Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eating Whole for 30 Days

Andrew and I are approaching the end of a Whole30 eating experiment. I had been thinking about trying a Whole30 for a couple of years, but honestly, I was scared. It involves giving up dairy, sugar, grains, legumes and alcohol for a month.

For me it wasn't as much about doing a Whole30 as it was about trying a different way of eating for a month. Starting with a plan and some rules worked well for me. It helped me start, which was the hardest part. Like I said, I have been thinking about doing this for a long time.

We spent a week mentally and logistically preparing our lives. We ate up all of our non-compliant foods and went out for pizza and hamburgers and drank the rest of the wine and beer. I researched what other people are eating on the plan, bought a ton of groceries and spent an afternoon prepping things like roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, and paleo mayo.

We started cooking all of our meals at home. Before the experiment, we went out to eat or picked up takeout a handful of times each week. For breakfast, we often grabbed granola and yogurt. After the experiment started, we cooked three meals a day, every day. This was a lot of work, and I've felt busy all month. Between cooking and cleaning up after cooking, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. The kitchen is my favorite room in the house, but it felt more like a chore than a joy this month. There were exceptions to this feeling, of course, but sometimes you just want to eat something easy that doesn't require the stove or dirty dishes. Yogurt and english muffins with peanut butter were sorely missed at our house this month.

At first, I was focused on what we were cutting out of our diets and how we could find suitable substitutes. My focus quickly shifted from what we can't eat to what we can eat. And there's a lot that we can eat. Although I have to say that a really good steak just isn't the same without red wine, creamy mashed potatoes, baguette and blue cheese. However, I really don't need to be eating that way on a Tuesday night, thank you very much. Cutting these things out of my diet has helped me appreciate and savor them all the more as a special treat.

For breakfast we ate eggs, roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed spinach, and some kind of meat like smoked salmon, steak or a compliant breakfast sausage. For dessert we ate bananas with almond butter, coconut flakes and cashews. For lunches, we ate leftovers from dinner with a big green salad and more fruit and almond butter. For dinner, I made things like turkey meatballs with homemade marinara and roasted spaghetti squash, salmon cakes with roasted asparagus, lamb burger patties with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, and stuffed peppers with ground beef and roasted vegetables. We drank a lot of sparkling water.

After two weeks, we were feeling terribly bored, and despite saying we wouldn't eat any processed food during the month when we started, we trolled the aisles of the grocery store looking for compliant convenience foods. We bought larabars, a variety of sausages and some deli roast beef. I squealed with joy and jumped up and down in the grocery store when Andrew exclaimed that he had found compliant proscuitto. As hard as this experiment was at times, at least there was proscuitto.

The results that I've noticed for myself are improved sleep, weight loss, less bloating and generally feeling better with more sustained and even energy to get me through a normal day. This way of eating does not work for me when I want to exercise strenuously at high elevation. The rules of the Whole30 helped me get started, but I also want to live my life, which I've learned means that I need to eat some complex carbohydrates before I can bike several hours up a mountain. No amount of protein and healthy fats can power me up Taos Canyon. I've learned that the hard way...

One thing that this experiment has really made me appreciate is that the choices we make about food are incredibly personal. These choices involve many different aspects of our lives and priorities and personal situations. The experiment has helped me be more reflective about my relationship with food and my daily choices.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day 2014 in Photos

So many photo posts lately... I've been on 14 flights in the past three weeks, and I'm so happy to be home for a little while. I am craving spending time at home with Andrew, cuddling the dog girls, cooking good food and biking up some mountains.

Labor Day 2014 was amazing. I'm so grateful to have been able to fly home at the last minute. Of course, this update is missing the Fair, which I think deserves its own post. These photos sum up the weekend pretty well - airplanes, missing my girls and Andrew, eating, spending time with family and friends, sparkling wine and doggies!

 leaving santa fe early friday morning
 elsa loves her sleep
 bruschetta with ricotta, roasted tomatoes, pancetta and sage
 backyard bonfire
 so happy to be surrounded by people i love
 the neighbors' new puppy. eeeeee!
back home to santa fe monday night

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Tradition Continues


I hadn't planned to fly home for the Fair this year. I was just home for the wedding. It wasn't practical. It didn't make sense.

One thing that I've come to know for certain this month is that practicality is a lot easier with distance. Months ago, I knew it would be hard to skip the Fair and miss a year of my annual tradition with Rosie. Last week, I knew it would be impossible.

And with that, I bought a ticket. The tradition will live on. Tomorrow I will be walking the circuit, eating cheese curds and pronto pups, seeing chainsaw carvers, riding the giant slide and singing along to Garrison Keillor in the Grandstand.

Fair 2014 here I come!! I can hardly wait!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Washington, D.C. in Photos

I was in Washington, D.C. last week for a conference and had a little time to visit some sites. The highlight was seeing Julia Child's kitchen. I also had a fabulous time seeing my cousin and his boyfriend, partaking in restaurant week and trying sparkling rosé. 

 american history museum
 julia's mixer!!
 under construction
 botanic gardens
 natural history museum
 museum of american art
joan crawford's dog sure looks a lot like...
my cousin's dog
(i love, love, love this statue by the way)
 cachaca, lemon cordial, egg white and bitters
 sparkling rosé
restaurant week at fiola

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Long Weekend in Minneapolis in Photos

 wild turkeys of northeast minneapolis. 
they moved in sometime during the last decade. eek!
 panang curry
 a program i helped start 12 years ago. time for a new sign.
 pizzeria lola
day drinking
 korean bbq and hawaii-o
 there in spirit
 photo booth
 only the necessities
 minnehaha falls
 beer chasers = things you miss when you leave the midwest
and cute to boot!
 smoked pork shoulder
missing family already

the main event:
love these two!
 so excited
 such a touching ceremony
 lots of smiles
 sooooooo happy
 oldest friends
 behind the scenes lighting assisting
the world's best photographer

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Story of a Friendship Salad

Your oldest friend asks you to make a salad for her wedding reception, and of course, you say, "YES!"

Your mind immediately starts racing with possibilities before you tell yourself not to overthink it. Your husband points out that not just any salad will do and suggests writing a salad recipe that embodies your friendship. So much for not overthinking it.

You accept the challenge and start a page for ideas in your bullet journal. This is your oldest friend, and only the most perfect salad will do. 

Your husband reminds you that he never actually challenged you. But he knows you well enough to know that you will indeed take it as a challenge and that he can't go around making suggestions without you taking action. He is reminded of that time years ago, before you were married and he casually suggested that the three of you - you, him and your oldest friend - should spend the whole day at the Minnesota State Fair. The whole day. Little did he know it opens at 6:00 am and closes at midnight. He should have learned his lesson that year.

Your list of ideas includes many items that are related to your time together in France. You add chestnuts for the year when you both taught English in small towns in the Alpes de Haute-Provence. That was the year it was certain that your friendship would be one of the most important things in your life. The day you left, her dad said to the two of you, "I'm so happy you guys are doing this together. It means that you will be friends for the rest of your lives." He was right.

Although your towns at the time were so much closer than they are now, only an hour away by car then and almost 24 hours by car now, you had some lonely times that year. One afternoon as you strolled together through Sisteron along the Durance River, probably discussing what you would be cooking for dinner that night, you found a burr that had fallen off one of the ubiquitous chestnut trees, cracked open with two nuts inside. You called them friendship nuts and each one of you took one home so you could still be together even when you were apart. You still have "little Rosie" in a bowl on your dresser. It still creeps her out big time that you call it "little Rosie" but you do it anyway because you like it.

Lemons are added to the list because of all those sunny days in the South of France, the energy of the sun and let's be honest, you guys ate a lot of lemon tarts together in France. Same story with lardons and crème fraîche, the culprits that caused you both to gain so much weight in one year that your jeans barely zipped up by late spring. 

The list includes Brussels sprouts for the year that she visited you on the Mesa for Thanksgiving. You spent months planning the perfect menu, which tasted even better than you could have imagined. That's probably because you had so much fun together cooking it all. The Brussels sprouts hash you made that year was pretty spectacular.

Cheese is on the list because this lady loves it, and cheese curds are the first food on your circuit at the fair.

You add kale because your salad is shaping up to be a little weak in the knees, and because kale is hearty like your friendship. You add that last bit to help justify the kale, but also because it's true.

You put it all together, well, almost all of it, and toss in a French vinaigrette and you get a nice salad. A kale and shaved Brussels sprouts salad with chestnuts, lardons and apple. It's nice. Really nice, but you can't help but think that it's just not good enough. Your husband tells you that it's a great salad and your friends tell you that you're being too hard on yourself. Your brother-in-law is brutally honest and says to start over with something that has more curb appeal. You're not the only one who will be making a salad for the reception. He leans closer over the table and tells you, "let's face it - this is a competition and you need to win it."

You tuck the friendship salad away to send her on a fall day with a nice note about how much you love her, and you cook the cover of this month's Bon Appétit instead. It's a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi, who you know she loves, and it has roasted lemons and it definitely has curb appeal. And then on the day of the wedding, you hover next to the salad table as folks go through the buffet line, secretly (not so secretly) hoping that yours will be the first to be eaten up. And you're beyond pleased that it is, and even more thrilled that your oldest friend sits down next to you with her plate and takes one big bite of your salad and declares it "the best one!" She knows you so well. 

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