omelette

Real Food: Life after the Whole30

omelette

Many of you have read all about my recent adventures with food, or, more accurately, lack of many “normal” foods. Towards the end of February, I started what ended up being 54 days of the Whole30 diet, as proscribed by the Whole9 Life founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Yes, that “30” in there refers to 30 days, but I decided to go hard-core and do 60 54.

You will probably also be able to tell from the plethora of posts about the Whole30 that I enjoyed it. It was difficult at times, but it forced me to learn about good food. Real food. I had to start making my own salad dressings and using better oils. I began to use all those dried spices that had been taking up space in my cupboard. I started reading labels and growing increasingly disgusted with the food and beverage industry.

For 54 days (not including a “cheat weekend” after the first 30 days), I avoided all dairy, all grains and grain products (including corn and all of its derivatives), all sugars and sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup), all legumes (peanuts, soy, etc.), and most preservatives and additives.

After the first few days, I started to feel consistently great. I had a predictable and steady amount of energy from morning til night, and got great sleep. I was motivated to start running and do ab workouts.

I ate a lot, learned a lot, went through vegetables and eggs like nobody’s business, spent a lot of money on groceries (and I didn’t even get the ideal grass-fed organic meats I was supposed to), and ultimately lost at least 15 pounds (I haven’t done a final weigh-in since losing more weight after the diet was completed). I was getting “wholly healthy,” as I called it.

At the end of my 54 days, I needed a change of pace. Even the Hartwigs admit that the Whole30 is a bit too extreme for anyone to keep up for any extended length of time. The Whole30 is actually a stricter version of the Paleo (Paleolithic, Stone Age, Caveman, etc…) diet, and only meant to be undergone for 30 days here and there.

Having done such an intense diet for two months and then needing to break free, then finding myself in exams, then packing, then moving (to a city and in with my boyfriend=major transition), then looking for a job, and on and on, I fell off the good-food wagon. I guess I’m “lucky” to be one of those people who wasn’t wracked by cramps after every bite of “normal” food after so long an abstinence, but it was altogether too easy to fall back onto more convenient foods.

Convenience and frugality warred against my new good-food habits, and cooking for a non-vegetable-or-healthy-food lover further compounded my dilemma.

I still haven’t fully made peace between the warring factions. Farmer’s Markets have made it easier to justify the purchase of good-quality vegetables and meats, and I am attempting to home-make bread, dressings, sauces, burgers, chicken fingers, and other favourites and staples.

My plan of action is to real-food-ify my kitchen as much as possible. By “real food” I mean non-processed, non-preserved, organic ingredients wherever possible. I will use honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of vegetable oils, organic flour and vinegar, make my own spice mixes (like seasoning salt), and generally go back to buying items without preservatives and additives.

The trick will be bringing Johnathan along with me, but I accept it as a personal challenge!

Two amazing bloggers help our real food revolution on an almost daily basis: Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, and Heather of A Real Food Lover. These ladies have made the spices and the sauces, the breads and the pastas, and have real food solutions for almost any “normal” junk-filled dish.

The bread recipe I have been making lately is from 100 Days of Real Food. It has turned out differently every time I’ve made it (I think I’ve been making it with 4 1/2 cups of flour instead of 4 1/4. Oops), but it’s infallibly delicious!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe

What are your go-to real food solutions? How have you managed to wean your household off of additives and preservatives? I’d love to hear your stories!

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Playing Favourites: Blogs I enjoy

On a regular basis, my email inbox is filled with posts from many bloggers that I have followed. These are my current and long-term fave

Getting into the Spirit of Local

  • Rachel’s Table: A Local Food Experiment
    • Rachel is not local to me, but she is serious about what is local to her in Delaware, USA. Rachel posts regularly about discovering local food at markets and restaurants, and recently blogged about the difference between supermarket eggs and organic farm-fresh eggs. I re-blogged that here.

Wit

  • Dooce
    • There are really few wittier or more transparent bloggers out there than Heather Armstrong. If any. She is also a photographer, author, and style maven. All of which you will experience on her blog site.
  • The Pioneer Woman
    • You may be familiar with Ree Drummond from her Food Network show, or have heard about her cookbooks, etc. She does post about some fabulous-looking food, and definitely has some great photography, but what I enjoy most is her rambling wit. In the spirit of transparency, I don’t love all of her posts. I have seen more of her children and pets than I really care to, but in between all of those family photos is the frank good humour of “P-Dub”.

Style

  • The Sartorialist
    • Scott Schuman is an international fashion photographer who shares some of his favourite outfits on his blog site. Models, street style, unexpected combinations of textures and patterns… it’s all there. Prepare to be inspired and perhaps confused.

Random

  • Caffeinated and Random
    • A fellow (though less snobby) coffee lover, Jenny regularly posts a “Coffee of the Day” photo and description, and often blogs twice or even three times a day about food, people, TV shows, style… whatever is exciting to her that day.

Real Food

  • 100 Days of Real Food
    • Lisa is a wife and mother who decided to take her family in the direction of real food. Now, she challenges her many readers to do without sugar or flour or processed foods, in the name of getting healthier. You’ll find recipes and creative real food ideas.

 

 

no sugar

Challenge: Can you do without sugar for one week?

no sugar
Just say no.

Before I embarked on the Whole30 nutrition journey, I hardly ever read labels. I thought label-readers were obsessive calorie-counting control freaks too concerned with numbers to enjoy food (no offense, calorie-counters that I know!).

Before I started reading labels, I had no clue how prevalent sugar is in food items that we would consider staples. It comes in so many forms! Dextrose, sucrose, glucose, the list goes on.

Sweetness isn’t inherently bad for us, but we love it so much that we compulsively over-indulge, and that’s when things start going pear-shaped. Literally.

There are many forms of naturally-occurring sugars. Primarily, they are found in fruit, but there is also honey *and maple syrup.

Should you choose to accept this no-sugar-for-a-week challenge, those naturally-occurring sugars are acceptable, but none others. That includes “naturally-occurring” brown sugar and white sugar: cut them out for a week. Especially avoid any artificial sweeteners: become a label-scanner for a week!

But…!

But you have a sweet tooth and you can’t help yourself? You can do it. All you need is some determination, some “healthy” sugars, and some creative ideas.

Idea #1: Make or buy a cocoa, vanilla**, nut (walnuts or almonds), and date blend that looks and tastes pretty close to brownies. The recipe I use is called Fudge Babies. No, they’re not as sweet as the brownies you’re used to, but they’re good! You’ll see.

Idea #2: Cut bananas into bite-sized chunks. Line a freezer-prooftray with waxed paper, and lay the banana pieces on it to flash-freeze until hard. Then store in an air-tight container in the freezer. You can use these just to munch on, or blend them into smoothies, or even a sort of “ice cream” with coconut milk, a bit of vanilla, cocoa if you want, perhaps some pineapple or orange… Yum, right?

I have also mixed some coconut milk and vanilla and drizzled it over banana chunks and then frozen them for some added deliciousness.

Other ideas: Try honey or maple syrup in your coffee or tea, spread honey on your (whole grain) toast, put maple syrup on your oatmeal, and try using fruit juice as a sweetener in a dressing or a sauce.

There really are so many ideas for recipes that avoid sugars–look for some!

This idea comes from the 100 Days of Real Food website. It is listed as Mini-Pledge Week #9. The challenge is also issued by the Miami Herald in this article, where you can read more about the evils of sugar.

So. Can you do it? Will you be brave enough to try?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Honey: If you can get raw honey, use it. Again: less processed=better.
**Vanilla: Use pure vanilla if you can, or make your own from a vanilla bean.

Also, to clarify: I am not eating honey or maple syrup on the Whole30, but I am not expecting my readers to be that hard core for this challenge. Unless you really do have what it takes…..! 🙂