Whole30 – Week 1

I’ve found myself on day 8 of the Whole30 challenge, which means it must be time for an update!  For starters, I got used to the taste of black coffee by day 3.  Not only was I used to it, but I’m actually enjoying it!  I sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on the bottom of my mug, then pour in the coffee so it’s mixed well.  I’ve been enjoying every last drop this way, and will probably think very seriously about maintaining this after the challenge is over.

I’ve read through the Whole30 timeline a few times, trying to figure out what to expect.  Week one highlights these winning moments….here’s what I thought about them all:

Day 1: So what’s the big deal? Spot on judgement of how I felt on day 1.  As you all saw in last week’s post (Reset), the recipes came pretty easily, everything tasted delicious, and it didn’t seem like such a far stretch from our normal meals.  I was excited to get through out shopping list, and fill the house with all kinds of fresh produce.

Days 2-3: The Hangover.  Apparently I must be eating healthier than I realized, because I didn’t feel the full effects of sugar withdrawal.  Did I have a small headache around days 4 and 5? Absolutely! But it was bearable, and thankfully came to an end fairly quickly.

Days 4-5: Kill all the things!  I really hoped and thought this phase wouldn’t actually hit me.  Why?  Because irrationally, I thought somehow my experience would be different, and that must be an exaggeration.  Low and behold, I came home from a relaxing massage on day 6 to realize my husband had finished all of the delicious leftovers that I was looking forward to eating.  We had nothing already prepared in the house, it was late, and I was hangry!  Thankfully, he’s very understanding, and helped me whip something up quickly…but in those few minutes before we figured out what to do “kill all the things” came out 😦

Days 6-7: I just want to nap.  This phase hit me pretty hard, like the night I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30, or when I just couldn’t keep myself up after dinner and quite literally put myself to bed at a toddler’s bedtime.  Getting up from my desk and walking to/from meetings kept it from hitting me hard during the day, but at night, all bets were off!

The thing that’s helping this challenge make even more of a difference for me, is that it coincides with a “Commit to Fit” challenge I’m doing with a close family member (hubby’s cousin from Lexington).  During week one, I not only ate super healthy, but I also swam 36 laps in our local pool, got 45 minutes of cardio work in after work, and ran 8 miles with my Celiac Running Crew today!

So what were the most successful and delicious recipes from the week?  Here are my top 3 (in no particular order)…

1. Orange chicken with sauteed broccoli and yellow squash.  I got this recipe from a good friend and running buddy, who is also taking the Whole30 challenge.  Here’s the link to her blog, and the Orange Chicken recipe.  I adapted it a little since we didn’t have cauliflower on hand (that only lasts about a day in our house!), but I have to say I was really impressed with how rich the sauce was with so few ingredients!

Orange Chicken with Sauteed Broccoli and Squash

Orange Chicken with Sauteed Broccoli and Squash

2.  Fish tacos with mango salsa and avocado cream, paired with steamed green beans.  This recipe came after scouring Pinterest for fun new ideas.  We’d been a little heavy on the poultry earlier in the week, so I was trying to track down something light with fish.  I came across this fish taco recipe, and it could not have been more perfect! First of all, it was super easy for a mid-week recipe.  All we had to do was chop the ingredients for the salsa, and puree the avocado with coconut milk.  Seriously, it was that simple.  Not sure what to pair with it, I steamed green beans, and drizzled lemon infused olive oil on the top.  Perfection!

Fish tacos in lettuce wraps, topped with mango salsa, avocado cream, and a side of steamed green beans.

Fish tacos in lettuce wraps, topped with mango salsa, avocado cream, and a side of steamed green beans.

3. Every. Single. Salad!  We’ve come up with fun and exciting ways to dress up each of our lunchtime salads throughout week one!  Today’s specialty was a mixed bag, I never really know what all I’m going to include until it’s all on the plate.  First I sauteed shallots in coconut oil, and added in about half a pound of ground turkey along with one egg (I was making enough for two salads).  While I was cooking, I seasoned everything with salt, pepper, curry, and ground Jamaican allspice.  I added in pine nuts, green tomatoes, kale and grapes (don’t look at me funny, that salty/sweet combination was awesome).  Once the turkey was browned and the kale had cooked down, I filled a plate with mixed spring greens and baby spinach, and topped it with half an avocado.  I threw half the pan contents on top, and added a drizzle of olive oil and apple cider vinegar.  This was definitely one for the books 🙂

One of the many salads made this week, this one complete with a salty/sweet flavor!

One of the many salads made this week, this one complete with a salty/sweet flavor!

Lexington, KY – A fun family weekend!

Since it’s Thursday, I thought I’d post a throwback to a trip we took last year.  I started this blog post on our flight home, but never quite finished writing.  Hubby and I took advantage of a three-day holiday weekend, flew out to Kentucky to visit his family, and witnessed Keeneland first hand.  We took a late Thursday flight and started the weekend midday on Friday 🙂  I have to admit, this was one of those trips that I wasn’t able to do recon beforehand on the gluten-free options we’d have.

We started our Lexington fun with a local chain, and favorite of hubby’s cousin, Saul Good.   There honestly could not have been a better start to the weekend.  One of the things I was really bummed out about in Italy was that I only found gluten-free pizza in two restaurants.  Saul Good not only had gluten-free pizza crust, but they also had my favorite spicy Italian red sauce as one of their options!   The staff was more than friendly about working with me and double checking each item I ordered.  They offered to put together a fresh vegetable platter for me when I told them I really wanted to try the dip, but could not have their chips.

Our tailgate fare was all low-key, and made for very little prep work that morning.   We’d stopped at a grocery store early in the trip so I could help make sure we had enough gluten-free food for me.  Be forewarned, I did search around to find gluten-free food options inside the track before we went, but didn’t have much luck searching online.  Armed with that in mind, we packed enough pregame food to be sure I wouldn’t go hungry.

We hit up Local Taco for brunch Sunday morning,  where I was pleased to find that their menu had gluten-free options marked with a convenient “GF”.  After confirming with the manager that their chips and salsa were safe for me to eat, I put in an order for four specialty corn tacos along with the chips.  I can not put into words how good those tacos were after a full day tailgating at Keeneland.   The smoked brisket was by far my favorite, but trust me, they were all pretty delicious.   Thankfully,  I remember to snap a picture of my plate before devouring all of it!

Smoked Brisket, Tequila Lime Chicken, and Steak & Eggs  Tacos from The Local Taco

Smoked Brisket, Tequila Lime Chicken, and Steak & Eggs Tacos from The Local Taco

Later that night, we decided to hit up the movie theater after a quick dinner.  Hubby had been in the mood for barbecue, so we made our way to City Barbeque.  In frustrating fashion, my phone froze just as I’d started downloading their allergen listing.  Thankfully, the list was also printed out and kept at the front register.  Without hesitation, I went straight for the naked brisket.  After combing through the gluten-free sides, I settled on baked beans and sweet vinegar slaw.  As we completed our order I mentioned that my meal would need to be carefully handled, and that the staff would need to change their gloves for safety.  Just as I said that, the woman at the register told me she’d already put our order in, and quickly called over another person from the kitchen to ensure my dinner was safe….phew!  I made a quick mental note that all of their sauces were safe, but realized I’d need more help when I saw the condiments station.  All of the sauces were kept in large serving vats, with a single ladle in each one.  Knowing this was a sure-fire way to make myself sick, I grabbed the woman manning the pickup area to see if she could help.  Once I explained my concerns about cross contamination with the sauce ladles,  she came out with two fresh to-go containers of sweet sauce for me to enjoy.

Our final culinary stop in Lexington was at the one and only Shakespeare & Co.  I have to say, the Victorian decorations were very unique, and I totally wanted to stop at every table so I could sit on their vintage couches.  We made it here about midday, making it the perfect time for a late brunch.  Upon asking for a gluten-free menu, I was told the restaurant had gluten-free bread, pizza crust, and quinoa for substitution in nearly any dish.  I asked for some help since I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted.  Our waiter told me hands down that I should go with the Salmon and scrambled eggs.  Let me tell you, that dish did not disappoint!  The gluten-free bread had been cut into rounds as if it were a biscuit, with perfectly shaped salmon and eggs on top.  It came with a side of roasted potatoes and hollandaise dipping sauce, which I obviously smothered all over the eggs 🙂 one word ladies and gentlemen: heavenly!

Our final stop before going home was to the Town Branch Brewery and Distillery.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have any gluten-free beers for me, but the first part of the tour was pretty cool anyways.  We were each given four tasting tickets at the beginning, so I stashed mine away for the Kentucky Bourbon.  I’d done some research about whether or not it was actually safe for me to drink Bourbon, and come to the consensus that the distilling process should make it safe, but that some celiacs still have issues.  Personally, I’m a fan of Bourbon, so it was worth giving it a shot for me.  I tried their Bourbon, Rye, Pearse Lyons Reserve, and an especially tasty Bluegrass Sundown.  My favorite hands down was the Bluegrass Sundown, which is a dark roasted coffee infused with Bourbon and sugar.  Our tour guide served it with hot water over cream, and it just might have to replace the Irish coffee on my list of cold weather spirits!  The best news is, I had no reactions to the Bourbon…line ’em up 😉

Copper pot stills at Town Branch Distillery

Copper pot stills at Town Branch Distillery

Kentucky Bourbon straight from the source, aging in fresh barrels!!

Kentucky Bourbon straight from the source, aging in fresh barrels!!

Reset

Happy New Year everyone (a little delayed)! In this New Year, I’ve decided to hit the reset button in more ways than one.  First of all, I’ve taken what has been a much too long break from the blog.  It wasn’t intentional, but during the break I visited Italy, Kentucky, and New York, ran my very first marathon and was able to get a lot of inspiration for the blog.  If you’re a regular reader, you’ll notice the blog got a much-needed face lift as well!

The second reset button is on my eating habits.  Stress at work and busy schedules has caused us to eat quick meals that aren’t exactly the healthiest.  Think those gluten-free goodies like rice pasta, frozen pizzas (which have really come a long way), and corn dogs.  Yes, I’ve been eating like a child lately.  It’s taken a toll on my body, energy and motivation.  After seeing some of my celiac running crew take on the Whole30 challenge, my husband and I decided it was time for us to try the same.  We’re just starting day two, and the hangover hasn’t quite hit yet.

Not sure what the Whole30 is?  Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.  It’s a 30 day program in which sugar, grains, dairy and legumes are completely eliminated from your diet.  It’s not every day that you find a program that allows you to eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds.  One of the main premises is to eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

So what’s been the hardest thing so far? Not being able to put our hazelnut creamer in our coffee!  I drink usually 2-3 cups of coffee every morning, and that little bit of creamer makes it taste just perfect.  We experimented with coconut milk on day 1, but it just wasn’t right.  Today we tried a teaspoon of pureed coconut (coconut manna by Nutiva) topped with cinnamon, and that was much more bearable.  I’m hoping to get myself to a point where I only need the cinnamon by the time this is over.  We really enjoyed the first day of Whole30 meals, I posted the Chicken & Zucchini Poppers recipe we used for dinner in case anyone wants it!

Here’s a look at how we started day 1…

Breakfast: Sautéed ground turkey and potato hash, with 2 eggs over easy.

Breakfast: Sautéed ground turkey and potato hash, with 2 eggs over easy.

Lunch: Salad with romaine lettuce, kale, tomato, celery, avocado, and ground turkey with a fried egg (seasoned with adobo, chili, salt and pepper). Dressing – avocado oil and vinegar.

Lunch: Salad with romaine lettuce, kale, tomato, celery, avocado, and ground turkey with a fried egg (seasoned with adobo, chili, salt and pepper). Dressing – avocado oil and vinegar.

Dinner: Chicken and zucchini poppers with guacamole and sautéed sweet potatoes.

Dinner: Chicken and zucchini poppers with guacamole and sautéed sweet potatoes.

Our ever-growing produce corner!!

Our ever-growing produce corner!!