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


Yield: 1.5 cups
Time: about 8 minutes

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 left out the parsley because I don't like it.

1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
3/4 cup fire roasted red peppers
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp tomato paste
2-3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
6 Tbsp olive oil
1/2-1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350. Spread the almonds out over a piece of parchment paper or tin foil. Toast until lightly golden brown.

Add the peppers, garlic, toasted almonds, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, paprika, and cayenne to a blender or food processor and pulse a few times. Add the oil in a stream (or dump it all in) and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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

Whole 30: Week 2.5! (And a crazy good egg salad)

Whole 30 egg salad is the best lunch. #whole30 #meandthemoose #eggsalad

This week we experience food fatigue, weight loss rage, and some of the magical effects that other Whole 30-ers have described.

First, let's talk about the weight loss rage. My husband is also doing Whole 30 and if one more person points out to US how much weight HE has lost after WE describe doing this plan TOGETHER, well, it won't be pretty. I feel fantastic and wish that that was enough, but people, tell my husband in private how great he looks. Or lie and say we've both lost weight. You're not my doctor and we don't live in some horrible hellscape where you can tell my actual weight by looking at me, so LIE TO ME OR SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY. See? Rage.

On a happier note, I have noticed some nice benefits. I feel a lot cleaner and lighter, am sleeping better, and feel less achy when I wake up. Unfortunately, we're raising a child-sized J.J. Watt, so I don't think the aches and pains will fully abate until he learns to walk (I'm begging you, kid: Learn to walk. Though people have told me to enjoy the late walking because up next is the phase where he wobbles directly into a piece of furniture). I also feel more energetic and am able to exercise at night. Before Whole 30, evening was a battle of wine vs. spin bike... and wine ALWAYS won. ALSO, not for nothing, we waste a lot less food these days. Pre-Whole 30, we grocery shopped like we'd be cooking every night, but then ordered in whenever the going got tough. So we spent a lot on takeout AND on food that went bad. Not so anymore.

And finally, food fatigue. The Whole 30 people warned that it would happen on Day 21, but for me, it was day 16. Oops. Anyway, I woke up that morning feeling nauseous at the thought of eating another sweet potato. A few things got me through including this flavor-bomb egg salad and a duo of sauces that I'll post later.

Flavor Bomb Egg Salad

Tessemae's Chesepeake Mayo, Trader Joe's pickles, and eggs. Yum. #whole30 #eggsalad #meandthemoose

There are a few more "processed" ingredients than I would like in this recipe, but when the food fatigue set in, it was time to be nice to myself. One could probably make the mayo at home with egg yolks, Whole 30-approved oil, Whole 30 approved-Dijon mustard, and Old Bay seasonings, but we bought this guy in a 4-pack with the Tessemae's ketchup and mustard and they are all great. Full disclosure, we also tried the Caesar dressing and it was awful, but I made my own Caesar that is possibly the best dressing I've ever made, Whole 30 or not. Recipe to come later.

4 hard boiled eggs
2 Tbsp Tessemae's Chesapeake Mayo
2 Dill pickle spears

Hard boil the eggs. I use Martha Stewart's method: Place the eggs in a pan and completely cover with cool water. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 12 minutes. I always forget about the eggs at this stage and they're always fine. If you're paying attention, drain the eggs after 12 minutes and place under cold running water. I usually drain the water, but leave the eggs in the original pan and add cold water and a few ice cubes. Again, I generally forget about the eggs here too. I wouldn't advise leaving them out for too too long, but I haven't given anyone salmonella yet. Also, Martha says that you can peel and eat the eggs right away, but I like to let them fully cool and peel them cold. I always think the shell comes off more cleanly that way.

Chop the eggs and pickles and combine with mayo. I added a touch more mustard (maybe a tsp) and some salt and pepper, but taste before adding anything. The mayo is very flavorful and depending on your brand of pickles, you may not need salt. But I was in a food rut and wanted something INTENSE.

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.

Whole 30: Day 1!

I've never felt comfortable with my body. I'm a human woman after all. But really, I've struggled with my weight and body image for as long as I've had a weight and a body image. As an adult, that struggle has shifted from one of vanity to being mainly about health concerns (with a leftover sprinkling of vanity). 

But when we decided to try and have a baby, the struggle with my body and weight took on a new meaning. I went through 14 months of infertility, which was often pretty rough. I ate my feelings and I had A LOT of feelings. I cycled between frustration with my barren womb (DRAMA!), and hope that next month would be the month! And who's going to diet when ANY DAY they could be embarking on 10 months of state-sanctioned weight gain?

When M finally set up shop in my belly, I added some baby weight to my no-baby weight and here we are. So, I've decided to do Whole30. For those who don't know what that means, Whole 30 is an eating plan wherein you try to achieve a nutritional reset by eliminating for 30 days everything that could possibly make you feel bad (specifically, alcohol, dairy, wheat, legumes, soy, corn, all added sugar including honey, maple syrup, and the artificial varieties, as well as joy and happiness. KIDDING). Then, you add things back individually to determine what, exactly, makes you feel terrible. It's not a weight loss plan, but most people do lose some weight. I'm simultaneously pumped about changing my relationship to food and terrified that I'll fall off the wagon. I'm hoping that writing about it will help keep me honest. Here goes!

Day 1: So far, so good. I was expecting headaches, hanger, and hatred toward all carb and cheese eaters, but the reality hasn't been terrible. I definitely had a bit of a headache this afternoon and felt sort of wonky, for lack of a better description. But I was surprised at how tasty I found my meals. I read somewhere that the French have an expression, "Hunger is the best sauce." It's possible that a more 1% phrase has never been uttered. Bleh. But for today, eating actual meals rather than grazing all day because my blood sugar is spiking and crashing, has been successful.

What I ate:                                                                                                                                                              Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled with spinach, onions, and tomatoes, a chicken apple sausage, and coffee with almond milk.   
Lunch: Tuna with avocado oil mayo, baby carrots, a hard-boiled egg, and an apple.  
Snack: Bison jerky and a handful of almonds.                                                                                                     Dinner: Zucchini noodles with tomato sauce (replace the butter with ghee), a bison burger, and broccoli roasted with olive oil.  

What I learned:
My fridge will smell like rotten eggs for the next 30 days.
I lick my fingers more than a normal person should. Seriously, while prepping M's food (we're not making him do Whole 30), I had to stop myself multiple times from snacking on cheese, quinoa, and bread residue. There was an incident with some peanut butter, but I'm moving on.