Tag Archives: whole30

menu monday: perfect summer BBQ menu

Over Memorial Day weekend we had Greg’s boss and his family over for dinner. We are friends, so it was fun, not like a 1960s sitcom episode where the boss comes to dinner. The weather wasn’t warm enough to eat outside, but it was warm enough to pull out the BBQ for summer and grill our food. I’m so excited it’s BBQ season.

I threw together a menu on Friday and it ended up being so delicious I thought I’d share for anyone planning a summer BBQ. You could also make the chicken in the oven if you aren’t able to BBQ. Everything can be prepped ahead and then the cauliflower can be cooked while the chicken is being grilled. I wasn’t aiming for this, but since I know the family prefers to eat low carb I went with meat and veggies and it ended up being a completely Whole30 compliant meal (minus dessert).IMG_9087_edited-1I only managed to get a photo of the salad, but here’s what we served. Typically I would have put together a fun cocktail as well (well, asked Greg to do so), but we don’t totally have our post-baby hosting act together yet.

Green Chicken from Nom Nom Paleo. This is my favorite chicken recipe right now and while it might seem like a lot of ingredients, you only need to toss them all in a blender to create the marinade. We used bone-in thighs instead of legs and marinaded the chicken for about six hours. Greg followed the grilling instructions from the recipe and they were so good. Probably the best grilling he’s done to date. I think we are going to have a good summer of eating.

Mango Cabbage Salad from Food Network. I wanted something other than a green salad to serve and this looked delicious when I read through it. I’ve been on a mango kick ever since realizing I like them about two years ago (I’m slow sometimes). It ended up tasting delicious as well. I skipped the Serrano chiles since we had a two year old dining with us, but it turns out she loves Sriracha so maybe I should have just gone for it. With the exception of the mango that I sliced by hand, I used the shred blade on my food processor to prep all the other veggies. I made this in the morning and tossed with the dressing about an hour before we ate.

Coconut Cauliflower ‘Rice’ from The Clothes Make the Girl. This recipe is from Well Fed 2 and isn’t available on her site, but here is a very similar version that someone has adapted. This is such a great substitute for rice; it leaves you less stuffed and adds another veggie to your meal. I doubled the recipe (we had some leftover, but I think we wouldn’t have had enough if I didn’t) and it took nearly double the amount of time to cook. The key to cauliflower rice is always lots of salt to give it a little more flavor.

For dessert we had fresh strawberries and WOW brownies. They are gluten free but really tasty. I’ve eaten a lot of gluten free treats over the years that I would not say that about. I find mine at Whole Foods and while they aren’t cheap, it’s way more cost effective for me to pick up pre-made dessert occasionally. I really do not enjoy baking at all and if I buy supplies they end up going bad before I use them.

Happy summer eating! If you’ve got any great grilling recipes, please leave them in the comments. We eat at home a lot more now that Paige has arrived and I’m looking forward to new recipes this summer.

menu monday: tips for taking meals to others

I was in Denver this past weekend where my parents and sister both live with their families. My sister recently had an adorable little boy. With a toddler at home already, cooking isn’t something she has a ton of time to do right now so my mom and I put together a week of meals for their family. Having recently been both the recipient of meals and the maker of meals, I thought I’d share my tips for making meals for others and a few recipes that work well.

Tips for Making Meals for Others

  • If available, sign up on a shared calendar. It’s really helpful to know what nights dinner will be provided and to keep from having multiple meals provided on the same night.
  • Plan to drop off food and make a quick exit unless invited to stay. We loved seeing friends for a bit after Paige was born when they dropped off a meal. It made us feel plugged into our old life and gave us a chance to socialize without all the effort of getting her out of the house. In some cases though people might be too exhausted or not ready to see family and friends. A front door drop off followed by a text message is not rude, it might be exactly what they are hoping for!
  • Use disposable containers or packaging you don’t care about being returned.
  • Write instructions (baking, freezing, etc.) directly on the packaging. The new mama or friend recovering from a surgery will be thankful they don’t have to go dig up the email in which you sent the instructions.
  • Don’t kill yourself, but try to respect the food choices of the family, especially if there are real allergies. My sister’s son can only eat a little bit of dairy so we made all the meals dairy free with the exception of providing cheese to top one of them.
  • Provide something that can be eaten with no or easy prep if you know they are going to eat the meal that day; if you’re unsure, try to provide something that can be eaten the same day or popped in the freezer to save for a later time.
  • Think about breakfast. If you have the time, it’s nice to include breakfast for the next day when you drop off a dinner.

Meals That Work Well

For my sister’s family we decided to go with four dinner meals and two breakfasts. I picked meals that would include enough for lunch leftovers (there are two adults and a toddler eating). Because we were providing many meals at once, I also picked meals that could easily be frozen and prepared or reheated later. If you’re looking for more freezer meal ideas, back in January I shared a few posts (here and here) around what I prepared for our freezer before the baby arrived.

If you’re curious about time and cost, here are the details: My mom and I made the following in about three hours, while also wrangling a two month old, a two year old, a four year old, a six year old, and a 12 week old puppy. My dad did the grocery shopping for us the night before and bought all of the ingredients needed to make the recipes below (with the exclusion of all the spices as my mom had those on hand) for $112. He had a mix of quality, for example getting grass fed lamb and pastured eggs, but regular chicken and non-organic produce. (Note: I had meant to provide a few bags of frozen veggies to make one with each meal, but I completely forgot about that until writing this post now.)

These meals are all Whole30 compliant, with the exception of the shelf stable goods we provided with a few of them.

  • Chocolate Chili and Rice. There is something about a bowl of chili and rice that is really filling and comforting. This meal can be provided two ways: hot and ready to eat or cooked, cooled, and packaged (ready to reheat or throw in the freezer). We gave them a bag of white rice to cook with the chili, but if you know they are planning to eat it the same day or soon, provide already cooked rice and maybe even a salad. Trader Joe’s has great frozen microwavable rice that is perfect to pair with this.
  • Merguez Meatballs and Sweet Potato Soup. I paired these together for a meal as both have great Middle Eastern flavors. If you don’t want to provide this as a hot meal, you can cook the meatballs and flash freeze them on a cookie tray (that way they don’t stick together), then store in a freezer ziplock. The soup can be cooled then packaged for the freezer. A note on the soup: because we were serving it with the meatballs, I skipped the bacon. A salad or a veggie is a great addition, but the soup and meatballs alone are pretty filling.
  • Salsa Verde ChickenThis chicken is incredibly versatile. Typically we eat it on it’s own, topped with avocado. For my sister, we included some shelf and fridge stable taco fixings – shells, a jar of salsa, and cheese. I know that she has a crockpot, so I provided this uncooked in a freezer bag. She can throw it in the freezer, then thaw overnight and toss it in the crockpot on a day when she’s ready to make it. If you are providing this to eat the same day, I would cook it for them and maybe provide a few other fresh taco fixings, like mango salsa, chopped tomatoes, and/or lettuce.
  • Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole It’s the paleo version of dropping off a casserole for your neighbor. If you are taking it around dinner time, you can bake it and bring it hot. Otherwise you can skip baking and let the recipient bake when convenient (perhaps mention it takes an hour so they aren’t caught off guard). If you use a disposable aluminum container, it’s very easy to go from freezer to fridge to oven. We gave them a bag of salad mix to eat with this meal (or whatever meal they decided to go with first). Frozen veggies are a great alternative if the casserole is going in the freezer.
  • Southwest Frittata. I’ve linked to this recipe so many times because we eat it often. Once it’s baked you can provide the frittata in full or slice and wrap individual servings in foil (this is a good option for a single friend who won’t eat it as fast as a family will). Send along a few avocados for topping the casserole to make it extra filling. To make it slightly easier, I skip the jalapeño and add a can of diced green chilies.
  • Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins. Egg muffins are a really easy, on the go breakfast option and freeze well. The recipe only makes six muffins (but leaves leftover chicken). If I were to make it again I might use slightly more chicken and double the rest of the recipe to make a full dozen. Our muffins turned out really spicy, so keep that in mind when selecting your hot sauce.

I forgot to take pictures of our cooking session, but my sister and her husband carried several handfuls of food out to the car. For around $100 and three hours of our time, we gave them a week of food, allowing them to focus on their newborn and toddler. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to take meals to a friend or stock up their own freezer with tasty, healthy meals.

stocking the freezer for baby | week two

I’ve moved on from nesting to “oh my gosh, what have we done, we better get out of the house now while we can”. Which means this weekend I did absolutely no cooking. We met friends for happy hour, went to the movies, ate every meal out, and enjoyed a brunch that our friends hosted for us. But last week I cooked up a storm and just never shared it, so here it is…

This plan of mine is working really well. The kitchen freezer is slowly filling with pre-cooked meals and ziplock bags full of meat and veggies ready for the crockpot. Thanks to a few things going on at work I ended up with a four day weekend the weekend before last, which really helped. I was able to break up cooking over several days to avoid too much time standing in the kitchen. I much prefer a 3/4 work to weekend ratio over the current 5/2.

stewI haven’t made a beef stew in a really long time and with the cold weather it sounded good. I doubled a recipe I found on Pinterest, putting half in the crockpot for dinners this week and the other half (uncooked) in the freezer for later. It was really easy and decent, but it was more like beef and carrot soup, the broth didn’t thicken much like a good stew. The leftovers are a little thicker, but not quite what I want in a stew. On a positive note, the veggies were cooked perfectly. We’ll happily eat the freezer meal, but not sure I’ll make this one again.

breakfast meatballsLast Monday morning I made a double batch of breakfast meatballs and patties for the freezer. They turned out to be delicious. So delicious that I ate a few more than planned with leftover kale and roasted potatoes. Because I am prone to setting our smoke alarm off, I followed the directions for baking in a mini muffin pan. I also used a regular muffin tin and created patties so that I could bake both pounds at the same time. I immediately cooled them on paper towels so that I could get the grease out of the tins before it hardened. Then I popped them into the freezer just laying on a cutting board. This allows each ball or patty to freeze individually and not as a big clump. After about an hour I transferred them to a freezer ziplock for storage. These will be perfect to add to soup (I love soup for breakfast in the winter), to an egg dish, or just stand alone.

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I roasted two chickens to make Lemon Chicken Kale Soup and have a little leftover shredded chicken for quick meals. I forgot a picture of the soup, but it was delicious. I made one batch to eat for dinners last week and have a second batch in the freezer ready to be thrown in the crockpot for a quick meal.

I also made, but did not take pictures of, double batches of 50/50 Burgers and Merguez Meatballs. I ate each for only one meal, so there is quite a bit in the freezer. At this point I’ve maxed out most of my freezer space with proteins. With the little room I have left I’m hoping to stock up on veggies (probably store-bought frozen and maybe some soups) and broth.

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I threw together a little lunch for Greg and I as we watched the Seahawks game two Sunday’s ago. It’s completely Whole30 compliant and completely game worthy. I didn’t use recipes and it took maybe 25 minutes. Perfect for the upcoming Super Bowl.

  • Applegate mini sausages (compliant ingredients!) that I found at Whole Foods with a dipping sauce of 2/3 dijon mustard + 1/3 homemade mayo
  • Deviled eggs; the filling is simply the yolks + dijon mustard + homemade mayo
  • Bacon wrapped dates; pit dates, cut bacon slices in 1/2 or 1/3 (depending on how long they are), wrap around date, place on baking sheet with “seam” side down, bake at 400* for 12 minutes

stocking the freezer for baby | week one

At the beginning of the new year, six weeks out from my due date, I made the final list of what needs to get done before baby. There are a million things we could be doing and in an effort to not be overwhelmed or overtax myself, I made a list of what’s important to us. I’m letting go of the rest.

Knowing how good food makes me feel, having a number of meals stored away in our freezer is really important to me. My approach is to incorporate a little bit each week while doing my normal prepping. I’m battling both my own exhaustion (standing up for hours in the kitchen is much harder with an extra 27 pounds) and limited freezer space. Our 2015 meat shares just arrived in the last month so both my indoor and garage freezers are packed. But I’m going to do what I can. IMG_6868_edited-1

First up was making a plan. Please excuse the horrible picture, my phone came down with a case of gray spots last week and we haven’t had a chance to switch me back to my old phone yet. I want to have around 50 servings of breakfast and lunch/dinner items in addition to soups (an easy way to freeze veggies) and then be well stocked on snacks and shelf stable food.

All the breakfast food I plan to store in single servings so we have some food that is very easy to grab out of the freezer and defrost immediately if needed. Also, sometimes it will be nice to not defrost something that is 6 – 8 servings since there’s only two of us. For the lunch and dinner foods, I planned a mix of precooked frozen meals and frozen crockpot meals (FCP). I don’t have a reason for doing a mix other than it sounded like a good idea. I also made a list of snacks and shelf stable food to make sure to order and get organized in the pantry before the baby comes. I hear breastfeeding women are ravenous and I want to be prepared with good, nutritious food for the baby and myself.

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So that’s the plan. I thought I’d share my weekly progress for anyone else looking for ideas to stock a freezer for a baby or maybe an upcoming surgery. Or even just for good crockpot and frozen meal ideas. Here’s what I completed this week. IMG_8787_edited-1Last year I made this sweet potato chili with beef and it was so good. Thankfully I didn’t just talk it up in my head over the last year. Greg doesn’t often comment on food, so I know when he asks not to have something again (raw kale salad) he truly doesn’t like it. If he comments on how good a dish is (this chili), it really is that good. I doubled the recipe but beware, it nearly overflowed in my crockpot. This made two servings for us for dinner (over sautéed kale), five lunch portions for me this week, and then 6-serving and 4-serving frozen dishes. Also known as a sh*t ton of chili. I’m excited to pull these out of the freezer next month. 

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This is an incredibly simple salsa verde chicken that I’ve made several times in the past. You can eat it plain, in lettuce wraps, on a salad – totally versatile. It works really well as a frozen crockpot ready meal. Toss all the raw ingredients in a ziplock and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge and toss in the crockpot (or straight into the crockpot with a little extra time). I made three bags in under ten minutes. I would have made more, but at two pounds of chicken each that’s already quite a few servings for us. We’ll eat one later this week and the other two will stay frozen for post-baby. IMG_8778_edited-1

I’ve linked several times to this chorizo breakfast casserole (I skip the cheese and usually add spinach but forgot to buy this week). It’s one of our favorites and I made a double batch to slice and wrap in foil for the freezer. We ate a few of them for breakfast this week but I was able to make myself eggs most mornings so I added eight or nine servings to the baby stash.

IMG_6861_edited-1Previously I mentioned that one of my goals is to stop wasting food. On Sunday morning, after Alfred and I had gone on a 3 mile walk and Greg had gone to yoga, I really just wanted someone to make me brunch. But I’m staying strong to my Whole30+ (day 12) and we had some leftover brisket and half a bag of frozen kale that needed to be used or tossed. In about ten minutes they were transformed into a tasty dish: sweet potato hash + brisket + kale + a runny egg. It was so good and nothing was wasted. Success.

prepping ahead for a week of whole30 eats

Now that we’re in the new year, I’m hoping to get back to posting about menus and food prep on a more consistent basis. Until the baby arrives, at least.

Because it’s basically my favorite thing in the world (and because pregnancy heartburn after holiday eats), I’m joining in on the annual January Whole30. I skipped out on starting Jan 1 though as my mom hosted a family baby shower for me in LA this past weekend. Since I’d be traveling and wanted to eat dessert at my own baby shower (a strawberry shortcake bar!), I delayed the start until the 5th.

I’m also doing something a little crazy. Since I’m telling the internet here and now I can’t back down! I totally subscribe to the “make it public, make it happen” philosophy. I’m going until the martian arrives. Aside from wanting to nip the holiday eating in the bud immediately (and the heartburn, oh the heartburn), I know that when eating this way I am the best version of me and frankly, I really rock at life. I’m not grumpy or short with people, I’ve got energy like crazy, I sleep like a rock, and I’m super level headed. Seriously, you may think this is a crazy statement but until you’ve done this or something similar for thirty days you can not understand the difference in how you feel. Yes, that’s a challenge.

Why wouldn’t I want to go into giving birth and the newborn weeks feeling like a rockstar? I can’t think of a reason I wouldn’t, so I’m taking this on. My due date is 2/15; this could really be anything from a Whole30 to a Whole60. Usually I pick a little present to get myself after I finish a Whole30. In the fall it was an InstantPot (which is so awesome). This time, I’m getting a baby!! (And maybe one these fun spiralizer gadgets, too.)

As mentioned, I was in Los Angeles all weekend having fun with my sister and nephew and enjoying the females in my family as they generously showered the baby and I with gifts and well wishes. But I wanted to start first thing Monday morning. I have an incredible ability to justify pretty much anything and knew that if I didn’t start Monday I would somehow come up with a reason to put it off until the following Monday. What can I say, I really like Monday starts.

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The first step was to print out a menu plan template. I’ve been feeling less digital lately so I printed and wrote on mine, whereas most of last year I kept my weekly meal plans in a Google doc. Printing also allows me to use a pink highlighter, which is just fun. There’s a meal plan template in my Thriving In The Kitchen guide if you’re looking for some where to start.

I like to figure out the main courses first. I start with any night that I know I won’t have time to cook. Monday we had baby class in the evening and a rotisserie chicken picked on the way home is perfect. Then I raid the freezer to see what sort of leftovers we have – two servings of chocolate chili and several servings of brisket. Score. I plugged these meals in where they fit best on the menu plan. I next looked at what meat we had in the inside freezer that could be used for quick meals: salmon and lamb stew meat. Main courses done.

I didn’t have anything frozen for breakfast, so while making dinner on Friday night I threw together a casserole with whatever I had on hand (sweet potato, ground beef, eggs, and some spices). Once it was cooled I sliced it, wrapped in foil, and tossed in the freezer.

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Let’s talk about sides. I was not able to prep any veggies this weekend, so I went the easy route. When I stopped by the store for the chicken, I also picked up a selection of frozen veggies and pre-cut fresh ones. Yes, more expensive, but that’s what’s going to work this week so that’s what I’m doing. For good measure I added eggs, sausages, and hot dogs, which are all easy to quickly make a meal out of in an emergency.

The key for me is filling out the prep and defrost sections of my template. If I don’t do that, I forget what I need to do and the plan quickly falls apart. I also highlight the meals where I need to cook something (meaning not everything is pre-prepped) so I can quickly gauge which evenings I’m going to need to spend time in the kitchen. I’m on day four and happy to report that we’ve stuck to the schedule 100% and are eating better than we have in quite some time. IMG_6847

Here’s a five minute dinner idea: toss a side of salmon on a baking sheet, add a bag of frozen broccoli and pre-cooked beets. Sprinkle your favorite season and fat of choice on everything. Bake. Be happy that you only have one pan to clean.

the post-whole30 thirty

We were out of town for most of the past week so I didn’t plan a menu or do any cooking really. I did make dinner for the family on Wednesday night in Palm Springs. My dad was not thrilled with my choice of spaghetti squash with meat sauce but I’m happy to report that after actually trying it, he deemed it delicious and said he felt better than if he had eaten actual pasta. Win!

I really wish I could report that the last thirty days post-Whole30 have been full of super nutritious food and me feeling great. But if I’m being honest, they haven’t been. I’ve been doing a little reflecting on where things took a turn. Here’s (roughly) how the last four weeks went.

Week One
Still feeling the Whole30 tiger blood, I kept things really clean and off-roaded smartly. After a month of eating out twice I wanted to try a few of our go-to take-out dishes to see how I’d feel and get a break from the kitchen. I had pho and also tried my favorite lamb gyro salad from a local Greek place. I avoided all the holiday candy and baked goods around the office. Overall, I was feeling pretty good.

Week Two
I added a little caffeine back into my morning (why do we do things we know won’t end well?) and ended up messing up my sleep for a few days. Yes, I’m that sensitive to a cup of coffee in the morning. And yes, it sucks. What happened next is not pretty but I learned a valuable lesson. When I get tired, my ability to make good food choices is amazingly low. I think I always realized this, but watching it happen this week made me realize just how much a lack of sleep impacts me.

This poor sleep week happened to coincide with a rough week at work and conference room tables full of leftover Halloween candy. I couldn’t resist. In one meeting, my coworkers, used to me turning down candy and baked goods, were openly gawking (and probably silently cheering) as I took down mini candy after mini candy.

Week Three
I was full on in the bad food leading to bad sleep leading to more bad food choices cycle. It’s a real fun one. My candy binging led me to having “just one” eggnog latte. I’ll let you guess if I stuck to my just one or not. Hint: I did not. Lots of other poor choices were made and I started to feel gross. There’s not really any other word for it.

Week Four
I knew things needed to change but I was struggling to find motivation. Then I went to my 28 week appointment. And while I don’t put a lot of faith in scales as a good metric of health, they do tell a part of the story. This scale was brutally honest and my midwife was not happy. Week four happened to be Thanksgiving and a trip to Palm Springs to celebrate the holiday with my family. I tried to make good choices, but I didn’t succeed as often as I would have liked. There was pie for breakfast.

What Went Wrong
I hate that I was feeling so damn good a month ago and now I am on the verge of a cold and feel like I could and need to sleep for days. First and foremost, a lack of sleep combined with stress happened. Some of the stress was out of my control (work) and some was totally under my control (making a way too large to-do list for November that I put before health priorities). I also am at the end of last year’s meat, which means I only have a few cuts left and they are not my favorites. It became really easy to justify eating out or junk instead of making good food.

Going Forward
I’m not beating myself up about any of this. I’m not letting myself go to the “how can I be a good nutritional therapist if I can’t take my own advice” place. If anything, I’m using it as a lesson about myself and something to keep in mind with future clients. I am reflecting and making a plan to get back on track. I have no desire or plans to let myself slide down this slope through the rest of the holiday. It would be really easy to say that I’ll pick things back up in January, but that’s not fair to me, to the baby, or to those that get to spend ample time with me. Have I mentioned I’m much more pleasant when I’ve slept and don’t feel on the verge of a cold? It’s time to just do it. To start now. Here are four things I plan to do over the next few weeks to get myself back on track.

Prioritize food and exercise. As usual, I have a set of goals for December, but I am changing up how I think about them after going a little crazy in November. My goals will be getting 30 minutes of exercise every day (midwife’s orders) and committing to having real food prepped for every meal. After, and only after, those are met I will work on other things like my website and December Daily.

Don’t get fancy. I went to the store on Sunday to do my weekly shopping. When I planned my menu, I was careful to make it reasonable. Real food doesn’t have to be fancy or time consuming to be nourishing, filling, and delicious. I added a few recipes and then stocked up on easy foods like frozen veggies and sausages. And I bribed myself a little with prepared guac and salsa and totally out of season mango. While I try to eat seasonally, these favorites will keep me looking forward to lunch salads. Not everything is Whole30 compliant. I have no probably staying on a Whole30, I am ridiculously good at following rules. It’s the post-rules time that I struggle with and am trying to work through.

IMG_8503_edited-1Sleep. This means sticking to my bedtime routine that helps me wind down and staying off the caffeine-sauce. It also means being really, really selective about when I chose to eat sugar. I’m not trying to be a saint through the holidays, but sugar makes me more wired than caffeine so anything I decide to eat needs to be 100% worth it and 100% intentional.

Surround myself with real food talk. This might sound silly and hippie-dippie, but I’ve realized that the more engrossed I am in the real food world the easier it is for me to stay on track. All it takes is listening to podcasts while I drive and exercise and I’m back in my happy place.

So that’s my story and my plan. I hope to report at the end of December that I have a log full of exercise, a belly full of good food, and a few holiday treats that were totally worth it but didn’t sent me spiraling out of control.

menu monday: my whole30 recap

This week we’re eating from the freezer again and it’s really simple.

Breakfasts: Salmon Cakes w/ mayo from Well Fed 2. I’m finally feeling like eating fish again for breakfast. I know this may sound weird, but if you’re looking for something less traditional for breakfast these are delicious.

Lunches: I found a casserole dish of bolognese in the freezer! I was so excited, no prep for lunches this week aside from squash to go with it.

Dinners: On Saturday I tried a new recipe for steak and potatoes in the crockpot. I love finding new uses for my crockpot and figured why not when I came across this post. It isn’t much of a recipe, but more a method. Sadly, we ended up with four very dry steaks. The potatoes cooked well (we skipped the corn), but I won’t be risking my good meat with this method again. For the rest of the week we’ll be eating salmon, the very last (finally) of the PreMade Paleo meals, and balsamic short ribs (another slow cooker recipe).

4th Meal: Since I made the switch back to eating a very clean diet, I eat A LOT. Instead of snacking all day, I’ve just incorporated a fourth meal into my diet. This week it will be egg salad with hard boiled eggs, mayo, and hot sauce.

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The Whole30 Recap

On Wednesday I finished what I think is my 3rd complete Whole30. I’ve done several other Whole14s, give or take a few days, when I’ve felt the need to really get back on track, but this was a full on, 30 days of squeaky clean eating.

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So how did it go? In a nutshell – fantastic. At the beginning I had set out five reasons for taking this on, which I’ve recapped below in addition to a few other insights and results from my thirty days. I believe how we nourish ourselves is of huge importance to our health but I also recognize that there are other factors. Where I made changes in addition to good food changes I’ve also included them.

Sleep. I am consistently falling asleep within ten minutes of getting in bed. This is big for me, who usually tosses and turns and has a very hard time getting to sleep. I do still wake up once (or sometimes even twice) to use the restroom, but I think we can blame that on Martian. I’ve also committed to getting of my computer by 9pm every night, no excuses. I spend about half hour straightening the house up and getting ready for bed, then get in bed at 9:30 and read until 10ish. 

Digestive issues. About two weeks in I declared myself digestive issues free. No need for details, but it’s a good thing! And nightly heartburn is gone! I got heartburn a handful of time during the Whole30 and each time it was after eating a piece of fruit on it’s own. Easy fix is to stop eating fruit alone. I added apple cider vinegar to my herbal tea almost every night. I love the tangy taste and it helps improve the acidity in my stomach. 

Eczema. My wrist is almost clear. Eczema takes a long time to heal and it’s super frustrating. I have about a one inch by one inch patch left that is very dry and no longer inflamed or itchy. I wish I knew exactly what caused it. My best guess is dairy, but I have no real desire to test that out. After being very stubborn for months, I finally took my Fitbit off my arm to allow the eczema to heal. I don’t think it was the cause, but I do think it was irritating the broken skin and making the healing slower. 

Lethargy. My energy is awesome. I’m waking up ready to go, working all day at my full time job, then coming home and building out my little business in the evening. I’m sure having something I’m incredibly excited about helps keep me motivated and focused, but there was no way I had this energy in the early part of my second trimester, before the Whole30.

Mama guilt. Greatly diminished! I have felt guilty for moving a heavy box, not caring about reading the million books every expectant mother is expected to read, and other such things. But I know that every single meal I ate over those 30 days provided Martian with the nutrients he or she needs to grow and that is a great feeling.

What I wasn’t looking for, but (happily) found: 

  • One thing that I noticed is how even-keeled I became over the thirty days. I’m not a highly emotional person, but I am very easily annoyed. My typical response is silence. I don’t want to deal with you, but I want you to know I’m annoyed with you. When things came up that would usually put me in this mood I just shook them off and moved on. Either there was no point in wasting my energy or there was a bright side to be found.
  • Stress didn’t get to me like it normally does. I work very well under certain stressful conditions, like deadlines. However, once I get to the point where I feel like things are out of my control I get very cranky and not nice to be around. October was insane. Between coming out of September where we were gone three out of four weekends, Greg working round the clock many nights, our entire interior of the house being painted, finishing my NTP program, and work getting busy, history states that I should have lost it. But I never did. I didn’t have a single “I can’t do this moment”. I just made a to-do list everyday of what needed to get done and did it. I credit the better sleep (nothing makes me more cranky than being tired), the increased energy, and the general even-keeled mentality.

The Whole30 and Pregnancy

Several people have asked me if the Whole30 is safe while pregnant. I’m honestly not sure how to respond to that because the only thing I did was eat real food for thirty days. I know that we live in a world of extreme diets and I can see why anyone, without knowing the details of the Whole30, might think this is just another crazy fad. But I get so discouraged when people ask me what I’m eating now that I’m pregnant, waiting for and expecting the juicy details of nightly ice cream binges, then look at me crazy when I describe the Whole30 and ask if that’s something I should be doing. My response is usually something along the lines of “I can’t think of anything healthier I could be doing.” Here’s a few reasons why:

  • I’m probably going to make a few people angry with this one, but I’m starting to question a lot the of the conventional symptoms of pregnancy that we’re just told are part of experience and that we need to deal with. Yes, my body is changing like crazy and that may result in a few aches and pains. But heartburn? Gone. Leg cramps? Gone. Back pain? Gone. Crappy sleep? Gone. Wrist pain? Gone. I mentioned all five of these to my midwife and my prenatal yoga instructor who both sympathetically nodded and said something like “oh, pregnancy”. Maybe the changes in my body made me more susceptible to the conditions but I just proved that (for me, only talking about my situation here) eating a nutrient dense diet fixed every single ailment. I’m getting close to soapbox territory here, which is not my intent, but I wish that pregnancy was handled very differently in our culture.
  • I’m about six months pregnant and my engagement ring is twisting around my finger. One of the (way too many) pregnancy emails this week told me that it might be time to take my rings off before they get stuck and wear them around my neck. Also, my boots are easier to zip up than they were a month ago. Real food wins, non-scale victories.
  • My twenty week appointment was on Day 2, followed by my 24 week appointment on Day 28. Between those two dates I lost one pound and Martian grew the exact number of centimeters that they want to see.

So what’s next….

I’ve started to eat out a little. I tried rice noodles in Pho on Friday night (felt fine). I don’t plan to reintroduce dairy or gluten at this time, but I will try a little sugar to see how I feel, mostly in preparation for the holiday season. I’ll probably try corn chips as well. Our marriage is built on Mexican food people, there’s only so much I can ask of Greg and giving up dinner at Rosita’s isn’t on the table.

The one thing I want to improve on is asking myself “is it worth it” when I want to eat something that I know isn’t going to make me feel great. It’s totally okay if the answer is yes sometimes, the part that’s not okay is not thinking about it and absent-mindeldly popping whatever in my mouth. I couldn’t find an article to link to, but I love the idea below (from the creators of the Whole30 program). Stop thinking about cheats and start thinking about choices. Own what you put in your body.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 9.01.45 AMWhole30 results are always better with photos, so here’s a little comparison. On the left is Greg and I at a wedding the weekend before I started my Whole30. On the right we are in our Halloween costumes this past Saturday, four days after finishing my Whole30. It is not a dramatic transformation (I am growing a human being, after all), but I can see the difference in my face. It is way less puffy, especially in my cheeks and around my eyes. Even my butt chin is back! #nonscalevictory

whole30bandaIf you’re interested in the Whole30, I’m more than happy to answer any questions in the comments. There is also a wealth of information on the website, including the rules and great articles on the blog. I highly recommend picking up a copy of It Starts With Food, which explains both the how and the why of the Whole30 in detail.