Sunday, March 2, 2014

Whole30 and Me

In January, I began reading the book "It Starts With Food."  I have battled with food my whole life.  I want to be healthy, but I also want to eat yummy foods.  I love to cook and any time I have done a "diet" I mourn the loss of cooking they way I enjoy.  I also really love to celebrate with food.  Most of our traditions are linked to certain foods.  I love to eat out, try new restaurants, and be served!!  I love to bless people with my cooking. 

You can tell me all the reasons why sugar is "white death".  You can say don't eat processed foods.  You can go on and on about the evils of gluten and dairy.  BUT, none of those things motivate me one bit!  This book was different.  It addressed 4 areas:  
1.  Sugar and how our bodies were made to receive it compared to how our foods are unnaturally concentrated with it.
2.  The Hormones in our bodies.  Not male/female hormones but insulin, leptin, cortisol and glucagon.
3.  The Gut and how our foods should promote a healthy gut and digestive system.
4.  Inflammation and how it affects our bodies.

By addressing these areas and explaining how my body works, it really motivated me.  I began reading this book and as it explained the process my body goes through when I eat a certain food, it really opened my eyes.  You see, I am 41 years old.  I am beginning to feel my age.  Other days, I feel much older than my age.  The really scary thing is that I am looking around at women just a few years older than me and They. Are. Falling. Apart.  I am seeing so many women with health issues that are debilitating.  Autoimmune disorders are rampant.  Type 2 diabetes has become the norm for older people.  Aches and pains are a part of everyday life.   I don't want to live like that.  I can't live like that.  I have 7 people depending on me.  There is no time for sickness.  So, I decided to give it a try.  It is only 30 days.  I can do anything for 30 days.  I thought, "Isn't it worth a shot for the sake of my health and my family to give it a try?"  So, I did.  I began this journey on January 28.  Rick was leaving for a work trip to Dallas.  I felt like that would give me a few days to settle in and figure it all out.  

Let me just say, "It was HARD!"  I am not going to candy coat this process and tell you it was fun.  It really wasn't.  Out of the 30 days, I only had about 7 days that seemed easy.  Days 7, 8, and 9 were really good days for me for some reason, and the last 4 days were good.  Other than that, it was a battle The. Whole. Time.  The first 6 days were miserable.  I felt awful and dealt with the "carb flu" they talked about in the book.  I was really discouraged around days 16-20 because I was supposed to reach a stage called "Tiger Blood" where you have so much energy and just jump out of the bed every morning feeling refreshed and ready to face that day.  That did not happen for me.  I can say, I have been sleeping better than I ever have(I have always struggled with sleep issues), but I did not wake up refreshed.  I was really tired, A LOT.  Now, some would say I should have been exercising, but honestly, dealing with the food part was all I could handle at that point.  I might have had more energy if I had been exercising.  I have plans to add that in, just not yet.  

One thing that kept me going was trying to read the book every day.  That would center me and remind me why I was doing this.  I am still reading the book and rereading it.  It just helps me see the value in making these new food choices.  

Here is what I could eat:  Meat(not processed meats with sugar, nitrates, or nitrites, just plain unadulterated meat), Seafood,  Eggs, Veggies, Fruits, some Raw Nuts, and Healthy Oils(avocado oil and coconut oil). 

Here is what I could not eat:  No Dairy(including butter), No Grains, No Soy, No Sugar of any kind(not even artificial), No Legumes(including peanuts), No White Potatoes, No MSG, Sulfites, or Carrageenan.  

I truly did not do this to lose weight.  Although, I would be lying if I said I didn't hope to receive that benefit.  I really tried to make my focus on the health of it.  After completing the 30 days, there is a reintroduction period to see how your body responds to various food groups.  I have found so far that dairy and gluten have not bothered me when I reintroduced them.  BUT that does not mean that I want to go back to the way I was eating before.  It just means I don't have to be so strict when it comes to an ingredient that is 7th on the list.  I have found in reintroduction that foods don't taste nearly as good as I remember which has made me want to stick with the healthier foods. 

There were two challenges that I faced on this program:
1.  I did not put my whole family on the program.  This meant I was cooking for them and me.  That was hard.  I just didn't feel like I could fight the battles that would be required for all of us to do it.  I will say, I am making more and more of our meals compliant and have found canned coconut milk to be my new friend.

2.  Doing this really took away the fun of cooking for me.  I hope now that I am finished with the severe restrictions of the 30 days, I can transition to a mostly Paleo diet and enjoy trying new recipes again.   Cooking is such a love of mine.  I don't want to lose that joy in my life.  I just need to figure out new ways to make things and still have fun with it.  

I know this post is long.  I just want to share completely because many have asked me about it.  Here are some of my favorite foods that I ate during the 30 days with links to the recipes:
Almond Crusted Chicken with Asparagus cooked in Coconut Oil
 When making this subsequent times, I left out the lemon juice.  I don't like the tanginess of it.  You can also put this coating on seafood.

Taco salad
 This was a staple for me.  I really loved it.  I just made my own taco seasoning to mix with the ground beef.  I put tomatoes, red onions, black olives, avocado, and the meat on a bed of spinach.  I never imagined that I would like it on spinach, but I did!

Asian Beef with Cauliflower Poppers
 I just kind of put this together.  I stir fried broccoli, carrots, garlic, scallions, red pepper, and sesame seeds in avocado oil.  I added in my already cooked ground beef, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, and coconut aminos(a substitute for soy sauce). I served it on a bed of spinach.  Really yummy!

Spaghetti squash with homemade meat sauce 
( I did not love this combination.   The sauce was great, but the spaghetti squash was meh.)
 I made the meat sauce by sautéing garlic cloves and red pepper flakes in olive oil for 3-4 min.  Add 28 oz can of Muir Glen organic crushed tomatoes(I have used the fire roasted and basil).  Stir then simmer for 5 minutes.  Add in salt, pepper, cooked ground beef and fresh basil.  (I got this recipe from Jen Hatmaker's book "Seven.")  It is also great as a pizza sauce.

Hamburger with spinach and tomatoes(also good with guacamole), Sweet potato fries(seasoned with avocado oil, sage, onion and garlic powders, salt, and pepper) and strawberries
I don't love seafood, but it was a nice change from the things I had been eating.  I didn't have the coconut flour and it worked fine.  It would be better with some kind of sauce to dip it in. 

 One of my only eating out meals.  
Fajita Wraps at Salsa Brava(They have a clean menu)
 This would be so easy to make at home.  It was nice to have a break from all the cooking and food prep that comes with this eating plan.

I did also discover that I could have the kabobs(not the sides) at Garbanzo.  I ate those once.  

 Pork Tenderloin, Cabbage(I replaced the butter with ghee, which is clarified butter and allowed on Whole30), Yellow Squash and Asparagus
 Marinade for Pork Tenderloin:  4 T. coconut aminos, 2 cloves garlic(minced), 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 2 T. olive oil.

Squash:  Cut up and boil squash.  Drain and mash.  Cook in skillet with ghee, canned coconut milk, salt, and pepper.
Roast, carrots and onions in the crock pot
The roast, carrots and onions served with Kale Chips
 This, my friends, is a parsnip.  I had never eaten one before and didn't even know what it was.  
 You can slice it, put some avocado oil, on it and roast it to make chips.  
Then, dip the chips in guacamole.  
 Jicama, prepared the same way, also makes a lovely little chip.

 These were compliant.  I don't love sausage, but smothered in mustard, they are tolerable and easy.
Served with avocado and red onions, it was delightful
I only made 1/4 of the recipe.  The original was way too big!

 Deviled eggs made with olive oil mayo
These tasted just like the ones I usually made and were a nice alternative to omelets and scrambled eggs.

Chicken Salad
 (I used an avocado and the olive oil mayo to make this)
The avocado oil I am using.
That bottle next to it is coconut aminos, but you can't tell because it is turned around.
This eating plan discourages snacking, but every once in a while, you just need a snack.
Apple Chips in Macadamia Butter
I didn't love the lemon bar, but I did like the Coconut Cream Pie.  
They have several "compliant" bars

Omelet with spinach, red pepper, green pepper, and red onion cooked in ghee
Omelet with baby kale, sausage, and red onion cooked in ghee
Mushroom soup
Before eating it, you puree it in the blender.
(It was okay.  I am not dying to make it again.)
Laila said it stunk up our house.

Mushroom Soup Recipe:
2 tablespoons coconut butter
1 large leek, trimmed and sliced 
1 pound fresh gourmet mushrooms, such as shitake, Portobello, Oyster, or Crimini, coarsely chopped 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock 
½ cup organic coconut milk 
1 tablespoon Grass-fed Organic Garlic Ghee 
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh chives 

Heat a large soup pot over high heat. Once the pot is hot, add Coconut Ghee and swirl the pan. Add leeks and mushrooms (we also added 2 cloves chopped garlic), salt and pepper. Stir often, for about 10 minutes as the mushrooms cook, releasing their liquid. Carefully add the stock; bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender, adding more stock if a thinner soup is desired. Return to pot and stir in cream or coconut milk along with Garlic Ghee. Serve garnished with chives and a fresh grind of black pepper. 

I did not eat nearly as many salads as I thought I would.  I think it is because I don't really love oil/vinegar dressings.  I did have this yummy ranch dressing on a salad, but haven't gotten around to making it myself.

Well, I don't know about you, but this post has been exhausting.  This way of eating is a lot of work.  I am hoping it will get easier over time.  I must go eat some meat and vegetables!

If you have recipes you can share with me, please do!!!  I can use all the help I can get!


  1. you are amazing, laura! i love the heart and spirit behind why you did this. so, so proud of you. it was "fun" to do this together...very thankful for your encouragement during my hard days. love you, friend!

  2. This is a great post Laura. Thanks for being so specific. I have picked up this book a few times and now I'm motivated to actually buy it. Where did you buy the oil and the coconut aminos?

  3. i loved reading this post! i loved hearing about your journey! how are you doing now? have you kept some of the habits you formed? what were you excited to eat the MOST once it was over ;-)

  4. Wow, you put so much work into it! Did you end up losing any weight? I agree with you, people our age seem to be falling apart. I really think the flax lignans are helping us and essential oils. The food thing is something I have to get control over too. I hate putting junk into my body but sometimes with all the chaos of kids, I'm just looking for what is easy. Good job on your month of eating like this!

    1. Wendy,
      I lost 12 lbs during the 30 days!! I was pleased with that!!