October 23, 2014

Our Twist on the Whole30 (AKA: We Quit)

Ohhh, whole30. Where do I even begin?

I told you about three weeks ago that we were going to be giving this a try, and then about a week later I told you that we weren't going through with it. I'm sure you haven't been sitting on the edge of your seats for the last twenty days or so, waiting for all the details...  but just in case you  have, I'm using today to spill the beans.

After I pinky-promised my friend Laura that we would do this together, and after I semi-talked Steve into doing it with me, we got ready. If you ever think of making drastic diet changes, I can't emphasize this enough - preparation is key! We stocked up on all the whole30 goodies that make this easier - fresh fruits and veggies, salsa, almond butter, and lots of eggs - and I started doing some pre-week prep work. I spent the Sunday before we started hardboiling eggs and cooking chicken, and I had a my meal plan done and my Pinterest board ready to go.

We started on a Monday, and the first week wasn't that bad. I made green smoothies for us most mornings, and ate lots of salads for lunch. I tried thinking about what would make this fun - not just doable -  and we experimented with wings, burgers, and chili. Our social schedules were pretty calm, so it wasn't a problem to eat in for pretty much every meal. Five days in, and so far it was a piece of cake.

On Sunday morning, though, all of those feelings changed.

We knew that the weekend would be the hardest - after all, weekends are for splurging. We have snacks at game nights with friends, we go out to eat more, we make carb-happy brunches for ourselves, and...we order in our standard Sunday night pizza.

We toughed it through all day Saturday, and tried to find ways to make it still fun, but on Sunday morning I just couldn't take it anymore. It wasn't even the cravings, or any foods in particular...it was the why. I couldn't rationalize it, and I hated how it limited us. I kept spotting friends and thinking "Oh, we should grab lunch with them," only to be stopped mid thought with the reminder that 90% of restaurants were currently out-of-bounds. Dang it, whole30!

My original goals - cooking more, eating out less, and focusing on whole foods - were still there. After talking about it with Steve, though, we had the same feelings - we wanted to find out what worked for us, as a couple, in every respect; what was sustainable, what was healthy, and what was flexible enough for our lifestyle.

We didn't want to skip social opportunities because a certain restaurant wouldn't fit our diet, but we did want to use whole ingredients and challenge ourselves in the kitchen.

We didn't want to leave out certain food groups just because "whole30 said so" - i.e., corn, beans, or whole grains, but we did want to keep slowing down on sugars and processed food.

So we made a new plan, and called it quits on this round of whole30. It's now been almost three weeks since that last Sunday, and it's still been a good challenge! We had one particularly indulgent weekend in the mountains, but other than that I feel like I've had a healthy balance of eating clean without going crazy. Green smoothies, a hardboiled egg, and black coffee is the norm at breakfast, and since we're being creative and cooking a lot of dinners, there have been pretty legit leftovers waiting for me most days at lunch time.

I snag the occasional diet coke or handful of m&m's when I'm struggling at work, and I definitely ate a biscuit or two when I was at Tupelo Honey for dinner last night. That's what I like about our current clean eating plan, though - we eat well the majority of the time, and then I don't feel guilty about splurging for a weekend trip or dinner out with a friend.

Is whole30 a bad idea? No! Not at all. I always think it's good to take a breather from things that can become addictive, and sugar definitely fits in that category for me.

Was whole30 right for us, right now, though? Not this time. We probably could have toughed it through, but we just weren't invested and it didn't seem worth it.

What do you think - have you done paleo or whole30 before? Was it worth it, or not?


October 20, 2014

He Cooks, She Cooks

I didn't realize how long it had been since a He Cooks, She Cooks until I started flipping back through pictures...but holy cow! Lots to share today. Since we've been trying to eat a little cleaner recently, you'll see lots of whole-foods dinners below. We just got back from a mountain trip with Steve's parents and we maybeee fell off the wagon a little but...oh well. That's what new weeks are for, right? :)

She Cooks: Spaghetti Squash with peppers, onions, & Italian sausage (recipe).

Let me be honest here - Steve was verrrry skeptical when I brought home a spaghetti squash. We had italian sausage leftover from making a pizza (below!), and I thought it might 'man it up' a little bit. He still won't say that he likes spaghetti squash...but he did eat all of it ;)

He cooks: Pork chops with mashed potatoes & green beans.

Pork chops are one of my favorite things that Steve cooks! They've been on our rotation for a long time. Yum yum.

She cooks: Baked chicken with smashed sweet potatoes & green beans.

This was a lazy dinner night :) Some weeks I'll bake a ton of chicken on Sunday night for us to eat throughout the week, so on this night all we had to do was cook up some green beans and bake two sweet potatoes. I took the skin off my potato and smashed it up with a little bit of salt and cinnamon - a surprisingly good combo!

He Cooks: Hawaiian pizza with sausage, pineapple, peppers, onions, and mozzerella, on a homemade crust.

We bought the sausage, peppers, and red onion at Trader Joes, and when we told the cashier we were making pizza suggested to add in some pineapple with it. Best idea ever!! We had some homemade ranch leftover from having wings the night before, and this pizza dipped in ranch was a major win.

She Cooks: Turkey Chili (recipe).

So it's not the most gorgeous picture, but this has been a favorite for me recently so I had to include it - in fact, I've made this chili twice! I used ground turkey, left out the beans (and added extra veggies) for the first batch, and used the beans in the second batch. It's good both ways!

He Cooks: Potato Hashbrowns with a fried egg + Strawberries (Saturday morning for the win!).

For Saturday mornings at home, it never feels right to just eat our normal smoothie or eggs - after sleeping in some, Steve will get some coffee brewing and then one (or both!) of us will start whipping something up. It was french toast a few weeks ago, but for this particular Saturday we went for a more savory breakfast. Yum.

Coming up next in our kitchen?

These buffalo chicken stuffed peppers, because my friend Laura says they're amazing.
This apple crisp, because woah we have a ton of apples to use up right now.
And these zucchini fries, but I have a feeling that I'll be the only one eating them ;)

What's on your cooking list this week?


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