Category Archives: eating clean

Coconut Oil: Why it is my fave Whole30 discovery and a giveaway!

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The Whole30 has opened my eyes to the taste of REAL food. I whipped up so many new dishes but it was amazing how simple they were to prepare and how much fewer ingredients I needed. That is the beauty of cooking with whole foods! The dishes I made on the Whole30 let the true flavor of delicious vegetables and fruits stand out. I did not need to add a bunch of breading, condensed soup, or sugar and other CRAP. It was so wonderful to experiment with new foods, too. I can not even count how many new ingredients I discovered that are now staples in my kitchen.

Since the Whole30 incorporates a lot of HEALTHY fats, the aroma of coconut now pours from my kitchen! Coconut butter, coconut milk, coconut aminos, shredded coconut, and something that I use literally daily–coconut oil! I mean this stuff is GOOD! Here’s just a few ways I used it on a regular basis:

coconut oil recipes

  • Badass paleo coffee creamer— the coconut oil gives this Whole30 approved coffee creamer a silky texture
  • Roasted veggies– sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, and even carrots are now always roasted in my oven at 400 degrees for 20-40 minutes slathered in this stuff! It brings out the natural sweetness of those veggies and eliminates the need for a ton of other ingredients…which is great when I am in a rush!
  • Balsamic- Glazed London broil— oh yeah, it is not just for veggies! The coconut oil brings nice balance to this otherwise tangy/spicy main dish seared on the stove-top. It also gives some moistness to a typically tough cut of meat.
  • Sautéed fruit– When I am craving a sweet treat, now all I need to do is melt some coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat, add some sliced fruit (bananas, apples, mango, peaches, etc.), cook until soft, and sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over top! YUM!
  • Stir fry— Heating oil in a screaming hot pan is the first step to any good stir fry. And coconut oil’s resistance to burning makes it a perfect choice. I love Asian stir-fry but since eliminating soy sauce from my diet, I’m happy to add some extra flavor from the coconut oil. It is perfect for cooking the veggies and the meat, too!

I purchased my first giant tub of coconut oil from a warehouse store, thinking that I would never use that much. To my surprise I used half of the tub in one month! Since starting the Whole30 I have discovered the convenience of online grocery shopping. Tropical Traditions is my new go-to site for coconut products. They even sent me a sample of their Gold Label Coconut Oil to try out!  I am no coconut-oil expert, but I can tell you that this coconut oil was silkier, creamier, and tastier than the previous brand I have tried. I especially like how transparent the company is about where their products come from. I was a little confused as to whether extra virgin or virgin coconut oil was better, but actually they are the same thing! There is no distinction between the two like there is with olive oil. Whole30 requires approved oils to be unrefined and pressed (as opposed to chemically processed) and this coconut oil passes with flying colors! What I liked most about it was that it is extracted by simply using gravity–no chemicals, no antioxidant-destroying high heat. 

I am very excited about this product but I’m even more excited to share it with you! I’d like to introduce my first ever giveaway!!

Click here to enter to win a free jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

If you’re still not convinced that you need to start cooking with coconut oil keep reading for some handy info on more uses for it, how it’s made, and the best way to buy. Enter my giveaway for your chance to try it FREE!

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

***If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.***

Change is a good thing: Whole30 Wrap-Up

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I finished the whole30

To change one’s life:

1. Start immediately

2. Do it flamboyantly

3. No exceptions

– William James

This is it, folks. My final report on my Whole30 experience. But, I can guarantee you this will not be my last mention of it, nor will this be my last Whole30. This was an amazing experience that I truly recommend to everyone who wants to learn about their relationship with food.

I’ll cut right to the chase and breakdown how the last 30 days changed me. Some changes are physical, other are deeper and much more important to me. The way I think and feel about food is forever changed.

Reading labels before I buy food or looking up ingredients from my favorite restaurants has become the norm for me. Sure, it takes a little extra time but seeing those franken-gredients help me make the right choice! Reading labels on processed food sure makes me lose my appetite! The best food is the one that has no label to read 😉

Grocery shopping and meal planning has changed. I almost solely shop the perimeter of the store (did ya know that’s where all the good stuff is?!) and I buy harder to find ingredients (like coconut flour) online. Shopping is actually easier! I only have to decide what meats and yummy veggies I want for the week because my list of pantry staples is simpler and I keep it stocked (mainly canned tomatoes, olives, and coconut milk!) The first few weeks on W30 I went to the grocery store armed with my iPhone, ready to look up any questionable items. Now, it’s starting to make sense…it’s starting to become ingrained in me.

My performance in the gym has improved tremendously. I used to struggle to find food that I can tolerate before a work out and lived on protein shakes. Now it is simple– something small like half an avocado and a boiled egg tells my body it’s go-time.

My thinking has changed, too. I am no longer impressed by magazine articles or pins that claim things like “Lose 5 pounds in one week by eating only smoothies!” When I see things like that, I can’t help but think how I was once fooled by those claims. It is so simple now. Eat healthy, real food and you will not only look better but FEEL better, too!

And on to the part you are probably most interested in…

I’m happy to announce that my goal of leaning out while still holding my own was reached! I lost some fat and gained some muscle!

The Whole30 confirmed my suspicions that the headaches and all around cruddy feeling I have been experiencing so often is definitely related to food. The entire month I did not experience any of those awful feelings I have grown so used to!

Though it took a while for things to level out, I got some long-awaited relief from digestive problems. I finally realized that feeling like a blimp after I eat is NOT a normal feeling.

Before the Whole30, sometimes I felt like I was wearing down. I always had some sort of ache here or pain there. Even though I worked out harder than ever I forgot about my usually achy knees and feet.

Unfortunately, the reintroduction did not go as planned. I knew that it would be hard with my first “day off” being Easter weekend. I kept it paleo for the most part, with the exception of a slice of cheese and settled for a gluten-free cider when all I really wanted was a beer.

And I was instantly reminded why I did the Whole30 in the first place. I felt awful. I immediately got a headache from the sugar and my stomach hurt, too.

Then my almost-90-legally-blind amazing grandmother made her peach cobbler for Easter…well, there was no way I was passing that up. This woman makes the most delicious and beautiful peach cobbler I have ever seen.

Grandma's Peach Cobbler

Grandma’s Peach Cobbler

Even though I did not make it through the proper reintroduction phase, I think I did pretty good by not binging on anything and everything in sight. I had a few treats that I consciously decided to eat. I was not too strict, but I was not too laxed, either. Even so, I started experiencing ALL the symptoms I mentioned earlier that had improved while I was on the Whole30. Well, there’s that reinforcement I was looking for!!  Although I don’t know WHAT specifically makes me feel sick, I know that eating like a cavegirl is the right choice for me.

Have I inspired you to give it a try? How did your Whole30 reintro go? Let me know in the comments section!

Coming up next week I’ll share my favorite new food find since starting the Whole30 AND I am going to give one lucky reader a freebie to try!

Chicken “Alfredo” with spaghetti squash

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Since going Paleo in January I’ve been thinking about which foods I am going to miss the most. I expected that I would feel that way about garlic bread and pasta, but the truth is I haven’t missed it a bit. Olive Garden commercials were still driving me a little crazy at the mention of Alfredo sauce. It’s that sad, sad feeling when you realize how unhealthy the things that you love the most are.  So, with a little inspiration from Pinterest I managed to come up with not only a Paleo recipe, but also one that is Whole30 approved 🙂

Chicken "Alfredo"

Chicken “Alfredo”

Chicken “Alfredo” with Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • 4 cups bone broth (reserve one cup for blender)
  • 2- 16 oz. bags of frozen cauliflower
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • shredded chicken, or other protein of choice
  • fresh spinach for serving
  • roasted spaghetti squash, threaded

Make it

  • Boil the cauliflower in the broth until very tender.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool so it can be added to the blender.
  • Meanwhile, add the coconut milk to a medium saucepan and put on the lowest setting to bring up to temperature.
  • Saute garlic in a small skillet in coconut oil, until fragrant. Season with a little S & P.
  • Use a measuring cup to scoop up 1 cup of broth.
  • When ready, fill the blender 3/4 full with cauliflower and blend together. When you have more room continue adding the cauliflower until it is all gone. Add broth as needed to get the cauliflower to puree and to reach the desired consistency.
  • Add seasonings and garlic in oil, and continue to blend together. You want the mixture to be very smooth. Taste to make sure it is not gritty. This should take several minutes.
  • Finally, add the mixture to the coconut milk in the saucepan slowly, stirring often to combine. Check your consistency at this point and add more broth if needed.
  • To serve, I placed fresh spinach in the bottom of a bowl, added warm spaghetti squash, a handful of shredded chicken, and then topped with the sauce.

I love this recipe because once you learn how to make the Alfredo sauce you can make it all the time without getting bored by varying the meat and vegetables. The sauce reheated well, too. I expected to need to add some water to it the next day but the tiny bit of moisture in the veggies helped everything mix together well!

What Goes Up Must Come Down: Whole30 Week4 Recap

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I am closing in on the end! Tomorrow will be the “30” in my Whole30! It makes me so happy to know that I have had this incredible experience that not only was great for my body, but will also lead to some serious changes in my eating habits and how I think of food.

I have to admit that there have been times (especially in this last week) that I have just been ready to get it over with. Not so I can binge, but so I can make healthy choices on my own without the added pressure of doing a Whole30.

Life and good food happens.

Cavegirls top their burgers with more protein.

Cavegirls top their burgers with more protein.

I’m ready to be able to join back in! Over the last few days I have felt a little overwhelmed with all of the Easter candy in stores and yummy recipes popping up on Pinterest. Everything I learned does not go out the window after this week. I want to be armed and ready on Easter Sunday to make health choices and to resist the cravings that have built up over the past month.

That’s why this post is about a few of the realizations I had on Whole30…I need to remind myself why I am doing this in the first place so I can stay on track the other 335 days of the year. I even plan on re-reading ISWF this weekend so I don’t miss a thing.

This experience taught me that my pre-Whole30″healthy” diet I had been following is not really that healthy. Here is how I know:

  • Before the W30, I ate whole grains, plain Greek yogurt, and exercised fairly regularly so I thought I was making good choices. So good, in fact, that I let my otherwise healthy diet justify the rest of the junk I was eating. The truth is, you can not out exercise poor food choices, nor can you counter-act the effects of that double fudge brownie after dinner by eating your veggies.
  • I realize now that the franken-foods trained my body to crave certain foods at specific times or situations. I know now that my food-situation associations led to bad eating habits. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a craving is your body’s way of telling you that you need something for its “nutrition.” This is a nasty cycle: eat junk –>crave junk –> develop bad habits –> feel guilty and stressed for giving in –> eat even more junk.
  • Before this month, I had headaches almost daily and felt dizzy and disoriented several times a week. I always felt like it was something nutrition-related. Advil never helped, so I thought maybe it was a caffeine headache but I still felt fuzzy. Then I thought maybe I have low blood sugar and tried a sweet snack. I even went to the doctor and she determined it was probably low sodium levels…so I kept Gatorade and pretzels in my desk. Despite “self-medicating” with salty  processed foods, sugary candy bars, and soda I still felt bad almost daily. After reading ISWF, I started realizing the awful things I was doing to my body when all I wanted was some relief! No wonder I continued to feel so bad!
  • I learned that reaching for sugar, salt, or fatty foods when stressed out is an automatic response. It was my only known solution to feeling crappy physically, so I used it as my fix when I was just stressed or bummed out, too. What about when a day hits that I am stressed out AND already feel fuzzy-headed? You guessed it. An all day snack fest on sweets! I certainly had a bad habit of “treating” myself to something sweet when I was sick or in a bad mood because I “deserved” it.  But, NO! My body deserves REAL food!
  • My sweet tooth came with some serious consequences that I did not even realize until reading ISWF. I grew up eating a snack after dinner almost nightly. I grew accustomed to this and my body has come to expect and look forward to it. ISWF showed me a nasty pattern that was going on. When I crave sweets at night I try hard to resist, but I usually end up giving in shortly before bed. Eating sugar that late spiked my blood sugar and of course what goes up must come down. And then comes the rather inconvenient side effect of ravenous hunger at 3:00am, so then my stomach talks all night and keep me up. No surprise that I am dragging the whole next morning. And the next night? Despite feeling exhausted, I toss and turn all night. And how do you think I used to cope with feeling draggy the next day? You guessed it. Diet coke and chocolate!

These revelations alone make the experience more than worthwhile. I can’t wait to share all of the other successes of my experience with you!

I am definitely in my eating and workout groove by Week 4. Morning gym sessions are becoming regular for me and food planning and prep takes a lot less time now that I know what I am doing. Some recipes this week were no-brainer repeats from earlier in the month and others were more experimental.

The warm weather last weekend made it a perfect grilling day, so I had a lot less prep to do on my own. The hubs grilled the most amazing steak I have ever had (I devoured it before I thought to snap a pic…maybe it is for the best because you would be super-jealous.) There’s no recipe to share, I would have to loan you my husband and that is not happenin’!

Chicken "Alfredo"

Chicken “Alfredo”

I did create an awesome grilling seasoning that I threw on beef burgers, chicken burgers, and chicken breast. I have been eating this meat paired with veggies all week as part of meals and workout snacks. I also happily repeated the Salmon Croquette recipe from a fellow Badass Babe. I also got inspired by a couple pins I saw over the weekend…added a little paleo goodness…took out some nonsense….and came up with a new Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole and  Chicken “Alfredo”.

Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole

Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole

That one even fooled the hubs! I’m super-excited to share this one with you so check back this weekend for the recipe!

Cabbage Roll Soup with Cauliflower Rice…and a bonus recipe!

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Halupki. Piggies in a blanket. Stuffed cabbage.

My grandmother often makes Polish dishes and halupki has always been one of my favorites. Rice is out of my diet since going Paleo earlier this year and during the Whole30 this month I needed something quicker to make for dinner one night. I adapted the recipe to make it Whole30 compliant and save time by not having to boil cabbage leaves and roll up. This recipe was soogood!

I make it in my cast iron purple enamel coated Dutch oven that is so beautiful I leave it out on the counter all the time. Just don’t make the same mistake I did and forget that there is food in it come clean up time. I’m so sad to report that I accidently left this dish out ALL WEEKEND while we were away on a dive trip. We only had one serving each but I will definitely make it again soon..next time, skillet style!

Cabbage Roll Soup

Cabbage Roll Soup with Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP EVOO
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • S & P
  • 1 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-28 oz. can plain diced tomatoes
  • 1 qt. bone broth, plus more if desired
  • ½ head cabbage, sliced into strips
  • 1 ½ cups cauliflower “riced” or shredded

Make it:

  • Heat EVOO over medium high head in a Dutch oven or stockpot.
  • Add ground turkey and onion, break up meat and season with salt and pepper.
  • When it is about halfway through, add the garlic, seasonings, carrots, and celery. (Note, you can also hold off on adding the seasonings and garlic and drain the oil at this point). Sautee a few minutes until incorporated.
  • Add a can of diced tomatoes and bone broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add cabbage and continue simmering until its reached the tenderness that you like…I did mine for about 15 minutes more. Add cauliflower rice about 5 minutes before you want to serve and remove from heat.
  • *Note-depending on how liquidy you like your soup, you could add more broth and a TBSP of tomato paste to keep from watering down the tomato flavor.

Bonus two-fer!! Nix the broth…and voila! You have a delicious skillet meal: unstuffed cabbage rolls!

Camping with the Whole30 and the Snack Attack Continues…Week 3 Recap

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Whew, what a week! I don’t know about you, but mine flew by! The hubs and I went on a last minute camping/dive trip over the weekend and we have been recovering from our jam-packed weekend ever since!

dive trip

I’m happy to report that this week things started leveling out. I feel pretty normal. No weird food dreams, no headaches, no icky stomach problems. I’m starting to feel like this is how things are SUPPOSED to be. I even forget that I am doing something different...it’s starting to come naturally. I’m realizing that I can no longer pass off all those afternoon headaches and digestive problems to other reasons. This revelation lead to one happy camper! LITERALLY! All weekend I couldn’t help but think about how sick I felt on the last camping trip…but this one, I felt like myself again! I’m sleeping deeper AND I have more energy during the day. I pushed myself to mix up my routine by trying new exercises and lifting heavier weights.

The proof? I had the stamina to last through a 90-minute Kangoo Jumps session with Badass Fitness and then hop right in the car for a weekend dive trip. I’ve been getting up at 5:00 am this week to weight train at the gym…something I have never been able to motivate myself to do on my own.

kangoo

I got into my groove in the kitchen this week, too. Planning a W30-compliant weekend of camping meals was a challenge but I think I got it right. It took two coolers, but here’s what I packed:

  • For lunch I ate a yummy chicken salad with raisins, pineapple, and carrots over spinach (recently featured on the Badass Fitness blog…check it out!)
  • Dinner I splurged and bought W30-compliant hot dogs, since I had not had much processed meat this month I felt it was ok. I paired it up with W30 compliant pickles, sauerkraut, and baked a sweet potato in the coals of the fire.
  • Although I found plenty of ideas of things to roast over the fire in place of s’mores, I passed since paleo-fying junk food is a no-no.
  • W-30 muffins (watch out for baking powder!) and hard boiled eggs made for an easy, on-the-go breakfast.
  • Some fruit, avocado, and home-made coconut carrot bars served as pre-dive snacks
Pre-dive snack! We forgot to bring a knife, so my dive knife came in handy!

Pre-dive snack! We forgot to bring a knife, so my dive knife came in handy!

My only mistake was that I included too much fruit and other naturally sweet things. I struggled with the sugar monster for the rest of the week because of this. I stayed away from dates–something I realize is a pure sugar-bomb and should only be used as an ingredient, not a snack.

The rest of the week we enjoyed cabbage roll soup with cauliflower rice, baked flounder, chicken curry (thanks, ISWF), two varieties of tuna salad for lunch, and my favorite breakfast so far– “baked” apples, breakfast sausage, and spaghetti squash.

whole30 meals week 3

The downside of the week is that I still snacked! The W30 transformed me from a grazer who eats snacks and meals based on the clock, rather than hunger, to a cavegirl who stores large amounts of food in her belly for 5 hours between meals. My morning and late night snacking is done for, but the afternoon has been more difficult. I usually end up thinking about what I can grab a tiny bite of at home before I even leave work. Then I don’t even close the fridge door before I have bites two and three. This leads to a snack attack all the way up until dinner…I nibble on fruit and veggies while I am cooking. This has gotten worse since I have no need for a pre and post work snack most evenings anymore.

Before you say, “THAT is your biggest problem?!” Hear me out.

I agree I could be doing worse things than eating a handful of grape tomatoes, but it is not just about what I eat, as why I am eating it. ISWF has opened my eyes to what is going on behind our eating habits and here’s what I think is happening:

The frankenfood I have been eating all my life has shaped my eating habits. The artificial flavors and processed CRAP that I am used to is often saltier and sweeter than what is found in real food. These tastes trigger seemingly never-ending cravings that make you think you want more and more. The habit of eating handful after handful of frankenfood has been so hard to kick that it leads me to think that I cannot have just one bite of something. Sure, it is not too dangerous on the Whole30 (although snacking is technically against the rules, no matter what it is) when I’m eating uber-healthy foods. But what about when I am done and Neolithic foods start sneaking their way back into my kitchen? Now is the time to break through this habit! I am confident that I will succeed even if it takes a round 2!

Coming up: a recipe for Cabbage Roll Soup with Cauliflower Rice and more on my lessons learned from the Whole30 as I head into my final week!

Southwest Style Eggs-Two Ways

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southwest eggs

Please excuse my Styrofoam plate… :/

Breakfast has been the most difficult part of the Whole30 for me in terms of recipe ideas. I’ve long been a fan of scrambled eggs, but since starting the Whole30 and eating eggs every morning and pre-workout my first week, I got tired of them quickly.

That is, until my BFF mentioned pairing salsa with her eggs and I concocted this little dish. This is the only egg dish that I can’t get enough of! I made it during my prep week as a frittata and again in week two as a single-serving egg scramble.

Southwest Frittata

  • 9 eggs, beaten and seasoned with S & P
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 BIG handfuls of fresh spinach (ya like my measurin’ technique?)
  • 1-2 cups of cooked protein of your choice, such as ground beef/turkey or shredded chicken (It is really just as good without so I only add this if I have leftovers)
  • S&P
  • red pepper flakes
  • salsa to serve
  • avocado slices to serve

Make it:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In an oven-safe skillet, melt coconut oil over med-high heat. Saute garlic and onion until soft, lower heat to medium, and then start adding the spinach, a little at a time until it is wilted.
  • Add meat or poultry, if desired. Season up with more S & P and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Spread mixture evenly across pan and pour in eggs. Scramble for about two minutes.
  • Let cook about 30 seconds more until the bottom is set and there is only uncooked egg on the top portion.
  • Transfer to oven and cook for about 12-15 minutes until set. There may be a tad bit in the middle that still looks a little liquidy.
  • Remove from oven, as carry over cooking will occur on counter.
  • This is the part that really makes the dish! When ready to eat, top your portion with salsa (I like to use Pace) and 1/2 an avocado. The salsa fresh out of the fridge cools down the hot eggs just enough to eat in a pinch for breakfast! The fresh, cool flavor of the avocado gives great balance to the spicy flavor.

Southwest Egg Scramble

  • 2-3 eggs, whisked & seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp EVOO or coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1 palm sized portion of shredded chicken, or other leftover protein of your choice
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • S&P
  • red pepper flakes
  • Salsa
  • 1/2 avocado

Make it:

  • Preheat oil in a small, non-stick skillet over med-high heat.
  • Add garlic, spinach, S&P, cover and let spinach wilt, stirring around occasionally.
  • Lower heat to medium. Add chicken and green onion, stir to combine.
  • Pour eggs over mixture, season with more S&P and a tiny amount of red pepper flakes if desired.
  • Scramble eggs and cover if needed to allow the steam to finish off the eggs.
  • Top with salsa and avocado.

Of course, you can add diced tomatoes and peppers to both dishes but I think for a quick and dirty breakfast dish, the salsa suits just fine! Either way, this filling dish is perfect for any time of day and gives you your protein, eggs, and fat!

Enjoy!

The Rise of the Sugar Monster (Whole30 Week 2 Recap)

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Wow, already half-way there! During my latest week on the Whole30 I experienced two sets of feelings:

 

“This is FANTASTIC! I am going to eat this way forever!” and “I wish it were March 31st already…I really want some chocolate!”

 

Here’s how it went:

The weekend was a challenge. I dodged a bullet Friday night at a dinner party with family– everything was compliant! I only had to bring along my own salad dressing, some coconut butter, and a homemade lemon-coconut “Larabar” to have a sweet ending to dinner while everyone else had birthday cake. I spent the rest of the weekend with my mama, armed with a bag full of groceries to ensure W30-compliant meals all weekend long…

I made it through a weekend of meals away from the comfort of my paleo kitchen but, boredom inevitably struck and I still had trouble with SNACKING!

So, what! It’s just grapes and homemade Larabars!

On the Whole30, that point is moot. It’s not only about what you put in your body, but why. It is about the principle of eating mindlessly…when I am not even hungry, just for the sake of eating. When boredom hit over the weekend, I grabbed a handful of grapes…over and over. It reminded me that eating is for nourishment, not to pass the time. Simply craving flavor does not mean I am hungry or need to eat! All the sugar (even though it is natural from fruit, it still takes its toll!) brought out my SUGAR MONSTER! I experienced some BAD cravings. Seriously, bad. When I went to Sam’s Club later that weekend…I could have sworn that the giant tub of jelly beans SPOKE to me. I’m not kidding.

So, I did what I do best and I fought back with a new game plan for the rest of the week. I had an even bigger prep day than last week: I roasted pan after pan of veggies, including my favorite kale and roasted butternut squash sautee. The star players this week included a one-pan dinner of baked tilapia and veggies, homemade chicken sausage patties, grilled chicken, and pot roast. I also made salmon croquettes (a recipe from a fellow Badass Babe and fellow Whole30er), paired with tomato soup. They blew my old recipe out of the water! (This is where the “I could eat like this forever” feeling comes in!). After a break from eggs for breakfast for the few days I actually missed them and made use of leftovers in a Southwest egg-scramble (sort of a single serve version of my Southwest Frittata).

Just a glimpse at my main meals one day this week. (Note: My pre/post work food is not pictured here!)

Just a glimpse at my main meals one day this week. (Note: My pre/post work food is not pictured here!)

How did this all translate to the gym?

Still feeling slugglish, I gave myself the weekend off to rest with the hope that some extra sleep was what I needed. Whole30 + daylight savings time = crappy sleep patterns!

Monday morning bootcamp came around quick  and AMRAP 180 degree burpees at 6am just made me like I was even more off my game! My legs felt so heavy and uncoordinated but I still managed to give it my all, especially on the rip trainer! I love starting my Mondays with bootcamp…it is so important to start the week off on the right track! Gym time with the hubs on Tuesday was successful as he always pushes me to try new things. I realized I can manage push-ups and dips without the weight assist (although it is not many) so that got me feeling like things were starting to pick back up for me. Progress is still being made! I felt like I was finally getting after it in my workouts the rest of the week.

I’m feeling significantly less hungry in between meals, with the hunger pangs kicking in only an hour or so before it is time to eat (this is a big improvement). Five hours in between meals seems to be working well for me. I’m still playing around with my portion sizes…but I have experienced no bedtime hunger! YAY!! Speaking of bedtime, I am having more food dreams…but this time I dream that I intentionally have non-compliant dishes, like mac-n-cheese, and kept it a secret from everyone. I wake-up feeling really awful for lying until I remember that I didn’t really mess up! I promise I would tell you if I did!

My energy seems to be picking up and I feel more chipper! Overall I am still patiently waiting for the Tiger’s Blood to kick in and for some relief to my digestive problems. But even this early I know that every time I sit down for a meal I am doing something GOOD for my body and that is a great feeling! I am treating it with the respect it deserves!

Any thoughts on week 2? I’d love to hear what your experience was like! And don’t worry, I will continue to post a recipe or two a week. Some of them I am still perfecting for you! Next up, I’ll share how I made the Southwest Eggs-Two Ways!

Chicken Stir-fry with Cauliflower Fried Rice

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Photo Mar 03, 10 14 14 AM

Growing up, we did a lot of stir-fries for dinner. But, after getting married and eating on the go more, I forgot how easy they are to make at home. For my first week of Whole30 dishes, I bought a lot of meat and veggies but did not really know what I was going to do with them at the time. A stir-fry was the perfect solution and it had me looking forward to lunch every day I brought it to work! I took a tip from the Badass Fitness CEO and used cauliflower to make rice. Coconut aminos served as my sauce and oh my goodness it is sooo good! I won’t ever go back to soy sauce! I don’t usually follow or write down my recipes for stir-fries, but in case you are wondering how this works on the Whole30 here’s what I did. Don’t be afraid to play around with the spices or swap out the chicken and veggies for others!

Chicken Stir-fry with Cauliflower Fried Rice:

Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. B/S chicken tenders
    • 4 TBSP coconut oil, divided
    • Blackened seasoning
    • fresh garlic, minced
    • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 package of fresh stir fry veggies (such as broccoli, snow peas, and shredded carrots and broccoli stalks)
    • 4 TBSP coconut aminos, divided
    • 1 head of cauliflower, grated (see link above for more info)
    • ground ginger
    • crushed red pepper flakes
    • S&P

Instructions:

    • Heat 2 TBSP of coconut oil over med-hi heat in a wok or LARGE skillet with high sides and lid. Season chicken with blackened seasoning on both sides. Cook chicken tenders 2 mins. on each side, or until golden. Lower heat to medium, cover and allow them to cook through. When done, transfer to a plate and let rest.
    • Meanwhile, add the rest of the coconut oil to the pan and bring heat back up to med-hi. Add the garlic and onion, season with S&P. Allow it to just start to brown, the grated cauliflower and 2 TBSP coconut aminos. Allow to mix well while stir-frying. Add the veggies, toss, cover, and let steam until they are crisp-tender and a vibrant green. Add more S&P if needed.
    • While the veggies are finishing, cut the chicken into bite size chunks. Finally, add the chicken back to the pan to heat back up and get their final seasoning with the last of the coconut aminos and a light dusting of ground ginger! I also like to add crushed red pepper flakes for a little spice! Enjoy!
    • *Note: Don’t let the extra set of grating the cauliflower scare you! It actually grates really easily and in a stir-fry with other veggies, you can even throw the nubs of stalk in there too! You can even cook the cauliflower separately if you want to make a bigger batch and don’t have enough room to mix everything up in your skillet.

Whole30 Week 1 Recap

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Today officially marks the beginning of week two…which means that I survived the first week of the Whole30! Luckily, the program is very transparent about what to expect on the Whole30. They have this handy dandy timeline that sums up what Whole30ers might go through:

I started eating pretty clean at the beginning of the year, drastically reducing sugar, cutting out gluten, my beloved Diet Coke, and such. Last week, I had a head start and without even realizing it I went through some of the sucky side effects that week. Maybe I Jedi-mind-tricked myself and since I was not expecting the symptoms I did not really think much of them. I get headaches often as it is and go through moods (hey, doesn’t everyone?) so I just chalked it up to my normal, stressed-out self. I didn’t think much of all the nights I tossed and turned in bed. Consequently, my first official week only included some weird cravings, dreams, and insatiable hunger.

  • Day 1: I felt really nervous about preparing enough food. I was running late to an all day meeting so I did not have time to eat a big enough breakfast…that’s why it is so awesome to go through this experience with your best friend, who just so happens to be just down the hall at work…. 🙂 She had an orange waiting for me on my break from the meeting. I was determined not to need it, as the idea of snacking on the Whole30 scared me (I am a BIG snacker…I really want to cut that habit). I made it through the morning with just some Rooibos tea at the time of my usual mid-morning snack. Lunch couldn’t come quick enough, though. Dinner-ditto. I ate leftovers from my prep week: Southwest Frittata, Chicken Salad over greens made with paleo mayo from ISWF. I felt kind of bummed that I did not start my first day off fantastically, but tackling the Balsamic-Glazed London Broil for dinner helped see the bright side! And then….I layed in bed, and my stomach started growling. I ate a HUGE dinner and I was still hungry. This was tolerable during the day when I knew I had an hour or two to go until my next meal…but right before bed? And I have to wait until the next MORNING to eat? Ayi yi yi…
  • Day 2: This was hard. I had a BBQ to go to at my brother’s house. They were bringing my dad’s smoker over and cooking ungodly amounts of meat, glazed and marinated in all kinds of goodness. My tough brudder reserved some chicken breast for me to season myself and I brought sweet potatoes (and my own mix of coconut butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg) along. I ate lunch before going, treated the BBQ as my dinner, and I let myself have a “snack” of the meal I couldn’t finish later that night. The downsides: I missed out on mac-n-cheese, I really wanted to try some Redd’s Apple Ale, and I turned down invites to the Taproom (Me. Dancing. Sober? Nobody wants that.) But the strangest part was that what I wanted the most is something I NEVER really liked: Doritos with french onion dip. I even asked to smell them….not my finest moment….

smoker

  • Day 3 (Prep day): I baked sweet potatoes, roasted butternut squash (with coconut oil-yum!), steamed broccoli, and roasted carrots. This along with a few side salads and a little bit of fruit gave me and my hubby enough sides for every meal the whole week. I also prepared breakfast for the rest of the week and two lunches that would last me all week. For breakfast I ate sweet potato pancakes (recipe to come!), and finished up chicken salad for lunch. London broil again for dinner, but this time I took bigger portions and still felt hungry! I have resisted the urge to snack during the day! I think that this is about when I started having weird dreams. Except, they weren’t about junk food. I dreamed that I bought some asparagus and cooked it. That was it. At least, the food dreams were about vegetables…but still so annoying!
I almost forgot to take the picture!

I almost forgot to take the picture!

  • Day 4: Back to work and class. Here’s the real test, I thought: Bring along enough food to get me through work, class, and my workout. For breakfast I ate a frittata I made on Sunday with spinach, artichokes, and olives (I kept eating this all week and supplemented it with avocado or fruit. It was very tasty but I would not make it again…either the olives or the artichokes made the eggs look gray :/ For lunch I ate a chicken and veggie stir fry with cauliflower rice. This was flavored with coconut aminos and was soo delicious…I will definitely be repeating this with different meats and veggies! I do not miss soy sauce at all! This was one up from my usual lunchtime salad and makes me feel like I could eat this way forever! I over did it on my pre-workout snack. I had some protein and a handful of almonds to fuel my workout, but then I got the idea to eat a few dates with some more almonds. I felt a sugar rush right away and payed for it on the treadmill…I felt really sick. Dinner was a splurge: I concocted a “deconstructed, unfried coconut shrimp” and the hubs grilled some lobster. I guess to finish off this decadent dinner, the hubs felt like it was a good time to have ice cream. He must have forgotten I was on the W30 because he said, “So do you want to scoop the ice cream?” I snapped. I didn’t even really WANT ice cream. I just didn’t like that he could have it and I couldn’t. Boo.

 Photo Mar 03, 10 14 14 AMPhoto Mar 04, 8 35 40 PM

  • Day 5: Breakfast and lunch was a repeat. It seems to be working pretty good, I just keep adjusting my portion sizes according to how hungry I feel an hour or two later. Even though I was not hungry, I ate a few figs and the dates with almonds again. I am definitely trying to satisfy my sugar craving. I got a headache after eating them! I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll save the dried fruit for my homemade snack bars next month! Dinner time was satisfying: carmalized Italian pork chops with onion jam with some veggies. I started feeling less and less hungry after dinner each day…maybe I am finally starting to become fat adapted.
  • Day 6: Same breakfast, and yes it is getting old. I am tired of eggs 😦 I’m already dreaming of what I can make for breakfast next week! Speaking of dreams, I also dreamed that I went out and bought a coffee pot and made some coffee…that was it again. I honestly think I just wanted the paleo creamer for sweetness! Lunchtime I started on my other make ahead meal: spaghetti squash with meat sauce and a side salad…very yummy! Comfort food on a chilly day for sure! Some mid-morning and mid-afternoon tea is replacing my habit of snacking at work. But I started grabbing chunks of pineapple and cantaloupe before dinner even though I wasn’t hungry…am I still looking for sugar? Dinner was a repeat and it was still awesome! But, I’ve noticed I am back to my old habit of snacking while I prepare dinner. Sure, it was just on butternut squash and grape tomatoes…but it is the habit I am worried about.
  • Day 7: On my way to work I was craving some coffee and “creamer.” I figured I could use the caffeine anyways, so I packed some coconut milk and stopped by Starbucks for black coffee. I knew I was looking for sweetness again, and I didn’t get it. Instead, I felt SUPER jittery and fuzzy-headed most of the day. Maybe my body comp changes are making me less tolerable to caffeine. I think I’ll stay away for now and just drink my tea. Frittata again for breakfast with a banana and I enjoyed more “spaghetti” for lunch. I was so busy at work I did not even need my tea to combat cravings. After I got home to get changed for my workout, I ate a snack, but still felt really hungry (ugh, here we go again! I promise I am eating a ton!) The chicken in the crock-pot was calling my name, but I grabbed a handful of almonds and headed to the gym. Dinner was a success! Thanks to my BFF for suggesting the crock pot chicken for tonight! It was sooo moist and tender.

Photo Mar 07, 7 46 20 PM

I was raised on a meat and 3 (thanks, Dad)–I kept this principle and felt obligated to make one of the sides with dinner a carb-dense veggie. It worked well since most evenings I ate dinner after a workout and need the carbs, especially to curb hunger until the AM.

I ate a small bit of protein (this week it was leftover smoked chicken breast) and fat (either 1/2 an avocado or handful of olives or almonds) before EVERY workout.

Post-work bonus meals were trickier. Sometimes I ate a small bit of protein and carb-dense veg and sometimes I held out for dinner. Getting done with a workout at 7:00, eating a bonus meal then waiting an hour puts dinner back to like 9:00….and I go to bed an hour later.

Not. Gonna. Fly.

I think some of my ravenous hunger after dinner was due to missing the post workout bonus meal. I’m still fine tuning this part…so hopefully next week I will see some improvement on that! Speaking of the gym, my workouts felt pretty normal most of the week. I even pushed myself more at the gym to the point where I was pretty sore on Day 6 so I decided to take a rest day rather than go to Hot Power Core. On Day 7 however, I felt like a lost my mojo a bit. Not sure if it was because I was feeling off most of the day because of the coffee fiasco, or maybe I am in the sluggish period. Either way I am optimistic! I am loving the food I’m eating and can’t wait to see what next week brings!

Well, that is week one! I will be posting some “recipes” or tips for the meals I made up along the way so watch out! Let me know if you have any questions or comments; I’d love to hear how your experience compares to mine!