It’s been a
while long while since I’ve written but I’m back! How’s 2015 going for you? Mine has started off with a bang. I’m starting my second week of Whole30. A friend of mine committed to share her meal plans, grocery lists and recipes for a month to those interested on Instagram. She is an amazing cook, mother, and a founding teacher at a local charter school. In other words, she’s got it together. The photos of the meals she prepares make me want to quit my job and go to culinary school. Seriously. So I did my research on Whole30 and decided that I’d give it a go. The basic premise – 3 real food meals a day consisting of a protein, lots of veggies, fat, and occasionally a fruit for 30 days. Here’s the tough part – no sugar, grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days. It’s a reset. You cut out common causes of inflammation and hormone dis-regulation and see how you feel. More energy? Less digestive issues? Um, sign me up! Anything to kick this IBS to the curb. So I committed. To 30 days. Here’s how week one went.
Breakfast: Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash with fried egg
Tips: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Dice peeled sweet potatoes, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. Next, line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper then bake a weeks worth of Whole30 qualified bacon (look for no sugar or additives) at 400 degrees F for 13-16 minutes depending on desired crispness. I love my bacon crispy but I removed it from the oven when it was less crispy so that I could throw it in the pan later to keep cooking and to flavor the hash. Add sweet potato, apples, onion and bacon to skillet and cook until warm and apples soft. Dish up then fry an egg in the same skillet.
Lunch: Lemon and rosemary grilled chicken over spinach with apple
Tips: Prep enough chicken for leftovers the next night.
Dinner: Garbage stir-fry with curried cabbage (and carrots)
Tips: Don’t have any curry powder on hand? Not a problem. Try 1 tsp cumin + 1/2 tsp coriander + 1/2 tsp chili powder + 1/2 tsp turmeric with the onions to flavor the beef. I omitted turmeric because I was out and added carrots.
Breakfast: Berries with nuts and a hard-boiled egg
Lunch: Spinach and sweet peppers with mexi seasoned ground beef, 1/2 guacamole, and apple
Dinner: Broccoli with leftover rosemary and lemon grilled chicken, 1/2 guacamole, and clementine
Tips: I made everything the day before so it was divided up and ready for my lunch bag. Speaking of the lunch bag, its one of my favorite presents I received this Christmas. Much needed. I used the last one for six years. Also, Alton Brown’s recipe for guac is my absolute favorite! I made enough for a couple of days, divided it into air sealed containers and squeezed lime juice on top. Three days later it was still green 🙂
Day 2 thoughts: Holy moly, what a headache! I downed as much water as I could. I got hungry between meals. Need to add a snack for my next shift. Stared at the dark chocolate squares in the office but I resisted. Small win.
Breakfast: Bacon, scrambled eggs, spinach and melon
Lunch: Leftover garbage stir-fry
Snack: Mini sweet peppers with leftover guac
Dinner: Pan roasted lemon chicken, roasted asparagus with broccoli and strawberries
Day 3 thoughts: Bigger portions and more calories. Whole30 encourages you to go by how your body feels and avoid tracking calories/nutrients. I felt so crummy the previous day with a headache and blurry vision that I plugged in my calories, including cooking oils, to confirm my suspicion. Yep, my intake for each of the previous days was under 1000 calories/day. Not okay! Starving and shutting down my metabolism is NOT the goal here, rather the opposite. I read stories from some Whole30ers and found others struggled with this initially as well. The solution – eat more healthy food. While portion size should still be appreciated it makes sense that you can eat more nutrient dense lower calorie foods. So, I upped my portions and boy did I feel better. No more headaches or blurry vision! And the pan roasted lemon chicken – holy cow, it’s my favorite meal to date. I’ve previously preferred the chicken breast but after tasting these thighs there’s no going back! So tasty! Serious. Make it for dinner. Just make sure to cook enough for leftovers or you’ll be sad.
Breakfast: Pepper and leftover mexi seasoned ground beef omelet with berries
Lunch: Leftover pan roasted lemon chicken over wilted spinach with carrots and clementine
Dinner: Spicy Italian Pasta (chicken sausage, onions, asparagus, red bell pepper, tomatoes, zoodles = zucchini noodles) and apple
Tips: My omelet skills are not quite up to par but what I learned from making this breakfast is to add the chopped stuff to the egg while its cooking, instead of putting it in the middle. For lunch, I reheated the chicken in its yummy cooking then poured it over the spinach and waited a minute or two for the spinach and take on the yummy lemon chicken flavor. For dinner, after adding the chicken sausage to the skillet I added Italian sausage seasoning. And wow, talk about a punch! It was a little too spicy for my liking but the boyfriend LOVED it and asked me to save this recipe for later. To make the zoodles (instead of white sweet potato like the recipe calls for) I used this spiralizer. Maybe one day I’ll graduate to this bad boy.
Day 4 thoughts: This may be TMI but after a 10 day struggle with a kidney stone I finally passed it this morning, fifty minutes prior to a CT to evaluate for obstruction. Whew! I cannot express how my attitude improved when the pain was FINALLY gone. Day 4 was a great day!
I woke up to the sound of my water heater refilling and walked downstairs to find 1-1.5″ of standing water from my front door to back door. I threw on my shoes, grabbed a hammer and ran outside to shut off the water. I did open the water heater closet but there were two levers and I wasn’t sure which one to turn off so I went big. What a mess. Sweet friends dropped what they were doing and came to my rescue, moving wet furniture and rugs with great speed. I may not know where everything is but that’s okay. I’m still in the process of having all of my main level floors removed. The loud fans and dehumidifiers have gone so I can now sleep in my house again. My favorite rug is likely ruined, the one design piece I cared about, but that’s small compared to what the damage could have been. It was cold the previous week here in Nashville, down to 5 degrees (I know you guys around the Great Lakes are laughing at my definition of cold right now), but I was prepared. I kept the faucets dripping, ran the heat, opened my cabinet doors increasing the heat circulating around above ground pipes. No luck. It still happened. It was 3pm when I got shaky and realized I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink all day. Um, when your house floods you priorities change a little. I sat down on the stairs (the only dry and available seating) and ate some cantaloupe and a Larabar while I talked with the guy from SERVPRO. That’s when I first felt overwhelmed. What a mess. And it was only going to continue to be a huge inconvenience. I need to stop here and tell you about how awesome everyone who came to help was. I sent out an emergency plea for hands and shop-vacs via text and Facebook. One my friends responded to my text mid flight across the country with the name and number of an owner of SERVPRO, a family I used to go to church with. He sent a representative and crew right over. Such a blessing! When things settled I pulled out my planned breakfast and retreated to my bedroom to gather myself, pray and recharge. Then I downed three glasses of water. The only way I was able to continue with Whole30 was because I was on-call and had all my meals prepped in case I spent the next 24 hours at the hospital. And guess who wasn’t called in? This.girl.right.here. Thank you Jesus! I broke down and cried later that evening. I had to get out of my house. I warmed up my dinner and asked my boyfriend who spent the entire day over here helping out if we could just drive somewhere and eat in the car, away from the noise of the drying process. We ended up at the home of a dear friend and I asked if I could eat my dinner at her table. She and her family welcomed us with hugs at the door. We played games with the kiddos and just exhaled. My brain was shot. One of the managers called and needed to come check humidity levels so back home I rushed. I packed up the china cabinet and moved some other wet pieces that were missed and headed to another friends house to spend the night. What a day. Now, onto the meals (and pretty pictures).
Breakfast: Hard boiled egg with paprika, cantaloupe, 1/2 avocado with sea salt and 1/2 Larabar
Lunch/Dinner: Leftover pan roasted lemon chicken with carrots, spinach and apple.
Breakfast: Spinach omelet with bacon and cantaloupe
Lunch: Salad bowl from Chipotle: Romain lettuce, carnitas, pico, guac
Tip: Generally, carnitas is the only meat that Chipotle that isn’t cooked with soybean oil (so I read). Be sure to ask your local one before you order while doing Whole30.
Dinner: Leftover Spicy Italian Pasta with clementine
Day 6 thoughts: Nap time! And somebody get me some freakin’ cheese biscuits! I was so exhausted today that when I returned home during the demo I took a 20 minute nap while they were jack-hammering downstairs! Not sure how much of the tiredness is from Whole30 versus the recent stressor but it got me. I actually called my friend whose program I was generally following to get some much-needed encouragement. Part of the reason I had taken on the challenge was to learn what comprises a healthy meal and how to become a better cook. Because of the floor demolition cooking had not been ideal. Sawdust was everywhere! I realized today how much I really enjoy cooking. I missed shutting out the world, turning on some music, and creating new things (new to me) in the kitchen. A good night’s sleep was definitely in order. Thanks again Josh and Emily for letting me crash at your house for two nights.
Breakfast: (Repeat meal) Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash, with fried egg
Lunch: Pork tenderloin with sautéed squash and onions with clementine
Dinner: Pork tenderloin with apple compote and broccoli
Day 7 thoughts: Can it be? The end of week one! I had more energy today and a renewed desire to see this though and continue my journey to health. I asked the crew to come after I got home from church. I needed to renew my focus, to take it off of myself and my situation, to once again, fix my eyes on Jesus. The first hymn we sang was My Hope is Built on Nothing Less/On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, written by Edward Mote in 1834. One stanza became quite literal for me:
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
So how’s it going, really? Good. I learned how to cook three new things this week – chicken thighs, chicken sausage, and apple compote. The sugarless apple compote is one you’ll want to make leftovers of too. I did experience some GI issues on Day 7. The good news about this is that you know exactly what you’re putting into your body so you learn what “gives you issues”. If you have food allergies, Whole30 has an AIP version that eliminates eggs, nightshades, nuts and seeds. It’s specifically designed for those with an autoimmune disease but works for allergies too. Stay tuned for Week 2 meals, recipes and insights. And have a great week!
Note: Most of the meals mentioned above were planned by Brooke. For shopping lists, meal plans, and more food tips with tips follow her on Instagram (@allenwhole30). To see my meals and thoughts for each day be sure to follow me on Instagram.