Thursday, April 30, 2015

Whole33- final thoughts

Weight loss-
7 pounds- this didn’t change from day 15 until the end, but the scale does not tell the whole story. 
Motivation- a 6 week health challenge with some women from church. Each woman is putting in $10 and there will be 3 winners. The first time I attempted a Whole 30, I just wanted to try it and see if I was disciplined enough to finish. I lasted 12 days. 
Desire to undo the damage of the past year. I had gained about 20 pounds and did not recognize the body I had. The number on the scale didn't bother me as much as how foreign I felt in my body and how depressing it was to look in the mirror. I also wanted to lose weight in order to feel more comfortable in the warmer weather and be able to wear shorts, tank tops, etc.
Feeling- energy, energy, energy, as early as week 1. No mid-afternoon slumps, felt well-rested most nights. I still got a couple of migraines and caught a cold that my whole family passed around.
Only a couple of times did I feel super-hungry between meals, and only ONCE did I feel overly full. You can certainly still overeat on the Whole 30, and you feel it, though it’s much different than the usual bloated gut-bomb feeling.
Lightness. Less sluggish, less heavy. I don’t know how else to describe it. 
Physical changes- Fat melted off my body, making it easier/more doable to exercise. I could see that I did in fact have muscles left, they had just been hidden for quite some time. 
Deprivation- Food was delicious, very few disappointing meals or misses. Sometimes I felt high-maintenance and like I was just constantly thinking about food. Sometimes I felt left out and sorry for myself. I didn’t get to participate fully in a few special occasions. I sometimes ate lunch or dinner long after my family was finished because I didn’t have very many quick options and was taking care of their meals first. 
Emotions- PMS is real, y’all, and I didn’t get to eat my way through it.
Mindfulness, no emotional eating. A few days I had STRONG desires to cheat and comfort myself with food. Old habits are very hard to break. 
Life after Whole33-
I was encouraged to read in the Whole 30 book, It Starts with Food, that it’s not a Whole 365, nor is it supposed to be. They call this program a reset, and encourage you to simply try it, fully commit to it, and just experience the tremendous changes in the way you feel. It really speaks for itself. 
Tomorrow, and for the next week or so, I will reintroduce foods that I’ve cut out (one group at a time- non-gluten grains, legumes, dairy, and gluten) to see if I have any issues. I have never had food issues/reactions/sensitivities before. (And I’m praying I don’t discover any!!)
I feel free and empowered to make good choices but will make a conscious effort to pay attention to how food makes me feel.
I don’t feel like I can’t enjoy my favorite foods or special foods or even comfort foods, but I’ll do it mindfully, only eat what I must to satisfy the craving, and really savor it. (You know, ideally.)
Helpful tips-
Make a plan! Try to gather at least a weeks’ worth of recipes (or sit down and map out every dinner, or every day’s worth!)
Make a chart, or fill in some bubbles, or cross days off on a calendar. It’s actually pretty satisfying. 
Prepare yourself for the reality that you will spend more time in the kitchen. You are cooking three meals a day. Keep your cutting board right next to the stove and your favorite skillet washed and ready to go. 
Shop at Sprouts or Crest (or your equivalent local grocery store) for meat and produce. I always spent more on the weeks I shopped at Target/Walmart.
Keep nuts and fruit with you at all times. If you love raw veggies, more power to you.
Hard-boiled eggs were a huge life-saver on busy mornings and some lunches, when I just added them to salads. 
Don’t put food “in a box”- some of my favorite breakfasts included meat and veg instead of eggs. My burger breakfast on Day 20 was amazing. 
Big batch cooking is helpful, as long as you don’t get bored eating the same thing for a while. I did Steak Pizzaiola (froze half), shredded beef, chili, and meatballs. I’m not a big fan of cooking chicken ahead of time, but that’s just me. 
Prep your veggies- wash them, slice/chop onions, peppers, wash lettuce, make a vinaigrette and store it in the fridge. My favorite is just olive oil (1 1/2 parts), balsamic vinegar (1 part), salt and pepper, all shaken up in a jar. 
Pick your favorite veggies and eat a ton of them- for me those were onions, red peppers, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes and yukon gold potatoes. 
My food was pretty simple and I ate a handful of meals over and over. You might get completely bored doing that. There are TONS of recipes out there and even other daily Whole 30 meal plans for you. Do what works for you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Loaded Hash Browns

I became obsessed with these hash browns toward the end of my Whole33. They're easy/quick enough to make whenever the desire strikes. (Daily, in my case.)

Loaded Hash Browns

2-3 tbs olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 medium (2 small) yukon gold potatoes, grated and squeezed of excess water
2 big handfuls of baby spinach, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add grated potato, season with salt and pepper, and stir together. Let cook and brown, stirring every few minutes, until nicely browned, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in spinach and wilt slightly. Turn out onto a plate and devour with scrambled or fried eggs.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chicken and Zucchini

This is another Whole30 favorite. It's super simple, but super delicious. 

Chicken and Zucchini

3-4 tbs olive oil
1 lb chicken (breasts, thighs, or tenders) cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 onion, sliced
2 medium zucchini, cut into circles or half-moons
cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper. When onion starts to soften, but not brown, add chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken just starts to brown. Add zucchini, more oil, if neccessary, and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, if using. Cook until chicken and zucchini are nicely browned and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Whole30 Meatballs

Whole30 Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
2 tbs finely ground almonds (ground in the food processor)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine egg, almonds, and seasonings and mix well. Add ground beef and mix just until everything is incorporated. Roll into uniform sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes. Drizzle meatballs with olive oil and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until well browned and cooked through.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chocolate Banana Bread

As much as I'd like for this to be justified as breakfast, a giant slice with a huge cup of coffee, Tyler Florence plants this firmly in the dessert category in his book, Tyler's Ultimate. It's true. The ingredients are mixed together like a cake, it comes together like a cake, it's scrumptious like a cake.
Breakfast? Dessert?
I'm not one to care too much about labels. Unless that label is totally delicious.

Chocolate Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted (I use chocolate chips, and I don't melt them all the way, leaving some chips whole.)
2 eggs at room temperature
1 1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9×5-inch loaf pan. Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

Beat butter in a large bowl at medium speed until lightened. Beat in chocolate, eggs, bananas and vanilla at low speed. Stir in flour mixture, just until combined. Pour into pan.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lasagna with Meatballs

I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of ricotta cheese. So my favorite lasagnas do not include it. This is by far the favorite lasagna (besides Victoria's in Norman, OBVIOUSLY) of all my picky eaters. It's a time-consuming dish to make, yes, but this one is worth it! 

Lasagna with Meatballs
from America's Test Kitchen : '09

for meatballs and sauce:
1 lb ground beef
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup minced basil or parsley (or a combination of both)
3 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes

for noodles and cheese:
12 dried lasagna noodles
1 lb whole-milk mozzarella, shredded
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450. Mix meatballs- ground beef, cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and up to 5 tbs basil, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Roll into 1 tsp sized meatballs. Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, gently heat garlic and olive oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add tomatoes, cook 10-15 minutes. Off the heat, add 3 tbs basil, season with salt and pepper. Stir meatballs into sauce and cover to keep warm.
Lower oven temperature to 400.
Boil pasta. Drain and cool under water.
Spray a 9*13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Ladle 3 tbs sauce on the bottom. Top with 3 noodles, then 1 1/2 cups sauce/meatballs, then 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat with 2 more layers. On the fourth and final layer, cover pasta with 1 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
You can also cover well (before baking) and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Pizza (or anything!) Rolls

Remember those delicious little Garlic Knots I came up with? I've become a bit obsessed with them, but my kids aren't complaining. I love to make them for a quick bread to go with dinner, but lately I've been stuffing them with various ingredients and giving them to the kids for lunch.
Again, no complaints. Except that time I used spinach. (I ended up eating those, of course.)
Pizza (or anything!) Rolls

1 pizza crust (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
ham, pepperoni, chopped fresh spinach, etc.
1/2 stick butter, melted
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a standard sized muffin tin with cooking spray. Tear the pizza dough into 12 pieces and flatten each piece into a circle. Stuff with cheese, pepperoni, ham, spinach, etc. Pinch the dough together to completely cover the ingredients. Place roll, seam side down, in the muffin tin. Top generously with melted butter. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.