JenPlans Pro Interview Series: Professional Chef

I am so excited to kick off my Pro Interview Series! I have always been curious about what other people’s lives are like and what they’ve learned from their career path that can help others, whether it’s the culinary world, personal finance, health and fitness, mental health, business, crafting, music, home design, or anything else.

A while back, I asked my Instagram followers what they’d ask a professional chef if they had the chance, and I brought all of those questions (and more!) to the wonderful woman behind the blog, Cooking In Pearls, Lindsay Callaway.
Cooking In Pearls

Lindsay is a classically trained chef working for a corporate catering company by day and blogging by night. Between working, decorating a new house, enjoying newlywed life, Lindsay keeps busy creating new recipes and mastering old ones! Her favorite food is pizza and she considers candy a food group. Lindsay loves spending time with her family and her perfect night is spent at home with her husband and a glass of wine.

Get comfortable, grab a cup of coffee (or glass of wine!) and join us for her interview below!

What equipment/cooking tools do you think everyone should have in their kitchen and why?
Tongs, spoonula, cast iron/dutch oven, foil. Random tools but I couldn’t cook without them! Tongs are so versatile and I use them almost every time I cook. A silicone spoonula is my version of a wooden spoon. I rarely use wooden spoons because I feel like so many aromas get absorbed by the wood and I never feel like they get “clean” enough. Spoonulas are great on non-stick surfaces because they don’t scratch but they also don’t melt so you can use them for anything like stirring hot sauces and soups. I love a pan or pot that can go from stovetop to oven. Searing on the stovetop and finishing in the oven is what pro’s do, and you can do it too! Foil is amazing when it comes to clean up-anything that sticks to it just gets thrown away. I use it every chance I can!

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets and what kind of cooking pan is your go-to?
A wine opener. I couldn’t live without one! Also, a regular nonstick sauté pan is my favorite for everyday cooking. Cleanup is a breeze and cooking over-easy eggs couldn’t be easier. In addition to that, there’s nothing quite like the crust of a steak seared in a cast iron skillet. I split my time evenly between the two pans.

What foods should be in everyones fridge and pantry?
There are several things I always have on hand and those are: chicken broth, garlic, onions, pasta/rice, fresh herbs. These ingredients always come in handy for those last minute meals. The thing I love most is not knowing where I’m going to take any dish…these ingredients can be used in any cuisine type and for any day part. Of course I also always have cheese, eggs, greens, and meat…my husband wouldn’t think it’s a meal without some meat.

What skills should every home chef have?
Basic knife skills! The first thing I learned in culinary school was how to hold a knife and the proper way to use one. This simple skill will give home cooks more confidence and lower the chances of an injury!

How would you suggest improving knife skills?
At most culinary stores like a Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table there’s a knife specialist you can ask! There are also some great demos on YouTube…but I’ll post one on my blog in the near future. It’s not hard but once you can hold a knife, the rest is easy peasy!

How do you meal plan?
I find it very difficult to meal plan because I get a craving for something and have to satisfy it then and there…it’s hard to plan for cravings! I like to grocery shop on Sunday and prep anything I can so that the week starts off on an organized note. I often freeze my meat for the week and pull it the night before to thaw, that way it won’t go bad if I don’t use it within the first couple days of the week. I’d love to shop every day if I could but busy weeks don’t always allot time for that. Also, writing my weekly menu out on a chalkboard or piece of paper somehow feels more official for me which helps me stick to my planned meals but of course the last minute frozen pizza or take-out happens.

Do you ever get in a same-dinner rut? What do you do to break out?
Absolutely, it’s so easy to fall in a rut! I look through food magazines or peruse Pinterest for what looks good and I’ll put a spin on it. I also keep a running note on my phone for what sounds good so when I’m in a serious rut I look through that growing list for inspiration!

What advice would you give someone who wants to learn to cook but doesnt have any experience?
You don’t need any experience! So many great cooks don’t have any formal training but learned by observing family members cook. Grab a fun food magazine or start reading blogs. There’s great stuff out there! One thing to note is what kind of cook you are. There’s the “baker type” that want exact measurements and weights, and likes to follow a recipe to a T. I consider that group the “methodical” cook. The other side (my side) is a bit more relaxed going by a pinch here, an eyeball of a “cup” there. If you don’t have an ingredient don’t panic, just sub it out. There’s no right or wrong way but knowing what you prefer can help by finding like-minded cooks to learn from.

What would you make for a small dinner party with a few friends?
Something super easy! There’s nothing worse than slaving away in the kitchen while your guests are in another room catching up. I like to have a few snacks around, like a cheese platter, a bowl of nuts, and maybe a dip or an easy room-temperature appetizer that you can make ahead of time. The entree would depend on the season but for summer, I would say veggie and meat kabobs with some rice pilaf, and a salad. You can cook the pilaf before your guests come and hold it warm, skewer the kebobs in advance and cook them off after your guests arrive, and a salad because you can layer it in the morning and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. I would also have it outside, in a cozy setting near the grill so you don’t have to miss a thing!

Whats your favorite restaurant and menu item?
There’s a ramen spot in San Diego just down the street from the airport called Underbelly that I absolutely can’t stop thinking about. I discovered it while traveling for work several years ago and every time I travel to San Diego I have to stop there immediately after landing and go once again on my way to the airport. It’s just so good and the atmosphere is cool but I think it’s nostalgic eating out of a huge bowl with chopsticks and drinking the broth from the side of the bowl, especially since I don’t make ramen like that at home!

Whats your favorite thing to cook?
I honestly cook pretty healthy for the most part and to me, I cook quick boring stuff throughout the week! I love to cook with bright colors and vary the textures, like turkey lettuce wraps with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced bell peppers. There’s nothing better than having a quiet weekend spent at home cooking up something delicious like hearty slow braised short ribs with risotto. Clearly, I don’t have a favorite but love any time spent in the kitchen!

What is your go-to quick and easy meal?
I think I make Mexican food at least once a week. I love tacos and fajitas and for a quick weeknight meals, these are certainly my go-to. I love roasting a whole chicken on a Sunday and shredding the meat for a quick versatile protein throughout the week. Taking the chicken and adding taco seasoning, a little chicken broth (or beer) and warming it through makes delicious tacos! I also love grilling throughout the week because it takes less than 15 minutes with almost no cleanup. BBQ chicken, burgers, flank steak, port tenderloin, the possibilities are endless!

Do you ever eat any instant food or frozen pre-cooked meals?
Of course! Frozen pizza is plentiful in my home and there’s nothing wrong with a frozen dinner. I used to look forward to nights my parents left us with a babysitter because we always got to have a TV dinner (if you don’t know what those are, shame on you!). I’ve got a sweet spot for hot pockets, toaster strudels, and bagel bites. I have no shame.

Whats your best tip for knowing when meat is done?
Thermometers aren’t always accurate depending on whether it’s calibrated or not. (What does calibrated mean? Check out my blog post on calibration to learn more!)  I like the palm method. A quick press is a good indicator. If you lightly make your hand into a fist and touch your thumb to the tip of your pinky and feel your palm near the thumb…that’s what a fully cooked piece of meat should feel like. It’s firm and bounces back when you press it. Now take your thumb to your ring finger and press your palm again, a little softer, not as tight. That’s about what medium-well feels like. Thumb to the tip of your middle finger would be about medium, and finally, your pointer finger and thumb would be about medium rare. Leave your hand limp and feel that same area, that’s what rare feels like.

Can you share any tips for grilling vegetables?
I like to get a nice char on the outside and cook it quickly so the inside is still tender with a bit of a bite. I always drizzle my veggies with a little bit of oil whether that be olive oil or coconut oil. Toss to combine and season simply with salt and pepper. This helps keep the veggies from drying out and also prevents sticking. I always cook my veggies separately than meat because they cook at different times. This is true for kebobs too, skewer meat separately from the veggies!

What kind of cooking would you recommend for someone who lives in a college dorm room with limited access to equipment?
A slow cooker. These things are amazing in so many ways! Truly a game changer. You can literally put anything in it and walk away…for hours! All you need is a cutting board, a knife, and an outlet. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and appetizers can all be made in this amazing appliance.

What knife would you recommend for a child who wants to learn to cut (supervised, of course)?
A butter spreader with a flat edge, it can cut soft items without any sharp edges. Always be around to watch little ones but it’s a great way to start them early! Have them tear lettuce, wash produce, or help stir batters. Any time they are helping you cook will get them to at least try it, since they helped make it!

If you could only keep one spice on hand (besides salt and pepper), what would it be?
Besides salt and pepper, I’d say red pepper flakes. They add just a touch of heat that I love, and adds a depth of flavor without adding sodium or fat.

What is your favorite seasoning?
Hmm…salt is a no brainer but I’m also torn between herbs de Provence and Montreal steak seasoning. I use each on just about everything. I also love cumin…a spice that seems to be very hit or miss with people’s palates.

Can you recommend an affordable knife set?
It honestly doesn’t matter what brand the knives are, it’s all about how it feels in your hand. Hold it and feel the weight, is it a comfortable grip? Is the weight manageable without feeling like it’s weighing your arm down? As long as the knives are sharp, any will do. I suggest taking them to get sharpened at least twice a year and regularly correct the blade with a honing/sharpening steel.

Big thanks to Lindsay for allowing us to peek into her life as a chef! To follow Lindsay’s cooking adventures, be sure to visit her blog, Cooking In Pearls, and follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter!

 

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I finished the Whole30! My Whole30 Results

I finished Whole30

I can’t believe I made it. I am not the kind of person who does stuff like this. (Maybe I am now?) Friends, if I can do this, anyone can.

First, I have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who inspired me by sharing their experiences and most of all, pictures, my sweet Instagram followers for encouraging me, my wonderful husband who volunteered to do Whole30 with me so that I would have support at home, and last but not least, my brother, for challenging me to do this in the first place and giving me ideas and support along the way.

THE BACKGROUND
I wrote a little here about starting Whole30, but I want to share a bit more because I’ve had some questions since that post. (I did a full Q&A here, and shared about my first week here). Lately a lot of people have been asking why I picked Whole30 over the other popular programs out there today (the 21 Day Fix, for example). Many of you know it was my younger brother who challenged me to do it alongside him. He has done several rounds of Whole30, and in between, lives a Paleo lifestyle. He’s been asking me for almost a year to do a Whole30. I spent most of my time reading up on Whole30 and didn’t really learn much about other programs until after I started. I still would have picked Whole30.

The two programs are completely different – most notably in their purpose. Whole30 designed to teach you how foods are affecting your body and mind through food category elimination. Though weight loss is a very common side effect, it is not the goal. The 21 day fix is designed for weight loss through primarily portion control, Shakeology shakes and workouts. It’s really apples and oranges to try and compare the two. There are so many foods you’re allowed to have on the 21 day fix (dairy, soy, legumes, gluten) that are strictly off-limits during the Whole30. Both programs are helpful in their own way. Both serve a purpose. They’re just TOTALLY incomparable. I have been feeling tired, bloated, crabby, irritable, and foggy for a long time and I wanted to see if it was my diet. And that question was answered loud and clear during my Whole30.

MY EXPERIENCE
First, my starting point was near goal-weight, already eating a relatively low-calorie diet (not the best diet, but I wasn’t over-eating) and lightly exercising. I did not have a lot of weight to lose, and I didn’t experience the dramatic results on the scale as a lot of other people. My dramatic results were non-scale-related. People ask me ALL THE TIME how much weight I’ve lost, and I really didn’t lose that much – but that wasn’t the goal to begin with. I also added strength training in the last week, and I can feel that I’m retaining water as my muscles are adjusting. So, to anyone who is looking at Whole30 JUST for weight loss, yes, you will probably lose weight, and probably a lot more than I did, but you’d be missing the whole point.

PHYSICAL CHANGES     I will use all caps to tell you that I FEEL LIKE A DIFFERENT PERSON. I noticed within the first few days that I didn’t have that uncomfortable bloat that you get after a meal or the morning after having a crappy dinner. I didn’t have that 2pm exhaustion every day. For the first time EVER IN MY WHOLE LIFE, I wake up around 6/6:30 in the morning and don’t feel like crawling back into bed for the whole day. My mind is not foggy. I have so much more focus. I feel more motivated. I’m not irritable. My skin is more clear and consistent. My blood sugar doesn’t dip and spike throughout the day. I feel smaller and healthier. I have far more energy. Although I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight, I lost a lot of inches which I think I can attribute mostly to the reduction in bloat. Which is so gross to think about. I feel leaner, especially around my midsection. I feel like I lost more than the scale said I lost. Here are my changes (and for reference, I’m 5’2”):

Whole30 Before and After

Weight -2.0 lbs
Waist: -1.0”
Arm: -0.25”
Bust: -1.25”
Hips: -1.5” (this is my belly-that-carried-three-babies pooch zone. SO surprised at how much this went down.)
Butt: -0.75”
Thigh: -0.25”

For those wondering, my husband lost 7.6 lbs and all of his pants are loose! My husband is 6’1 and already pretty slender and fit, so this was a HUGE change. He had all of the other physical improvements I experienced.

MENTAL CHANGES     I crammed donuts into my face the day before Whole30 started. I thought of all the junk food I wasn’t going to be able to have and carefully planned July 1 to be a smorgasbord of crappy and delicious food. As the days passed, the crappy food started to sound gross. I felt so good that I didn’t want to screw my body up.  I went to a few parties and didn’t think about the food how I usually do. I stopped looking forward to chocolate and salty carb-loaded snacks at night and started thinking about what else I could be doing. I stopped thinking about my favorite places and where I could drive through when my kids were asleep.  I broke my addiction to bad food. <—THAT by itself was totally worth it.

Have you ever spent a lot of time reading labels? WOW. There is so much junk in what we consume. Sugar, gluten, sugar, oil, sugar…Sugar in everything. Sugar in processed meat. Sugar in nut butters. Oil in bags of nuts and seeds. Vegetable oil in my old coffee creamer. (“Here, have some coffee with vegetable oil. Yum.” Not.) I know that it’s extraordinarily difficult to read every label of everything all the time (If you’re one of my food allergy or sensitivity friends, then this is your way of life and you understand), but it’s a new habit of mine that I’ll gladly keep. I don’t want vegetable oil in my coffee. I don’t want sugar in my meat. It makes a difference in how I feel, and I’ve learned that I like feeling better more than I like that stuff (and most of the time, it doesn’t even make a difference in the flavor! So not worth it).

I think of food differently now. Food is fuel. It’s not a friend, it’s not comfort, it’s not a cure to boredom, it doesn’t make me feel better about myself, and it’s not a coping mechanism. There are so many healthy foods I skimped on or skipped on Weight Watchers (which I’m not knocking, I really overall do still love WW), because they were too high in points even though they were healthy – avocados, nut butters, nuts, olive oil, salmon) that I LOVED having without guilt. My fat intake has increased but it’s HEALTHY fat. My body needs that. By the end, I was eating SO MUCH food every day. I loved not ever having to worry about what it would do to my body. I tracked a few days just to see what the Points Plus Values would be of my days and I was EASILY 10-20 over my recommended daily intake. When you’re eating good food, though, you don’t really have to think twice about the amount. I am so thankful that I got to experience this process because I truly learned what healthy food is and how it makes me feel. I get it now. I understand why people make what seems like a HUGE sacrifice. Eating gluten-free crackers isn’t going to make you feel different. Removing gluten entirely from your diet will. Eating low-fat dairy isn’t going to make you feel different. Removing dairy entirely from your diet will. I’m not saying everyone should, I just encourage everyone who is feeling crappy to look at your diet and consider that you might be the one making yourself feel this way. I know that I absolutely was.

THE DOWNSIDES
I did not have the “perfect” Whole30. I did not cheat, but I was not perfect. I spent the first few weeks snacking (on compliant foods), which is a no-no during Whole30, because it took me a long time learn what a truly full, complete meal is for my body. I had more fruit than what is typically recommended (not that fruit is bad, but filling up on vegetables sustains you more, so it’s discouraged to fulfill hunger with a lot of fruit because it won’t satisfy your body the way that vegetables and protein and fat will). I also let an almond butter label slip by me for a week before I realized it had cane sugar in it. I only had a very small amount a few times, but I was so disappointed. I switched as soon as I realized. ALWAYS READ YOUR LABELS! Lastly, we ate at Chipotle and I got chicken and fajita veggies (with lettuce, guac and pico de gallo) before reading that they cook the chicken and vegetables in soybean oil (the carnitas are the only whole30-friendly meat option there at this time). It was my fault for not researching ahead of time. Whole30 tells you to start completely over when this happens. I chose not to.

This program takes a TREMENDOUS amount of planning and discipline. You have to be willing to say “no.” You’ll go to parties, go out to dinner, travel for work, – and you’ll have to say no to things you want. We went to several get-togethers during Whole30 and just had to eat beforehand and only pick at the things that were compliant. It was hard, but it’s only 30 days. Our friends were more than understanding. My husband travels for work frequently and he was able to stay on program the whole time. He had a lot of eggs, fruit, salads with chicken, or steak with steamed vegetables and baked potatoes. It was hard, but there is always a way if you’re determined.

Reading every label, carefully planning meals ahead of time, prepping food to have it ready when it’s time to eat because you can’t just grab a pizza or pour a bowl of cereal, – the time investment is significant in the beginning. IT IS SO WORTH IT, but it is significant. If you choose to do a Whole30, be sure to allow yourself time to learn and plan and prepare. The discipline part, well, you just have to decide whether this is worth it for you. If you’ve felt any of those things I mentioned above, I would encourage you to at least try. I was not ready to do this until last month. I was not mentally there. I wouldn’t have made it. When I finally did commit to it, I knew I was ready. If you’re already making excuses about why you’ll fail, it is not the right time to start. You need to be ready. That said, don’t stand in your own way.

WHAT NEXT?
I am doing a reintroduction (reintroducing food groups and taking note of how they make you feel in terms of bloat, headaches, stomach distress, etc) to determine exactly what foods make me feel certain ways. I will probably do the full reintroduction and then go to an 80-90% Paleo (less strict but same food groups) lifestyle afterward. I feel so much better that I can’t go back to the way I was. I want to be mostly healthy but have the freedom to splurge on special occasions. I do plan to add back coffee and creamer (I tried drinking it black but just couldn’t, so I skipped coffee for the 30 days), but I’ll be switching to a natural creamer and not the chemical/vegetable oil creamer I used before. I’ll also be cutting down to one cup a day as opposed to my typical 4-6. I had a tall nonfat caramel latte this morning from Starbucks, and my stomach was in knots, so I’m pretty positive I’m going to be cutting dairy almost entirely with the exception of a little creamer some mornings.  I’m adding tea sweetened with raw honey into the mix some days, too. I really, really missed my warm cups in the morning. I’ll also be adding back certain condiments (ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, etc) in very limited quantities. I doubt I’ll be adding gluten back in anytime soon. Maybe a donut on a special occasion 😉 And of course, I’ll add back sushi.

MEAL IDEAS
Another big question people ask is where I got meal ideas. I’m a picky eater and as a mom of three kids 5 and under, I just don’t have a lot of time to make complicated meals. I listed out some meals just based on things I liked from the food list, I searched #whole30 and #whole30 recipes on Instagram and I searched the accounts of the Whole30 people I follow. Since I didn’t eat eggs, I had fruit with either nuts, almond butter or meat (compliant bacon or prosciutto) for breakfast. Lunches were usually chicken with raw vegetables and fruit, sometimes with sweet potato rounds. I had BLTA lettuce cups a few times and Buffalo Chicken lettuce wraps with celery and green onions, too (just toss shredded chicken with a little hot sauce mixed with a little melted ghee). Dinners were either grilled, roasted or sautéed proteins (chicken, pork, steak) with roasted vegetables and potatoes. I just toss with a cooking fat (ghee, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil), season with salt and pepper and then add any other flavors or seasonings I felt like (lime, garlic, herbs, paprika). I would say I had potatoes about half the time with dinners. We had “Addictive and Healthy Paleo Nachos” from paleogrubs.com a few times, I made meatballs and spaghetti squash with homemade pasta sauce a few times (meatballs were made with grass-fed beef, almond flour onions, one egg, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and parsley, mush together, form into golf ball sized balls and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, sauce was just a can of peeled tomatoes, onions and garlic that I softened in olive oil before adding the tomatoes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and parsley that I simmered together then puréed) and steak-stuffed peppers (recipe at the bottom of this post). If you want to see more details and other things I ate, browse #jenplanscooks on Instagram!

IN CLOSING
I am so grateful for this experience. I never thought I could do such a restrictive program, but I found that the purpose of learning more about my body was valuable enough that it was worth it. It was only a month. I can do anything for one month!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments! Thanks so much for reading about my experience, and I wish you the best of luck on yours!

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First week of Whole30

This first week of Whole30 has been such a valuable learning process for me!

Some history: My brother has been encouraging me to do this program for a while now. I always said no because I was scared I’d fail and honestly because I didn’t want to give up the food I love. I love food. I love eating. I love events that revolve around food. When I know I’m going out to eat, I look up the menu online ahead of time to read every single thing and decide what I’m getting then drool until I go. That’s how much I love food. A few weeks ago, he came in town and stayed with me for a few days and finally convinced me to try it (and said he’d do it too, long-distance). I also roped my always-a-good-sport husband into the program.

Whole30 Image

Why’d I say yes? A few reasons. I’ve been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers for 13 years. I joined in college to lose the freshman 15, went back after each of my three children were born to lose the baby weight (successfully), and have maintained pretty close to my goal weight. I love Weight Watchers and will always recommend it, but I was ready for something that was solely focused on healthy foods. I’ve been feeling sluggish lately and the scale was stuck despite “eating mostly well” and exercising. I want to break my love affair with food. Not because I don’t want to keep loving what I eat, but because I don’t want to love things that are bad for me. I need to retrain myself. I’m also a very competitive person (with myself) and really don’t like feeling like I can’t do something. Because I can. I can do anything. And so can everyone.

Fast forward: So after I clutched my coffee with crack-creamer and shoveled donuts in my mouth, I logged on to www.whole30.com and started reading. These are the things that stuck with me: “Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it . . . so how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days.” Ummm. LIGHT BULB. “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” LIGHT BULB. “there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgment with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings.” LIGHT BULB.

Noticing a theme? The PSYCHOLOGICAL relationship with food is also being addressed. I love this. This is not about creating your favorite junk foods with Whole30 ingredients and pretending it’s healthy. It’s about really, truly, eating clean. And feeling good about it.

The food: I printed off the grocery list and started thinking about meals. You don’t have to get fancy or eat a bunch of stuff you’ve never tried (though it’s been GREAT trying new foods). I looked at Instagram pictures tagged with #Whole30. I made a list of easy dinners I know I could make. I went to Sprouts (comparable to a Trader Joe’s or small version of Whole Foods) and stocked up on produce and healthy proteins. More on meals in a bit.

The first week: The first day was awful. I was SO excited to start and stayed compliant, but I skipped coffee because I didn’t want to drink it black, and if you go from drinking four to six cups of coffee each morning to zero, I will tell you a secret. It hurts. Also, when you completely cut processed sugar out of your diet, that doesn’t feel great either. So around 2 p.m. I started getting dizzy and feeling nauseated. I’ll spare you the details but basically I was literally sick to my stomach from about 4 p.m. on, and for the first time in 10 years, had to call my husband home from work because I physically couldn’t care for the kids. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS TO THEMSELVES? Then I realized . . . huh. These things I was putting in my body were so significant that it made me physically sick to remove them. I was literally dependent on crap. Our bodies were not made to depend on crap. They were made to depend on real food. Food is fuel. That was a big eye-opener and one of the things I’m happy to have learned right away.

Photo Jun 07, 12 00 42 PMBreakfast: I have a weird texture issue and cannot eat eggs unless they’re on toast. Like in the same bite. (Weird, I know). So eggs are out for me. I also am/was not a breakfast eater, but without my morning coffee (wasn’t ready to try it black), I decided fruit and some cashews or almonds (or almond butter) were good.

Today I made a big brunch for the family and had fruit and compliant bacon (not cured, no sugar added. Did you know most bacon contains sugar? I didn’t.

Photo Jun 03, 5 32 33 PMLunch: These have been the hardest for me. I’m by myself with the kids all day and it’s so easy to make a sandwich and I can’t eat a salad every day. I bought a big container of shredded rotisserie chicken from Sprouts and kept it in the fridge all week. (Lasted three to four days, then I bought a second container). My lunches were pretty much the same every day: Chicken, half an avocado, some fruit, almonds or cashews, and sometimes raw carrots. You can eat compliant lunchmeat (check the ingredients!) on Whole30, but it’s fairly expensive, so I skipped it this week. All in all, it was repetitive but good.

Photo Jun 04, 11 48 44 AMPhoto Jun 04, 5 07 12 PMPhoto Jun 04, 1 16 44 PMPhoto Jun 05, 7 57 00 AM

Snacks: Mostly fruit, cashews, almonds, avocado with a little sea salt and roasted sweet potatoes.

Photo Jun 05, 6 43 03 PMDinners: The first night, I was too sick to eat. Two of the nights, I had lunch repeats. The other dinners this week included Philly cheesesteak-stuffed peppers (minus the cheese), grilled steak and zucchini with baked potatoes, grilled boneless pork chops with roasted vegetables, and a chipotle salad (lettuce, chicken, pico de gallo and guacamole). See end of post for recipes!

 

Whole30 Dinner

Overall reflection: I’m so glad I’m doing this. It’s SO HARD, but I am breaking my dependence on crap food, eating SO MUCH MORE healthy food (especially fruit and veggies) than I ever have,drinking more water, being more thoughtful (am I hungry or just bored?), and really fueling my body. I’m setting a good example for my kids. My blood sugar is so much more stabilized – I don’t feel that up and down and food coma you feel after eating. That part is crazy to me. It’s going to be hard to stick with this for another 23 days, but mentally I’m just taking it one day at a time. I can do one day. I can do that 23 more times.

Do you have any questions for me? I’d love to answer them! Comment below and I’ll answer them in my next Whole30 post!

RECIPES:

Philly Cheesesteak-Stuffed Peppers (minus the cheese):Whole30Food

Ingredients: 4 green bell peppers, two yellow onions, half a pound of compliant roast beef sliced thinly, a splash of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt and pepper.

To Prepare: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut peppers in half from top to bottom and remove stem and seeds. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven. Caramelize onions in a little EVOO (this will take about half an hour). Remove onions from pan and crank heat to high. Tear up roast beef and toss in the pan to sear. When all the meat is seared (will only take a minute or two), add the onions back in and mix everything up. Pull your peppers out of the oven and fill each one with the roast beef/onion mixture. Serve!

Roasted Veggies:

Ingredients: 1lb carrots, 4 red potatoes, 2 onions, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), herbs de provence herb mixture

To Prepare: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season and sear all vegetables on high heat in a little EVOO and put on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pop into the oven for an hour, flipping everything halfway through. Serve with grilled pork chops or meat of your choice!

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