Whole 30: Done and done...? (And a Caesar dressing!)

Kale Caesar salad is delicious and incidentally Whole 30. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose

So, my 30 days of clean eating are over and nary a crumb or drop of wheat, grain, dairy, soy, legume, alcohol, or added sugar crossed these lips the entire time. It was, by far, my most successful run of disciplined eating. And I lost 10 lbs.

But then I went back to "real" eating. For the first few days, I felt scared of anything that wasn't Whole 30-approved. Like, eating a grain of quinoa was going to wreak havoc. So I kept up the regimen. Then I had some wine and remembered how much I loooooove wine. So, I decided to rejoin Weight Watchers (guys, Oprah eats bread on Weight Watchers EVERY DAY). But, then I quit Weight Watchers. Then I tried eating Whole 30-approved foods while also recording everything on My Fitness Pal, which then turned into: Eating Whole 30-approved foods but adding back just grains and beans. Then I convinced myself that I should just work out daily to keep the weight off while eating everything in moderation. And then I had a meltdown and ate an entire chocolate babka. Bear in mind that my Whole 30 ended just two short weeks ago. That's a lot of dieting in 14 days. And a lot of babka.

During the Whole 30 I abstained from some of my FAVORITE things without much difficulty and really did feel great. I mentioned in an earlier post that one upside to the plan's rigidity was that I stopped obsessing about my food choices. Welp, that came back full force once I didn't have to follow the Whole 30 rules. I also feel much more obsessed with weight loss than I did before and more discouraged about my ability to stick to a regimen even though I JUST DID IT.

Also, this article came out.

There is hella conflicting information about health and nutrition out there, which I already knew, but is maddening nonetheless. Do I worry more about the content of my food or the volume? Is exercise or eating more central to wellness and weight loss? If I do manage to lose weight, am I one of the teeny percentage of people who can actually keep it off? So, I've been toying with the radical notion of just stopping. Just shutting down the voice in my head that says my worth is inversely proportional to my size. Or that my worth is bound to how I look at all. Or that there's something wrong with how I look. Or that "healthy" has a rigid and universal definition. And just when I think I'm good with that, I feel a clenching in my chest imagining the weigh-in at my next doctor's appointment...

No matter how frustrated with food I might feel, this Caesar dressing is Whole 30, delicious, and will remain in the repertoire. 

Kale Caesar ingredients: Mayo, lemon, dijon, garlic, anchovies, and olive oil. Easy peasy. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose

Kale Caesar salad

2 Tbsp Primal Kitchen avocado mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2-3 anchovy filets (look for ones packed in olive oil)*
2 cloves garlic (medium)
3-4 dashes Cholula hot sauce
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups raw kale

*I've recently realized that some anchovies, particularly the ones that come in a can with a peel-back lid, are what I would call a half filet. If your anchovies aren't double sided or look like they've been butterflied, then double the amount to 4-6 of these half filets.

Combine first six ingredients in a food processor and pulse to chop. Set the food processor to puree and slowly add olive oil in a stream. Add salt and pepper to taste and puree until all ingredients are combined. Remove tough stems from kale, clean, and chop. Toss dressing and greens together and serve.

Caesar dressing. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose
Greens. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose

Whole 30: Day 20! (Two sauces and a confession)

I think I'm doing Whole 30 wrong. I'm periodically gripped by the feeling that I've eaten a forbidden food. It's almost like I've forgotten that I'm doing Whole 30. One could read this in two ways: It's possible that this has become habitual already, which seems like an important part of the 30 days. On the other hand, I'm afraid that my amnesia is due to the fact that I've changed what I eat, but not how I eat.

For example, yesterday I ate an entire bag of dried mango. (Sorry, I know no one wants to hear about this.) From a harm reduction standpoint, a bag of dried mango isn't exactly a snickers. But, does my body know that? Probably not. I've also been terrible about checking in with myself before snacking. Am I craving sugar? Am I thirsty? Am I actually angry, lonely, or tired? What if I'm just swallowing my feelings along with approved foods rather than "comfort" foods? I had hoped at the start of this 30 days that eating different foods would break the emotional eating cycle, but alas. There are still 10 days left to work on it.

On to more positive topics: Sauces!

Whole 30 romesco and chimichurri sauces. #meandthemoose #whole30 #romesco #chimichurri

Chimichurri *

Chimichurri is the best easy , herby sauce for zinging up any fatty meat. #whole30 #meandthemoose

1 cup flat leaf parsley (loosely packed)
1 cup cilantro (loosely packed) 
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium shallot
2 cloves garlic, halved
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
4 Tbs olive
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean the fresh herbs and tear off leaves. Combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, red pepper flakes, shallot, garlic, and vinegar in a food processor or blender. Add oil in a slow stream (if possible- when I use my small food processor, the top doesn't open while the blades spin, so I just dump the oil in with the other ingredients and blend away). Season with salt and pepper.

*A note about this chimichurri: In my research, I found A LOT of strong opinions back and forth about the amount of oil and acid in various versions. The closest recipe to mine is this one from Gimme Some Oven. You'll note that I halved both the acid and the oil. This chimichurri is best with a fattier piece of meat because the herbs and garlic are really the stars. I didn't want an oily sauce with a fatty steak. Oil + oil = gross. But I also didn't want a lip puckering amount of acid. One could combine citrus and vinegar to make a more complex acidity.    

Romesco     

Romesco sauce perks up vegetables and blander fish and poultry. #whole30 #meandthemoose #romesco

This is basically Bon Appetit's recipe with a few small tweaks. I never have sherry vinegar, so I sub in red wine vinegar. I also halve the parsley because I don't love parsley. I also oven roast my own red peppers because it's easy. Instructions below!

1 red bell pepper, roasted
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbs fresh parsley
2-3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To roast the peppers: Set the oven to broil. Place the peppers in a casserole or baking dish. Put the rack in the middle of the oven (I actually used my toaster oven). While cooking, keep an eye on the peppers so they don't burn. Flip a few times to ensure even browning. I don't let my peppers get too charred:

Wimpy char, but delicious flavor. #meandthemoose #redpeppers #romesco #whole30

Wimpy char, but delicious flavor. #meandthemoose #redpeppers #romesco #whole30

Once you have a light char on all sides, wrap the peppers in foil (beware the heat while wrapping) and let them steam for at least one hour. But feel free to forget about them and go about your day. Unwrap the foil, peel off the pepper skin, and they're ready to use!

Add the peppers, garlic, toasted almonds, tomato paste, parsley, red wine vinegar, paprika, and cayenne in a blender or food processor. Add the oil (again, pour the oil in a thin stream while blending the other ingredients unless using a small food processor). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Whole 30: Week 1!

I had originally meant to post daily, but realized a few things.

1) No one wants to know what I ate for every meal.                                                                                              2) Whole 30 is TIRING at the beginning.

Instead, here is an honest recap of how the week has gone. First, I have not cheated or wanted to cheat once. Maybe this is the honeymoon period. Maybe the challenge of doing this eating plan with my husband has been more motivating than I anticipated. Whatever the reason, this week has not felt all that challenging, craving-wise.

I have, however, felt like smashing multiple things and screaming at multiple people. Man have I been moody! I saw this timeline of "What to expect when you're Whole 30-ing" and all of the four major phases for the first week have applied, but not in the order that the Whole 30 folks have described. In case you don't want to click the link, the first week basically goes as follows: 

Day 1: So, what's the big deal?
Days 2-3: The Hangover
Days 4-5: Kill ALL the things
Days 6-7: I just want a nap...      

Clearly, I've felt the "So, what's the big deal" and "Kill ALL the things" most acutely, but I fluctuate between all four phases every day. The other tough part has been the amount of time I spend in the kitchen. I love to cook (hello, this is mostly a food blog), so that part wasn't such a drag, but for people who don't, this program would likely be harder. We didn't do as much prep on the weekend as we should have, so we'll work on that for next week.

What I learned:
There is such a thing as too much avocado.
Not thinking about every food decision is super liberating. I mean, I still think about food a lot (finding recipes, reading labels, preparing ALL meals, etc) but I obsess a lot less. Not feeling guilty about what I eat is a strange and magical feeling.