WIAW #12: Whole30 – Week 1

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Matt and I have been talking about doing the Whole30 challenge for a few months.  Now that the holidays and a few weddings have come and gone, we decided it’s now or never.  My friend Kate and her husband have done the Whole30 twice now, and I remember thinking they were crazy the first time they did this.

What? No wine? No sugar of any kind? #cray

Since then, I’ve been making an effort to incorporate more unprocessed and whole foods into our diet and making paleo meals at times, so the thought of cutting back just a little more didn’t seem so daunting.  We don’t even realize the negative effects that certain foods have on our bodies, sometimes because we are just used to it, so I am interested to see how I feel after 100% cutting out these foods and pressing that “reset” button.  Like they say on their website, it’s only 30 days.  Yes, it might feel like torture at times, but it will be over in 4 weeks and your body will thank you for it!

So what is the Whole30?

The Basics: It’s kind of like Paleo on crack.  Paleo is the “hunter-gatherer” diet…although I don’t like to call it a diet, more like a lifestyle.  Meat/Seafood/Poultry (natural/grass fed is preferable), vegetables, healthy fats (EVOO, avocado, coconut oil, etc.), fruit, and nuts in moderation are all a-ok.  No grains, no legumes (aka beans, peanuts), no dairy, no processed foods, no refined vegetable oils, etc.  And for the Whole30, also NO SUGAR.  This is essentially a sugar detox.  That means no honey, no maple syrup, no Stevia, nothing, nada, zip. I didn’t think it would be all that hard but seriously, you would be surprised how many things contain sugar, and food that you would even expect (bacon?).  Luckily, they provide you with a shopping list that outlines Best/Better/Good options to help you make your way through the grocery store.

I spent most of the day last Sunday stocking up on Whole30 “approved” food and prepped most of our sides and snacks for the week.

Snack Meal Prep: Hard-boiled eggs, apples, almond butter (no other ingredients except almonds and maybe sea salt), raw/dry roasted nuts, dried fruit (unsweetened/unsulfured – Trader Joe’s has a few good options and Costco had dried bananas only sweetened with fruit juice, which is ok by Whole30 standards), LaraBars in moderation

Breakfast Meal Prep: Roasted sweet potatoes/turnips/rudabega/butternut squash

Sides Meal Prep: Cauliflower rice, roasted veggies, veggies for salads, fruit

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I found this timeline on the Whole30 website and I have to say, it’s pretty spot on so far!  It actually made me feel better about the way we were reacting to this challenge.

Day 1: Piece of cake.  We’ve got this.  Eat our normal meals and cut back on the snacking, or only snack on “approved” food.

Day 2:  Panic.  Well, almost.  When I realized that we were going to run out of the food that I had spent alll that time prepping in t-minus 1 day, the thought of having to prep even more meals in the middle of the work week was certainly not ideal, and not to mention exhausting.  Matt and I both felt pretty tired, but it wasn’t from lack of sleep.  It all made sense after reading the timeline.  Maybe our Sunday all-day bender was the culprit.

DSC01989(Not Pictured: Burgers, fries and lots ‘o soda)

I also found this waiting for me when I got to work….

IMG_20140218_091602If there was a Whole30 hell, I’m pretty sure this is what it would look like.  It’s not like if it were a normal day I’d eat a dozen of these things, but not even one little bite?? (or three)

Day 4:  Near breakdown.  I was doing ok except for the lack of my usual snack options at night, which was making me very cranky. Matt on the other hand, not so much.  Unlike me, he can’t eat the same meals on repeat day after day.  After day 2 of eggs for dinner, he looked at me and said “why don’t we just order something?”.  You have no idea how tempting that was.  But we resisted and powered through. 🙂

DSC01990Example Week 1 dinner: Salmon (with smoked paprika- yum!), roasted asparagus and cauliflower rice.

DSC01994Example Week 1 lunch: Shredded chicken, roasted broccoli and avocado.

One idea I was borderline terrified of was drinking coffee without Stevia.  I have to say, it really isn’t bad! I’ve been using my usual coffee but with canned coconut milk instead of almond milk and Stevia, and I think I’ll keep doing that even after the 30 days are up.

DSC01993Now it’s Day 10 and I think we are finally getting into our groove.  I did a better job of meal planning and prepping this weekend so I think we are pretty set for the week with Whole30 approved (and delicious!) meals.  I’m excited to share some of them with you!

Overall, I think we are going to really see the benefits of completing this challenge.  I think the hardest part for me is all of the things that I “can’t” eat.  I’ve always been a big proponent of everything in moderation and I’m not usually one to deprive myself of anything. So avoiding the yummy snacks and treats like the plague has been hard for me.  Having said that, I think this challenge will show me how much willpower I really have!  Once we got through the first week and over that initial hurdle of the “detox phase”, both Matt and I feel pretty good and have seen a change in our bodies for the better.

Today, I thought I would share the recipe for Plantain Chips, one of my new favorite (and simple!) snacks.

DSC02002Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains *
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper

* If your grocery store has them, they will be next to the bananas.  They look like bananas but are larger and more green.

Directions:

Cut off the ends of the plantains and slice it longways 3 times, then carefully peel off the skin.  The skin is pretty tough, so you might have to use a knife to help get it started.  Unlike bananas, the less ripe the better.  The more ripe they get, the sweeter they get.

DSC01999Now, you can either slice the plantains with a knife, or if you have a food processor that’s what I used and it made it much easier to slice the chips thin and evenly.

Toss in the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out the chips evenly on a baking sheet that is sprayed with olive oil.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until they start to brown.  Be careful because they will go from almost done to over done quickly!

DSC02003It’s best if these are eaten within a day or two of baking because they can become chewy and I would suggest storing them in a glass container like a Pyrex dish, which might keep them crisp longer.

These are good plain and I really like them dipped in Wholly Guacamole.  Post Whole30, these will be great with hummus. 🙂  A great substitute for store bought chips!

More Whole30 recipes coming soon!

As always, checkout Peas and Crayons for more WIAW goodness!

Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats

I’m not sure if you would really call these recipes Valentine’s Day themed, per se, but they involve strawberries, strawberries are pink and VDay is all about pink….so Valentine’s treats it is. 😉

The first is a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Smoothie.  Who doesn’t love chocolate covered strawberries?! And if I can blend them up and drink them out of a straw for breakfast, I’m all for that situation.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 c frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (you can eliminate this if you use chocolate protein powder)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • handful of spinach

Directions:

Blend and enjoy!

DSC01969The next treat is a new one for me.  Davida over at The Healthy Maven is hosting a linkup for health-ified Valentine’s Day baked goods. As soon as I heard the idea, I knew I had to participate.  #1 I L.O.V.E. baked goods in all shapes and sizes. #2 I also love taking those baked goods and making them in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I need to eat it while simultaneously running on the treadmill.  I stumbled across a recipe for strawberry/chocolate paleo bread from You Fresh Naturals on Instagram and knew I had to try it. I made a couple of adjustments of my own to create Strawberry Chocolate Pecan Paleo Bread!

Strawberry Paleo BreadYes, I’m aware it looks like a dog treat. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, plus I’m not good at taking fancy food blogger pics like Davida. 🙂  It was delicious and even Matt was impressed!  Wife-win. I haven’t made paleo bread before, but I’ll definitely be trying this concept again!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp canned coconut milk
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch baking soda
  • 1/4 c chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips (for true paleo, use a brand like Enjoy Life)

Directions:

Place all ingredients except strawberries, pecans and chocolate chips in food processor.  Blend until combined.  Fold in remaining ingredients and pour into greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

 

Sending virtual hugs to everyone on this Valentine’s Day!  Have a great weekend!

WIAW #11: Butternut Squash Chili

Time for another round of What I Ate Wednesday! I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of photos this time around…it’s all the same, right?

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Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with more roasted breakfast “potatoes”. This time, the mix included sweet potatoes and turnips….I never thought I would like turnips, but they are quite tasty!

I also grabbed a sugar-free caramel almond milk latte (that’s quite the mouthful, isn’t it?) on the way to work. I stayed pretty full until lunch, but also grabbed a small handful of trail mix mid-morning.

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Lunch

I went to lunch with some co-workers and my boss at Crazy Bowls and Wraps, where I ordered a chicken fajita bowl, sans rice…along with a few tortilla chips.  It was really good but a little heavy on the beans and cheese, which I wasn’t expecting. No pics this time. Didn’t want to freak my co-workers out. 🙂

Dinner

Dinner was the highlight of my day. I found this recipe for Paleo Butternut Squash Chili and had to give it a try, especially since we are dealing with yet another snow day around here….is it spring yet?!

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Paired with a kale salad, it was a delicious meal…oh, and a piece (ok, two) of THIS deliciousness. Ohmygoodnessgracious this stuff is no joke. Sorry for the blurred pic. I blame the chocolate.

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I only made a couple of small changes to the recipe, but here’s how I made the chili!

DSC01961Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 lb steak, cubed
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 15oz cans fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles, diced
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can beef broth
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Texas chili powder (recipe calls for Chipotle but I couldn’t find it)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt- the recipe doesn’t call for it but I added some to my bowl (I’m a salt lover and my husband, not so much ;))

Directions:

Chop all vegetables. Brown meat in a skillet for about 5 minutes, add vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes, or until veggies are cooked about halfway.  If your roasted red peppers aren’t already diced, add them to a food processor or blender and pulse until diced (do not drain). Add the remainder of ingredients and meat/veggie mixture into a pot and simmer for 1 hour, or until the squash is tender.

Again, I do not always post every single thing I eat throughout the day, just the noteworthy meals.  I don’t want to bore you too much to death… 😉

 

Make it a great day!

 

WIAW #9: New Protein Bars & Easy Side Dish

I’m linking up with Jenn again for What I Ate Wednesday and posting my eats from yesterday!

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My day consisted of mostly the same old same old but with a couple newbies that I had to pass along.

Breakfast

Sweet breakfast scramble.

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Snack

Apple and peanut butter, duh!

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Lunch

You may have seen this on Instagram the other night, but I posted this to show how easy it can be to make a delicious side dish.  I melted coconut oil in a pan, then added a veggie mix from Trader Joe’s (already chopped!) and their 21 Seasoning Salute, which you have to try!  It was super easy and really tasty.  I paired it with roasted chicken and repeated that meal for lunch yesterday.  My mom gave me the idea to put a whole chicken in the crock-pot for 6hrs on low on Sunday, then we would have roasted chicken for almost the entire week.  It’s been really nice to not have to worry about cooking meat every night!

20131209181514686 (1)Snack:

A new recipe for Pumpkin-Coconut Protein Bars that I found here.  I think I may have found my new favorite recipe and bonus for them being grain-free!  Sorry, I neglected to take pictures but I think you get the idea. 🙂 I made a couple of small changes to the original recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 4 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-2 tsp stevia
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients together.  Mix wet ingredients together then whisk into dry ingredients.  Pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Dinner:

Nothing special to report….fish and veggies. Sorry, I was really bad at taking pictures yesterday!

Have a great day!

Paleo Sloppy Joes

It’s Fridaaaay!  The weekend couldn’t come soon enough.  Tomorrow morning my mom, sister and I are having our annual cookie baking extravaganza- one of my favorite traditions.  I’ll be sure to share a few of her recipes before the holidays are over!  Then on Saturday Mizzou is playing Auburn in the SEC Championship game!  So, that means I’ll probbbbably be spending the afternoon in front of a tv with a cold beverage and (not so skinny) plate of food in front of me.  Pretty sure that’s a football Saturday rule.

Backing up a little to earlier this week, when the thought of a typical week’s worth of chicken, fish and veggies sounded far less than appetizing, I set out to find a recipe that was hearty, yet healthy, AND was something both Matt and I would like.  Sometimes I feel bad for the guy because I’m not Susie Homemaker who makes meat and potatoes night after night, but I think he secretly thanks me for it. 😉 Plus, when I pull out recipes like this one, he can’t complain!  Comfort food that’s healthy.  Everybody wins.

I found this recipe for healthy (and paleo!) sloppy joes.  Don’t think it can get better than that?  It only requires a crock-pot.  Set it and forget it.  Boom.

Paleo Sloppy JoesIngredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (I used extra lean)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste (no salt added)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp BBQ seasoning

Directions:

Place all ingredients in the crock-pot.  Stir and cook on low for 2-4 hours.

I served mine with a sweet potato instead of a bun!

Have a great weekend and GO TIGERS!!! (the M-I-Z kind) 😉

WIAW #8: New Recipes & Thanksgiving Tips

This week, I broke away from the usual eggs, protein bar and salad combos that tend to fill up my days.  I found a couple new recipes and decided to give them a try, so let’s get to it with this week’s What I Ate Wednesday (really, Tuesday).  Also, keep in mind, I do not list every single thing I eat, there is always a handful or two of trail mix, some Dove chocolate mixed in there.


Thanks again for hosting, Jenn!
Breakfast

I tried this Sweet Breakfast Scramble recipe out this weekend that I found over at Carrots ‘n Cake and really liked it, so I decided to repeat this week.  I followed the recipe, but I only used 1/2 a banana and added 1/2 cup of pumpkin.  It was nice to change it up for once!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • topped with peanut butter and honey

Snack

While I was out running errands this weekend I spotted this protein pumpkin muffin mix at Home Goods and couldn’t pass it up.  Not too shabby for a packaged mix!

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Lunch

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Turkey Chili over at GiGi Eats Celebrities and had to give it a try, especially when they said you couldn’t taste the pumpkin.  I didn’t tell Matt what the “secret ingredient” was and he had NO idea. Winning.  It was so good I had to repeat it for lunch.

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Snack

Apple and peanut butter.  No pictures.  Enough said. 🙂

Dinner

I got home late so just decided to whip up an egg scramble complete with egg whites, spinach, low sodium ham and goat cheese.  One of my favs!  It doesn’t look like much in the picture, but that’s because I forgot to snap one until I was almost finished.  #bloggerprobs.  I also snacked on half of another protein muffin and I can’t forget my Dove chocolate!

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Since tomorrow is Turkey Day, I thought I would leave you all with a few tips to keep it a little on the healthy side. I will preface this by saying that I am a big believer in having everything in moderation, and holidays are no exception.  I try to eat healthy 80-90% of the time, so there is no reason I can’t live a little on days like this….or even on a random Thursday for that matter. 😉  I am definitely not going to tell you to go to Grandma’s house and only fill your plate with turkey and green beans.  If you have the willpower to do that though, more power to you!  For me, the key is portion control.

1. Workout Thanksgiving morning.  Trust me, you will feel much better about indulging if you already got in a daily sweat session.

2. Portion control. Portion control. Portion control.  Don’t skip the potatoes and pie if that’s what you’re into, but it’s all about the portions.  Fill up most of your plate with protein, veggies and greens and then take small amounts of “the good stuff”.  This way, you can have your cake (or pie!) and eat it too. 😉

3. Bring something you “can” eat. My mom and I are all about this.  Bring a dish that you know will provide a healthy alternative.  That way, you know there will be at least ONE dish that you can count on being semi-healthy.  You might be surprised how much everyone appreciates that too!

4.  Take a walk.  After your big meal and after getting a little couch potato/football-watching time in, bundle up and take a walk.  Invite your family members to come along; it would be a good chance to get outside, breath in some fresh air, and catch up with grandma.

5. ENJOY the day!  Holidays are about spending time with family and friends, it shouldn’t be about stressing over what you ate (or didn’t eat).  Sit back, relax and take it all in.  You worked hard for it!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!