Maryann's Whole30--insights and observations


1Maryann

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I wish I'd started this earlier. Just found this forum the other day. Guess I'd never scrolled far enough down the page before.

History: This is my second Whole30. The first was back in June. I did really well, but by the last few days I almost couldn't stand it any more. I was craving all the foods I hadn't had in a month. I wanted a glass of red wine. I wanted a meatball sub with tons of mozzarella. In hindsight, I think it may have been because I 'eliminated' things from my diet, I didn't really change my thinking.

I did well for a few months, with only occasional forays into my old habits. Then in September, I kind of went off the deep end. It was like the junk got a hold of me and I couldn't break that hold. All I wanted was pizza, pasta, Mexican, McDonald's, potato chips, sweet cocktails, etc. I felt awful. I had so little energy that I all but stopped cooking, which just led to more junk that made me feel worse.

The only solution was a complete reset, and so I decided on another Whole30. It was made easier by the fact that a bunch of people who follow Irish Paleo Girl on facebook committed to do one as well.

So here I am.

Today was Day 10, and it's much easier this time around. For one thing, except for September, I'd eaten paleo most of the time anyway. So I didn't have any of the bad side effects I had the first time. For another, I have committed to adding as many new and interesting things to my diet as I can. I am combing this site for other people's recipes and cooking techniques. I am determined to try new foods and new seasonings. I am also a lot more organized this time. And I'm seeing this more as a sustainable way of eating for the long term, instead of dwelling on the things I can't have.

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I'm amazed when I open my refrigerator. On Sept 30, I did a big produce shop in anticipation of starting the next day. After I put everything away, my fridge was jam-packed and I thought to myself "How much money did I just waste on produce? There's no way I can use all this before it goes bad."

But the following week there was nothing left but half a head of cauliflower, part of an onion, and a lemon.

I did it again this week. Worried about all that food. But after cooking and freezing some green curry, red curry, and now the beef stew I cooked in the crockpot overnight, The fridge is more than half empty.

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I love crockpot cooking, but I have always felt rushed and pressured, getting everything into the pot in the morning, with all my other chores before work. And sometimes, I'm sorry that I turned it to low so quickly, when I get home and it isn't quite done.

The last two nights I have put ingredients for beef stew in after work, and let it cook all night instead. Much better!

I'm not rushing to get out the door. The prep is a lot more relaxing. And if it's not quite ready, I can turn it up for a while before leaving. It may not work for things like pork roasts that I want to eat right away, but anything going in the freezer or easily reheatable are fine and much easier this way.

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What happens to me when I do a Whole30? My tastes change drastically. I hate bananas! I don't like the taste or the texture, and I can't stand the smell. If someone leaves a banana peel in the trash, I have to take it outside immediately because it makes me nauseous to leave it around. Yet here I am, eating a banana and enjoying it! I actually bought a bunch at the store!

Same with green peppers. I don't mind them cooked in things, but can't stand them raw. Too overpowering, and overwhelms the taste of everything else. Yet, I find myself munching happily on raw slices of them when I'm cutting them up for the pan. I wonder what else I now like?

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Just put my very first batch of bone broth in the crockpot.

Day 14, feeling great, no cravings at all, not even for a glass of wine. Need to work on more sleep, though. To get 8 hours, I need to be in bed by 9:30-10. I have a few friends who always call between 9-9:30, and sometimes, like last night, we're on the phone for an hour or more. This has been a long-standing convenient time for all of us--kids asleep, chores done, dogs walked, etc. so I can't blame them for forgetting I have mentioned wanting to get to bed earlier, and once I'm on the phone, I don't think about the time. It was after 11 when I hung up last night, still had to be up by 6.

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Just put my very first batch of bone broth in the crockpot.

Day 14, feeling great, no cravings at all, not even for a glass of wine. Need to work on more sleep, though. To get 8 hours, I need to be in bed by 9:30-10. I have a few friends who always call between 9-9:30, and sometimes, like last night, we're on the phone for an hour or more. This has been a long-standing convenient time for all of us--kids asleep, chores done, dogs walked, etc. so I can't blame them for forgetting I have mentioned wanting to get to bed earlier, and once I'm on the phone, I don't think about the time. It was after 11 when I hung up last night, still had to be up by 6.

Maybe switch off the ringer, and when you return their call let them know that you are an early to bed lady now :)

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Chicken. I've always been a 'white meat only' girl. I can use the dark meat in soup, but that's it. I'm trying to learn to like the dark meat, but not having much success. I brought a chicken leg for lunch yesterday. Didn't like the first few tastes plain, so made chicken salad with it. Even worse! It's not so much the taste, it's the texture. The dark meat is just too "soft", almost slimy to my mouth. The leg was from a roasted chicken, and the white meat was done perfectly--firm but still moist. I wonder if I tried cooking just legs for a recipe, and cooked them longer, if they would dry out/firm up better?

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I've been really busy this week, and haven't posted here. This past Wednesday was a milestone. I got my first box of organic produce delivered to my door by a local business. They aren't a farm, they are an organic market without walls. They buy from the same producers the big boys do, but because they only have a pass-through warehouse where they accept deliveries and immediately re-box it and send it on its way, their produce is about 30% cheaper than Whole Foods or Fresh Market.

I love the convenience, the food is beautiful, the variety is great, and it will force me to try things I normally wouldn't purchase. Like the chard I got in this box. I have never tasted, let alone cooked, chard before. I would have walked right past it in the grocery store. Now I have to research what to do with it.

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Day 21. I just had the most amazing dinner. It really wasn't anything special, but I think my palate has changed so much that I now appreciate the subtle flavors of real food. I had a plain chicken breast, baked in the toaster oven while I made pan-fried chard with bacon, garlic, and lemon. When it was almost ready, I nuked a garnet yam, and used the pan drippings to season it all.

The salty taste of the bacon, with the pungent flavor of garlic, and the tart taste of lemon were wonderful together. And the sweetness of the yam was the perfect counterpoint. The whole meal was like a flavor explosion. I can't wait to have the leftovers for breakfast!

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Day 23.

This Whole30 is going much smoother than the last one. Last time, I eliminated all the "can't haves" from my menus, but I didn't do very much about adding new techniques and recipes. Consequently, by the last week I was craving certain things: red wine, chocolate, Splenda, etc.

This time I made an effort to learn from the wealth of knowledge around me. I have learned basic Thai cooking, I am now working on Indian cuisine. I can make my own ghee, and almond milk. My spice cupboard has a wealth of items I never even heard of until recently. I do't know how to use them all yet, but I will. I joined an organic produce co-op, and am learning to use new foods this way, too.

And because my meals are so varied and interesting, and because cooking is once again an adventure, not a chore, I am not feeling deprived the way I did last time.

In my previous life, if I made such exotic dishes, they were as a treat, full of bad fats, lots of carbs, high calories, etc. They were once-in-a-while special meals. I'm having trouble believing I can eat all these new and delicious meals every day and remain healthy. I can't wait to have people over!

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Day 27

I tried Melissa's Rogan Josh recipe the other night. I don't know much about Indian/Pakistani/Kashmiri food, I just know there's one spice in Indian curries that just makes me ill to smell, so I don't frequent Indian restaurants. But this one was intriguing. It takes too long to make for dinner on a work night, but since it is a stew, I figured it would reheat easily, so I made it after dinner.

I was honestly disappointed. There was just something missing. Even after braising for 2 hours, it just hadn't come together the way I expected it to. But I'm not one to waste food, and it's not like it was bad or anything, so I put it in the fridge and figured I'd use it for lunches.

What a difference a night in the fridge made! By the time I reheated it the next day, the spices were nicely blended and it was very tasty. And served over Melissa's mashed cauliflower, it was delicious.

Note to self: This is a make-ahead dish that tastes much better the next day.

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