Saturday, January 4, 2014

Whole30 the Second (Whole45)

It's been a pretty intense holiday season, but I am back and Whole30ing again! Well, Whole45ing... Yeah. I had a rough month after I finished my last Whole30. Holidays, winter blues and some heavy emotional stuff took a huge toll on me and I broke down and just started eating. I just didn't care, essentially if I wanted it, I ate it. Even dairy... Though in minimal amounts. I'd have just a bite of frosted cake, a couple chocolate chip cookies, a tiny taste of that cheesy dish. But gluten, processed, junk filled things, also made their way into my body relatively often and in large amounts. My headaches came back, my motivation disintegrated and I got a pretty nasty cold that I am still recovering from. Ugh. Needless to say, my desire for comfort food is vanishing in the wake of my need to feel right again. 

So here's to day one. I've spent the morning fasting, drinking water and herbal tea, to give my digestive system a bit of a rest. Generally, fasting seems to be frowned upon by Whole30ers, but I use it only as an occasional break to reset my body and start fresh. I'm not even putting myself through a full 24 hours and am looking forward to a good lunch soon. 

I'm doing this just a little bit different this time.  First, I've joined the Whole9 forum and plan to keep a public log, similar to this, but much more intensive. Also, I am going to continue taking my supplements even though some contain non-compliant ingredients. Many people have asked this question and the response tends to be "doctor prescribed meds are forgivable, supplements are not" regarding ingredients, but I'm going to go ahead and consider these meds, since they are selected by my naturopath to conquer some issues that I don't think diet alone can remedy. So, I will be daily partaking in small amounts of rice flour, soybean oil and soy lecithin. I hope it doesn't really mess things up for me, but I just can't afford to replace 3 already expensive supplements with new bottles and I don't think I should go without. I haven't gotten any responses from others to give me more direction on it, so here goes. Clear skin, are you in my future?

I hope to have tasty recipes to share soon, I haven't been doing much cooking, but I do have a brownie recipe I am pretty damn proud of that will be going up eventually. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Post Whole30

So day 30 sorta came and went and I awoke day 31 with many plans to just have one or two treats, and return to Whole30 strictness for the next few days to detox said treats... I did real good for most of the day. I was spending the day in NY with my family, and then the night with a friend. I woke up, had a good breakfast of herbal coffee and cauliflower crust quiche and headed out with the fam. Lunch came far later than I would have liked and I ended up shelling out far too much money for a salad, as tasty as it was (kale, spinach, chicken, olives, butternut and avocado... Mmm). So when I was faced with a self serve froyo place that happened to have dark chocolate sorbet, I could not say no. I kept the portion small and topped it with fresh pomegranate seeds and mango. But, aside from the fact that I knew it was dairy free, I do not know what was in it.  Soy? Some sort of unnecessary preservatives? I hope not... But I'd already opened the floodgates. The treats I was accounting for were already planned out. When I broke away from my family to meet up with my friend, a shot of whiskey was pressed into my hand (also unaccounted for, I had done research on grain free vodkas and had planned to drink only that all night). The night continued with amazing Korean BBQ, more whiskey and plenty of vodka sodas. 
Funnily enough, my alcohol tolerance seems to have increased. I drank a lot more than I planned and ended the night quite sober. The next morning though, my stomach definitely felt unhappy. So breakfast was an egg and bagel sandwich to soak up the acids... So yet more indulgences. Aaand so the week continued, with me grumpily going "why not?"  In the end, I am very glad I am already planning on a take 2 come January. We will just have to call this past month practice, because I clearly need more than 30 days to truly affect my self control. While I was in the program, I was completely ok with saying "no" to myself, but once I do not have that excuse, I go overboard. Maybe next time I need a Whole45, or at least a more strict reintroduction to hold myself to because I clearly have control issues. 
Poor reintro aside, my specs from before and after are interesting. I did not exercise regularly and honestly did not think I had any weight left to lose, but I managed to drop 6.5 pounds and 2 percent body fat. I also banished my chronic headaches and haven't suffered body/back pain at work in weeks. These are both amazing, though I had higher hopes. My acne has remained the same, if not gotten worse. Fortunately, I know, thanks to my amazing doctor, that my hormonal imbalance is the issue here. I've got a load of new vitamins and a lot of hope. And plans to meditate to reduce my stress levels...

Verdict: Whole30 = Awesome. But I need to give it more time and dedicate myself more thoroughly. I need to set up regular exercise and possibly continue to take my vitamins, even if they are non compliant.  I'm excited for January, how about you?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rutabaga hash browns

Today was a rough day. I didn't sleep well last night and was headachy, grumpy and super distracted all day. With 5 days left to go, visions of chocolate and cookies have been dancing in my head. My brain is realizing that, pretty soon, I can let loose and eat "fun" things. I've thought through a list of junk and treats that I might POSSIBLY be interested in... and there's a surprising number I DON'T want. What I do very much, emphatically want, is something creamy and/or chewy and sweet and definitely chocolate. So I spent much of today thinking up exactly what treat I will be making for myself this time next week (I'm done in time for Saturday, but I already have plans involving alcohol, so I'll save the sugar for a few more days). In order to satisfy my creamy and chewy (the sweet and chocolate part is a given), I'm thinking a simple, quick paleo mug cake topped with cashew butter as frosting... Yeah, that's the ticket. I'm pumped. 
I've been eating lots of cashew butter alluvasudden. One to two spoonfuls a night, to be precise. I'm annoying myself with it, but I can't get the need for a "treat" food out of my head. I'm just ready for this to be over, particularly since I'm not currently feeling any of the benefits, only the downsides. 

On another note though I'm kinda obsessed with rutabaga latkes right now. They nicely fill that niche of crispy, tasty hash browns and are pretty simple to through together in the morning. And when cooking for one, a single rutabaga lasts a damn long time. 

Easy Rutabaga Latkes/Hash Browns

2 cups rutabaga, peeled and grated
1/2 small onion, grated
2 eggs
2 tsp coconut flour
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil

First, peel and grate your rutabaga, either using a grater or the grate attachment on your food processor (my mini food processor has no grating attachment, so I did this by hand... It wasn't too bad). Approximately half of a large rutabaga makes the 2 cups. 
Grate or finely chop onion. 
In a bowl, mix the rutabaga shreds, onion, eggs, flour and salt and pepper to taste thoroughly. 
Heat a skillet to medium heat and melt your coconut oil. 
Scoop a large spoonful of the rutabaga mixture into your hand and shape it into a thick disc before adding it to your hot pan. You should see the edges sizzling in the oil. Add more rutabaga discs and cook approximately 4-5 minutes before flipping and cooking another 4-5 until crispy (mine were kinda blackened, and I was totally ok with that). 
Should make about 6 latkes. Serve with whatever tasties you can think of.  Mine were great with guacamole, cranberry sauce and eggs (not all at the same time... But that's not a bad idea). 

Picture to follow, once I remember to take one after breakfast. Doh. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dairy and Grain Free Green Bean Casserole

Happy post thanksgiving, friends! I hope you had much delicious food. I certainly did, and all of it Whole30 friendly. I mean, I definitely over-ate, which is not really in the spirit of the program, and was uncomfortable after, but after I'd digested everything, I felt just as good as I always do lately. No bloating, cravings or food coma the next morning. Not to mention, TONS OF DELICIOUS LEFTOVERS 
(yes, the caps were necessary there, don't judge me). Seriously, I love leftovers. I love them almost more than the original meal. What's most exciting about thanksgiving leftovers, is that you don't have to just eat the same meal again, you can recreate them into a new delicious combination. 
For example, breakfast this morning was a sorta thanksgiving eggs Benedict. 

This triumph was achieved by mixing an egg into some leftover cinnamon butternut squash mash and frying it like a burger, then topping the thing with cranberry sauce and a fried egg. Magic! 
Dinner tonight is a turkey shepherd's pie... Or pot pie... Or just casserole, I'm not too sure what to call it. It's leftover green bean casserole mixed with turkey and gravy, then topped with a layer of the same squash mash (I had a LOT leftover) and baked till delicious. 

I was always a huge fan of the next day (or next three days) turkey sandwich, and don't get me wrong... I still think those are delicious... But who needs the bread? Lunch today was turkey and raw kale topped with homemade mayo. I am thankful. Thankful for leftovers. 

I contributed five items to my family's thanksgiving. Partly as an effort to minimize their work, and partly to ensure there'd be plenty I could eat. I shouldn't have worried, my mom cooked too much as usual (and I convinced her to try roasting her Brussels sprouts instead of boiling, success!), but I am glad for all the extra food. Most contributions were basic: cinnamon mash butternut, gravy, garlic mashed cauliflower and Melissa Joulwan's fantastic Whole30 friendly cranberry sauce, but I also wanted to recreate a favorite of mine from years past: green bean casserole. 

Green bean casserole is usually my contribution to thanksgiving, and I've always made it the "traditional" way, with cream of mushroom soup and French's fried onions. This year, that was off the menu, and I replaced it with this:

Dairy and Grain-Free Green Bean Casserole

2 lbs fresh green beans
1/2 medium cauliflower 
2 cups chicken bone broth
1 medium sweet onion
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
Optional: milk alternative to taste
Also optional: mushrooms

First, chop your green beans into 1-2 inch pieces and boil with one cup of chicken broth for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. 
Preheat oven to 350. 

Cream of cauliflower:
While beans are boiling, chop cauliflower into small florets, smash garlic cloves and boil both with second cup of broth until cauliflower is fork tender. 
Add cauliflower to food processor or blender with a 1/4 cup of the broth from the pot and oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth, add milk to increase creaminess if desired.  
If using mushrooms (I skipped them because my sister dislikes them), roughly chop and sauté in a tbsp of oil over medium heat and add to cream sauce. 

Crispy onions:
Chop onion into long thin strips. I cut rings and then sliced them in half. Heat oil in a pot over medium low heat. Add a layer of onions to the oil and let sit for 4-5 minutes until crisp, stirring once. 
Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel covered plate to drain and add another layer. Repeat until all onions are cooked. 

In a casserole dish, mix green beans, cream sauce and half the cooked onions. Top with remaining onions. 
Baked in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. 

Envision it with MORE onions on top, I definitely did not use enough with only 1/2 an onion. Also, envision a better picture, I'm a terrible photographer. 

Anyway, I was pretty proud of this, the flavor is light and oniony and the texture creamy. Not to mention totally dairy and grain free and optionally vegan. I can certainly see myself making this again... This time properly with mushrooms and not inviting my picky sister to try it... Yeah. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Baked eggs and Mexican chocolate

Hello from Day 21! Three weeks in and going strong! Well, sort of... I'm honestly not feeling so amazing. My headaches are gone and my energy levels are more stable, also sitting through the day is easier. I should be over the MOON about this... But I keep going through waves of ridiculous cravings, things I couldn't eat even before starting the program like rich chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting, cheesy pizza and nachos... I think my brain is angry at me for trying to take control and it's lashing out by taunting me with these images. It's no fair. Also, my skin is just as terrible as it started, if not worse... and this past week, I've been beset by bloating and general discomfort. Humph. This all makes for a sad Kate. 
But, that aside, I have two new obsessions. First: baked eggs. I found a small ceramic dish in our cabinet that is the freaking perfect size. 

It's a ridiculously easy dish to make, with endless combinations. My favorites were leftover beef sweet potato hash with broccoli and cinnamon sweet potatoes topped with salsa and avocado. The only issue is it can be time consuming. Pro tip (ya know, from my huge experience making it... three... times... Yeah): have your bottom layers cooked ahead of time. Leftover veggies chopped small are GREAT, or some wilted spinach. 

Anyway, this ain't really a recipe, just a basic how to. Preheat your oven to 400 and fill your dish with a layer of veggies/meat. If they are not precooked, place the dish in your preheated oven till tender.  Crack a couple eggs over your filling and return to the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes until eggs are set. 
Try not to scarf it down. It's hot, for one.  For another, it's just unsightly. 

My second obsession: Mexican chocolate coffee. Chocolate, you say? How can this be, shouldn't you be having nothing sugary during your Whole30? (That's what you're thinking, right? I knew it). Never fear, I've not imbibed of the sugaryness. I simply desired something chocolate. Intensely desired. The smell and rich taste, I needed it. But it didn't need to be sweet, it just needed to be CHOCOLATE. 

The solution? Duh, I said it already. 

Mexican Chocolate Coffee 

2 teaspoons coffee grounds (real coffee, Teeccino or an herbal mix of carob and chicory)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (real cocoa powder, not hot chocolate mix)
2-3 dashes cinnamon
1 dash of cayenne pepper
Optional: coconut/almond milk to taste
Optional: honey to taste

Brew grounds and spices in a French press (if using a regular coffee maker, brew with cinnamon and cayenne, but save the cocoa powder for after). 
If desired, mix brew with milk to mellow and/or honey to sweeten. The honey will make it more like a mocha. 

This was deep and bitter and a touch spicy. And oh so soothing. Since I use herbal coffee, it makes a great evening drink in place of hot cocoa. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wooooah! We're halfway there!

Hello from day 15! I have officially survived the halfway point and I'm feeling pretty good! A couple things that are surprising me are a number of cravings that popped up randomly today even though I thought I was past the point and I'm having troubled getting out of bed mornings. The cravings, I feel, are more linked to my emotional state than the actual food though and same with the getting up part. I'm craving general tso's chicken, chocolate pudding and almond butter chocolate treats. These are my traditional "soothing" comfort foods and I think I'm craving how it made me feel when I'd eat them. This is why I am being so careful to not recreate any old comfort foods this month. I simply need to learn to handle my stress without food. Then again, I also had a craving for cinnamon toast crunch the other day... I can't explain that one. I hate the stuff. But, goddamn, I really want some general tso's. But how comforting would it be now or would I just feel sick? The morning issue isn't so much the waking up, I'm alert when my alarm goes off, I simply have no motivation or desire to move. I'm going to blame that on the cold though. Cold is dumb. Ugh. 
But otherwise, I'm doing damn good. This weekend my face broke out terribly and painfully, but I haven't had a new blemish in days and I appear to be quickly healing. Also, headaches are less often and my body temperature is more regular at work. I call this a success well worth another couple of weeks, yeah?
I've been eating pretty well too. Simply, but well. Last night I threw together a small butternut squash lasagna to provide lunches for the next few days and earlier this week, I was lunching on roasted chicken drumsticks marinated in coconut aminos and spices. I'm addicted to coconut aminos now. For breakfast yesterday, I had some cauliflower to use up, so I riced it and fried it up with some egg. Tada, fried rice brought to you by Coconut Aminos! 
It's funny, comfort food cravings aside, all I'm really missing right now, is just a glass of wine or two while cooking dinner. Which is funny, that's what most bloggers whose experiences I've read seem to miss, though not necessarily while cooking dinner... O:)  I know this one is a genuine, safe desire, rather than a craving, because I'm not envisioning how it feels or tastes to consume, I just miss its presence in my life. That will be my day 31 treat, for sure. 

I'll be experimenting with a chili recipe this weekend, so hopefully I'll have a recipe to share. In the meantime, happy eats!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sugar anger

Whoosh. It's been a helluva week. I realized sometime today that I didn't have a headache. THAT'S pretty freaking exceptional. Aside from that though, I've been going through a "why am I doing this to myself?" phase. Physically, I feel the same (no bloat or any other common symptoms, at least not that I know of... All my clothes are too big already from my weight loss earlier this year), though I am definitely breaking out more than usual. I'm finding blemishes, painful red ones, traveling up the sides of my face, which is unusual. My problems tend to stay focused in the chin and jawline areas. I'm hoping this is no more than a detox symptom that will fade shortly. 
In the meantime, I've been exposed to all kinds junk that I can't eat this week and it's been HARD. I mean, it's all dairy loaded stuff that I've been avoiding for the past 6+ months anyway, but I've always had something else to ease the pain: a bit of dark chocolate I keep stashed in my desk, crackers, fruit, etc. I ate way too many cashews today in compensation. It sucked. I was assaulted by a whole day of pastries, cookies and other treats and I spent lunch surrounded by 30 large pizzas from my favorite local place and my coworkers happily chowing down as I ate tuna, salad and broccoli soup. I was in some serious emotional pain, people. 
I'm also having some trouble with the concept of SWYPO (Sex With Your Pants On) as told by the Whole9 crew. The idea is that you shouldn't use Whole30 approved ingredients to make the old junk foody things you love because the process is more than what you put into your body, but the emotions associated with those foods. Banana ice cream is clearly comfort food even if it's just banana and maybe almond butter. It's about the texture and how scooping up cool, sweet, creamy spoonfuls feels to you. It makes me wonder where the line is. I got this recipe for an alfredo with white sweet potato noodles that sounds delicious. It's not going to make me go down the dark and stormy path of gobbling alfredo everywhere I go and I'm mostly just excited that it'll be delicious. But, I'm not gonna lie, the creamy texture does sound comforting. Gosh, this is complicated. Only 3 more weeks.