Day 9: Family Dinner Time

I realized after the fact that one of the recipes I had chosen for my meal plan this week involved using some equipment that we don’t own. Oops. So, change of plans. For breakfast prep, I made sweet potato applesauce mash, which was easy to make although time consuming because the sweet potatoes had to roast in the oven for an hour. I also made the applesauce from scratch, because I didn’t trust store bought varieties to not have sugar. The end result tastes like something you’d eat at thanksgiving. I feel like nutmeg and cinnamon have the power to make food remind you of the holidays for some reason. If I wasn’t on Whole30, I would have added just the slightest bit of honey, but honestly, it’s plenty sweet on its own.

I wanted to make dinner for the three of us, and wasn’t totally sure what I was going to make. I figured I’d just start chopping onions and prepping the vegetables we had until something occurred to me. The tomatoes needed to be eaten STAT, so I chopped those too. Wait. Were there enough zucchinis to make more zoodles? Yes! I made a thick sauce with onions, cilantro, garlic, tomatoes, and mushrooms and let it simmer while spiraling the zucchinis. This time I tried cooking the zucchini noodles instead of throwing them in raw. I actually left them a bit too long because I got distracted, and some of them turned black. Crap. But then I tried them and was like… omg… this is actually really good. They didn’t even taste burned, just roasted. In any case, cooking the zoodles really brought out a lot more flavour. Since the “sauce” was really more like a stew, I just threw the zoodles in there too. As I was prepping, I was wondering what to do about a protein source. Last time I made zoodles, we were starving after a couple of hours. I had already had white beans for two or three meals, so I needed something different. I was really disappointed to come home from the supermarket with tofu that I realized (too late) had a sulfate in it, so I can’t eat it. Then I remembered I had frozen organic edamame. Yayy! I put those in a pot to boil, drained them, and put them on top of the whole meal.

My roommate, husband, and I all sat down together at the table to eat dinner for the first time in what feels like forever. I was so happy that we all liked the dish. The edamame was a great addition. Cooking the zucchini noodles also was a great improvement from last time. By the end of the meal, we all felt full. And it was so nice to actually sit down and talk instead of stare at a TV. It’s moments like these that make families, blood related or not 🙂

Shabbat Shalom, everyone!

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Day 8: Dance Dance Dance

So, I’ve mentioned I’m a belly dancer, right?

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Photo by Easy Street Images

I am one week away from participating in my first ever competition.  I’m competing in two categories, as a soloist and as a member of a dance troupe. I am nervous, but also really excited. I’m getting down to the nitty gritty of planning my hair and makeup, I just got my costume fitted, and have plans for a mani pedi spa day to prepare. Oh, and of course, dancing every damn day.

I have a Russian dance teacher, who is very sweet and also has very high Russian dance teacher standards. I know I’ve done well when she doesn’t tell me I’ve made many mistakes. So it means all the more to me for her to tell me that she thinks I have really good chances in this competition, and that I’ve gotten much better.

So what does any of this have to do with Whole30?

Of course, Whole30 really isn’t just about food, it’s about lifestyle. That includes things like stress, sleep, and exercise. Dancing has been my favourite exercise hands down, for so many reasons. Belly dancing has been a huge part of my life for years, and one of my favourite things about it is that I’ve seen dancers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders. Once I realized that no one was asking me to be 90 lbs and that I was actually good at this dance, my self esteem shot through the roof. It would be easy to forget how much exercise it actually is were it not for the fact that I’m kind of a swamp monster and I sweat profusely. I used to do yoga a few times a week too, which I loved dearly. I’ll get back to it when we can spare the extra $100 for the unlimited monthly pass at the place I was going at.

Anyway, I digress. On a more practical level, being in the competition next week means I’m going to have to take some extra food prep precautions. The competition is part of a 4 day long convention, of which I’m going to 3 full days. That means I need to be prepared to pack about 5 meals while I’m there, because I’m almost positive there will be nothing there that I can eat. I also have to make sure the food is substantial enough to get me through multiple hours of dancing every day. Energy snacks may be in order for this one.

I’m open to suggestions, as always! In the meantime, I’ll be over here making faces at myself in the mirror to practice my stage face. Game ON.

Day 7, version 2: First Week Done, Again!

Yesterday was the end of week one since my restart. I happened to have had a doctor’s appointment. I have made several significant changes to my lifestyle since the end of June, and a follow up was in order. Besides starting the VegWhole30, I also got an IUD placed right before the start of the program, and shortly before that, my doctor reduced the dosage of my medication. It’s hard to say which factor is responsible for any changes I’m experiencing, but given that no factor can be experienced in isolation, it doesn’t really matter all that much. The medication change and the IUD are here to stay, so the only variable that is likely to change in the near future is my diet. I’ll keep that in mind if I start experiencing anything new.

Doc was pleased with my report that since our last appointment about a month ago, my head feels clearer and I feel overall better. She had taken me off a medication that was only there to treat the side effect of my first medication. It feels really good to not take pills I don’t need anymore, and to be taking the minimum dose I really need from the other one (which thankfully isn’t enough to give me the side effect that was bothering me!). I still get tired a lot, but I generally have more energy. I could be seeing things, but I think my waist looks more defined. My belly dance teacher says she thinks I’ve lost some weight, but I feel like it’s more that my body constitution is changing a bit. The most significant difference is still that now I pay much more attention to the food I eat. The food I make is a joy again. It’s not “I’m going to half ass my way through making some pasta and call it a meal.” It’s not “I’m hungry and want to eat, but the only thing that’s prepared in the fridge is white rice, so let’s just put some soy sauce on it and call it a day.” It’s actually “I am so excited to dig into this stew I made today!” Last night I made a tasty white bean and sweet potato stew with collard greens, and got 5 portions out of it 🙂 I had one for dinner last night, gave one to my husband to take to work, and packed away 3 more. Slowly but surely the meal prep thing is coming along!

Another shout out is in order to my Whole30 buddy across the country, Samantha. I know I can ask her all the important questions:

Me: ok, can I ask you a gross question though?

Her: your period changing?

Me: … how were your poops? lol

Her: oh

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Everyone deserves a friend like this.

Day 6, version 2: Eating Things I Never Thought I’d Eat (And Liking Them)

I was never a picky eater, but there were two things growing up that I really did not like. Eggs and beets. We’ve talked about my aversion to eggs before. I really did try to like them! Beets never got the benefit of the doubt. In Costa Rica, we have a very popular salad that we call ensalada rusa- “Russian salad”. Just like I really doubt that “Greek salad” is actually called Greek salad in Greece, I have confirmed that “Russian salad” as I knew it is definitely not known as Russian salad in Russia. Ensalada rusa does contain several elements found in a lot of Russian cuisine, such as beets, potatoes, sour cream, and hard boiled eggs. My Russian belly dance teacher tells me the closest thing is Russian “Venigret”.

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(Photo found on Pinterest)

I digress. The fact is, growing up, I couldn’t think of many things more disgusting than Russian salad.

First there’s the Spanish word for beets. Remolacha. It sounds revolting. Ensalada rusa also has the colour of Pepto Bismol, which was in my mind inextricably linked to a very bad time. And of course, the hard boiled eggs didn’t make it any more appealing to me.

It wasn’t until many, many years later, when a friend invited me over for dinner and served a salad with fresh beets, that I realized that my hatred for beets had been misguided. All the beets I had ever had in my life had been canned! I still hate canned beets, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that fresh beets are almost nothing like them.

Fast forward to my Whole30 experience. I’ve eaten more eggs in the past two weeks than I probably ever have in my life. I’ve been very happy to come to the realization that my dislike of eggs is really a dislike of yolks, specifically runny yolks. So instead of cooking them “sunny side up” (if you can believe it, I had to google how to do this), I flip them over so that the yolk gets cooked too. Which brings me to my next food adventure: “Sweet-beet hash with egg on top”. I got this recipe from the back of a package of Veggie Noodle Co. spiralized beets.

Stop the world! Lindsy is eating something that has BOTH EGGS AND BEETS! Voluntarily!!! (My Mami would probably be proud).

It was pretty simple. The thing that took the longest time to prep was the roasted sweet potato. You basically add onion, roasted sweet potato, mushrooms, spinach, and spiralized beets to a cast iron pan with some balsamic vinegar and put fried eggs on top.

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The result was so pretty and colourful! My husband jokingly said “Yes, you should always eat things with many different colours to ensure good nutrition. So let’s eat skittles!!” (lol, right?)

But really though. I was actually really happy with the result. Overall the whole dish was slightly sweet, what with the vinegar, the beets, and the sweet potato, but also had lovely salty notes from the eggs, and a lot of earthiness from the beets, spinach, and mushrooms. I chuckled to myself a bit. My inner child is probably looking on in horror at me eating something a little too much like ensalada rusa. I’ll have a talk with her about it, and make this again in the future.

Day 5, Take 2: Book Reports

I got two cookbooks in the mail today! I already meal planned this week, but I’m excited to get to use these for helping plan my meals in the future. Here are my thoughts.

The first one is Meal Prep: The Essential Meal Prep Cookbook by Tyler Smith. The title advertises “quick, simple, and delicious recipes for rapid weight loss”. I’m not necessarily going for the “rapid weight loss” thing, but it seems like a lot of meal prep cookbooks are geared towards people trying to lose weight. That makes sense, of course. Cooking more at home= less eating out + better portion control, etc. In any case, I liked the book because it has a dedicated vegetarian chapter and good advice about the meal prep process in general. I especially like the fact that it has a very handy table of how long ingredients last after they have been prepped in different ways. For example, onions can stay fresh in the fridge 3 days if sliced or minced, but they can last 7 days if peeled and kept whole. The book also tells you how best to store your ingredients for freshness. This is all very helpful because it tells me how far in advance I can prepare my food, and I can plan the order of my week’s meals accordingly. It seems like most of the recipes are pretty low carb and whole foods-y, so I won’t have to do too much adapting to the recipes besides substituting the meat in the non-vegetarian chapters. Each recipe also has prep instructions for how to portion out and store the servings. The book recommends investing in some good tupperware to portion out servings for the week. My tupperware drawer is a mess, so now would be a perfect opportunity to organize it and see how many containers I actually own that still have their matching lids. On another note, I still bemoan the absence of a vegetarian meal prep cookbook, but that’s not this book’s fault.

The second book is Whole: The 30 Day Whole Food Challenge by Michael Williams, offering a “beginner’s guide with 150 compliant and yummy recipes.” I’m not sure this book is actually sanctioned by the official Whole30, but at least I know that the recipes are Whole30 compliant. That’s at least as far as the ingredients go. I wanted a book in which I didn’t have to worry about altering the recipes to be both meatless and Whole30 compliant. This book also has a handy 30 day meal plan, complete with shopping lists for everything you’ll need that week. However, Whole30-ers be warned! This book does contain recipes for how to make some sex with your pants on foods, like paleo pizza and gasp! shock! horror! even Whole30 compliant pancakes!! I find it almost comical how emphatically the official Whole30 website tells you NOT TO EAT FREAKING PANCAKES! They say that every time someone asks them if they can eat pancakes, one of them starts to cry or get angry. So anyway… of course, not going to make the paleo pizza or banana “pancakes” in this book. Truth is, I don’t even really like pancakes to begin with. This book also has a significant amount of recipes for smoothies. I reread what the website has to say about eating smoothies for breakfast and found this:

First, we would much rather see you eat a meal you have to chew instead of drinking your calories, because satiety. Smoothies are usually super heavy on the fruit, which means you’re ingesting way more sugar than you would if you just ate the fruit in its whole form. Also, smoothies don’t usually contain protein, so you’re missing out on both satiety and complete protein, which is really hard to make up in just your two other meals. Plus drinking a huge whackload of fruit first thing in the morning can set you up for more volatile energy, hunger, and cravings throughout your day. But no, we’re not going to kick you out of the Whole30 for having a smoothie. Just maybe have some eggs with it, okay?

So basically, I can still do the smoothie thing, but I should still actually eat something for breakfast too. That would have been my first instinct as well, so it’s all good. Looking at the 30 day meal plan in this book, I’m now almost certain this is not an officially sanctioned book, because they suggest having just a smoothie (!) for breakfast on more days than not, and also having 2-3 snacks a day, including one after dinner (!). I’m definitely going to ignore that “advice”. I find myself wanting a snack sometime in the afternoon, but certainly not 3 snacks a day, and never after my last full meal of the day.

With regards to their technically compliant but “sex with your pants on” food; these might be good during the reintroduction period later, when I’m starting to break from the program but still want to stay mostly compliant. Clearly I won’t be following this book’s meal plan strictly anyway, but it’s nice to have as a reference. All the recipes in this book look pretty simple, which is a plus.

And that’s all for today! Good night, world 🙂

Days 2-4, take two: Temptation, Taste, and Task Management

Hope everyone had a good Shabbat + weekend! My first weekend back on track has been pretty good, though not without challenges. I sang at the synagogue on Friday night, and was a bit sad to not be able to partake in the ceremonial bread and wine. Moreover… the oneg hosts brought nutella. Ohhh, nutella!!! In the days when I went from being a fat kid on the inside to being actually kind of chubby on the outside, I would happily eat a whole jar of nutella by myself. By the spoonful. Straight out of the jar. Yeah… I know. Soooo delicious though. And so sinful for so many reasons. First of all, nutella is basically horrible for you. It has hydrogenated palm oil in it, which has trans fat- terrible in and of itself, and awful when you consider nutella is also a sugar bomb. Palm oil is also one of the worst foods for the planet so there’s that. Why does something so bad have to taste so good?? I texted my friend Samantha, a great friend who lives across the country and lets me vent to her about Whole30 stuff:

Me: Girl. There’s nutella at the oneg tonight, and I’M DYING.

Her: Don’t do it.

Me: I knowww. I won’t. 😦

Samantha did the Whole30 this year and got really great results. Even if she’s not physically here, it’s great to have someone I can call on when I have questions or want to talk about my food choices. Not to mention it’s nice to get that extra morale boost when faced with the evil sugar bombs of doom. Something I commented to her this weekend was that my voice sounded really good with minimal warm up at this service. Sugar is bad for singing, and my first teacher advised me to cut it out of my diet. Now that I’m finally doing that, I’m wondering if maybe this is a benefit of the Whole30 that most people wouldn’t mention because they aren’t professional musicians. Samantha’s answer was that “sugar is literally the devil.” Seriously though.

After the service, I went on a sushi date with a gal pal. Of course, I had sashimi instead of sushi. That was the most amount of fish I’d had in a single sitting in a very long time, and now I feel like I’ve O.D’d on fish. Like I said, I really don’t think I could go back to doing this regularly. I’ve considered adding fish a couple of times a week for the duration of the Whole30 just because they make such a big deal out of the benefits of it, but I just don’t think my system, that has been animal free for so long, could handle it. I’ll listen to my body and stick to my legumes and yogurt, thank you very much VegWhole30.

I was expecting my cookbooks to come in the mail this weekend, but alas, they did not. Bummer. I still planned my meals and shopped accordingly though! Tomorrow is going to be a day spent in the kitchen making stuff for the week.

The Whole30 Daily suggests having a shortlist of 3-5 recipes that can be made in about 15 minutes, for when hunger strikes and there’s no food just waiting to be eaten. I’ve only got 2 so far. Can anyone help me with more ideas? So far I’ve got tofu scramble and salad, plus roasted vegetables and egg whites. I’m all ears for suggestions!

 

Day 1.5: Definitely Started Over

Today would have been Day 13, but now it’s Day 1 again. While I haven’t eaten anything that was markedly off limits, I decided that I’ve been toeing the line a bit too close for comfort. I think my experience will be a lot better now that I know a bit more than what I did when I started the program. I ordered two cookbooks today which will get here on Saturday (thank you, Amazon Prime!) One is a meal prep cookbook which I hope will give me the guidance I need for making food for myself (and eventually others) in bulk, and the other is a Whole30 cookbook (note: not the Whole30 cookbook) that will give me plenty of more compliant recipe ideas. I think that these will really help me do better.

Of course, brains don’t like being told no. The moment it set in that I was restarting, it was like my brain started sounding craving alarms. WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE’RE NOT GETTING SUGAR OR CHEESE FOR AN EXTRA 12 DAYS?! YOU TOLD US THIS WOULD ONLY BE 30 DAYS! WTF, YOU *#@$ING %&*@!!!!

Again, Shut up Sugar Dragon. Calm down, brain. For the love of all that is good, stop sending me constant images of cheesy mashed potatoes followed by caramel chocolate bars.

I danced for about 2.5 hours today, which was a great way to get my mind off of my food choices. My competition solo piece is looking better and better, and my teacher thinks I have good chances.

Anyway. I have to remind myself. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this again? I do believe that making better food choices will improve my life significantly. I have opened my eyes to how poorly I was eating before, and don’t want to go back to that life. I have remembered how good it feels to be in the kitchen. And I feel like, with the way that I was doing Whole30 up until yesterday, I really wasn’t going to get the most out of the program that I could. It is a conscious choice to start my count again. I do not feel guilt or shame. If anything, I feel excited that I get to spend another 30 days finding Food Freedom.

Not going to lie though, the cravings hiked up acutely today when I realized I was in this for longer than originally planned, and having the support of people around me (and online) has been invaluable. Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the internet. The fact that you read this makes my day.