Whole30 Days Twenty Four Through Thirty Three

We’re in the home stretch, people! We’ve gotten to day 30 of the Whole30 challenge! (Well by the time this post goes out, it will be day 33!)

And you may be thinking:

You’re not in the home stretch. You’re finished!

But remember what happened to us on Day 5? (You can read about our “fall” off the bandwagon here.)

So we’re doing a Whole35 because we want to be able to experience the benefits of eating Good Food for 30 days in a row.  Our last day of the challenge will be June 15. And then we’ll begin at least a ten-day reintroduction experiment. (Depending on how we feel as we begin reintroducing things, we may slow play it a little.)

I have to admit that despite some pot holes along the way, I think I’ll be sad to see the challenge go. Sure, we can (and will for the most part) continue to eat this way once the challenge is over, but there’s something about a challenge that gives me an extra dose of determination to stay the course. I have no idea where my daughter gets her competitive spirit!

So why have I been so quiet this last week?

School is out. Summer is in full swing. And I’m taking it all in!

This last week has been packed full of activity. And because our kids get out of school two weeks before most others, we decided to embark on some summer adventures before the summer crowds came out in full force.

On Tuesday, I took our two oldest kids and a friend from their school to the Dallas World Aquarium.

photo 4-006I haven’t been to the DWA since our oldest was two and had forgotten how fabulous it is! I like the size of it. It’s not nearly as big as a zoo (and it’s indoors), but there’s plenty to see and do.

The entire aquarium is wonderful, but their favorite things were the otters, the sloth, and the shark tunnel. I  highly recommend timing your visit to the otters during a feeding. They are so fun to watch! (And they remind me so much of my children!)

photo 2 (3)-001

photo-007

photo 1 (7)On Thursday, I took the kids to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum. It opened almost two years ago, and we’ve never been.

I was blown away!

The garden is beautiful for a nice stroll. But it’s also packed full of engaging activities for kids and adults alike. It was so much fun, in fact, that we walked away with a family membership. Out of all the exhibits, the water and solar energy exhibits were their favorites!

photo 5-004

photo 4-007 photo 3 (2)-001 photo 1 (4)-008 photo 2 (3)-002And on Thursday night, we had a slumber party with my sister’s kids so my sister and her hubby could sneak away for a long weekend in New York City.

photo 1 (4)-009 photo 2 (3)-003It was also a wedding weekend, which included a rehearsal dinner on Friday night, and a wedding on Saturday. I was stumped for a babysitter, so I had to miss the ceremony, but was told it was fabulous! (At the rehearsal dinner, our waiter went beyond duty to accommodate our dietary restrictions. He brought us vinegar and oil to go over our salads, steamed green beans to go with our rib eyes, and brought us a surprise for dessert. HUGE bowls of fresh strawberries and blackberries!)

And then on Saturday, our daughter had her first swim meet of the season, and our son had his last baseball game of the season.

Needless to say, there was no time to journal about our Whole30 journey or anything else for that matter!

But week four was good in the world of Whole30. During the last seven days of the challenge both of us (but Kory in particular) experienced some amazing benefits:

1. Despite the fact that we both battled some severe allergy symptoms this week (and we thought Kory was being taken down by a sinus infection), we survived without incident. For the first time in years, Kory was able to manage his symptoms with allergy medicine, decongestants, and some ibuprofen, and he didn’t have to visit the doctor or take an antibiotic!

2.  Kory’s breathing at night continues to improve. He is breathing deeply, steadily, and through his nose without exception. We think what I affectionately refer to as the “blow fish” snore may be gone for good!

3.  Kory is not waking during the night to visit the restroom multiple times. He is sleeping through, something I don’t think he’s done since we married almost 16 years ago.

4.  I continue to enjoy extra energy throughout the day, and during workouts, I continue to notice increased flexibility in my hamstrings and extra strength in my upper body.

5.  We are both enjoying how we feel after we eat — we’re full and satisfied, but not stuffed, and bloating is a thing of the past!

This is all good.  But on top of that, we had some pretty amazing food this week. Some of the highlights include:

“Zoodle” Pasta

My sweet friend Christie, who finished her Whole30 a couple of weeks ago, began to miss Italian food about two weeks into her challenge. She discovered the Zoodle and sent me this little gadget as a gift of encouragement midway through my challenge:

main-no-LogoIt cuts vegetables into spiral strips that look like pasta.

I was skeptical.

Because I love pasta.

And I didn’t think anything could take it’s place.

But this little gadget is a little gift from heaven!

Zucchini, run through the Zoodle (think pencil into pencil sharpener), makes a great pasta substitute. After “zoodling” the zucchini, I dropped it into a saute pan heated to medium (no oil needed because of the liquid in the zucchini), sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and sautéed it for 2-3 minutes.  I heated some Raos in the microwave. And voila!

Pasta. Without pasta.

Kory and I both agreed that it isn’t just a pasta substitute. It’s a GREAT pasta substitute (and it’s easier because there’s no water boiling and no colander required).

A delicious five-minute meal!

Later in the week, I added some mushrooms to the saute pan, and it was even better! I can see about a thousand takes on pasta using this little guy.

It was amazingly delicious!

So thank you, Christie, for this indescribable gift! It will become a kitchen staple!

Gazpacho

Lunches have been challenging the last 10 days. We’ve been on the go so much that I’ve found myself eating the same old grilled chicken salad served at whatever restaurant we happen to be visiting. So the last thing I’ve wanted at home was a grilled chicken salad!

But lunch has to be quick.So I’ve been pouring over recipes, trying to identify a few that fall into that category.

Enter gazpacho!

photo 3-011Over the weekend, I whipped up a batch. And I wish I’d done it sooner. This was a delicious, light meal, perfect for the hot weather we were enduring. And perfect for a quick lunch. Even better for the fact that the recipe made enough to snack on for several days. Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

1 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and roughly chopped (I think yellow or orange would work well as a substitute here)

1/2 small onion, roughly chopped (I used white onion)

2 cloves garlic, minced (I used minced, jarred garlic from the grocery store)

1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon EVOO

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Garnish: Any combination of  avocado, cucumber, shrimp, scallops, crab meat, lemon wedges, parsley

Directions:

Pulse cucumber in the food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and then repeat this process with each of the vegetables individually. (Do not attempt to blend them all at once or you will not get the chunky texture of gazpacho that you’re looking for.)

Add the crushed tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the food processor, along with the blended vegetables, and blend until you achieve a smooth, finely chopped consistency.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating (I ate mine 45 minutes after making it, and the temperature was perfect.)

I garnished my first bowl with 1/2 a sliced avocado for some good fat, and I had two additional meals of gazpacho before it was gone.

To spice it up on Sunday, I added some boiled shrimp for some extra protein and drizzled the whole bowl with a lemon wedge. Served with a coconut Le Croix infused with fresh mint, it was a delightful lunch enjoyed from my Adirondack chair in the yard!

photo 5-005Whole30 Chili

Scrounging for a good one pot meal to help feed the family during the busy week, I stumbled onto a Whole30 chili recipe. I decided to give it a try, tripling the recipe so we would have a good amount of leftovers to carry us through. With some minor tweaks, this recipe resulted in a fabulous meal that was a kid-pleaser too!

photo 3-010Ingredients:

3 pounds ground beef

2 medium onions

9 cloves garlic, minced

5 teaspoons of cumin (or to preferred taste)

5 teaspoons of chili powder (or to preferred taste…we like it spicy around here!)

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (or any combination)

1 can mild tomatoes with green chiles (I used Rotel)

1 can regular tomatoes with green chiles (I used Rotel)

4 cups beef or chicken broth (I used chicken because I’m having trouble finding compliant beef broth and haven’t had time to make my own.)

1 small can tomato paste

Directions:

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown meet about 7-10 minutes until it’s fully cooked. Remove the meat from the pot to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserve fat in pan. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, mustard powder, and salt to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, and broth. Stir in tomato paste to desired thickness. Turn the heat up to high. When the chili reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour.

I read in the Whole30 cookbook to serve chili over roasted sweet potatoes if you’re in need of additional carbohydrates. Since I’ve been working to incorporate more carbohydrates into my diet the second half of the challenge, I thought I’d give it a whirl. (I preheated oven to 400, chopped two sweet potatoes into cubes, and placed them alongside some asparagus spears. I drizzled both in EVOO, salt, and pepper, and roasted them for 25 minutes until potatoes were fork tender. Two veggies. One tray.)

photo 2 (3)-004Oh my!

The contrast between the spicy chili and the roasted sweet potatoes was to die for!

Who would have thought?

So later in the week, I threw a raw sweet potato into my brief case and made this at the office using the microwave:

photo 1 (4)-007Umm. Delicious. (And NOT a grilled chicken salad!)

This recipe is a keeper!

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Until I began to experience some dizziness on the challenge, I hadn’t really embraced the greatness of the sweet potato. Sure, we’d had sweet potato hash, and I made some parsnip and sweet potato home fries, but I hadn’t baked a single sweet potato. When I read that dizziness can be associated with a need for additional carbohydrates, though, I started reaching for the sweet potato as a cure.

I discovered I love them!

Especially at breakfast, topped with a tablespoon of Ghee and sprinkled with cinnamon. Yummy!

photo 1 (5)-002(To prepare, wash the potato thoroughly, poke it with a fork several times, and pop it in the microwave for 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. Then add the ghee and sprinkle with cinnamon until your heart’s content.)

Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Combinations of avocado, tomato, prosciutto, and melons have shown up as regulars in my posts. In fact, I don’t know what I would have done without them the last 30 days. But today I had to show you a picture of this plate. Because this tomato? Came from my garden! There are no words…

photo 2 (3)-005Cotton Patch Cafe Cobb Salad

Some of my restaurant experiences on Whole30 have been less than desirable. But on Tuesday, I spent the day with our daughter shopping for summer clothes, and we lunched at the Cotton Patch Cafe. I asked our waitress if I could substitute extra avocado and eggs for the bacon and cheese in the cobb salad. And this is what showed up at our table:

photo 4-008Besides the rehearsal dinner meal mentioned above, this has been one of my biggest victories eating out. My food LOOKED good. And I didn’t feel deprived at all. Thank you, Cotton Patch Cafe for not being stingy with your avocados and eggs!

We will keep you posted as we cross the finish line and begin the reintroduction experiment!

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