Since Summer is a comin’ and I’ve still yet to lose all this baby weight, I decided to start another Whole30 challenge next week. Really it’s because I am addicted to all things sugar to include baked goods, candy, and bread, not to mention I am mildly obsessed with cheese. I try to eat well but completely lose it when cheese and crackers or wine or chocolate truffles (I could go on all day!) come my way. After I completed my first Whole30 back in October I noticed that I just generally felt better, had lots more energy and, best of all, I wasn’t craving anything. I ate when I was hungry, drank when I was thirsty and slept when I was tired. Usually I deal with all of these signals by snacking and climbing on the sugar roller coaster. Let me tell you what a relief it was to leave that crazy ride behind! It also didn’t hurt that I lost about 16 lbs but, more importantly, all of the swelling went down from the birth of my second baby. Finally my wedding ring fit and my fat jeans did too. And it’s not just me. My husband has completely been taken off one of his cholesterol medications and my Mom has been able to control her intestinal issues while losing over 40 lbs. I’d like to note here that we switched from a strict whole30 mentality and began following a paleo diet.
So…just what is Whole30? Created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and detailed in their book It Starts With Food, it is a whole food cleanse that allows you to eat as much as you want but only of whole foods. There are a lot of things you can’t eat like grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, alcohol and anything processed and you are strongly encouraged to eat grass-fed, free-range, cage-free, hormone free meat. Pork, chicken, beef, bison, fish…most all meat is ok. What is most important is that it was raised like it was for our Great-Grandparents! Each meal should consist of organic vegetables, protein and good fats like avocado, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil. I try to eat organic as much as I can and choose to eat less meat so I can afford to get the good stuff. Clean eating at its best people! All the official info can be found at the Hartwig’s site Whole9Life.com. Michelle over at Nom Nom Paleo also has a very detailed explanation of the program as well as her journey through several challenges with recipes. You can read about it here.
At this point I know you are asking yourself what the heck CAN I eat, right? I said the same thing! I was astonished to find that we ate better than we ever had before. Finally our dinnertime seemed like it was prepared by chefs instead of our good friend the microwave. We were making chicken pad thai, jalapeno chicken burgers topped with bacon and guacamole with a side of sweet potato fries, roasted salmon with mango-avocado salsa, and pork carnitas. Seriously good eats. It requires some planning (no more reaching in the pantry for a snack) but by creating a weekly meal plan (I get my inspiration from Pinterest) and planning to make extra, you’ll have lunch and dinner taken care of. Breakfast is always a challenge because eggs lose their lustre after about two weeks…then you don’t want to see another scrambled egg again. That, alas, is for another post.
In the weeks to come I will share with you my favorite recipes and direct you to my most frequented blogs. To start off our healthy living challenge, I’ll share with you the gazpacho recipe we served at Adelea’s. People would seriously call to see if we were serving it that day and I had a list of guests to call or e-mail if it was the soup of the day. This is a great way to embrace all the wonderful things that are popping up at your farmer’s market while getting in your veggies, healthy fat and protein. Easy.
Bloody Mary Shrimp Gazpacho with Avocado
Recipe based on Joyce Tuggle’s Gazpacho
4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
4 cups tomato juice
2 avocados, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon horseradish
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or more if you want additional heat)
Tabasco, as much or as little as you want
1 lb shrimp, sautéed in water until pink, chilled
Chop all vegetables to be similar in size. Combine all ingredients (except shrimp and avocado) and let chill in a non-mettalic bowl overnight. When ready to serve, top with avocado and shrimp. Gazpacho can be stored, tightly covered, in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. If not following a paleo diet, croutons and sour cream make for a yummy garnish.