Taste and see …

Day 30!!! (and some reflections) January 31, 2015

Filed under: Whole30 — F. Penner @ 6:35 PM
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I’m done!!!!! Well, I suppose technically I’m done at 11:59 tonight, but whatever… Granted, I still have the reintroduction to go, and after looking into the reintroduction of foods, I’ve decided that this would be more aptly named the Whole42 … I guess that doesn’t flow as well … For at least the first time through the Whole30, you’re supposed to add each group of foods back in, one at a time, and for one day only, while continuing to eat Whole30-compliant meals. I know I don’t have to do their reintroduction, but I’m curious to see what effect everything I’ve been avoiding has on me. Although … I’m already planning on having a piece of pizza (and a cupcake from the baby shower last week) tomorrow, but I figure that’s allowed since it’s the Superbowl and the Pats are playing. (Go New England!!) Anyway – I think I’m going with grains containing gluten first, so I’ll add something with wheat, rye or barley in to each meal tomorrow. Then I’ll take the next two days to eat Whole30 approved meals and evaluate how I react to the gluten (if I do at all – I have a back-up plan if I do). The fourth day, I’ll add in dairy, then take two more days to evaluate. I think I’m going to add the non-gluten grains in next (so corn, oats, rice, quinoa), and legumes & peanut butter last.

Since this is my last official day of the Whole30, it’s probably a good time to collect my thoughts on the entire experience. It was ultimately easier than I thought, and I’ve already given some thought to doing another one, maybe during the summer when local produce is more readily available and I can paw through the CSA leftovers at work :-D. (I know people will probably think I’m crazy to have already thought about another one, but I’m curious to compare my blood work from my last annual to blood work while doing a Whole30. I’m just not willing to make another trip to the doctor for more blood work if I don’t have to). There are definitely things I’ve missed (I’m pretty sure they’ve come up in every post I’ve written …) like cereal and milk, cheese, popcorn, bread in general, and of course, sugar. The only thing I’m wary about adding back in is sugar. Not so much sugar in my coffee, but I want to be more aware of the snacks I’m eating or the amount of cookies I consume, and just generally make healthier choices. I’ve already pinned a bunch of recipes for desserts that use date paste instead of sugar – it’s still sugar, but I think dates are about as natural and unprocessed a sweetener as you can get! I’m curious to try the recipes, at any rate, as I’m always a little suspicious of recipes that sub out regular baking ingredients and claim that they taste ‘just like the regular version!’ One of my friends made black bean brownies once – we all decided they were straight up not good. And tasted nothing like regular brownies.

I have to say, I didn’t notice any immediate physiological changes – every time someone would ask me if I felt any different, I’d say I didn’t. But having thought about it a little more, I guess I do actually have more energy, feel better, etc. I’m terrible at making sure I get enough sleep – there aren’t enough hours in a day, so I’m usually up too late reading something. I used to have trouble staying awake during some days at work, but I realized the other morning (having gotten about 4 1/2-5 hours of sleep) that I haven’t actually had that problem lately. And according to one of my volunteers, my face looks ‘brighter.’ I may have LOL’d at that … And I think maybe my jeans fit better? It’s hard to tell … But I weighed myself before I started this, and I’ll weigh myself tomorrow and see if I lost anything! I will not be posting that info – if you want to know, you’ll have to ask :P.

I think the most important take-away from this experience for me has been simply that I have more self-control than I think I do, and it’s not really that hard to stay away from all the goodies that end up in our kitchen at work. Or in my house. I love baking, always have and probably always will, but there are better options if I want something sweet on a regular basis, like mangoes & cinnamon & coconut cream. Or an apple crisp with apples, cinnamon and some almond meal mixed with ghee sprinkled on top. And honestly, I don’t think I’ve felt the need to end every dinner with something sweet for a week or two. Granted, I’ve also walked by the candy jar at work multiple times a day salivating for this entire month, but I’d rather focus on the positive! 🙂 I made coconut date ‘mousse’ last night for dinner with some friends, 2 of whom did the Whole30 with me, and it was pretty good. Coconut milk in everything takes some getting used to, and I haven’t. But as something dessert-ish, it’s reasonably healthy. I assume it’s probably better for you than chocolate chip cookies, at any rate. Regardless, I’m happy that I’m pretty much done, and I’m happy that I did this. Now if it would just get a little warmer and less windy, I can start walking and work my way up to running again!

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Almost there!! … January 26, 2015

Filed under: Whole30 — F. Penner @ 7:56 PM
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I’m on my last week of the Whole30 – hurray!! Now that I’m almost done, I kind of feel like this is totally doable again, and it wasn’t really all that bad, etc. I’ve made it through eating out once and two baby showers, including making a few things for the one. It was really difficult to keep myself from licking my fingers if I got a little fruit dip or cookie batter on them when I was making stuff for the last shower. And it’s been even harder not to munch on one of the leftover cookies – I meant to bring them to work today so they’d be out of the house, but then I left them on my kitchen counter so they’re still there, taunting me. Good times … I did make a pretty yummy Whole30-compliant fruit dip with walnuts and dates that I brought with me so I didn’t feel too left out. However, it’s not really a comparable substitute for cream cheese & Fluff.

I decided to go simple this week for breakfast, so I’ve got hardboiled eggs chopped up with a tomato and a small sausage patty. I’d like to keep up having more protein in my breakfast after I’m done, but preferably with minimal work, and this seemed like a good option to try while I’m still doing the Whole30. I also made blueberry banana muffins as a second breakfast option – they’re okay. I think I liked the muffins I made last week better – they were more muffin-like. The banana ones were just a little too dense and disappointingly not really like banana bread (as I had hoped they would be). I opted for a couple of simpler lunch/dinner options as well. I made some creamy chicken soup that’s all right – but can I just say how much easier the Crockpot makes cooking? I don’t know why I haven’t been using it this whole month – I didn’t spend my entire Sunday afternoon in my kitchen cooking! Not that I’ve minded cooking any of the recipes I’ve made (just occasionally having to keep eating them), but I do seem to have a penchant for making the more involved ones … I also decided to try these ‘burrito bowls’. They’re also okay – they’d be better with cheese and some Tostitoes. Soon … 😀

Speaking of ‘soon’ … I honestly hadn’t really given much thought to the reintroduction of all the foods I’ve been abstaining from other than ‘I really want pizza when I’m done’ (or a bagel with cream cheese, or whatever). Obviously I knew I shouldn’t add them all back in at the same time (I think I’d feel wicked crappy for many days if I did that!), but I was talking with one of the other girls doing this with me on Sunday and she mentioned their reintroduction plan, so I took a look through when I got home. It makes sense to add things back in one at a time, but I also kind of want to just not care and go back to eating more ‘normally.’ I guess it’s a good chance to see if anything was actually bothering me before, and it will help me ease into a better eating plan. So I’m going to hopefully find time this week to figure out my plan for the first couple of weeks being done with the Whole30, and will probably still be bringing my own food to social events for the first couple weeks of February. *sigh*

 

Week 3/Day 20 January 21, 2015

Filed under: Whole30 — F. Penner @ 10:00 PM
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So I’m kind of over my self-imposed deprivation of cheese and milk and bread – but I’m two-thirds of the way done (today is day 20!) so I’m not quitting now!! Plus I’m actually enjoying spending time in my kitchen again. Not that I wasn’t cooking before starting this, but I was cooking because I had to, not because I wanted to. Now I obviously still have to, but I really am enjoying finding new recipes and trying them out. I’ve been spending way too much time on Pinterest trying to find compliant recipes that sound good, most of which I probably won’t make.

I made plantain tostados with chicken this week … I burnt the plantain tostados (or is it ‘tostadas’?) a little 😦 but otherwise they’re pretty good. They are kind of labor intensive, though. You have to make the marinade for the chicken, then move on to the tostados. Somehow you’re supposed to have enough space in your oven to bake both the chicken and the tostados simultaneously (I didn’t …), and while they’re baking (and potentially burning) then you get to work on the ranchero sauce and guacamole. I need to make them again without burning anything, and possibly with chicken breasts instead of thighs.

I also decided to make something a little more familiar – meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The meatloaf is really good, and I would probably make it again as a regular meal, although every now and then the crunchiness from the almonds that didn’t get pulverized enough throws me off. The mashed potatoes are okay, but they’re a little dry and I wish I had added in some coconut milk. I thought about it when I was mixing the ghee in, but I wanted to try the recipe as-is. At least I know for next time.

For breakfast this week, I decided to try a frittata with sausage, onion, red pepper, purple potatoes, and coconut milk. I was more than a little worried I wouldn’t like it without cheese in it, but it was actually pretty good. And I know the creators of the Whole30 would probably file these sweet potato apple muffins under their ‘SWYPO’ category (sex with your pants on), but I’ve been feeling a little overloaded by all the protein I’ve been eating for breakfast, so I thought I’d give them a try as a second breakfast option. I only had salted almond butter on hand, and didn’t really think about the fact that I wasn’t adding any kind of sugar to balance out the salt in the recipe and the salt in the almond butter. Consequently, they turned out just a tad salty! But! I had a bunch of apples I wasn’t doing anything specific with, so naturally I decided that making some unsweetened apple butter to go with the salty muffins was in order. 😛 It made them taste much better! Aside from the saltiness, the muffins are pretty good. They’re a lot lighter than I was expecting – I assumed that with the sweet potato and almond butter they’d be kind of dense, but they’re very spongy. I may just try making them again next week (albeit with unsalted almond butter) – I’ve got a bunch of apple butter to use up, after all!

And I made it through the baby shower last weekend by bringing my own dressing/dip for veggies and a few snacks. Once I got my little plate of fruit & veggies, I kind of parked myself on a seat in another room, and tried to ignore the sandwiches and desserts everyone else was eating. It seemed to work … The next baby shower (this coming weekend) will be a little rougher, since I’m co-throwing it and will be baking cookies to bring – but I’m unable to taste-test!! So sad … I guess I should start praying now for the cookies to turn out well. I will be freezing some to taste-test after my Whole30 is done. It’s never too late for quality control, right?

 

Halfway there!! January 16, 2015

Filed under: Whole30 — F. Penner @ 6:32 PM
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Today is day 15, which means I’m halfway done my Whole30!! I’ve been dreaming about what my first meal should be when I’m done… A bagel with cream cheese? It’ll be a Sunday, which means I’ll be at church, and we’ve got wicked good bagels. Or maybe I’ll have eggs for breakfast but splurge on lunch or dinner and get myself a pizza. Or maybe I’ll do what’s probably the smart thing and ease my way back into dairy & grains… Regardless, I’m looking forward to being able to not be quite so nit-picky about my food.

I had today off from work, so I finally made it to Linvilla to check out their produce. I got all the veggies I need for next week for $15!!! I’m wicked excited about that, and am wondering why I’ve never taken advantage of their 50% off veggies during the winter in the 6 or so years I’ve lived near them. They’re 10 minutes away, maybe less. Well, now I know better!

I was going to make breakfast ‘cupcakes’ this week, where you take pieces of lunch meat, put them in a cupcake tin, and fill them with eggs and veggies (and cheese if you’re not avoiding dairy). And I discovered that, similar to bacon, there. is. no. Whole30 compliant lunchmeat in the pre-packaged section. Every single option in my Whole Foods had sugar and carrageenan. I’m not sure why carrageenan isn’t allowed since it’s from seaweed, which I kind of take to mean it should be healthy somehow, but it’s not, so I didn’t get any lunch meat. I realized after I got home and did some searching that I could have asked at their deli counter and gotten compliant lunch meat, so I may do that over the weekend at some point, but seriously – what’s with all the added sugar, America?? Not that we’re the only country with these kinds of products, but why does smoked turkey need to have sugar in it?? Or roast beef?? I also realized while doing my research on lunch meat that I should have been paying attention to the chicken stock I bought from Trader Joe’s the other week – it has cane sweetener and barley malt. Grrr!! I just want to eat real, healthy food! I don’t need or want added sugar in the majority of non-dessert foods I consume. Maybe – just maybe! – this is a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic. What do I know, though? I’m just a librarian who really didn’t care a whole lot for science in general when I was in school… Of course, being a librarian means I have easy access to books like Salt sugar fat – I won’t get into it, but this is a really good read about the processed food industry. *end mini-rant*

For the record, no, I’m not starting over per the official Whole30 rules. The two friends I’m doing this with agree that I shouldn’t. Sorry, Whole30 people, I understand what you’re trying to do with your program, and I think it’s great (or I wouldn’t be attempting it). However, I can’t do this for 45 days instead of 30, especially when this wasn’t a conscious decision to cheat. (I intentionally did not have a piece of buffalo chicken pizza on Tuesday – and it’s good pizza!) I miss cheese and milk & cereal and hot chocolate. Plus I want my food budget to be back in its normal range. I will, however, make my own stock and/or read my labels even more carefully than I already am for the remainder of this. And should I decide to do another Whole30, I’ll be better prepared. Meanwhile, I’m going to console myself by eating a salad with homemade ranch dressing and binge-watching Doctor Who…

 

Random thoughts January 12, 2015

Filed under: Whole30 — F. Penner @ 5:25 PM
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I keep using all my free time at weekends to prep for the next week of this. I worked Saturday, so I had less time than I normally would have this weekend, but I still managed to make: Scotch eggs for breakfast, mayo and then dairy-free ranch dressing, a beef-plantain casserole and part of another meal. (I basically spent all of Sunday after church in my kitchen to get this done). I’ve got tonight to make some more apple chips and I think one or two other things, and then my cooking is done for the week! I’ve still got lots of Larabars from last week – coconut and chocolate – and some almonds and compliant dried cherries. Otherwise, pretty much all of my snacks for the week are fruit and veggies. I’ve still got hummus left, so I’m hoping it’s safe to keep (and eat) for another week. I’ve read a couple of blogs over the years by people who feel very strongly that leftovers in general should only be kept for 4 days or so, but that’s never really been practical for me. I also eat raw cookie dough – I like to live dangerously… 😛

I just want to say that homemade breakfast sausage tastes sooo!! much better than store-bought. Not much of a surprise, really, but I may never go back to store-bought. (Okay, I probably will for convenience’ sake at some point…) And the Scotch eggs are really good… I mainly used this recipe for the sausage (only doubling the quantities) but I had this recipe pinned as well, and ended up sort of combining the two. I mixed up the sausage Saturday night so the flavors would set in overnight. I don’t know if it’s really necessary to do that, but I like to think it makes the meat taste better. I would definitely make these for breakfast again, although I want to figure out how to keep them from bursting open as they cook. I guess I just didn’t pinch the meat together tightly enough when I was wrapping the eggs. And they are traditionally deep-fried, so maybe the baking made them come apart? Whatever… They taste good regardless, I just like things to look nice.

I’ve had one or two people ask me if I feel any differently since I started doing this. I’d have to say that so far, I really don’t… I have gotten a couple of headaches this last week, and I normally don’t, so it’s possible that they’re a result of not eating any sugar. However, I also haven’t been getting enough sleep, and I prefer to blame them on that instead. I’m guessing any major difference I feel will end up being when I’m done and start eating grains and sugar and milk again. I hope I don’t end up with some kind of intolerance to any of these things, but I’ll deal with that if I have to. I do miss the option to have hot chocolate since it’s been so cold outside (and it’s also always frigid at work). I mean, there’s tea, which has been fine without sugar or milk, but I’ve also only been drinking herbal tea. And I can only drink so much tea in a day before I’m tired of it. I haven’t been brave enough to try any black tea or coffee yet. I don’t need a ton of sugar in either (typically a teaspoon or two), but I like my black teas and my coffee with some milk or cream, and coconut milk/cream just isn’t the same. I’ll probably cave at some point and see if I can stand drinking coffee with coconut cream and no sugar. You can apparently put butter in your coffee, along with ‘brain oil’ (??) and it’s better than cream & sugar… I’m a tad skeptical, though – I’ll probably never do this myself, but I’d be willing to sample someone else’s!