My Third Whole30

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After months of declaring that I’m going to do another Whole30 I’m finally doing another Whole30. If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 it’s basically a paleo way of eating with very clear boundaries for thirty days. I eat seafood but no other meat so for thirty days I’m eating lots of vegetables, eggs, fish, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil. What I’m not eating is sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, and legumes.

Why do a Whole30? My first Whole30 happened after a month of indulging on lots of bread, wine, and cheese in Eastern Europe. My second Whole30 happened after a winter of celebrating all the holidays with lots of caramel corn, brownies, cookies, and wine. My Whole30 results were amazing – my skin was glowing, I never felt bloated, and I had some hormonal stuff that seemed to sort itself out. But even so, after my second Whole30 I kind of decided I never needed to do another Whole30 again. That I was capable of practicing balance and moderation by eating paleo 90% of the time but still enjoy treats with moderation and mindfulness. Oh and then I got pregnant – and while I didn’t throw paleo eating out the window I listened when my body made loud, almost childlike demands for “YOGURT! OATS! IN MY FACE! NOW!”

So why another Whole30? This postpartum Whole30 is an attempt to get some inflammation in my body down and my stress hormones under control. In the mornings when I step out of bed my whole body hurts – I hobble to the kitchen for my heaping bowl of morning oats like a grandma. In the evenings I feel bloated and very-not-sexy. Also, I’m doing another Whole30 because it turns out I’m not so great at moderation. I spend a lot of mental energy discerning whether a day was good enough to celebrate with an entire bar of dark chocolate (or maybe just 2 pieces? Or 3. No, 4… see!) or hard enough to wind down with a well-deserved pint of dark oatmeal stout.

Furthermore, I’ve spent the last year letting cravings dictate what I eat – and that was completely valid given my context. My previous Whole30s actually allowed me to understand my pregnancy cravings and actually listen to my body. So when my body told me to eat oats in my last trimester of pregnancy I almost felt ashamed! Like I was betraying my paleo way of life. Little did I know oats help boost milk production so it’s my paleo way of eating no grains that allowed me to listen when my body started craving them. That said, with the extra stress my body is under (lack of sleep, hitting the gym hard, breastfeeding, and general stress) I’m craving lots of sugar and entire loafs of bread. And I’m feeling it.

What’s different about this Whole30? The biggest difference is that because I was already eating mostly paleo (aside from the morning oats, evening chocolate, and occasional glass of beer) going that extra 10% isn’t so hard. Attitude-wise I  have a lot more ownership over my choice to do this. I’m not a dramatic victim of the Whole30 (which is what it can feel like at times). And at just little over a week into it I’m learning that my relationship with food will always be a journey and ongoing learning experience that will need to be tweaked according to whatever factors are playing into my overall health. That said, this Whole30 is allowing me to take an objective look at where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I want to go with the things I consume and whether they make me more or less healthy.

Okay but what am I actually eating? Every morning I have sweet potato hash browns seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, and salt topped with two eggs sunny side up. I have two cups of tea with homemade hemp milk. For lunch I usually have leftovers from last night’s dinner which is typically some sort of fish and veggie dish like cauliflower rice. For snacks I eat bananas smeared with almond butter, a handful of grapes, and cucumber sticks with smoked salmon and boiled eggs. If I’m craving something sweet I’ll bake some diced apples topped with dates, nuts, and cinnamon. Or I’ll snack on some dried goji berries. That’s pretty much it!

I’ve also found it much easier to eat out on this Whole30 – I know how to modify my order to make it Paleo and without annoying the waiter too much. (Local OKC friends – The Wedge’s antipasto platter without cheese and fish and veggies at Kitchen No. 324 are safe bets.)

Should you do a Whole30? Anytime I share that I’m doing a Whole30 I get a slew of texts and direct messages saying things like “I want to do a Whole30. But I don’t know how I’m going to live without _______.” If you want to try a Whole30 just go for it. Maybe just try living without black beans or cream in your coffee or whatever for 30 days – one day at a time – and see how you do. Or don’t  – just because everyone and their dog is doing a #whole30 doesn’t mean you have to.

 

Full disclosure: Whole30 and Whole9 Life are a client of mine but I was in no way compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. I was working with Melissa and Dallas Hartwig for over a year before I tried a Whole30 and it really did change my outlook on food.

On Moderation

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Last Friday afternoon I made these no-bake peppermint patties by Frankenstein-ing a few recipes from This Rawsome Vegan Life together and making a few moderations of my own. And they were awesome. I made about 12 cookies and managed to eat 10 (saving one for Jeremy and one for my sister) of them within the span of 12 hours.

I’m pretty good with being disciplined when I have firm boundaries. For example, if I’m doing a Whole30 and know that dark chocolate is off the table (and out of my mouth) for a full 30 days it’s not much of a problem. I know I’ll have cravings but I also know that I can’t give in to them. But after my month of clean eating is up, it becomes a daily battle to keep myself from eating an entire bar of the stuff – every. single. night. The question of “Do I have one more piece or no?” and the restraint (or indulgence) that follows almost becomes more struggle than the joy of eating some awesome chocolate is worth.

And on that note … since having Fox I only enjoy a glass of wine (or two max) once a week. But I’ve found that it’s not quite as enjoyable, tasty, or comforting as my daily “wind down” glass was pre-pregnancy. I suppose the daily ritual of getting cozy with a bottle of Malbec may have been what took the edge off even more so than the actual wine itself. Plus now when I imbibe, even just a little bit, I feel wrecked just hours later. Again, it just hardly seems worth it.

I’m beginning to think I suck at moderation. For as much as I’d like to think of myself an anything-goes free-spirit, I actually do much better within boundaries – even if they’re self-imposed. What about you? Are you good with moderation? Or do you prefer to have a clear line in the sand?

Anniversary Party for Two

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I’ve been lazy about it for the past few years, but lately I’ve had the desire to put a little more effort and enthusiasm into holidays and events worth celebrating. That desire stems from wanting to create family traditions and magical memories for Fox. But I want to expand my own capacity for joy and make magical memories for myself too. I need more intentional and thoughtful celebration in my life. So last Friday was our 5 year anniversary. I was sleepy and trying to choreograph the get-it-all-done dance but decided to muster up the energy to celebrate five good years of marriage to my main man.

We had lunch at our favorite Indian buffet and split a bar of fancy chocolate in my car. Then I picked up a nice bottle of bourbon and spent the afternoon making these no-bake cookies (they were amazing – I used walnuts for the cookie base and maple syrup instead of agave). That evening we went out to a local block party and ate crepes from a food truck. We came home and after putting Fox to bed enjoyed takeout sushi and split a bottle of carmenere over candlelight at our dining room table. For three hours we had each other’s undivided attention and it was exactly what these sleepy new parents needed.

It wasn’t grandiose but it was pretty great. What I learned from the day was that we create our own magic and the kind of memories we choose to have are up to us to make.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

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Even though the weather isn’t in the full swing of Fall I’ve started stocking my kitchen with root veggies. I’ve been especially craving soup (and soup season) something fierce lately. This is a butternut squash soup I threw together for dinner the other day. It’s super easy and pretty tasty. This recipe is also vegan and Paleo for those of you who care about that sort of thing. I enjoy eating this soup on my couch with my feet tucked under a warm cat and an episode of The Daily Show on my DVR.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup 
1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 red peppers, quartered and roasted
1 apple
3-4 tbs. almond butter
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped and smashed
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced
1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 tbs. coconut oil
2 tbs. yellow curry spice
1 tbs. cumin
1 tsp. pumpkin spice or cinnamon
raisins, sliced almonds, and goji berries to garnish
salt to taste

First roast your red peppers in the oven at 425F until the edges start to turn dark. In a large soup pot heat your coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion. After onion becomes translucent add your garlic and ginger. Be careful not to let your garlic burn. After a few minutes add the almond butter to the onion mix. Stir it in enough to let it melt and incorporate into the onions. Then add your butternut squash and enough water to completely cover the squash. Bring to a boil. After about 5 minutes of boiling add your red peppers, apple, and spices. Let boil for another 5 minutes. Then add your coconut milk and bring back up to a simmer. Once the squash is tender turn off the heat and blend your soup in a blender. Serve and garnish with raisins (this really makes it!), goji berries, and sliced almonds.

This recipe makes about 4-6 servings.

Pumpkin Spice Paleo Granola

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I spent a good part of this weekend in Palm Springs, California soaking up just a little bit more sun at the ACE hotel before the fall really starts to set in here. It’s still warm in Oklahoma but the high temperatures of the day are steadily getting a little lower and evenings out require a light sweater. The promise of autumn in the air has me prematurely craving carrot soup, roasted root veggies, and pumpkin everything of course.

So yesterday, a particularly laid-back Sunday, I was browsing my Instagram feed and came across this snap of chai spiced grain-free granola Liz was making. Her readers were asking for a recipe (I was secretly hoping for one too) and she was pretty much all but “It’s granola! Just throw together some nuts, seeds, coconut, and a lil’ bit of spice – then roast until browned.” And she’s right. It isn’t rocket science. But here’s where I confess that I have never made my own granola. So I decided to give it a shot and spell it out for those of you who have never made it yourself either.

Pumpkin Spice Paleo Granola 
Okay, so for real. You really don’t need a recipe to make granola. I didn’t really measure out these ingredients – so I’m making an educated guess here. Adjust accordingly based on things you like and don’t like. 

1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup goji berries
1-2 tbs. pumpkin spice
1-2 tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a large cookie pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix together the coconut, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and nuts (leave the raisins and berries out). Sprinkle in the pumpkin and cinnamon spices and drizzle with olive oil (probably 2 tbs.). Then shake for a good 30 seconds. Then with a wooden spoon – just to make sure all the spices and oil are distributed evenly. Spread the mixture evenly across the cookie pan and roast until browned – maybe 20 minutes. But keep your eyes on your granola every few minutes – it would be pretty devastating to burn.

Once the granola is browned remove from the oven. Take an even larger piece of parchment paper and line your countertop with it. Transfer the granola from the hot pan to the cool counter and spread the mixture out as thin as possible to let cool. Once cool toss in the bowl and mix in the raisins and goji berries (dried cranberries would be great here too). I’m storing ours in a large glass container and will be eating on it all week.