We've just about finished our first week on the Whole30 program. It's going well so far... I'm definitely very tempted to cheat or quit sometimes, but I haven't caved yet! My expectation that it would be difficult but not miserable has proven accurate. I've had full, delicious meals, and if I get really hungry in between meals I eat fresh or dried fruit, raw veggies, or nuts. As "diets" go I like this one because I can eat until I'm full and I can eat GOOD food... nothing weird.
I have had to get creative to cook without grains and dairy. I'm thankful there's such an abundance of Paleo recipes available online... it's a bit different than Whole30, but close enough that many of the recipes work.
It is SO. HARD. to find foods without added sugar. Or MSG or Nitrites. All I'm asking for is some bacon.
Probably the biggest challenge has been that I have had to cook nonstop! When I'm able to prep for more than one day at a time I feel a lot better. But today I was seriously in the kitchen pretty much all day. Thankfully, I like to cook... but it's a lot of work! It was my idea for our family to do this crazy eating plan, so I feel the need to take charge.
I wanted to record our menu here to help others who are looking for ideas for Whole30 or Paleo meals. I have a schedule laid out for the next week and a half, though I've already had to switch a couple things around. Anyway, here's what we've eaten so far!
I ate scrambled eggs the first morning, but Nathan is used to eating breakfast on his break at work. I decided to make a breakfast casserole that could be warmed up a piece a day so Nathan could take his to work and I could eat mine at home, easy peasy! I have found ZERO bacon without either sugar, MSG, or Nitrites, and I have only found one very expensive kind of sausage with none of those things. We decided it would be worth trying to make our own sausage, so we bought some ground pork and I used this recipe to make our sausage. I thought it was just ok (I would add more seasonings next time, and I think I'm missing the cayenne pepper- we didn't have any), but Nathan really likes it.
To make this casserole, I used a dozen eggs and maybe 1/2 to 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 lb cooked sausage, sauteed mushrooms, and seasonings (salt, pepper, and onion powder, I believe). I baked it in a 9"x13" pan at 350 degrees for one hour. I cut it into 8 portions and I think that's just about right, though I might try 10 this week to see if that'll do us so I can just cook one breakfast for the whole work week!
Day 1: Dinner was baked Tilapia, "Crash Hot Potatoes," and asparagus. I didn't love the fish, but the rest was good. Those potatoes are my new favorite side dish.
Day 2: It was Larry's birthday (he chose to start this eating plan the day before, not me!!), and I wanted to make him pot pie because it's his favorite, but how can you make pot pie without flour, butter, or milk?? I made this almond crust (though I just mixed it with a fork and used almond meal, not blanched almond flour), and concocted the rest on my own. I didn't have any chicken broth on hand (and all bouillon I've found has sugar - often the second ingredient - or MSG), so I made a roux of coconut oil and almond meal, then once it browned I poured in almond milk and a pureed can of chicken. It looked a whole lot like cream of chicken soup. I combined chicken, cooked potatoes, and frozen mixed veggies for the filling. I was so focused on picking out the corn from the mixed veggies that I completely forgot that peas are on the "no" list... they're a legume. Arg. All that work to make it fit into the plan and I messed it up. However, we decided that peas are undoubtedly good for you, and we think the no legumes thing is a little weird anyway, so it's all good. ;) Anyway, it tasted really good! I didn't like the texture because of the pureed canned chicken, but everyone thought it was a success.
Day 3 lunch: I was out running around getting groceries, so I knew I wouldn't be back in time to make lunch... what's a girl to do? Order Chipotle! I was so excited when I realized I could eat Chipotle on Whole30! I ordered us salads with chicken, tomato salsa, and fajita vegetables, and then we added guacamole at home (because I'm cheap). It was so good.
Day 3 dinner: Beef stew! I love this recipe. I got it started in the morning and it was ready by dinner time. The changes I made were to use almond meal instead of flour, nixed the gravy mix, added mushrooms (which I do even when not on Whole30), and added potato starch at the end (I usually use corn starch). I used three small cans of beef broth instead of the combination of broth, water, and gravy mix. The almond meal didn't do anything for it and the potato starch got all globby... I think next time I'll coat the meat in potato starch instead and see what happens. I admit that it wasn't quite as delicious as the original recipe, but still delicious nonetheless.
Day 4: Nathan made me a delicious dinner. He made chicken with rosemary and other spices, and he asked me to make green beans. Very delicious team effort. I'm going to ask him to make the chicken again this week.
Day 5: Taco salad! I made our favorite pico de gallo recipe, guacamole (avocados, minced garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper), and Nathan made taco meat with homemade seasoning mix. We served it over chopped Romaine lettuce. It was delicious.
Day 6 breakfast: I made everyone fried potatoes and eggs! Yum!
Day 6 dinner: Spaghetti squash and meatballs. I'd never made spaghetti squash before, but I used this method and it came out perfectly! I served it with tomato sauce (Read labels! Most have sugar.) and steamed broccoli. I was really happy with this meal, especially because I was unsure about whether I'd like the spaghetti squash. It was a really delicious dinner!
Day 7 breakfast: Larry made fried sweet potatoes and onions with eggs. I'm not a big sweet potato person, but it was a pretty good combo. And I didn't have to cook it :)
Day 7: Leftovers! I DON'T HAVE TO COOK ANYTHING!!!
...oh wait. I have to cook breakfast casserole for the week.
If we get hungry in between meals we munch on a mix of nuts and dried fruits Nathan put together. It was hard to find the dried cherries he wanted without added sugar, but Trader Joe's carries them. The mix has almonds, cashews, walnuts, raisins, and dried cherries. I think mix 2.0 also has pecans. Yeah... the first bag went really fast with all of us eating it... We also eat other dried fruit like apricots, or fresh fruit or veggies. I was snacking on raspberries earlier and they tasted heavenly.
All in all, I'm really enjoying the food we've been eating all week! It's GOOD food, and we're not going hungry. Nathan cheated and weighed himself and found that he has already lost five pounds. He's weirdly skilled at losing weight. I know that weight loss isn't really the grand goal of the Whole30... but it would be a nice benefit ;) I don't see this as any kind of long-term eating plan for us, but we are learning a lot about food and the way we eat, and it is certainly good for our health (and self control!), so I think it's good that we're doing it. I'm not gonna lie, I'm really conflicted on what to do on my birthday in a couple weeks... to cheat or not to cheat...
Tune in next time for week two of the Whole30! (See it here)
*I designed the poster at the top of this post. Please feel free to print it out and stick it on your fridge! That's where it lives at my house :)*