For some reason, I eat better when I have rules. I am just that type of person. When there are no rules, I have been known to eat, say, 4 cinnamon rolls in a row. This is purely hypothetical, of course. (and also something that happened last week) This followed a day of baking and eating those chocolate Hamantaschen I blogged last….
So, the rules don’t really matter. It could be low-carb, calorie tracking, or no sugar, but I need some guidelines. In my next life, I plan on coming back as someone who can eat everything in sight and remain a size 2. For those of you that don’t know me in real life, I have actually lost 22 pounds over the past 8 months. I have been working with a trainer, going to the gym religiously in between training sessions, and generally rotating between eating whole foods and low carb bursts here and there.
Then the holidays hit, followed by never ending snow days. I don’t know about you, but there is nothing I want to do on a snow day other than bake and eat the pastries of my labor. Anyhow, I was suddenly up 3 pounds, which might not sound like a lot, but it is a slippery slope…and I know this slope like the back of my chubby hand.
So, after some research, I decided to try a Whole 30 challenge. I dove right in the next day. If you are not familiar with this way of eating, your diet consists of whole foods, unprocessed as much as possible, and foods that do NOT contain dairy, gluten or grains of any kind, soy products, legumes (including peanuts), preservatives, nitrates, or sugar (even natural sugars like honey, agave, maple syrup, etc…). You may eat meats, fish, vegetables, healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil/milk, ghee), fruits, and nuts/seeds. *You are not supposed to get creative and make baked goods out of all of these ingredients mashed together (like those paleo banana pancakes circulating on Pinterest). You are also supposed to stick to meals and not be super snacky, which I am having trouble with a bit. One thing that initially had me concerned was the nut/coconut allergy in my house really limiting my options. What to put in the morning coffee that is non-negotiable?
I decided to include coconut milk, but keep it very carefully stored in a jar with a cap in the basement fridge and treat it like a Hazmat. I blended in some dates for sweetness, just for my coffee…Though it has found it’s way on some tropical fruit salad over the past day or two. A slippery slope….
This is a photo of the prep work I did the night before I started- Coconut milk with dates-blended well. Homemade sunbutter with sunflower seeds, dates, and olive oil in the food processor until a paste forms (It is delicious!), and a blend of sunflowers and dates that I set aside to use as a “breading” on some chicken (amazing, by the way), a fresh pineapple, and some sliced banana to stash in the freezer.
*Disclaimer- I did make homemade nut-free larabars with dried date, raisins, sunflower seeds, a few sesame seeds, and a scant dab of applesauce. I placed them in muffin liners and am storing them in the fridge for pre/post workout fuel when needed. I don’t consider this cheating, because they do say that larabars are okay…
Here is what I have eaten so far, in case you are curious:
Whole 30 Day 1:
B- 2 olive oil fried eggs, coffee with coconut cream and dates,
S- pineapple, L- salad with tuna, olives, artichokes, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, olive oil. S- blended frozen banana with cloves and nutmeg, bare apple chips, raw veggies with guacamole, D: sautéed bok choy and shiitake mushrooms with seared salmon, spinach salad with mandarin oranges and orange vinaigrette, pineapple. Dessert: Apple cooked with a tiny bit of ghee and cinnamon, tea with coconut milk.
p.s. Even if you are not on a whole 30, olive oil fried eggs are the BEST. Just get a healthy amount of olive oil very hot in a pan. Drop in your eggs, and stand back- They will spit and splatter a bit. Fry them on that side until very brown and crisp at the edges (just the opposite of what we were always taught about frying eggs). The edges are so lacey and crispy, it is amazing!
Whole 30 Day 2:
Breakfast: hash with sweet potatoes and butternut squash, 2 eggs, small amount of mandarin oranges leftover from yesterday, Workout- Lunch: banana and apple pie larabar, 4 breakfast sausages (oops!), 4 dried apricots D: salad with chicken fingers breaded in sunflower/date mixture, blood orange vinaigrette, 1/2 avocado, pineapple. Sashimi with jalapeno and cilantro.
Whole 30 Day 3:
2 olive oil fried eggs, banana sliced with sunbutter, homemade larabar, workout, Applegate turkey wrapped with 1/2 avocado, tomato, arugula, homemade mayo, black olives. Fruit salad with coconut milk. Mama chia blackberry bliss. Moroccan beef stew with dates, raisins, and carrots, sweet potatoes. Tea with coconut milk. 4 dates with sunbutter inside. Unsweetened applesauce cup with cinnamon.
Moroccan Beef Stew (vague recipe without measurements follows, because I just threw stuff in the pot without measuring!)
Whole 30 Day 4:
B: 2 eggs in olive oil, fruit salad with coconut milk, coffee with coconut milk, snack- banana-date-coconut smoothie and homemade larabar, Lunch- tuna salad with homemade mayo, artichokes, and olives, arugula. More fruit salad with coconut milk, Dinner: loaded plantain nachos with seasoned beef, olives, jalapeno, avocado, tomato, cilantro, scallions.
My loaded plantain nachos:
I have also had to prep homemade mayo, ghee, and an all purpose salad dressing just to have on hand.
I am clearly overeating -still- with too much snacking, but I feel pretty good. The under eye dark circles I always have are almost gone. I have loads of energy, and my workouts feel nicely fueled. My stomach is rebelling a bit, but I am imagining that is due to all of the artificial sweetener withdrawal I am likely experiencing. Hopefully, this is temporary. I have been finding it quite easy to stick to the plan, though I do think that is due to good prep work and my love of making things from scratch. Let me know if you have recently started Whole 30 or if you have any great food finds that are compliant with the plan!
Moroccan-Style Beef Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- approximately 2 lbs beef stew meat or short ribs or chuck roast (would also work with chicken thighs)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups baby carrots
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 8 dates, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup organic raisins
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 bay leaves
- Chicken stock (organic and whole 30 compliant)
- salt and pepper to taste
Basically, sear meat on both sides in oil. Add onions, cook for a minute or two. Add other veggies, tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper (sparingly- taste later and adjust). Pour in stock until meat is 3/4 covered but sticks out a bit on top. Cover pot and stash in a 300 degree oven for a LONG time 3-4 hours is great! I did this a day ahead, removed bones from my meat, stashed in fridge overnight, then reheated the next day with the lid off (on stove), and it actually reduced further and thickened to a perfect consistency.
I served this over some sweet potato slices for me, and noodles for my kids and hubby (who are not doing whole 30). Enjoy!