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!

I cooked! Lemon Zucchini Pasta

When I cook, it’s an event. It’s planned. The recipe is chosen a week in advance, the ingredients ready to be chopped days before it’s time. I ask the boyfriend to block of an evening, dedicated to my future masterpiece.

Last week I finally dug into a cookbook I received for my birthday, Food; Vegetarian Home Cooking by Mary McCartney. So far, I love this cookbook. Although I’m not a vegetarian, there are still some great, tasty ideas. Plus, there are pictures for each recipe which I’m a HUGE fan of.

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I decided to go with the lemon zucchini pasta recipe, but also had the boyfriend pick up some lemon-y chicken from Whole Foods (pre-marinated because that’s how us lazy kids roll).

Here is what you need:

  • Pasta
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinkly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for more deliciousness)
  • 4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

I wish I had some special instructions for you or things that I did differently that improved the recipe. But, alas. I’m not there yet in my cooking. I follow instructions to the T. One thing I couldn’t figure out though was how to finely chop garlic? Instead we ended up with pieces of garlic in the final product.

  1. Open wine bottle
  2. Pour wine glass
  3. Cook the spaghetti according to your pasta box’s instructions (obviously)
  4. Once the pasta is done, set it aside and drizzle some olive oil in there so it doesn’t get all sticky
  5. Using the same pan, combine the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and zucchini and sauté for 4-5 minutes
  6. Pour second glass of wine
  7. Add in the garlic and herbs, mix well and sauté for a couple more minutes
  8. Add in the cooked pasta and yea through, mix in the cheese and lemon zest.
  9. Season with some salt and black pepper
  10. Add more cheese. I love cheese.
  11. Share wine bottle and food with friends

Below are some pics of my cooking process, in case it helps! I forgot to get a picture of the final product though, shame. My boyfriend and I loved this dish! It wasn’t creamy or heavy, so you leave the meal nice and full but with room for dessert. Enjoy 🙂

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Dallas Restaurant Week commences

Dallas Restaurant Week is upon us. Do you feel the sudden shift in the weight of Dallas citizens? I can promise you that I sunk our city a little deeper after last night’s glutenous meal. I woke up still full this morning from too much tastiness! Anyhoo, last night my roommate and I set out to Hibiscus, fully dressed for the occasion (an excuse to wear her Birchbox red lipstick and me to wear my new heels? Sold!).

For those that don’t know, Dallas Restaurant Week is a time where us normal folk get to dine at Dallas’ finest restaurants. For just $30 or $45, you get to enjoy a full meal at your choice of dining bliss. At Hibiscus, for example, we paid $30 for a shared appetizer, shared side, individual entrees and a shared dessert. It would’ve been wise of me to actually calculate the real cost of the meal versus the Dallas Restaurant Week cost…but alas, I…didn’t. Dallas Restaurant Week also begs the question, just how does one articulate a happy squeal in simple words? A YAY! or a HELL YES! simply isn’t sufficing. So let’s just say I’m SUPER stoked.

Our choice, Hibiscus, is located in the Knox-Henderson area, across from Velvet Taco.  It’s the kind of place that doesn’t list their prices online and the hostesses are so dressed up that you start to wonder what their salary is and if you should change career paths. The atmosphere was amazing. It’s narrow and split up into three rooms, with just a curved passage away as the entrance. This made what is actually a huge restaurant, feel small and cozy. Well, almost cozy.

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So, in the hope of making your mouth water, here’s what we had…

To start, we had the Baked Dungeness Crab Dip with wood fired crackers.

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For my main course, I had the Spit-Roasted Fran’s Fryer Chicken with local kale, spring veggies and lemon-capers. As our side we had the Deep Dish Mac & Cheese (omg).

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And then to top of our calorie count for the day, we had the Classic Chocolate Cake (devils food fake with truffle ganache, cocoa frosting and morello cherry).

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Needless to say, I had to be rolled out of there and into my car. I used my full (and happy) tummy to steer me home so that the rest of me could enter a deep food coma. Only kidding (kinda). I’ll be day dreaming of that meal every time I eat my boring protein shake dinners or my hard boiled eggs at lunch. *Sigh*

Not to fret though, my other planned Dallas Restaurant date is right around the corner. The beau and I are headed to The Grape next week to pig out a little more. Om nom nom. Wish me and my almost-there-abs some luck!

Ps. The photos of all the delicious food are courtesy of my roommate, Brittany. Her pics made me strongly reconsider my dedication to my trust iPhone in favor of a Droid *gasp*

Food, friends and Franklin’s

Hey, remember back when I mentioned I spent a great weekend in Austin? My pictures have been begging me to go ahead and upload them already ever since. “You took us to be seen, didn’t you?” they say pointedly while taking up desktop space in a most guilt-inducing manner.

As with most Austin trips, food played quite the prominent role – and the Italian in me vehemently believes good food should be shared. So without further adieu…

franklin barbecue Austin porch

The boyfriend and I made the trek to visit with friends (just the sweetest couple, really) and make another attempt at Franklin Barbecue. You might have heard about this place recently seeing as Texas Monthly’s “Barbecue Guy” (it’s true, this job exists) just ranked it as the #1 best barbecue in Texas, and it’s been recognized as the best in the country by Bon Appetit. See, round one didn’t go so ideally in that I wasn’t actually there, everyone was apparently sleep deprived, one was too hungover to make it despite a valiant effort and one gas station stop for the impending sickness, it poured the Texas equivalent of freezing rain throughout the multiple hour outdoor wait and did I mention I wasn’t there? Despite all this, they came back from lunch saying how more than 100% worth it all this mess was because the meat was just. that. good.

This time around I made sure to secure my invitation and checked the weather – it was sunny skies ahead. Friday night drinking was held to a moderate level during our trip to a laid back downtown bar, Handlebar (as in mustache, found courtesy of a “Austin hipster restaurants” Google search), and dinner at Frank, whose hot dogs and bloody mary’s have made a couple tv appearances for their deliciousness. Bonus: they have plenty of gluten-free options! Of course, I couldn’t say no to a little champagne while watching the sunset and bats on the Congress Ave bridge, too.

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We woke up the next morning and made it to Franklin by 8:30 a.m. with lawn chairs and a cooler of mimosas and bloody mary’s in tow. A line was already beginning, but we weren’t too far back and the weather was beautiful so we were feeling pretty optimistic. While Franklin actually opens at 11, they’ve sold out of everything every day since opening two years ago, so you want to get there early to make sure they’ll still have the menu items you want. After a leisurely wait in an atmosphere of giddy anticipation from the crowd, the doors opened. I can’t even describe the richness of flavor, the silky texture of the meat, the way it literally fell off the bone and melted in my mouth…Just go there.

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We wrapped up the weekend sunning our stuffed stomachs by the pool. Perfection.

Texas Monthly also ranked Dallas’ Pecan Lodge as number two, so we’ll be reuniting soon to see how it measures up. I’ll keep you posted!

Inspiration: Gwyneth Paltrow

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I can’t say I’ve given much thought to Gwyneth Paltrow in the past aside from the occasional movie, red carpet dress or snicker at her daughter’s name (Apple). But all that started to change when I read about her new cookbook, It’s All Good, on one of my favorite blogs, A Piece of Toast. Celebrating all the reasons they love Gwyneth is a fond pastime for their blog, and I have to say, I’m starting to get it. I love that she’s family-focused, seemingly very genuine and follows her heart in pursuing a variety of interests instead of pigeonholing herself or letting others do so.

True, her cookbooks have come with some criticism. The Huffington Post likened the cookbook to flipping through a  J. Crew catalogue (um, why is that ever a bad thing?). Others have made fun of some recipes’ obvious or simple nature. But you know, that’s exactly why I like it. Pouring through the pages as the type of cook who has youtube-d “how to cut broccoli” and “how to cut eggplant” in the past couple months alone, I find the way she describes the book, organizes the recipes and details them quite helpful. Does she have a “recipe” for how to hard boil an egg? Yes. But I’ve seriously had some bad egg boiling experiences in the past so I welcome the break down! She also has a great section about stocking your pantry, which taught me a lot about different types of food and their uses / combinations.

Gwyneth (after this many nights reading her book we’re on a first name basis) is…

  • Inspiring me to learn more about food, nutrition and cooking.
  • Inspiring me to continue living a healthy life starting with what food I put inside me.
  • Inspiring me to look for more opportunities to love on people through food and hospitality.

Giving myself a break bisquits

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This weekend I was determined to rest.

Like all good intentions, this idea started out so well, with a slow morning spent sleeping in then getting creative in the kitchen…but after celebrating two friends’ engagement, making a couple drives across the Dallas metroplex and one unhappy head/stomach later, it was clear that I had not exactly been the image of peace and stillness I’d envisioned all week leading up to that point.

Since I was not one of those lucky enough to have this President’s Day off and wishing it was still the weekend isn’t making my weekend any magically longer, I’ve been thinking of little ways I can treat myself to some relaxation throughout the week rather than just keep putting all my hopes into the weekend to recharge.

This week I plan to…

Wake up earlier. I know what you’re thinking…didn’t she just say she was needing more time relax not less? The thing is, I’ve found that even though I absolutely love my hibernation, er…sleep, I love my peace of mind more. Waking up with enough time to journal, do some yoga or run, shower and get myself looking how I’d actually prefer people to see me goes so much farther in getting me ready to tackle each day. The holidays completely threw off all the progress I’d been making, but I suppose with the passing of Valentine’s Day I can’t exactly pretend that now still counts as ‘the holidays’ anymore, can I?

Cook real food. Confession. My laziness knows no bounds…I’ve been eating out a LOT this past week or so. Even when I had the good sense to actually be in a grocery store I ended up getting frozen Asian food (never a good idea) and blue box mac and cheese (always a good idea, except when you end up making and eating two boxes in one sitting. But hey, it was Valentine’s Day…). How can I expect my body to feel good (and look good) if I don’t put good things in it? I really enjoyed taking the time to make myself something fun and good this weekend. I think adding time for that into my week is just what I need to force myself to slow down, make the most of my time with food I truly enjoy/can be proud of and oh yeah, take care of myself.

Light candles. This one’s just plain fun. They look pretty, smell pretty and make me feel like life is just a tad more on the luxurious side. Plus I have quite a few that even though I love everything about them, I’ve never actually ever lit. And if there’s one thing Finding Tiffany’s is all about it’s that life is not for hoarding and hoping, it’s for actually experiencing and enjoying. Now this goal, I can accomplish.

Update – Last week’s goals to read more and be nicer to myself have been going so well, I’ve decided to continue them…I will finish that book…one day…

{Vanilla Biscuit Recipe: Gluten-free Bisquick, Vanilla, a tiny bit of sugar, milk, eggs and butter. Plus fresh fruit and whip cream. I wish I could tell you measurements, but I had way less than the recipe called for so I had to eyeball it. Basically my rule of thumb for pretty much everything is to start with the recipe on the back of the box, then add way more vanilla than it calls for. Voila.}