If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know that I am a relatively healthy eater through the recipes I share but I’m also a bonafide carboholic. My philosophy about diet and pretty much everything in life has always been anchored in moderation. Aside from a slight obsession with crusty baguettes and chips, I generally cook healthy and lead an active lifestyle; and was able to maintain the healthiest lifestyle when I lived in Nashville. Hiking, nearby farms and markets, and a structured nine-to-five schedule certainly helped! But since moving back to New Orleans 3.5 years ago, it’s been extremely difficult to get my groove back. An abundance of great restaurants, an inconsistent work schedule, a growing sugar-laden coffee addiction because said work schedule, and my hyperactive social life are all to blame. In addition to feeling overall imbalanced and a lack of energy, my skin has suffered the most with constant acne and dullness.
So, after Mardi Gras I set out to rebuild my relationship with food and battle my skin problems with the Whole30 program from February 15 – March 15. Josh, who has been dealing with acid reflux and similar poor eating habits, is also on board! You can read more about the program here on the Whole30 website, but it essentially cuts out all sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and alcohol from your diet for thirty days. Before we started, I ordered the book and surveyed the forum so I could make sure I understood the science and reasonings behind certain restrictions. Being prepared definitely helped us navigate this program and make good decisions during our grocery trips. I also made sure that I didn’t have to travel or have any crazy social engagements during this month of time. Since the restrictions are pretty strict, it’s forced us to cook a whole lot more than usual as well as grocery shop more.
A few lessons learned and notes:
- Above is what our fridge looked like at the beginning of the week. Lots of meats and vegetables, including potatoes!
- Potatoes and eggs are this program’s MVP.
- No lie: week 1 was so hard. We were hangry and cranky most of the week; and I constantly thought about Cheetos. We learned that we have to eat about every two hours to keep the hunger at bay.
- After the second day we started getting creative with our groceries. We tossed a vanilla bean pod into pure almond milk to add to black coffee and have fresh juice readily available. Josh also came up with a delicious banana pecan dessert. It wasn’t the prettiest thing but was very tasty!
- At the end of the week, I was able to maintain my will power while my girlfriends indulged in two of my favorite foods: bread and affogato during a birthday dinner.
- That was hard, but we’re going into week 2 feeling more determined! We’re already feeling better and have decided to do this cleanse at least once a year.
- It’s infinitely easier having Josh do this program with me and sharing our journey with supportive friends. I’ve also been sharing my daily meals and recipes on Snapchat. Follow me at @juleytl if you’d like to see more and please share your tips if you’ve done this before!
Here are a few of the meals we made with very loose recipes.
Roasted potatoes: Cut a whole bag of multicolor one-bite potatoes into halves (or cut any potato into one-inch pieces), toss potatoes in a large bowl with olive oil, sea salt + pepper, minced garlic, and garlic powder. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Josh’s breadless dry rub chicken wings. He said he winged this one (no pun intended), but from what I understand he tossed chicken wings in olive oil and then into a mixture of coconut flour and a bunch of sugarless spices from our pantry. I believe it was cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, turmeric, and ground coriander. Then, he baked them for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. I love these so much more than normal chicken wings!
Roasted shrimp with brussels sprouts and radishes. Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Toss fresh, peeled shrimp in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt + pepper, and lots of minced garlic and chopped curly parsley. Let marinate for at least 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, pour olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or oven proof pan. Toss in quartered brussels sprouts and radishes. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then, add raw shrimp to the same skillet and bake again until shrimp is cooked through, about 15 minutes. This was my favorite meal this week!
Eggs, baked potatoes, and homemade sausage. Served these homemade sausages with a fried egg and the potatoes we cooked up earlier. (See first recipe).
Fresh tangelo juice. Since storebought juices are full of sugars, we’ve been juicing oranges to fulfill our sugar cravings.
Grilled shrimp with a fried egg and sprouts. Serve the grilled shrimp from the previous recipe with a fried egg and sprouts.