The Whole 30 effect

So the husband and I have been on the Whole 30. Except our Whole 30 was more like the Whole 5 out of 15…Whole third? Anyways.

For those that don’t know, the Whole 30 is a cleanse diet/lifestyle of sorts that’s all about getting back to the basics of what we put inside our bodies – essentially paleo clean-eating. Friends (both autoimmune and not) have raved about how great it makes them feel; how it purges cravings, heals your gut and generally makes you an all-around better, tap-dancing, dream-achieving person.

She looks like the kind of person who does the Whole 30 successfully, no?   Photo: Pinterest
She looks like the kind of person who does the Whole 30 successfully, no? Photo: Pinterest

While you can’t exactly (definitely) call it a successful go, I did learn a few things. For example, I thought I’d have an easier time of it than the husband, seeing as I’ve already had to cut so many of the offending foods out of my diet. What I hadn’t counted on though was how much I relied on all the replacements for my restricted ones, which were just as hard to go without. The endeavor started so promisingly, but it quickly culminated in a sticky, half dozen donut binge surrounded by a haze of chocolate icing and hangry marital tension.

The whole thing got me to examine my cravings. I’ve often felt like I’m ruled by food, but maybe it’s actually my perspective. Reading about bloggers who “haven’t had a single craving in years!!!” fills me with a hope that I too might one day be freed from food if I just tried, planned, micro-managed harder. One day when I was miserable because all I wanted was the Mediterranean Quinoa at the Whole Foods hot bar and I was hungry damnit, I thought – maybe there’s a better way. Maybe it’s not about fighting every single gram of good-tasting thing because it will make me a healthier and therefore better and therefore happier person, but it’s just not punishing myself with a completely unrealistic standard that works for someone else. And that thought filled me with a new kind of hope. All that said, food nirvana is much easier said than done, though.

Have you tried the Whole 30? I would love to hear what you think!

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Dandelion tea

My only memory or thing to relate to when it comes to dandelions is when I was a kid and we’d rub it on other kid’s arms to make it look like pee. I don’t remember why this was so entertaining, as it really looks absolutely nothing like pee. But nonetheless, I would squeal and wheeze in fits of laughter over it, who knows. I was am a strange kid.

Well now I’m learning that all those hours of making fake pee was a complete waste of what is actually a super beneficial green vegetable. Is your mind blown? Dontchya just wish you could go back in time, sit yourself down and be like “Look, little Lydia, I know pee is literally the most hilarious thing ever for some weird reason, but one day you’re going to be drinking this stuff because Instagram told you to. So don’t be wasting all those dandelions, aight? Here’s a Flintstone vitamin. Go on, little Lydia. Oh hey and also, Ask Jeeves about Google and start investing your allowance in it. Just throwing that out there.” And then I’d skip off and become a millionaire. Anyhoo, I hinted at this tea infusion into my nightly routine in my Instagram Rabbit Hole post, and I know it’s been killing you.

I told ze boyfriend about ze tea, and he was into it too (he’s also started drinking lemon water in the morning, so proud). So during his trip to Central Market one day he called for tips on what he was looking for. After no success, he instead bought some chocolate chip cookies that I proceeded to completely inhale two times daily. Not quite the nightly routine I was looking for (but oh my God it was a delicious one).

So during one of my all too often Whole Foods excursions, I hunted it down. Mission completed. Also why are women better at finding things in a grocery store? Another question for another day.

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Only because it was the brand featured on the Instagram post I saw about the tea, I went with Traditional Medicinals brand. They also had a PMS tea that the boyfriend suggested that I get, har har har. (But I do kinda want to get it)

I had low expectations as far as taste goes when I started on this venture and I suggest that you do the same. I’m sure I stuck a dandelion in my mouth at some point as a kid, and I don’t remember swooning over the taste. It doesn’t necessarily taste bad, but it’s not something that you’d crave if not for health benefits. It’s herb-y, but I kinda like it. It grows on you (pun intended). And it’s the correct taste for sitting in bed curled up with a book, if that makes sense.

Speaking of health benefits, “they” say there are a ton. I’m no scientist but here were the ones that drew me in:

  • Helps promote weight loss (can’t hate it)
  • Helps digestion (this seems like it’d be important before going to sleep, especially if you had a big dinner)
  • Improves liver function
  • Eases bloating
  • Helps achey joints & muscles (I’m 24 going on 60 some days)

If you’re interested, I got my facts here, and here.

I can’t lie, I didn’t feel much of a difference. I love an excuse to drink tea at night, and I think it’s a great way to calm down after a busy day, but my body didn’t feel too different. In its defense, I also haven’t been as strict with this habit and I don’t think “improved liver function” is something you can feel. Morning routines are easy for me to keep up with, but those nighttime ones are often much more difficult. My nights are less predictable. I stay at the boyfriend’s a lot and it that can throw me off, and if I go to a late yoga class I usually spend the evening hydrating and protein-ing to recover. There usually isn’t time or room to enjoy a hot cup of heaven.

So I wanna work on this. With the investment of a to-go cup, I feel like I could improve this routine. I need it. For instance, my back was killing  me all last week after some intense Monday evening back bends and I am sure dandelion tea could have helped me get passed it.

After I chowed down on a juicy burger and fries at Nick & Sam’s (I can’t eat clean all the time, that’s just boring), I enjoyed a hot cup of tea to apologize to my digestive system. I hope to keep up the habit, and then hey, maybe my liver will forgive me for college.

Autumn quinoa bowl

I bought some quinoa seeeeveral weeks ago (maybe more than a month?) in the vain hope that I would find a recipe to cook with it, without even being fully confident on its pronunciation. Anyone who frequents a Whole Foods can likely relate to this feeling. I was fascinated by it. It looked like carbs.. but it was protein. How could his beautiful thing exist?

And then I actually tried it for the first time two weeks ago in a salad at Whole Foods..LOVE at first taste. It was delicious and I absolutely could not get enough! But… I still hadn’t found a recipe that intrigued me enough to try (and was easy enough for me to try).

It’s really no secret that I’m ain’t a cook. But it turns out to eat clean you have to be able to cook clean. So, here we are. Me with two cups of dried quinoa and no idea what to do with it.

Then last week I stumbled across this recipe from Andrea Hood on Instagram, and honestly I can’t remember which account it was (more problems of the Instagram rabbit hole). But I mean it has dried cranberries in it so I was pretty much sold from the start. It’s taken me a week to gather the ingredients and NOW it’s time to actually prepare the meal, and ya’ll… I DID IT! And it was damn tasty.

Autumn-Quinoa (1)

Here are the ingredients/directions from Andrea’s blog post:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic Quinoa
  • 2 cups organic butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 bunch organic kale
  • 1/4 cup organic raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pure organic maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Direction:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Peel and cube the butternut squash into small bite sized pieces.
  • Place butternut squash on lined or greased cookie sheet and cook for 35 minutes, or until you can stick a fork into it with ease.
  • Cook quinoa on the stovetop according to package directions, and set aside.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, take a small skillet over medium heat and lightly toast the pepitas to really bring out their flavor. Make sure to move them around often so they don’t catch and burn. Toast them for about 5 minutes until they are just starting to brown and you can smell the “nuttiness” – again, don’t let them burn because that will ruin the flavor.
  • In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and cranberries. When the quinoa and pepitas are finished, add them to the bowl and stir to evenly coat the quinoa.
  • While the quinoa is still warm, you want to take the kale and remove the leaves from the stems by tearing off bite sized pieces. Add the bite sized pieces to the bowl and toss to combine.
  • Lastly, once the butternut squash is cooked, add it to the giant quinoa bowl and lightly toss it to combine.
  • You can enjoy this dish warm or at room temperature – it’s delicious either way and it makes kick-ass leftovers.

To make the Quinoa, I used my girl Gwenyth Paltrow’s recipe found online at Goop.com. My only issue is how in the hell do people wash quinoa before you cook it? I’m gross and didn’t wash mine first out of pure confusion. It’s so tiny, what magical contraption exists that it won’t fall through (that I can find at Kroger)? And since I don’t know how to do anything, I also had to watch a video on how to peel a Butternut Squash (I also had to Google “Butternut Squash” at the grocery store to get the right stuff…so that’s where we are on that..)

I love this recipe. It’s just so simple. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the pepitas. I’m prone to starting small fires in the kitchen, so I was so nervous cooking these that I don’t think I cooked them enough. No harm done though, you hardly notice.

The dish also smells kinda funky. Not sure why. But who cares, it tastes delicious especially considering how healthy it is! I had a small bowl post 5 mile jog and filled up supa fast. This recipe also makes A LOT. So when she she says it makes for “kick-ass leftovers”, it makes a ton of kick-ass leftovers.

My only other complaint is that I had to use like SO MANY dishes and pans. Is that normal for cooking something? Perhaps it is. Either way clean up was not that much fun, and I’m glad it made so much so I won’t have to clean it up again anytime in the near future.

All in all, I’m one happy full clean eating camper. Excuse me why I go dive into my leftovers…