Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August Whole30: Week 3 Planning and a Lesson in Checking Your Labels

As promised, I'm going to tell you guys the story of the spicy tuna cakes and the importance of checking labels! So last Friday night on my way home from work, I stopped and did my grocery shopping at Aldi, as usual. Anyways, I've been really digging the Spicy Tuna Cakes, so I decided to make them again for this week. So I picked up four cans of chunk light tuna in oil at Aldi, which was different from the week before - I bought light tuna in water. When I got home, I read the label, and was horrified to see the tuna was packed in SOYBEAN OIL!! Ugh! So I picked up some tuna packed in olive oil (and no nasty sneaky ingredients) at Publix, but I was FREAKING OUT because I was second-guessing the tuna I had bought and eaten all last week - I thought I was going to have to start back at Day 1. Well I googled it, and the tuna in water only contains tuna, water, vegetable broth, and salt. PRAISE JESUS!!! Moral of the story: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR LABELS!!!

So besides the spicy tuna cakes, I also made Cinnamon Beef Stew with Orange Gremolata from Well Fed, and Big-O Bacon Burgers from Nom Nom Paleo. I made the stew and the tuna cakes on Saturday, but didn't get around to making the burgers until last night after I got home from the gym. They actually came together fairly quickly, plus I had a few side condiments and such going on at the same time, so I got a lot accomplished in like an hour or so. If you head over to my Snap Story, the videos and pics from cooking will be up for a few more hours! I'll post a picture of the finished product here as well...

That's all I've got for now, but I'll be posting a little more later in the week, because I'm hosting a cookout at my house this Sunday, and I'll be making a few Whole30 compliant side dishes as well as maybe an entree or two! Stay tuned!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Whole30 Midway Point - Progress Update!!!

I'm gonna keep this short today, and let the pictures speak for themselves. I'm really encouraged that you can see progress in the pics!! Even more importantly, I am starting to feel better in my work pants, which had gotten really tight in the waistline recently! Halfway through the 30 days, and I'm feeling really good! I'll have to post about the scare I gave myself this weekend, but I'll save that for this evening or tomorrow :D

Let me know what you think!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Whole30 Week 2...Midweek Report

Hello interwebz! Reporting in here for a little midweek update. I've been noshing on spicy tuna cakes, layered taco casserole, and teriyaki chicken all week, and my mouth and stomach have been happy campers all week. In fact, I'm loving the Spicy Tuna Cakes for breakfast so much, I'm making another (double) batch of them for next week!
Next week's meal plan/shopping list!

First, I wanted to report in on any changes I've felt I've experienced so far. Like I said in my last post, my sleep has been much deeper since cutting out all the grains, dairy and sugars. I just wish I could make myself go to bed earlier than I do! I've been better about getting into bed earlier, but then I watch tv or read a book until after 11, so I'm getting the same amount of sleep that I always do. I'm gonna keep trying, though.
This past week's sleep...definitely not long enough, but the depth is getting much better!

Another change I've seen is in my day to day demeanor or mood. I'm not really one to experience huge mood swings, but I've noticed that I've been calmer, internally, over the past week or so. I don't know if anyone else notices it, but I can feel it. I don't feel as stressed or wired, or whatever. Except in traffic, because that always brings out the ROAD RAGE in me!

Third, last night I may have gotten my first taste of tiger blood. I went to the gym at 5 after work, and got home from there around 6:30 or so, walked Buster, then sat down to eat dinner. Between eating dinner and then working on meal planning for next week, I think it was around 8 or so when I got up from the table, and there was a little light left in the sky. All of a sudden I had this feeling like I wanted to get some stuff accomplished last night, that I had been procrastinating on. In early July, I had dug out a flower bed around the back of my house, and planted five pineapple tops that I'd been propagating. When I finished that, I still had two tops that I'd just put in water, and still needed a week or two to sprout roots. Well, that was like four weeks ago, and the glasses were still sitting on my kitchen counter, along with a glass of scallions I'd done the same with. I got all three things planted last night! I also got my kitchen completely cleaned up, dishwasher loaded and run, and even cut my fingernails after I got out of the shower last night, LOL. I usually tend to wait until I can barely type anymore to do that!!! Honestly, feeling so motivated and having a steady, even energy is such an awesome thing, I only hope that it continues in the weeks ahead...

The final change that I've seen so far is that I do think my work pants are slowly starting to become looser on me. I wish I would've taken my measurements before starting on August 1, but unfortunately I didn't. I can definitely tell a difference in the quads/thighs, and several of my work pants that used to really cut into me at the waist while seated at my desk no longer seem to be so tight, so I'm taking that as a really good sign that my body is changing in the right direction. Like I said, I didn't take measurements, but I did take some pictures the week before starting the Whole30, so I'm going to try to take mid-point progress pictures next Monday, and post them here!

Alright, that's all I've got for now. I hope everyone is having a great week, it's almost the weekend, woohoo!!!

Monday, August 8, 2016

August Whole30 Week One...In the Books!

Here I am, on day 8 already...to be honest, the first week was fairly smooth sailing. I think that preparing a weekly game plan and really thinking out the meal prep process ahead of time really contributed to the ease of getting through the first week. I'll fill ya in on what I've done now for each of the first two weeks (I'm about 80% finished with my meal prep for week 2), from start to finish.

Around Tuesday evening or Wednesday, I begin thinking about possible recipes I'd like to make for the week. I'm aiming to prepare recipes that will give me a total of 6-8 pounds of protein for the week, and in addition to hot recipes, I try to assemble a salad as well. For week 1, I also made a soup, but decided not to for week 2. So by this past Wednesday night, I had 3 entree recipes picked, plus one salad: Spicy Tuna Cakes by Nom Nom Paleo; Layered Taco Casserole and Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken, both from the Whole30 Recipes Instagram feed; and Thai Yummy Salad, from Mel Joulwan.

As you see above in the picture, I list each recipe out, and then list the ingredients below each that I'll need to buy to make the recipe, sketching out a rough grocery list in the process. I add "A's" or "P's" next to each item, signifying where I think I'll have to buy each item - I aim to purchase as much of my grocery haul from Aldi as possible. Aldi is far more inexpensive than Publix, and has a great selection of both organic and conventional produce; in addition, they've got grass fed ground beef for less than $6/lb, and decent poultry products as well. Sometimes, however, they have limited quantities of items; for instance, when I did my shopping Friday night, they were cleaned out of sweet potatoes. Instead of paying $2.99 for a 3 lb. bag of sweet potatoes at Aldi, I ended up paying $1.29/lb. for them at Publix. So Aldi is always my first stop, then I follow up with a trip to Publix to fill in the gaps. I got this all done Friday evening.

I actually began some of my meal prep after I got home from the stores on Friday night, because those pieces of the prep involved using the Instant Pot. If you've never heard of the Instant Pot, let me fill you in: it's an electric pressure cooker, but actually can serve 7 functions in one pot - pressure cooker, slow cooker, sautée, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and one other I've never used and can't remember. I love mine, and use it to make everything from whole chickens to pulled pork to bone broth, to even cooking sweet potatoes in 15 minutes. Which is what I used it for Friday night, along with converting the Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken to Instant Pot. So when I went to bed Friday night, I had one meal already prepped, plus the component of another ready to be used. Score!

I was away from the house for most of the day yesterday, so I made sure to eat a good, filling breakfast to keep me going; I had a double portion of the curry turkey bites along with a glass of iced Crio Bru and coconut milk right around 10:30. I also took my Yeti mug filled with my new current obsession: Grady's decaf cold brew coffee. You guys. I had heard all of the raving about cold brew, but hadn't been able to try it, because I can't have caffeine, and I never saw any decaf anywhere. Then Melissa Hartwig, co-founder of the Whole30, posted about Grady's decaf on Instagram, and I just had to give it a try. Verdict? AMAZING!

When I got home around 5, I was definitely hungry, so I ate the last portion of the paleo pad Thai, then got started on the rest of the meal prep. Assembling the layered taco casserole was actually pretty easy, and it smelled so good as it was cooking, I can't wait to try it! The recipe calls for topping the casserole with a layer of guacamole after it has cooled for about five minutes, but since I cooked it for meals to be eaten later in the week, I omitted that step for now; I picked up those single serving packets of guac at Publix, so I can add the guac each time and it not get all brown and yucky. The final recipe I prepped was the spicy tuna cakes, and I called it a night.
Unfortunately, my version did not come out as beautiful, but it was definitely delicious!! Photo credit: Living Loving Paleo

One final thing before I go for now...the Whole30 program is really big on "Nonscale Victories". In fact, one of the rules of the program is that you can't get on a scale for the entire 30 days, because the program is about so much more than weight loss. One of the best Nonscale victories I see each time I do a Whole30 is in the area of sleep. I rarely have trouble falling asleep, but rarely is my sleep deep throughout the night. The picture below is my sleep from Friday night/Saturday morning...only having five minutes of restlessness is a MIRACLE for me!
Sleeping the sleep of the RIGHTEOUS
Have a great week, guys!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Damn, Daniel...Back at it Again with the Whole30!!!

So exactly two years after starting my first Whole30, I decided to start my third. If you'll recall, I did a second Whole30 in October 2014, just a month after finishing my first - my youngest sister wanted to see if the Whole30 would help her GI problems, and I offered to go along for moral support. Both months were challenging but helpful, and here of late I've been getting further and further away from both clean eating and where I want to be as far as body composition, so it seemed like a good time to buckle down and be disciplined again.

Over the past year, I've shifted my focus more away from paleo and Whole30 style eating, to a flexible dieting or "If It Fits Your Macros" approach. There is definitely an appeal to the IIFYM style, as theoretically you can eat whatever you want, as long as you can fit it into your daily macros (proteins, carbs, and fat). Initially, it seemed to be working, as I lost 10 lbs. between the end of June 2015 through the beginning of September. However, as the fall continued on and we got into the holiday season, not only did my weight loss plateau, but then the holidays hit full force, and counting macros fell by the wayside. And for all of 2016 so far, I've really struggled with not only the number I see when I step on the scale, but how my clothes fit in general. I decided to get back to my paleo roots, quit stressing about calories and macros and measuring my food, and simply try to cut out all of the unhealthy, inflammatory foods from my diet.

 I was on vacation in North Carolina from July 18-24, and once I got back, I dove into my Whole30-compliant cookbooks and blogs I follow for recipe inspiration. I came up with an entire list of recipes that I not only enjoyed eating, but was motivated to cook over the course of 5-6 weeks (30 days plus about 10 days of reintroduction). I chose several recipes from the list for my first week of meal prep, created a grocery list from that, and on Friday of last week, hit up Aldi first, then Publix for my first grocery haul. I was super excited that I was able to keep my grocery bill for the first week under $75!

My menu was the first week was two of my all time favorites, Paleo Pad Thai and Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup, plus three new recipes that I'd never made before: Sunrise Scramble, Curry Turkey Bites with Apricot Ginger Dipping Sauce, and Spring Chopped Salad. The Curry Turkey Bites recipe is from Nom Nom Paleo, the others are all from Melissa Joulwan. I love both of these authors' recipes because they both stay Whole30 compliant the majority of the time, which makes it easy for me, plus they both are fantastic about delivering bold flavors in easy recipes.

So the majority of my Saturday evening was spent in the kitchen, prepping all of the food (with the exception of actually stir-frying up the Pad Thai - I did that on Monday evening), but it has really paid off this week - three days in, and the most I've had to do (besides the stir-fry Monday night) was pull a container (or two) out of my fridge, and heat it up in the microwave. It makes life so much easier!!
So honestly, so far this week has been fairly painless, but I know the real test will be this weekend, when my prepped food will be running low, and I'm used to eating out more over the weekends. I just need to buckle down and stay on plan - I'm already choosing meals for next week and making a grocery list - and be prepared when I'm planning to be out and about, with little to no compliant food options available. You can also follow along with my adventures via Instagram and Snapchat, AbbyQ17.  So stay tuned!