the limit on sweets and treats, is no refined carbs or sugar, again, unless it is 100 percent worth it. No white flour or sugar, no white pasta or rice. There are much better options out there that make my body feel so much better.

Christopher swears he will never do Whole30 again — that the benefits we experienced do not outweigh the effort we put in. And I can’t say I disagree entirely. I would do a Whole30 again, if I felt myself spiraling out of control, but I concede that the ends did not justify the means. We spent a TON of time planning and preparing, and a TON more money grocery shopping and for what, really? Frankly, our wallet really took a hit eating this way, whereas before Whole30, our grocery cart was filled with very little processed or patently unhealthy foods, and our bill was two-thirds the size. The fact of the matter is oatmeal, brown rice, black beans, chickpeas, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese are a part of a well-balanced diet and do not make us feel crummy; and those foods are just not as expensive as pounds on top of pounds of chicken and beef and pork (and let me tell you, we went through two or three dozen eggs a week!).

Overall, I am really glad we did Whole30. We learned a lot about our food, our emotional attachment to food, and how our bodies respond to having (and not having) certain foods. We also learned that we can do something that most people consider damn near impossible for 30 freaking days! That is definitely something to be proud of.

 

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Whole30 Recap – Week 3 and Meal Plan – Week 4

1 Feb

Well, we’ve reached the proverbial summit!

Week 3 was supposed to be all about Tiger Blood — the newfound energy, through-the-roof confidence and pride. While both Christopher and I are confident within the Whole30 framework and proud of ourselves for making it two-thirds of the way through the program, we certainly haven’t experienced boundless energy. We understand that the program affects everybody differently, but to say we are slightly disappointed and underwhelmed would be an understatement.

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(A day of eats: Left column – breakfast: two eggs, hashbrowns, and avocado; lunch: chocolate chili with onions and avocado; dinner: burger with sauteed onions, chimichurri, and Ranch dressing and roasted carrots. Right column – snacks: mixed nuts, pineapple, strawberry-apple-chia bar, and plantain chips.)

Here’s how Week 3 shaped up for us:

  • We’re still snacking. Homemade cashew-date balls, Larabars, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and fruit are our go-to snacks.
  • I’m still drinking 88 to 96 ounces of water every day.
  • We have yet to experience the purported physical benefits of this program — especially the surge in energy. Christopher is still battling a cold. And I now am feeling run down. Our weight has stayed mostly the same. My cravings are not as strong — but they are not gone.
Recipe wins from last week:

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

And here’s our meal plan for the week:

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

We are definitely ready to be done, but we want to do reintroduction the right way so these 30 days weren’t for nothing. Any Whole30 alumni have some advice?

Whole30 Recap – Week 2 and Meal Plan – Week 3

24 Jan

We are about halfway through our Whole30 journey!

Week 2 was all about settling into our new routine, which by this point is very much a routine. We haven’t hit the stereotypical rut of eggs for breakfast every morning or protein + vegetable + potato for dinner every night. But we do miss some of our old convenience foods.

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Here’s how Week 2 shaped up for us:

  • We’re still snacking. We both do better, mentally and physically, if we eat a little something every few hours.
  • I’m still drinking 88 to 96 ounces of water, which I believe helps curb my hunger and desire to snack. I slacked a little on the weekend, with just 64 ounces, and I felt more hungry that day.
  • My emotions were very fragile this week. Monday morning, Christopher took the girls to Wee Care at the Y; the staff thought she had a fever. That evening, I brought them back, and the staff sent us home because their policy states children must be fever-free for 24 hours before they may return to Wee Care. I just sobbed–flat-out sobbed–for a good 5 minutes in the parking lot, and then much of the drive home.Was that Whole30 talking? Tuesday afternoon, the girls were full-blown sick–coughing badly and frequently–and I panicked and broke down in tears that I might again miss my workout. Christopher came home for an hour so I could teach my yoga class. I would have been a mess without it. And I know I would have emotionally eaten to make myself feel better.
  • I successfully avoided major temptations Tuesday. It was the pastor’s birthday (I work at a church) First thing in the morning, I brought him a hazelnut latte, and I got myself an Americano. I would have killed for a latte (frothy milk is life!) and a scone. Later that morning, someone brought cupcakes from the local cake shop, and I passed on them multiple times. I would have killed for one of those, too. And then regretted the sugar crash later.
  • I’m still figuring out how much to eat and when to eat it when it comes to more intense workouts. I got very lightheaded and nauseous at the end of our team workout Wednesday.
  • We successfully ate out for lunch Saturday. We went to IKEA and Woodfield Mall. We did a little research and found that Macy’s offers a build-your-own salad bar in their Marketplace. But we found no salad bar; Macy’s only has that on weekdays. We thought our only other option was Subway, otherwise we would have had to pick off cheese and other noncompliant items from salads at nicer restaurants. But we landed at Kin Fork, a barbeque/steakhouse-type restaurant, where we decided we would order naked burgers and veggie sides. We both had an 8-ounce burger grilled and wrapped in lettuce with onions for me and grilled jalapenos for Chris; I had broccolini on the side, and Chris had Brussels sprouts with balsamic glaze. We now know why they suggest just abstaining from eating out, but we also learned it is do-able. It was tasty and, because we were hangry and impatient, satisfying, but at the same time, it was not nearly as fulfilling as a typical restaurant experience.

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Recipe wins from last week:

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

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And here’s our meal plan for Week 3:

 

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

We are 51 percent of the way through this little experiment! How are you feeling?

Whole30 Recap – Week 1 and Meal Plan – Week 2

16 Jan

Whole30 Week 1 is a wrap!

Week 1 was all about adjustment: adjusting to a strict diet, adjusting to an increased consumption of meat, adjusting to a decreased consumption of sugar, adjusting to being hungry, adjusting to thinking about why we’re eating what and when we’re eating it.

I don’t know that I’ve ever thought so much about food in my life…

First, some confessions:

  • We ate a couple of non-compliant foodstuffs: nuts roasted in peanut oil, breakfast sausage with sugar, and bacon cured in sugar. My rationale was that a) we were not eating those non-compliant foods in any sort of quantity and b) we are not able to find 100% compliant foods as easily and within our budget in our area, so we were going to do the best we could with what was available, if not already in our pantry and refrigerator.
  • We snacked. A lot. And we snacked after dinner, before bed, a few times. We didn’t re-create treats with compliant ingredients, as is a big-time no-no on the program. But we did eat a snack.

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A day of eats: sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and sausage breakfast casserole; pear and roasted nuts; sweet potato and cauliflower chili; raw nuts; apple-pecan spiced chicken with roasted asparagus; hard-boiled egg

 

And now some thoughts:

  • I’m drinking 88 to 96 ounces of water, which I believe helps curb my hunger and desire to snack.
  • I need to stay busy, especially when the girls are napping in the afternoon, so I don’t mindlessly eat (even if I am making wise choices). We watched a lot of documentaries after dinner this week, and we found that intellectual stimulation helpful in curbing our desire to snack, too.
  • We didn’t get the “carb flu” as much as we expected. I felt a little lightheaded and nauseous on Day 2, but I think I was truly hungry, because I ate breakfast and felt infinitely better.
  • We also didn’t experience the “kill all the things” rage as suggested by the Whole30 timeline. We were irritable or quicker to anger, but I think that has little to do with the diet and more to do with real-life frustrations.
  • Christopher experienced some of the fatigue and malaise that comes with the end of Week 1. That said, we’re both sleeping much, much better than before. We’re not waking up feeling incredibly refreshed, but we’re falling asleep faster, and sleeping more deeply than before.
  • I didn’t have any major or prolonged cravings, except for peanut butter and graham crackers Wednesday and beer and chocolate over the weekend. The craving Wednesday was very fleeting, as was the craving over the weekend, honestly. I think my willpower is very strong. Christopher’s is, too. I’m so proud of how well he’s doing and how seriously he’s taking this program.
  • We both cheated and weighed ourselves this week. We both were down 6 pounds.

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Recipe wins from last week:
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And here’s our meal plan for Week 2:

Breakfasts

Lunch

Dinner

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

How are you doing? Are you already experiencing some non-scale changes to your life?

Whole30 Meal Plan – Week 1

5 Jan

Christopher (who agreed to do the Whole30 with me!) and I planned our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the first two weeks of our Whole30.

Here’s what we’re going to eat in Week 1:

Breakfasts

Lunch

Dinner

(Italics denote the recipe is from the Whole30 book.)

We plan to have fruit and nuts for snacks, if necessary. We’re also going to have frozen fruit, spinach, and almond milk on hand for green smoothies for pre- and post-workout fuel.

What’s on your Whole30 menu?

I’m doing the Whole30

3 Jan

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I need a reset.

I eat pretty clean most of the time, but naturally, I slack off on clean eating and workouts after big races and, like most people, around the holidays.

I felt like I was going through the motions: planning healthy meals, going to the gym, tracking everything in MyFitnessPal. I let it all slip the week leading up to Christmas and now the week in between Christmas and New Year’s.

And I’m OK with that. I believe we all need short periods of time away from the rigid tracking, the strict workouts, and even the semi-clean meals.

But I need a reset. I need to tame my sugar monster and my snack dragon. I need to amp up my workouts again. I need to be better about drinking enough water.

I want to reinvent my relationship with food. I want to clear up my skin. I want to get rid of my somewhat chronic (of late) bloating.

The Whole30 is the answer.

What is it?

The Whole30 is a 30-day clean-eating plan designed to clean up your diet and reset your cravings by cutting out foods that might be having a negative impact on your health: sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, and alcohol.

So what can you eat?

Lots and lots of protein, vegetables, and (healthy) fat. And coffee. Black coffee is allowed. (Halle-freakin’-lujah!)

And what can’t you eat?

No sugar, not even the natural stuff, and especially, no artificial sweeteners. No grains, not even the ancient ones. No beans or legumes, which means no peanuts, peanut butter, or chickpeas. No soy either. No dairy. No alcohol. No processed foods.

 

 

The Whole30 has some legit benefits–that come from eliminating, then carefully reintroducing foods that commonly cause a lot of health problems and from rebuilding your relationship with food. Consider these:

Weight loss, fewer headaches, fewer digestive problems, clearer skin, more energy, better workouts, improved sleep, fewer cravings, and a better relationship with food (i.e. more knowledge of the foods that make us feel like crap).

The Whole30 prohibits weighing yourself and tracking your calories. Its focus is on feeling good–like really, truly good–from the inside out.

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Ordinarily, I am not one to advocate for diets (or even whole lifestyles) that completely eliminate entire food groups (i.e. grains, dairy), unless it is for a specific health reason (e.g. Celiac disease, lactose intolerance). But I am fine with cleanses that last for a specific and reasonable amount of time (i.e. 30 days) and are done correctly — no shakes or supplements, just real food, quality meals, in satisfying quantities.

My friend Mindy and I, along with our incredible group at Healthy Living Blogs, are hosting a Whole30 that runs from Jan. 9 to Feb. 7.

You’ve got just enough time to prepare, and you’ll wrap up just before Valentine’s Day, so you can celebrate without feeling restricted.

We hope you’ll join us. We’ll have a private Facebook group, where participants can check in as frequently or infrequently as desired, share recipes and meal ideas, share struggles and non-scale victories, ask questions, and above all, find support and accountability. We also have a hashtag, #hlbwhole30, that you can use on social media, to help us all stick together.

Join me?

Easy, Cheesy Quinoa Fritters

29 Jul

First, let us mark this moment in history: I made two healthy, well-rounded recipes for the girls for dinner this week, and they ate both–including spaghetti pie, which they ate for three consecutive nights!

And second, let us dive into the recipe that got several requests for publication–the first recipe on this little ol’ blog since April!

Quinoa is such a healthy and versatile grain. It packs a nutritional punch, for a grain, as it’s high in protein, fiber, and calcium!

Anna and Elise are still (after many, many long months) fairly picky and predictable in terms of food. The things they once ate with zeal they now do not even touch. So we try to “sneak” fruit, vegetables, protein, and fiber into their meals and snacks in subtle ways.

These fritters are a great vehicle for this powerhouse ancient grain because they are laced with familiar cheesy flavors and look like an everyday pancake. And while Anna and Elise aren’t your typical toddlers, in that they don’t go ga-ga for dips and spreads, they loved dipping their fritters in Ranch dressing.

It’s a family-friendly recipe that can be dressed up for adults:

  • For a vegetarian meal, top the fritters with burst cherry tomatoes and feta and a drizzle of garlicky yogurt sauce
  • For meat eaters, top the fritters with olive oil-and-lemon-dressed arugula and serve them alongside grilled chicken or kielbasa

But it’s also a recipe that can be simplified for kids.

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Easy, Cheese Quinoa Fritters

Makes 8 fritters

Ingredients

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup chicken broth

4 Tbsp flour

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp finely chopped spinach, parsley or basil (or 1 tsp dried parsley, basil or Italian seasoning)

Sprinkle each salt, pepper and garlic powder

1/4 cup cottage cheese

2 Tbsp milk

2 eggs, beaten

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Directions

In a fine mesh sieve, rinse the raw quinoa under cold tap water, then in a medium saucepan, combine it with the chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer; cook for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork, then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground flaxseed, Parmesan cheese, and chopped spinach or herbs (or dried herbs). In a small food processor, process the cottage cheese and milk until smooth, then set aside.

Add the cooled quinoa to the flour mixture, then add the cottage cheese mixture and the beaten eggs. Mix well to combine.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for just a few minutes to firm up. In the meantime, heat a bit of butter in nonstick skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, drop the fritter mixture onto the skillet or griddle and using the back of a rubber spatula, flatten the lump into a pancake. Cook for a few minutes, then flip and cook a few more minutes. The fritters should be browned and firm.

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These fritters are delicately cheesy and so versatile and come together so easily. Add them to your summer menu post-haste!