We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Whole30 Challenge: Michelle's Paleo Journal—Days 1 and 2

by Michelle

"It is what it is.
You are what you it.
There are no mistakes."
~ Tom Robbins and Juliette

Me holding a boule of my homemade sourdough bread which I am preparing
to give up for at least the next 30 days. I will miss bread.
   Linda's Note—In January of 2012 I decided I should finally, once and for all, take control of my health. That January, I did a personal inventory and sadly found myself in my 50s, overweight, and plagued by allergies and asthma which all of we sisters have had since infancy. I had also recently developed heartburn, and I was having trouble digesting my meals. Me of the iron clad stomach had finally succumbed to poor digestion in middle age in spite of taking digestive enzymes by the handful. Gas was another issue that I thought was just part and parcel of my slogging forward into my advancing years—to be rigorously truthful though, this condition had always been a vexation for me.  I should point out that by January of 2012, I had been well-immersed in the study of nutrition, vitamin supplements and herbal medicine for more than 20 years. What changed my perspective on my learning up until then, was that the year before, I was introduced to Misty Humphrey, who was hired to be the "Healthy Eating Specialist" at the Whole Foods Market in which I worked at the time in Santa Rosa, California (I am now working for WFM in its Marin locations). It took some months of my getting to know Misty and talking to her about diet and nutrition before I became convinced that grains—even whole grains—could possibly play a major factor in my present state of feeling not so great. She recommended books for me to read such as "Wheat Belly" by Dr. William Davis and redirected me back to a book which I already had in my library—Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Misty gently convinced me with her substantial knowledge of the subject of nutrition and her own personal story, that going "gluten-free" —a concept that seemed so ridiculously trivial to me previously, could be the key better health. Miraculously, in a short four month period after changing nothing but my diet, I had shed fifty pounds. Not only that, but as Michelle is fond of saying, "I forgot that I even had a digestive tract." Acid reflux disappeared as did the gas. I was able to reduce the medication that I was taking for asthma in half! I became (and still am) positively evangelical about my new discovery. Thus the rest of my poor family had to hear ad nauseum about my gluten-free diet and the miracle of giving up wheat. Eventually Michelle joined me on the gluten-free diet, but she did not lose weight. What she did discover though, that in spite of the not rapid weight loss, is that she also felt much better in general on the diet—and so began our sisters' journey into gluten-free eating and then finally transitioning to a Paleo template diet. This past January, Michelle decidedly kicked my ass by choosing to participate with her husband, Jay, in the Whole30 Challenge for an entire month—far surpassing my own diet resolutions for the New Year. So here we are, sisters who love to cook and eat. One is a baker of artisinal sourdough even! We have our traditional family recipes that we love, so eliminating gluten is one thing, but beans? What… you can't even eat a frigging bean? Please join us for Michelle's account of her attempting the Whole30 Challenge and our continuing quest of eating well for health.

Herbs are our friends. Use them liberally to make everything taste better.
   Today is Monday, January 5th, my first work day of the New Year. I wish I could say I charged out of bed, ready to take on the world. I groaned when the alarm sounded and then I proceeded to hit the snooze button twice. I silently chided myself. My desire, I tell myself, is to rise early and pay myself first. I'm doing this for me, so get up for goodness sake. My desire is to produce more writing. Learn Photoshop. Maintain a consistent exercise routine. Work on personal projects in the small hours of the morning before I begin my official work day for my employer. In other words, be a true American: do more, be more, accomplish more. How will I rise up to meet my goal? According to the Whole30 folks, it all starts with food. The question becomes am I fueling my body properly to sustain myself so that I may go the distance every day of this seemingly non-stop life?
   I tossed and turned all night thinking about how I'm going to fit everything in on a daily basis and still get eight hours of sleep a night. I practically had two weeks off over the holidays and I slept the sleep of sleeps. I experienced no stress dreams. I went to bed at midnight and slept in until 9 a.m. on most days. Bliss. Pure bliss. Now it's back to bed at 9 and rise at 5. I despise going to bed at 9, but that's what I need to do if I'm going to serve myself first. This is the advice in just about every self help book that I have read as of late. I know it to be true from prior experience. It just takes discipline.
   To help me along the way, I have decided losing weight is in order. The pounds have creeped back on over the last six years although my weight has stayed steady for the last couple of years. I'm in the perpetual lose 5 pounds, then put it back on. I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted over the holidays and now I am ready to take the Whole30 Challenge. At least I think that I am ready and then I notice I have a grimace on my face as a result of typing the last sentence. Completely ready or not, I have talked about omitting refined carbs and sugar from my diet for awhile. Now it's time to do it. No excuses. Just discipline.

Creamy and Delicious Broccoli-Kale Soup meets the Whole30 challenge.
   I've been living mostly gluten-free for a couple of years. The lifestyle was difficult in the beginning and then became second nature over time. Although I am not celiac, I noticed that I felt better eating gluten-free. I saw a dramatic change in my skin. I slept better. I practically forgot I had a digestion system.
   For all the trepidation I had over going gluten-free, I suspect, for me, a Paleo eating plan will be more difficult. Simply because more dishes will need to be prepared. If I want pasta on a Wednesday night, it is no longer quickly opening up a bag of  gluten-free pasta. Now I'll have the additional step of cleaning zucchini, deciding to peel or not to peel, cranking the zucchini through a Spiralizer, tossing the strands with salt and letting the mix sit for a half hour to remove excess water, then blanching the noodles in boiling water for a few minutes before tossing the "zoodles" with a sauce and shouting "DINNER" towards the upstairs where my daughter is finishing homework in her bedroom and my husband is conducting research in his office for his next day's work. There are very few shortcuts by choosing to go Paleo. It's a commitment on multiple levels from spending more time in the kitchen and being reduced to selecting one or two items on a typical restaurant menu. Let's see... do I want to eat this salad or that salad or choose the $40.00 steak dinner? Salad it is! Even though I have been pretty good about cutting refined sugar, I know plenty of it still sneaks into my diet. For example, the extra hot grande vanilla latte that I love so much. Must. Give. It. Up.
   Moving forward for the next thirty days, my commitment is to give up grains, legumes, refined sugar, and alcohol for 30 days. I will miss dairy and wine most of all. I could probably live without a French fry for the rest of my life, but shun a great cheese paired with a wine until the end of time? No, thank you.

Fresh fruit is part of the Paleo eating plan and this gorgeous rain kissed orange 
is maturing at its own pace in our backyard. My husband dotes on our many citrus trees.
   I will chronicle the 30 days and record my progress (may they be many) and my failures (may they be few to none). Let's see what the Whole30 challenge is like and hopefully I won't be dreaming of candy bars as I go through carb withdrawl. Here's my basic blueprint for Whole30 success: soups made with bone broths for breakfast, salads for lunch, protein and vegetables for dinner. Snacks-wise, I suppose I'll go the fruit route, and beef jerky and nuts, such as macadamia or marcona almonds. I'll try to be creative as I can be but on a time budget. I don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen, but I don't like to repetitively eat the same food items day after day. I commit to shake things up. My body as a science experiment for health's sake. Time to get started.

Cream of Chicken Soup made with homemade bone broth. The Perfect Health Diet by 
Paul Jaminet Ph.D. and Shou-Ching Jaminet Ph.D. includes eating some rice, butter and 
heavy cream. Now that's a Paleo plan that I can abide by, but is not the Whole30 program.
Day 1:
Breakfast: Homemade Chicken Soup (including the bone broth)
Lunch: Mixed Greens and Vegetable Salad with Chicken and Dijon Vinaigrette
Dinner: Beef Meatballs and Marinara over Spaghetti Squash

   I mustered my courage today and stepped on the scale. After doing some quick math in my head I determine I have 35 pounds to lose. I picture lifting the 26 pound turkey from Thanksgiving, which was really heavy and not easy to move around. Crimany! Part of the Whole30 program is to commit to not weighing myself again until the end of 30 days. The focus is on gaining health, not losing weight, although it sounds as if shedding pounds will be a byproduct of a strict regime.
   I make my 16-ounce extra-strong coffee the typical way with 2 packets of Truvia, 2 teaspoons of unrefined honey and 1/3 cup half and half. I know I'm supposed to use heavy cream in lieu of half and half, but I don't like how heavy cream tastes in coffee. I consider giving coffee up for awhile or switching to tea as I sip the steaming cup of sweet, creamy, deliciousness that is my ritual start to every day.
   For breakfast I reheat homemade chicken soup. Unfortunately, it does have brown and wild rice in it, but I will not be throwing good food away. Besides, more than anything else, I'm following in the footsteps of Paul and Sou-Ching Jaminet, the Ph.D. couple that researched and wrote Perfect Health Diet to optimize nutrition and be well nourished. Paul was also intent on overcoming a chronic illness. Although a small portion of rice is included in his Paleo plan, the Whole30 authors ask that participants abstain from rice for 30 days. I figure this is like food boot camp. Give it up for a month and see how I feel. How difficult can that be? I am missing rice already as I take in spoonful by spoonful of comforting brown and wild rice-laden soup. I console myself it is only for 30 days and then I can gradually add rice back into my diet.
  For lunch I discover my husband put his absolute favorite Sweet and Tangy Four Bean Salad as an abundant topping on my green salad. Bummer. Kidney beans are especially toxic but they sure do look pretty in the mix and they sure do taste good in the sweet vinegar sauce made with refined granulated sugar.
   For dinner, I am trying my hand making Paleo meatballs. My go to meatball recipe includes sourdough crumbs and grated parmesan. I follow Nom Nom Paleo's lead and substitute mashed cauliflower to lighten the meat mixture. I sneak in basil pesto. Then I remember after the fact that there is parmesan in my pesto. Urgh. It's a small amount, but still... I'm breaking the rules again. Any new program has its false starts. I guess I'll be tacking on one more day to the program to compensate for my initial failures.
   Observations: I was not hungry between meals and did not desire a snack. Jay cracked it was because there was a half a pound of butter in the soup this morning. Not true (it's a quarter pound—hee, hee), and fat is filling. Hubby is fat phobic. Jay will have the hardest time adding good fats to his diet. I will freely admit that after dinner I do not feel tired and ready to crash in front of the TV. I finish making paleo breakfast bars, just in case I need a snack during my visit tomorrow to the copper mine. Many miners don't break for lunch and I'm not sure when the training course will end. I think the reason I'm not feeling fatigued is twofold: no alcohol and no pasta. My daughter Maddie reminded me that alcohol is a depressant, which of course I already know, but wasn't aware that she did. I do not feel overly full, nor do I feel my meal rumbling around in my stomach. I may have enough energy to read Olive Kitteridge in bed for awhile before I drift off to sleep, which will hopefully be much more restful than last night. I need to rise early. My ride is picking me up tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. I need to take H2S training and Molybdenum plant training. Working at the mine is all about safety first.

Beef bone broth simmers on the stove.
Beef Bone Broth Soup with Sausage, Mushrooms and a scoop of  Mashed Faux-Tatoes.
Yes, that's a heavy sprinkle of Parmesan. I love it so.
Day 2
Breakfast: Cup of Coffee and a bowl of Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup
Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad with No Croutons
Dinner: Beef Bone Broth Soup with Sausage, Mushrooms and a Scoop of Mashed Faux-Tatoes

   I worked over eleven hours today. I was a little concerned about what to eat since I would be at the mine most of the day with no break for lunch while on-site. Fortunately, the Cream of Chicken Soup kept me full until we were able to eat a late lunch. My colleague asked if we could go to Chili's since it is one of the few non fast food choices in that area on the outskirts of town. I kept flipping back and forth through the menu trying to find something acceptable to eat. I knew the Caesar Salad is likely made with icky canola oil in the dressing. But, oh well. I did the best I could with the choices available.
   Since I worked a long day, I just wanted to get dinner out of the way, especially since I have to get up early and drive to Phoenix to pick up a bid bond and return to Tucson in time to submit a quote to Pima County by 2:00 p.m.  So much for rising early and paying myself first. I'll be up again at 4:30 a.m. and out the door by 6:00 a.m. for my employer. I won't be serving myself first this morning.
   After dinner, I work myself into a frenzy reading the "rules" for the first 30 days of the Whole30 plan. I find myself getting crabbier and crabbier by the second. The folks over at the Whole30 program established a pretty limited eating scope for the first 30 days. The readers take it pretty seriously, too, to the tiniest detail. Stupid questions abound, and the patient editors respond nicely even to the silliest questions. Read a label, people. Understand the basics of nutrition, such as knowing the difference between a carbohydrate, protein and fat.
   The readers' comments reminds me of the time my sister Linda sent me a link to 101 Cookbooks for a Kale Rice Bowl recipe. The blog is written by San Francisco hipster Heidi Swanson. She has produced a couple of award winning cookbooks on the subject of vegetarian cooking. She's immensely popular being one of the first pioneers, or successful, at least, at the game of food blogging. After reading the kale post and scrolling through the reader's comments, I was inspired to respond to Linda with a composite of all the comments that I had read through. Of course I didn't leave my errant musings as a comment on Heidi's blog, it was enough to send it to Linda. People rarely, if ever, recognize sarcasm in the written word, but Linda totally got it:

   "Oh my God, Heidi... this looks so awesome. Love your recipes. I wish I could brush your hair. San Francisco is awesome. Kale, yum... my favorite. Love your countertops. Marble is my favorite. Your (sic!) my favorite. Can you publish more photos of India? I want to know more about your new projects. This recipe only took 5 minutes to prepare? Really, 5 minutes? You're a GENIUS. I don't shower, either. I thought I was the only one that had to set a Google alert to shower. OMG, that's so awesome. Thanks for posting. I'm going to make this super-dilish sounding recipe tonight. I mean it. I have kale in my refrigerator. Like, right now. Although now that I think about it for like a nano second, can I substitute black beans? If I don't have capers, can I use cannellini beans instead? Will they crisp if I fry them in butter? I'm on a bean kick and kale makes me poop orange. Is that a problem, Heidi? Should I be concerned, or is that just part of detoxing? It's not like neon orange, but more of like a burnt orange shade. IDK, but LMK, OK? OMG, we're so alike. You're busy and I'm busy too. Can we meet the next time I'm in San Francisco? Where do you live, what part of town? Can I come over? You're such an inspiration. Seriously. A true inspiration. Keep your creative ideas coming. I can't wait for your next post. Did I already say that? If I did sorry, but it's the truth. I absolutely can't wait. BTW, I have a question about cabbage soup. Should it really taste as awful as it tasted? You recommended za'atar, but I used curry instead. I think za'atar makes my poop the color purple. Have you ever had that happen, Heidi? Thanks for this kale recipe idea, and pleasepleaseplease post more recipes using za'atar! Unless you think it is, you know, related to the purple poop, in which case, stop blogging recipes with za'atar. Hope you respond. P.S. Will you be my Valentine? I hope so, because I lovelovelove U!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

   Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was irritated to read that most bacon is cured with sugar, so no bacon for 30 days unless I go on a Herculean hunt that will likely leave me tired and angry and wanting for sugarless bacon. Truthfully, back in my low-fat diet days, I went years without consuming bacon. Doing without for a month shouldn't leave me distraught. Still, I've grown accustomed to eating it within the last year and don't want to give it up. Life is better with bacon. I'm not the only one who holds this to be true. Surveys show that 9 out of 10 people like bacon. Researchers suspect the 10th person is lying. I can't take credit for that joke, but I always think it is funny.
   Products that include wine and alcohol are prohibited. Dijon mustard is therefore a no-no because it is made with wine. Same with vanilla extract because the vanilla beans are extracted with some type of alcohol. So, people out there are buying vanilla powder (at $18.00 a bag) to avoid the minuscule amount of alcohol that might be consumed in a teaspoon of extract. Same thing with Dijon. How much wine is actually in a jar of mustard? How much is added to a vinaigrette? A teaspoon or two? I dare say people are not gulping down vanilla extract and Dijon by the cupfuls. Seems pretty ridiculous to completely restrict these ingredients, so I will have to consider if I will adhere to the fine print of the program. I'm only writing about this normally now, in a measured manner, because Linda already talked me off the cliff. She may need to do it again before the thirty days is over.

   Please follow the rest of my journal which will be published during the month of March.

Preparing to dehydrate plum tomatoes in the oven to concentrate the flavors.

1 comment:

  1. Best of luck, Michelle. I'll be interested in the update. I'd have challenges with this diet but am interested to see how you do. Always looking for ways to stay healthy and lose weight!


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