Last Saturday morning, we had Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. We finished off the last of the Easter candy, brought our favorite red wine and dark brew to Kyle's for dinner, and enjoyed every last bite of the cheese plate, the creamy mashed potatoes, and especially, Katy's layered homemade brownie cake, complete with a fudge brownie crust, a layer of fluffy cheesecake, a layer of homemade whipped cream, and topped with a mountain of strawberries. It was a good way to go out.
Fast forward five days later and I officially know the definition of hangry.
hangry: hungry and angry, esp. when the anger is induced by hunger.
Sunday morning, Beau and I (and Tom and Jamie) officially started the Whole30 Challenge. For those of you haven't heard of this, it is a thirty-day program that completely transforms how and what you eat. It's not a diet, but a nutritional reset that gives you the chance to strip your diet completely clean and see just how the foods you've been eating are actually affecting your day to day life. It cuts out all grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol and pretty much anything processed (I know, that's what I thought, too) for one month and supposedly changes the way you eat, crave, taste, and think about food for the rest of your life. It's about making you more in tune with what you're putting in your body, how it's affecting you, and for many, leads to improved health, wellness, and a myriad of other things.
When Jamie asked if I would entertain the idea of this, I was surprised by how quickly I responded yes. Although I have been making a point to pay more attention to the ingredients' lists of the foods I buy and attempting to make more balance, wholesome, and clean meals at home, I am a foodie at heart and LOVE my relationship with food. I love pizza, pasta, chocolate, and red wine. But I also love a good challenge, love the structure of meal planning, and loved the idea of having fun diving into something like this together. And with just a month before shorts weather, it seemed like a great way to gear up for a new season and end this semester with another thing to be proud of. Surprisingly, Beau agreed to give it a whirl, too, and after several recipe collaborations, grocery store trips, and carts full of meat, fruits, and veggies, we were ready to go Sunday morning.
And though I have had a few moments of what Jamie and Tom lovingly refer to as "hangry" (like today at my department meeting when everyone was eating chocolate chip cookies) Beau and I both have been pleasantly surprised with how well the first five days have went. Let me tell you, it's been a big shift in how we plan, prepare, think, and eat food, but it's made us more aware of all the unnecessary eating we had been doing, and how little of that we actually needed. Beau has loved that his smoker and grill have become a central part of our cooking process, and I have enjoyed the challenge of preparing new, inventive, and delicious meals with no sugar, no processed junk, and no useless calories that I thought we needed before. I realize we are only five days in, but according to Whole30, we are nearing the end of the hardest jaunt and five days feels like a major success when you haven't had a single gram of sugar.
So what have I liked so far?
I love how good it feels to only eat wholesome food. I appreciate how satisfying our prepared meals taste. I am proud of the knowledge I have gained already, like what exactly ghee is, and have enjoyed spending more time in the health market and learning to love Coconut Water and La Croix instead of Diet Pepsi. I look forward to my daily text updates with Jamie and have loved doing lots of food prep and cooking in the kitchen with Beau again. This part has also been hard and a bit more time consuming, yet, we are realizing how much convenience eating we were doing when we didn't really need to be. And I love that being much more intentional about my eating habits has also trickled into many other elements of my daily life. Every night has felt like a huge success and Beau and I are already seeing some inward and outward changes that feel pretty darn great.
What's been hard?
Well, convenience is not easy on Whole30. It's nearly impossible to find compliant foods at the gas station, a fast food drive through, or takeout menus on a lazy Friday night. Sacrificing simple things like a beer on the deck last night with our seventy degree weather, or that chocolate chip cookie during our meeting seem a little hard to accept, yet, the hope is that after thirty days I will see these things as true indulgences instead of every day occurrences I often overlook.
Some of our tips so far?
1. Plan your meals. This has been paramount to our early success with Whole30. Last weekend, I mapped out several meals, get groceries once a week, rely on leftovers for lunches, and get up twenty minutes earlier each morning to enjoy a well balanced breakfast to start the day. Beau loves to grill, so we smoked some pork for carnitas and loaded sweet potatoes, chicken for salads and soup, and burgers and steaks to pair with roasted veggies for easy weeknight meals. I keep a wide variety of fruits, nuts, and lara bars accessible for hungry moments and have found that a fully stocked, colorful fridge is the answer to keeping things interesting. The Whole30 cookbook is a must-have resource for recipes, but we have found so many good things on Pinterest and other related blogs. I look forward to creating a variety of meals each week, which makes me excited about eating them, too!
2. Take risks and try new things. This has been key for making this challenge actually fun so far. I read so many Whole30 blogs where people ate hard boiled eggs and fruit every morning for thirty days and my first thought was how boring that sounds! Beau and I have been working together to create delicious recipes that use the flavors of all the things we can eat, instead of focusing on all the things we can't eat. On Sunday, we made a sweet potato and onion hash with fried eggs for breakfast, grilled burgers with sliced avocado, tomato, and arugula for lunch, and grilled steaks with a mint chimichurri sauce, grilled veggie packets, and summer lettuce salad with fruit and a lemon vinigarette for dinner with the Petries. I even made a mocktail mojito with coconut La Croix, lime juice, and mint leaves! I've been experimenting with lots of sauces, and have decided I may never buy a jar of mayonnaise again. It's been fun to sort of play within a set of rules and marvel at the flavors of pure, fresh food.
3. Accountability partners. Whether it be my daily texts with Jamie, our shared Pinterest page where we collect recipes, or my daily debrief with Beau about random cravings or dreams of snickers bars, the we're-in-this-together approach has been fun. I am pretty confident I would have caved three different times this week had I not had others who I knew were in the same boat and I did not want to let them down! I have been completely surprised and proud of my husband for embracing this more than I thought he would. I think it's because I'm loving his grill. :)
4. Indulge in other things! I have been making a point to channel my time in enjoying other things when I otherwise might be enjoying eating! I pour hot flavored tea with fresh lemon in pretty cups, listen to my new Lumineers CD, and get in my favorite new podcast on the treadmill in the morning. I spend time at night planning our summer vacation, drive with the windows down, and spend a little more time getting ready in the morning. I have always found that when I eat better, I feel better, and my attitude, confidence, and energy grows because of it.
And most importantly, what have we been eating???
I've been documenting a few of our favorite recipes we've made so far, in case I want to dive into this again or if others care to try.
My two favorite recipes thus far have both been for breakfast. I made this egg bake the other morning and we have warmed this up every morning this week. We made ours with onion, bell peppers, asparagus, and spinach, and I am in love with this apple chicken sausage from Aidell's.
The other highlight has been my morning monkey salad. It takes less than five minutes to throw together and is SO yummy, I could eat it every morning forever. It's one sliced banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a drizzle (or three) of warm almond butter, a handful of blueberries, some toasted almonds (I toasted a bag full of these for salads, etc.), and toasted coconut flakes (I found these at Wal-Mart).
I was admittedly intimidated when I read that many people made their own mayonnaise. Until I tried it, that is! It took five minutes and is seriously loads better than store bought mayo. My favorite so far has been this cilantro lime mayo. The recipe can be found here.
There you have it. Week 1 of Whole30 nearly in the books. I hope to update each week with updates on how it's going and tips we are learning. Happy weekend!