Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Whole30 January!

January is the traditional month to try to make some positive changes, whether it is getting more organized, getting into some healthier food and fitness habits, or gaining more balance in one's work/play routines.

Or - for the optimistic among us, all of the above!

For the last several months, my husband and I have been noticing a real drift toward several poor eating habits that have had noticeable negative effects. We put off doing much about it, due to upcoming planned vacations and holidays - but when a friend of ours pulled together a big support group on Facebook to do a January Whole30 challenge together, we knew it was time, and made a commitment to join in.

For those who don't know about Whole30, it is a month long (actually more like a month and a half) eating 'reset' that is more or less a strict version of the Paleo lifestyle, where you eliminate several food categories for 30 days, and then systematically reintroduce them one at a time over about a two week span, while paying attention to how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.
From there, you can decide which foods might need to be eliminated on a more longterm basis.

On the Whole30 we avoid all dairy, all grains (including gluten-free grains and those that are not biologically grains but act like them, such as quinoa and buckwheat), all added sugar in all its forms (so no honey or maple syrup for the duration, no any sugar substitutes, including stevia), no legumes including soy (which hides everywhere in commercial foods!), no alcohol (including in cooking), and no commercial foods containing MSG, carageenan or sulfites.

We also avoid junkfood substitutes - so no making up a faux pizza, or creating nongrain breadlike objects (that includes pancakes and waffles) or desserts, even if their ingredients are 'compliant' - this is as much a reset of habits and mental addictions as it is altering what we put in our bodies.

Finally - no breathlessly looking at the scale or taking measurements while on Whole30.  You can do that before you start and after you finish - but in the meantime, learning to listen to your body and noticing upswings in energy, alertness, clearer skin and healthier hair is much more important than your 'stats'.

(And from experience - if that scale moves slower for you than it does for your husband or support buddy, you will get mad. At him, at yourself, and next thing you know you're drowning your sorrows in a stale Reese Bar you accidentally didn't get rid of. Just don't do it!)

So what CAN we eat? Lots of well-sourced meats and seafood, eggs, veggies, a reasonable amount of fruit, seeds and nuts (other than peanuts, which are legumes), coconut & nut milks, bone broth and good fats (coconut oil, oil oil, ghee, bacon fat from uncured sugar-free bacon. Did I mention bacon?

There will be bacon. And eggs, And, inevitably, lots of cauliflower and sweet potatoes because they are just so versatile.

This isn't our first go-round.  In fact, it's our 3rd, although we did a lot of  things that were mistakes on our previous attempts.

The first time, I didn't make it more than 2 weeks!  I started having really obsessive thoughts about foods I couldn't have, including foods I didn't even particularly LIKE!  I felt like I was headed toward a food disorder level dysfunction, so I bailed.

What I know now is that cravings are a to-be-expected element that tells you something about your emotional relationship to food, and should be observed and worked through, not run from.

So the second time, I was ready for that, and had some coping methods worked out (basically, cravings pass rather quickly, so distraction until they pass will keep them at bay.

So will drinking more water - we often mistake simple thirst or for hunger. So water,water,water, and this is a great time to take up a hobby that keeps you engaged and not looking for something to nibble).

But I totally failed to work through the reintroduction phase in any methodical manner - so after all that effort, I still had no solid idea of which foods negatively impacted my health.  Also there was that whole peeking at the scale thing which made me feel like it wasn't working, when really, I had a mistaken idea of what work it was meant to do.

This past year, my digestion has developed all sorts of issues, leaving me feeling sick almost daily, so I really need to do the diagnostic part.

My mindset this time is different, too. While I'd like to lose weight (and expect to), I  am not setting that as my goal. Learning about what I can eat is what I'm after.  And I'm not letting myself worry about what I can't have - I'm focusing on what I can eat, and enjoying valuing myself enough to eat delicious, healthy foods.

Making things challenging this time is that my husband just started a new job after a year of working from home - so ALL our routines are in disarray. So this month is not only about a Whole30 reset, but a reset of ...well... everything!

To help make that easier, I plan to do a lot of food pre-preparation and batch cooking, so things are available for him to grab for a fast breakfst and to take for lunch and for me to not have to feel like I'm doing nothing but cooking constantly.

For this first week, there are some things I'm batch cook, so that we can get ahead of the game and keep things simple enough to not drive ourselves crazy:

Hardboiled Eggs - I'm keeping a dozen in the fridge at ready for a quick hit of protein as needed, and for a grab-and-go meal item when there is no time to cook.

Roasted Veggies 
Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes Radishes, Brussels Sprouts, Onions, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Carrots all work well here. Use whatever you like! I love a good variety all melded together.

Just to bite sized pieces, tossed with olive oil and season with coarse salt (and herbs as desired).

Roast in the over at 400F for about a half hour.

These can be stored in the fridge (or up in the freezer), and reheated in a saute pan as a hash with eggs and meat, or a fast side with any meal.  Crumble some sausage or other protein in there and it's a one-pan meal.

They're also good under a meaty tomato-based sauce instead of pasta.  I love me some roasted veggies!

Kitchen Sink Egg Muffins - this great recipe is super versatile, so you can make them up differently each time if you want.  I love 'master recipes' - they keep things easy but not boring.  Here again, make them in bulk, stow in the fridge to heat and eat as you need them.

Simple Slow-Cooker Soup - another 'master recipe'. We do this one a lot already.  You can certainly do this with fresh produce rather than frozen - but the idea here is to make it SIMPLE and save your energy for all the other cooking you'll be doing. (That bacon isn't going to cook itself, y'know!)

Here's how we do it:

2 bags of frozen veggies - as you like, but avoid mixes with legumes (lima, edamame, etc) or corn, and definitely none that are preseasoned or buttered - just good plain veggies is all you should see in the ingredients list. I like to make one of them some sort of greens, and one with something in chunks.

2-3 cups protein - we do either Whole30 compliant sausage, browned ground meat, or leftover meat or chicken

1 large can roasted tomatoes (check labels - no added sugar)

1 can pureed pumpkin or butternut squash (label should list only the vegetable - nothing else)

4 or more cups of broth. Preferably homemade bone broth. If there is a storebought broth that is Whole30 compliant, I've never found it.

If needed, enough water to cover.

Seasonings as desired.

Dump it all in to the slow cooker and simmer and forget it - this makes a great lunch or dinner, and is easy to scoop into a wide mouth thermos or microwavable container to take to work.

This week, our soup has some pumpkin puree, turkey bone broth and tomatoes, shredded turkey that was put in the freezer after the holidays, some frozen collard greens and a bag of diced frozen okra, and should keep us in lunches for most of the week.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties - We made these in huge batches last time. They're delicious and quick to heat and eat, add to other things. Very tasty, and much better than storebought breakfast sausage patties full of who-even-knows what.

Cashew "Hummus" - this is a recipe from the America's Test Kitchen's "Paleo Perfected", and I'm looking forward to trying it later this week.

While I'm at it, I plan to make some Cashew Milk, just because I'm curious about it.

Finally, I'm going to put up some Curried Cauliflower Pickles because wowsa! Do these look good! As snacks or a side, good fermented veggies are delicious, and can help with messed up guts like mine.

Next week, I'll let your know how this week went and share our first week's full meal plan.

Until then, wish us luck and Happy New Year!


  1. These look great! I have made them before when I did a whole 30 - I have a whole 30 log on my site if you want to gander! {hardlyagoddess.com} I started to really hate eggs by the end of my days, but I like the clean eating! Looking forward to seeing you create some maybe!

    1. *laugh* I hear you on the eggs - I tend to get that way about sweet potatoes and I love sweet potatoes! Thanks for the invite - I'll go visit your site! Its so helpful to see what strategies others have found!

  2. Hi Lynda, this sounds exactly what I've been looking for and I thank you for the slow cook recipe which looks delicious. Sometimes these challenges can be overwhelming because you really need to be prepared with all the ingredients etc. Good luck although having done it before I'm sure you are used to it and will feel so much better. Thanks for sharing with us at #BloggersPitStop.

  3. Best of luck! I do love roasted veggies. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  4. So many great healthy recipes! Thanks for sharing at Friday Frenzy Link Party! PINNED!

  5. So many great ideas and recipes for a healthy start to the new year! I will be trying some of these out, for sure. Thanks for linking up with me On the Edge!


  6. Great plan and great recipes! Happy to see you here at Full Plate Thursday and thanks so much for sharing with us.
    Miz Helen

  7. Love roasted veggies! This sounds like a great plan for healthy eating!

  8. I have a love hate relationship with Whole30! I love it, then I hate it, then I love it when it's almost over!

  9. Good luck to you & may you hit all your goals this month! Thank you for this post. It motivates me to want to be healthier. My brother did the Whole30 and enjoyed feeling good/healthier while doing it.

    - Natalie A

  10. Love this post! The recipes, meal prep and everything looks so effortless! Meal planning and prep is so helpful for that.

    Best Vegan Food
    Whole30 Diet Meal Plan