Sunday, August 23, 2015

Whole30 Results and Wrap-up

Welp, we did it!  30 days of no gluten, no dairy, no legumes, and no sugar.  Just meat (lots of it), vegetables (more than normal for us, for sure), and fruit.  It has been a little over a week and we have gone through the transition phase of adding back the foods that we had eliminated and I thought I would do a quick sum-up of my thoughts about the experience.

It wasn't as hard as we thought it would be.  It sounded intimidating and outrageous at first, but when we actually implemented Whole30 it just wasn't that big of a deal.  Yes, I had to meal plan and pack lunches and do more cooking than normal, but it just wasn't all that bad. 

We got to try new things and found that we really enjoy eating cleaner.  We generally felt less sluggish during the day, clothes fit better, sleep improved overall, we felt like we got much better control over our sweet tooths and snack cravings, and we got to try a bunch of new recipes and foods that we otherwise wouldn't have had tried.

And while it has been nice to be able to bake again and eat a cookie, in the week or so since we finished Whole30 we have realized that in many ways we prefer eating that way and will probably do it again or even continue to eat that way fairly regularly.  I have noticed since going back to pancakes or muffins or whatever for breakfast that not only do I get hungrier earlier during the day, but that it affects my snackiness all day long compared to when I start the day out much more protein heavy with bacon or sausages or eggs with vegetables (I love egg scrambles with peppers and onions and mushrooms) or nuts.  We also noticed a big difference in the level of sweetness that we experience after having gone without sugar for 30 days and I can cut the amount of sugar called for in some recipes by as much as half and not even notice a difference because they taste so much sweeter now than before. 

And yes, okay, we both lost weight, which certainly ends things on a positive note, especially since you spend the whole 30 day period NOT counting calories or worrying about stepping on a scale.  We both lost around 8 pounds, and that was with me doing about an hour at the gym 3 times a week and Paul doing no exercise other than normal every day movement and house projects and stuff.  Paul doesn't have his stats on this but for me that also translated into a loss of 2.5% of body fat, which has certainly made a difference in how I feel. 

Anyway, I have a couple more recipes to share on here, even though I don't have pictures to go with them.  And if you are interested I can email you the working copy of the 30 day meal plan with recipes that I came up with, and there are tons of others on Pinterest. 

Stir Fry

Paul declared this his favorite meal that I made over the whole 30 day period.  I wouldn't go that far because I way preferred the arctic char, tri-tip, and garam masala salmon steaks, but this still tasted quite delicious and made a nice change to have something Asian.

1 large ribeye (or other steak or package of precut "stir fry" meat from grocery store - you could easily do this with chicken too)
1/2 head cauliflower
1/2 yellow onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 bundle large asparagus
1/2 box white mushrooms
1 small can water chestnuts
1/2 small can bamboo shoots
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup coconut aminos (this is just paleo soy sauce - you can get it at whole foods and sprouts or order it online like I did.  It really, honestly does taste just like soy sauce and you won't even notice a difference)
1/2 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder

OPTIONAL:  change out any of the vegetables above for whatever vegetables you want or have on hand which makes this a GREAT meal to use up the veggies in your fridge.  I would also add green beans, broccoli, zucchini, or even carrots)

Season steak with salt and pepper and sear over really hot heat on both sides in a large pan. Remove and set aside. Slice all veg small. Add oil to pan and sauté onions for 1-2 mins. Add rest of veg and sauté adding liquids slowly to keep everything from burning. Add garlic, vinegar and ginger. Stir constantly. Once veg is softened slice steak very thinly and add. Stir for another 1-2 mins until the steak is med rare. Remove and serve!

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

2/3 cup avocado oil
1 room temperature egg
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dried or a handful of fresh herbs (I used some dried dill and a handful of fresh cilantro that I had on hand)
Juice of half a lemon or lime

Place the egg, vinegar, spices, herbs, and citrus juice in the food processor or blender (I set my Vitamix to 4 - you don't want to go too high on speed if you are doing this in a Blendtec or Vitamix) and pulse a few times.  Slowly pour the avocado oil through the top hole of the food process or blender while it is going at a medium speed to emulsify.  Seriously, go SUPER slow in a thin, steady stream and take your time to get it all in.  Refrigerate for about an hour and then serve.   

Scrambled Eggs with Salmon

This one is straightforward.  You just crack your eggs into a bowl and mix them with a fork and season with a little salt and pepper, then pour into a pan to scramble them.  Add a chunk of leftover salmon from a previous dinner or a piece of compliant smoked salmon (I found some at Whole Foods) and break it apart as you scramble the eggs.  It is so, SO good and one of my very favorite breakfasts. 

Zucchini Noodles with Marinara and Peppers, Onions, and Sausages

So we bought a spiralizer which is a tool that turns vegetables like zucchini, sweet potatoes or squash into noodles and it actually is pretty great.  We have tried spaghetti squash in the past and don't particularly love it but zucchini noodles are excellent.  But some friends mentioned that they had tried making them and their zucchini noodles turned out mushy so I thought I would explain the method I used.  After spiralizing your zucchini, spread your noodles out in a thin layer over a couple of layers of paper towel and sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then lay a couple additional layers of paper towels on top.  This will help to draw out the water that is in the zucchini.  Wait for about 15 to 30 minutes, then roll the noodles up in the paper towel and squeeze as much water out as you can.  Transfer to a hot pan with a little bit of olive oil and saute for 2-3 minutes, just to soften it a little bit.  Then you can top it with marinara and serve it with a protein of your choice. 

For the marinara, I just used the recipe I use for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Sauce (with a few modifications) and it is pretty perfect. 

2 tablespoons ghee
1/4 cup grated onion , from 1 medium onion (note, we left this out)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Table salt
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (see note)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper

Heat ghee in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and baking soda, increase heat to high, and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and oil, then season with salt and pepper.

For the peppers, onions, and sausages:

3 to 4 medium onions (I think I used 2 really large onions so you just have to use your judgment on how much you like roasted onions)
3 to 4 sweet red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Season with a combination of salt, pepper, & Italian herbs (go as heavy or as light as you like but my estimate is at least 2 teaspoons of Italian herbs - if you don't have a blend from the store you can google how to make it yourself using basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme, and probably marjoram or rosemary or something
4 to 6 links of uncooked Italian link sausages (I found some compliant chicken sun dried tomato and jalapeno sausages that worked perfectly)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut onions and peppers in even-sized chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, add garlic and sprinkle with seasoning. Mix well and spread on a large baking pan lined with a silicone liner or parchment. Place uncooked sausages among the vegetables (if using pre-cooked sausages, add during last 15 minutes of cooking). Roast for 30 minutes or until sausages are completely done and vegetables are browned.


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