Today is Day 15 of my Whole 30. The halfway mark. Fifteen days of no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no preservatives and no sugar (even natural maple syrup, honey, etc). I decided I wanted to do the Whole 30 since having my second child. He turned one this past Saturday and for the last year, I have been eating too much sugar and craving sugar after meals. I didn't want to feel like that anymore and I really wanted to cut down on the sugar so, The Whole 30 seemed perfect. I have to admit our diet is pretty clean to begin with- limited gluten and dairy and aside from my sweet tooth, not much sugar, so I haven't actually found this diet too hard to do. I miss chocolate, sure, but I was very motivated to make the change so I find every time I want sugar, it almost reinforces my desire to break the habit and increases my willpower. There is however, a lot I have learned in the last 15 days both with recipes and things I plan to continue indefinitely and things I know I won't. I have also gotten the comments, "Why are you doing that to yourself" or "So what are you eating"- well I answered the why above, but I will also share the what I've been eating as well. Here is my half way mark insights:
What I Have Been Eating
I have actually been loving what I am eating! And pretty much all the new recipes we have tried, we have been super happy with and plan on keeping them in our regular rotation. Here's a little photo recap of most of our meals (I tend to be a creature of habit and can eat the same left overs for days without complaint so I don't have photos of every meal since there would be a lot of overlap and some days I just forgot to photo!).
This is a good array of the meals we have been eating- from left to right and top to bottom:
1. Veggie Scramble with homemade ketchup, 2. Spinach salad with chicken and apples with cinnamon and almond butter, 3. Lemon Pepper Salmon with hollandaise and steamed broccoli, 4. Chicken Fajitas with salsa and homemade guac and coleslaw, 5. Mixed greens salad with sunflower seeds and chicken, 6. Bun-less burgers with baked sweet potato 'fries' and coleslaw, 7. Egg Salad with Almond rosemary crackers and field green salad with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, 8. Chicken Korma with cauliflower rice, 9. Coconut ginger chicken 'stew' with broccoli, cauliflower and green beans, 10. Marinated grilled chicken with grilled peppers and coleslaw, 11. Left Over Coconut ginger chicken stew with raw veggies and apple slices; 12. Grilled marinated chicken with grilled peppers and mushrooms and field green salad, 13. Sun dried Tomato Meatballs with steamed broccoli, 14. L/O Meatballs with mixed green salad, 15. Turkey Burgers with grilled pineapple, baked sweet potato 'fries and coleslaw, 16. Scrambled eggs with sautéed peppers and onion, bacon and apple slices with almond butter, 17. Apple Slices with cinnamon and almond butter (a dessert), 18. L/O Turkey burger with pineapple, mixed green salad and raw veggie slices, 19. Marinated grilled chicken with grilled peppers and baked kale 'chips', 20. Scrambled eggs, field green salad, sautéed mushrooms and onions and bacon.
I dare anyone to say that those meals look boring. Some are breakfast, some are lunch and some are dinner but all have been delicious!
Flops and Learning Curves
Mayonnaise: I never really liked mayonnaise growing up but then I met my Irish husband. The Irish put mayonnaise on everything. Mashed potatoes and mayo is potato salad, mayo based coleslaw, baked potatoes get mayo not sour cream, they will even slather bread with mayonnaise and have a mayo sandwich. You can also find turkey/stuffing/mayo mixed and put on bread to form a pretty much bread/mayo sandwich at any gas station, grocery store or airport in Ireland! Needless to say I have come around and it is probably my guiltiest pleasure. However, the processed conventional stuff is filled with not great ingredients- from junk canola oil to preservatives to sugar. It's not exactly a health food. However, by making it yourself, you can skip all the added junk and make a spread that isn't all that bad- it's really only eggs and oil, and on this Whole 30 it's pretty non-negotiable since you will be hard pressed to find a pre-made version that is compliant. I did my research and decided the immersion blender method looked the best- and most difficult to screw up. My first 2 attempts were disasters. They were egg/oil soup. The problem was the mixing jar. Our immersion blender was my husbands before we even met and it did not come with a blending jar (or so I am told). So I first tried using a magic bullet cup- it was too small so it didn't let the oil down into the blade and when I lifted the blade to get the oil- disaster. Next I tried a jar we had from honey- it was too wide and allowed too much to mix, too fast without creating the emulsion. Apparently, you can't just buy the mixing jar and I did not want to buy a second immersion blender just to get the jar. Then I found this blog with instructions. She used a wide mouthed 500mL mason jar. Perfect. I popped out to Canadian Tire and bought the mason jar (actually 12 of them since they are only sold by the case of course but glass mason jars are my storage of choice so c'est la vie). This time, nailed it! And I have done multiple batches since without fail. And it's already in the storage container, soooo convenient. My first few I just used egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper. They were good but not like the standard Hellman's. So I found a copycat recipe and have tweaked it a bit to get what I think is almost identical. I use:
You can mix all the ingredients into the mason jar in that order preferably. Give it a minute to settle. Place your immersion blender over the egg yolk and press it all the way to the bottom of the jar. Switch it on and just hold it there. I am extra paranoid about it turning to soup so I go painfully slow. I hold the blender down for a good 30 seconds and will ever so slowly then start to raise the edges of the blender to try and encourage more of the oil down. Once I am getting no more oil movement, I will slowly start to raise it slightly to encourage more down. When I'm finally left with only a few tbsp of oil on top I'll try to start mixing it a bit. The whole process probably takes me a good 1-1.5 minutes and I NEVER stop the blender until it's done. A few notes: the light olive oil is VERY important as apparently the extra-virgin version makes a very bitter terrible mayonnaise. I did not try this, I took everyone's word for it and stuck with light. Do the same. Yes, this uses raw egg. I am fine with that since we get our eggs local from St Jacobs and the risk of salmonella is extremely low (1 in 20,000 eggs). However, you can apparently find pasteurized eggs (in the shell) but I haven't looked for them. Honestly, I don't think I will ever purchase mayonnaise again. It's so easy to make and I find more convenient to just make more than to go out and buy more and I get to control the ingredients!
Turkey Burger Mush: You may notice in the photos above that the turkey 'burgers' look more like cooked ground beef than burgers. That's because they were. They turned pretty mushy and wouldn't hold their shape at all. I went back to the original recipe, and read that if you use fresh pineapple juice then you can not let them marinade longer than 30 min or they turn to mush. The author's hypothesis is it may be the enzymes in fresh pineapple juice that is to blame. Well, I didn't buy juice at all, I simply pureed some of the pineapple I had bought for the rings in the bullet and added that. And after reading that and thinking about it, it makes perfect sense. Pineapple is a source of bromelain which is often used as a digestive enzyme. All pineapple juice you would get in the grocery stores would be pasteurized which would destroy enzymatic activity. But fresh pineapple would have all it's enzymes intact, hence turning my turkey meat to mush. Though the texture wasn't great, the flavour was and I will definitely try this recipe again but this time just leave out the pineapple juice in the patty completely.
Compliant Bacon: A lot of people are surprised to hear that bacon contains sugar. It does. We usually get our bacon from Dar's at St Jacob's Farmers Market. When I started this I went in and asked if it contained sugar. The man who makes the bacon said no but dextrose (a simple sugar) is used. I passed and went to Goodness Me where I had seen a brand that had no sugar, Mark's Mennonite Meats. I actually ended up meeting Mark as he had a little sample booth set up at Goodness Me, and was able to speak with him. His bacon also contained dextrose, however, it wasn't on the label because it was undetectable. It is added because the meat is cured with live culture/bacteria and dextrose is added to feed the bacteria. However, it's consumed by the bacteria so it won't actually be in the final product. So, moral of the story, added dextrose is fine and we have been using both Dar's and Mark's.
Thing's I'll Maintain and Things I Won't
Overall, my husband and I agree that we will strive to continue to be grain and sugar free throughout the week and be less strict/indulge a bit on the weekends. We want to get to a point where being grain/sugar free is second nature. And yes, both my husband and my children are doing this 'diet' as well for the most part. My children still have oatmeal with unsweetened apple sauce and cinnamon for breakfast and will have rice cakes and hummus for snacks. However, because we all eat the same dinner and usually lunches, the majority of their meals are Whole 30. And no, I am not concerned about this not being healthy for them- increasing vegetables will never be unhealthy. I feel great eating this way and I know the weekend I end (actually my last day is a Wednesday, Thursday is our wedding anniversary, Saturday my son's first birthday party and Sunday Mother's Day) I will be indulging...a lot...and I'll probably feel like garbage. So by Monday I will be more than ready to get back on the train.
The big question though, will I do this again? Absolutely. I think this will actually be my 'detox' of choice.
Disclaimer: Naturopathic Doctors strive to provide individualized health care. The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing an ND for individualized health recommendations.
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