Sunday, March 15, 2015

Whole30 = Conquered

It's over! What's over? The Whole30! 

 Two-thirds of the faculty of Pumpkin Rose Farm recently finished their first Whole30! Princess Me and the Queen Mother decided that we would try the Whole30 program, beginning February 2. 

First things first: about the Whole30. Basically, it's a reset for your body, achieved by cutting out dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol and sugar. Also off-limits are carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites (which are found in processed foods). The last big rule is not to recreate baked goods, junk food, or treats (such as Paleo pancakes, etc).
Yes, it's hard. No, it's not impossible. If you're interested, you can find all the information at

I feel the need to share a disclaimer concerning my food photography. I started out by taking pictures on my point-and-shoot camera, then ended up taking the rest of the photos with my phone. After about the first week and a half, I didn't try very hard to make the pictures look professional (or even semi-professional). This was mostly due to the fact that by the time the food was ready, I didn't want to try to have to "pose" it and take beautiful pictures. I just wanted to eat it. Then, I looked back at the pictures and discovered that some were blurry. Too late...the food was already a distant memory. I won't be posting all of the pictures that I took, partly because of aforementioned blur. Hindsight is 20/20....

Although we didn't see much improvement in health conditions, I did notice that digestive disturbances were fewer than before. Also, some pounds and inches were lost.
I think the biggest benefit that I've seen is the mental change. We've better learned how to plan meals and how to make healthier substitutions and wiser food choices.
It also makes me want to work harder on the farm gardens this year. I can think of no better place to get vegetables than from one's own garden (if possible). 

I learned that you can overcome food temptations (even though at the time it felt like the hardest thing in the world). One afternoon, everyone around me was eating some pizza from a local pizza place that makes delectable, unique pizzas. Once I smelled the dessert pizzas, I thought that I was done for! However, I made it through with two plates of salad. I was thankful for the green olives and sunflower seeds on the salad bar because they amped up the taste and made dressing unnecessary. 

My favorite moment of the month was on Day One, when we sat down to breakfast and the Queen exclaimed, "I forgot the monkey salad!" We began the program knowing that a monkey salad would probably make many appearances and, sure enough, it did.

Another disclaimer: I know that smoothies are somewhat of a bone of contention in the health community and that the Whole30 program generally frowns upon the making of such beverages which, quite often, turn into sugar bombs. However, I do believe that when in had in moderation (everything in moderation!) and when made with proper ingredients in proper ratios, smoothies are fine.

Things I liked about the Whole30  
  • The new perspective on food and nutrition. Mindless snacking became a thing of the past because, if I wanted to eat something, more often than not I had to make it. Meals had to have protein, fat, and vegetables and really needed to be able to keep us satiated for a while. As a result, I looked for ways to bulk up meals.
  • I was forced to make foods that I probably would have never gotten around to making. Last year I tried my hand at making homemade mayonnaise and the result made me never want to attempt to make mayo again. Then, I found instructions for making it with an immersion blender; no slower-than-slow drizzling of oil or room-temperature ingredients required. This mayo changed my life, or at least my food life. I now make the mayo almost weekly and use it in many ways that I would have never used store-bought to make. We didn't even eat mayo before. Another food-prep obstacle that I overcame was making coconut butter and Larabars.
  • We learned to think ahead so that the microwave didn't have to be used. Since most of our meals had to be eaten over two or three days, we started each meal's reheating process sooner and were able to use the oven or the stove.

Things I didn't like about the Whole30
  • I started out feeling too controlled by it. I was so scared that I would accidentally eat something that was off limits and then all my efforts would be ruined. In the first couple of weeks, we learned how easily we would grab something and pop it into our mouths, just because it was there. I spent my nights dreaming that I'd accidentally eaten something that was off-limits. Thankfully, those dreams stopped about halfway through the month.
  • Snacking was discouraged, therefore, I always felt bad if I ate just a Larabar or something in between meals. There weren't many convenient snack options, since there are very few Whole30-compliant packaged foods. That's all fine and dandy, but I didn't always want to make something and I sure didn't want to have to come up with a mini meal, with the protein-vegetable-fat rules.  

Tips for Your First Whole30
  • If you like sweet potatoes, make them one of your closest friends during the Whole30 (and beyond). For us, they appeared in almost every form imaginable and at every meal. The best way to eat them, in my opinion, is to bake them and spoon some extra virgin coconut oil on top, with salt and pepper. You can also add cinnamon or a homemade spice mix. 
  • Coconut, in all forms, is a must in your Whole30 pantry. Coconut milk in a can makes a great substitute for milk in many recipes!
  • Add as much food (preferably vegetables) as you can to each meal. I changed my plan of attack during the last half of the month and started eating more at meals. Instead of having a monkey salad or some fruit a couple hours after a meal, I added it to my meal. Most of the time, I ate everything on my plate and, occasionally, I finished off the Queen's food, too.
  • BE PREPARED! This might seriously be the most important thing you can do in order to succeed. Have at least a week's worth of meals and snacks planned and the ingredients on hand, if possible. I'm so grateful for all of the other Whole30 participants who have shared their recipes and menus! Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean has some excellent tips for food prep. I highly recommend checking it out.

Best Recipes
Deconstructed Gyro 
Creamed Spinach 
Simple Chicken No-Tortilla Soup 
Chicken Patties 
Chocolate Chili 
BBQ Beef meat or Carnita meat over a sweet potato with homemade BBQ sauce drizzled over. Seriously, this is one of the best meals I've ever had.

That's all I can think of...for now. I'll share the menu, pictures, and some recipes in my next posts. I hope to get those up this week. Please check back!

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