2.27.2012

Week 2 On The Whole30

The Daily Countdown... Half Way Through!

15 Days and I haven't been presented with divorce papers.  I'm loving how well this is going so far!  Matt and I are half way through the Whole30 and we are both feeling great.  Week 2 was a little challenging - Matt was working out of town and had a few late nights... which meant lazy me survived on leftovers and didn't make much effort to cook and Matt had to be creative and resourceful while he was away.  Our week of food went something like this:

My breakfast for most of the week consisted of leftover miscellaneous veggies and roasted kabocha squash with a side of scrambled eggs... or topped with a poached egg if I was feeling adventurous.  I prepared a huge batch of sweet potato hash for Matt to use in the mornings and he consistently enjoyed his hash and eggs alongside a giant pink grapefruit.  Um, excuse me, but did they fertilize the citrus trees with sugar this year?  Because these babies are GOOD!  Sweet, juicy, and delicious!

Sweet Potato Hash


 
Leftover Mixed Veggies with Kabocha and Ground Beef
Eggs and Ground Beef with Wilted Spinach

Lunch for me was usually my breakfast... I don't seem to be hungry until almost noon, so that's when I get ambitious and cook up my meal reheat my leftovers and throw something together.  Matt has been using Sunday to prepare his lunch meat for the week.  This week's creation:  a very tasty rosemary pork loin.  On the few nights when he was stuck in the field late, he opted to save his lunch for dinner and ate eggs at a local restaurant for lunch.  I'm so proud of my caveman!

I was happy when Matt's schedule normalized at the end of the week.  That meant all the fabulous fare that was chilling in my fridge would finally get to be made into something delightful and filling.  Our first dinner together for the week came from Well Fed, of course!  Actually, I think everything I made this week was out of Well Fed... the recipes are just that good.  I enjoyed making a batch of the most delicious citrus carnitas - in fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.  I also prepared the cumin-roasted carrots and whipped up a few servings of homemade guacamole.  I cannot even express how amazing this meal was.  Perhaps it was having my husband back at the dinner table... or maybe it was the crispy, zesty goodness of the pork.  They both made dinner extremely enjoyable.

I've never made homemade guacamole before, but have recently been inspired by reading so many food blogs and thought I'd give it a shot:



*2 ripe avocados
*Juice from 1 lime
*1 Tbsp Penzey's Crushed Jalapeños
*Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients in a bowl, chill for ~20 minutes, devour.  Clearly I am not a culinarian.

The carnitas barely survived two full meals which meant I would finally get to prepare a roasted eggplant strata... which is delicious... but is still in my fridge.  It makes more than enough for two people to consume for dinner... and breakfast... and lunch... and dinner... and still have some left over for later.  It is a very filling dish and that is probably why it lasts so long - you don't need to eat a lot to feel satisfied... but I did, because it is just that darn tasty!


Snacks were mostly made up of apples and organic unsweetened SunButter, kale chips, or way too many cashews and macadamia nuts.  The nuts seem to be my last lingering vice and I keep telling myself "no more" and they keep insisting on coming home with me.  How can I say no to those cute little... faces?

I'd like to take just a moment to point out that Matt has consumed quite a few foods that he normally wouldn't eat and I am extremely proud that our "Tongue" tradition is continuing on... To date, my husband has consumed:

* Kale
* Kabocha squash
* Wilted spinach
* Eggplant... as an entire meal, not just a bite!

It is kind of exciting for both of us and I would like to think that already tucking the belt in an extra notch is a little more inspiration to keep trying all the crazy foods I keep making for us.

My husband is a warrior.  Look at him knocking down that wilted spinach like a champ!

The headband was a recent purchase from WODLove.  They are fantastic for doing max reps of burpees in 7 minutes and eating your vegetables.  Everyone feels like a winner when they wear that logo!

2.24.2012

Making Friends The New-Fashioned Way

One of the greatest things about this journey is the people that I continue to "meet" along the way... I used to scoff at online interactions and the ever growing communication that transpired through a keyboard and a backlit screen.  I may be a little behind the times... but I finally realized that there was a community out there - of like minded people - that made it easier to connect, learn, grow, and get back in touch.  If I can meet an amazing husband, I could certainly make friends, right?  Living way out here in rural desert does not afford much opportunity for social interaction... there is some, but it is hard to find and options are limited on finding a network that I comfortably and naturally fit into. 

I'm not sure when it first started - but within the past year or so, I started to pay attention to the explosion of blogs and sites full of information around nutrition, health, and constantly varied functional high intensity exercise.  The more I searched, the more I found, and the more connected I felt.  And continue to feel.  In fact, I'm almost certain it started with the blog Byers Gets Diesel... which became Urban Gets Diesel... the birth place of the Whole30.  The very grown up version of the blog is now Whole9 and still remains my ultimate source for information on health, food consumption, and the science behind what we put into our bodies.  I've since been led by Melissa and Dallas to many other useful, entertaining, and informative pages. 

I realized that the internet was not just for porn, e-mail, or stupid videos of dogs licking the camera lens... but that there was a growing community of educated, intellectual, people and cyberspace was the new place to connect.  It is a community.  It is a group of friends.  No more libraries.  No more meetings on a Tuesday night the community center.  Meetings are on my own time.  At my convenience.  Where I can take the time I need to read, and process, and understand.  Where I can formulate my thoughts in a coherent fashion and then communicate them to my new "friends." 

One of the newest ladies that I have "met" is Stephanie Vincent over at Radical Hateloss.  She shares an incredible story and is constantly helping to facilitate change in the lives of everyday women.  Recently, she hosted a conference call with the author of The Clothes Make The Girl and the Well Fed cookbook, Melissa Joulwan.  I eagerly signed up and was amazed by the insight that was shared by fellow conference callers.  Melissa was a delight to listen to.  And the women who shared their stories, struggles, and successes with eating Paleo made a few lights go off around my relationship with food and the Paleo Diet.  Once again - even if for an hour - my community grew again.  If you're interested in hearing a recording of the call - check out this page.

At the end of the call, we were all tasked to write our own "Eating Manifesto"... what food means to us, how we eat it, when we eat it.  I took the opportunity to really sit and think - what goes through my mind before I put food in my mouth and what do I want to intentionally think about before I eat.  What merits enjoying a cupcake or a glass of wine and who will be present when that happens?  I submitted my manifesto and I am also copying it below... for my personal records and to share with all of you.

Dania's Eating Manifesto:

I choose to fuel my body with the best quality ingredients available... with food that only serves to contribute to a constant chemical, physical, and emotional harmony within me. I will not deprive myself of special meals, on special occasions, with special people. I will fully savor those experiences as a single moment in time along a very long timeline of healthful choices. Taking care of my body from the inside out is a way of life, my way of life. 

I thought this was a great task and I challenge each of you to truly think about your relationship with food and perhaps come up with an eating manifesto that is personal to you.  Feel free to share with Stephanie on her blog, after listening to the phone call (it is definitely worth the hour!).  And please post it here in the comments.  I'd certainly like to read them.

And if you're ever interested in growing your network of fitness or foodie friends - let me know and I'll pass on some of my favorites!

2.23.2012

Just Eat The Damn Tongue!

I've not always been the most adventurous of eaters.  Unless it was a nice fluorescent orange and came out of a blue box, I would have nothing to do with it.  Around my mid-20's, when I was kicking butt at Weight Watchers and working out twice a day - I started to get creative.  I began to eat vegetables other than broccoli and even ventured into the world of fish!  I was proud of myself and I finally realized that there is an infinite amount of delicious food in the world that I should venture to try.  When I moved to Los Angeles, I was ready for a whole new world of culinary adventures.  As long as it didn't belong smushed against the sole of my shoe (read: bugs!) - I would try it at least once.  How would I know if I was missing out on something amazing if I didn't at least give it a shot?

After a few years of eating exploration, I started dating Matt.  Why not share all the wonderful things I had learned with a guy that I was going to marry one day?  One night, early on in our dating days, I took him to eat at Gyu-Kaku.  I thought it would be a great night, cooking up tons of delicious meat and veggies... drinking Sapporo... what could possibly go wrong?  Until I ordered the Gyu-Tan.


For those of you that have haven't ordered tongue at a do-it-yourself BBQ... the meat comes in very small pieces, sliced almost paper thin.  I grill it for a brief amount of time on both sides, then serve it with a fresh squeeze of lemon and my dipping sauce of choice.  The texture is not much different than a very thinly sliced piece of steak.  And honestly - with enough sauce and after enough beer - who can really tell the difference?  "Matt - try this.  It's fantastic!"  My exuberance over the delectable meat was only met with a face of disgust and repeated insistence of "no.  I'm not eating tongue."

We broke up a month later.

When we both came to our senses (me more than him) that we really did belong together, I had no idea the degree food would come to play a role in our lives.  Matt informed me that his new mantra was "Just eat the damn tongue."  If we were in a restaurant and the opportunity arose to try something new - he would take one bite.  One.  And this made me a very happy girl.  To this day, Matt has lived up to his mantra - partaking in something as atrocious as sweetbreads and doing it with a smile on his face.  (I'll admit: Matt earned a lifetime pass on ever trying unique food again after taking that bite at Rosemary's in Las Vegas.)

Eating Paleo has inspired me to get creative, try more new foods, experiment, and be brave.  I'm loving that I can find recipes for foods I tasted a long time ago, but never really considered making in my own kitchen.  The building blocks are easy and the options are truly infinite:  meat, vegetables, healthy fats, fruits, and a sweet potato or yam here and there.  Late last week, I roasted a kabocha squash in the oven and then cut it into small chunks to be used for different meals.  The squash sat in the fridge untouched (by anyone other than me) for almost four days.  Two nights ago, the following conversation transpired:

M:  That kabocha squash is good.
D:  I'm sorry, what?
M:  I like that squash.  Does it count as a vegetable?
D:  Sure.
M:  Can you make more?  They taste kind of like eating potatoes the day after they're made... all soft and good.

Apparently, he's been eating the squash at breakfast... with eggs and a sweet potato hash.  My food obsessive, adventurous heart was jumping for joy inside my chest!  It gets even better.  Last night, I whipped up a quick snack of kale chips to crunch on while we watched Tony Soprano and his crew deal with every day Mob life in the suburbs of New Jersey... while I was crunching away on my crisp salty goodness, I could feel the nearby set of eyes burning into the side of my head.  For once, it wasn't my food mooch dog.


D:  I'm sorry.  Would you like a kale chip?
M:  I thought you'd never ask.
D:  (hands bowl to husband who grabs a big pinch of chips)
M:  Thanks.  These are good.
D:  Glad you like them.  (hands bowl of remaining chips to husband who proceeds to finish them off)

I was also asked this week if it would be possible to make corned beef hash with sweet potatoes (post Whole30, of course).  I have since been searching and have come across a few very tasty, Paleo recipes and am looking forward to giving them a shot.

Hmm... I wonder if there are any recipes out there for a sweet potato tongue hash?  I sure hope not.

2.21.2012

Wedded Bliss - Week 1 on the Whole30

I hear this all the time... "what IS that?"  "WHAT are you eating for lunch today?"  I've been through the weird looks, crazy comments, half-jokes, and genuine questions... after five years of modified eating - I sort of got used to people questioning what I was putting in my mouth.

So for all of you, my internet friends, THIS is what I am eating today and every day for the next 20 days.  I am providing you amateur food porn through my Whole30.  For the HD, high quality stuff... NomNomPaleo is the master, but there are many many others that post beautiful pictures of their Paleo meals as well.  I am merely keeping track of what goes in my mouth - so if I like it - I can remember to make it again another time.  The picture is only for record keeping and to help you folks see that Paleo is much more than just stir fried meat and veggies.

WHOLE30 - WEEK 1 (with the hubs)

At the beginning of the week, I browned and seasoned a pound and a half of organic ground beef from Costco.  We aren't privy to grass-fed meat round these parts of Nowhereseville, CA... so I do the best I can with what is available.  The ground beef would be a breakfast base for Matt each morning.  While I was doing that, Matt seasoned and grilled about two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders from Costco.  The chicken would be the protein for his lunch every day.  From every Paleo article, book, and blog I've read - the "weekly cook-up" makes all the difference in being successful and consistent with this lifestyle.  I just wanted to make sure Matt had plenty of good food choices within eye-shot that would be easy to grab and reheat as necessary.  

I can't provide a 100% meal-by-meal breakdown, but will do my best to give you ideas around HOW we ate and the thinking that went behind it...

BREAKFAST:
Breakfast ALWAYS consists of a meat, leftover veggies (or fresh if I'm not too lazy), and eggs - either scrambled or poached.  Matt has been eating similar concoctions, but instead of a veggie will eat a piece of fruit or half of a grapefruit.  We toss a handful of protein source (ground beef, leftover steak from the night before, etc) into a skillet to warm the meat...sometimes I will start with a TBSP of Coconut Oil, sometimes not.  Then I throw in ~2 cups of veggies... whatever happens to be in the fridge... and when it is all warm, I'll either scramble two eggs with everything or put the skillet makin's on a plate and top with a poached egg.  Add diced avocado and eat!  Matt likes to keep it quick and simple with scrambled eggs, beef, and his grapefruit.  Towards the end of the week, I had a few veggies ripe for the usin' in the back of the fridge - I cut them all into bite sized pieces and sauteed them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, turmeric, and chili powder.  There was enough to last me for about four more breakfasts.


LUNCH:
Matt also likes to keep his lunches simple and easy... and chose to not deviate too far from what he was used to eating the week before.  He packed a baggie of carrots, an apple, a few of his prepared chicken tenders, and plenty of water.  It was pretty much the same thing every day.  Lunch for me tends to coincide with breakfast.  I tend to not be hungry in the morning and will usually combine breakfast and lunch late into the morning or early in the afternoon.  I have found this works very well for me and I am extremely satisfied until dinner.  This hasn't always been the case, but for now - it works.  I heard a quote this weekend from a fellow Paleo lifestyler, "We are our own little experiment"... and that couldn't be more true.  It is all about finding what works best for you.  One day I DID get creative and hungry prior to heading out to CrossFit and put together a nice fresh salad of chopped English cucumber, red onion, albacore tuna in water (the ONLY two ingredients in the can), and mixed in diced avocado.  I added salt and lime juice and was in heaven.  Crunchy, creamy, and delicious.


DINNER:
Dinner is probably my most favorite meal of all.  It is the one time of day that Matt and I sit at the table together, electronic devices off/away... and talk about our day, about life, and just genuinely enjoy good conversation, good company, and a good meal together.   Since this tends to be a special time for both of us, I like to spend a lot of time thinking ahead about what I want to make during the week and then most of each morning preparing (by choice) each recipe.  I get excited to try new foods, veggies, and combinations of seasonings.  I have never had this type of healthy 'relationship' with food and I rather enjoy it.  The following were meals for Week 1... and on days when I was home late from working out or Matt was out of town - we relied on leftovers.  And they are ALWAYS just as delicious as the first night we ate them.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Rao's Arrabbiata Sauce and Seasoned Ground Beef


Well Fed Czech Meatballs, NomNomPaleo's sauteed red cabbage (slighty modified), and a post-heavy lifting/WOD sweet potato.


Grilled Well Fed Ginger Lime Shrimp and skewers of sweet onion, asparagus, and Japanese eggplant tossed in balsamic vinegar (no added sugar) and olive oil


SNACKS:
Snacking has been limited during this Whole30 for me... I tend to go overboard on the nuts once I get started, so I avoid the muchies to the best of my ability.  When I DO need a small crunch or something to fill in a hunger gap - I opt for toasted unsweetened coconut flakes seasoned with chili powder and salt...


or one of my all-time faves - Kale Chips!  I cheat and buy the pre-cut prepped kale pieces at Whole Foods.  I set my oven to 400 degrees F, toss the kale with a little drizzle of olive oil and kosher salt, and roast it on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes... gently "stirring" the pieces halfway through for even cooking. 


Crispy, salty, and healthy goodness all in one healthy and very fulfilling snack!

2.20.2012

United We Stand... A House Divided No More

It finally happened.  For the first time in three years and two months, there is not a trace of milk in my husband's refrigerator.  When Matt and I first started dating - I ran.  A lot.  And I ate - mostly meat and vegetables.  Fruits.  Nuts.  And a lot of black beans and rice.  Because that was good a darn good protein and energy source.  Or so I thought.

Long story short - we got married.  I slipped way back into some old habits.  I got fat.  Many of you reading this understand how difficult it is to live in a house where one (or more) parties insist that there is nothing wrong with the way they eat and refuse to change any habits... which makes it even more challenging for us to stand our ground, eat the right foods, and not sneak a granola bar (or six) in moments of weakness.

After the hospital, I knew things had to change.  If I was going to reclaim my life (at least part of it), then I had to make a change.  I had remembered reading a blog post a long time back about "A House Divided" and how one woman managed to take control of her eating when her husband wasn't going to change any of his habits... so I went back and reread how she managed to succeed.  Creating MY shelves - in the cabinet and the refrigerator would be the first place I would start.  And I decided, that if I were to ever succeed at changing my husband's habits... the only way would be to lead by example.

I had been living ~85% Paleo... off and on since fall 2009, but couldn't quite get a grip on going all in.  In August 2011, I made the ultimate decision to cut the BS and get my butt moving.  I reorganized the kitchen in a way that would help ME succeed.  I'm lucky the hubs is an easy going guy.  When he came home, half of the pantry and fridge were in the trash.  The other half was divided accordingly - Dania Friendly and everything else.  The refrigerator looked much the same, but I have since cleaned the slimies off the shelves and removed the labels.  For me - it was incredibly helpful to keep my eyes focused on ONLY the food that I knew I could have.  I wouldn't even let my eyes wander to the loaf of marble rye or the Quaker Chewy Candy Granola Bars.

From August 2011 until January 1, 2012 - there have been a lot of great changes in my body.  Don't ask me how much weight I've lost... because honestly, I don't know.  I don't really even care to tell you the truth.  If you want to know how I got to that point, e-mail me and we can talk privately.  I have discarded a lot of post-wedding fat clothes.  I just feel "clean" and healthy(er) than I have in a long while.  I made it through the holidays eating clean.  I lost it after Christmas and the hubby's birthday - right about the time I came down with the flu or pneumonia or something gross and icky that pinned me down for a month.  But January 1 - I started the Whole30 and made it 29 days.  A little skydiving "mishap" sent me off track for a week.  But I was happy with how I was feeling and the direction I was moving and decided to go another 30 days before my trip to Austin for the PaleoF(x) Symposium.  All my Paleo/Primal/Nutrition idols are going to be there and I want to be able to clearly understand their language.

And that's when it happened... as we all sat around on SuperBowl Sunday and I noshed on almonds and dried fruit from Trader Joe's, my husband turned to me with pizza sauce still lingering on the corner of his mouth and asked when I was going to start my next Whole30.  "I want to do it with you."  I almost puked up my bacon wrapped scallop.  I couldn't believe my ears.  He was serious.  And so I spent the next week preparing him - explaining the rules.  Explaining that this isn't just eating Paleo.  This is the real deal - a body cleansing, mind changing, thought provoking EVENT.  Especially for a guy who is transitioning from a diet of cereal and dairy-laden coffee for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and a quick burger or candy bar on the late nights he's out in the field for his job... it's not going to be easy.

He's made it to Day 9 so far.  And I'm so very proud of him.  My incredible husband has spent one night away from home and worked incredibly late out in the field another night... and both times has made excellent choices for dinner - meat and vegetables!

I have been taking pictures of some of my meals and meal prep, as I am often asked "What do you eat?"  "What do you prepare for the week?"  "What do you snack on?"  I'll probably start posting a weekly summary with some of the different concoctions - but I have to say that the two ladies that continue to inspire me and keep my kitchen smelling amazing and full of new flavors are NomNomPaleo and TheClothesMakeTheGirl.  I can't get enough of their wit, sarcasm, inspiration... or recipes!

Stay tuned for food pictures... Don't be ashamed to admit you like the food porn.  We all do.  Here's a little teaser:

2.12.2012

Getting right again.

Yup.  Haven't made an effort to write in about six months.  It has been quite the whirlwind, but I'm not going to recap.  I'll just say that everything that has transpired since August has created who I am right now at this moment... and it is from this moment that I will pick up and continue blogging again.  I busted my ass to finish school - to hurry up and enter the workforce again... but God has different plans for me right now, it seems.  And now I have time to write, to do, to be, and to appreciate.  (But if anyone reading this would like to schedule an appointment for a massage, call me!  Seriously.  I mean it.)

So where am I today??  Healthy.  Healthier than I've been in a very long time... years, I'd say.  I seem to be honing in on that perfect mix of rest, nutrition, movement, and positive thinking.  I still have a lifetime of honing left to do... but for now, I feel better than I have in a very long time.  Maybe five days in the hospital was just the boot up the rear that I needed to get myself back on track.

At some point, my mind started to fix itself.  The way I thought about food.  The way I thought about my workouts.  The way I thought about what was happening (and NOT happening) to me on a daily basis.  The concept of food as fuel has finally clicked.  Its easier to eat the right things when you think about what they do to your body... and avoid the wrong things when you know what they could possibly do.  Cancer?  No thank you!  When I finally succumbed to the fact that I would never be a competitive in CF... even at the sectionals level - my workouts became fun.  I stopped being so hard on myself for every little thing.  I actually look forward to going and not being afraid of the clock.  Funny how that works.  And then there's the way I thought about me - and you can hear it a million times, but until you finally start doing some positive self-talk and truly believing it... you may never see a change.  By the end of 2011, I realized it was okay to believe in myself.  Be proud of myself.  It was a really crummy year.  And it was gratifying to end it on a happy note - knowing I would never see 2011 again. 

So what am I up to?

I'm starting my second round of the Whole30.  If you want to know more, ask me.  I love nothing more than sharing this part of my journey with those who want to better understand what the Whole30 can do for them.  In fact, my first Whole30 was in January.  I fell short on Day 29 when a strong bout of motion sickness almost made the day unbearable and I had to resort to Sierra Mist and salty french fries to keep from barfing all over my husband's truck.  That's what happens when you tell your skydiving jump instructor "DO SOMETHING AWESOME!" when he asks if you like roller coasters.  Lesson learned.  The part I am most excited about for this "redo" round of Whole30 is that I have company to share my Paleo meals with me.  My husband has jumped on board and will be transitioning into the Paleo lifestyle... well, for 30 days at least.  But something tells me that the increase in energy, the better quality of sleep, the looser pants, and many compliments I will be giving him might just keep him at ~90% for the months following.  (I hope so!)

CrossFit is awesome.  I've been consistently throwing around some heavy weight, evolving my pull-up skills, and getting faster times on the varied workouts that I do daily.  Its good to be moving again.  And getting in some very short runs with my hubby is making me feel like my old self - my marathon running self.  And I just can't express how happy that makes me feel... especially when it is something I am sharing with the guy that used to wait for hours on end just to hand me a few jelly beans and a bottle of water mid-race/training run/etc.

I'm getting a lot of rest.  A lot.  Some days I think I'm depressed.  Really depressed.  And I sleep for a few extra hours.  Then I wake up, realize I was just really tired... head up to the gym and bust out a PR.  Now I know - I was never getting enough sleep before.  Sleep is a good thing.  It is healing.  Sleep more, people!!  Good quality, darkened room, silent sleep - it is amazing how much of a difference it will make in your day.

I missed my races last year.  I didn't get to one.  But its okay.  And I'm making some new goals this year.  I'll keep everything to myself for awhile... I have some planning to do and self-discovery to continue with.  But don't worry - as I continue to travel on my way toward those goals, I'll take each of you with me... pictures, stories, and all.

So far, 2012 has far outdone 2011.  Its been a darn good year and we're only 43 days in.  Bring it 2012.  I'm ready for you.