Whole30 Days 27-30!

The last horrah!  We made it to the end…more on that later.  I again only took pictures of new or interesting meals, but take a look at what our last 4 days consisted of:

Day 27:

7.31 Whole30 breakfast
Fruit Salad and scrambled eggs with Pesto. Got the green eggs…just missing the ham!
7.31 Whole30 Dinner
Salisbury Steak, Green Beans with Balsamic Vinegar and Mashed Potatoes with Ghee

Day 28:

8.1 Whole30 Snack
First day of August and my office A/C is so frigid that I broke down and needed a mid-day hot coffee. Still struggling to drink it black, but I’m getting used to the taste.
8.1 Whole30 Dinner
Homemade taco seasoning simmered with beef, topped with salsa and guacamole inside a lettuce wrap

Day 29:

8.2 Breakfast
Breakfast on the go…banana, cashew larabar and ice water.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner2
Perusing the natural aisle we found a new brand to try, frozen spinach cakes. Brian loved them, I thought they were only ok.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner
Spinach cakes, compliant bacon, turkey meat sautéed with green peppers and sweet onions.

Day 30:

8.3 Whole30 Breakfast
Almond Butter, Banana and coconut milk smoothie with a side of fresh strawberries
8.3 Whole 30 Dinner
Stir fry with peppers, onion, broccoli, beef with a Tahini sauce dressing. Organic sweets and beats on the side.

We did it!  We made it!  We survived!  30 days was hard work…but it paid off.  First thing I splurged on was an iced coffee with cream and sugar…boy did I miss that!

Overall I lost 11 pounds and my husband lost 14.  I never once stepped foot into a gym…I didn’t do anything differently other than change my diet.  I think that is pretty impressive!  

Come back later this week for our overall impression and tips.  And if you’re participating we would love to hear your best practices as well!

Whole30 Days 13-19

This week marked the halfway point of our Whole30 journey!  We are feeling good and I’m proud that we haven’t slipped up so far.  Here are our thoughts so far:

Pros:

  • Well Rounded Meals
  • Sitting Down to Breakfast starts the day off right
  • Making Healthy Choices
  • Becoming more aware of the hidden sugars and ingredients lurking in processed foods
  • No more headaches
  • Less Craving
  • Fewer trips to the grocery store with a solid meal plan
  • Discovered foods we didn’t know we would like

Cons:

  • Lot’s of meal prep
  • Expensive grocery bills – organic foods are killer!
  • Turning on the oven in 90 degree weather…
  • Lack of motivation to create a full meal after a long day (this is when we used to fall into the takeout habit)
  • So. Many. Dishes

Honestly we haven’t noticed any of the main things we were looking for, ie: more energy, better sleep at night, clearer skin, etc.  And we obviously won’t know whether there was any weight loss until the end.  Overall the pros outweigh the cons, but there certainly haven’t been any life changing moments.

On to the meal plan!

Whole30 Meal Plan
Weekly Meal prep for Whole30 Days 13-19
Whole30 Meal Plan
Whole30 Meal Plan for Days 13-19

We are continuing to use our meal planning app, which is a great way to keep us on target and share meals for the week.  This is not endorsed, but we are using the free version of “Meal Planner” from the apple store.  I give it 2 thumbs up.  You will see meals being repeated, we are falling back into comfort zones, easy meals, and ones we have found we really enjoy.  I don’t have photos for every meal, just the new or really great ones!

Without further delay… da photos:

Whole30 Breakfast
Sunday Breakfast, 2 scrambled eggs and trail mix. Dried fruit and nuts, lots of healthy fats.
Whole30 Lunch
Sunday Lunch: Zoodles with a cold heirloom tomato sauce and pesto
Whole30 Dinner
Sunday Dinner: Compliant Hotdogs, avacado oil chips and broccoli slaw with compliant ranch

We have received some skepticism regarding how there could possible be a “whole” hotdog, aren’t they super processed food?  The best brand we have found is Applegate.  Again, NOT endorsed, we just love them.  Applegate creates natural and organic meats.  Here is their label, which shows that the hotdogs are made from grass fed beef and other simple ingredients.  No preservatives, no antibiotics, no added sugar, no nitrates.  We highly recommend them, not the easiest brand to find, but we found them at Wegmans.

Applegate Hotdog, Whole30 approved
Applegate Hotdog Label, Whole30 approved
Whole30 Lunch
Monday Lunch, Turkey Burgers with Pineapple Mango Salsa, Avocado Oil Chips and Guacamole
Whole30  Dinner
Monday Dinner: Garlic Shrimp on a bed of Zoodles
Whole30 Breakfast
Tuesday Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs and chicken sausage (Also Applegate brand!)
Whole30 Dinner
Tuesday Dinner: Crockpot Pot Roast and potatoes. Seasoned with pineapple juice not from concentrate, coconut aminos, garlic and onion
Whole30 Dinner
Wednesday Dinner: Pan fried polish sausage, carrots and oven roasted sweet potatoes. We tried the sweet potatoes with cinnamon, not bad!
Whole30 Lunch
Thursday Lunch: Pico de gallo, avocado, bacon and hard boiled eggs wrapped in lettuce.
Whole30 Dinner
Thursday Dinner: Onion burgers topped with guacamole and a oven roasted potato medley
Whole30 Dinner
Friday Dinner: More Zoodles topped with Applegate Hotdogs. This was one of the hottest days this summer…I had to adjust our meal plan to avoid turning on the oven!
Whole30 Lunch
Saturday Lunch: Bed of arugula and spinach topped with cherry tomatoes, blueberries, red peppers and smoked salmon. Odd combination, but it was really very good.

We had a lot of really good meals this week, and a lot of repeated meals.  But I think that is ok.  I am finally getting comfortable with the ingredients I can use that I’ve been able to branch out from just strictly following recipes, which has felt pretty good.  Would you like to see some recipes on a later post?  Let me know if you do, I would be happy to share!

Whole30 Days 7-12

If you would like to read about the beginning of our Whole30 journey check out days 1-6 HERE.

Currently we are almost wrapping up week 2, which means we are almost half way done!  I still don’t feel any major differences, but my headaches are pretty much gone.  It must have just been from detoxing my body off of sugar and caffeine.  You are allowed caffeine on the Whole30, but without cream and sugar in my coffee I have virtually stopped drinking it.  My husband did notice that by Friday afternoon he was seriously dragging.  He gets up and does early morning workouts and then is pretty active all day long outside in the heat, so we are thinking we need to up his caloric intake.

I do think that clean eating has started to become a habit for us.  The extra time it takes to meal prep can be frustrating.  I have definitely had more than one occasion where after a marathon day at work I would so much rather stop for take out rather than coming home and preparing a whole meal.  And the dishes….SO MANY dishes.  But so far we have resisted, 12 days down without a single cheat.  We did go out to dinner once, I got grilled Salmon and broccoli and my husband got lettuce wraps…so impressed with us!

I downloaded a free app this week called “Meal Planner Pal” and it has been great!  You can add in Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks for a whole week.

meal plan1
Meal Planner Pal from the App Store

Then, you can choose who to email it to.  So I was able to share the whole week’s worth of meals with my husband.  It has definitely helped us stay organized and stay on plan.  Here is what it looks like when you receive an email:

meal plan 2
Meal Planner Pal free email…sharing our weekly menu with the hubs just became that much easier!

I also made a big pitcher of green tea to last us through the week.  I just brewed mandarine green tea and then added frozen peaches and fresh mint from the garden.  It was a great morning replacement for my normal cup of coffee.

peach tea
Mandarine Green tea with frozen peaches and fresh mint

Now onto some of our meals!

Breakfast:

breakfast 1
Sweet potato, onion and compliant sausage hash. It was nearly impossible to find a compliant sausage, but it was well worth the hunt! We added a fried egg on top a couple times this week for a breakfast choice.
breakfast 3
Any tupperware fans out there have the egg cooker? This has been a saving grace for us with on the run breakfasts! It will cook your scrambled or poached eggs in under 2 minutes in the microwave. That’s why so many of my omelets have this shape
breakfast 2
Banana and a Larabar. Larabar’s were our best find this week. They are all natural fruit and nut bars, perfect for a meal addition or snack on the go and totally compliant.
Breakfast 4
Two fried eggs and a fruit salad
Breakfast 5
2 friend eggs and a trail mix (dried apricots, raisins, almonds and cashews)

I think we are starting to get a little bit sick of eggs, and I’ve been trying to limit our fruit intake and replace with more vegetables.  So I need to really do some research on breakfast ideas for this week!

Lunch:

lunch 1
Home made chicken salad (left over roasted chicken, compliant mayo, red onions, red grapes and celery) avocado and strawberries
lunch 2
Spinach salad topped with grilled chicken and a light italian dressing
lunch 3
Black olives, banana, smoothie, larabar, sweets and beats and guac. A snacky meal but surprisingly really filling!
lunch 4
Sweet romaine lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli topped with grilled steak tips and light italian dressing
lunch 5
Cobb Salad…sweet romaine lettuce, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, avocado, bacon and left over grilled steak tips.
Lunch 6
Turkey burgers topped with pineapple mango salsa, avocado oil chips and guac

Dinners:

Dinner 1
Beef and bacon stuffed orange peppers, black olives, home made kale chips
Dinner 2
Sweet potato and zucchini latkes and baked white fish
Dinner 3
Home made guacamole on taco meat
Dinner 4
Oven roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli and grilled chicken
Dinner 5
zucchini noodles with homemade marinara sauce and meatballs
Dinner 6
Grilled salmon with steamed broccoli

Overall our meals have been time consuming but pretty filling and delicious.  One of my favorites were the sweet potato and zucchini latkes.  I shredded 2 zucchinis and 2 sweet potatoes and added one egg.  I sprinkled in some almond flour, onion flakes, and a few spices to taste.  Formed them into pancakes and fried in light olive oil.

zucchini latkes
sweet potato and zucchini latkes

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a huge sweet potato or zucchini fan, but these were delicious!  I have also really enjoyed the zucchini noodles we have made.  Maybe my tastes are changing after all…

And for a sweet treat on a night when I needed dessert we cut up a granny smith apple and added almond butter.  Yum!

Dessert
Granny Smith apple and almond butter

2 more weeks to go!

Cannoli Recipe

As we continue to cook our way through my 29th year, we came upon the biggest challenge so far… the homemade Cannoli!  For reference we used this recipe from the Food Network.  We found that some of it worked, and some of it didn’t.  Overall our biggest take away was that the dough and filling made WAY too much for us.  We could definitely have cut it in half and still had more than enough. Take a look below to see our adventure!
 

First we created the dough.  We did need to add more butter and more wine than the recipe called for to make it really form into a ball.

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We then let the dough sit for a while and made the filling.  The recipe does say to let the filling chill for 30 minutes, we found that it really needs to chill for much longer than that or it will be super runny.  Still tasted great, but after sitting all night we found that the next day it was the perfect texture.

We purchased our Cannoli cones at a local high end cooking store.  We didn’t have any luck finding them elsewhere, except for online.  They weren’t cheap, and I can’t guarantee we will be using them very often, but they got the job done!

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After rolling out the dough, with lots of flour since it was sticky,  we cut the circles.  We found a piece of tupperware that was just about the right size and improvised since we didn’t have a pastry cutter.  Worked out perfectly!

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Next we wrapped the circular dough around a cannoli cone.  We pressed the edges to seal, if it started to separate we just dabbed a little water on the edges before sealing.

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Once the cones were wrapped we fried in melted shortening.  They browed and puffed up quickly, and we just rotated with a pair of tongs.

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After frying we put on paper towels to absorb the extra grease.  We left the cones in while they cooled to keep their shape. The slipped right out nice and easily within a few minutes.

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And for the final step we filled with our filling.  As you can see it was pretty runny, it was delicious.  But if we had waited a few hours the filling texture would have been firmer.

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All things considered, this recipe was great!  It made a really tasty dessert.  It did involve purchasing the cannoli cones, and we had to improvise a little when the dough didn’t stick, and since we didn’t have a way to judge the temperature of the shortening before frying.  But those were easy fixes.  Over the next few days we ate the filling like a dip using graham crackers to scoop it up.  It was amazing!
So far this has been the most challenging recipe we have tried, but it was definitely worth the effort.

Ravioli Pasta from Scratch

This year was my 29th birthday, rather than gifts I asked my husband for two things.  1 – to train for a half marathon with me, and 2 – for us to cook a new recipe together once a month.  The half marathon training ended pretty quickly when I couldn’t recover from pretty terrible shin splits.  We managed to complete a 5K, and continue to motivate each other at the gym, but I don’t think I will be doing any long distance running any time soon.

With request 2 are currently a month behind, but have been having fun with our recipe a month.  Cooking something new and out of our comfort zone has been great, and spending the meaningful time together has been even better.  I love gifts that are experiences rather than materialistic “stuff”.

This month we decided to make ravioli from start to finish.  I referenced recipes from Taste of Home and The Food Network (Tyler Florence).  We didn’t follow either recipe exactly, but for the most part came up with an easy dough recipe.  For the filling we more or less winged it, it was a little bit on the salty side, but that’s my preference!  Below I outlined our process in photos!

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We started by creating the dough in the stand mixer.  Very easy ingredients, flour, salt,  eggs and a little olive oil.  This step can absolutely be done without the use of an electric mixer, but we chose the easy route.
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Next, we kneaded the dough on a  well floured board for 10 minutes or so, until all of the ingredients are incorporated well.
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We formed the dough into a ball, brushed with Olive Oil and wrapped in plastic wrap.  We left this out on the counter at room temperature for about a half hour.  My research informed me that this step is to allow the gluten to relax
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Here is our pasta dough “relaxing”
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Fortunately my mom has a great pasta machine, so we were able to roll the dough out easily, without a pasta machine I’m sure you can roll with a rolling pin, but it most certainly would take longer.  This was a team effort, we cut the dough into 1/4, kept the dough we weren’t using covered, floured the remainder and rolled through the machine.  We started at the highest setting and kept rolling until it was about 1/8″ thick.
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Here is what our pasta dough looked like all rolled out.  We made sure to keep it on a well floured surface so that nothing would stick.
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We created our filling with a combination of ricotta, mozzarella, egg and spices.  Lots of garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and basil.  On half the dough we put dollops of filling about and inch apart.  We then folded over the other half, and pressed out as many air bubbles as we could.
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After pressing down on the dough we cut out each square, and again tried to seal them shut by pushing out the air pockets.
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We then used a fork around the edges to seal the raviolis
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We placed them on a baking sheet that was dusted with corn meal, so that they could dry out a bit as we rolled out the rest.

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Once they were all made we placed our raviolis into a pot of boiling water.  We placed a few at a time so that they wouldn’t crowd the pot and get stuck together.  Once they float to the top they are finished, although I felt like ours floated to the top pretty quickly!
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We drained the water, and they were ready to go!
This definitely was not a fast process, it took a lot of time and patience, but it definitely paid off!  They came out delicious and we were really proud of ourselves for being able to make pasta from scratch, start to finish!
We are still thinking about what other recipes we can try and complete this year.  Do you have any specialties?