Thursday, March 20, 2014

Whole30 Challenge: Half-Way There!

Yesterday was day 15 of my Whole30 Challenge. I was feeling pretty good about it all until around 10 or 11am. Then I got a terrible headache that lasted all day and most of the night. I have no idea what set it off (I don't think it was anything I ate). But I was pretty much miserable all day. Other than that though, I think things have been going pretty well.

Chris and I did make "dessert" the other night which consisted of a banana and one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder mixed up in the food processor then chilled. It was delicious. Technically on the Whole30 you're not supposed to have "dessert" but I'm PMS-ing and wanted chocolate (really the first very strong craving that I've had so far). 

Again, I haven't noticed any drastic changes, but I'm optimistic (maybe that's the drastic change!). I have noticed that I'm starting to sleep better and I seem to have more energy in the mornings and throughout the day. Still not quite enough when combined with cooking at night but I think I will get there eventually. 

I haven't noticed a significant change in my asthma or allergies. I'm still taking my allergy medicine almost daily. That's kind of disappointing, but I'm still holding out hope that it will get better toward the end. 

Aside from all that, I really do feel pretty good overall. I've enjoyed almost all the foods/meals I've been eating (some weren't great, but could probably be improved with some more seasoning). If this continues to go well (or if I feel like the extra time might help improve my allergies and asthma) I might stretch it out to the end of Lent. Maybe even beyond that. 

I know I definitely don't want to go back to eating all the fast food and junk I was eating before. And I do want to experiment with certain foods when this is over to find out what I'm truly sensitive to so I know what I should avoid on a daily basis and what might be ok for me to have daily or just occasionally. (I'm really hoping I can have cheese and Greek yogurt again!)

We made beef stew the other night with carrots and sweet potatoes. I've never been a big fan of stew, but this one was pretty good!

I am starting to get slightly bored with what we've been eating lately, even though we've only repeated a couple meals so far. I'm getting extremely bored with my standard breakfast of a hard-boiled egg and a banana. I found a recipe for an egg, sausage and sweet potato casserole that sounds amazing, so I think I'll try making that soon so I can have the leftovers for breakfast. 

Chris will be out of town most of next week for work (lucky duck gets to go to California). And while I'm slightly upset that he gets to go enjoy nice weather and I'm stuck here taking care of the pets and whatnot (and of course, I'll miss him), I'm trying to look on the bright side of things: I get to make whatever I want and buy whatever groceries I want because he won't be here! :p I'll probably be eating a lot of variations on eggs...those are the easiest things for me to make when it's just me. 

In other news, Chris and I went to our first Blues game together Monday night for St. Patrick's Day! 

The first two periods were pretty slow, but the third period was awesome. It turned out to be a really great game and we had a good time! :)

It's almost the weekend! Who's excited?! My sister is celebrating her birthday this weekend--complete with lots of food and alcohol that I can't have! It should be fun though. 

Have a great one! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Whole30 Challenge: Week 1 Complete

Week 1 is in the books!

It has not been quite as difficult as I expected. I don't feel deprived or starved. Everything we have eaten has been surprisingly delicious (even the stuff we thought we wouldn't like!). I eat until I'm full. And although I always knew that I got "hungry"/ate when I was bored, I now understand that it's really just boredom and I'm not truly hungry.

I think the biggest obstacle of this challenge (for me anyway) is just getting used to cooking almost every single night. We generally planned our meals in advance before starting this challenge, so it wasn't a problem to do that again. Adjusting to cooking every single night has been tough though. I don't enjoy cooking (although I am quite proud of the things I've made recently) and having a tiny kitchen with zero counter space doesn't really help that.

I haven't noticed any significant changes yet. I have gotten myself down to taking my allergy medicine about once every other day instead of every day. Unfortunately, I feel like I still need my inhaler quite a bit. I think my asthma and allergies (at least the past few days) is probably more caused by the weather changes than anything I'm eating though. On the day it got up to almost 80, Chris was off work, so he moved some furniture around and painted our bedroom (sorry, no pics yet). I think the combination of having the windows open, the ceiling fan on, and all the dust that got stirred up is what's really been causing me problems.

I do think I'm sleeping a little better. I've only had one night where I didn't get much sleep. Other than that, I've been getting close to 8 hours and sleeping almost the whole night. I have been having some crazy dreams lately though, so I'm not sure what that's about.

I haven't been working out, which sucks. But, for the past week or so, I haven't really had the energy or time for it. I'm planning on getting at least two or three meals made on Sunday so that I've got two or three days that I can go for a run or work out after work rather than coming straight home and starting to cook almost immediately. My legs have been killing me lately and I think it's just from sitting so much. I need to get active again.

So far, I'm enjoying the Whole30 challenge. Like I said, I don't feel starved or deprived. Sure, I occasionally wish I could have regular food, but the meals I've been eating for the past week have been pretty delicious. Chris and my family have been very accommodating. We had dinner with my parents on Sunday night and they altered a few things so that I'd have something to eat. And it was delicious! We had ribs, roasted broccoli and asparagus, and spicy sweet potatoes (which everyone liked, but thought were maybe a little too spicy).

A couple nights this week as a "treat" I made myself and Chris some frozen banana "ice cream." All it is is frozen bananas chopped up and tossed in the food processor (Chris put some chocolate syrup on his). No, it doesn't taste exactly like ice cream. But it is pretty darn good.

The other night we had Zucchini Soup. We were both pretty skeptical about it, but it turned out to be delicious! You can find the recipe here:

Sorry my posts lately have been kind of sporadic. Like I said, it's been hard trying to adjust to cooking every night on top of work and my part time job. Hopefully with enough meal prep this Sunday, I'll have a little more time next week!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Whole30 Challenge: Days 1 & 2 + A Couple Recipes

So as of this writing, I'm on my second day of this challenge and pretty much feel normal. I did break out in hives (not sure if it can really be called that, but I'm going with it) again today and since I had the same thing for breakfast today as I did yesterday and the same thing for lunch as I had for dinner last night, I'm thinking it's not the food. At least not food I've eaten recently. I have no idea how long food can affect you (it could be from something non-Whole30 I ate Tuesday night). But I took some allergy medicine anyway because I don't want to lose sleep constantly itching all over.

Other than that, this has been good so far. I sort of started this on Monday night with an incredibly delicious dinner I made. I made roasted chicken thighs, roasted spicy sweet potatoes, and green beans. Chris had seconds so it must have been good!

Seriously, delicious. I've never loved green beans and sweet
potatoes so much in my life. 

I've never actually liked sweet potatoes (and Chris said neither did he), and I've never been a big fan of green beans (especially frozen or canned). So this dinner was a whole lot of experimentation to see what we'd like. Surprisingly, we liked it all.

I've already been asked for the recipes for the spicy sweet potatoes and the green beans. If you want to read the official recipes and instructions, you can click on those links. Here are my versions: 

Roasted Spicy Sweet Potatoes
2 medium-sized potatoes (mine were slightly larger, and by that I mean they were huge)
2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil (light-tasting, not EVOO)
2 tsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper (I did about 1 1/2 tsp. and they were definitely spicy)

Preheat oven to 375
Wash and cut your potatoes into even pieces (mine weren't even--oh well)
Put the cut pieces into a big bowl
Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and then add your other ingredients. Stir to coat (add more olive oil if they aren't getting coated)
Place potatoes on greased baking sheet
Bake for about 40 minutes, flip with a spatula after 20-30 minutes (we sort of flipped these the best we could and I can't remember exactly how long they were in the oven for)
When done, the edges should be golden-brown and should be crispy with a soft, buttery interior

Sautéed Green Beans
1 tbsp. butter softened (I used clarified butter)
1 tbsp. garlic ( I used garlic powder I think)
1 tsp. thyme (I used ground thyme)
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt/black pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
Fresh lemon juice (I used about half a lemon)

Combine the butter, garlic, and thyme in a small bowl and set aside
Heat the olive oil
Add the beans and salt and pepper
Cook/stir for 4-8 minutes or until the beans are spotty-brown
Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for 2 minutes
Remove the lid and cook until the water has evaporated
Stir in the herb butter and cook 1-3 minutes longer
Toss with lemon juice

I think that was by far the best meal we ate all week (minus the one on Tuesday at my parents' house--that was amazing, but not Whole30). We've also had chili which was ok, but not the best. I think if we want chili in the future we will just modify our regular chili recipe (no beans allowed). 

It has been a challenge trying to balance working again, plus writing for Community News (if you click that link you can read my latest cover stories--yes, there's two!), and cooking. I've been really tired the past few days, but I'm hoping my change in diet helps improve my energy levels soon. 

I know it's only day 2, but have I convinced anyone to give this a try yet? :) If you're thinking about doing a Whole30 Challenge or if you've done one in the past, tell me about it! 

And don't forget to read the book--it really changes how you look at food!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Preparing for the Whole30 Challenge

I spent the weekend preparing for my Whole30 challenge which will officially begin Wednesday (for Lent). But most of my meals prior to that will be Whole30 just because I didn't want to buy a couple days worth of regular food plus all the food for the Whole30.

My preparation started on Saturday with a long day of grocery shopping. I already hate shopping, so having an extra long list of lots of specialty items I needed to find was frustrating. On top of that, everywhere was packed because of the "Big Storm" that was coming Saturday night/Sunday. I hated every second of that shopping trip. But after going to two separate stores, I managed to get all but two or three items on my list, so I decided that was a win.

I decided if I'm really going to commit to this, I need to keep track of everything so I can measure my results. (Whole30 rules dictate that you cannot weigh yourself during the challenge.) So I weighed myself, and although it's definitely not where I want to be, it's not as bad as I thought it would be either. And I'm going to show you a picture of it, just to make sure I'm really, super committed. I'm not making a weight loss goal, but I would like to lose weight. I know that it's not all about the number on the scale, and I want to focus more on how I feel throughout this process and see improvements in my overall health, but I'd like to see the number on the scale go down too. So, here it is:

151.5. Yikes. 

Again, I'm doing my best not to focus on the number and I want to focus on other things like if my allergies and asthma improve during this challenge and what my energy levels are like. I also took measurements so I can see how many inches I lose. And, I took some "before" photos, which I absolutely hate and I don't think I'm quite ready to share them. I'm hoping I'll see some good changes after this challenge is over and I can share my before and after photos at the same time (and I'll feel good enough about my after pics that I won't mind sharing the before pics).

Since I'm doing this Whole30 Challenge for Lent, it will be more like a Whole40. If it is extremely difficult and I don't think I can stick with it beyond the 30 days, I'm not going to push myself too much. I just want to make sure I hit the 30 day mark. I'd like to do it for the full 40 days of Lent though (and obviously carry some of these new healthy-eating habits on beyond that). 

I'm hoping I'll be able to start working out/running more regularly, but so far the weather is not cooperating (I don't mind running when it's cold, but when it's 3 degrees? No thanks). Plus, I started that temp job last week and I'm working 8am-4:30pm there, so I'm trying to figure out a balance between that, fitting in exercise, being home for Copper, cooking every night (yeah, this Whole 30 Challenge pretty much requires cooking every.single.night), and writing for the Community News. I'm sure once the weather warms up I'll be more inclined to find ways to fit exercise in my schedule. 

After I finished all my shopping on Saturday, I cleaned out our pantry and fridge and got rid of all the foods I can't have during this challenge.

Almost two full boxes worth! Our pantry is so much more
organized now though ;)

I probably should have taken a pic of all the food I bought too, but I was so happy to be done with my shopping that I put it all away and forgot about it for a while :)

On Sunday I did a little food prep. And by that, I mean I cut up some veggies. I didn't actually cook anything ahead of time. I might give that a try next week after seeing how the cooking for this week goes. A few of the things we're having this week are: 

Roasted chicken thighs with roasted sweet potatoes and a veggie
Italian Pork Roast
Zucchini Ginger Soup

I'm most excited about the chicken and the chili. 

I plan on keeping a daily journal throughout this challenge so I can keep track of what I'm eating, how I'm feeling, sleeping, how bad my allergies and asthma are, etc. I've never been great at keeping a daily journal, so that will be a challenge as well, but I'm going to do my best! 

Day 1 is tomorrow!