Whole30

This post has been sitting in my draft folder partially written for over two months. I couldn’t decide if anyone would really care.  Then I received messages from multiple people asking for tips and recipes for completing the Whole30.  So here it is …

About 2 years ago, a friend introduced me to the Whole30. I am always leery of fad diets and quick to point out the flaws.  HOWEVER, this friend happens to be a dietician and clearly knows more than me so I listened.  She was specifically talking about how much more energy she has had and how her complexion has noticeably cleared up since changing her eating.  The Whole30 program has since blown up in popularity, which I believe is a testament to its effectiveness.

According the Whole30 website, the program is “a short-term nutritional reset designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” The idea is some foods groups could be wreaking havoc to your body and you don’t’ even realize it.  The program asks you to cut out legumes, grains, sugar (of any form), dairy and alcohol for 30 days.  Like Paleo but stricter.  During the 30 days your body will heal and recover from the harm caused by these food groups.  After your body is clean, you are supposed to reintroduce these foods one at a time to see which food groups affect you personally.

After learning about the program I went home, did some research and began. I had no hopes or desires to lose weight.  I just wanted to start from scratch and feel good.

I would be lying to you if I told you I noticed my acne had cleared up, I was sleeping better, my digestive system improved or I had more energy and focus. I most definitely did not find the program cured a disease I had.  Yes, people do claim all of these and some.

What I can say is I feel dramatically better. My cravings have decreased significantly.  In the past I have been told, “I can’t imagine what you will be like pregnant considering the cravings you have now”.  During the 30 days, I developed an appreciation for real food.  Somehow food just tasted better.  In fact, I did not miss the foods I had eliminated so I kept going.

Since doing my first Whole30, I am much more conscious of what is in food. I would say I eat Whole30 75% of the time.  Every once in a while I fall off a cliff just to remind myself how bad it feels.  I have fully completed the program at least one (maybe two) other time and partially a handful of times.  I have not yet completed the “reintroduction phase” but still intend to.

As requested here are my tips: Continue reading

Thankful Thursday VI

I am thankful for watermelon.  I can’t get enough!  Unlike some fruit, you can only get watermelon for a short period of each year and thankfully it is that time of the year.  Every time I go to the store, I seek out the cardboard box of melons and begin knocking on a every melon as I hold the honker up to my ear like a child trying to hear the ocean in a seashell.  There aren’t too many things better than cutting open a melon when you get home to discover it is perfectly ripe and sweet.  I have to admit, I have been struggling with having to share my watermelon with Keith.   I consider putting a good portion of the watermelon in his morning smoothie as my good deed of the week.  I recently discovered the deliciousness just happens to pair perfectly with the mint growing on my fire escape.  After writing this, I think I will pick up a watermelon on my way home from working in Southern New Jersey this week.

Our 4th of July in Pictures

I had been looking forward to having a 3 day weekend with nothing to do.  I wanted to knock items off my ever expanding “to do” list and have a great desire to just relax. This weekend was far from the relaxing weekend I had envisioned, but we definitely had a great 4th of July weekend.  I am not sure words are sufficient to describe what experincing 4th of July in NYC was like.  So instead, I am going to piggyback off a blog idea I liked and summarize our weekend with 3 words per picture.

I attempted tennis

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Grocery Delimmas

Before moving to Hoboken my aunt inquired about where I would grocery shop.  At the time, I don’t think I thoroughly understood the importance of her question. 5 months later I have yet to fully figure out how to handle keeping a stocked fridge.

Hoboken has many grocery shops within walking distance of our home.  Most of the stores are local, small (but packed to the brim) and primarily organic. These shops are reasonably priced for some items and outrageously priced for others. It is not rare for me to walk to one store see the price of what I need and then walk to a second and third in hopes I find a price I am willing to pay. Sometimes I have great success and am thrilled with the price.   Other times I think they are crazy and resort to plan B for dinner (oatmeal and almond butter). The other issues with these local shops is half way home from larger hauls, I feel like my arms are about to fall off from carrying the groceries. The worst is when the bags rip and I end up chasing my rolling groceries!

There are also well known chain grocery stores within a 5 minute drive. However, we learned the hard way their prices are OUTRAGEOUS!!!  To be specific, we purchase a block of cheese at the local “A&P” for $8 and an identical block of cheese was later found at Trader Joes for $3. Seems backward right?

A coworker tipped me off to the fruit stands in Manhattan.  All over Manhattan there are people who have set up a stand to sell fruit on the sidewalk.  These stands are almost always cheaper than the stores and have all the in season goodness.  The key is to get the items early before the sun has beaten down on them all day.  Also, they are cash only and I conveniently never have cash when needed.

Our saving grace is the Trader Joes within a 20ish minute drive of our home. I had researched to find the alternate grocery stores and made Keith accompany me to the closest Trader Joes awhile back and since then, we have been making trips every two weeks. In addition to being decently located, this store is the optimum combination of price and quality we have found. Win!

Recently, Keith and I accidently stumbled across an Indian Bazaar in Jersey City while getting new tires for our car. We randomly hopped in to find rows of fruits and vegetables for crazy cheap prices. Prices were so cheap that I was a little bit concerned about the suitability for eating. My weariness wore off fast when we saw a box of 9 mangos for $6.99 (we had been buying mangos for our personal limit of $1.50), grapes for $1.99/lb (I refuse to buy them at $3.99/lb at the local stores) and a head of cauliflower for $2.50 (the cheapest I have found is around $3.50). We were beyond ecstatic about our box of mangos. Of course, this Bazaar is not conveniently located near us.

Between Trader Joes, local shops, fruit stands and the Bazaar, I think we have grocery shopping close to down. I am still working on having the right ingredients at the right time to make complete meals. I definitely need to improve my meal planning. Right now, we choose our meals based on the meat options in our freezer. Of course our options are limited since we don’t have abundant freezer space like those of you in Kansas with multiple fridges and freezers. We also have to utilize a portion of our little freezer space for fruits and vegetables. This is pertinent to our existence since I can’t keep enough fresh fruit and vegetable on hand for Keith’s daily smoothie and my body’s nutritional needs.

And when all else fails the Italian deli on the corner makes a killer sandwich for a reasonable price.

Vegetables for Breakfast

In the recent years I have developed an obsession for vegetables.  Don’t get me wrong I have never been that person who steers clear of all things green but I never went out of my way to ensure I had vegetables on my plate.  It all started as an attempt to be healthy but now my body craves vegetable. Keith jokes (and probably fears) I will become a vegetarian but I constantly remind him I will never be able to abandon my beef upbringing.

My most recent vegetable related phenomenon isn’t a type of vegetable or how to cook them but when to eat them.  BREAKFAST!  I don’t know about you but when I think about breakfast I think a variation of eggs; bacon, sausage or ham; and typically toast, waffles or pancakes.  in the past the closest I came to incorporating vegetables in breakfast was onion and peppers in an omelet.  Maybe if I was daring I would add a little spinach.  Who wrote the breakfast rules?  I should give some credit and say I am impressed by the trend to add greens to smoothies and avocados on eggs and toast trends. But why stop there?

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I love to sauté green beans, kale, squash, zucchini, asparagus and broccoli in a pan, remove it and use the same pan to cook eggs.  No additional dishes required!  I try to keep frozen steamer bags of vegetables at all times. They are easy and can be cooked in the microwave at the same time as your eggs.  No additional time required!  Do you have leftover vegetables from dinner the night before?  Cut them up and add them to an omelet. I have even added spinach and butternut squash to oatmeal.

Breakfast is most likely the meal you eat at home.  Why not load your body with good stuff when you have control?  Try it and let me know what you think.

Buttermilk Biscuits

I am currently in clean out mode. This means a lot of people are getting picture messages asking if they want an item. I make frequent trips to the dumpster to throw unwanted items out (before I can second guess the decision), and my fridge and freezer are sparser than normal. Some of the few remaining items left in my fridge were sausage and eggs so before Keith boarded his last flight to Wichita Friday, I asked if he wanted to go out to eat when he arrived or make breakfast at my place. He responded with, “it depends on if you are making those delicious biscuits”. I didn’t really have the ingredients for the biscuits he was referring to but who am I to disappoint a guy flying all the way form New York to Kansas to visit for the weekend?

Adaption #1: I only had 2 scant cups of all purpose flour. I substituted the remainder with whole wheat flour. Truth is I prefer to cook with whole wheat flour anyway but shy away from it when cooking for others.

Adaption #2: Of course buttermilk is not one of the remaining items in my fridge. Easy solution, add vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk and WALAH buttermilk. BUT I didn’t have milk, vinegar or lemon juice. I had to fall back to powdered milk. I always keep powdered milk in my pantry. No, I probably wouldn’t drink powdered milk plain (actually I think regular milk is disgusting and gross) but I have found it it works wonders when baking. I guess should change the title of this post to ” powdered milk biscuits”.

Adaption #3: This is really more more of a tip then adaption. I also had to pull butter out of my freezer. The freezer and I have become best friends since I have lived on my own. Don’t turn you back on a bargain because you can’t use it. Freeze it! I am always cutting fruits when they are in season and throwing them in the freezer along with the frozen bag of kale I didn’t quite finish to use in smoothies later. When my basil plant was prolific, I made pesto and froze the remainder. I have even heard you can freeze milk but have never tested it since I don’t care for it.

Keith at least pretended to enjoy these biscuits oblivious to any substitutions made. I also discovered my favorite new baking device. I stumbled across this Simply Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat when cleaning out my apartment. I asked for this mat for Christmas last year and in typical Clara fashion “saved” it to use for the perfect moment. I know I know it makes no sense to save new things. Similar to parchment paper, you place the silpat on a cookie sheet and the baked good doesn’t stick. There is no need to grease the cookie sheet and even better you don’t have to scrub off any baked on gunk afterwards. This mat will definitely be used for holiday cookie baking.

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Homemade Nut Butter

I love all things peanut butter! This obsession has evolved into an enjoyment for all nut butters over time. I find myself drifting to the nut butter section in grocery stores just to look at the different brands and variations. Of course I like a traditional PB&J (chunky peanut butter and grape jelly is the way to go).  I also enjoy peanut butter with ice cream, bananas, apples, chocolate, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and the list goes on. I knew my fiancé was a keeper when he bought me a three-month subscription to the peanut butter club.

I have learned not to keep jars of peanut butter around the house because my spoon just can’t stay out. And who can eat just one spoonful of peanut butter? There have been multiple occasions when I may or may not have eaten an entire jar in one sitting. However, there are times I just  NEED peanut butter and rather than running to the store I’ve learned to make it with any type of nut I have in the cabinet (peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios). This recipe is perfect for those people in Southwest Kansas who complain about not having a decent grocery store.  Simple, fast and adaptable … my type of recipe. Did I mention the homemade version is healthier than the typical jarred version containing added sugars? Bonus!

Almonds in Bag

Almonds

Almond Crumbs

Almond Butter

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Homemade Nut Butter 

Ingredients:

  • Nut of your choice
  • Salt (optional if using an unsalted nut)

Directions:

If desired you can roast raw nuts on a cookie sheet at 350° for approximately 15 minutes or until they begin to give off an aroma. Warning: don’t wander too far because they will burn quickly.

Place raw or roasted nuts into the food processor and begin processing. The nuts will first break down and into a crumb mixture and begin sticking to the sides of the bowl. Periodically use a spatula and scrape the sides of the bowl. The mixture will then begin to clump up and form a paste. Eventually, you will get the smooth and creamy consistency you are familiar with.