Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve!

The end of one year, a new start the next... New Year's Eve is such a fun time of the year! The gym was PACKED this morning, sheesh! Where were all these people during the rest of the year? Yeah, that's what I thought. But it's good that people are getting fit & healthy. Except when I need to do my own workout. Give it 3-4 more weeks and there shall be more room and less BO at the gym lol

2012 had some highlights and lowlights, but one way or another I survived. The highlights were getting my dissertation proposal accepted (so I got "promoted" to PhD candidate), starting CrossFit/paleo, and being in the best shape of my life thus far which got me PRs in virtually every distance I raced (half-ironman, marathon, olympic triathlon, 10 miler, 10K, 8K, & 5K... still have yet to PR in the half-marathon but that's for another time). The lowlights were a painful breakup with my bf and not getting job interviews despite meeting position qualifications. The main thing I learned from 2012 is that life goes on and that I need to be true to myself, which includes not letting temporary setbacks (or people) get in the way of pursuing my dreams.

2013 should hopefully be a better year. My resolution is to KICK @SS.  Kick @ss in grad school and get my PhD. Kick @ss at the gym and smash my PRs. Kick @ss in the kitchen and whip up some amazing new meals. Kick @ss in everything I put my mind to because life is too short to live with regrets. I just may take on that ironman...    

Now, onto a more interesting topic: FOOD!  For New Year's Eve, my family always does appetizers with some primary meat of choice. This year's meat of choice was RIBS! I haven't had ribs in awhile, so I was already licking my lips. Make no mistake, these ribs are not like the ones you get at a restaurant with a sweet tangy sauce mixed in with all the fat from the ribs. No sir, we make these babies with a Chinese-style sauce that tastes way better than any American bbq-style sauce.  To complement the ribs, we had a salad (with homemade Asian sesame dressing), paleo corndogs, non-paleo sesame noodles (it's a Chinese custom for long life), veggie wreath, & mushroom quesadillas.   

Better Than American: Family Recipe Ribs

2.5-3 lb ribs (we use baby back)
5 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder

1. Combine last 4 ingredients together. Pour mixture over ribs. Let stand for 1-2 hours (ideally 2).  
2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Place ribs backside (curvy side) facing up for 25 min.
4. Turn over. Roast for another 25 min.
5. Check and roast longer if needed. Ribs are done when the end of the rib pulls away from the bone.

Serves: 4-6


Photo taken from when I made these babies earlier this year
Paleo Corn Dogs
4 grass-fed, nitrate-free hot dogs, cut into quarters
1 c almond flour
1 egg white
1/4 c coconut oil

1. Heat frying pan to medium. Melt coconut oil.
2. Dip hot dog quarters into egg white and dredge through almond flour.
3. Carefully place hot dogs into hot oil. Turn often, as these little guys get crispy very easily.  

Serves: 2-3


Asian Sesame Dressing
1/4 c coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil
A couple shakes of sesame seeds

1. Whisk everything together. Whisk again before serving, as the oil has a tendency to separate.
2. Serve with your salad greens of choice. My favorite mix is: organic spring mix, spinach, & romaine with sliced cucumbers, tomato, avocado & red onion.

Yield: 1/2 cup


Veggie Wreath
Festive idea from Betty Crocker
(We didn't include the bacon and it still tasted delicious. Be mindful of the gluten coma that will ensue...) 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Festive Carrot Cupcakes

The holidays are a time of hustle and bustle, but it's also a time to be creative and do those once-a-year things. For me, I've been looking forward to making cupcakes and decorating with a festive, holiday.  I decided to make paleo carrot cupcakes and decorate them as snowmen. It was SO much fun decorating them and despite mildly deformed frosting faces, everyone thought they were the cutest things ever!!  In retrospect, I should have gotten thin pretzel sticks for the snowman arms, but it seemed silly to buy a bag of (non-paleo) pretzels that I didn't even want to eat just for the sake of a snowman. So, I went with chopped carrot instead.

This cupcake would make a good muffin if the frosting was left off.  For a traditional cupcake, you can certainly frost the cupcakes and forego the snowman decorations. Here's to carrot cake all year long, paleo style :P

Carrot Cupcakes

10 dates, pitted & soaked in water for 30 min
3 tbsp coconut milk
4 egg whites
1/4 c coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c coconut flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 carrots, peeled & shredded

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Put dates & coconut milk into food processor. Pulverize until smooth (some chunks are fine).
3. Combine wet ingredients in a medium-size bowl: date mixture, egg whites, coconut oil, & vanilla.  Push to the side of bowl.
4. In the other side of the bowl, add the dry ingredients: coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda & powder, salt. Then mix the wet and dry until thoroughly combined.
5. Stir in shredded carrots. Pour batter into 12 greased muffin molds, 3/4 full.
6. Bake for 18-20 min or until toothpick from the center of the cupcake comes out clean. 

8 oz of low-fat cream cheese
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
Enough maple syrup or agave to your liking (I used about 1/4 c)

1. Allow cream cheese to come to room temperature.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat all ingredients until smooth.
3. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

Head: Donut holes! For the sake of time, I cheated and went to Dunkin Donuts (yes, I know! Please leave all hate mail at the door). You can certainly make your own paleo version and I do encourage you to do so. No, I did not come up with a recipe for that yet so don't ask. Smear head with frosting and plop onto cupcake 3/4 of the way back. Alternatively, melting white chocolate and rolling the donut hole in that would make the head a ton smoother.

Hat: 1/3 of a York peppermint pattie

Nose & Arms: Expertly cut-up carrot pieces :)

Scarf: Trader Joe's dried fruit strip, cut into a thin strip and used a knife to make the fringe

Eyes & Buttons: Mini chocolate chips 

**Decorate serving plate with mini holiday ornament balls, confectioner's sugar for "snow", and graham cracker crumbs for good measure :)

Salmon Cakes!

When we got back from Delaware, we needed an easy dinner. I made paleo salmon cakes for the family and it's one of my go-to paleo noshes... Easy, quick, flavorful, heart-healthy, and oh, absolutely DELICIOUS!!! What's NOT to love?!  My mom said that my salmon cakes are much better than hers, and my dad wholeheartedly agreed. HAHAHA, +1 for paleo!

Salmon Cakes

1 14.5-oz can of wild salmon, skin & bones removed
4 egg whites
4 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp dried dill
1/4 tsp pepper
A couple shakes of red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp dried ginger, optional
Coconut oil

1. Heat large frying pan on medium heat.
2. Combine all ingredients (except coconut oil) in a medium-sized bowl. 
3. Add enough coconut oil to frying pan to coat the bottom. When pan and oil is hot, drop salmon mixture into pan, about 1/4 c each.  Use spatula to flatten and shape salmon cakes.
4. After one side is cooked (about 3 min, DO NOT touch beforehand or they will fall apart), flip each cake over. Add extra coconut oil to the pan if needed. Cook for another 3 minutes, then serve. Mmm!

Yield: 10 salmon cakes

Zucchini Pesto "Pasta"

This weekend was spent visiting my sister's brand spankin new house in Delaware. She moved in about 1.5 years ago but I hadn't been able to take a trip down there til now. She's settled in there and decorated the place well. With a new house, car, job, and personal side business, she's an adult now!! Hard to believe lol

For a quick dinner before we made the 2+ hour drive down, I made zucchini pesto "pasta". The 'rents bought a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, which was a GREAT dinner idea for paleo in a pinch. The chicken & zucchini together made a tasty meal of protein, veggies (low carb), and little fat (olive oil from the pesto). Definitely a winner!! My non-paleo sister who HATES vegetables thought the zucchini was great and asked for the recipe (we saved leftovers for her). The next night, we went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant where much bread & pasta was served... but that's a different story. If I can get my family to eat paleo some of the time and enjoy it, I'll consider it a winner :P

Zucchini Pesto "Pasta"

2 medium zucchini
2 c fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 c olive oil
1/4 c pine nuts (I use macadamias for the omega-3s)
1/4 c parmesan cheese, optional (I leave this out to make it truly paleo)
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. While water is boiling, use a mandoline to slice the zucchini into thin strips. Then, use a knife to slice the zucchini strips into noodles. Add zucchini to boiling water and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
2. In a blender or food processor, pulverize the remaining ingredients. Sample the pesto and adjust ingredients to your preference as needed.
3. Transfer zucchini into a large bowl and toss with pesto until thoroughly combined. 
4. Gobble gobble!

Serves: 3-4

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spaghetti & Meatballs

A classic favorite: spaghetti & meatballs!  Of course I had to paleo-ize it, so I opted for spaghetti squash. My mom was on board with it, but my dad wanted his pasta. So, we made both and then used the same meatballs & sauce.  I told my mom that she was in charge of the pasta bc I couldn't bring myself to make it :P  We all loved this simple meal and I didn't miss the pasta one bit. My non-paleo mother liked the taste and thought it was a great, nutritious substitute for pasta. Paleo: 1, Standard American Diet: 0

Spaghetti & Meatballs

1 medium-to-large spaghetti squash
1 lb ground beef
dried basil & thyme
1 jar of no-salt-added spaghetti sauce (you could also make your own)
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut spaghetti squash in half. Remove roots & seeds, then place squash halves face-down on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until soft.
3. While spaghetti squash is cooking, make your meatballs. Season ground beef with spices and form into meatballs. When squash is done, remove from oven and change oven setting to broil. Broil meatballs for 5-6 min, or until it's cooked to your liking.
4. Dice onion and mince garlic. In a large pot, saute onions/garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Pour in spaghetti sauce and simmer until it begins to bubble (approx 10-15 min). Toss in meatballs and stir to combine.
5. Hold squash with an oven mitt (it will be HOT!) and use a fork to shred the "spaghetti". Top spaghetti squash with meatballs and sauce.
6. Dig in!!!

Serves 3-4 people 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Cookies

Christmas 2012 was such a fun time, definitely one of the best we had.  It's so nice to get everyone together, plus all the laughter and joking that went around. I did meal planning and holiday cooking with my mother, which has taken on a new meaning since going paleo and cooking healthy meals for myself. My sister got me the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook for Christmas and everyone was like "what is paleo? I've never heard of it, it's not on the FoodNetwork or Today Show or anything" hahahaha

What is Christmas without holiday cookies? These chocolate chip pumpkin cookies were a HUGE hit with my non-paleo family!! I took the cookies out of the oven and people started grabbing at them! I had to snap this picture really quick with my iPhone (note the different angle to hide the cookies that people had already taken hahaha). These cookies were gobbled up in minutes. Secretly converting my family to paleo, one recipe at a time...

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

1 egg & 2 egg whites
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 c coconut flour
1/4 c coconut sugar crystals
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Dash of salt
Enough chocolate chips to your liking (my family loves chocolate so I used about 2/3 c but you could get away with far less)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl: eggs, pumpkin, & oil.
3. Push mixture to the side of the bowl. Add dry ingredients to the other side of the bowl: flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg & salt. Mix the dry ingredients, then combine the wet & dry together. (NOTE: Batter should be thick but mold-able. If it's too thick, add more oil or another egg white).
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Form into cookies (about 2 tbsp each) and place on a greased cookie sheet.    
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
7. Let cool and serve!*

Yield: 1 dozen

*NOTE: The last ones to the be eaten (which had cooled somewhat) tasted better than the ones piping hot out of the oven so I recommend waiting for them to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving to the cookie monsters in your household ;)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Paleo Pen Pals - December!

Brittanie & Tarah's Paleo Pen Pals group just did an ingredient swap this December. My pen pal was Karen from Low Carb One Day (awesome blogger plus you can check her site to see which ingredients I got her). Karen sent me two amazing ingredients that I never had before: coconut vinegar & southern-style hot sauce from Charleston, SC!

I decided to make a paleo stir fry. I've done plenty of stir-fry's in the past, but this time the coconut vinegar added a nice zest and the hot sauce was used as a side accompaniment for extra heat... I will definitely be using these babies again to flavor up my cooking. THANKS KAREN!! :)  When I told my mom that I was making "my" version of chicken lo mein, she was watching me cook and goes "where are the noodles?" HAHAHAHA silly mommy, processed carbs are for... well, no one really.  In any event, my non-paleo parents loved this dish, even though they insisted on ramen noodles to go with it. Alas, paleo isn't for everyone and a Brittanie-esque "two diets, one dinner" attitude kept everyone's bellies happy.

Zesty Paleo "Lo Mein" 

1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 thin slices of ginger root
1.25 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (visible fat removed), cubed
1 head of broccoli... stems removed, florets chopped 
4 Chinese mushrooms, soaked until soft (approx 6-8 hours, but overnight is fine too)*
1/2 cup chopped white mushrooms
4 stalks of green onion, chopped
1 bag of shredded red cabbage
1/4 cup reduced-sodium, wheat-free tamari (or coconut aminos)
1/2-1 tbsp coconut vinegar
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Hot sauce

1. Heat wok to medium heat.
2. Add sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Saute for 1-2 min until aromatic. Remove ginger.
3. Add chicken and stir fry until chicken is mostly cooked, about 4 minutes.
4. Add broccoli and mushrooms into the wok. Saute until broccoli begins to soften, about 3 minutes.
5. Add red cabbage and green onion. Stir frequently until cabbage softens, about 4 minutes.
6. Add coconut vinegar and tamari. Stir until combined.
7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and stir to combine.
8. Serve with hot sauce on the side for an extra kick!

*Shiitake mushrooms would also work

NOTE: You can add in whatever veggies & meat/shrimp/fish you want. Have fun with creating your own stir-fry!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holiday season is upon us...

WINTER BREAK 2012!  Flew home to NJ on Tuesday.  Airport security check and the flight itself were easy peasy.  Love me Southwest.  Since I've been home, I slept in (10+ hours each night, felt sooo good!), did some holiday shopping, grocery shopping (gotta stock up on paleo foods when you're staying with non-paleo eaters lol), cooked, ate, and hung out with the 'rents.  Can't wait for the holidays!!! It's always nice to get the family together, which I've appreciated all the more as I've gotten older and moved halfway across the country with no family even remotely close, only to get my butt kicked in grad school.

Since going paleo this summer, it's been somewhat difficult this break telling my non-paleo family why I don't eat certain things that I used to (which they still eat). I never really explained paleo to them, only that I've been cutting back on processed food and carbs (mostly gluten). That seemed to work. I don't mention the dairy because some of them are lactose sensitive so there's not much dairy here anyway. They know I like cooking and don't mind me cooking for them, so we accommodate for our different preferences (e.g. cauliflower "rice" for me, regular white rice for them). My crockpot chicken curry was a huge hit! :)

Crockpot Chicken Curry

The 'rents loved their curry (regular rice)

Adapted from PaleOMG:

3 split chicken breasts (1.5 lbs), skinless*
3/4 c coconut milk
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
4.5 tbsp curry powder*
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 c chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

1. Add coconut milk, tomato paste, garlic, curry, and salt/pepper to crockpot. Stir mix well.
2. Add peppers and onion. Mix well.
3. Place chicken in crockpot and pour broth on top.
4. Mix everything together so chicken is covered in curry mixture.
5. Cook on high for 2.5 hours

*NOTE: Split chicken breasts don't dry out in the crockpot like regular chicken breasts. If possible, try to get curry powder that doesn't have mustard (cheap filler). Quality curry costs the same as mustard-infused curry so why not go for the good stuff?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Life After the Whole30

So, all along I've been talking about my November Whole30 journey.  It's been a week since it ended and you're probably left wondering... whatever happened to that chick?  Post-Whole30, it was weird to see all the options that I was now allowed to eat. I followed the usual paleo diet, but admittedly had a few cheats with holiday parties, holiday outings, dining specials/deals, and not grocery shopping bc I'm flying home to NJ for winter break (I prefer an empty fridge).  The things I was craving during the Whole30: sushi, Indian food, & chocolate chip cookies.  I had sushi and it was AMAZING... Followed by bloating & lethargy, but it was super delicious.  Went to an Indian buffet and stuffed myself on chicken tikka masala (my absolute favorite Indian dish to date - been meaning to make my own paleo version but it will be a long, involved process that my lazy grad student self will have to plan in advance), a little naan (not that great), veggie samosas, & rice pudding... Mmmm! But again, followed by bloating, headaches, and lethargy.  Dang. I had a couple chocolate chip cookies at my department's holiday party plus a Starbucks gingerbread latte to keep my seat at the cafe while I graded 20 term papers. The cookies? Delicious, but very addictive and my body kept craving them even though I wasn't hungry. Scary!! And the gingerbread latte? GROSS!! The taste was awful, perhaps the barista did it wrong or - more likely - my tastebuds changed after the Whole30. The worst part was that I had some serious GI distress that left me feeling very uncomfortable for the next 4 hours (I won't go into detail). What was I thinking?? Suffice to say that I won't be getting another latte any time soon.

Was this banana-nut caramel french toast (with a friend after church) worth it?? Perhaps, for just a couple bites... after that it lost appeal. Then intense lethargy and a headache followed and I ended up napping in a gluten coma for a good 1.5 hours after.  Maaaaan, my body must have been wondering what the heck I did to it!! Hahaha...  

Now what?  Back to eating paleo, of course :) The cheats reminded me just how bad they are for me and how good I felt when I was eating paleo/whole30 foods. I joined the Paleo Pen Pals Group to meet other paleo folks and share some fun ingredients/recipes. Tis the season for cooking & eating :)

In other news, I've had some pain in my outside left knee (IT band) and I've had issues with it in the past, so I decided to take a week off to let it heal.  It's definitely feeling better, but has me a bit concerned so I'll probably wait a bit before I commit myself to doing an Ironman on top of my dissertation. I went swimming once this past week and that was fine.  Maybe I'll try the elliptical tomorrow. Bummer!! Interestingly enough, I've noticed that when I get injured and can't exercise, it's a lot easier for me to eat bad foods. Comfort food, maybe like a coping mechanism? Hmm....   

On a different note, the holidays are rolling around in case you haven't noticed (in that case get off the computer and go outside!! You need it). The holidays tend to bring out the best or worst in us.  I guess I've been reflecting and thinking a lot recently about the past year.  There were lots of changes this year and while I'm not sure what the future holds for me, both professionally and personally, but I have peace that everything happens for a reason and life will all work out in the end. After all, the journey is more important than the destination, right? I've also come to realize that I'm very different from other people/women my age and as my sister said, "we're not cut out for normal". So, the molds and measures that work for many people don't work for me. The only thing to do is trust in the Lord, Jehovah Jirah, Provider.

And I'll end this long, rambling post with one of my favorite verses for this time of year:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace".
 ~Isaiah 9:6  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Whole 30 - The End!

DAY 30
Sleep: 9 hours

Exercise: None... spa day with a massage :)

Lunch: Chicken teriyaki, miso soup, small salad
Dinner: Vegetable "dumplings", mango tea

Mood: Relaxed

Planned a day spa with my buddy Victoria... the place had heated rooms (of varying temperatures) where you can lay in the heat, sweat out toxins, relax, unwind, etc. They also had gender-specific hot tubs, a meditation room, TV room, place to watch a featured movie (they showed "The Mask"), and the main area had many comfy chairs to sit plus free wifi and plenty out electrical outlets for laptops/ipads/etc. For an extra charge, you could get a massage (we certainly did :)), facials, body scrubs, snacks, etc. The place was very clean and well-maintained. It was out in Niles, so it was a trek from where I live in Chicago's southside but it was a fun, relaxing day and I'd definitely go back.

In other news, today was Day 30 of the Whole30! Hard to believe it's been a month! I had some cheats during the challenge, so I guess in that way I didn't stay true to the "rules", but I feel like my body had the reset/detox it needed. Mission accomplished!  Good to get the reset going before heading into the holidays...

DAY 29 
Sleep: 5 hours

Exercise: None... wiped out from the week

Breakfast: Coffee, raw fish (sushi-style from the cafeteria.... my other options were bagels, muffins, & cereal. No thank you!!)
Lunch: Leftover crockpot pulled pork, organic orange pepper slices
Dinner: Chicken, fish, fried veggies (broccoli/onion/sweet potato), dark chocolate*
*A cheat? Perhaps...

Mood: Stresseddddd

What a day. What a week! Got lots done, it was a productive day... but with an early morning meeting and TONS of work to do (namely job apps & dissertation stuff), my mind was on the go all day long. In other news, my dissertation proposal got accepted to be presented as a talk at a regional conference in Chicago this spring.  So, that will be a good experience for me and a nice addition on my CV. 

Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whole 30 - Day 27

Sleep: 8 hours

Exercise: None, today is a work day!

Breakfast: Veggie egg white omelet
Lunch: Leftover crockpot pulled pork w organic red pepper slices
Dinner: Leftover tilapia with roasted brussel sprouts

Mood: Is it winter break yet?

Went to bed at 3am working on a spreadsheet for my dissertation.  Then I got my 8 hours and woke up at 11.  One advantage to grad school is that you can do these sorts of shenanigans and not get in trouble with the boss... :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Whole 30 - Day 24

Sleep: 8 hours

Exercise: Walking for a mile in the Chicago cold...

Lunch: Veggie egg white omelet, turkey sausage patties, gluten-free bread & butter, 1 larabar
Dinner: Almond-crusted tilapia, roasted veggies (brussel sprouts / zucchini / carrots), banana "ice cream" --> one of the most delicious and satiating meals I've had all whole30 long!

Mood: "Oh shoot, there's school tomorrow and I haven't done any work all holiday weekend long"

Got some job apps & reading for school done today, but there's still so much more to go.  Don't think I'll ever finish :(  Wanted to go for a bike ride after church today, but I was feeling tired, hungry, and not in the mood to deal with the chilly air.  Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.  In other news, I went to Trader Joe's after church today and spent way too much $$ on groceries for the week.  Contrary to what people say, eating paleo can get really expensive, really quickly- frozen wild caught salmon ($10), frozen wild caught shrimp ($14), organic free-range chicken breasts ($9), pork shoulder ($8.50), coconut oil ($6 - but should last awhile), organic free-range eggs with omega-3 ($4.50), grass-fed/nitrate-free hot dogs ($5), 3 small-ish organic bell pepers ($4.50) ... SHEESH! Haha 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Whole 30 - Day 10

Sleep: 7 hours

Exercise: None

Breakfast: None
Lunch: Country fried steak (no gravy), vegetable latkes (daikon radish & zucchini), scrambled egg whites, and one spoonful of sugar-less sunbutter
Dinner: Chicago-style Italian beef (with sweet peppers), paleo stuffing, and sweet potato bacon-chive "biscuits"
Snack: 4 small turkey sausage breakfast patties, 1 slice of nitrate-free bacon, and 1 veggie green egg muffin (broccoli, zucchini, spinach, onion, & bell pepper)

Breakfast for lunch

Italian beef, stuffing, & "biscuits"

Mood: Unmotivated to work

Marathon cooking today in prep for the week, phew!!  Bacon is delicious, but my biggest complaint is that it's SO salty!  Same with the turkey sausage. There's really nothing that can be done about the bacon, but why does it have to be so heavily laced with salt? Hmph.

I also realized that these snacks and "second dinners" (which is not technically in the whole30 plan, hehe) are hindering weight loss.  Starting Monday (tomorrow), there will be no late-night noshing.  All food must be eaten by 7pm or nothing after that (except for rare, unforeseen circumstances of course).  Normal serving sizes too, since it's the off-season... I am no longer in hardcore endurance/CrossFit mode for racing, which means that I need to eat normal portions like a normal person (much to my denial). Shouldn't eat when I'm not truly hungry, just bc I "feel" like it or "want" to. Instead, only eat when my body tells me it's hungry. Need to exercise more too, making time for it rather than on the 2 or 3 days where I have more flexibility in my schedule. So, new goals for this week (ideally for the remainder of the whole30 but I am taking this one day/week at a time lol): all meals must be eaten by 7pm, exercise 4-5 days (at least 30 min each time) no matter how tired or busy I am.      

Correct portions or not, exercise or not, those first 10 days went by pretty quickly.  I've already noticed how much better I feel just by eating clean. Some slight cravings, but nothing awful.  Here's to the next 20!  Hoping to finish this challenge out strong... including Thanksgiving thrown into the mix for good self-control measure :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Whole 30 - Day 9

Sleep: 4.5 hours, couldn't go back to bed, then 1 hour

Exercise: None... but walked around the city carrying heavy grocery bags. I was breathing heavier at times and arms were hurting

Breakfast: None
Lunch: None
Dinner: 4 BBQ chicken wings, a cup of chili, and grilled chicken salad
Second Dinner: Veggie pizza (spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, pepper, & garlic) with cauliflower "crust" (1/4 pesto, 3/4 tomato sauce); 2 slices nitrate-free bacon, 1 spoonful of sunbutter (no sugar added... tastes SO different from the typical sunbutters w added evaporated cane juice).

Paleo pizza

Mood: Sleepy but happy it's the weekend!

Day-long church event that started early and after a long week at school, I was dragging. I learned a few things, so that was good.  They served donuts for breakfast and pizza for lunch, with candy all day for snacks.  Of course, all of that fails miserably as paleo, so I just ate nothing the whole day (except a cup of decaf black coffee).  The lunch break was a working session and in the 5 minutes we were given to get pizza, it wouldn't have been enough time for me to run to Panera or something next door.  I didn't bring a lunch w me bc I was too rushed to catch the bus (barely made it!)  In any event, avoiding these temptations was a lot easier than it had been in the past (i.e. when I did my first Whole30 only 4 months ago). Everything smelled SO good but I reminded myself of my goals and why I'm doing the Whole30 in the first place. 

After the event, went out to eat with a buddy.  She's like a big sister to me and we hadn't seen each other, so it was time to catch up.  We tried to go to Rick Bayless' new place (Xoco) but line was so long and I hadn't eaten all day so I was hungry. His other restaurant next door (Frontera Grill) didn't open for another hour. We went to a nice sports bar, where people were watching the Nebraska college football game. Since going paleo, eating out has lost its appeal (other than socializing and exploring new places/foods)... the food is just so unhealthy - lots of oils, high salt, hidden sugars - and I could make a far better version at home. I never really feel too good when I leave, though a full belly is always better than an empty one. After dinner, I went grocery shopping at 3 nearby places (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, & a generic grocery store). Spent like $120, whoops :)  Spices were on sale finally - I've been waiting all year!! - so I got a few bottles, probably spent close to $30 on spices alone haha  The rest was on protein (and some organic veggies), in true paleo fashion 0:)   

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Whole 30 - Day 6

Sleep: 8 hours, interrupted

Exercise: 40 minutes of intramural volleyball (not strenuous at all)

Breakfast: 1 leftover turkey burger slider
Lunch: Chicken fajitas with fresh salsa & avocado
Dinner: Leftover crockpot chicken tikka masala
Second Dinner: 4 chicken tenders (breaded with almond & coconut flour), 4 leftover crockpot turkey meatballs with guac (it's not as gross as it sounds! Quite tasty, actually), 1 grass-fed/nitrate-free beef hotdog, roasted carrot "fries"

Mood: Stressed... lots of work to do, no time to do it!

After being on the Whole30 for a few days, this is when cravings and things start to kick in... I've noticed that I've been craving snacks, especially at night. Had the urge to reach for the last bite of almond butter.  Found out that roasted carrot "fries" helped me get by... perhaps I will roast more veggies from now on.  By keeping a food log, looks like I eat a ton of protein and not enough veggies.  I don't have too many veggies in my fridge - I will have to remedy this from now on, stat! Also, been craving pizza. Not sure if paleo pizza tastes any good, but I will see if I can come up with a recipe and see if it does the trick...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Whole 30 - Day 5

Sleep: 7 hours

Exercise: 35 minutes of swimming, 2 miles of walking to/from campus (round-trip)

Breakfast: 4 Crockpot turkey meatballs
Lunch: 2 Bacon-avocado turkey burger sliders, roasted carrot "fries"
Dinner: Leftover crockpot chicken fauxghetti 
Second Dinner: 2 free-range/omega-3 enhanced scrambled eggs, 4 leftover crockpot turkey meatballs, 1 grass-fed/nitrate-free beef hotdog, a few spoonfuls of almond butter straight from the jar*

Turkey meatballs fresh from the slow cooker!

Lunch to go

Mood: Jittery... Constantly on-the-go today

*It has come to my attention that I nearly polished off an ENTIRE jar of almond butter in the span of 4 days.  Looks like I've been mind-numbingly sticking a spoon in the jar and not keeping track of how much I consume.  For the remainder of the challenge, I decided to remove all nuts from my diet and to eat real food instead.  The only exception is if nuts are part of a recipe (e.g. pesto, binder for salmon cakes, etc).  They will not be consumed on their own.

In other news, I felt unmotivated and tired to go to the gym and swim (decided to give my body a break from all the running/ellipticizing it's been doing).  But, I knew that if I didn't exercise, I'd feel even worse.  So, I took my time and slowly dragged my legs over there in the cold and rain.  My Tri Club emailed a swim workout, which I generally followed. Helped to eat up the time.  Then I got home, stuffed my face (second dinner), and was shocked to see I was one spoonful away from single-handedly polishing off a jar of almond butter over 4 days' time (I don't even want to know the nutrition stats). Maybe that's why I've been feeling better since I started the whole30, but weight stayed the same.  Blerg.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Whole 30 - Day 4

Sleep: 8 hours

Exercise: Rest day; 1 mile walk to school

Breakfast: Grass-fed/nitrate-free hot dog, roasted carrots
Lunch: Leftover chicken bacon fauxghetti
Dinner: Chinese stir-fry chicken, broccoli, string beans, & cucumbers
Second Dinner: A few spoonfuls of almond butter straight from the jar, 2 slices nitrate-free bacon

Mood: Relaxed

The hard part of the day was dealing with all the smells of non-paleo foods. My officemate heated up a slice of Domino's pizza.  The office smelled a.m.a.z.i.n.g.  A vegetarian friend who is doing the Whole30 with me (but modified appropriately for her non-meat/seafood needs) reminded me that those foods don't taste as good as they smell.  She was absolutely right. It didn't take long for the smell to dissipate and my mouth to stop salivating.

Then, I was at a church event in the evening.  It was my turn to bring dessert and since I started a self-imposed Whole30 with sugar detox, there was no dessert I could make that would satisfy both the attendees and my sugar detox.  I wanted to do something with apples (one of my fav things about fall) so I made apple dumplings, which got rave reviews on google.  Containing wheat, dairy, and processed sugar, this dessert was completely non-paleo.  It smelled amazing in my kitchen and all the people at church loved it!  Whenever I cook for others, I always like to taste what I made, but this time I couldn't.  At the same time, I thought of how crappy I've felt the past month after consecutive non-paleo eating and the desire to take just one nibble quickly disappeared.  I found that putting the dumpling to my nose and smelling it was enough to get by without eating it. Again, I reminded myself of what my buddy said - junk food doesn't taste as good as it smells.  Indeed!

4 days in and feeling alright... but I know the tougher times are yet to come.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

First 3 Days

Whole30 - Day 3
Sleep: 6 hours at night; 3 hour nap when I got home from the race/brunch

Exercise: Hot Chocolate 15K Race (9.3 mile run)

Brunch: Pesto lentil soup*, veggie egg white omelet, chorizo, & de-caf peppermint tea
Dinner: Paleo chicken fajitas, 4 slices of bacon, roasted carrots, tomato basil soup, and a few spoonfuls of almond butter straight from the jar

*Yes, I know lentils aren't paleo, but I had just run 9.3 miles in the FREEZING cold with strong winds and needed something hot ASAP. Didn't eat any breakfast and didn't take any gels during the run (they all contain sugar).

Mood: Tired and cold for most of the day.

Whole30 - Day 2
Sleep: 12 hours

Exercise: 11 mile outdoor bike ride

Brunch: Scrambled eggs, leftover chicken bacon fauxghetti, tomato basil soup
Dinner: Grass-fed/nitrate-free beef hotdog, leftover crockpot pulled pork, 1 organic red bell pepper (raw), and a couple spoonfuls of almond butter

Mood: Felt refreshed from sleeping in for the first time in 2 months, but still groggy.  Went to packet pick-up for the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15K and was angered by the long wait time (over 2 hours) in the cold and really poor administration by the race directors (Running Away Multisport). 

Whole30 - Day 1
Sleep: 6 hours

Exercise: 30 minutes on the elliptical, 25 minutes of ab work & lifting weights

Food: Leftover crockpot chicken tikka masala

Mood: Feeling disgusted with my poor nutrition & fitness habits over the past 2 months. Felt sleepy and exhausted the whole day.

First Post!

Hello!! :)

This is Pensive Paleo's first post! I started this blog to document my paleo/life journey and as a way to keep track of all my meals and recipes. I decided to do the Whole30 challenge (for the second time) for the month of November as a nutrition cleanse/reset. Life got really out of hand during Sept/Oct and with no sleep, huge stresses at school, tight job market deadlines, and getting over the hurt of a difficult breakup (emotional eating included!), my nutrition & fitness took a backseat. I found myself daily at the cafeteria for lunch, takeout for dinner, and snacks from the vending machine during the day. I hated eating this way (especially after such positive results from my first Whole30 experience last July) and it brought back addictive, unhealthy cravings that I didn't have the willpower to combat. Non-paleo eating made my body fee like crap, though I was in survival mode and eating to live was essential.

The Epiphany
On Nov 1 at 2am, I was finally finished with work for the day and started to wash up and get ready for bed (the 5 hours of sleep I'd be getting for the fourth night in a row). As I looked in the mirror, I could barely recognize myself. I looked like I aged 5 years... haggard, dark circles under my eyes, skin broken out, and my cheeks were puffy- I definitely gained weight. I really looked like hell. Plus, my jeans had started to feel tighter (after being looser this summer when I was paleo and exercising 6x/wk, 3-4 of which was CrossFit, the rest was endurance & hot yoga). It was really scary, and a huge wake-up call. I told myself that if I keep going down this journey of crap eating, high stress, no sleep, little exercise, and poor time management, I was going to look and feel a heck of a lot worse. I needed to get my life back in order; no one else would do it for me. I resolved to do another round of Whole30, starting when I woke up the following morning. This Whole30 would include a sugar detox (no fruit either). Whole30 suggested that people avoid doing the reset around the holidays because of the temptations of the season, but I NEEDED to do it for the structure regarding tempting foods or else I will continue on this downward spiral.

This blog will document my Whole 30 (Nov 2 - Dec 1) and my journey to getting my life back on track. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions/tips... it's always nice to know I'm not alone in my quest to live a paleo lifestyle.Thanks for joining me! :)