I first learned about Whole30 earlier this year when my girlfriend started the program. It seemed so restrictive and impractical. No cereal and milk or cheese and crackers or pasta and garlic bread? No cream and sugar in my coffee? No chocolate chip cookies after the kids go to bed? Basically, no fun. But then she started to see and feel real changes — the changes the program claims to deliver. Not just weight loss, but more energy, better sleep, fewer aches and pains, improved focus. She was a believer, and I was intrigued.
I bought the book, It Starts With Food, and after just a few pages, I decided this was something Nick needed to do. Why? Because he has an incredibly demanding schedule and eats when he’s stressed. He doesn’t have time to exercise or sleep and was drinking far too many cups of coffee every day. Plus he has a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease. I promised to plan his meals and pack his lunches if he promised to stick to the plan for 30 days. And he did! He declined cake at my sister’s graduation party and beer at our neighbor’s picnic. And by the end of the 30 days, he had lost 16 pounds and felt healthier and happier.
I was still exclusively breastfeeding Nora at that time and was hesistant to make big changes to my diet. But after (finally) finishing the book and reading testimonials from fellow nursing mommas — not to mention a summer of weddings and indulgent eating — I decided I was ready to jump on board. And Nick was more than ready for round 2.
So here we are! Week 1 done. No sugar. No alcohol. No grains. No legumes.
So what have we been eating?
Breakfast always includes some form of eggs. Scrambled with sausage and peppers or spinach; topped with avocado or salsa; or over easy on a plate of roasted potatoes. Also always accompanied by a bowl of fruit and a cup of (black!) coffee.
Yes, mornings are hard. The kids are hungry and whiny. Lucy is begging to go out. Nick is trying to get out the door to work. And, somehow, I have to get breakfast on the table. Cereal and fruit or muffins were always an easy option. But, this week, I’ve had to prepare a hot meal. And you know what? I think it’s worth the extra time.
Lunch is typically a salad of hearty mixed greens, shredded chicken or tuna, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Apples and avocado typically make an appearance. And our current favorite dressing is a simple basil oil + white balsamic vinaigrette (2:1 ratio).
Late afternoon can be tricky. I’m usually tired (and sometimes a little bit cranky) from a morning with the kiddos and am ready for a break and a treat in the form of caffeine and/or sugar. The Whole30 plan does not recommend snacking, but because I need to ensure I get enough calories and keep up my milk supply, I do it.
A handful of nuts and raisins usually fits the bill. Or almond butter with celery or a banana or an apple. I also made a pretty tasty and refreshing Coconut Chia Seed Pudding (1 can coconut milk + 1/4 cup chia seeds + 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes. Refrigerate overnight. Top with pineapple and sliced banana.)
If mornings are hard and afternoons are tricky, then dinners are fun! Seriously. I have loved experimenting with fresh ingredients, and I do believe I have rediscovered my passion for cooking. This is not to say that it’s not tough to prepare a wholesome meal for a family of four while simultaneously entertaining a toddler and a baby, but I’m proud to say I’ve done it every night so far.
Turkey Burgers (1 lb lean ground turkey + 1 egg + 1/2 cup almond flour + 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning) topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms. Served with roasted mixed potatoes, homemade dill pickles, and pineapple.
Steak Fajitas (1 lb flank steak or skirt steak + 1 red onion + 2 bell peppers + fajita seasoning: 1 Tbsp almond flour + 2 tsp chili powder + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp paprika + 1/2 tsp onion powder + 1/2 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp ground cumin + 1/4 tsp black pepper) topped with homemade guacamole.
Pork Schnitzel (pork loin dipped in egg, followed by a mixture of almond flour and Italian seasoning, then cooked in olive oil) with sauerkraut, potatoes, and brussels sprouts.
Coffee Mocha Steak (1 Tbsp black pepper + 1 Tbsp ground coriander + 2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp ground cloves + 1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa + 2 tsp ground coffee) with mashed potatoes and green beans.
Stuffed Peppers (1 lb lean ground turkey + taco seasoning: 1 Tbsp chili powder + 1/4 tsp garlic powder + 1/4 tsp onion powder + 1/4 tsp oregano + 1/2 tsp paprika + 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp black pepper. Cook on the stovetop, then stuff into peppers and bake at 325°F for 20 minutes.) with homemade pico de gallo and plantain chips.
Zoodles with Chicken Meatballs (1 zucchini, chopped + 3 carrots, chopped + 1/2 cup parsley, chopped + 3 cloves garlic, minced. Pulse in food processor. Add 1/4 cup almond flour + 1 egg. Add 1 lb ground chicken + 1 tsp salt + t/2 tsp black pepper. Process until combined. Drop balls onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.) topped with compliant marinara sauce.
I am happy to report that we both survived the first week “hangover.” Surprisingly, I didn’t experience any headaches, though I felt extreme fatigue during days 2-4 (and my arms and legs felt all tingly and tired). We resisted chocolate peanut butter frozen custard from The Meadows and sweet Lebanon bologna from the local butcher. Though Nick dreamed about pizza, and I dreamed about corn on the cob. I haven’t had any crazy and uncontrollable cravings, though I do miss my nightly bowl of Cheerios.
Onward, we go!
Visit the Whole30 website to learn more.