Good morning! For those that follow me on instagram, @lesleyzellers, you probably have realized I started Whole 30 this past week. If you're not familiar with the challenge, you can learn about it here.
So why did I do it? Good question.
There are a few reasons actually. The main one was to get myself back in the kitchen. With deadlines, holidays and just the normal pace of a life with 3 kids, we started eating out way too much. That is neither good for the finances or our health. Some nights it's easier to just go out and get some food with zero meal planning, we know there will be something everyone will like and hello, no dishes to clean up. But we are getting ready to build a house and my husband and I decided this was the kick in the booty we needed to get better at meal planning, eating healthier and getting back to eating at home for every meal and what better time to start than a new year?!
I mean, we eat pretty healthy food already so I didn't think it would be SO hard. My husband and I don't drink a lot of pop, we don't eat much fried food, we don't eat a lot of sugary things but we do eat out too much, ejoy a semi-weekly donut, a glass (or 2) of wine with dinner from time to time and I LOVE me some chips, salsa and queso and ALL the cheese. And bread isn't too shabby either.
Anyway, a lot of you have asked questions regarding my experience, like are your kids doing it too, where do you find your recipes, what's that Instant Pot thing, what's in that salad?! and a whole bunch of others so I'm going to try to address them here.
For starters, my husband and I committed to doing the Whole30 challenge and wanted our kids to do it with us as much as possible without a ton of complaining. So we feed them what we eat but I also make them a side that isn't approved or give them a cookie after dinner. So basically I was not about to make 1 meal for us and a second meal for them - that's just crazy talk.
So what would a meal look like for us versus them? One night I made spaghetti squash with meat sauce and a salad with homemade red wine vinegar dressing. I made the kids actual spaghetti because none of them love squash in any variety and they got to choose their favorite dressing for their own salads. They were happy, we were happy, we all won. If we do burgers, they get buns but eat the same sides as us. Breakfast, they get oatmeal or toast with their eggs but they still get the fruit salad. Oh, and they get treats like the occasional cookie or chocolate piece and they drink milk every morning.
As for where I find my recipes, here and there. Haha. I tried doing Whole30 once before and was so consumed with finding recipes and making meals interesting that it became a burden and complete time zapper. This go around I wanted to keep it simple. Grab the veggies that were on sale at the grocery store and pick up some meats to go with it. A lot of roasted or steamed veggies because those are easy and a lot of salads because I'm a salad junkie. Oh, and the eggs. A LOT of eggs.
That said, I did find some easy recipes on pinterest and saved some to my "healthy food" and Instant Pot recipes" boards to reference this month. You can find the boards here. I do love NomNomPaleo and WholeSisters. Oh, and there is a Whole30 cookbook (The Whole30 Cookbook: 150 Delicious and Totally Compliant Recipes to Help You Succeed with the Whole30 and Beyond) and a Paleo Instant Pot cookbook (Paleo Cooking With Your Instant Pot: 80 Incredible Gluten- and Grain-Free Recipes Made Twice as Delicious in Half the Time) that I hear have fantastic recipes but I don't have either. If we keep it up another month (yes, we've talked about it) I really want to get the Paleo Instant Pot book.
Which brings me to the Instant Pot. This is where I share my new found obsession with a kitchen appliance.
What is an Instant Pot? It's an amazing little tool I can not live without now.
It's technically an electric pressure cooker but don't let that intimidate you. I have never used a pressure cooker but love my instant pot. For me it's like a super fast crock pot but better. The model I have has a sautee function so you can brown your meat in the same pot you cook it in and it takes like 1/3 or less of the time as a crock pot. And hard boiled eggs! Well, peeling shells has never been easier! We have made beef pho (not whole30 with the noodles), clam chowder (not whole30 but the best chowder I've ever eaten), eggs, oatmeal (again, not whole30 but goodness, it's so easy and the kids LOVE it), bone broth, stew, kalua pig and I'm sure there's more I can't think of right now - and I've only had it for a couple weeks!
It really has been a game changer in our kitchen and although it isn't black Friday, you can still find the model I got on Amazon by clicking on the following link: Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W.
So what's in my salad? Instead of sharing each meal on Instagram (that's a whole lot of food pics, y'all) I am going to post them all here with the details.
I didn't take pictures but we had bacon, eggs and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch and grilled cod filets with grilled romaine wedges for dinner.
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit salad with black coffee
Lunch: Salad: chopped romaine, sliced cucumber, carrots, radishes, avocado, onion, hard boiled eggs (using the instant pot) and crumbled bacon with oil and vinegar for dressing
Dinner: Trader Joes's shrimp stir-fry with riced cauliflower and sauteed bok choy
Breakfast: hard boiled egg, 1/2 avocado and fruit with black coffee
Lunch: leftover grilled romaine, all natural beef frank with Trader Joes's sauerkraut, grilled onions, mustard and Louisiana Gold red sauce and dried jalapeno flakes from the garden
Dinner: chopped romaine salad with red onion and tomato and homemade red wine vinaigrette, spaghetti squash with meat and Trader Joe's roasted garlic sauce
Breakfast: two fried eggs and fruit salad (banana, orange, blueberries and strawberries with toasted pecans with a little pumpkin spice sprinkled on top and chia seeds) and black coffee
Lunch: chopped salad with mixed greens (including TJ's cruciferous crunch mix), radishes, onions, cucumber, natural rostisserie chicken slices and WholeSisters "dump ranch" (make that ranch, it's AMAZING)
Dinner: leftover spaghetti squash and salad
Breakfast: sauteed greens (TJ's cruciferous crunch mix again) with leftover sweet potato and onion toped with 2 fried eggs and fruit salad (same as day 4) with black coffee
Lunch: taco salad - mixed chopped greens, radishes, onions, ground beef with homemade taco seasoning, homemade guacomole and sugar free salsa, with a drizzle of "dump ranch"
Dinner: grilled steak, steamed broccoli with lemon juice and baked sweet potato (in the instant pot) with crumbled bacon and green onion
Breakfast: egg in hash brown nest (frozen hash browns from TJ's), slice of bacon and fruit salad with black coffee
Lunch: grilled chicken salad over mixed greens with radishes, onion, chopped apple, homemade guacamole, a hard boiled egg and some "dump ranch"
Dinner: Kahlua pig and cabbage (Nom Nom Paleo recipe made in the instant pot), roasted smashed potatoes with bacon and green onion
Breakfast: "leftover scramble" - pretty much all leftover veggies from the week sauteed in a pan, pour beaten eggs in, cook, top with cilantro and Louisiana Gold red sauce and a fruit salad
Lunch: smoothie (I am aware Whole30ers don't encourage smoothies because you're supposed to chew your food or something but it was after church and getting late and I don't really care, we like smoothies, all whole30 ingredients went in it and we didn't eat out so shame me if you must)
Dinner: grilled burgers on lettuce topped with homemade guacamole, tomato, onion and a fried egg with zucchini noodles and a baked sweet potato with green onion
Whew. That's a lot of food.
I should also mention that I was really bad about skipping breakfast before the challenge. I'd make a latte or even worse, pick one up at Starbucks, and that would be my breakfast. I did a little investigating this week out of curiosity. Did you know there are 35 grams of sugar in a grande vanilla latte? What?! CRAZY!
So here's what I've learned in the first week:
- preparing whole30 meals doesn't have to be difficult just meat, veggies and fruit
- that said, I feel like I'm in the kitchen all day - either prepping, chopping, cooking or cleaning
- attitude is EVERYTHING - if I focus on the cheese I can't have on my salad I get grumpy, if I focus on all the fruit and delicious food I CAN have, I enjoy it more
- dairy isn't life
- nor are donuts
- but I'd like to have some cheese from time to time or a simple glazed donut with my coffee but honestly, it hasn't been as hard to not eat them as I thought it would be
- that "whole30 timeline" isn't for everyone - we never experienced the "hangover" phase, or the "want to kill all the things" phase and honestly, both my husband and I have just felt really good
- black coffee isn't SO bad. It sure beats water for breakfast
- sugar is in EVERYTHING! Who knew? Why is it in deli meat, bacon and sausage? Crazy
- Trader Joe's is my friend. Saurkraut, frozen meals, veggie mix - I'm a fan
- Louisiana Gold red sauce is my BFF. It's not the original sauce. It comes in a little bottle and I've only found it at one store but it's amazing. Great on eggs, salad, burgers and more.
- and lastly, the Instant Pot is everything.
If you're doing Whole30 I would LOVE to hear your favorite recipes, sauces or tips to beat the occasional sugar craving.