What I’m Doing With My CSA Shares: Week 5

We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we are limiting our use of these veggies a little bit. I added some non-Whole 30 options so that you don’t have to suffer with us.

  • Green Leaf Lettuce – Once again, this is getting turned into salad for lunches and a dinner side. 2 heads should last us all week.
  • Cucumbers – These will get chopped up for salads and turned into spears for snacks. If you are having dairy, I suggest slicing these and making a salad with sour cream, dill, and onions.
  • Carrots – We’ll shred a few for salads and then probably roast the rest. I might grab one for an afternoon snack. If we weren’t on the Whole 30, I’d use the tops to make some pesto and eat it with burrata cheese.
  • Zucchini – We turned a few of these into zucchini noodles with a spiral attachment for our Kitchenaid mixer and making a quick cherry tomato sauce with basil and chicken sausage. We’ll slice up the rest and roast it in the oven with some spices as a side dish. 
  • Basil – We cut half of this into a chiffonade and put it in the zucchini noodles with the cherry tomato sauce. We’ll use the rest for pesto or adding to a fresh vegetable salad. We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we’re foregoing putting this on homemade pizza or caprese salad.
  • Scallions – We’ll include the scallions in salads, in breakfast bowls, or in carnitas bowls.

Whole 30 Week 4 Recap

We completed the Whole 30 on March 2. I’m writing this review a few weeks late because: 1) I was traveling that week and the following week. 2) I hit the ground running at my new job as CTO at Praxis.

Here is how the final week went:

Successes this week

  • The final week was fairly easy. We were in the groove from the previous three weeks and we stayed on track pretty easily, despite lots of temptations around us.
  • I visited my family in Ohio for a few days before my birthday and they were very flexible and helped me find things I could eat. One day they had people over to have burgers, so I ate mine on lettuce without a bun. My aunt brought over a plate of roasted veggies, which was delicious.
  • My grandma made me a “Whole 30 birthday cake” that was really an apple with a candle in it, garnished with blackberries and raspberries with almonds stuck in them.
  • I introduced my parents to cauliflower fried rice. It was a beautiful 70F day, so I cooked it in a wok out on their porch.
  • I made two dishes that I think will be regulars in our house now: Breakfast bowls and a veggie & protein bowl. Recipes forthcoming.
  • Amanda and I found another Paleo restaurant in NYC: Springbone. (The other one we already knew about is Hu Kitchen.)

whole_30_week_4 - 6

Difficulties this week

  • I traveled for most of the final week, which meant that I had to eat out A LOT. Staying compliant required a lot of extra work and planning ahead.
    • Amanda packed me some fruit and meat snacks for my road trip.
    • I drove out of my way on 80/90 in PA to find a Jimmy John’s and have a lettuce wrap.
    • I hit up Chipotle at least three times. No beans, no rice, double meat, fajita veggies, add guac.
    • I scouted out places at each airport where I could find compliant meals. Plum Market in the Detroit airport was the best: I got a huge plate of carnitas, roasted broccoli, and roasted cauliflower.
    • I kept cashews in my backpack. That saved me on a few long flights.
    • Restaurants will almost always sub any starch or bread with veggies if you ask nicely.
  • My birthday dinner was not what I had hoped, but I stuck it out for a few extra days to finish out the month before I got doughnuts and that burger from The Spotted Pig on day 31. It was delicious, but it made me feel like crap. Days 32 and 33 we were compliant again.

What I ate

Since I was traveling without Amanda for most of the week I didn’t keep detailed notes on what either of us ate. All I have to go off of are my photos, so here they are:

 

Overall

  • Amanda and I are both down 14lbs each and a few pants sizes. I had to cut a new hole in my favorite belt and Amanda had to go buy new smaller work clothes.
  • We learned a lot about what kind of food gives us energy and what makes us feel like crap. It is very difficult to figure this out unless you restrict your diet significantly for a period of time. If you do that and then reintroduce things like sugar and bread back into your diet, you’ll see how quickly your energy and mood changes.
  • We learned about how much prepared food has sugar in it. Avoiding it requires attention to detail, discipline, and planning.
  • For the first time in four years, we’ve gotten through the worst part of winter without getting sick. Not even a cold.

Going forward

  • We are sticking with 80% of the Whole 30. We are eating legumes again, but primarily still staying away from grains, dairy, and sugar.
  • We are picking our indulgences instead of indulging in everything. Instead of copious mediocre candy bars, we’ll pick the best cookie we can find and just have one. Saying compliant instead of having fast food so that we can have the best pizza in the area the next day.
  • We are drinking alcohol again, but less frequently. We are following the principle above: Instead of drinking a few bottles of beer, we’ll have a cocktail or a few fingers of good whiskey.
  • Despite not being strict now that the dedicated month is over, we are still losing weight because we changed our approach to food.
  • As I write this, we are at a coffee shop that has some of the best cookies in the area. We each got one, only ate half, and were done because they are so rich. Before the Whole 30, we would have devoured the whole thing within a few minutes.
  • Staying strict on the Whole 30 long-term is probably unrealistic for our lifestyle right now, but staying 80-90% compliant is doable. Continued weight loss and having more energy is a definite driver for us.
  • You’ll probably see meals posted here with a heavier vegetable influence, reflecting our change in food consumption.

Whole 30 Week 2 Recap

Week two is in the books. Here is how it went.

Successes this week

  • I’ve been waking up easier this week. I’ve been wide awake and ready to work at 8am, even on the weekends. This is not the norm because I usually burn the midnight oil.
  • Our pants are a little looser
  • We are getting in the rhythm of cooking Whole 30 compliant meals.
  • Two weeks have gone by quickly.
  • I’m still foregoing kefir, so I’ve actually been 100% compliant on what I’ve eaten.
  • I drank more water this week. Grains soak up a lot of water and disperse it throughout digestion, so I was dehydrated last week when I didn’t have any grains. This week I compensated by purposefully drinking more water.
  • I made some almond butter with my food processor! 50% raw, 50% roasted almonds
  • I’m really good at whipping out a tasty guacamole with the huge mortar & pestle we have.
  • Even though we had to pass up the Royal Kirs, we still brunched with Whole 30 compliant food.

Difficulties this week

  • Work is ramping up for both of us and we have a lot of extracurriculars going on. Twice this week we ate leftovers for dinner that we reserved for other lunches because we had too much going on too cook. Thankfully we have decent Whole 30 lunch options near where we work.
  • Today is Valentine’s Day. We both LOVE chocolate, pizza, fresh bread with cheese and charcuterie, and booze.
  • The pear brandy that I’m aging with toasted oak is really starting to open up and smell incredible. I really want to try it.
  • I’ve not been eating as much as I should due to my fasting. Compressing all the calories I need into 6-8 hours is tough. I’ve lessened by fasting restrictions when I need to, but it is still difficult. I’m making up for it with eating lots of fat.
  • I checked the ENTIRE grocery store. Only 1 out of the 13 varieties of bacon does not have sugar in it. (Pro-tip: It is the Smithfield Low Sodium variety. Just add salt and you’ll be fine. I bought 3 pounds.)
  • I haven’t yet figured out how to keep beef from overcooking in stews and soups, so we ate beef vegetable soup with dry, overcooked beef. If you have suggestions, hit me up.

Meals this week

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
8 Chuck: Black coffee and 6 slices of Speck. Amanda: Smoothie with almond milk yogurt, avocado, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, kale, and MCT oil Chuck: leftover carnitas. Amanda: Gigantic kale salad with veggies and steak Takeout: Chicken breasts, eggplant, zucchini, and spinach
9 Chuck: Scotch Egg & Coffee. Amanda: Apples, pears, oranges, and speck Homemade beef vegetable soup
10 Chuck: Scotch Egg. Amanda: Smoothie with almond milk yogurt, avocado, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, kale, and MCT oil Leftover beef vegetable soup Skirt steak lettuce wraps and home guacamole
11 None Frittata with broccoli, sausage, peppers, and onions Apples, pears, almond butter, and jamon serrano
12 None Brunch bowls with crispy sweet potatoes and onions, avocado, scrambled eggs, and bacon Cauliflower Fried Rice with okra, chicken, bacon, carrots, celery, onions, and cress sprouts
13 Chuck: Black Coffee. Amanda: Smoothie with almond milk yogurt, avocado, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, kale, and MCT oil Leftover cauliflower fried rice Sous vide pork, roasted brussels sprouts, and roasted yellow squash
14 Chuck: Black Coffee. Amanda: Smoothie. Chuck: leftover frittata. Amanda: Salad. Leftover sous vide pork and roasted yellow squash

 

Photos

Again, I didn’t photograph everything. Here is a good mix of what we ate, though.

Preparing for a Whole 30

Starting February 1, Amanda and I are doing a Whole 30. It is essentially a strict paleo diet: No grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, starches, or legumes. Only some fruits. Lots of veggies, meats, fats, and nuts. We are joining a group of our friends in doing it for 30 days starting February 1. We are hoping to improve our energy levels, sleep, and waistlines.

We’ve both gone strict paleo before for a few weeks to a few months at a time and saw good results, so we are optimistic that this will be similar. Since we’ve basically cut out refined sugar and bread since January 1, we shouldn’t get the awful headaches and withdrawals we got the first time around. I don’t think we’ll experience the radical changes that participants who jump into this straight from a junk food diet see, but I think we’ll still get some energy improvements and weight loss.

We’ll miss our cheeses, occasional weekend cheats, and cocktails, but we’ll live. The two tough stretches this month will be Valentine’s Day and my birthday. For Valentine’s Day we usually shovel down our favorite pizza and beer while we binge a show on Netflix. For my birthday we usually go out for dinner and drinks and Amanda makes me a Milk Bar Birthday Cake. I’m going to miss that.

I’m making a slight exception to strict adherence: I’m still going to consume my daily glass of kefir. I cut out dairy completely for a month about 5 years ago and didn’t see any negative effects when I reintroduced it. I’m pretty dairy tolerant. I’m still going to abstain from cheese, sour cream, straight milk, etc, but the bacteria in kefir break down the lactose before I drink it and the probiotics in my homemade kefir have been incredibly beneficial for my gut, so I’m going to keep drinking it. I’m also going to continue weighing myself daily so I don’t have any gaps in my quantified self tracking. Call the Whole 30 police.

One addition I’m making for added benefits during the month is continuing my Circadian Rhythm Fast. I stop eating as close to sundown as I can manage with my schedule and then fast for the next 16 hours. That leaves me an 8 hour window to eat in each day. I’ve been doing this since January 3 and it works pretty well with my lifestyle, so I want to keep it up. (For those interested, I use the Zero app to track my fasting.)

Prepping for Success

As I wrote in On Meal Planning:

Don’t depend on your daily willpower to have healthy, inexpensive meals. Plan ahead.

I’m applying all of the principles I wrote about in that post. Give it a read if you haven’t already.

These are the specific implementation of those principles that I’m using for our Whole 30:

  • I haven’t replenished our stock of potatoes, chickpeas, beans, or lentils. Any that are still in the cabinet will be left there until next month. We used a bunch this past week leading up to the Whole 30, so there isn’t much to worry about. We already ate all of our legume-containing leftovers the past few days, so there won’t be any waste.
  • I’m making my own chicken and vegetable broth this week. Amanda had me check the labels on the store-bought ones we have, and to my dismay they all have sugar in them.
  • We have plenty of meat that I’ve pre-portioned, seasoned, and frozen. I have reminders set at 3pm for me to pull them out of the freezer and put them in the sous vide.
  • We stocked up on fresh veggies.
  • We have nuts, pickles (with no sugar added), avocados, and cured meat for snacks.
  • We stocked up on our favorite flavors of La Croix and teas to sip on when we’d prefer a cocktail. We already don’t drink soda, so this will be one of our few sources of flavor variety outside of water.

General Meal Plans

As I’ve written before, I don’t really plan our meals too far in advance. I do have general blueprints in mind, though:

Dinners

  • 1 meat + 2 quickly prepared veggies for dinner (Primary)
  • Veggie soups (Secondary)
  • Whole 30 compliant meals that take longer to prepare. Things like cauliflower fried rice, spiral zucchini noodles with pesto and sausage, roasted chicken with pureed celeriac and parsnips (Once a week or so)

Lunches

  • Leftovers from the dinners
  • Salads with lots of veggies, protein, and avocados

Breakfasts

  • Smoothies made with Whole 30 ingredients plus a bag of cashews as a mid-morning snack for Amanda
  • I skip breakfast about half of the week due to my fasting. On those days I make lunch my first meal.
  • On days where I don’t skip breakfast, I’ll have Scotch eggs that we’ve made ahead of time or I’ll scramble a few eggs.
  • We already drink our coffee black, so no need to fret about losing dairy there.
  • On weekends we’ll have omelettes.

Backup Plans

It is important to have backup plans in case unexpected things come up. Our backup plans are:

  • We have a few Whole 30-compliant homemade soups frozen in our freezer. They take 20 inactive minutes to heat up and eat.
  • There is a lunch place down the block that always has grilled salmon, grilled chicken, and roasted veggies. They close at 4pm, so if I know by mid-afternoon that I won’t be able to made dinner, I’ll walk down and get two plates.
  • If all else fails, there is a Chipotle on Amanda’s way home from work. John Durant explains what to order at Chipotle to stay paleo.

If you aren’t as comfortable winging it as I am, here are some great Whole 30 meal ideas from Nom Nom Paleo and here are some PDF guides from Whole30.

Amanda and I ate the rest of our potatoes and butter tonight with some homemade corned beef and had one last drink from the barrel of Manhattans that I’m aging:

 

Here we go! Stay tuned. I’ll post some recipes and techniques I’m using to stay on track throughout the month. Check back in a week or so! (Or sign up for email updates in the sidebar →)

Radish Cilantro Slaw

Do you have a bunch of radishes that you don’t know what to do with? Try making this delicious topping for your next batch of tacos.

I came up with this after buying a container of beautiful radishes from the local farmers’ market, only to return home and discover that we already had a full bag in the fridge. After making a batch of quick pickles out of them, I came up with this to put on our tacos. Amanda and I liked it so much that we ate it two nights in a row.

Radish Cilantro Slaw

  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro (Note: If you don’t like cilantro or are part of the population for which it tastes like soap, you could use parsley instead. It won’t have the same flavor, but will still be good!
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 of a lime

Grate the radishes, chop the cilantro, and slice the green onions. Mix these together in a bowl and squeeze the juice from 1/2 of a lime on top. Mix it again and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Grated RadishesChopped CilantroFresh-Squeezed Lime Juice

This makes a great topping for chicken tacos:

Chicken Tacos with Radish Cilantro Slaw