Posts Tagged ‘whole30’

Unrecipe of the Week: Roasted Nuts

September 3, 2015

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Nuts are a great snack. They are plant based, all natural and high in protein and heart healthy fats. That is until a commercial company gets ahold of them.

When I began my Whole 30 quest a couple of months ago, I became a stickler for reading labels on anything that had them. While most of the food I eat doesn’t come in a package, nuts are a whole food that typically does. When companies roast nuts, they add oil to them. Planter’s, one of the largest commercial nut companies adds peanut and/or cottonseed oil to thier nuts, as well as salt. Since legumes (peanuts and peanut oil) are off limits, as is cottonseed oil on Whole 30 and Paleo, I decided to roast my own.

Everyone I share my freshly roasted nuts with loves them. Nuts are already high in healthy unsaturated fats and don’t require any extra oil when roasted. By roasting them “naked” the flavor of the nut is enhanced, and not over powered by the flavor of the aditives. They are so easy to make, that there really isn’t a good reason to buy those cans again.

How To Roast Nuts:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees*. Spread the nuts (I love cashews!) in an even layer on a baking sheet with sides. Roast in the oven for about 5 minutes, and shake the pan or stir the nuts to redistribute them. The nuts on the edges of the pan will brown much more quickly than those in the middle. Continue to roast the nuts until they are an even light brown color, and begin to release a delicous “nutty” smell. They will likely take about 10-12 minutes, but could take longer or shorter, so keep an eye on them. Beware; once they start to color, they brown very quickly! Remove from the oven and cool before enjoying.

Store in a glass jar after cooling.

*Smaller or more dense nuts may benefit from a slightly cooler oven temperature. If you are roasting pine nuts, for example, use a 300 or 325 degree oven, and watch them carefully.Time may vary due to the size and density of the nuts.

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Re-entry Phase

August 4, 2015

Upon finishing the Whole 30, I was at a loss as to what to do next. I knew the next steps were the purposeful reintroduction of eliminated food groups, but with a flat stomach, and a general feeling of well-being, I was hesitant to try adding things back. Fear of feeling sick, re-awakening cravings,gaining weight and bloating up again was holding me back. I stayed the course very happily for the rest of the week, and as the weekend approached, I was so used to my eating plan, that I didn’t really crave anything new, even that glass of wine I wanted so desperately a couple of weeks ago.

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Then I got to thinking. If Whole 30 was about having a healthy relationship with food, was my fear of “off roading” a little disordered? I felt like I had to “break it,” and move on before it became a more serious issue.

One of our previous Saturday night rituals was sharing a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine while Netflixing. ( Yeah, we really are that dull!) Although I wasn’t dying for it, I decided that I needed to reintroduce some foods at some point, and if I didn’t do it properly, the last month of restriction would be a big waste. I popped the corn in coconut oil, and amid much dissent, did not add any butter to it. I had sparkling water instead of wine. Baby steps. If I added butter and wine to the equation and I didn’t feel well, I would not know which item was the culprit.

I awoke thinking that the experiment went well, and the popcorn seemed to “agree” with me. At lunchtime, I was complaining that I felt “blah.” I had trouble getting up. My strength and stamina at the gym was a little subpar. My legs felt like jello. I didn’t want to do anything except sit in the air conditioning and relax. I chalked it up to working out pretty hard the previous week, the heat ( it’s been in the 90’s for the last week or two,) and it just being one of those days. Then it hit me. While any or all of those excuses were valid, was it the popcorn that didn’t agree with my newly cleansed body? I often felt like this on the weekends, and just chalked it up to it being tired and my body relaxing. Because I had been feeling so good, feeling like this was very noticable. When something doesn’t “agree” with you, it doesn’t always mean an upset stomach. Sometimes it is in the form of malaise, skin problems or inflammation. I went back on the Whole 30 plan,( as instructed after trying a new food group ) and then I will try to introduce another group in a few days. In order to know if the popcorn  did in fact effect me negatively, I will need to try it again. It may really, have just been one of those days. Or it may have been the corn. Time and another trial will tell.

Sigh.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Healthy Reset: Week 4

July 27, 2015
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Beautiful roasted beets. The secret to success is preparation.

This week started off with a stressful bang. While trying to make plans to meet a friend between presentations at a trade show, she remarked that the website listed my presentations on Tuesday. Great, except they were supposed to be on Wednesday.

Yikes! I worked on them all weekend, but they weren’t done yet. I was also booked with another client for an all day meeting that people were flying in for on Tuesday. I am the ultimate multi-tasker, but being in two places at once is not in my repertoire. A marathon ensued, and a mere 15 hours later, I had two presentations loaded onto my computer. All that’s left was trying to figure out what I was going to say, and I’d be good to go. My other client was extremely forgiving. I hope that they are still a client next season.

It's 11pm. Do you know where your presentation is?

It’s 11pm. Do you know where your presentation is?

Getting home from work at midnight usually entails indulging in my favorite  comfort food dinner of popcorn and red wine. Hello Whole 30! No corn, no butter and no wine. Somehow decaf tea and berries with cashews didn’t provide me with any great comfort or pleasure, but it was a far better choice nutritionally. I am however, quite proud of myself for not caving. My energy level has been extremely high, which really helped me cope with the week.

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Late to bed and early to rise, I crammed for my presentations and somehow pulled them off. My stress level was off the Richter scale, yet something odd happened. Throughout the entire ordeal, I had an inner sense of calm, although I was completely stressed out. I was nervous about pulling together the content, an then about getting up in front of a room full of professionals and not knowing what I was talking about, yet the butterflies and tension were fully under control. Is it possible that my healthy diet left me well nourished, moderately well rested (less tossing and turning, and no burning stomach) and therefore more able to deal with the pressure? Is it possible that the junk I consume is what wears me down, and not the stress itself? I certainly don’t want to go through this again anytime soon to find out, but it is food for thought. Literally.

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How could anyone prefer fake colored processed junk to gorgeous rainbow carrots?

How could anyone prefer fake colored processed junk to gorgeous rainbow carrots?

Wednesday brought a huge sigh of relief, as the tension of the previous weeks started to leave my body. I had a work related cocktail party where I happily sipped sparkling water with lime and avoided the hors d’ouerves. Since I got home late, I ordered a Mediterranean Salad without cheese for dinner. It arrived with double cheese which I tried to surgically remove. Feta cheese is soft and clings to everything, so getting rid of it wasn’t easy. If I ended up ingesting a microscopic piece of it, life will have to go on anyways.

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I had an all day seminar on Thursday, so I had some poached eggs and cherry tomatoes for breakfast, and brought a banana and a little glob of almond butter in a jar, “just in case.” I was happy to see that banana, since there wasn’t anything else I could eat. Even the vegan options were carb heavy. When I got home at 3:30 I gorged on cashews. Not the best example of Whole 30 eating, but sometime a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

A business dinner wrapped up the crazy week! Although there was a prix fixe menu, I was able to navigate it. The appetizers, served family style were all off limits, but thanks to my nut binge, I was able to hold off. I dissected a burata and tomato canape, eating only the tomato part, to appear social. While almost everyone at the long community table opted for pasta, I had the chicken breast, which was simply grilled with a few vegetables and a drizzle of flavorful pesto that didn’t have any cheese in it. It was wonderful, and I doggy bagged half of it for lunch the next day. Score! It became joke, since only one person at a table of trend forecasters and fashion experts stepped out of the norm. Rather than make a fuss about my diet, I simply declared that pasta was over and chicken was the next big thing. Comic relief and a delicious, compliant dinner to boot! When dessert rolled around, there was some fresh berry thing in a deep bowl, so I asked for mine without the sauce or pastry. Nobody noticed that my little bowl contained anything different from theirs, so again, I was able to skirt the diet issue and stay on course.

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We are coming into the home stretch. I am feeling energetic, despite the crazy week, and I think my hair seems a little healthier, although that may be attributed to a recent cut. A friend complimented my skin. My supposedly stress induced stomach aches have not ruled their ugly heads during this incredibly stressful time. My usual three to five pound weight fluctuations have stabilized to a pretty consistent number. (I lost a little weight at the beginning, but have not seen much of a drop lately.)

Next week is looking like it will be a calm one, so I may stay on track for awhile until a reason to go off presents itself. The next phase is re-entry, where each food group is added back individually to see what makes you feel unwell. I am dreading that little journey of self discovery, but it should be interesting. There is no re-entry for alchohol or sugar, since it presumed that everyone feels bad when partaking in them.

Today is day 29 of 30. Stay tuned….I am almost done!

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Healthy Reset: Week 3

July 20, 2015

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Week three began with a lot of stress. There are looming deadlines across both businesses, all culminating in three big meetings this week. It is hard to even think about the shopping and preparing that should be done to keep me on track. I have no specific cravings, but I do have a longing for something that tastes different. I am not sure what I might do differently, but I do know I am in a food rut. The joy of pure food, healthy eating and scrupulous preparation has reduced itself to an “eating for fuel” mindset. I am mulitasking (highly discouraged on Whole30) by typing this as I eat a bland chicken breast with tomatoes and a couple of olives for zip; all I could scrounge together before work this morning.

Wednesday night I met friends at a Japanese place for drinks,which basically translated to a glass of sparkling water with lemon. A quick pre-scan of the menu ( a slightly obsessive habit, but one which allows me to think about what I can eat in advance,) showed that there was absolutely nothing I could eat there. Soy sauce, even the gluten free kind, is off limits (legumes) and rice is out of the question. Even plain steamed edamame is a no-no. I guess it is a good thing that I couldn’t stick around for dinner anyways.

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On the way home, I called my husband and asked him to order in. He read me the menu of the local place we order from that has lots of greenmarket specials, as well as a very vegetarian friendly selection on their main menu. As he reads, I realize there is a deal breaker item in every dish. Asian=soy sauce, Greek, Caesar or Cobb salad= cheese. Crispy=breaded or battered. Many of the salads have farro or quinoa, which is also off limits. I finally had a grilled chicken breast with broccoli, green beans (the only acceptable legume) and slivered almonds. I am sure they were cooked in something I shouldn’t eat, but hey, YOLO! At least it was something different, and I didn’t have to cook it.

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At 11:30 p.m. I was simultaneously, working, blogging, baking and helping my daughter pack for a trip. A glass of wine would have been really, really nice at that point. The good news is that I have had a lot of energy, and I haven’t needed an antacid in awhile. When I get overwhelmed, I tend to throw caution to the wind and eat poorly, and then feel horrible post binge. This is forcing me to stay the course, even during a tough week. Things calm down next Thursday, and I finish Whole30 the following week.

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On Friday night, I wrapped up with the knowledge that it was going to be  a working weekend. The weather was beautiful, and it was a great night to go for a walk, grab some dinner and a glass of wine to unwind. Trying to find a place where I can eat was not the easiest task,  but not impossible. I just had to be “one of those people” who makes special requests. The wine, was, sadly not possible. And I really, really wanted that glass of wine. Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad!

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So far this week, I have made graham crackers and marshmallows for s’mores, chocolate marble cheesecake brownies, and fortune cookies for Indigo Jones Eats. I am developing recipes to go with Pinkberry’s new summer flavors, and I  experimented with graham cracker crust mini frozen yogurt cakes with a strawberry coulis, and freeform cookie cups, with blueberry frozen yogurt and a blueberry sauce. (Recipes coming soon to the blog!) I did not lick a spoon, or taste a crumb, let alone indulge in anything more than that early squirt of Sriracha.  I had to rely on expertise and instinct in my cooking, rather than being able to taste and perfect as I go along. I know this is a good thing, as those little tastes tend to add up, and trigger cravings that make me go “off the rails” a bit.

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Twenty one days down, nine to go! This coming week involves three all-day meetings where it may be difficult to eat a compliant lunch, and awkward to bring my own. I am armed with lots of vegetables and fruits to keep things easy. Stay tuned…this could be interesting!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Healthy Reset: Week Two

July 13, 2015

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This week has been pretty unremarkable. I am completely into the vibe of eating only whole foods, and don’t feel deprived or overly hungry at all.
I fully understand why they don’t want you to weigh yourself on this program. It distracts from the idea that this is a way of life and not a crash diet, and they don’t want you to obsess over a number on the scale. Of course I weighed myself anyways. I  was shocked at the almost five pound drop last week, (which is a huge amount for a relatively small person,) but on day nine, some of it seemed to be back. No big surprise, as daily fluctuations occur, but it can be a bit disconcerting.  Add this as just another reason to step away from the scale during Whole30.

The key to success has been preparation. I have been working from home lately, but this week I needed to head to the office. I roasted an assortment of vegetables, boiled some eggs and cleaned some salad greens so I could have healthy, compliant lunches, and a jumpstart on dinner when I get home. During the week, leftovers often added variety. In the past, I could broil a piece of fish and steam a little broccoli and call it night. If I wasn’t satisfied, I grazed. Now I focus on a delicious, healthy dinner, eaten mindfully at the table with my family, so I walk away satiated. It seems to be working. I sip a cup of mint tea after dinner, and it has become my post meal ritual to relax, and aid digestion before bed.

I am often making food for others that I am not eating. I can’t get the rest of the family to join my quest, so I am making pasta, bread and sweets to supplement my protein and plant heavy diet. I tend to entertain over the weekend, and run a small baking business on the side, so the temptation to eat broken cookies, taste icing or cake scraps is always there. I know this sets off a chain reaction, so “nope, not going there” is my mantra. It is easy to walk away from the crumbs, but not easy to stop once that door has been opened. Another lesson from Whole 30.

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The weekend is here. The sweets in the office and the pizza at home held no great appeal, but I wouldn’t mind a glass of wine about now. I am not a big drinker, but relaxing with a nice glass of wine at the end of a busy week is more of a spiritual indulgence than a dietectic one. It’s something I know I will want to add back into my diet at the end of the month, in moderation. Plus, a little wine does have its health benefits.

Freshly made pasta that I won't eat. One of the many things on that list!

Freshly made pasta that I won’t eat. One of the many things on that list!

Willpower! I just made s’mores, mini shortcakes (for strawberry shortcake), coconut icecream, and fresh pasta, none of which I will eat. Monday’s baking includes marbled cheesecake brownies, yum! Before you start to feel sorry for me, or tell me to just “eat the cookie,” let me tell you about the dinner I have planned tonight.

We are celebrating a friend’s birthday and I am making her favorite dishes. The guests will have a salad with roasted beets and heirloom carrots, chicken piccata on a bed of homemade fettuccini with butter and parmesan cheese. There will be roasted green beans, and grilled tomatoes. They will finish the meal with the above mentioned strawberry shortcakes with coconut icecream and fresh strawberries in Grand Marnier. ( The other stuff is for indigo jones eats customers.)

I will have the salad and vegetables, and my chicken will not be breaded. It will be simply prepared with fresh lemon and capers, rather than the buttery lemon- caper sauce the others will have. No pasta, and sparkling water instead of wine. For dessert, I will have fresh strawberries. That doesn’t really sound like a big sacrifice, does it? I certainly don’t think so. Once again, the event is at my home, and I am the one cooking, so it is easy to be compliant without inconveniencing anyone else, or making an unwanted fuss about my restrictions.

I have hit the half way point, and I can see eating this way indefinately, with a few splurges and a little wine along the way.

On to week three!

Top photo: Glasshouse Images

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